Wednesday, July 24, 2019

What The Tour de France Can Teach You About Plan B

Welcome to the 2019 installment of What The Tour de France Can Teach You About Advertising. This is my annual post using the Tour de France, professional bicycling's greatest race and marketing machine, as a metaphor for improving your advertising. (You can get caught up on some of the previous entries here.)

While any  pro bike rider will say he wants to win the Tour de France, for most it's just a fantasy. The reality is perhaps only 15 or 20 riders have the ability to both time trial and climb, as well as the supporting team, needed to win the General Classification (GC). However, while GC riders who can actually win the yellow jersey are few, there are other races within the race to keep things interesting.

The polka dot King of the Mountains Jersey is, as the name implies, awarded to the rider who garners the most points though high placement in climbs spread throughout the Tour. The Green Jersey goes to the Tour de France rider who garners the most points in the sprints at the end of each day's stage (for flat stages) and for intermediate sprints along the way. There's even a White Jersey for the best under-25 rider with the lowest elapsed time. And, while it may seem odd to see a team of nine riders supporting the goal of one teammate, prize money in the Tour de France is divided equally among the team, so riders are rewarded for their work.

But, what if the rider a team is supporting lacks form, gets injured, or drops out of the race? That's when pro teams turn to Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, or even Plan E. Whether it's helping another teammate pursue some other jersey, simply going for stage wins, trying to finish ahead of a rival rider or team, or just generating exposure (and getting TV time) for their sponsors, pro cycling teams always have something to ride for in the Tour de France.

So what does all this have to do with advertising? Well, if you have a yearly ad plan and strive to get the most from your ad dollars, then that ad plan should mirror the Tour de France team strategy and have an ultimate goal in mind. That is, your ad plan should be well-rounded with an eye toward being first at the finish line, with each element supporting that goal. However, if some element of your ad plan doesn't perform as expected, make sure you have a Plan B, C, D, or E in place too.

While a Tour de France team director may have to change up his strategy several times in the course of a day's stage, monitoring your ad plan requires a lot less work. In fact checking how your plan is performing once a month will give you a pretty good idea on your return-on-investment. If you're too busy for that, be sure to at least check once a quarter. And, if you're unhappy with what you see, be prepared to switch to Plan B.

Your Ad Plan B doesn't have to be a major strategy shakeup. If you're dissatisfied with the ROI on the advertising you've purchased, consider simply reallocating. If your digital spending is getting better returns than email marketing, spend more on digital and less on email. If your broadcast spending isn't generating results, put that money into something that's performing. Just as a Tour team has to change things up on the fly to make the most of each race, adjust your ad plan as you go to insure you get the best results for your money.

When forced to go to Plan B ( or Plan C, D, E, or even F), Tour de France teams keep moving forward and work to get the best race results in the final standings. If your business needs to activate Ad Plan B, remember to change things up as needed so that you get peak performance from your advertising investment. And, no matter what changes you make, just remember to keep the marketing wheels moving, so that your ad plan always gets your business the best sales results.