A phrase I hear around the office a lot is “reactive marketing.” What does this mean? Well, to me, it means that it’s marketing without a plan–marketing that does what’s asked, but lacks strategy.
Example: Department X needs a flier. Marketing makes the flier. Done!
That’s reactive marketing in a nutshell. Another level of reactive marketing…
Example: Company B just released a YouTube video. WE NEED A YOUTUBE VIDEO RIGHT NOWWWWWW!
Proactive marketing, of course, is easier said than done. It’s led by marketing, not by other departments or individuals, and requires marketing managers to look in advance–ideally a year or more–to plan the department’s needs…and, most importantly, anticipate the needs of other departments.
This requires communication, but it also requires marketing to understand what the organization’s goal is. Is it a better distributed pipeline? Is it to gain leads? Is it to educate the organization’s audience? Is it to gain an audience? (Wait, do you know who your audience is?)
Depending on the overall goal, proactive marketing can look vastly different between organizations. Too often, marketing is lumped together as simply communicating what the organization does– we create flyers, advertisements, press releases, etc with the mindset of conveying information. That will always be a necessity, but it shouldn’t be the majority of what you do. Define your audience and goal, then work from there. I like to use a monthly calendar that maps out any events/conferences/trade shows, and let that inform my marketing materials and PR. Just pick a starting point!
It’s all too easy to let the economy or competitors lead you into the realm of reactive marketing, unfortunately. And even the best laid plans can go awry, as we all know. Just because your competitor does something doesn’t mean you have to copy it, though human nature tells us otherwise. Though your first few stabs at a truly proactive marketing plan may need reworked, I would encourage you to make marketing a more involved aspect in other departments via your proactive plan.
Want more on proactive marketing? I like this article.