Learn where to invest and pitfalls to avoid when crafting your 2022 marketing plan.
Jennifer Dawkins, TREW Marketing VP of Account Services, has spent two decades crafting marketing plans for technical companies. In that time she's seen companies fall into some common traps when approaching planning, which leads to wasted budget, poor results, and a negative reflection on marketing as a whole. Being tactically driven, planning in a silo, and focusing on vanity metrics rather than business impact are among those typical mistakes marketers make.
During the episode, Jennifer walks through key elements of her marketing planning approach. She advises on what and how to analyze your current performance, the competitive landscape, and how to set meaningful goals. Persona development, a messaging audit, and campaign plans are all part of the marketing plan. Jennifer describes how she measures success and the importance of quarterly evaluation and plan update meetings with your core marketing committee.
We then shift gears to touch on trends for 2022, including tried-and-true tactics that are waning in effectiveness in addition to new areas of investment.
- Jennifer's Bio
- Ebook: Preparing For Your 12-Month Marketing Plan
- Research Report: 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers
- Research Report: Manufacturing Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
Hey, everyone. My guest today is a 20 year veteran at marketing to technical audiences, and I've invited her on to be your guide to put together your 2022 marketing plans. She'll talk about some of the do's and don'ts of the planning process process, and we'll also dive into some of the trends that we're seeing in industrial and technical marketing going into the new year. Speaking of trends, the Content Marketing Institute, along with GlobalSpec and MarketingProfs, just released their Manufacturing Marketing research report, and it had some good nuggets in there about where marketers found success this past year and where they're planning to invest in the coming year.
There's a lot of implications for content marketing, so definitely give it a look. I'll be sure to include a link in the show notes. I also wanted to let you know that in December, we'll be kicking off a mini series focused on industry media. We're bringing on different industry publications and websites to talk about how their platform has evolved and what advice they have for you as you go into 2022. Let's do this.
Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.
Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency. TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com and now on with our podcast.
Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing engineered with me today is Jennifer Dawkins. She's the Vice President of Account Services at our own TREW Marketing. Welcome, Jen.
Hey, welcome, Wendy.
I am excited to have you here and everyone is going to want to listen closely to this episode because right now it's marketing planning season, right?
Before we get started, though, I thought it would be helpful for our listeners and reviewers to hear a little bit about your background and experiences and what shaped you into the marketing strategist and agency leader that you are today.
Sure. Absolutely. So at True Marketing, I've been here for about six years, and I work with a wide variety of clients and specialize in marketing planning. We'll talk about today in content marketing. And prior to True, I spent 15 years at National Instruments. The majority of that time was managing their content marketing program and their content marketing team. I also worked in regional marketing, working really closely with sales and account based marketing and some of our key accounts. And then I managed our content marketing programs as well with some integrated campaign plans so you've touched pretty much every aspect there is marketing planning is what I just heard.
Which, of course, is why you're here today. I have to pick on you. Wow. Where did you go to school?
University of Texas.
And what color are you wearing today?
It's almost Orange.
And I'm in my Aggie Maroon. We did not say that. That is really funny. All right. Let's jump into today's topic. So one of the first things I want to ask is what are some of the common mistakes that marketers make when putting together a marketing plan?
Yeah. That's a good question. So across the board, both when I worked in National Instruments and with several of the accounts I work with. Now, the number one thing people want to do is they want to start talking about tactics. They want to start talking about. Hey, we have this product that we want to launch, and we need a Press release and we need an ad buy, and we need to get this magazine. And that's the first thing they want to do. And when we do marketing plans, I would say 75% of the time that we spend is everything else before we get into the activities and the tactics.
So we look first at what are the business goals? What are we trying to do as a business? Which of those areas can marketing impact the most? We look at where we are today. So where are we with the website with content? What are the gaps? What do we have? That's great that we can still use and leverage. Then we look at what our competitors are doing. What are other people in the space thing? What is our messaging and how does that compare? And who are we talking to?
