Q&A with Director of Account Planning Diane Doyne
As part of our month-long focus on helping you plan for success, we sat down with Villing & Co. director of account planning, Diane Doyne. Diane has extensive experience creating marketing communications plans – both from an agency perspective as well as client side. You can find more articles from Diane by visiting her bio page on our website.
Aaron Charles – Why don’t you start by explaining your job a little bit?
Diane Doyne – In simple terms, I see my role as being the person who helps clients get into the heads of their target audiences. It’s about guiding clients to define the best way to talk about what they offer and how to favorably influence the decision making of their audiences. That typically includes leading strategic discussions, analyzing research, directing tactical implementation and, in general, providing solutions to make the client successful. At the end of the day, clients need a compelling brand strategy and relevant communication platforms.
AC – This month, we’re focusing on planning for 2017. What, in your view, is the purpose of a marketing communications plan?
DD – It’s about having a strategy vs. relying on hope. You start by using data to develop or validate conclusions about the best ways to engage your audience. From there, you can drill down into specific disciplines and tactics. But it starts with an overall plan that is created strategically and is informed by real data.
AC – How does failing to plan set a brand back?
DD – Well there’s a spectrum from total disaster to minor miss. It would be a total disaster if your messaging is overtly rejected by your target audience. But if you come close to meeting your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), some course correction can likely give you the final lift you need. The key is to optimize what you’re doing so you don’t leave money—or your brand-- on the table.
AC – You’ve had a broad range of experience in both an agency setting as well as the client side of things. How does that experience help you in your current role?
DD – I think it’s my ability to work cross-functionally and to see things from the client’s perspective--because I’ve been there. I understand their needs and pressures, and I can help find the best way to achieve their goals. Having worked in a wide variety of settings for both large and small organizations, it helps to have seen a lot—so nothing surprises me!
AC – Where do you start when putting together a marketing communications plan?
DD – It sounds cliché but every client is different and usually is in a unique place in their company lifecycle. A needs assessment is a basic starting point, and then it becomes about determining what a client’s ultimate goals are. Once you know the destination, you can evaluate (and ideally test) how to get there. You also have to remain open-minded enough for things to happen organically alongside the established process.
AC – Talk about that planning process a little. How do you walk clients through it?
DD – I really try to show [clients] that it’s about stepping back and seeing the bigger picture as opposed to reacting. Guessing is unnecessary, and hope is not a strategy when it comes to marketing. We use a classic brand pyramid model to illustrate the key stages that customers go through as they build loyalty for a brand, product, or organization. Walking through that is a proven method for setting strategy and the cascading tactics that ultimately lead to the big “payout” for the client and its target(s).
AC – What do you recommend for an organization that is working with a limited marketing budget?
DD – Pick one thing and do it well. For example, wage a solid outdoor campaign vs. buying two billboards and some cable TV. Spreading yourself too thin is far less effective than picking one channel and really using that space effectively. Then, as resources allow, you can begin to build out and layer your strategy.
AC – As we look ahead to 2017, what trends should marketers and decision makers look for?
DD – Integration and synergy are more important than ever, particularly regarding the mix between traditional marketing and digital and social marketing. It’s important to lay the groundwork to make sure they work together and co-amplify to fully realize the benefit of both. That kind of reinforcement is invaluable for any brand.
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