marketing campaign: A specific, defined series of activities used in marketing a new or changed product or service, or in using new marketing channels and methods.
–Source: Bridgefield Group
Any business interested in promoting a specific product or service will likely be talking about marketing in terms of a campaign. Campaigns are a focused effort to plan and execute repetitive touches with target markets that are focused on a key message.
The campaign model is extremely helpful to both marketers and businesses because it helps to create boundaries around the big fuzzy activity we call marketing. A well-planned campaign answers really focused questions like:
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What do we want them to learn about us?
- What actions do we want them to take?
- How many times do we plan to reach them?
- What media/channels will we use to convey our message?
- When will these efforts start/end?
- How often will they occur?
- How will we define success?
Once the parameters for the campaign are in place, executing and evaluating the activities becomes simple.
Because it’s effective, efficient, and everywhere, the idea of the marketing campaign isn’t going anywhere. But for great companies, it’s expanding.
Limits of the marketing campaign
Back in the day where companies’ main choices for marketing channels were print, TV and radio, a marketing campaign captured the main aspects of how information about the brand hit the marketplace.
And then came the internet.
Now, there are huge numbers of choices for marketing channels. And, in what can be either your company’s largest opportunity or largest threat, it’s easy for people everywhere to influence your brand perception — from all over the world, from a mobile phone or home computer, on blogs, forums, social media and more.
While best-in-class brands are starting to think more broadly when it comes to defining and planning their campaigns, this explosion in brand-related communication is the piece of the puzzle that traditional campaigns haven’t quite addressed.
What do you do when everyone is a marketer?
David Sher of Buzz12, a social media firm in Alabama, highlighted the impact of Twitter on brand when he recounted his conversation with the owner of the largest Toyota dealership in the state — prompted by a critical tweet.
Every business today has a giant digital target on its back as consumers learn that social media is not only a great place to vent, but it’s a great place to get a response. As brands like Comcast and Xbox open two-way dialogue about product and service issues on social media, more and more customers are learning that sending a tweet or building a viral video (ala “United Breaks Guitars”) can earn a better, faster response than the maze of 1-800 phone menus.
So while the temptation may be to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this dynamic, open dialogue about our businesses doesn’t materially impact our brands — that’d just be naive.
Even more naive would be not to recognize the value in having access to these conversations.
Shortly after the Superbowl this year, Groupon pulled an “edgy” television ad campaign, in large part due to the avalanche of criticism on social media. Consider this: before the campaign ever made it to our living rooms, lots of industry types had likely seen it — from the production crew to the ad agency to Groupon insiders. And still they didn’t have a feel for what public reaction might be.
Social media informed them. (Read the comments for a sampling)
While Groupon suffered some for the message mis-step, the fact is that the opportunity to hear from their market en masse, quickly so that they could respond is a new, powerful tool for business today.
We don’t always get it right, and when we don’t, isn’t it better to have the chance to fix it?
Evolving beyond campaigns: The marketing culture
There are certainly tools to help you monitor and respond to social media sentiment. Services like Lithium aim to keep you connected with what people are saying about your brand online.
But this “reply only” mentality is responsive. What about something proactive?
This is where the marketing culture comes in.
Zappos is the oft-cited darling of social media marketing and for good reason. Zappos’ approach to branding is counter-intuitive when you consider the glossy images of expensive pumps in the fashion magazines. From the get-go, Zappos’ founders positioned the company as a “service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Everything about the company’s success is built on customer experience, and it’s made all the difference.
The reason this shift is so critical is that it is the definition of a marketing culture. In order for Zappos to succeed in its positioning as a customer-focused, friendly brand, every person in the organization must be dedicated to the cause.
Sure, that’s a tall order. But it’s why they pay new employees to leave. It’s why they’re consistently ranked top of the customer service charts. They’ve built a culture that supports their brand mission, focus and message, and their people live it every day.
From employee engagement to smart branding
The benefits of this kind of engagement are countless, from lower turnover, to higher morale, to better customer retention. From a marketing perspective, though, there’s one other huge plus — evangelism.
What if you had 2,000 employees that were so enamored with your company, and understood its workings so well, that they would tell everyone who would listen that it was a great place to work with a great product?
And what if all of those people were on social media?
What if they felt so engaged that when others complained, or made product suggestions, or praised the company for great work, they took personal responsibility for sharing that feedback?
What if they answered questions about products, provided free technical support and shared company news on their off time, all because they were such believers in the brand?
It’s possible — and powerful. It just requires as much attention to marketing to employees as to consumers.
How is your organization building a marketing culture? How do your employees help your business promote the brand?