So all of that, if you dig in and you really understand those things when you get to the actual, what are the goals? What are the tactics? What are we going to do? It's seamless. It's so easy because you know what your gaps are. You know what your opportunities are, you know what you're trying to do, and it kind of flows from that.
You mentioned messaging. And I'm curious. So when you're auditing where you are today and you see that messaging as a whole, does that need to come first before you even create your marketing plan, does that come afterwards? I get this question a lot, actually.
Yeah. Absolutely. So messaging is so critical. So there's several different kinds of messaging. Right. So there's overall corporate messaging. What are you saying about yourself and that's really foundational and should come before anything. So knowing what you're going to say, what you're good at, what resonates with your customers is really important. But then also, if you have a specific product launch or you have a specific market that you're trying to get into, really understanding what is your messaging in that area is also really critical. So it's not to say that you can't do a marketing plan if you don't have your messaging down, it's just in that marketing plan.
If you don't have your messaging or if it's not really solid, that is the very first tactic that you should do as part of your plan for that year makes sense.
So what are some of the key elements that are included in a marketing plan?
So we look at personas who you're talking to, what they care about. That's going to inform so many different things that's going to inform what you say, how you say it, what channels you say it to get to them. So that's really critical. First, understanding what you're trying to do is really important as marketing plans. So understanding what are your goals overall, how do those support roll up to your marketing goals and then under that from the individual programs or campaigns? What are you trying to do there?
What does success look like? So that's a big part of the plan, obviously, the actual tactics. What are you doing? When are you doing them and getting that really lined out as far as timing goes. So you are sure that your plan is realistic. It's something that you can do that you have the resources lined out. So that's really important. And then one of the most important things that you can do from the beginning is agreeing with all the other stakeholders on what success looks like.
So you are Crystal clear on everybody agrees that if we do this and if it is successful, these are the ways we are going to be able to tell that these are the things that we're going to be tracking and looking at. And this is what we expect to see. So not only what you're going to track, but what targets are you expecting that you'll achieve?
Wow. I bet that can be a very healthy debate. Sometimes I just want qualified leads or I just want revenue, just revenue. That's all I care about, right? You never hear that. I bet. Who's around the table, who are the stakeholders that you mentioned that should be involved in marketing planning?
That's a great question. So obviously, marketing as part of marketing planning. And another mistake people make is thinking that marketing can do this on their own and then present the plan out to the organization. It's definitely more effective, efficient. And it's going to help adoption overall. If from the get go, you have an executive sponsor around the table that can help ensure that the resources that you need to execute the plan are allocated and that there's just general support in the organization to move forward on that plan.
So that's going to be really important. Sales is extraordinarily important. They have their own set of goals, and the marketing goals should be very aligned to what they're doing. If they're completely siloed, then that's going to cause a problem with your customer journey is not going to be aligned. And then you're each going to have trouble meeting your goals, another area that sales is really valuable. And it's when you're building out those personas sales or your customer success team could be included as well. They're the ones that know these customers, they know who they are, what they care about, what questions they are asked over and over again, what objections they have.
And so that's going to be really critical as well. And then finally, I think the last thing that should be involved is your technical team. So as part of marketing planning, we do content planning as well. So identifying what are the key topics, what are the key themes? And your technical team is really important, or at least a representative from your technical team to help brainstorm what are the questions that they get a lot? And what are some of the key details that you guys really excel in?
That would be great to have them around the table for that portion.
Got you. Okay. So a lot of different stakeholders and I can imagine where maybe some come in for portions of marketing planning.
I know that one of the things that you often do is conduct a SWAT when you're trying to kind of get a feel for current state. So that's really longstanding business practice to conduct a SWAT. But tell me about what a marketing spot looks like.
Sure. So yeah, there are several different areas that you can look at and that we look at the website, I would say, is the absolute first place that you start. So the website is the number one place that no matter what type of content or marketing you're doing, the website is the place that they're going to go. If you're at a trade show and you talk to somebody, they're going to go back to your website. If it's a referral and you're getting a glowing referral, the first place they're going to go is your website, and that's where they're going to look.
