Building a Better MarCom Plan: Stop Stale Dating Your Creative

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 to 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.

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

Tip #1: Don’t stale date your creative

I have seen way too many ag organizations investing in new creative when those marketing dollars would have been better spent elsewhere.

Based on my experience, the primary reasons for this are two-fold:

  1. Poor creative measurement – Unfortunately, when ag organizations have little data to prove whether their creative is working or not, they will tend to change it more frequently than required.
  2. Creative fatigue – This is likely the greatest culprit for premature creative changes as well as the most unfortunate given that it’s generally based on internal vs external opinion.

Ultimately, many ag organizations change their creative year-over-year because they believe it is no longer fresh and is therefore underperforming. This is based on a very one-sided and inaccurate view as we (the client and the agency) need to understand that the freshness of the creative will be vastly different to us than it is to the audience.

For example, even before the creative goes live there is a good chance that the internal audiences working most closely on it will have seen it hundreds of times and for significantly longer and more in-depth introspection than any external audience will ever experience.

Even with a robust external spend, your audiences will likely need at least 3+ years before true creative fatigue kicks in, where they become so tired of seeing the ads that they choose not to act because of it.

This doesn’t mean that your creative shouldn’t be tweaked annually, as that is a critical part of ongoing performance optimization. For example, if a certain piece of digital creative is starting to deliver fewer site visits or form fills, it may simply need a revised CTA to boost performance back to optimal levels (costing significantly less than developing new creative altogether).

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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