Anatomy of a Campaign: Five Basics You Can’t Afford to Skip

December 13, 2022
Anatomy of a Campaign: Five Basics You Can’t Afford to Skip

Adapt or die. Digital Darwinism. For more than a decade, marketing gurus have prized innovation over almost everything else. Yet according to Gartner’s annual CMO Spend and Strategy survey, it appears that today’s economic uncertainties are driving CMOs back to basics. Case in point: the core practices of campaign creation and management have replaced digital commerce as CMOs’ top budget priority.

In the spirit of reinforcing fundamentals, this week we’re looking at the anatomy of successful marketing campaigns. Examples might include a summer barbecue promotion from a cooking, food or flavor brand, a retail boutique’s Black Friday gifting event, or a spring shape-up smoothie campaign from a blender manufacturer.

While each campaign is unique, the rubric outlined below can be applied to virtually any campaign planning process to sharpen thinking, reveal gaps and set your brand up for success.

The Five Essential Components of a Strong Campaign

1. A Well-Defined Consumer Target
The value of consumer-centrism in any campaign seems intuitively obvious and yet, in a challenging business environment, it can be easy to let business urgencies drive marketing activations. That’s why revisiting your consumer insights prior to beginning any campaign is the best place to start.

If you’re operating from a solid brand strategy, chances are you already have a clear sense of your target. Now is the time to brush up on their attitudes and behaviors, especially as they relate to your campaign theme.

If, however, your answer to the question “who are we here for?” is “everyone,” there’s clearly more work to be done. Begin by studying what you already know about your customers, placing them at the center of the campaign bullseye, and then look for ways to widen your focus to encompass adjacent audiences. With this enlarged picture in mind, you can make savvy decisions about where and how best to reach and engage with them.

2. A Specific Business-Relevant Objective

For many campaigns, our minds move too quickly to tactics. Activities like “publish holiday recipes,” “send samples to influencers,” and “gather and repackage UCG” can all add value. But a strong campaign must begin with the specific “business why” behind the activity. For example, are you seeking to accelerate sales velocity among your loyalists? Expand your base by acquiring new consumers? Maybe at this moment it’s really all about top-of-funnel awareness. Clarity on these questions will help you set rational goals aligned with business objectives and guide decisions about how and where to spend.
But a strong campaign must begin with the specific “business why” behind the activity.

3. Key Performance Metrics and a Reporting Plan

Clear marketing objective? Check. Now it’s time to hold yourself accountable by attaching specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound performance metrics to your campaign. This is also a good time to decide exactly how and when you’ll gather, analyze and share out campaign performance data.

Aligning business objectives and metrics is critical. If you’re primarily focused on raising consumption among loyalists, for example, you may need to accept lower sales targets than you would typically expect from a broader customer acquisition campaign. (But your marketing costs will also likely be lower.) However, if you’re going for top-of-funnel awareness, attaching sales metrics to your campaign isn’t realistic. Instead, you’ll want to set impressions goals, with a plan to nurture those leads into eventual sales over time.

If your organization isn’t in the practice of setting formal campaign goals, the first couple of cycles may be challenging, since performance baselines are unclear. A new campaign is the perfect time to break this cycle by applying the discipline of establishing a baseline from which to measure key performance metrics.

4. A Clear & Compelling Creative Hook

When thinking of memorable brand campaigns, many of us think almost exclusively about creative assets as what defines excellence. And with good reason! The most memorable marketing campaigns are brought to life with inspiring copy, beautiful design, dazzling photography and other creative elements that both give us a reason to believe, but also to act.

However, it’s important to remember that strong creative and strategy are inextricably linked. There is no “great creative” without a sound underlying strategy — and strategy is only as powerful as the creative that brings it to life.

There is no “great creative” without a sound underlying strategy

5. Savvy Omnichannel Execution

Your target consumer likely shows up in many different places, and your campaign should, too. But nuance is required to get the most from an omnichannel strategy. Blasting identical content across a multiplicity of channels may save time and effort, but it misses an opportunity to tailor your message to the distinct needs of each audience, elevate your brand position and maximize impressions.

Your target consumer likely shows up in many different places, and your campaign should, too.

Consider a Black Friday gifting event, for example. Traditional “ad-like” creative may work well in channels where this is expected, like paid social media, display and email. But when leveraging shared properties like influencers, native ads and co-marketing partnerships, you may fare better with a softer message that takes advantage of shared channels’ unique contextual dynamics.

When you plan for it on the front end, this extra layer of executional sophistication requires minimal incremental effort and yields attractive dividends in consumer impact.

At Wilks Communications Group, we support clients at every stage of campaign management, from strategy and brainstorming to execution and measurement. If, like many marketing leaders, you’re ready to reinvest in campaign fundamentals for 2023, we’d love to share our ideas. Let’s connect!

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