The true definition of a successful marketing campaign
The word “campaign” is one of the most overused terms in marketing and has come to mean just about everything marketers do. How many times do you hear people say, “Let’s do an email campaign?”
First off, one email is an activity, not a campaign. Secondly, if you have something you need to communicate, you don’t start with the marketing channel. Choosing the channel comes after you know what you want to accomplish and with what audience.
So why has “campaign” blossomed into this catch-all term that basically means marketers are doing some work? Blame technology vendors. Most marketing technologies were created by engineers who did not hold marketing positions. They needed to call activities executed in their software product something, so “campaigns” became the term of choice. Now two decades worth of marketers use the word loosely, and it has resulted in a significant amount of bad marketing.
A true marketing campaign
A campaign is a message or set of messages to be communicated to a specific audience through a variety of communication channels in order to achieve a goal. When you build your campaign plan, you need to start with what you are trying to accomplish and who you want to reach. If you don’t know what you want to get out of the campaign and you don’t understand the audience and their needs, then it’s likely your campaign will fail. Although if you don’t have a goal, then what is failure?
In an effort to understand what a campaign is in familiar terms, we turn to politics. No, we are not going to get political in this blog, but we just want to use an upcoming presidential campaign as an illustration. A presidential campaign is basically one big, long, very expensive marketing campaign. Let’s use the upcoming 2020 campaign as a modern example. The candidates have a goal, they both want to be president of the United States. Their target audience is the American people. There are a set of messages that they want to communicate to the American people regarding issues such as healthcare, homeland security, and jobs. They both have a campaign theme. Then they will use a variety of marketing channels to push their messages and theme out to the American people. Those marketing channels include press, events, advertising, social media, direct mail, telemarketing, bumper stickers, billboards, word of mouth, etc. They have a clearly defined timeline of November 2020. They both have marketing budgets in the hundreds of millions to work with to get their word out (marketers imagine the damage we could all do with that budget). And lastly, they have a measurement of success, votes.
We’ve only included the campaign plan essentials in order to simplify the presidential campaign example above. That said, there is a lot more detail you can add to a marketing campaign plan that will organize your strategy and tactics to ensure success.
Before you start writing your campaign plan, ask yourself or your team the following five questions:
- What is the goal you are trying to accomplish?
- Who is the target audience?
- What are the messages you would like to communicate?
- What are marketing channels that would be most effective in communicating the messages?
- How do you measure success?
If you can answer these questions first, then you can test the feasibility and determine the best approach. Once you do that, you are ready to build out your campaign plan.
Check-in next for next week’s blog post on the ultimate template to use for building your campaign plan.