Back to School, Back to Marketing Basics

August 25, 2015

As a working mom with two small kiddos and a college professor husband who is himself preparing for a busy year ahead, this time of year is certainly one of the most hectic in our family. Being surrounded by students and teachers, I am one of the few people who still enjoys the feelings of renewal and energy that come with yet another “back to school” adventure.

This year, I have been thinking a lot about the intersection of marketing in corporate marketing and the back to school hustle and bustle.

Stock Up on School Supplies

One of my favorite things to do is shop for school supplies. Not only do I love stocking up on the core essentials like crayons and notebooks, but I find great joy in seeing what new items grace the store shelves, like the monster-mouthed pencil pouch at Target.SchoolSupply

Corporate marketing is very similar. The supply checklist of essentials for every marketing department includes attractive collateral, a robust email marketing system, the right mix of social media channels, and a user friendly website, just to name a few. Just as we stock up our kids and classrooms with core essentials, it’s important that we take stock of our core marketing tools and make sure they are still the right fit for our businesses.

Like all things digital, marketing is innovating at a pace that can be difficult to keep up with, even with the best intentions. Instead of trying to test and roll out several new marketing tools, I suggest you take a look at one of your essential tools and explore ways you could make that one thing better. This is an approach we are taking at PSA right now. Our email marketing lists and overall program could use some love so we are evaluating some other tools and strategies that we can use to advance our email marketing program. We are keeping the other core essentials in place (for now) and taking a bite out of one that needs the most attention.

Meet the Teacher

My kids are both elementary aged so meeting their teachers is still a pretty big production. Making a connection with the person who will come to know my kiddos in their intellectual endeavors is an important part of the new school year. In that same way, relationships are vital to our continued success in corporate marketing. I always encourage my teams to make connections with people outside of our office and outside our industry. For example, in Colorado, we have several marketing and leadership associations that are very active and offer education and networking beyond what we could get just by looking to our industry resources alone. Don’t get me wrong, industry relationships are no doubt critical, but expanding your network and meeting people whose expertise may not be in physical security specifically is a simple way to keep on top of marketing trends from 30,000 feet.

Get in the Groove

Confession: the school routine can be brutal for our family. This year, we have a preschooler joining the student ranks and morning meltdowns can quickly derail an already tight schedule. In years past, we would just throw his toothbrush and clothes in a bag and load up the screamer to get the other kiddo to school on time, but now a typical tantrum can put a dent in the whole schedule. Our solution? Plan. Plan. Plan. Clothes are picked out the night before, backpacks are packed, snacks are selected, the car is preloaded and pep talks are had about the day ahead.

Just like all amazing four-year-olds, companies can experience communications meltdowns. That’s why having a marketing plan in place is so important. Having an overarching marketing plan helps keep everyone in the department on track on the day-to-day activities and allows the team to work autonomously if they know that we are all pulling on the same rope. Some percentage of marketing is always going to be what I call “reactionary” – it’s the stuff you can’t anticipate that requires attention or response that it outside the known plan. Some reactionary marketing requires a plan (take crisis communications for instance), but if your day-to-day marketing house is in order, your entire marketing program will not be completely derailed when the unexpected occurs.

Do Your Homework

Ongoing learning in corporate marketing is essential – things change at a dizzying pace. Just as we encourage our kiddos to do their homework, we too should be doing ours. New tools crop up every day, especially on the digital marketing front. Some tools are intended for B2C marketing applications and others are a slam dunk for B2B. I am not advocating that you jump on the latest and greatest trend, but being aware of it and its practical application for your business is important. Not all trends are a good fit. Periscope is a great example. This is a relatively new live streaming video platform that is integrated with, and owned by, Twitter. Even though there is a lot of conversation about this new tool, it’s important to do your homework on the tool and see if it’s a good business fit.

The new school year is a time of adjustment while kids and families get back into the swing of things. While our kids are heading back to class, maybe it’s also time to take a closer look at our marketing basics and make sure our most elementary elements are still being effectively addressed.