We have been designing and rolling out “how-to’s” or playbooks for the past 5 years that help established marketing and communications teams learn new tricks. This is part of our training heritage. We designed how-to’s for our Social teams before there were any playbooks to refer to. We simply had to codify best and new practices and we used training, tools and reference guidebooks like playbooks to do it.
The “playbook” term comes from sports. Football, I am pretty sure. The metaphor is a good one. What tools can our marketers use as they are planning and executing marketing programs? What can they be thumbing through even as they have a program in play or players on the field, if-you-will?
We design quite a few around social engagement and content marketing. Even within these broad topics are specialty playbooks on listening and insights, crisis and issue management, real-time responsive marketing and more.
Loads of people have jumped on the bandwagon of creating guidebooks or instructionals. Most are narrative documents that one must read cover-to-cover to understand. Most are tactical in nature and meant for the practitioner or maybe the strategist. Few are designed to the core needs of a marketer at a particular brand. Most don't go beyond a narrative document intended for a good read.
Designing for Use
No one reads. Now one reads instruction books. Especially long ones. The beautiful magazine layouts help but not enough.
We learned about designing these playbooks around the use-cases facing marketers at a particular brand.
- Any brand needs to be prepared should a crisis erupt online or an issue take on a life of it's own. Sections on managing issues or whole playbooks on them are relevant to all.
- An FMCG marketer might always be under pressure to introduce new innovations. Our Listening and Insights Playbook is designed to make using social and digital data for innovation easier.
- A B2B marketer already lived and died by lead generation, so designing around routines in content marketing that lead to that make sense.
We also learned that long, narrative copy was only a first draft. What marketers need is a mix of tools they can use and the barest of instructions for actually using them.
- In the Listening and Analytics playbooks, our keyword criteria tool is a simple but functional form for marketers to document the terms they will use to fuel their social listening technology and search mining efforts. We give them the tool and show them how to use it and suddenly they are half way towards getting useful results from a Listening Post™
- Every community manager needs a way to peer onto the qualitative soul of their content. Engagement metrics will tell you how a Facebook post or linked content is doing but not why it’s doing well. Our Content Evaluator is a simple method for analyzing the strengths of particular pieces of content so best practices can be repeated and applied.
Some quick suggestions:
- Start with use-cases that map to what the particular brand values. If your “Listening Playbook” starts with “how to listen to social media,” you are off on the wrong foot already.
- Show how a new marketing practice can deliver against those goals. Before diving into the detailed “how-to’s”, do a “step-by-step” on how common marketing goals can be met through new practices.
- Break down the routines that are common and organize around tools and smaller tasks. Instead of lining up the 20 things they must do to get value out of listening, break it down into 5-7 key tools – from templates to software – and show them how to use these. That’ll get the job done.
- Provide a custom FAQ in the brand’s parlance that offers yet another way into the materials. Think about the common questions these particular marketers will wonder using their particular language.
Rolling Out to Change BehaviorNo matter how well-designed, any playbook runs the risk of becoming the phone book that holds open the door but is never cracked. Four steps we have learned to actually get the playbooks into use inside the organization include:
- Make them short and to-the-point. I would rather create 3 small playbooks that cover off on essential tasks than one giant one. Shorter is just more usable.
- Introduce them with authority and clarity. The playbooks need to be seen as a priority to help change behavior to drive business. Make sure the right executive voice introduces them on the webinar and then do the webinars that show local marketers how to use them and get them invested.
- Work closely with 1-2 markets to build success. If you can create 1-2 bright spot markets where they are showing demonstrable success, others will follow.
- Make it good looking to executives. Yes, it is ironic that the most common format for playbooks is a pdf file, often printed out and bound. That has a lot to do with the established economics of enterprise communications. On the other hand, it is terrific to have a beautiful printed book that executives can show-off inside the company.