Business 101 Cover Stories May 2015

The Building Blocks of a Successful Marketing Campaign

Written By: Suzanne Bachus

A successful and effective marketing campaign is the conglomeration of many things: in-depth research, strategic planning, calculated media placement, proper messaging, fitting creative execution and analysis.

As odd as it may sound, strategic market planning has many parallels to building a home. A blueprint is first drawn outlining the objectives of the plan and determining what is realistic within the budget. And of course a foundation must be created before the walls can be raised. The same logic applies to building a marketing plan. You must have a plan in place before any tactics are determined, ads are developed or media is placed.

This begins with determining why the client wants to advertise their business and what they are hoping to achieve through their marketing efforts. Defining the marketing goals and how they will be measured will help determine the effectiveness of the campaign. This step is critical, as it ensures expectations are clear for both the agency and client. Following this initial step, the process moves through several stages, beginning with discovery.

Before deciding what an advertising message will communicate, the audience must first be defined. Who are the client’s consumers? Millennials or retirees? Are they predominantly male or female? Do they have a high or low income? Do they read newspapers or magazines or watch television? The answers to these and more in depth questions create the building blocks for the plan. Identifying the target audiences and how they choose to consume media is key to building a successful campaign.

In addition to knowing the client’s audience, you must also know the competitors, as well. What type of methods does the competition use to market their products or services? Once you’ve monitored their advertising strategies and analyzed their audience, a determination can be made to go against them head-to-head or work around them. For example, if a major competitor is purchasing a large amount of television advertising and you know you lack the budget to compete in that medium, it may be more effective to reach your target audience through a different medium such as print or outdoor. Choosing a tactic where you can make a major impact is always preferable.

Another great source of information can be found in the trends affecting both your industry nationally and your geographical area. For instance, by understanding national sales trends for a specific type of product, you can utilize that information to better determine your messages and timing.

Once the data has been collected, analyzed, target markets identified and advertising avenues determined, you can begin to outline a plan of execution

Advertising is a vital investment in your business and you must establish an appropriate marketing budget. There are several online tools you can use to help you determine the percentage you should be spending on your marketing efforts. With the target audience and budget established, you can begin to build your marketing plan. This should be done annually, reviewed throughout the year and constantly refined, as it should be a fluid document that is adaptable. During this exercise, all of the communication channels identified during the discovery phase should be analyzed. These could be traditional media, digital media, public relations, community events, etc. The specific tactics could be television, radio, print, digital, outdoor, social media, etc.

Your final marketing plan should consist of goals, objectives, tactics, media outlets and a timeline for execution, all informed by the research. Measurements should also be put in place to help you evaluate the success of each tactic.

Once your marketing plan is complete, the next step is to implementation. Your plan should guide each tactic, insuring the message is on target and creative execution is relevant. By reviewing the plan on a monthly basis you can manage deadlines and make changes to keep your campaign current.

Of course, a plan is just that – a fluid blueprint from which to work. You can always add or remove tactics as opportunities arise.

This final, and critically important stage is often overlooked. Except for how the cash register rings or the books are balanced, many business owners do not know which, if any, of their advertisements or media buys were actually effective. This is the time to revisit the goals and metrics established before launching the plan to track whether or not it is effective. By monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of a campaign throughout its lifecycle, it allows for adjustments to be made in order to maximize the return on investment.

Specific measurements should be put in place such as the increase in number of phone calls; clickthrough rates on websites; over-the- counter sales of the specific items on sale; an increase in the number of patients or cases, etc. It can be as simple as asking, “How did you hear about us?” to as complex as online retargeting tactics. The evaluation portion of the plan is vitally important so that you can fine-tune the tactics of the plan, as well as the amount that you are budgeting.

Taking the time to properly research, develop and execute a plan will not only ensure that the time and money invested yields a strong return, but that it will strengthen the value of the brand and the relationship it shares with its target audiences.

SUZANNE BACHUS, a 25-year advertising veteran, joined the Frankel Media Group team in 2011, bringing along her vast advertising experience and knowledge. Suzanne has won numerous ADDY® Awards, including Best of Show and the coveted Larry Edwards Award, Golden Image Awards and has been recognized as the John S. Detweiler, Ed.D, APR, CPRC Professional of the Year in 2002.

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