And then, of course, if through traditional inbound tactics, you lure them there through SEO or through content, then that will matter as well. So your website is the first place that we look at, making sure that it looks modern. It's up to date. It reflects who you are and what you offer. So that's really important messaging we've talked about, and that goes hand in hand with the website as well. So is your messaging unique? Is it differentiated and does it talk to the customers? I can't tell you how many times we go into the SWAT and we look through websites, and every single sentence on the entire site is the company's name, and it's all about what they do.
And, of course, your website is supposed to say what you do, but in the lens of and why that matters to your customers and how it addresses what they need and what they care about. So that's really important. Content is the probably the third area that we would look at. Content fuels everything you're doing. It fuels your website and your SEO performance. But also it is what you're going to send no matter what you do. If you have a count based marketing campaign, you're going to use content to do that.
If you have a broad based brand campaign, you're going to use content to do that. It's a little bit different type of content, but really evaluating. Do you have really quality educational content that spans the entire buyer journey? That's going to be pretty important. And then I think the final thing would be what tools do you have? Do you have the ability to track the metrics that you need that really tells you what's working and what's not working? Do you have the tools that you'll need to be able to easily update your website or send emails or get the analytics you need on the context that are coming to your site and what they're doing?
Good advice. I think also, sometimes you guys talk about partnerships, right or associations or what those relationships are and where they stand and what opportunities they represent for the company. Is there a place for that within that SWAT, or does that come in? Yeah.
No. Absolutely. So different companies have different set ups. So a lot of companies will system integrators. For instance, they'll work with a lot of different technical partners. And those relationships are really important and could be really beneficial both for the partner and for the company. So that's an area to look at is do you have partnerships and are you maximizing the marketing opportunities with those partnerships? And that could be tech partners? Like I mentioned, it could be distributor relationships. That's another partnership that we look into a lot.
And so there's definitely opportunities in that area as well.
Oh. Okay. So I know as part of this process, you also look at the competition. So tell me about one of the of some things you should look for when you're auditing competitors.
The first thing that I look at is their messaging. So that is something that if you think it is really unique, that you have longevity in the marketplace, you've been doing this for all these years. It's definitely important to go look, because maybe half your competitors are saying the same thing, and maybe they have been in business as long as you have. Maybe they haven't. It doesn't matter if that's what they're leading with, and that's what you're leading with. It's not differentiated. So messaging is the first thing we look at.
The second thing is where are they with content? Not necessarily how much are they creating, but there are certain companies that really kind of own this education space. Maybe they spend and invest a ton of time into doing trainings and workshops. And that's their thing. And that's what they're known for that's kind of important to know that that's how they draw in people. And is that something you want to compete with? Or is that something that you may want to find your own area? So maybe it's not trainings and workshops that maybe you lead with thought leadership content.
So that kind of helps differentiate as well. It's also helpful to know if you're looking at your competitors and every single one of them has really sophisticated CAD software that they have, or they have these really great downloads that help design engineers stuck in their system, and you don't. That kind of helps you see where you might be lacking with something that's pretty standard among your competitors. So those are just a few things. I mean, there's so many things you can look at with competitors, of course.
Well, when you move from doing this background analysis, you've set your goals. You've worked on personas when you do get to the point where you're talking channels. One of the big things is just to keep track of what's trending. Right? And that, as you know, in our world, changes all the time with new channels coming in and changes when it comes to things like social and different new avenues for content. So just as we roll into 2022, what are some of the marketing trends we should be aware of and consider in our marketing plans?
That's a great question. Okay, so let's first look at a couple of things that we've been seeing this year that will impact everything moving forward. So things to maybe watch out for first, and then I'll get to some other maybe new things that are coming. So one thing that we've been seeing is that with the pandemic and with people not being able to see each other in person and losing some of those traditional marketing tactics, a lot of people are relying on email, so I'm sure you guys have noticed.
