We’re very excited about the four-step process we use to develop campaigns for clients. Seriously, even though many other planning processes have been created in the past, we have found that our approach makes a real difference to the quality of the work we deliver.

Our approach uses four steps: DETERMINE, FOCUS, DELIVER and ENHANCE. This blog post explains why we felt the need to create something new, and how we built our process on proven approaches that have been created in the past.

Other Processes for PR and Marketing

There are a large number of different processes that have been created. We wanted something that took a strategic approach, and with its focus on strategy, PR proved to be the best place to look for other approaches.

There are a number of different four-step approaches that are all similar to the Napier process. Often they have cool acronyms, such as John Marston’s RACE (research, action planning, communication, evaluation) or Jerry Hendrix’s ROPE (research, objectives, programming, evaluation)

Perhaps the most well-known of approaches is that described by Ronald D. Smith in his [now sadly out of print] book Strategic Planning for Public Relations. In it, he suggests nine steps, broken into four phases:

  • Phase One: Formative Research
    • Step 1 – Analysing the Situation
    • Step 2 – Analysing the Organisation
    • Step 3 – Analysing the Publics
  • Phase Two: Strategy
    • Step 4 – Establishing Goals and Objectives
    • Step 5 – Formulating Action and Response Strategies
    • Step 6 – Developing the Message Strategy
  • Phase Three: Tactics
    • Step 7 – Selecting Communications Tactics
    • Step 8 – Implementing the Strategic Plan
  • Phase Four: Evaluative Research
    • Step 9 – Evaluating the Strategic Plan

This nine-step approach is more comprehensive than the four step approaches suggested by other people, but it still breaks down into four stages: work out where you are, create a strategy, do the work and then evaluate if you achieved the goals. This is a pretty conventional approach to planning and is also seen in many strategic planning models.

Why Develop a New Marketing Process?

We had a couple of reasons for needing a new process. Firstly we are an agency. We don’t get many clients coming to us saying “let us know in stage two what we are going to get for this budget”. This would be nice, but frankly most of they have pretty clear ideas of what they expect. So, waiting until stage two to set the goals simply isn’t appropriate.

This isn’t saying we will accept goals and metrics from our clients without question. To do that would be avoiding giving our clients honest advice. We believe in a candid relationship with our clients, so we’d rather say up-front whether we think a campaign’s objectives are achievable. Our four-step process lets us make this decision much earlier.

Not only are we different because we’re an agency, we also believe that marketing tools and approaches have changed. The old models are what engineers would call “waterfall planning”: a process where the entire project is planned at the start, then executed and only at the end do you see if you achieved the goals. This simply makes no sense now with modern tools and the proven benefits of agile marketing. To lock yourself into a plan in stage two means you will find it more difficult to optimise the campaign as it progresses.

Why is Napier’s Four-Step Process Different?

It is important to say that our process is very similar in many ways to the existing ideas. Many have been built upon academic research and have been proven over time, and we’re more than happy to give credit to those processes that have come before ours, particularly Smith’s 9-step model that forms the basis of our approach. To deal with the two major challenges, however, we needed to make some changes.

The first major difference is in the first phase or DETERMINE as we call it. Typically, we are starting a project with some defined goals from a client and we need to understand how it will be possible to achieve them. Our DETERMINE stage consists of analysing the situation and the client’s organisation, and then confirming the feasibility of the goals and objectives. At this stage we have some idea of what we need to change to deliver the required results and can quickly say whether the brief is realistic.

Our second step is FOCUS and it’s all about the audience (or publics in Smith’s process). We believe analysing and understanding the audience is vitally important, particularly as modern marketing tools give you the ability to micro-target, even down to an individual (if you don’t know how to do this, then please do ask!).

Another reason to elevate the audience to have their own step is the rise of account-based marketing. ABM target lists are frequently driven by the sales team and therefore we may need to do more work to ensure that our campaign will deliver the business results required in key accounts, as well as changing perceptions and preferences of a wider audience.

During our FOCUS step, we also develop the messaging strategy. Again, it’s the micro-targeting that makes this so important: you need a clear messaging strategy developed before you start creating any campaigns, as the ability to customise the message to personalise the campaign to many different micro-audiences can make a campaign almost impossible to manage unless you have a clear and structured messaging strategy.

Our last two stages are DELIVER and ENHANCE, which very closely resemble phase three and four of Smith’s model. There is, however, one big exception: we’re not running a campaign and then evaluating its success; we are continually evaluating and enhancing its performance. By concentrating on this in an agile-like approach, we optimise campaigns to deliver better results than we could have achieved through planning.

The Napier Four-Step Process


Can Clients Use Napier’s Four-Step Process?

Although we initially developed our process to meet our needs as an agency, it also works well for modern in-house marketing teams. Frequently client teams are also given the goals at the start of a campaign, and the iterative way we deploy DELIVER and ENHANCE allows an agile approach to ensure the campaign delivers the best possible results. Of course, the impact of technology is very much the same for in-house teams as it is for B2B agencies. Although we never intended or expected it to be the case, our four-step process meets the needs of many clients more effectively than previous approaches.

How do I Learn More About Napier’s Four-Step Process?

We would be delighted to talk to you about the way we deploy the Napier four-step marketing process. Contact us and we would be more than happy to have a chat.

If you would like to read more on how our services fit into the four step process, please read our blog