Marketing Campaigns

For many small and medium sized companies, the hardest part of marketing is simply managing all of the different pieces of the marketing mix. The first step toward organizing the potential chaos is to plan and schedule specific marketing campaigns.

Definition: A marketing campaign is a sustained effort to promote your product or service through a defined series of activities. 

What Makes a Good Marketing Campaign?

Marketing campaign, Amex, Marketing strategy

American Express – Small Business Saturday

A good marketing campaign follows a theme, and it includes a series of touch points through each channel. I wish that a single email or text marketing campaign was enough for someone to take action, but the average consumer can take anywhere from 3 to 10 touch points (or more) before actually making a purchase. Since there is so much noise in the marketplace, repetition of a message in different channels is important.

The American Express campaign of Small Business Saturday utilized several channels and message styles before it became a huge success. However, they understood some key things about running a successful campaign: Goal (positive branding with small businesses), Personas who support small business, Multiple Channels (digital ads, emails, partner communications, posters, etc) and the Virality of the concept.

What are some things that your company can leverage to make a great campaign?

  • Goal
    What is the goal of your campaign? You may want to increase sales for a specific product, drive traffic to your new website, simply create buzz about what your company is up to, or something else.
  • Persona(s)
    Who are your target customers? Identify the personas who are the most likely to be interested in this product, service, or topic. You may want to create a few demographic profiles to get started.
  • Channels
    How are you getting the message out to your target customers? This is a labor-intensive part of the planning process. If you are going to hit the customer with your message at least 3 times, then which channels will it be pushed through and when? (ie Email, Website, Blog, Social Media, Print, Radio, TV, PPC)
  • Virality of Content
    Understand what causes people to share information. Is the content of your message aimed to pique someone’s curiosity, cause a debate, get people excited?

The Minimalist Marketing Campaign Plan

If all of this sounds like gobbly-gook to you and you just want a fast way to get things going, then make a calendar in a spreadsheet. At minimum, you should have a plan for each month for what communications you are putting out to your customers (and the world).

Here’s a Sample Content Calendar

Marketing Communications, Content Calendar, Communications Calendar

Key Items in your content calendar:

  • Content Type
  • Title or Description of that content (blog post title or a description such as Monthly Newsletter)
  • Key dates (draft due, review by, publish on, etc)
  • Target Audience / Personas
  • Distribution Channels
  • Promotions tied to it
  • The Keywords or Metadata being used
  • Metrics for reporting on the success

What’s a Demographic Profile?

Customer Intelligence, Demographic Profile

Customer Intelligence. Demographic Profiles. Market Research.

To the non-data friendly marketers, these are scary terms. However, they are also important pieces of your marketing plan, so be sure to include this information.

What is a demographic profile? Why do I need it?

First, let’s take a step back and ask the bigger question – who is your customer? Can you answer that question? Whether you are a B2B or B2C business, you should be able to clearly identify your customer or end user. And this needs to be much more specific than “moms who like ice cream” or “teens who are interested in business”.

The dictionary tells us that a demographic profile is “a description of a particular type of customer, including their sex, age, income, etc. By developing a demographic profile of your best customers, you can target your marketing efforts more successfully.”  Expanding on the “etc” of that statement, I would say it also includes geographic information, social class, marital/family status, ethnicity, education level, career, and social/religious affiliations. The more you can learn about your customers, the better you can communicate with them.

Gaining some insights into who your tribe is will help you in several ways:

  • Improve communication with customers
  • Refine your product / service
  • Discover underutilized channels for communications and marketing
  • Help you to create internal marketing goals

 Starting with Market Research

It takes time and effort to conduct market research. Before you dive into research, gather the information you do already know about your customers. This will help you to understand the kinds of questions you need answered to create a clearer picture of your customer segments.

Market Research Tactics

If you have an established customer base, then delivering a survey or hosting a focus group is an easy place to start. Decide on a minimum number of people that you want to collect responses from (sample size) – you can base this on the population of your sales area, current customer base, or a demographic group (such as married women between 25 and 35).