I've noticed for sure that I'm getting a ton more email. And so our customers are seeing the same thing. So we're seeing lower email rates across the board. It doesn't mean that emails out or it's not still a really great tactic. It just means that you maybe need to differentiate yourself a little bit more, make sure that your message is extra relevant, customization and making sure that you're not overusing that tool and maybe supplementing with some other ways to reach the same people. Another area that we're seeing is with all the Privacy considerations right now and policies, metrics tracking is getting hard.
So a lot of the metrics tracking that we rely on relies on cookies. And if somebody opts out of cookies, then the metrics aren't as reliable as they once were. And that is something that we can expect to see, continuing to increase and continuing to affect how we do things. I'm still a huge advocate of segmentation and personalization that's going to get a little bit harder to do as Privacy is a bigger concern, and more and more tools are really taking Privacy very seriously. Those are a couple of engine.
It's a marketer working with a technical audience that is really into data. It's so frustrating to see a lot of insight. But of course, we all understand this swing towards Privacy. And of course, technical buyers have always wanted to stay pretty private. A lot of them already are incognito on your site. So I'm glad you brought it up, because I think it is a really big concern, and we'll have to perhaps use other metrics as proxies and be a little just trusting of the process, even if we don't have the data, every data point behind it.
Yeah. Absolutely. A couple of other trends that I want to talk about that are kind of more opportunities and less things to watch out for. So video is one. This has been a trend for the last couple of years. It's just video is everywhere. So we are seeing that our clients are wanting more video. They're performing better. We've seen it in our own research that we do and then third party research as well. That video is something that people are consuming, particularly younger engineers. That's really how they want to get their information.
And it is performing better than a lot of the other avenues. So in video, there's a lot of our clients that are very hesitant and they don't think they have the skill or the budget to do it. And so I guess my advice there would be it's not as hard, and it doesn't have to be as flashy as you think it does. I mean, there is, of course, still a place for the really polished corporate video. But if you can't get that or if you can't afford that or you don't have time to do that.
There's so many other ways of just getting on your computer doing a demo, doing a screen record, sitting and talking about something like a video blog podcast like this. There's a lot of different ways to incorporate video, and you just kind of need to do it. Start trying and get better at it. So that's a big one. And then another trend that we're seeing everywhere is account based marketing. It's not new. Account based marketing has been around for a long time, but with some of the really cool new technology that's coming out, it is making it a little bit easier to do at scale.
And we are seeing a lot of companies really double down on that tactic.
Yeah. And I think for marketers who haven't looked into the idea of intent and intent data, that's a new area for a lot of people to be able to see. Ok. Not only measuring someone's journey on your own website, but what are they doing externally? That completes that picture of where they are in the buying cycle and how interested they might be in your solution.
So, wow. A lot of things to consider as you create this marketing plan, and let's pretend we've been through this whole process. We have it. It's documented. It's done. The budget is solid. We're swinging into execution now. So how rigid should this marketing plan be? And I already kind of know your answer. But honestly, this isn't a static document. Right. So how often should you revisit the plan and come together as a core marketing team to make adjustments?
Absolutely. When we plan for a full calendar year, and it's really hard to know nine months from now, what opportunities are going to come up, what product is going to slip massively, and we won't be able to launch what we thought we would. Acquisitions might happen during the year. There are lots of things that can happen.
Pandemics may happen throughout the year.
No. Absolutely. It's important to document your best guess what's going to happen. And chances are the first half year is probably pretty solid. First quarter, extremely solid. So if you just start working towards that and know that there's going to be opportunities, there's going to be shifts that you'll need to adjust your plan overall. So we recommend from an evolution of the plan standpoint, but also just from looking at how everything's doing that every month, you're tracking your scorecard, metrics and looking at what's happening and maybe not necessarily taking action on it every month, but keeping tabs and seeing what's going on and then every quarter.
That's really where you look at the metrics and analyze. Okay. Is this because this tactic isn't working? Is this something that we need to adjust? Is this something that maybe there's a new opportunity that we need to add in? And so that quarter Mark is really where you can look back and make adjustments. And then you can look forward at the quarter that you've planned and you have what your plan is and you can make adjustments based on well, we're a little late on this thing that happened last quarter.
