Like the game of Jenga, marketing strategy implementation becomes daunting as more time passes. While both starts with the best of intentions and a solid foundation, only certain bricks (tactics) are needed to keep the strategy strong, while a focus on the wrong bricks, can send the whole tower toppling.
Workshops are an ideal way to bring together teams to untangle marketing problems together, to decipher which tactics are most important, and inevitably, with the existing resources, which tactics create the longest standing tower. Whether a series of exercises are done in small teams or they are undertaken as a large group – the goal of any marketing workshop is to resolve pressing questions, arrive at key outcomes, and come up with go forward plans. A strategy workshop may not always proceed linearly, but there are a few exercises that we find are helpful for marketing planning.
1) Persona Workshops
“Personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way … Creating personas can help you step out of yourself. It can help you to recognise that different people have different needs and expectations, and it can also help you to identify with the user you’re designing for”.~ Interactive Design Foundation
While it is almost impossible to satisfy every unique need of your customers, identifying distinctive needs and qualities amongst customers is important for prioritizing marketing tactics. Here are some tips that we use to help teams create first drafts of personas, which can then be further validated with customer data and evidence.
Get creative – you can do this exercise in small groups. Prior to the exercise, examine your existing customer data and determine which persona segments exist. If there is a segment you currently do not reach which is a priority segment, add a new segment. Try to keep your personas to about three in total.
Assign each group a different persona segment to profile.
Gather magazine images, write in coloured pens, add sticky note thoughts, and find images of your persona segments – all to create a pictorial representation of your current and prospective customer segments.
Consider demographics (age, income, location), psychographics (what do they do in their free time?), product or service interaction (how do they hear about it? what unique need does your product or service serve in their lives?), and their media habits (online and offline).
Each group can present the persona segment they profiled. As a team, vote on who your ideal customer is. Consider elements such as buying power and resources required to reach each segment.
Have some of the latest customer data on hand to back up representations with facts and figures. If there is data missing, be sure to validate all assumptions after the session using marketing research or existing customer data.
2) Start, Stop, Continue Workshop
Often times teams can be overwhelmed with the many marketing activities they are undertaking and need to step back to determine what's working, what needs to be put on hold because it’s no longer working, and what needs to be added to marketing activities to move forward into new directions.
Meet the start, stop, continue session.
Provide individuals with sticky notes to write down:
The marketing activities that have been fruitful in the past year (Continue)
The marketing activities that have resulted in little return on investment considering time and energy (Stop); and,
New activities that have emerged as important ones to consider from the persona exercise above to reach priority segments (Start).
Take the Start/Stop/Continue sticky notes and use the team feedback as a road map for developing a strategic marketing implementation plan. This exercise is all about learning to pursue promising opportunities and re-prioritizing time, energy and resources.
These are some of our favourite workshop activities that we use to evoke empathetic, meaningful ideas from companies and groups to create effective marketing strategies.