The word “campaign” is over-used in online marketing. It raises expectations of a major initiative, but is often just a minor project.
To really launch a new product, service, image or venture, you need a true campaign – a series of efforts that are orchestrated, timely, galvanizing and persuasive.
What are the key principles for conceiving and creating an effective campaign?
BE AMBITIOUS. To succeed in a big way, an online campaign should be more like a political, fundraising or corporate takeover campaign, where the goal is more ambitious than merely getting some positive results. Indeed, their success is measured in terms of “win or lose” and “do or die.”
BE INVENTIVE. For any campaign, there are 4 resources to draw on – time, money, people, and ideas. The first 3 are limited; you have only so much time, money and personnel. But the last resource, ideas, is virtually unlimited. Use your imagination to develop concepts, themes, strategy and tactics that will generate buzz and publicity. Start brainstorming by asking, “What if?”, appraise ideas by asking, “So what?”, and do your planning by asking, “What then?”
BE FLEXIBLE. Successful campaigns are dynamic and evolving. The best campaign plans are those that can be changed to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and can adjust to unexpected difficulties.
CREATE SYNERGY. A campaign should be waged on many fronts. When people receive new information from several sources (people as well as media), they find it more credible and compelling. To create the echo effect, different communication efforts should be orchestrated so they work together in a timely and cost-effective way. For example, a banner ad and viral video might launch a creative sweepstakes micro-site which in turn might generate publicity that can be used in your sales materials.
BE PERSUASIVE. A campaign is all about persuasion. Don’t settle for a ho-hum message and then hope that repetition will convince prospective consumers over time. Instead, try to immediately capture attention with a powerful concept, high-impact visuals and compelling prose. And when responding to consumer or media queries about your campaign, make sure your prepared answers are equally persuasive.
EXPECT THE UNPREDICTABLE. Invariably, a campaign will trigger some unexpected reactions. You can’t anticipate everything, but you should do contingency planning. For example, if you will be issuing a news release or holding a news conference, you should not only anticipate all logical questions and prepare answers for them…you should also anticipate illogical questions and unfair criticisms and how to cope with those, as well.
BE PERSISTENT. In marketing, consistency is often emphasized. But in a campaign, persistence is even more important. To wage a multiple-front, escalating campaign, you need to be very determined and patient in following through. To keep that focus, you can’t get too frustrated by all the little problems; instead, keep your “eyes on the prize,” namely, the campaign goals.
HAVE FUN. The best campaigns are models of collaboration. To inspire that kind of teamwork, you need to instill both fun and pride. That spirit should be encouraged from the beginning (planning) through the middle (execution), to the end (celebration).
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