Why this is important
The development of any strategy constitutes a shift in thinking. And the better managed this shift is, the faster and more effectively it can be operational for your business.
In addition, we believe a disciplined process for strategic thinking will focus thinking and creativity where it will deliver the most value.
Importantly, a well-founded campaign strategy will focus on the needs of the customer (or target audience) and away from issues such as implementation and internal compliance.
Ideally (but not necessarily) an extension of an overarching communications strategy, the development of a coherent and compelling campaign strategy will ensure your investment in changing hearts and minds is optimally positioned to succeed.
Our recommendation with any strategic process is to navigate your way from the big features to the granular in an organised way.
The components of a plan
We recommend the developing a campaign strategy to cover the following:
- Business challenge
- Communications goals
- Audience segments and insights
- Communications barriers and tasks
- Brand positioning
- Campaign architecture
The business challenge (or problem)
We like to use a research or consumer insight to distil the business challenge because it represents an unassailable and objective illustration of the issue to contend with.
An example may be; IPSOS tracking showed a 10 percent reduction in unaided brand recall that coincided with a 7% increase in customer cost-to-acquire.
The contributing factors to this challenge should also be expressed as objectively as possible, for example:
- Increased competitor activity
- A disruptive sector innovation
- Loss of share-of-voice
- Delivery or supply issues
- Uncompetitive UX
Simply communicating better may be the solution to the problem. But it may also involve communicating about a product or service initiative that responds to the challenge.
Clearly articulating the communications goals will ensure your expectations are realistic and achievable.
We like to distil these goals to a maximum of three:
- Primary goal – the core objective of the campaign. May be around awareness of an initiative or product/service.
- Secondary goal – the outcome that would contribute to the primary goal. May be to create a brand image or positioning that relates closely to a key target segment.
- Tertiary goal – often about how we expect the audience to respond. This may be a response at the top of an engagement funnel or further down the path to purchase.
Once complete, describe what the effect of achieving these goals will be and the risks, limitations and qualifications that may impact its success.
Audiences and insights
It is rare that a campaign will have only one audience.
In most instances, there will be a primary and secondary audience as well as an eavesdropper audience.
Primary audience – this is the audience that is mission critical. They are the primary campaign respondents and missing them will mean certain failure.
Secondary audience – this is often an enabling audience. They may be key influencers or members of a supply chain or distribution channel you need to engage in order to facilitate the decisions of the primary audience.
Eavesdropper audience – these are the people who may need to be aware of the campaign initiative for other reasons. For social marketing (behaviour change) campaigns, for example, the voter audience in important as their exposure to the message will lift their perceptions about government progress or responsiveness.
The interaction between these audiences is important and should have been addressed in your communications strategy. If not, think carefully about the mutual dependencies and co-dependencies of these audiences and their ability to influence one another.
In your descriptions of these audiences, be as specific about their characteristics as possible:
- Demographic information should be aligned with media audience segmentation models to ensure accurate reach
- The life-stage, impacting factors and existing beliefs should also be covered.
- Test any unproven assumptions about these audiences to remove any subjectivity
Communications barriers and tasks
Each audience will have its own set of complexities. It may be that there are subgroups within each audience that have specific issues to attend to. Mapping these will ensure you connect effectively with as many people in your target groups as possible. This is our approach:
The overlay of your brand strategy is a vital component of developing a coherent campaign plan. If your brand strategy is not current or compelling, it’s worth taking the time to consider the following factors:
- Based on your understanding of your audiences, what is the existing consumer truth as it applies to your product, service or idea.
- What is a new consumer truth you’re aiming to respond to
- What is the brand truth that meets the true customer need or desire
- What needs to happen for your target to embrace your new brand truth
Here’s how this comes together to deliver a strategic campaign framework:
Aligning your campaign strategy to the anticipated buyer journey is a powerful way of ensuring integration and that your audience is receiving the right message at each stage of the buyer journey.
We recommend an approach summarised as follows:
Sample planning template
Following is a template that provides the details required to develop an appropriate media and channel response.
There’s an advertising adage around creative briefing; When briefing Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, the Pope of the day could have asked him to paint a masterpiece on the ceiling. Instead, the brief was to ‘give the world a vision of heaven’.
The quality of your creative brief is a key determinant of campaign performance. Your brief should cover the basics:
- Background to brief
- Exact deliverables
- Objective or required shift in consumer sentiment
- What the audience needs to think feel and believe
- Your essential message
- The proof that underpins your message
We recommend spending enough time on your brief to go below the tactical and get to the deep strategic shift in understanding that will change perceptions. A good agency will coach you on making your creative brief the powerhouse it should be.
A creative briefing template can be downloaded here.