One of the more interesting things about air travel is the concept of great circle flying. There’s a whole realm of mathematics that deals with idea of the great circle, which is based on the notion of a geometric plane passing through the center of a sphere and identifying the shortest distance between two points. In practice, the great circle identifies the flight path that aircraft take. In doing so, they pass over ground station waypoints, which helps Air Traffic Control properly space aircraft. The idea of using waypoints to maintain spacing seems similar to how one might go about running a commercial real estate marketing campaign.
The idea of frequency is a basic tenant of marketing. Along with reach and impact, frequency ensures that your marketing message is being received by the target audience. You may have heard that it takes communicating at least seven times in order for your message to be heard and understood by your audience. That's frequency, the measure of how many times a message is communicated. In marketing an offering, you'll likely want to communicate that offering at least several times, in order to get a prospective investor to take notice.
So, how does frequency tie to waypoints and spacing? The answer is flighting (no pun intended). Flighting refers to the timing pattern in which marketing messages are scheduled to run during intervals of time, that are separated by periods in which no marketing messages appear. Flighting ties closely to the timeline you laid out in your commercial real estate marketing plan. You can think of it as a function of how many times you’re communicating and the rate at which you're communicating. Going back to our great circle example for a moment, flighting is like the number of planes flying between Heathrow and JFK, for example, and how far apart each plane needs to be from the next in order to avoid interference and ensure smooth operation.
Multiple tactics without interference
It would be unusual for your business to be in market with only one tactic at a time. Even companies that are more casual about their marketing efforts may be using email marketing as a primary lead generator for instance, but probably still engaging in social media while also developing new brochures and flyers. In developing a flighting plan, you can maximize the impact of each tactic, ensure coordination with other company activities (like sales cycle), meet budgets and build in time for adjustments by scheduling when each tactic goes into market. For instance, you might elect to publish your blog each Monday and then on Thursday excerpt that blog in social media, and finally, use it as content in your email marketing campaign the following week. There's a coordination between each of the tactics that delivers a number of benefits to your marketing program.
Keeps your message in market longer
In the example above, one blog post made three appearances over the course of a couple of weeks. Rather than having social media and email launch on the same day as the blog was posted, those activities were spaced out, protracting the time in market. That's great for keeping your message in front of your audience and making your resources go a little further. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine says that focusing one big push is often one of the 8 Common Ways Small Businesses Waste Money Marketing.
Aligning with your budget
Depending on how your marketing budget is setup, you may use flighting in one of two ways. Continuous flighting means having marketing messages present without a break. Obviously, this requires a robust budget and an on-going development of content. On the other hand, pulsing your tactics may be more budget friendly. While there will probably be some spending during all periods, only certain periods are notably heavier than others and will likely be timed with specific events or market opportunities.
Allows you to adjust for sales cycle
The last thing you want to have happen with your marketing efforts is to inundate your sales team with too many leads or leads that come in at the wrong time. Flighting can ensure that leads come in as your sales team is able to handle them. If sales cycles are particularly long, you may want to hold big lead generating activities to a minimum while keeping social media and collateral development on a more frequent track.
Intermediate check points allow for adjustment
One of the nice things about flighting marketing activities is that it lets you make adjustments. If you go into market all in one shot and your campaign doesn't deliver the results you'd hoped for, you're doomed and just spent all of your budget. Flighting lets us dip our toe in the water a little at a time, and then adjust as needed to maximize performance.