What Is Reactive Marketing?

Marketing comes in many forms; outbound, direct, social media, networking, email… but how these forms are implemented can fall into two categories. Proactive marketing and reactive marketing.

In this blog, we’re going to look at reactive marketing and find what it is, how it affects your overall marketing success and what you can do to improve your marketing impact.

What Is Reactive Marketing?

Reactive marketing is an unplanned, free-flow approach to marketing. Campaigns are initiated without prior research or review, and often, the results aren’t seen until the end. Sounds liberating, right? No poring over data, analysing messaging or keywords. Just click and send. But is there a price to pay for its simplicity?

Yes. Reactive marketing takes a broad approach with its targeting, and when your message is so general, you don’t tend to get the results that a planned campaign would.

Some examples of reactive marketing are;

What Are The Consequences Of Reactive Marketing?

By its nature, ‘reactive’ means you’re responding to something; whether that’s a plummet in sales, a significant event or an internal situation. When you scrabble to take action, you’re not always clear and precise in its execution. At best, you end up with wasted time and money, but at worst, you can make a marketing misstep that costs you your reputation.

Take The Hoxton Hotel, for example. Following a tragic and horrifying situation at Charlie Hebdo in 2015, which left 12 dead, the new Parisian hotel The Hoxton decided to use the hashtag created in support of the victims, #JeSuisCharlie, to promote their opening. Unsurprisingly, their ruthless cashing in on a trending hashtag harmed their social presence.

Reactive marketing leaves little time for consideration and reflection; you’re always jumping to the next thing to try.

Is Reactive Marketing Always A Bad Idea?

Absolutely not. There have been some stellar reactive marketing campaigns, but they take a particular skill to make work. The most common reactive marketing technique is responding to a current event or topic, and there are times when this has been done well.

Remember when Burger King used the debate around the so-called Brexit bus? They ran bus ads saying ‘Another Whopper On The Side Of A Bus’, and it garnered national media coverage. The general consensus was that it was a hilarious tongue-in-cheek jab at the political landscape dominating the news at the time.

And what about the Weetabix and Heinz Baked Beans collaboration from early 2021? When Weetabix tweeted a photo of a baked bean topped Weetabix with the caption ‘Why should bread have all the fun when there’s Weetabix?’, it sparked a viral response that had the world in stitches. Big brands like Lidl, Innocent, Marmite, Domino’s and Which? jumped on the tweet, each adding another layer of humour. The end result brought thousands of people to their social channels and was talked about for days.

What’s A Better Alternative?

The saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is true of marketing too. And while reactive marketing gives you some creative freedom, its scattergun approach means the outcomes are unpredictable and unreliable. For consistent and steady results, proactive marketing is a better option.

Even in the examples of awesome reactive marketing above, proactive marketing played a role. Burger King always advertises on buses, so it was a springboard for their Whopper campaign. And the initial Weetabix tweet was carefully planned by a team of marketers. It was the barrage of banter from other companies and institutions (The police and NHS joined in the fun too) that was reactive, but the campaign itself came from research and forethought.

So, what is proactive marketing? Proactive marketing uses data at its heart to plan a strategy that leans on the techniques and mediums that work best for you. It takes a long view of your marketing activities and sets goals accordingly, allowing you to establish your brand within your industry.


How To Use Proactive Marketing In Your Business

The good news is that proactive marketing is really easy to implement. It just takes commitment and diligence. It all starts with a plan – one for the whole year ahead.

The 12-Month Plan

Your 12-month plan will take time to develop because you’re looking at your goals for the whole year, but also goals for each month. It’s basically 12 plans within one big plan.

The plan is an overview of your strategy and will include both paid and free marketing campaigns. If you’ve been marketing for a while, you may have data that helps you pinpoint what works best for you. Armed with this, you can build a marketing plan that is more likely to bring results.

90 Day Objectives

Now, a 12-month plan is essential for a consistent marketing approach, but you need to have a shorter-term view too. Think of the 12-month goal as your destination. Every 90 days, you check you’re on course to arrive. This allows you to adapt and alter your direction if you find you’re not getting to where you want to be.

The Three Ms

The three Ms will define the content of your proactive marketing plan. These are designed to hone your marketing strategy so it is as effective as possible. There’s no set order, but most people follow this;

  • Message

    This is the message you’re telling your customers. It gets to the heart of your business and how you can help people.

    It’s not what you do, but what that does for your customer. A mechanic fixes cars. But what that means for their customers is restored freedom when their car breaks. A feeling of safety after an MOT.

    To find your marketing message, start asking ‘why?’. Why does your customer need what you provide? What is the positive outcome for them?

  • Market 

    The next M is market. This is knowing who you are talking to.

    Take our mechanic. There’s no point marketing to people who don’t own a car – it’s wasted effort and money. So think about who your customer is. Create a profile for that person; where do they shop? What are their interests? Build a picture of your ideal customer and create campaigns that speak to them.

  • Medium

    This is how you distribute your marketing. It covers everything from PR to print ads to social media. Where you place your marketing will be led by who you are trying to reach. Our mechanic won’t be placing a print ad in Cycler’s World, for example.

    Use data gathered from your 90-day objectives to decide which mediums are working for you.

Be Proactive, But Stay Reactive

There’s no question that a proactive marketing approach is the one that will deliver a consistent and tangible result. Every business should have a proactive marketing plan. But reserving a little headspace and budget to reactive messaging can pay dividends, as long as it’s done well.

Proactive is all about looking back to move forward. Using what you know to get you to your goals. But reactive can add a little spice to the mix, as long as you stay on brand.

If the idea of creating a proactive marketing strategy fills you with dread, book a power call with Nathan. You’ll find yourself thinking like a marketer in no time.

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