By Stacey Piper
February, the time of deliberation. We started out the year attacking our New Year’s resolutions to eat right or get in shape, or optimistically committed to target both pillars—nutrition and fitness—in an integrated way. But by now, many of us have fallen back into old habits or started going off course—a good streak one week, missing the next. There’s a chance we won’t reach the targets we set out to achieve in 2023 if we aren’t deliberate about our approach and conscious of the consequences.
The same thoughtful approach is essential in our marketing campaigns. A marketing campaign is not just a bunch of one-off press releases, blogs, social media posts, or eNewsletters. At its core, a strategic marketing campaign is a set of individual marketing tactics, deliberately strung together in support of a common, long-term goal. No matter the goal of the campaign—such as building visibility and trust or increasing sales—or the strategies and tactics used (digital, social, print, live events, etc.), there are key steps marketers should take to set themselves up for the most success.
10 Steps for Effective Marketing Campaigns
- Uncover business challenges and goals. Before fulfilling tactical requests for a press release, solution brief, or email blast, begin by understanding the “as is” situation that your business is facing to develop an approach to marketing it. What are your challenges and opportunities? How is your service or product perceived?
- Determine marketing objectives. As marketers, we may strive to meet business goals, but truth be told, a singular campaign can only accomplish marketing goals. While you may aim to expand your footprint in a specific vertical or hit a certain sales number in a specific agency, you need to extrapolate the business goal into a SMART marketing goal. How can marketing move the ball down the field toward the business goal?
- Establish campaign goals and KPIs. Measuring and reporting on campaign elements are vital to the impact of a marketing campaign.
- Establish baselines and targets.
- Be realistic about what is possible before allocating resources, then set expectations with stakeholders.
- Pay attention to the subgoals and targets, as well as the leading indicators, like activity metrics of impressions, visits, opens, clicks, form fills, and the like.
I challenge my clients to plan strategic marketing programs, with robust campaign pillars designed within those programs. In this structure, each campaign pillar is then composed of numerous integrated campaigns with their own goals to support achieving the overarching one.
- Pin down the target audience. Messaging, content types, and dissemination channels are all largely dependent on who you are trying to reach. Understanding your target’s psyche will help you create the most relevant content and place it where your audience is most likely to see it and engage with it.
- Don’t settle for generic contacts such as “decision makers” within an organization—insist on specific department and office names, titles, even individuals by name.
- Build, buy, or study detailed customer personas.
- Research the buying behavior of the target audience, including their pain points, preferences, and biases.
- Strive to learn what they read, listen to, and watch.
- Identify marketing strategies. Now it’s time to use your knowledge of the company and the industry to develop the most effective marketing strategies. Don’t be afraid to challenge the belief that a singular approach works for everything. You may need multiple, integrated marketing campaigns running simultaneously, each one aimed at reaching a different outcome, such as increasing brand reputation while generating or qualifying leads.
- Document everything in a campaign strategy brief. This comprehensive picture of the target audience and marketing objectives will help you consider all inputs prior to planning and executing the campaign and ensure everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction. It also comes in handy when navigating questions and decisions around budget, approvers, and success indicators early in the process.
- Develop the campaign blueprint. This graphical view of the flow of the entire campaign ensures no content requirements are missed. It is also helpful in building the capacity to run more complex marketing campaigns and manage internal expectations. How many times have your internal stakeholders balked when you couldn’t disseminate their white paper 24 hours after they sent you the approved copy? The blueprint illustrates all elements that need to be created and aligned in relation to a single piece of content.
- Detail an enablement plan. Documenting responsibility and authority over each element will keep you on track, no matter who is managing each stage. A variety of tools are available for scheduling and documenting your content calendar. And don’t forget to plan for continuity by sharing all campaign assets in collaborative spaces like SharePoint, MS Teams, or Google Docs, and including links to them in your enablement plan.
- Create original campaign content. To ensure you are providing something of value to your prospective customers, your content should be developed specifically for your target audience, distribution channels, and type of campaign. Some campaigns call for more product- and company-centric content, while others depend on having specific customer-centric content. While stretching and iterating on your own fresh content is okay—the bite-snack-meal approach—repurposing content developed by other people, or for other products and purposes, is not an effective shortcut.
- Implement, measure, and improve. Whether you have a robust stack of marketing tools or not, this step is truly tactical and should be the simplest one of the entire campaign process. When you execute your well-thought-out plan, don’t set it and forget it. Top marketers monitor performance and modify the dissemination strategy to optimize performance inflight.
- Establish baselines and find sources for benchmarking.
- Let your team know that you support innovation and want to foster a “test and learn” culture.
- Set similar expectations with leadership and internal business partners that failure is part and parcel of achieving results. Adjust your tactics often throughout implementation and evolve your campaign dynamically.
Marketing analytics are your friend, so make sure your team is comfortable with them. Proving ROI and marketing attribution will strengthen your credibility and directly impact both your labor budget and your program spend.
Learn more about strategic marketing campaigns in Government Marketing Best Practices 2.0: What You Need to Know for Accelerated Success, one of GovBrew’s top govcon books.