Building a Better MarCom Plan: Prioritize Low-Hanging Fruit

David Lazarenko

W While the process of marketing communication (MarCom) planning can occur at any time of the year, I have found that many ag organizations start this process in the fall (for plans that align with the calendar year) or the spring (for plans that align to the crop and/or fall sales seasons).

This means that there are likely a good number of you reading this that are either in the midst of, or will soon be developing, your MarCom plans and therefore looking for ways to improve them. To help, in this blog series, I will walk you through three specific tips that I’ve used to help many ag clients build better plans. If you missed tip #1 of this series, stop stale dating your creative, you can read it here.

My Approach

As someone who has served the ag industry in a marketing capacity for over 20 years, I can comfortably say that ag is a laggard in the disciplines of marketing, branding, advertising and digital. Ag has yet to fully embrace the best practices that have been developed, proven and adopted in these areas by other industries.

When working with ag clients on their MarCom plans, I challenge them to think beyond agri-marketing. The goal is to make sure they are putting forward their best marketing effort — period (not just the best marketing effort in ag).

The following tips are rooted in best practices I have seen other industries taking advantage of but are still not commonplace in ag.

Tip #2: Prioritize low-hanging fruit

The harsh reality marketers must accept is that some audiences are simply too difficult and too costly to be converted through marketing efforts. As such, it makes little sense to spend time, investment, and effort on these audiences when others present a much greater opportunity.

When considering where you are going to focus your time, effort and investment, I suggest looking at your audiences as living somewhere within a standard bell curve, where those on the far left have the highest propensity to buy/convert, and those on the far right have the lowest.

Marcom Diagram v1

In this model, you can see that audiences fall into very different categories based on their active willingness to convert/buy. Therefore, your return on investment will vary significantly as well. In this case, I have segmented the standard curve into four strategic categories:

  • Converts – Members of your audience who’ve done, and are doing, business with your organization. They’ve established the required knowledge, trust, and desire to convert (i.e. existing customers, repeat customers, referral audiences, etc.)
  • Prospects – Members of your audience that have established some knowledge and awareness of your organization but not the required levels of trust and desire to convert/do business (i.e. lapsed audiences, sales leads, named contacts, etc.)
  • Passives – Members of your audience that have little awareness or knowledge of your organization and therefore don’t trust or desire to convert/do business (i.e. target audiences, new market audiences, unnamed contacts, etc.)
  • Opposers – Members of your audience who don’t want to do business with you based on the knowledge and awareness they’ve acquired (i.e. competitor loyalists, critics, etc.)

The strategic question then becomes where and how much do you invest in each category? Thankfully, this can be connected directly to your overall marketing goals and objectives as they will typically provide the direction desired.

For example, if your primary marketing goals and objectives are focused on growing profitability and share of wallet, then you will no doubt want to invest the most in Converts with some going towards the most attractive Prospects. Likewise, if your goals and objectives are focused on growing revenue and market share, then you will likely want to spend more on Prospects and some on both Converts and Passives.

Regardless, this model will help you better align your spending by using ROI (not budget or tactics) as your guide.

For more information on MarCom planning best practices, click here, sign-up for our e-newsletter (below), or book a meeting.

About the Writer

David Lazarenko – Executive Vice President and Partner at Think Shift

David has spent more than 20 years leading strategy and marketing efforts in agri-business. He has led successful brand and product launches, re-branding and brand alignment initiatives, sales campaigns, and corporate responsibility campaigns for some of agriculture’s most successful corporations, including ADAMA, Bayer, Cargill, Monsanto, Trimble Agriculture and Westeel. David’s commitment to agriculture and thought leadership in marketing was recognized with his award as the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association’s 2018 Agri-Marketer of the Year.


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