Your monthly newsletter is humming along, but you want to run a special campaign to feature a new service. What are the necessary pieces that you need to assemble to build an effective marketing campaign?
1. The Target
Probably the most overlooked (but most important) step in the process of planning a marketing campaign is defining your audience. Who do you want to appeal to? The more narrowly you can define the person — remember you are talking to a person, not a company — who will benefit from your service, the better results you will get. From industry to role to age, define who you want to reach and why they need your services.
2. The List
Once you have the target definition, you need to identify a set of contacts that fit that profile. First, look inside the organization for contact lists. You may have more than you realize. Salespeople’s contact lists, opt-in lists gathered from your Web site, other departments and existing customers are all sources to turn to first. People that you already have a relationship with will be more likely to read your message than a stranger.
The number of sources and variance of quality for contact lists are as complex as Microsoft licensing. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Focus on your target definition. Professional organizations or publications that serve the market can be a good source of rental or purchase lists. The Microsoft Ready-to-Go Services site includes several sources to help you find the right lists.
Keep in mind that you want to build a relationship with these contacts. If you execute your campaign as a one-time event rather than to build long-term relationships, you are going to be disappointed. To that end, ownership of the list is far better than rental if you have the option.
3. The Value Proposition
To get your message right, think about the target audience you have identified and stand in their shoes. What are the problems that they face and how can you help? Your value proposition is just that: What value can you deliver to help them improve their business or solve their problem? Tell them, clearly and without jargon, how you can do that. Make it real to your prospects by giving them actual examples of how you have helped organizations similar to theirs.
4. The Offer (Call to Action)
Don’t leave the conversation without offering more to those who are interested. A call to action helps you identify the prospects who need more attention. Not everyone on your list is going to buy; it’s a very small percentage that will read your message and a smaller percentage that will have any interest. Give them a reason to ask for more information. Case studies, whitepapers, videos, webinars and any other educational content that you can offer are all great calls to action. Asking them to call you for more information is not.
5. The Delivery Method
How are you going to deliver the message to your target audience? There is no right or wrong here, and using more than one method is always better (commonly referred to as multi-touch marketing). Different people respond to different types of contact. Include e-mail, snail-mail, Web advertising, social avenues like LinkedIn or professional organizations, and even traditional advertising in your list of options.
6. The Follow-Up
Your campaign is only as good as your follow-up. Just like you, your prospects are busy and get hundreds of marketing messages each day. You need to continue the dialogue with them until they opt out or buy.
Most partners don’t have the resources to test messages, track and report on the results of each campaign. Yes, you should test and analyze to maximize results. There are probably a lot of things that you should be doing. It is far more important to keep marketing going than it is to make it perfect.
That said, pay attention to the response that you get in terms of the vehicles and the message. Ask your new customers how they heard about you. Track as much as you can, but don’t stop because you aren’t getting the results you expected. If you have a good message targeted to the right prospects and keep the dialogue going, you will connect with them.
Marketing campaign planning isn’t just for big marketing departments. Work through these six steps and you’ll have the pieces in place for an effective campaign. Most importantly, keep it going. There is no magic marketing technique that will get you tons of new clients in three months, but persistence will pay off.