What's Next DC: Marketing Planning

“Planning” was the main theme running through the What’s Next DC mini marketing conference on July 25. Although the speakers at the conference (hosted by Green Buzz Agency at its offices in Alexandria, Virginia) came from a wide variety of organizations — marketing agencies, George Washington University, NASA, a nonprofit and a restaurant group — each emphasized the importance of marketing planning as the foundation of any successful campaign.

As I wrote last week, organizations need an overarching content marketing strategy. The What’s Next DC speakers explained that’s not enough. You also need to make marketing planning the first step in creating the individual campaigns or pieces of content that are part of that strategy’s execution.

Of course effective execution is essential too, but without a strong plan, you have no idea what you’re trying to execute and no road map to follow toward your goal. Here’s how three organizations represented at What’s Next DC used marketing planning to pave the way to powerful execution.

FARE Plans to Increase Awareness

A lot of companies and organizations say one of their primary goals is to “increase awareness,” but what does that really mean, asked Food Allergy Research & Education Vice President of Communications Veronica B. LaFemina. It means nothing if that awareness isn’t translated into action. Awareness only becomes significant when it inspires action or a change in behavior, such as new or increased activism, buying or giving habits.

FARE, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, needed a plan to increase awareness of food allergies in a way that would inspire people to donate and take other meaningful action during Food Allergy Awareness Month in May, said LaFemina. Her team succeeded with the help of marketing planning that took four months and participation from every part of the organization.

Key elements of the plan included:

  • Creating digital, shareable content.
  • Repurposing content.
  • Sharing a calendar with actions people could take each day of the month.
  • Setting measurable goals and establishing ways to track them.

The detailed plan helped FARE execute and helped them latch on to related news stories that popped up during the month and increase their visibility, said LaFemina. “Having a plan helps you seize opportunities that arise along the way and plug them into your efforts.”

NASA Plans to Celebrate an Anniversary While Moving Toward the Future

NASA’s space shuttle program ended nearly three years ago and it put its last man on the moon more than four decades ago. Still, all these years later, landing on the moon is what the agency is most known for — and that’s a challenge for its marketing team, said Stephanie Schierholz, NASA’s lead spokeswoman and public affairs specialist. That team must celebrate the agency’s famous history, while also getting people excited about what it’s doing now and planning to do in the foreseeable future.

Earlier this year, NASA ran a campaign to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and use the anniversary to point to the agency’s current work. With such a large, visible government organization, it was necessary to do a lot of detailed marketing planning to make everything work successfully. That planning included getting the living Apollo 11 astronauts, their families, and current NASA employees in on the action. It also involved coordinating the many people who share information over official NASA Twitter accounts, including a shutdown of all Twitter talk during the hours of the original mission, so they could “live” tweet it using news accounts and historical images.

Green Buzz Agency Plans to Create Great Video Content

Planning — or pre-production as film and video pros say — is the most important step to creating high-quality, engaging video marketing content, said Green Buzz Agency Senior Editor Bryce Spivey and Editor Andrew Parkison. You need to think about your audience, what you want them to take away from the video, where they’re going to watch the video (on a large TV, a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet or a small smartphone screen) and more.

When you’re shooting a video — or in the production stage — things take longer than you think they might, and the more you prepare in advance, the better it will go. When you get to editing the final product, you typically don’t have time and budget to go back and get any additional audio or video. You want to the editor to have as many options as possible to build a great story, and the way to do that is to plan in advance to get a variety of shots.

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