After gathering all of the information, spend some time doing research. If you discover that one of your customer segments is men, age 40-42, unmarried, with a bachelor’s degree, living in lower Manhattan, high income earners, and are interested in European sports of all kinds; then you should dig deeper into each of these sub-categories to better understand the customer. Is this a group that commonly loves all sports or just soccer and rugby? Perhaps there is a subculture that you never knew about.

Client Intelligence is the End Result

Your aim with the research is to gain a fundamental understanding of your audience, so take the time to really understand who your tribe is and why they love your company. Do not neglect those who dislike your company completely either. You may be able to gain some insights from them as well.

Well collected an analyzed market research will provide you with the insights you need to improve your marketing plan, and hopefully you’ll also be able to reallocate budget dollars to better channels.

Be Brave and Make a Plan

Planning for the future can be both exciting and frightening. Maybe I am biased,  but I think it is slightly harder for women than it is for men. This, of course, is a broad blanket statement, but hear me out first.

I grew up in a family where my father brought home the paychecks and my mother planned how it was spent – mortgage, school, groceries, etc. This was a typical family setup among many people that I knew for a long time. Part of my parents’ partnership with each other was this balance. My mom had to be the one really thinking about the future and making recommendations to dad about different things, like family trips and medical expenses. She had to really believe in the things that she could foresee being important.

My parents worked hard in this team dynamic to give us kids a good life. Now that I am the adult making my own plans and thinking about my future it’s a new challenge, and I want to be happy. I can budget for groceries or trips to visit my sisters in New York. But when it comes to the bigger life planning, I hesitate and question my ideas. Will this concept be successful? Will I wake up a total failure with no money left for me to plan with?

Rather than constantly question myself, I have decided to take a leap of faith and move forward. I will Be Brave and Plan. I admit that I want.more than the 9-5 job. I moved to Austin in pursuit of a dream, and I must take action now.

The first step for me is the executive summary. I will be finishing that over the weekend, so you can read a sneak peak of it this coming week. To achieve great success in your passion it’s vital to take your steps carefully, rather than running forward full force. I will make at least one goal towards completing this refined business plan each week.

Any tips on writing a strong executive summary are welcome.

Keeping a List, Checking it Twice

We should all be keeping a “To-Do List” everyday, right? This is one of those concepts we are  taught at a young age. When you feel overwhelmed, forgetful or disorganized making a list helps you to put things in perspective. Many business coaches recommend making a list at the beginning of each day with your short term and long term goals in mind. According to MindTools, “By keeping a To-Do List, you make sure that your tasks are written down all in one place so you don’t forget anything important. And by prioritizing tasks, you plan the order in which you’ll do them, so that you can tell what needs your immediate attention, and what you can leave until later.” Much like this blog, to-do lists keep you accountable for completing tasks throughout your day. I have tried to wake up early and make one of these lists, but have not been the most successful so far.

Today I tried to connect my planner and my to-do list and it helped me. Now I have two calendars – a traditional notebook style weekly planner from an office store and my digital calendar on my phone with reminder alarms. I use the notebook calendar to look at my week/month overall and think about what I want to achieve. Will this week be about my volunteering or possibly about building new connections? Once I have the overall plan for the week, I enter any of the small goals with a specific date & time into my Google calendar and add a reminder time. My phone collects all of my events – Facebook, Work email, Personal email, Google Calendar, Meetup, LinkedIn etc – and puts it into one place for me. This has been KEY for me. I need those reminders ringing on my phone. Why? Frankly, I am 29 years old and my phone is rarely far away.

Mobile, Calendar, Sync Calendars

*Here is a funny blog about living without your mobile phone: My Year Without a Mobile Phone

Accountability – it is such a simple concept and we find it so easy to follow while at work, but when it comes to our own personal goals the tasks seem enormous.

What does it take to keep you accountable?