When you think of the definition of a marketing campaign, your brain may experience a flash flood of images of Super Bowl commercials, big brands with A-list stars, Mad Men, multi-media blitzes, and big, big budgets. And you’re not wrong. A marketing campaign can be all those things, but, quite simply, at the very heart of it all, a marketing campaign begins with an idea.
This should be an idea that is deeply rooted in the culture of your firm, something that you believe whole-heartedly and can stand behind, a way of doing business that moves people. Many might think that this is some metaphysical concept, but you will find this type of idea at the root of all the most successful and long-standing campaigns.
Consider McDonalds. Ultimately, they are selling you hamburgers and fries, just like a hundred other places, but the message you receive is that you’re “lovin’ it.” This “feeling” begins long before you can read the tagline or even the menu when, as a child, you’re given a Happy Meal. McDonald’s is continually reinforcing their desire for you to feel loved and to love being there. They want you to feel that you are a part of something bigger, a community, a part of a community that is price conscious and enjoys indulging their children and themselves every once in a while.
Your mission will be to communicate part of the culture of your firm to your prospects and clients. This is often where people get hung up on the idea of a marketing campaign. Many people feel that the only way to market is to offer a 50%-off deal that will force people to walk through the door. I can assure you – there is more to marketing than deep discounts. When you share with people who you are and what you believe as a firm, as a collective, you begin to dig deeper into the message of your firm and connect with people on a human level. This is what makes it possible for every company to have a unique message.
Once you have an idea for your message, how do you disseminate that idea to the masses? This is where understanding mediums becomes more important than the hype that every newspaper, magazine, and pundit touts. You must find out which ones will serve you and your type of message best. People often avoid print because it can be expensive, and many think it is outdated, but print is still relevant and a strong medium in the marketing community. Mailers, brochures, and postcards are still very popular because they work. Marketers wouldn’t continue using them if they didn’t work effectively.
Social media seems to be the most daunting platform for many professionals. Perhaps it would be wise here to remember that we often assume that we ourselves are the ideal prospect, whereas, a majority of the time, we are rarely our ideal prospects. Just because you may not be checking your Facebook page or Twitter feed every hour does not mean that your ideal client or customer isn’t.
Social media is about a few key metrics that will help you decide where to plant your digital feet. You’ll want to spend the least amount of time in multiple networks. Consider the gender and age of your demographic so that you can match the most appropriate social network with your message. To give an example, Facebook is great for women who are 30-60 years old; they want to see videos and photos that are done in a fun way. This demographic seeks out social media as a form of relaxation and education; however, they will rarely share anything that is educational or resourceful. They will share photos or funny video. This presents a unique perspective on how you can shape your content for the public. In your email newsletter, you may choose to stay professional and straight-laced with your content, but it may serve your firm well to cut loose a little on Facebook. Showing the funnier side of your staff and partners enables you to share stories of who you are without disclosing client information or appearing unprofessional.
This type of demographic span across mediums often frustrates firms regarding how to market. You’ll want to create one advertising piece and send it to everyone everywhere. What you have to remember and commit to is having one marketing message and being prepared to share it in a multitude of ways. This allows you to ensure that you’re connecting with everyone in each way that they consume and learn. I believe that photographer Gregory Crewdson said it best regarding a singular message shared in a multitude of ways: “I feel very strongly that everyone has one central story to tell. The struggle is to tell and re-tell that story over and over again … and try to challenge that story.” Creating one great message isn’t always easy. It can take time, but, once crafted, it can be shared, reshaped, and reimagined without ever losing its core.
One last piece of advice: when beginning to craft your marketing campaign, your initial instinct may be to defer listlessly to AMC’s popular Mad Men characters as they ostentatiously pitch random ideas. Many believe, however, that the premise of Mad Men was based on the father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy. Mr. Ogilvy, who ruled Madison Avenue, the Wall Street of marketing, for decades and had many successful campaigns under his belt, said it simply: “Tell the truth but make truth fascinating. You know, you can’t bore people into buying your [services]. You can only interest them in buying it.”