Before embarking on any kind of marketing campaign, it is essential to have a basic idea of who we are targeting, whether it be from analysis of existing customers or market research. With that in mind, the next step is to create a full-blown campaign plan, that not only delivers these customers but also allows us to adapt and repeat the process for future campaigns. For many businesses, a fully integrated marketing campaign can amount to a significant investment, in terms of both cost and resources. Much of this investment will be committed to long before any resultant revenue is generated. For that reason alone, it is essential that campaign planning starts with a suitable framework. This simple 8 point plan and will put you in a better position to provide a clear brief to your team or any outside agencies.
Why are you doing this?
Never begin any task, especially one as costly and time-consuming as a marketing campaign, without first understanding what you’re hoping to achieve.
1. State your objective
There are many reasons for launching a marketing campaign. Your aim may be to raise brand awareness but in this modern age of Digital Marketing, every campaign should be geared to illicit some kind of response. You must decide if you wish that response to: –
- gather prospect names;
- produce qualified leads;
- generate sales; or
- distribute free trials.
It is not bad practice to have a variety of response mechanisms but you must be clear on your preference, so that this translates through to the execution of the campaign. From here, you can start to plan what you will use for your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). As part of your overall plan, you will need to assign targets to these KPIs, which will ultimately determine your Critical Success Factors (CSFs). Very few campaigns meet all their targets first time round, so your main objective should be to ensure you understand why your results weren’t as predicted. Your ability to improve future campaigns rests entirely on your ability to predict the effect any changes may have.
2. Be clear about what you are offering
In order to achieve your objective, you have to offer something in return. If you are just collecting a name and address from new prospective customers, this will probably just be information but you still need to be clear about your offering. You may be promoting your brand or just one specific aspect, such as an individual product or service. You probably want to develop an ongoing relationship over many years? It may seem obvious to you but the ability to clearly explain what it is and what it does can be much harder. One useful exercise is to write a full description of your offering, using as many words as you needs. Once you are happy that anyone seeing this for the first time will understand what is on offer, rewrite it, reducing the word-count by 25%. Continue reducing it until you get to as few as you can. There’s no perfect length and don’t worry, you’re not trying to write an advert. If you have to resort to using jargon or technical information, be sure that these are widely understood by your target audience. Your aim
3. Know your prospects
You will have a very clear idea of why you need your product or service, as will the majority of your existing customers but what about you prospects? Why would they want to buy from you? You may already know something about these people, if you know why you’re targeting them, but do you understand them. Focus on your offering and if it’s relevant, ask yourself, do I know: –
- their hopes and fears;
- what are their likes or dislikes;
- what they need;
- whether they are male or female, young or old, rich or poor?
This is not an exhaustive list, merely a prompt. Until you understand who you are talking to, you will not know what tone to adopt, let alone what to say.
4. Are you fulfilling your prospect needs?
There are nine basic human motivations, your product or service needs to fulfil at least one of these:
- Make money;
- Save money;
- Save time/effort;
- Help their families;
- Feel secure;
- Impress others;
- Gain pleasure;
- Improve themselves; or
- Belong to a group.
It may be that different types of customer will be motivated by different things but in all likelihood, there’ll be a few that cover the vast majority of your customers. Knowing which of these motivates them most will make it easier to create your message.
5. Be clear on the positioning
Every aspect of your campaign, from the text and images it delivers, to the platform it is delivered on, forms part of your overall message. You must decide what your message will tell the prospect about your product or service. For an integrated campaign to be effective, this message must remain consistent throughout. Most importantly, your message should never be contradictory, even if you are aiming at different audiences across different media or platforms.
Does your message sell?
6. Understand the benefits you are offering
Interrogate your product or service thoroughly to establish a list of product features and then identify how it differs from the alternatives. This will give you the features for your specification sheets but more importantly, highlight any advantages you offer. These will only really be effective in comparisons with alternative suppliers. Your prospect really needs to know how it will benefit them. What it does rather than what it is. A notebook with a longer battery life, allows you to work longer, which is a significant benefit.
7. Unique selling proposition
Many campaigns succeed without a real understanding of what exactly the USP is. It should be made clear though, the USP is the single most important aspect of the entire message. Your message should portray any difference as a compelling advantage. For example: For a low-end notebook PC, price is a feature, if it’s lower than the competitors’ it becomes an advantage. The battery life is also a feature and if it has a longer battery life than similar models, this is an advantage.
8. The killer feature
Ideally your offering will have t one unique benefit or maybe an appealing combination of benefits that makes it stand out from the crowd. This will be the basis for your headline and call to action, so it needs to be something that can be portrayed quite simply and it needs to be something that our target prospects will be motivated by.
If our prospects are students then the low price will be the killer feature but if they are wealthy professionals then it’s more likely to be the longer battery life. Having completed points 3-5, you’ll be much better placed to decide.
Obviously, there are many factors to be considered when creating a marketing campaign, such as timing, budgets, etc. but this eight point precursor will help you minimise the upfront risk, before you embark on a fully fledged campaign plan. In most businesses, marketing is a substantial drain on the balance sheet. Done right, it also contributes significantly to the revenue.