A winning marketing plan can help you meet or surpass your sales objectives. It can turn prospects who otherwise would not buy your products and services into loyal customers. There are six essential steps to develop a winning marketing campaign:
- Step 1: Determine Your Objective and Budget
- Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience
- Step 3: Create Your Message
- Step 4: Develop Your Media Strategy
- Step 5: Implement Your Marketing Campaign
- Step 6: Measure & Analyze Your Results
Step 1: Determine Your Objective and BudgetEvery marketing campaign must start out with an objective and a budget. Your objective may be to get qualified leads. It could be to convert leads into first time customers. Or, it could be to get past customers to purchase again.
Whatever your objective, you’ll need a budget you are willing to spend to fulfill your goals. You may have an annual budget for which you appropriate the funds for each campaign, or you may already have scheduled the campaign in your annual business plan.
There are three common ways companies determine their marketing budgets:
- Set your budget by task
- Match your competitor’s budget, by estimate
- Percentage of sales
According to the Small Business Administration, companies can spend anywhere between 2 to 20 percent of projected sales for marketing. How much you allocate to your marketing budget depends on your industry, the size of your business and what stage you are in. The younger your company the higher percent of projected sales you’ll likely need to succeed.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience
Once you know your objective and budget you’ll need to identify your target audience. These are the people or companies to which you will address your campaign. The more specifically you determine your target, the higher your potential return on investment.
Identifying your target market involves the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the buying decision makers. You’ll also need to include geography as a factor. For B2B marketing they may also involve industry, company size, location and other key factors relevant to your campaign. The more information you know about your target audience, the easier it will be for you to have a successful campaign.
When identifying your target audience, it’s a good idea to find out what types of media are most likely to get a desired response. For example if you are a B2C company marketing a consumer entertainment product to women ages 21 to 35, then your target market is likely to spend time interacting with social media. Yet if you are a B2B company marketing automotive parts to manufacturers, then your target audience likely spends time reading trade journals.
Step 3: Create Your Message
Creating your message is the fun part of the campaign. You’ll need to fit the message about your product or service to your audience. The more you know about them, the higher your potential response rate. The two factors about your audience you’ll need to consider when creating your message is the problem they have that needs fixed or an unmet need.
Your message will need to address three things. The first is to appeal to your audience’s emotions to evoke an emotional response. You can start by empathizing with their problems or unmet need. Show them you understand how they feel. By doing so, you’ll build trust and engage your audience to read or listen to the rest of your message.
You’ll also need to emphasize how your product or service can benefit your audience. This includes showing them how your product or service solves their problem and benefits them afterwards. Your words and images need to illustrate how their lives can improve after they purchase your product or service.
The third thing that can help you create an effective message is to provide credibility. This can come in the form of customer testimonials, endorsements by leaders in the industry or research studies. You can also include case studies or success stories. Credibility solidifies your audience’s belief in your product or service. It also justifies making the purchase.
Step 4: Develop Your Media Strategy
Now that you know your target audience and the message you will communicate, you can focus on how to deliver that message. Choosing the media may be the most challenging part of your campaign planning. That’s because there are so many different channels to choose from.
When doing your research, be sure to discriminate between trends and fads. Trends are here to stay, whereas fads come and go. Look at the numbers to assess whether a certain channel is right for you.
Your budget will have a big impact on your choices. The more money you have the more channels you can choose. However, that’s not always a good thing. What’s most important is not how many channels, but finding the right channel(s) that your audience interacts with each day.
In today’s world, online media is a good bet for most audiences. That’s because both consumers and managers of businesses spend much time interacting with the Internet and mobile media. Social media can “turbo-charge” your campaign. And don’t forget about PR.
Direct marketing, particularly email marketing, is a low cost investment with high return when compared with other advertising and promotion methods.
Nonetheless, the media that’s best for your campaign has much to do with your industry, purchase decision-maker behavior, and the product or service you are promoting.
Step 5: Implement Your Marketing Campaign
Implementing your plan should be the easiest part if you plan well from the beginning. You’ll need the right team to coordinate all the scheduling and activities for each parts of the campaign. Plus, you’ll need to have an accountant or finance manager be involved with monitoring the expenditures from your budget.
Step 6: Measure & Analyze Your Results
The last step in a marketing campaign involves the analysis of the results. You’ll be amazed at what you could find with all the statistics. Your results can show you which targets responded best and what channels provided the best opportunity to reach your target. The more you learn, the better able you are to make changes in your campaign–either midstream or when you begin your next campaign.
An example of a successful marketing campaign is Lincoln Financial Group. They are a 106-year-old insurance and annuities company that tried a new strategy. They were so successful that the Business Marketing Association on New York presented them as Communicator of the Year in September 2012. Jamie DePeau, the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer, conceived of their new integrated marketing strategy that included PR, advertising and social media.
DePeau’s strategy began with analyzing research that Lincoln Financial had done prior to her employment. The research showed the more people take control of their finances, the better they feel about their lives. She also commissioned additional research and found that women were more optimistic about the future and willing to take more control of their finances than men.
DePeau did two more things that differed from the company’s past. First she decided to bypass the middleman who sold their policies and target their advertising message direct to consumer.
Second she decided to not use the common fear approach that is so common in the insurance industry. Instead, the campaign empowered women to become the “Chief Life Officer” with the message “You’re the boss of your life and Lincoln Financial is here to help you take charge.”
DePeau planned an integrated marketing campaign in which the message was communicated to women through PR, advertising, social media and educational content. In just four months after the campaign began, brand awareness went up and purchases increased by double digits.
The Lincoln Financial case is a prime example of how you can create a successful marketing campaign.
- Lincoln had a firm objective to increase new policyholders and had allocated a budget to support the campaign.
- They did research to identify the target audience.
- Lincoln created a message that pushed the emotional needs of the audience–which they learned from their research.
- They developed an integrated media strategy that so far has been successful in reaching their target audience.
- They implemented their campaign with success.
- It may be too early for Lincoln to analyze the results, but they could increase use of the media where they find the biggest response.
So when you develop your next marketing campaign, focus on where the information about your target audience leads. Chances are there will be a new opportunity you had not thought of before. It sure worked that way for Lincoln Financial.