In 2019, whatever product or service you’re selling, your audience will receive your message in tons of different ways. To maximize the return on your marketing dollars, you need to optimize your message across as many channels and platforms as possible. One of our favorite tools for multichannel development is Trigger Systems.

What Is a Trigger System?

In its most basic form, a Trigger System is a communications and marketing roadmap that is ready to go before you need it.

Trigger Systems can be set up for any recurring or semi-recurring event that your company needs to create communications around. As soon as you know the event is coming, a consistent and repeatable set of marketing and PR tasks are “triggered,” depending on the event.

This might include anything from updated landing pages to social media ads to completely refreshed marketing collateral — whatever activities can best maximize the reach of your campaign across multiple channels.

We know it sounds pretty simple, but setting up a Trigger System means the heavy lifting around what to do is already complete, so you can put your time and energy into crafting a compelling message and supporting creative that people will actually pay attention to. 

How To Use Trigger Systems

Each Trigger System is different. They are unique to each event you’re communicating about.

A Trigger System can be small and specific, responding to an action taken by a customer (such as re-marketing ads and abandoned cart emails targeting online retail customers who have left items in their shopping cart), or it can be an expansive, multi-department affair that takes months to plan (such as the naming, branding, and initial marketing and PR launch around your company’s newest product).

Whatever the breadth and scope of your campaign, Trigger Systems can expand or contract to serve your needs.

Below are several examples of how you can use Trigger Systems to maximize your multichannel development in a variety of different situations, including retail promotions, trade shows and establishing credibility for a startup company.

These situations may require very different communication styles, but they can all benefit from a well thought-out, replicable communications framework.

Getting the Most Out of Your Retail Campaigns

The adaptability of Trigger Systems pairs perfectly with retail. The cyclical nature of retail combined with the need for relevant, of-the-moment variations on similar marketing tactics means you can create plans for each type of campaign that your company runs.

Whether it’s a weekly promotion, a last-minute liquidation event or a huge holiday sale, your plan is already in place. If your store has a standard sale every month, the associated Trigger System could be extremely limited, with just a set of email blasts, social media posts and a PPC ad campaign.

When Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, though, your Trigger System could start six months out, with a company-wide plan that requires meetings, project managers and spreadsheets to implement. 

Standing Out at Your Next Trade Show

The goal of a trade show is to stand out from the rest of the booths. Your company should always strive to have the booth that people can’t pass by (and, preferably, one that they hear about from others before they even see it). That starts with stellar creative that makes your company and your booth stand out from your competitors.

Trade shows offer another great example where Trigger Systems can create a streamlined process for a recurring situation. Your materials should look different every year — but you should be creating all the same materials every year.

And if you’re going to the same seven trade shows each year, you should be creating a Trigger System for each one, or one for each different type of show you attend.

The communications involved could include press releases, ads in the show’s program and website, email invitations to prospects, a landing page on your website, updated brochures and must-have swag — and, of course, a show-stopping booth design.

Building Credibility for Your Startup 

Establishing and maintaining credibility is important for all companies, but especially so for brand-new companies — particularly those banking on new technologies or working in emerging markets.

No matter how impressive your company is, it can be incredibly tough to expand operations, build new customer bases and attract investors or offers of acquisition. In these situations, skepticism is high, shared knowledge is minimal, and the tenure of a company can be counted in months rather than years. 

Now, when we say credibility, we’re not talking about branding. Just because you say you’re the best doesn’t mean you are. And if your product or service really does deliver on your message, people won’t believe you just because you tell them.

Credibility means proving to your potential clients that your company and your technology are capable, and that you perform just like you said you would.

Your credibility is made up of all the ways you excel in your day-to-day operations: performance, customer service, meeting deadlines, product quality, leading-edge tech.

But it’s not enough to simply be credible. For your credibility to matter, your audience has to know about it. And proving your company’s value to your target audience requires more than good branding, a flashy website and a quickly written press release that reads like an afterthought.

Trigger Systems help you leverage your accomplishments more efficiently by letting you kick into high gear immediately, without having to plod through the planning process when you need to already be executing.

When you need to get the most mileage out of every milestone, a pre-established marketing action plan can be your best friend. Too often, communication opportunities come and go and companies aren’t able to get as much reputational value as they could for one simple reason — they didn’t have a plan in place.

Trigger Systems offer a simple and flexible way to crystallize how your marketing department can get the most bang for their buck in nearly any situation and ensure that your credit-worthy accomplishments get the attention they deserve in real time (rather than three months after the fact).

So, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of what a Trigger System for establishing and maintaining the credibility of your startup could look like!

Let’s say you’re a business that makes a cutting-edge, full-motion chair for cinematic VR that is actually capable of changing how people watch movies.

You just delivered the chairs for your first branded VR theater on deadline. The location-based entertainment venue is ecstatic, and your tech is running like a charm. Now, you’re ready to tell the world about this amazing new product — and you’re banking on word of your success to spread far and wide before your next investor pitch.

Here’s what a Trigger System for this scenario might look like:

  • Write a press release to announce your success
  • Curate custom media lists
  • Gather appropriate media images
  • Write accompanying keyword-optimized blog post
  • Write and compile all social media posts into content calendar
  • Develop featured landing page for your website
  • Convert featured landing page into a downloadable PDF one-sheet
  • Update investor pitch deck with new numbers
  • Update investor pitch deck with revised project roadmap
  • Compile and notate any changes to project roadmap on website 
  • Send email to anyone who’s shown interest in trying the new chair
  • Run digital ads promoting where you can try the chair
  • Shoot video interviews of people after they’ve tried the chair
  • Collect emails of people that can’t attend the event but want to in the future
  • Collect testimonials

When outlined in this way, it can at once seem like a ton of work, and a concrete and easily achievable set of tasks. But the best part about doing the work of thinking through and documenting exactly what needs to be done to maximize the reach of this project completion announcement is that when it comes time to announce the completion of your next theater and the theater after that, you can just pull up the document that you created.

And when you receive the huge investment that you were hoping for? Go ahead and create a Trigger System for that as well, because chances are you’re going to be referring to that document a lot!

Simple Concept, Big ROI

Again, it all boils down to some very basic principles, but creating Trigger Systems around your regularly occurring announcements builds a system of accountability that ensures all the steps get completed — and even which position or department completes them, and how soon each task is completed before the communication deadline. Nothing gets forgotten, and you successfully communicate to your audience across all the possible channels that they might find you through.

Plus, you can spend the time you saved making your materials even more beautiful and impactful. And if you’ve documented what needs to happen and who needs to do it, you’ll be able to hit the mark even if your marketing director quits right before a huge announcement. 

When you miss an opportunity to communicate a win for your company, that opportunity doesn’t come around again. Enhancing your marketing department with Trigger Systems means you’ll always be ready, whether you’ve been planning for months or the unexpected happens. 

About the Author: Mike Schaffer is the CEO of Echo-Factory, Inc. Mike is an ongoing contributor to CSQ Magazine and a regular speaker at marketing conventions, and mentors start-ups with the USC incubator and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. He also organizes the largest Innovation Group in Los Angeles which meets weekly in Pasadena.