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10 steps to running a headache-free campaign

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Managing a marketing campaign is much like preparing a large Thanksgiving meal. After spending weeks planning the festivities, the activities on the day of the dinner require a synergy with the overall program so everything is ready at once. It takes intensive planning, coordination and patience. You wouldn't want Aunt Louise showing up for dinner two weeks late, no more than you would want radio ads to run after the end of a campaign.

B-to-b marketers typically run into three issues when executing a large campaign. These include:

  • Vendor management: Let's face it, managing creative people is no easy task. Add creatives from several different agencies, including advertising, digital, public relations and exhibition design, and you may be signing yourself up to watch the fight over the last piece of pecan pie. 
  • Consistency: When different agencies produce different materials, it can result in a different look and feel between each piece. This fragmentation can result in a campaign that lacks cohesiveness and misses its mark.
  • Timing: If a banner ad links to a landing page that isn't ready, the ad becomes useless. Similarly, releasing an ad a day or two in advance of a trade show may miss its target audience. Timing is critical for a well-executed marketing campaign.

Strategic planning, clear communication and diligent execution will help ensure a successful campaign. Don't want to be that person who goes down in the family history books for burning the turkey? Here are a few key ingredients that can be helpful when executing a campaign:

  • Research: Identifying and understanding your target audience is key to implementing a successful marketing campaign. In order to develop a sound strategy, you must first identify the market opportunity and target audiences. During the research phase, you should learn more about your target audiences' pain points and how your products or solutions address those issues. This will be helpful in shaping your campaign's key messages.
  • Strategy: Any good marketing campaign starts with a well-thought-out strategy. Your strategy should clearly articulate how your campaign will allow you to create a competitive advantage over your competition. Whether it is through paid, indirect or social media channels, or a combination of all three, your strategy should be built around the results of your market research.
  • Management buy-in: Before deploying the campaign, it's essential to have buy in from senior-level management. Set up time with key stakeholders to present your ideas and anticipated campaign results. Your presentation doesn't necessarily need to detail every planned tactic, but offer a high-level overview of the program. Involving them at the early stages of the process enables you to solicit feedback and ideas that can help improve the campaign.
  • A clear brief: A clear, creative brief helps align agencies and ensures that everyone understands the campaign objectives. It starts everyone on the same page and ensures consistency through all marketing materials.
  • Timeline: A timeline should include all deadlines and relevant dates, including due dates for insertion orders, creative materials, copy for websites, press releases, direct-mail dates and any other materials. Color-code items to easily identify gaps in the campaign and ensure that materials align correctly.
  • Execution: Establish a team of individuals who will assist in the deployment of the campaign. Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each member to eliminate confusion and prevent overlap. For example, one individual should manage all invoices and deadlines. Hold regular meetings (daily or every few days) at the outset of the campaign and at least weekly once the campaign is up and running.
  • A shared server: When all campaign materials live in one place, they can be referenced by execution team members or shared between agencies for consistency. A shared server also allows any other internal stakeholders to easily review information without having to transfer large files.
  • Ongoing update meetings: Regular reporting and updating is essential to keeping a campaign progressing without complications. Have agencies provide grids with action items and follow up with conference reports that clearly delineate action items resulting from calls.

Similarly, maintain momentum throughout the campaign by communicating key successes to all internal stakeholders, including agency contacts. For example, if a good lead results from a direct-mail piece or an email campaign generates a 40% open rate, share that with people involved on the project.

  • Measure results, then measure them again: Whether it's clickthroughs to a microsite, share of voice analysis or direct sales, identify more than one method for measuring audience engagement. While it might seem redundant, having more than one measurement tool in place enables better tracking across platforms and can enhance the accuracy of reporting. 
  • Have fun: When you're having fun, your team and agency partners will also enjoy themselves. Engage other employees by creating contests, decorating cubes and finding other unique ways to make the campaign extend internally. A positive attitude and engaged team goes a long way in ensuring positive results.

Any large marketing campaign involves a series of moving parts that can be challenging to manage once they are all in motion. Whether your campaign involves a high-profile spokesperson or a viral contest, following these simple steps will help participants understand their role in successfully executing the program.

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