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Campaign Planning - Essential Steps to Follow
The difference between success and failure in marketing communications is effective campaign planning. Effective planning will enable you to better focus your resources on those marketing activities that will generate the best results whether the goal be sales, leads and / or improved market awareness.
Define Your Objectives
What do you want to achieve?
- Generate inquries from new prospects?
- Generate immediate sales?
- Profile new prospects?
- Qualify sales leads?
- Improve market awareness?
Develop Your Campaign Plan
What do you want to communicate and to whom? This may seem obvious, but even if you know (for example) that you are going to use direct mail to recruit new customers there are still many questions that you should consider.
- Who are your target audience?
- What sort of people are likely to be interested in your proposition?
- Where will you find them?
- Are they already known to you or will you have to obtain a list?
- How much do you understand about the way they buy? What they like and dislike?
- Are they buying what you think you are selling?
- Is timing an issue? Sometimes this is obvious. Christmas cards do not sell well in March.
Sometimes you might need to carry out some basic research with your target market. What extra information would help you?
- What about your positioning?
- Are you at the prime end of your market, perhaps "reassuringly expensive"? Are you "bargain basement" or somewhere in between? This will play a big part in determining the style and tone of your communication.
- What pattern of contact will you follow?
Perhaps you are planning a single hit at your prospects with an "all or bust" mailshot. But would several points of attack be more effective? You might send a "teaser" out before the main communication, re-mail non responders, or telephone prospects after a mailing. The decision will vary with each campaign. It is, however, generally true that a combination of contacts will yield better response levels than a single contact.
Develop Budgets and Forecasts
- How much can you afford to spend both overall and per new customer? You can calculate your allowable marketing cost with a simple profit and loss account sheet.
- What do you expect in return? Leads? Orders? Do the numbers work out?
- What response do you expect? What do you need to get in order to reach breakeven point? How can you calculate break even?
- Do you have a contingency plan in case your results are below expectations?
- Select your target audience.
- Select suppliers.
- Brief suppliers.
This is where everything starts to come together and you will feel that there is a real live campaign starting to emerge. You are now dealing with the tangible parts of your campaign. Typical issues will include:
- Negotiating prices with suppliers
- Developing your creative work and copy
- Organising print and production schedules
- Arranging list rental
- Arranging for the production of personalised letters
- Organising delivery arrangements
- How will you handle responses? It is possible to phase a mailing so that the responses come in manageable quantities. This is not true of direct response television!
- What are you going to send to responders?
- Are you planning any follow-up to this campaign?
Campaign Implementation - Execution
This part of planning is all about people and process management. You will need to be sure that everything arrives on time and is despatched according to schedule. It is often far more difficult for small businesses to manage this process because typically you will be handling these tasks in addition to your normal work! You may find a time and sequence plan to be an asset.
Post Campaign Analysis
It is rare that a campaign is totally problem-free. This is particularly true in organisations, which are not familiar with direct marketing campaign management. Your analysis and reporting of the campaign should cover the problems as well as the responses.
You will need to consider well in advance what you want to measure and what reports you want. In general you need only look at your objectives to get at least part of the answer to this.
The art of campaign measurement is to put the operational processes in place whereby the measures can be taken. So who will record the responses, conversions to sales and so on? How often will they do it? In what form will this information be presented?