Strategic Plan Implementation
This week’s readings were all about getting a strategic plan off the ground.
Main Author Points
Smith; Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden; and Weinberg & Pehlivan all make the salient point that present-day marketing has to be conversational. The marketer needs to not so much ‘talk at’ or shout the message to an organization’s publics as opposed to engaging in the give and take of conversation. Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden further note that once initial connectivity is achieved, it’s got to be maintained. Weinberg & Pehlivan see this as the social currency and return on investment (ROI) of social media marketing – the strategic planner can’t just start a relationship with members of a public and then drop them and run off when they see the next shiny new toy. Smith also provides the nuts and bolts of putting together a plan and working on it with others in an organization.
The Weinberg & Pehlivan graph on media process elements provides an excellent rundown on the differences between tradition and social media in some key areas. It further serves as a reminder that trying to tie social media activities to traditional media standard measures of ROI is an apples to oranges comparison that does not quite work –
Weinberg & Pehlivan (Page 277) Table 1. Media process elements
|Media||Television, radio, print, billboard, etc.||Social networks, blogs, microblogs, communities, etc.|
|Spend||Cash, cost||Social currency, trustworthiness, authenticity, transparency, investment|
|Delivery||Direct from marketer, unedited||From source, delivered by volition of, and in words selected by, source|
|Objectives||Awareness, knowledge, recall, purchase, etc.||Conversation, sharing, collaboration, engagement, evangelism, etc.|
An analogy: in writing, it can sometimes be difficult to get started. Chapter 1 can be the most difficult chapter but, once it has been started, the rest of the story flows smoothly. But the writer needs to maintain the momentum, or he or she will be getting started multiple times.
This week’s readings were all about getting a strategic planning campaign implemented. Yet they were also about the importance of maintaining such a campaign.
As Smith reminds us, on page 304, “You don’t need to be tied into a chronological implementation scheme just because you selected interpersonal items before those in the other categories. Let the natural relationships among tactics determine how they fit into your plan.”
The plan should be fluid, much like a conversation. Even formal interviews and legal depositions allow for a give and take between the communicating parties. The strategic plan is no different.
Smith makes a case for simplicity and a focus on the most distinctive element of a given program.
Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden (Page 267) add, “In other words, marketing can no longer solely be about capturing attention via reach; instead, marketers must focus on both capturing and continuing attention via engagement. This calls for a blend of both traditional and social media.” For Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, the relationship and attention have to continue. Showing up one time in a public’s news feed or otherwise on their radar is not enough. Rather, the strategic planner needs to get up and do it all over again, the next day, and the next.
Weinberg & Pehlivan further the point in mentioning that there is a balance. One Page 279, they discuss the specifics of the Harley-Davidson Twitter feed. One point they make is that this Twitter stream only tweets about once per day. Hence Harley-Davidson’s publics get a small nudge and information (often the information is not sales-related at all and, instead, is about racing results and the like) but aren’t overwhelmed by continual, unrelenting sales pitches.
Applying this Information to the ILSC and the Phase 2 Plan
For our client, the Institute for Life Sciences Collaboration, the plan is more or less being drawn up from scratch, so getting organized, as Smith has specified, is Job One. On Pages 310 – 325, the Smith readings give a rundown of creating a Campaign Plan Book, and adding a campaign schedule and timeline of tasks.
Timing means announcing breakthroughs and providing Small World Initiative sign-up information at the start of scholastic semesters and even over the summer when high school teachers might have a slight bit of free time to investigate such programs. It also means publicly thanking donors and not overwhelming them with constant nagging to donate more (like public television used to do).
One of the main purposes for using social media to convey the message to the ILSC’s various publics is because of the social currency that can be attained through meaningful dialogue. If the social media relationships are good, then the ILSC will benefit, much like the offline networking that President Rick Flath deftly performs every day. With more traditional media – which can also be a part of the overall plan – the rewards include increased awareness. As we had learned in Module 6, fee-for-service nonprofits (organizations such as the YMCA, which is not-for-profit, yet sells services such as gym memberships), the use of traditional media could facilitate helping the ILSC embrace a fee-for-service model if they liked, e. g. for small charges for Ghanaian medical care, or for textbooks and other study materials via the Small World Initiative. Traditional advertising could also increase awareness of the Small World Initiative’s existence and mission. This advertising need not even be on mass media television or radio or print. What if it were in publications geared directly to educators and educational administrators, such as principals? That way, the message would be better targeted to the publics most interested in it. As for the Ghanaian half of what the ILSC does, messaging could be performed through traditional media there as well, including in neighboring countries such as Togo and Burkina Faso.
For the ILSC, a straightforward schedule could work rather well, to roll out social media and traditional media initiatives on a planned, timed basis. This would keep the publics informed without overwhelming them with too much information or seeming pushy. Plus, equally importantly, it would not break the ILSC’s budget.