The Ultimate Marketing Campaign: A Checklist That Won’t Steer You Wrong

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Consistently deliver on the basics before jumping out of the box.

Everyone wants to create that ultimate marketing campaign that will guarantee success. From my experience of running hundreds of them and constantly wanting to optimise, I’ve realised that we sometimes get lost trying to be too creative or “think out of the box”, and end up missing the forest for the trees. But, there are basics, things that can be applied every time, and while not a guarantee, they can bring you close to achieving marketing success.

Here’s a pretty great list from a satirical book (“How Brands Blow”) which is actually very insightful and effective.

1. Diagnosis (Qualitative and Quantitative)

Before implementing any marketing strategy, you must understand the challenges you want to overcome. Get to the heart of consumer insights and psychology relevant to your product or category. Utilise both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The beginning of all of this is always having high quality data.

Specifically for Marketing Research, the best and leanest guide I found was from HotJar.

2. Clear Strategic Objectives

Once you have diagnosed the issue, it becomes easier to set clear strategic objectives. These objectives should follow the SMART framework. Make sure you’re VERY clear about where you’re heading with all your efforts, not just marketing.

The one I generally go to for a personal goal-setting process is here at MindTools. It can be very easily adapted for organisational goals too.

3. Long, Mass-Marketing Branding

Building a successful brand takes time and requires a broad target audience. According to Professor Byron Sharp’s book “How Brands Grow,” all brands start small but need to expand their market share to improve their chances of survival in the long run. So with this, you need to target a broad pool of potential buyers and consistently deliver your brand message. While budgets fluctuate and nothing is certain, one thing you can control is consistency of the brand message and consistently sending that message out.

4. Shorter, Targeted Performance

As a prospective customer gets closer to making a purchase decision, your messaging should become more targeted and rational. Digital channels provide an opportunity to segment your audience effectively. Renowned marketing experts Les Binet and Peter Field suggest allocating 60% of your budget to emotional, brand-building marketing and 40% to short-term, rational messaging.

5. Tight, Differentiated Positioning

Brand positioning is crucial in distinguishing yourself from competitors. Your brand should occupy a clear and differentiated space in the minds of your customers. For example, the German carmaker BMW defines itself as the brand for “driving enthusiasts” in the luxury segment. This concise positioning helps customers identify and connect with the brand on a deeper level. The key component here is to pick a single selling point which you pride yourself on. Depending on the category you’re competing in, it may not be unique… but you have to stick your peg in the ground and defend it with your life (meaning consistent messaging across every platform and ad campaign.)

6. Heavy, Consistent Codification

Distinctive brand assets play a significant role in creating brand identity. Whether it’s a colour, logo, icon, character, pattern, tone of voice, or even an audio device, these assets make your brand easily recognizable. Examples of such assets include McDonald’s “Golden Arches,” Nike’s “swoosh,” and Disney’s “Mickey Mouse.” Consistently using these assets reinforces brand identity and increases brand recall.

Often people will get bogged down in details about what it looks like and if it really represents you, etc. Pick something that looks halfway decent and is somehow related by colour or design to what you’re offering (not to mention being different to your competitors), and, just like the above, consistently communicate it.

7. Greater Investment Than Competitors

Investing in marketing activities is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. Market leaders like Coca-Cola spend significantly on marketing to retain their number one position. A low-cost “viral” campaign may generate short-term buzz, but long-term success requires substantial investment. To achieve your marketing goals, be prepared to allocate the necessary resources.

Don’t be disheartened if you do have smaller budgets. Think long term, even a small consistent budget will have a big impact if you don’t give up and keep pushing over the long term. The key is in being consistent and not giving up when you don’t see the results you want in the short term.

8. Astonishing Creativity

Creativity is a driving force in ad campaigns. According to research conducted by the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), emotionally driven campaigns have a higher impact on sales and customer loyalty compared to rational campaigns. Over the long term, creatively-led campaigns generate the best return on investment. So, craft campaigns that resonate with your audience – make it emotional but use negative emotions (fear, etc.) sparingly.

9. Multiple Integrated Channels

Your target audience is spread across various platforms. Engaging with them requires utilizing multiple channels to maximize visibility. Maintaining a consistent brand message across these channels is crucial. The more frequently someone encounters your message, the more likely they are to remember and engage with your brand (it’s called ‘frequency’).

While the above checklist may appear straightforward, the challenge lies in following these steps consistently. Human nature tends to overcomplicate things, often ignoring the simplicity that leads to success. The key to success is to use this checklist as a guide and diligently implement each step to the best of your ability, leveraging the resources at your disposal.

Remember, this is a journey, an infinite game, rather than a final destination. By embracing these principles, you can set yourself on the path to creating the ultimate marketing campaign and achieving long-term success for your brand.

Wallman, R., & Edwards, G. (2022). How Brands Blow: Why Good Brands Go Bad and How to Save Them. Routledge.

Sharp, B. (2010). How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know. Oxford University Press.

Sinek, S. (2019). The Infinite Game. Portfolio/Penguin.