In previous posts, I have stressed the need to do preparatory work before being able to start any marketing activities:
- Have a clear objective (“Does your choir need marketing? Just answer these 3 questions”)
- Understand who you are aiming your marketing at (“Understand your target audience”)
- Create messages that appeal to your targets (“Why should they come? Build your choir promotion value proposition”)
So, having done all that, can you now dive off into the fun stuff? Not quite yet, I’m afraid! You need a choir marketing plan.
For amateur choirs, especially, people and financial resources are usually in very short supply. A simple, documented, plan will help you get the most out of every hour of effort and £ of funding. It also provides a way to communicate what you are doing to the rest of your committee and choir members as you will probably need their help to get results. You should look to create a choir marketing plan for a limited number of marketing campaigns.
What is a campaign?
I am sure you are familiar with the term ‘marketing campaign’, but do you actually know what it means? It is often incorrectly applied to describe a single marketing activity, for instance, “we need a Facebook campaign” or “let’s have an email campaign”.
For hundreds of years the military have used the word ‘campaign’ to describe a series of interrelated operational activities that occur over a period of time and which are all driving toward a common objective. One battle is not a campaign, but equally a single campaign does not equate to the whole war.
It is just the same in marketing. In marketing terms a campaign is a series of tactics and activities that are coordinated to achieve a single objective. These activities can take place over variable time spans. For instance, you could have a campaign to generate an audience for your next major concert which lasts 2-3 months, or you might want to plan a long-term campaign to recruit new choir members for which activities are planned across the year. These campaigns build together into your choir marketing plan.
Building a campaign
To start with you need to state your objective for the campaign. Then you need to identify the tactics you plan to employ.
In your “Buyer Persona” that you created to describe a target audience for your marketing activity (“Understand your target audience”) you will have included descriptions of how they get information, and what influences their behaviour. You should use this along with their demographic data to inform the marketing activities that you plan for your campaign.
And you need to plot all of this out on a timeline to identify what needs to be done, when and by whom.
An example choir marketing plan
By way of example, let’s look at the planning of a concert for my choir, the Rushmoor Male Voice Choir, using the information gleaned about our audience from the survey we carried out (“Our Concert Audience – the results from an online survey”).
Our objective could be to attract an audience of 300. Typically, we plan our concert promotional campaign over a 3-month period. As identified in the audience survey results, the priority channels we use are our website, direct communication through choir members to family and friends, email communications from the choir, charity and the venue, posters and flyers. It is often said in the business world that you need at least 6 ‘touches’ to generate a sales lead, and so we supplement the top priority channels with Facebook promotions (we have proved that these engage well with our target audience), information placed on local online event websites, and press releases. Although we do send news releases to the local press we do not spend on advertising with them as our survey indicated that it was not a primary source of information for our audience.
Setting the timetable
Some of the activities will require a specific timely action – for instance a venue might only issue its programme twice a year and so to get your event in their publication you will need to provide content at the right time. Other activities, such as printing of banners, posters and flyers will have a lead time.
Think about the optimal time to carry out any activity by working back from the main event that is, in this case, the concert. If you have other events lined up during the weeks prior to this concert make sure that you have an adequate supply of posters and flyers to promote the concert at those events. Learn from previous experience. If most of your ticket sales traditionally take place in the 2-4 weeks prior to a concert ensure that you have an ongoing series of activities that are messaging to your target audience during that period.
In addition, by being a little bit smart over timing, you can maximise the value from each effort. For example, if you compile content such as images and event descriptions early on, you then can use them multiple times without having to reinvent them for each activity. Personally, I find that designing the poster/flyer and creating both a short (1-2 sentences) and longer (1 paragraph) promotional description right at the beginning saves a load of work later on.
The only way to get your mind around all the moving parts of the plan, and to be able to share it with others, is to document a timetable showing what needs to be done when – and you can even include who is responsible for doing it. I have included an example template using an Excel spreadsheet in the ‘Toolbox’ at the bottom of this post – you can adapt it to fit your needs.
Plan your costs
I know I don’t need to tell you that amateur choir budgets are very tight. Another good reason for planning your promotional marketing as campaigns is that you can estimate costs of the activities up front, before actually starting anything.
On the template spreadsheet, I have provided the capability to include forecast costs associated with each activity. In this way, you can adjust planned activities to suit your budget before putting in a lot of effort.
Is it working?
How do you know? You have identified an objective for the campaign, in our example it was to achieve an audience of 300 for a concert. But that is the end-point, how can you see what is working and what isn’t as you go along so that you can change tactics where you need to?
You need some ‘progress indicators’. For our example, one very strong one is the ongoing ticket sales. In our plan, we will propose a target of ticket sales for each week over the campaign period. This should be based on experience of previous concerts, but if you do not have metrics for the last events then make an intelligent estimate.
The important thing is to try and spot unusual progress, either spikes or stagnation, and match that with the marketing tactics you were using at the time so that you can make ‘mid-course corrections’ and channel activity to where it is producing results.
You should also try and monitor ‘leading indicators’ for each marketing tactic to understand more detail about what is working. For example, how many people click-through to the ticketing site from your newsletter or Facebook post? How many visitors are you getting to your website? There is a multitude of digital measures available – probably too many! So, don’t make the mistake many professional marketers do and think that those measures are the end objective in themselves. Pay most attention to the key statistic, for example ticket sales.
On my template spreadsheet, you can set a weekly target to monitor against.
Learn, learn, learn
Every campaign is a learning tool. Do not discard the results of your marketing activities, even if they do not achieve the successful objective you had set. Use the experience to make sure that you tune the next campaign and the next year’s choir marketing plan to be more successful – identify what works for you and what doesn’t. Measure what spend produces results and what is possibly being wasted. This way every £ of investment and hour of effort delivers value to your choir.
Using the Choir Marketing Plan Template
In the excel workbook that you can download from the Toolbox above you will find an annual marketing plan template sheet and an example sheet for the concert promotion described in this post.
You can use the template either to define a single campaign or to include all your marketing campaigns over the year. It has the ability to open and close months to show weekly details, or not as you wish. Feel free to adapt it to your needs. The weeks are dated for the year 2017, but you can change those for any year.