The Ultimate Guide to Retail Marketing Success, PART I: Continuity
In this five part series, we’ve leveraged the collective experiences from our most successful clients, some of the top retailers in the world, to help you the retail marketer achieve ultimate success in your career and for the business. This series will cover everything the retail marketing leader needs to become a superhero in today’s omni-channel world. Download the complete ebook here!
As a leader responsible for retail marketing, you know what it means to be at the intersection of strategy and execution. One key challenge is ensuring campaign continuity across your organization – whether the issue is reporting, messaging, or channel execution.
In today’s increasingly complex omni-channel environment, you have to coordinate campaign activities across many different channels. Indeed, you need an omni-channel strategy. You have to ensure all your different marketing groups are aligned so that the right messages are presented in the right media at the right time across all channels. But you also have to be able to produce executive reporting that provides historical and prospective analysis of campaigns – enabling strong marketing decision-making in the first place.
Imagine it’s the end of the year and executive leaders are developing a grand strategy, a marketing plan and a set of high-level campaigns for the year to come. There are campaigns for the Super Bowl, Black Friday, and other various holidays. Campaigns, in turn, must be translated into tactics. You must provide messages and assets for TV, radio, print, email, social media, and the stores themselves. Making sure the message across each is continuous – conveying the same, or supporting, messages to your audience through each channel.
But here’s the challenge: This plan and its associated campaign elements will perpetually change throughout the year as budget, timing, messaging, pricing and channel mix are revised. What’s worse, each channel may have a different team managing its own respective calendar of activities.
When an executive leader wants to see the big picture, chaos ensues. Since plans have been revised throughout the year, it’s impossible to know for sure if you have access to the latest version of a campaign and all its associated elements. You face the challenge of reconciling different plans and someone is charged with updating the overall calendar, literally copying and pasting data into a master spreadsheet encompassing all channel activities. You’re now spending countless hours dealing with admin work.
Nor does it end there. Even when all of the different spreadsheets are reconciled, you can expect a new series of executive requests. This is another opportunity for errors, oversights and confusion as new demands ripple through the various groups.
And this is just the beginning. Over time campaign complexity will merely compound – even as your budgeted resources remain flat (or, possibly, contract). There will be new demands in terms of localizing your messages, offers, and campaign assets – and campaign refinements that require a rapid response. Simply put, you won’t be able to take action without visibility and version control.
A New Approach
So what needs to happen to overcome these challenges?
We’ve leveraged the collective experiences of some of our most successful customers to outline proven actions you can take to drive campaign continuity throughout your organization:
Create a master calendar that encompasses all campaign activities.
Your challenge begins by pulling together all discrete campaign calendars into a single version. Once campaign plans and dates are compiled, there is a single source of information to keep everyone aligned and on track. As mentioned, the tendency of many retail marketing organizations at present is for individual groups (tied to discrete channels) to keep track of their own calendars – requiring labor-intensive, brute-force effort to merely compile all planning information. You should, instead, create one master calendar.
While some companies choose to do this by compiling (and continually updating) a master spreadsheet, you can also consider more advanced solutions (such CrossCap’s Marketing Calendar) that automate many of the actions and activities associated with calendar management. Whatever approach you choose the key point is that your master calendar clarifies to everyone in your organization the updated plans and schedules for your campaigns going forward – essential to campaign continuity.
Ensure your calendar is visible to all team members.
If you don’t have a central location for your “master” marketing calendar, you may be throwing innumerable wasted hours at the problem of alignment. You may end up sending around a series of spreadsheets and then deploying team members to grind away on updating, reconciling, and sharing them. You can take a critical step toward addressing this problem merely by ensuring all documents are kept in a single place.
Again, you have options in terms of how you might handle this challenge. You can create a folder within Sharepoint or some other collaborative platform. You can use widely available, cloud-based tools, such as DropBox or Box.com, or advanced retail marketing calendar solutions, such as those provided by CrossCap, to make all key resources visible to your teams and decision-makers in a central location – accessible any time, and from anywhere. This will not only support alignment, but reduce the necessity for repetitive meetings and added administrative work.
Compile examples of campaign elements for comparative purposes.
You’re also challenged to review each marketing collateral for continuity of look and feel, continuity of offering, and continuity of message. Otherwise, you create confusion in the marketplace. To address consistency issues, you need to line up campaign assets and elements in way that gives you a single, comprehensive view. With your campaign assets centrally located, you can point decision makers to them for review, circumventing the additional meetings required to gain agreement.
What you want is a solution that allows you to easily compare collateral pieces (videos, radio ads, banner ads, display ads, FSIs, etc.) to ensure continuity. But how do you present these elements? You can create a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation that captures screen shots of campaign elements and lays them out for comparison purposes. Or you can consider a purpose-built, retail collaborative tool that allows you to easily compare collateral, such as CrossCap’s Digital Media Wall. Ultimately, your objective is to achieve visual clarity and a bird’s eye view of campaign elements, regardless of format and across all channels. You gain the ability to compare, contrast and edit campaign elements to ensure continuity and enhance presentation.
This is the path a growing number of retail marketing leaders are now taking. But it’s clear that some solutions to campaign continuity are more advanced than others. The most advanced approaches dynamically maintain the linkages between strategies, campaigns, and channels. Through marketing automation, they maintain continuity across teams. And they can pull together comprehensive reports on a broad range of campaigns at the click of a button. The less sophisticated methods, though still helpful, may require additional resources to accomplish the same task.
Consider the case of one large grocery retailer in the Midwest. With its digital team in San Francisco and other campaign teams in the home office, the marketing organization was severely misaligned. In fact, marketers in the home office often didn’t know about digital campaigns until they went live. Moreover, they discovered many campaigns did not line up with larger strategic objectives such as owning a product category or having the most aggressively priced market basket.
Given the marketing organization’s misalignment and absence of visibility, competitors kept eating away at its market share in various categories. It wasn’t until the retailer committed itself to omni-channel, campaign continuity, leveraging an advanced and purpose-built retail marketing solution, that it was able to align all of its marketing teams and enhance execution in the field. Ultimately, it achieved significant improvement in forecast accuracy and promotional efficiency (in terms of overall lift) after implementing the automated system. Given the firm’s scale and volume, these gains proved enormous.
In summary, while it may seem intuitive to leverage more advanced tools to improve campaign continuity, more often than not retailers continue to take the path of avoiding change – leaving them in the dust behind their competition. As technology has become more pervasive across marketing in every niche, so does retail have to step up and leverage technology to improve workflows and drive operational efficiencies to stay competitive.
Now is the prime time for retail marketers to become the superheroes of their business! Tell us what you think below. How are you leveraging operational efficiencies to achieve marketing greatness?
About the Author:
Retail guru, Darrell Fry, brings 36 years of valuable retail experience to CrossCap, garnered primarily through his position as VP of Advertising Production at both OfficeMax and Sears. Darrell was inspired to join CrossCap in 2007 based on his experience installing and utilizing our system as one of our clients. Sold by the efficiency and originality of CrossCap’s product, Darrell holds that unlike many EMM Systems, CrossCap’s system “thinks like a retailer”. As VP of Customer Experience, Darrell is essential towards helping clients utilize our software capabilities most effectively and developing client work processes that are based on best industry practices.