Planning a Marketing Campaign

A marketing or advertising campaign isn’t something you do just because you can. To get the most from your marketing and advertising dollars, you need to develop a campaign that meets your business’s specific needs.

Start with a Goal

Every business has different needs. Business needs can be developed into marketing or advertising goals, which is the first step to designing a marketing or advertising campaign that meets your needs.

Here are some examples:

  • You want to raise awareness about an underused service your business provides.
  • You want to introduce a new product or product line.
  • You want to increase sales by 10%.
  • You want to drive traffic to your store or Web site.
  • You want to increase customer loyalty to your business.

Pick one thing you want to do. By limiting yourself to just one thing, you can focus your campaign on achieving that goal. Otherwise, you may try to achieve too many things, and end up achieving nothing.

The more measurable your goal is the better able you are to track the results and determine the effectiveness of your campaign.

What’s Stopping You?

There are always challenges when pursuing a goal. If there weren’t, then you’d already have achieved your goal, right? So, before you figure how you’re going to meet your goal, you need to know what’s stopping you.

Gather the facts about your present situation.

  • What is the situation?
  • What contributes to the situation?
  • Is there something inherent in the situation that can help?
  • What can you change to address the situation?
  • What message do you need to communicate to achieve your goal?

If you want to raise awareness about an underused service that your business provides, you need to know how often that service is used compared to how often you think it should be used. This gives you a baseline by which to compare the results of your campaign. It also helps you estimate how much of an increase in usage you’d like to see.

You also need to gain an understanding of why that service is not being used. Are customers not aware that the service is available? Do customers think the service is too expensive? Do customers think the service really isn’t necessary? Knowing why customers are not using the service will have a dramatic impact on your message. If, for example, customers think the service is too expensive, then a message raising awareness about the service will be a waste of resources. After all, you don’t need to raise awareness about the service if customers are already aware of it; instead, you need to convince them the service will provide a good value to them.

If you learn that your underused service is perceived as being too expensive, then you need to ask yourself this: What about the service makes it valuable? Are your customers aware of the value? If not, then your message needs to be designed to convince customers that the value they receive from the service is worth the cost.

But what if customers are aware of the value, and still don’t believe it’s worth the cost? You can try to convince them, but you may want to discount the cost temporarily as a purchase incentive, decrease the cost permanently, or increase the value of the service instead. You then need to communicate whichever strategy you chose to your customers.

With all this information in hand you are better able to determine the message you need to communicate in order to achieve your goal. A lot of businesses skip this step. They’re more interested in communicating what they want to say, instead of communicating what their customers need to hear. If you know what your customers need to hear, then you’re much more likely to achieve the results you want.

State Your Strategy

A strategy statement communicates your goal—your objectives for success—to all the people working on the campaign. To come up with the right strategy statement, you must think about the goal and the challenges that may prevent you from achieving the goal.

For example, if your goal is to raise awareness about your underused service, and you’ve determined that many of your customers consider the service too expensive, then your strategy needs to reflect that information and how you intend to address it.

Your strategy statement may be: Increase the perceived value of our designing services in order to increase the use of this service by 15%.

This statement is short, simple and yet communicates the goal in a measurable way. It’s not perfect. But it is manageable. It reflects both the goal and the situation, and leads logically to tactics that can be used to achieve the goal.

Address Challenges with Tactics

All tactics should relate directly to the strategy. Tactics should also address factors that prevent the success of the campaign.

For example, to increase the perceived value of a company’s design services, you need to communicate that value. Your tactics should address that need as specifically as possible.

An appropriate tactic statement may be: Communicate the qualifications, budgeting strategies and aesthetic benefits our designers provide.

Another tactic should address the need to encourage customer action. After all, the strategy isn’t just to increase the perceived value, but to increase the use of the service as well. Your message needs to move customers to act on their new knowledge by purchasing the service.

An appropriate tactic statement may be: Encourage purchase of design services by informing customers of the value of the service, and using feature/benefits statements to overcome resistance.

A final tactic may be to provide incentive for immediate purchase. While building up the perceived value of the service, you could also address resistance to the price with a temporary discount. This discount will provide the incentive for immediate action.

An appropriate tactic statement may be: Offer a 10% discount to encourage immediate purchase of design services.

Each tactic must relate to the strategy, but not all tactics need to address all factors. The right mix of tactics will provide your campaign with the strength it needs to overcome the challenges you face in order to achieve your goal.

Now What?

Of course, a strategy and tactics—no matter how well conceived—are not enough. You need to implement those tactics in order to achieve the strategy. There are a variety of marketing tools available to help you do this. You need to select which marketing tools you will use, design your marketing or advertising pieces, and arrangement the placement of your pieces in order to get them in front of your audience.

Then, after you’ve implemented your marketing campaign and the campaign has run its course, you need to evaluate the results. This way you can learn what worked and what didn’t. This information will be invaluable during your next campaign.