Marketing planning

How to Develop an Effective & Engaging Marketing Campaign

You hear the word campaign discussed a lot in marketing circles: ad campaign, PPC campaign, social media campaign. All well and good, but what actually are they?

While dictionary definitions are a tired, unimaginative writing trope, in this instance, it’s actually a useful explanation – “A series of active operations designed to achieve a particular goal, confined to a particular area, using a particular type of activity.”

So far, so clear. But knowing what campaigns are is one thing; knowing how they relate to your marketing goals and knowing when and how to use them is another.

So, what do business owners need to know about campaigns? We picked the brains of The Marketing Centre’s own Selina Noton who has over 20 years of B2B marketing experience with the likes of Volvo, Fluke and Textron to find out what constitutes a great campaign. And Business Development and Marketing Mentor, Jo Bayne, on how to execute one.

Part 1: What does a great campaign look like?

Bridging the gap

Put simply, a campaign bridges the gap between a marketing strategy and the tactics used to achieve it; executed once a business has defined its goals and objectives. It could incorporate one tactic or a mix of several – so long as the campaign activities are all pulling towards a tightly defined strategic goal or goals.

For Selina, campaign tactics are also typically united by creative theme: “It’s all about the thread that runs through everything” she says. “Hopefully, that will include artwork as well as messaging. A campaign also typically has a start and a finish – whether three-month, six-month, or longer – whereas a tactic will just run and run at any time.”

Why campaign?

Campaigns – as distinct from strategies and tactics – provide focus for marketing teams. This is particularly useful when businesses need to improve sales and marketing performance quickly, and when team members have failed to collaborate in the past.

For this reason, Selina chose to pursue a range of campaigns when first working with a large full-service law firm. “The business had four internal marketing staff which didn’t work well as a team. They each had their own area of expertise, but they didn’t integrate. Campaign-led marketing helped me bring them together and to show the rest of the firm what a marketing department could achieve when it pulls together.”

A campaign with teeth

What did Selina’s campaigns involve – and how were they planned?

“Our first campaign for the law firm targeted dentists. The messaging was that our business had a dedicated healthcare legal team that could help with the buying and selling of dental practices – something particularly uncommon in legal firms of their type.

“The goal of the campaign was to make a very niche market – dentists in London, the Home Counties, Suffolk and Norfolk – aware of the firm and their healthcare partner, who could help dentists avoid the fees charged by a specialist dental law firm. Our objective was to bring in new business for a partner which had come from a specific healthcare legal practice in London. This one having been successful, we ran a subsequent similar campaign for GP surgeries in the region.”

Campaigning for success

In setting clear and specific goals, Selina’s team were able to monitor and tweak their performance through the course of their campaign. Each team member understood their responsibilities and was kept on task using S.M.A.R.T Goals. “In this way, the team understood they had to have individual measurables for the campaign. We set KPIs for the first time in the team around the success of the campaign.”

Judging the success of a campaign like this is simple when the campaign goal, objective and strategy has been defined beforehand. These become the measures for success, determining the metrics used by the campaign team.

Road to success
The road to success: Well-defined goals, objectives and strategies are a must

Failure to regularly review performance is why many campaigns fall flat. “In many businesses, there’s a lack of follow-through to the end of the campaign,” says Selina; “Marketing teams are typically focussed on getting campaign creative out to their audience and then they don’t look at how successful things have been. Partly, this is down to not understanding how far we can now track various campaign elements. It’s hard to tell if something is working if you can’t measure it.”

Part 2: How to execute the perfect campaign

Now we know what’s possible, what are the steps to execute a great campaign?

Jo Bayne suggests the following. But remember: there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for success, as campaigns are moulded by the goals and objectives they seek to achieve.

  1. Define your strategy

What are the goals and objectives of your campaign, relative to your wider business? Are you aiming to build brand awareness, launch a new product or generate leads? From this, determine the results you want to achieve and how to measure them.

  1. Find your audience

Which market segments or demographics are you seeking to connect with? Define your target persona with as much detail as possible, considering their specific needs and how your business will serve them. Should your campaign involve sub-campaigns with bespoke images and messaging targeted at segments within your specific audience?

  1. Research your market and competition

Who are the big players in your industry? What is their market share, and how do their products or services compare to yours? Consider your competitive advantage – whether quality, price or service offering – and define in detail the features and benefits you are aiming to communicate. Research how are your competition are marketing themselves. What channels do they use, and what messages do they send? Your campaign should have clear stand-out and not be ‘me-too’.

  1. Choose your channel

Decide how often and on what marketing media channels you can afford to deliver your message, choosing the channels which will connect best with your chosen demographic. Ideally your campaign should work across several well-chosen channels, for maximum engagement.

  1. Brainstorm

Strategy defined, now is the time to get creative. Gather your team to brainstorm ideas, and remember: at this stage, no idea is a bad idea. Throw random thoughts into the pot; ask questions; think laterally. Magazines, websites and other source material can help get ideas flowing, but always keep your target audience and brand values front of mind. A humorous, irreverent campaign is pointless if this jars with your business’ positioning.

  1. Develop concept boards

Take the best ideas from your brainstorm and design a range of campaign concepts for stakeholders to review. Focus on the headline and imagery in the first instance. Marketing messaging can be refined at a later stage.

  1. Refine

Take your chosen concept and make agreed amends following stakeholder feedback.

Next, complete the copywriting process. You may require a short, punchy version of the campaign message for some channels – think social media – and a longer version for others – a full-page print ad, for example.

Finalise all required imagery in line with your messaging. This could entail commissioning a photo shoot or purchasing images and fine-tuning them in Photoshop. Bespoke graphics and illustrations are also a powerful visual tool for marketing campaigns, delivering impact and re-call. Aim for visual and copy consistency across all campaign channels for a professional, cohesive message.

  1. Develop print and digital assets

Create the necessary print and digital assets in time for campaign delivery. Pay careful attention to details like spelling, image quality and bleed – there is no going back after this stage.

  1. Run the campaign; monitor the results

Now for the fruits of your labour. Whether monitoring site traffic, follower growth or call centre enquiries, be ready to measure your campaign success in advance of the go-live date.

Analyse your results. Did you meet your objectives? Have you learned how to evolve your campaign for next time? To an extent, all marketing is built upon trial and error, providing valuable lessons for future campaigns.

While the definition of ‘campaign’ is loose and too often misused, the need for campaigns to aligned with a wider business strategy never changes. Successful campaigns are a microcosm of successful marketing: deliberate, planned, targeted, executed, measured and reviewed.

What will you do with yours?

Thanks go to Selina and Jo for their thoughts. Seeking to boost your marketing? Read our guide to planning for non-marketersor follow us on Twitter.