Preparation, planning, and execution all take time. One of the many mistakes we see marketing people do is to think that a singular press release, or single email blast, or a single announcement posted to the web or print media is all they have to do. We see people daily who have their bonus predicated on the execution of “things/events/materials/etc” but that is not marketing. Marketing is a strategy that begins early on to develop those tools and resources that connect more closely with the consumers needs and deliver on their expectations. It requires planning, resources, research, and delivery. Karen’s article gives us an analogy tied to our need to plan our Thanksgiving dinner to meet the expectations of those we wish to serve. Its a good analogy and a fun read.
by Karen Bruhn
Jerome, Bruhn and Associates
- Perhaps it was my many years of working as a caterer … but I couldn’t help but see the parallels of excellent marketing to pulling off the perfect Thanksgiving meal.
- We knew we needed the perfect combination of flavors: PR, social, advertising, relationship marketing, and more.
- To further whet people’s appetites, we scheduled a webinar to showcase the new product.
I asked if she would be open to examples of what my firm had done for another company around its new product launch. She said yes, and I began to salivate. I returned to the office and sent her an example of a campaign around a new software product release. At the end of the day, I wanted her to see that the process, not the tactics, were the same.
Perhaps it was my many years of working as a caterer to pay for graduate school, or the seed planted years ago by my business partner, but as I communicated our process, I couldn’t help but see the parallels of excellent marketing to pulling off the perfect Thanksgiving meal. After all, they’re both about anticipation, preparation, keeping excellent company, serving everything hot, and finally letting the moments linger and take on a life of their own.
You’ll see what I mean. Let the analogies begin!
Six months prior to that new product release, my company was asked to meet with the CEO and COO; fortunately, the COO knew to bring us in this far in advance. We sat over dinner and for hours afterward discussing, “What’s the value? What does it change and how? What does this offer end users for their companies? How does it increase their clients’ value? What pain does it solve?” From there a plan was created. We were going to host a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner!
Back at the office we developed several succinct messages and tossed them out for debate in an effort to find the right one. From there we could set the menu, also known as tactics. We knew we needed the perfect combination of flavors: PR, social, advertising, relationship marketing, and more. But equally important was controlling the ingredients each tactic used for everything to work together.
As with Thanksgiving, the “official product launch” was set for the fourth week of the month. That meant our prelaunch marketing campaign needed to start a full month earlier.
We started by brining the software company’s blog with insight about the creation of the new product. In the months prior, we had already established the CEO of the company as a thought leader (through PR, social media, and speaking engagements), so people wanted to know what he was thinking. A few weeks later we turned up the heat and announced we were going to change the industry: what had been established since the ’90s was no longer the norm. We employed social marketing as well as relationship marketing directly from the CEO to clients, editors, and key industry influencers to give them a sneak preview of the launch.
To further whet people’s appetites, we scheduled a webinar to showcase the new product. We sent rich embedded emails to every contact and potential client. Our social media and PR directors worked in tandem to reach out personally to editors and bloggers. We tweeted, posted, and blogged–then retreated, reposted, and reblogged–what people were saying.
At launch week, a press release went out announcing the new product offering and what it did. Editors were already well-prepped. Print ads that had been developed in the months prior were strategically placed in the client’s top-tier publications, synced with each publication’s editorial calendar. Animated banners announcing the new “era” were splashed about the online segment of the industry, many of which we had negotiated for free by our media buyer. Of course, the company’s Web site prominently featured the new offering, including a video that we also promoted via social media venues. Finally, a direct mail campaign was staged out to allow for individual, direct sales.
The industry was abuzz about what our client was doing. We were able to invite everyone in the house, teasing and tempting them with the smells from the kitchen long before the meal was served. By the time they sat down (in this case, to a webinar instead of the meal), we had already established that the meal was going to be delicious. Everyone “privileged enough” to be invited pinged as the dishes were revealed. We had a captive audience, providing them with a forum for attention while seated at the table–in this case, social media. Again, we tweeted, posted, retweeted, and reposted. And just as you hope to do with every Thanksgiving meal, we redefined perception.
So why can’t everyone do this? Through the use of strong visuals, consistent messaging, and using each tactic’s unique media and delivery vehicle, we were able to create one singular idea and impression. It’s not rocket science. If we left it up the designers alone, it would be very beautiful (a great table) but lack the message. If we left it up to the writers (copywriters, PR, and social), it wouldn’t be well-rounded and thus not filling. If we left it up to the company, the focus would have been on the meal and not the total experience of the guests.
What we created was a sumptuous dinner that started with the invitation and concluded with everything hitting the table at the same time, hot and delicious. We had built the momentum for a new product; it resonated for weeks, even months afterward in the imaginations of the guests.