Campaign against quiet months

Got a predicted fallow period ahead? Here’s our guide to mounting a marketing campaign that will turn your fortunes around.

Do a quick Google for the most popular marketing campaigns and you’ll likely remind yourself of some forgotten favourites. How about Always with their image-impacting campaign #likeagirl? Or Greggs with their recent vegan sausage roll launch? And who can forget Budweiser’s “Whassup?”?

Yes, that Bud campaign was 20 years ago, but the concept was so strong that it managed to transcend the generations to be rehashed for a campaign during lockdown last year. Because when they’re done well, campaigns can cut through, create conversations and drive sales.

And more importantly, they’re an opportunity to quickly generate new business.

Which is why, as we head into a period when many companies will be looking to ride out a bumpy economic landscape, there’s no better time to get creative, bend the brand guidelines and reach new audiences.

What is a marketing campaign?

Look it up in the marketing playbook and you’ll find marketing campaign defined as, “a series of coordinated activities designed to help market a product.” But we can’t help feel that sells the potential of such an undertaking a bit short.

These kinds of campaigns don’t have to be about a product or service. They could focus on selling an idea or promoting a specific company goal or ethos. The important thing is they’re centred around one ‘thing’ that is just a part of what makes up your brand or business. A campaign offers something over and above your everyday brand marketing. It offers audiences the opportunity (perhaps the excuse), to get re-acquainted with your business. To notice something special is going on, and to make sure they’re a part of it.

Brewer Carlsberg, for example, recognised they had lost their way and committed to revamp their product “from head to hop”. In doing so they revised their catchy slogan “probably the best beer in the world” to “probably NOT the best beer in the world.” A brave move perhaps, but certainly one that got tongues wagging across the beer industry, making lager drinkers sit up and take notice that change was afoot. And one that was about more than simply launching a new product.

The right marketing campaign done well can get your brand name known and catch the attention of customers and potential customers for whom you had long faded into the background. And what’s more, it can make you memorable long after the jingle fades or that brilliantly bold billboard gets papered over.

What does a marketing campaign look like?

When planning the perfect marketing campaign, the options are many and varied. From product marketing and brand awareness to direct mail, email marketing or content, what fits one brand will most certainly not work for another. The trick is in understanding the audience, working out where they are and taking the ‘one big idea’ to them, on their turf as it were.

This could mean a cross-platform social media assault, carefully targeted influencer marketing or even a user-generated content campaign like Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest and ASOS’ #AsSeenOnMe, to get customers advocating for you by sharing their purchases on socials.

It might even be prudent to bring traditional PR or paid advertising into the mix, garnering brand visibility in local or national media. It often depends on what you want to gain from the whole thing.

And on that note, it’s worth thinking about this stuff up front when you’re planning your marketing campaign. We like to call it the who, what, when, where, how (and how much!).

You’ll need to get clear on:

The who

Your team. Who will be planning and driving your campaign? Do you have the right mix of skills onboard to get the job done well? And do they have the time to devote to getting it right? Depending on ‘the how’ below you’ll potentially need web developers, copywriters, social media managers, graphic designers, videographers etc. Or you could consider outsourcing to a creative agency who can do it all for you.

The what

Your goals.  What does success look like for your campaign and how will you know when you’re there? Is it about increasing sales through social media by 300% or driving 10X the visitors to your site? The first step of any effective campaign should be setting out your goals, writing up some KPIs and making sure you know exactly whose job it is to keep an eye on the numbers.

The when

Timing.  Consider John Lewis’ iconic annual Christmas campaign. Released on the wrong day it wouldn’t have quite the same appeal, would it? A week earlier and it would be too soon to bear thinking about and a week later it would feel like an afterthought. Do you need to tie your campaign into a product launch, or fit into a particular season of the year? Either way give yourself plenty of time to make and perfect your plans.

The where

Your choice of channels. From Twitter to The Sunday Times, the array of options for getting your message in front of your audience is quite frankly mind boggling. So we advise you think logically and concentrate, to begin with at least, on those you can control. Focus on growing social media followings on the platforms you’re seeing the most engagement on, build email lists ready for your campaign launch, and listen to the specialists in your team when they suggest what will work best for your campaign.

The how

Your content and design. Once you’ve established the overall aims of your campaign, you need to focus on how you’re going to get there. Mixing different content formats such as video, influencer posts, blogs and socials is often the best way to catch attention across the board. And when tied together with an effective design that nods to your brand and captures the mood, you’ll have all the ingredients you need for success.

The how much

Your budget. A campaign, of course, is only a success if it delivers on the goals it sets out to achieve. And more than likely one of these will be a return on investment that makes the efforts worthwhile. Not all marketing needs to break the budget, there are plenty of clever tips and tricks you can employ to keep costs down, carve up and repurpose content and get the most out of your budget.

Check back for part 2 (coming soon) when we’ll be looking step by step at how to plan and create a successful marketing campaign for your brand. And if now doesn’t feel like the time, we beg to differ. Get in touch, we’d love to talk about mounting a one-off campaign to add something a little different to your marketing mix!