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3 steps to a marketing and communications roadmap

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Man tying a marketing plan
In creating content, consider the customer needs you’re addressing and what’s distinctive about the way you address them

Business leaders need to promote their company’s brand, protect its reputation and grow its revenues against the backdrop of continued uncertainty. What’s the best way to develop a marketing and communications roadmap when the route ahead for most businesses remains challenging?

Plan your strategy

Start with your business objectives and build your marketing and communications plan to help get you there. Whether you’re about to launch, scale or expand into new markets, you need a robust plan to achieve your objective. The plan will reflect the industry you’re in, whether you’re selling to other businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), and the size and scale of your business.

First, consider who you’re targeting and where they are, both geographically and digitally. Conduct market research to understand the customer or industry you’re selling to and create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer that ultimately helps you understand their wants and needs. Your market research should also consider your competition, what they do well, and where the gaps are that you can potentially fill. In addition, analysis of traditional and social media can help you understand the trending topics that your customers and prospects care about. This information will help you plan how to reach, engage and convert your prospects. It will inform how you develop your marketing approach, decide on your channels and media, and create your marketing content.

 

Master your approach and focus on content

There are numerous frameworks to help organise your marketing and communications approach. The “PESO model” is a useful tool for planning activity across different channels and types of media. The acronym refers to paid, earned, shared and owned channels. These terms correspond to advertising, public relations, organic social media, and proprietary marketing assets, such as your website, email campaigns or case studies.

Use the channels that are best suited to your product, service or campaign. A B2B firm marketing a complex service might use earned media, such as public relations, to build credibility within its sector. It might combine this with owned media, such as an email campaign, to target prospects. However, a B2C may rely heavily on paid media, in the form of TV or social media advertising, to generate a high volume of awareness and interest in a consumer product.

But you’ll need strong content to feed the process and ensure it works effectively. Think of content as an asset you provide to prospects in exchange for their attention, awareness and consideration. Instead of just pitching your products or services, you’re providing useful content to your audience. This could be to help illuminate solutions to their problems, inform or educate them about topics they care about, or inspire and entertain them in ways they find interesting.

In creating content, consider the customer needs you’re addressing and what’s distinctive about the way you address them. Reflect on the insights from your market research, media analysis and social listening. Bring these perspectives together to flesh out topics, and then individual content pieces, that are valuable to your audience and relevant to your business.

Make sure to measure progress and iterate your approach as you go along. A myriad of marketing and communications software providers can help you do this, such as Hubspot and Salesforce. Their tools can be used to stay organised and on track across the full range of marketing, communications, sales and customer service activities.

 

Build the right team

Marketing and communications teams are increasingly tasked with doing more with less. They have to work across a broader array of marketing disciplines than ever before and cut through the noise despite increasingly crowded markets. You may need to assemble marketing talent across user acquisition or lead generation, public relations, brand, creative, events, research and analytics.

The mix of specialisms will depend on your company’s stage of growth and whether you’re in B2C or B2B. Teams in B2C often focus on direct user acquisition, growth and scaling using advertising as well as non-paid, organic acquisition, such as search. Whereas in B2B, the emphasis is more likely to be on content marketing, lead generation and sales enablement during a complex and lengthy procurement process.

It’s rare for a marketing team to be good at all the marketing disciplines, except at the very largest organisations. Different marketing specialisations require different mindsets, skills and sensibilities. So it’s critical to determine which marketing discipline is dominant for your business, and then hire the right talent as your business evolves.

Getting strategy, content and team right is crucial to chart an effective course for marketing and communications. It will enable you to speak directly to your ideal customer’s pain points, create messaging and content that’s fit for each channel, and move prospects successfully through the buyer journey.

Kamyar Naficy is the Founder and Principal of KNECTCOMMS, a marketing and communications consultancy to the finance, technology and fintech sectors. He previously worked in senior marketing and communications roles at JP Morgan, London Stock Exchange Group and UniCredit.

Marketing

David Beckham partners with Stella Artois for new campaign

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A billboard featuring English footballer David Beckham
The first commercial for the new partnership, featuring David Beckham, was released earlier this month

Stella Artois has enlisted global sport and lifestyle icon David Beckham as an official ambassador for the new “A Taste Worth More” campaign, celebrating our premium brand’s distinctive taste and genuine moments of connection with friends.

The “Worth More” platform builds on Stella Artois’ famous “Reassuringly Expensive” advertising campaign that helped define the international premium beer segment globally from 1982 until 2007.

“While the Reassuringly Expensive line was pure creative genius – a great example of understanding consumer behavior and then transforming it into powerful advertising with an irreverent twist – it was almost three decades ago and the codes of premium have changed,” says Tim Ovadia, Global Vice President of Marketing for Stella Artois. “Being ‘premium’ is no longer just about the price tag, brands now have to prove their worth to consumers at both an emotional and functional level.”

Richard Oppy, Global Vice President of the Premium Co. at AB InBev, said David Beckham was tapped as an official ambassador for the brand because, “Not only does he embody modern premium values, but he is also a beer consumer and Stella Artois lover – an authentic connection that builds strong partnership. This is a big moment for the Stella Artois brand that we believe can kick off a powerful wave of growth around the world.”

The partnership is also a key pillar in AB InBev’s global megabrand strategy and mega-platform approach that hones in on relevant consumer passion points and developing meaningful consumer connections through rich occasions to fuel love for our brands and drive growth.

“I’m pleased to partner with Stella Artois and excited to celebrate the importance of genuine moments with family and friends. The brand and its distinctive taste has been a favourite for years,” said David. 