So we're going to push this out or now there's this other opportunities. So we're going to change that. So those are the touch points. And in that quarterly meeting where you're both looking back at what's happening and then making adjustments moving forward, that's a good place to bring back in your executive sponsor that you have involved. Maybe if you have a sales advocate that can tell you some things that are happening in the sales world that you might not know with customers, and they can give you feedback on how your message and your content is resonating what they're hearing.
So that's a great touch point for that as well. I guess the point is it is a living document. It is not a here's your marketing plan, it's printed out, it's found, and you're going to follow it. It is kind of a guide that changes as needed.
Yeah. You mentioned the scorecard. What are some typical things that go in the scorecard and what should not go in the scorecard?
Yeah, that's a good question. So what your specific metrics are? Absolutely depends on what activities you're doing. These are the five things you should always include, but some things that are important are you want to measure have some metrics throughout the entire bundle, so you need to have some awareness metrics. You need to have some conversion metrics, and you need to have some bottom of the funnel metrics. It might be that your organization does not care about vanity metrics like traffic. They just don't care. You don't have to report out all those metrics.
It is really important that you still track them because one of the main reasons we track metrics is to identify what's working and what's not working. And if something's breaking down, where is it breaking down? So even if your executive team never wants you to report out traffic, you need to know it. So you need to know that if you're not getting the leads, maybe it's because of a problem up at the beginning. So that's really important. It is really critical to understand what metrics the sales care about.
What metrics does your executive team care about and make sure that you're also tracking those and also reporting out those specifically. So they understand that they're heard and your marketing efforts are achieving some of the things that they care about.
Yeah. I think some of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is they include some of the downstream tactical metrics like cost per. Click on campaign or open rates, and click throughs on an e newsletter. Not to say those aren't important diagnostic things to measure that individual activity. But don't report that to your executives. Just stay focused on the high level things that make an impact. And I love what you said about coverage along the full funnel. Yeah.
One thing that's really important to understand is you're not reporting metrics to justify what you're doing or to make yourself look good. The metrics are not about marketing. The metrics are all about how is marketing contributing to the business? And so when you're reporting and reporting out on your metrics, that's really important to keep in mind, don't just report the things that make you look good. Report the things that tell the true story about what's happening and what needs to change.
Yeah. And it shows that you're tied back to you understand what the business needs, and you're tied into that, right? You're not just caring about your vanity activities.
Well, good. Well, we've covered a lot of ground today. Perhaps some parting advice for marketers that are just starting to tackle their 2022 plans.
Yes. So I guess I would say not to get caught up on doing everything right or doing everything at the right time or getting everything 100% complete. Just start somewhere. Start from where you are. If you are starting right now. It's the perfect time. It's all that's great. You have the whole year. If things are crazy and you can't get started on your plan until February, start, then start then and have it starting at a different time. It doesn't have to happen in a very specific way or a very specific time.
Just do it. Get something down. Have the conversation. One of the biggest benefits of doing marketing planning is just the process of talking to people internally and really taking a critical look at what we've done and what we want to do. So it's definitely not about the end document. It is about the process of really having those discussions throughout the organization on what would help your company. What would help your business?
Good. So don't kill yourself over the holidays. If you can't get the right, just put it off. Do it right. Absolutely. Well, Jen, where can our listeners and viewers go to connect with you and find more resources?
So on our site, trucketing. Com, we have a marketing planning section. We have an ebook you can reach out to us. We're happy to talk through your plan. Actually help you side by side, create your plan, or we have some resources on the site that can help you do it yourself.
Right. Well, I'll make sure to include a link to that ebook in our show notes today and thank you so much for your time. I know it's a busy time of year for you and marketing planning, so I appreciate you being here.
You bet. Have a good day.
Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing Engineers. For show Notes, including links to resources, visit truemarketing. Compodcast. While there, you can subscribe to our blog and our newsletter and order a copy of my book Content Marketing Engineer. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast. So please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me a review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.