Prioritizing Tactics for a Plan

In my post on identifying tactics, I said that surveys and polls were almost essential.  When I started producing the beer festivals, I had attendee surveys with good information about how patrons learned of the event.  Some checked multiple sources, which blurred the picture a bit, but I charted them all for two festivals – media type, cost to execute, the tickets each accounted for, then the cost per ticket produced, to start.

That was eye-opening.  marketing returns  Radio produced 385 tickets, but it cost $4880?  $13/ticket sold?  The point of sale materials, posters and table tents – $23/ticket?  And advertising on the social planning web site and in the local newspaper was a waste.

But I noticed in the overall scheme – referrals from friends/patrons, emails to past patrons, ads in the magazine – all vehicles within our circle, our “club”, produced most of the sales.  So I put most of my emphasis onto getting people into “the club” and energizing those already in it.

  • Word of mouth referrals – energize the existing list with FB interaction and insider info in the newsletters
  • Get emails spread virally – honor past patrons with notice to free tastings and sponsor promotions (great for sponsors, too) and ask them to bring a friend
  • Beer magazine ads – add testimonials from opinion leaders, add more photos of patrons experiencing the event
  • Start a Facebook page to get friends’ friends over – then move them to our email list

Right behind that, I wanted tactics to get more people on the email list.

  • Datamine public events – get addresses in turn for entry into a raffle for tickets
  • Encourage web site signups – put flyers of the ticket giveaway on retail check-out counters
  • Announce the ticket giveaway on the Facebook page
  • Stage advance events in sponsor outlets and capture addresses there

Now that I’ve generated these vehicles, why not put it all out into our partners’ networks as well?  I gave my benefactor organization/volunteers, sponsors, the CVB, convention center marketing staff, and the local home brew club all the same communications and asked if they would distribute them appropriately.

All that was low- to no-cost.  The question was now the real cost items.  What would tell the experience best?  Video!  But we didn’t have time or a budget to produce AND distribute it.  Radio already bombed.  Publicity/editorial coverage is worth 3x the value of print advertising – so I went with a PR firm.  If you can hire PR that is entrenched in the target market and has an affinity for your product, this is a hands-down best value.

Now, to spread my allotment on the tactics.  I was committed to PR and advance events.  I cut radio to a minimum, leaving enough for credibility and using it strictly for on-air giveaways, driving people to the web site and email signup.   The weekly social magazine cost a fair amount, but it was the third biggest producer, so I didn’t want to chance eliminating that.  Showing the magazine their past ROI, I bargained for a better price.  Last, I chopped POS in half to spend on participation in a few festivals prior to ours.

Marketing expenditures were roughly this:

……………………….Previous Year   Actual 2011

PR fees                             3,000                    12,905

Graphic design              5,500                    5,795

Social newspaper         3,500                    2,726

Biz Journal                                                      1,000

Radio                                 7,500                    2,500

POS                                    4,200                    2,015

Advance events            450                        1,863

………………………..24,150                     28,804

Increasing the number and content of newsletters, working through sponsors’ and benefactor’s networks, and reaching out to community groups didn’t cost much, but figured greatly into my workflow.  That limited the number of advance events I could do and held off starting a Twitter presence.  On this attached timeline, you will see that I included the action steps of the editorial calendar as well – this dictated my life for three months.  Marketing timeline  This was invaluable.

One aside – once you commit to a level of PR services, you need to maximize that investment with strategy.  We discussed influencing the media – we invited them to advance tastings, we sent them home beer tasting kits, and we gave them a choice of a byline topic in turn for exclusivity.  We discussed organizations to involve, events to participate in, and an editorial calendar (schedule of byline articles, releases, newsletter topics mapped to a schedule and medium).  Using all of these steps, our PR firm generated publicity of over five times their fee.

In the end, keeping the total expenditure almost flat, we sold 40% more tickets.  We grew our contact email list by even more.  We gave our sponsors more value and created  stronger partnerships with several organizations, making the event easier to sell next year.

My methods to prioritize tactics for my plan seem pretty intuitive.  I’d like to know if there is some other method or consideration to make that would improve a marketing plan.  Then, how can you best justify your return?  Surveys again?

Columbia WBF 2011

Defining Grassroots Marketing

I’ve found that grassroots marketing is used more as a term than a defined approach.  Some equate it to guerrilla marketing – street teams, loud signage, and hand-distributed flyers, …  I define GRM as the use of a strategic set of personal and “niche” media, including events, social media, community affiliations, public relations, Internet marketing, etc. to communicate information that can be used in a buying decision.  It’s very different from traditional marketing – mass media blasting a repetitious message in a top-down approach.

GRM uses messages that can vary with the tactic and the immediate audience (but still consistent with the brand) – but the tone is different.  Instead of selling benefits, the approach is to offer insightful, inviting information that establishes the sender as a non-threatening resource.  Testimonials and implied endorsement are really important.  The intent is to create brand disciples and viral spread, through the Internet and word-of-mouth.  GRM requires lots of time and effort, but the results are generally more permanent and cost-effective.

Some of the techniques I’ve used are:

– event sponsorship (in a trade show, expo, festival)

– email newsletter campaigns

– social media posts

– advertising on special interest web sites

– in-store displays and promotions

– interactive pavilions

– byline articles on a related topic with a range of contributors

– posted and hand distributing printed materials

– community groups’ newsletters and social networks

I believe a lot product categories are better served using a grassroots approach – entertainment, food and drink, high cost purchases (houses and cars, …) – products that aren’t commodities and could be considered part of a personal brand.  I would also include products that are so complex, consumers want an expert or a company to entrust.

Let me hear your comments on the definition, or suggestions about other good GRM tactics.  Thanks.