The first commercial for the “A Taste Worth More” campaign was released earlier this month, which satirically positions the taste of Stella Artois as worth more than a chance encounter to meet David, one of the world’s most recognizable men. The commercial is part of a new year-long campaign and will run alongside digital and out-of-home advertising in the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea and South Africa. 

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Samy Alliance enters Nordic market with social media agency acquisition

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Samy Alliance enters Nordic market with social media agency acquisition
With new acquisition, Samy Alliance continues its international expansion that started in 2019

SAMY Alliance, an integrated, social-first technology and data-enabled digital marketing company, has begun a new chapter on its tenth anniversary with the acquisition of Kurio, a social-first creative agency, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland.

Since being founded in 2013 SAMY Alliance has experienced sustained growth year-on-year, consolidating its position as a leading global player in its sector. The company is currently present in Europe, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

Kurio was founded in 2012 by Jari Lähdevuori and Elli Tuominen, is a social-first creative agency which has worked with brands such as Microsoft, Unilever, Accenture, and Fazer.

“Our goals align perfectly with SAMY’s in both ambition and direction. We share a common desire to serve our clients both locally and globally as a leading ‘social-first’ agency, leveraging data and technology to enhance our offering. This partnership marks a significant milestone in our journey, and we are excited about the possibilities it opens up for us and our existing and new clients in the Nordics and globally,” says Tommi Opas, CEO at Kurio.

With this operation, Samy Alliance continues its international expansion that started in 2019 with the acquisition of the British company SHARE Creative – an agency with over 50 employees. Additionally, Samy Alliance acquired AnyGivenDay and Nobox, creative agencies specialized in social media based in Miami. These acquisitions brought a portfolio of highly relevant clients, including Netflix, Reebok, Microsoft, Diageo, and The North Face, among others.

The founders and the international management team will continue to lead this new growth phase, now hand in hand with Kurio, with the objective of attaining over €100 million in revenues in the coming months.

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How to become a news outlet contributor

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A reader flicking through pages of a special feature printed on a magazine
Consider your areas of expertise and unique perspectives when approaching a publication to become a contributor writer | Photo: Austin Distel

With the risk of sounding old and grumpy: a writer or blogger who can’t even put together a half-decent pitch to introduce themselves to a publication they want to contribute to should not be allowed anywhere near a brand or a newsroom.

Pitching to write for a publication requires time to craft a compelling proposal that showcases your expertise, aligns with the publication’s audience and content, and highlights the value you can bring as a contributor. It is also about being transparent with your intentions: do you want to become a contributor writer to share your knowledge and enhance your digital authority, or are you simply after a venue to plug a client’s press release and get free publicity?

Here are six key things to consider before reaching out to any publication to try to become a news outlet contributor.

Research the publication

Before reaching out to a publication, it’s crucial to thoroughly research what they do and how they do it. Take time to dive into their website, read recent articles, and get a feel for their tone, style, and audience. Understanding the publication’s preferences and audience demographics will help you tailor your pitch to fit seamlessly into their content lineup.

Identify your niche

Consider your areas of expertise, passions, and unique perspectives that you can bring to the table before approaching a publication. Your pitch should reflect your knowledge in a specific field or topic area while also aligning with the interests of the publication’s audience. But narrow things down even within a niche; For example, if you are a travel writer, keep in mind that travel is a massive field to cover. Unless you suggest some specific articles that you genuinely want to work on for a publication (and they are truly unique), it is unlikely you will stand a chance.

Be clear and concise

Crafting a compelling pitch is the key to grabbing the editor’s attention. Start with a captivating subject line that entices the editor to open your email. Introduce yourself briefly, highlighting relevant experience or credentials that make you well-suited to write for the publication. Then, present your article ideas concisely, focusing on topics that align with the publication’s content and audience. Be sure to include a unique angle or perspective that sets your pitch apart from others.

Personalize Your Pitch

The trick of referencing a specific article or sections of the publication that resonate with you is an old one, so make sure you mean it. Personalizing your pitch is essential for building rapport with the editor and demonstrating your genuine interest in contributing to their publication. However, editors receive hundreds of pitches on a monthly basis from people wanting the same chance to become a contributor writer, so publications can be choosy. Never use a template that sounds too perfect or desperate. Write your own copy, well-tailored to the publication you want to be working on.

Say who you are

Anyone can pitch an idea for an article. But you are unique and that is what editors will look at in the first place. Make sure to introduce yourself and to provide your social media handle and things you have written about within the niche you are pitching for. When signing a message as a potential writer, also add your surname and LinkedIn. The only three people on the planet allowed to sign a message to a stranger with a single name are Madonna, Rihanna, and Adele – and none of them are writers.

Provide Samples

Show straightway that you can deliver a good copy by providing links to, at least, three of your best and most recent articles online. Very important: work samples that don’t feature your name, as the writer, have zero value.

If you don’t have published samples, consider writing a whole article to give the editor any editor a sense of your writing style, knowledge and approach. Regardless of the format, your samples should align with the topics and tone of the publication you are pitching for.

Be transparent and upfront

When offering a writing service, even if at no charge and with the intention of creating a writing portfolio, be clear about what you expect in return and how it will benefit you. If you have a flat fee for every 1000 words, highlight it and also mention how many revisions are allowed within the fee. If you work for a brand and the brand is likely to be featured within your content, you must disclose it at the very start of the negotiations to become a contributor writer.

Flexibility is key when pitching to write for a publication. Be open to feedback and revisions from the editor, who may have suggestions for refining your pitch or article ideas.

One thing that very few people remember to mention when applying to become a contributor writer for a publication is how flexible their schedule are. Willingness to negotiate terms such as deadlines, word count, and compensation if a pitch is accepted should be highlighted as part of your initial outreach if you want to increase your chances of establishing a successful partnership with a publication.

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