3 Summer Steps to Keeping Your Association Marketing Strategy Fresh

The outdoor festivals, the glorious summer heat and, yes, even those dreaded back-to-school commercials have all reminded me that it’s time for a mid-year review of our Marketing Playbook.

While it’s tempting to focus on the thousands of immediate tasks we need to finish every day, making sure the Playbook doesn’t collect virtual dust is important to keeping our marketing plan fresh. Here’s how we do that:

Lemons-Lemonade.jpg1. Know Your Audience

The Playbook serves different roles depending on who’s reading it, so we’ve worked hard since its creation to keep it up to date and as comprehensive as possible. For those not in our department, we present this as a resource so that anyone at any time can see exactly what our overall goals are, our strategy, and the reasoning why we do what we do. Our marketing team is an innovative bunch, so we want to make sure our left-brained friends in other departments can easily understand our right-brained approach.

Items in the Playbook that help explain our strategy and vision are: Marketing Strategy at a Glance, Role of the Team as It Applies to Brand, Messaging Plan of Action

Keep It Fresh: Is your current messaging still aligned with your organization’s strategic goals? Are the roles of the marketing team defined to move those goals forward?

2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Marketing works collaboratively with several departments, and in those interactions we’re continually discussing the details of our pipeline, who our personas are and how we’re refining those, and how new items we’ve created can help serve our clients, our partners, and the greater industry. Still, it’s a lot of information to retain, so we keep this all in the Playbook to be used as a handy and repeatable resource.

Items in the Playbook that serve as a resource: Pipeline Stage Definitions, Persona Definitions and Descriptions, Key Differentiators, Links to external resources (Marketing Inventory, Content Calendar, Pipeline Report, etc.)

Keep It Fresh: Are pipeline stages easily understood by all impacted departments? Do your defined personas reflect your current target market? Are your differentiators still relevant within your competitive environment?

3. Keep a View from Above

Even within a smaller marketing department, it’s a good idea to have a set list of all the activities going on at any given time. The Playbook provides a big-picture view of key content and campaigns that will roll out over the coming months. This also provides a looooong list of activities and processes that have been used in the past, along with some concepts that we’d like to employ some time in the future. We tag all these activities to show active projects, past activities, and wish list items. By keeping a strong eye on the analytics of all these projects, we can use the Playbook as an arsenal the next time a great idea sprouts. An activity like this provides great insight into department activities from the outside as well.

Items in the Playbook to be used as secret weapons: Activities Listed by Priority (denoting purpose, status, frequency, and project owner), Hot Topics to Produce (listed quarterly)

Keep It Fresh: Is every current activity driving you toward fulfilling your quarterly or annual goals? What’s worked (and what hasn’t) in the past and how can this knowledge help you add to or cut from the project list?

If you’re like me, you’ll find this last step is much easier read than done. It takes time to evaluate every item in the content, campaign, and events to-do list. But this allows you to drive your strategy and keep it fresh, rather than letting the busy and less focused work take over the department. The payoff is immense, from seeing your efforts impact your quarterly and annual goals to having time to attend a backyard barbeque or two and maybe even hitting the shops for some back-to-school sales.

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