Creating My Marketing Campaign – Promoting My Business
Starting to pull together a comprehensive marketing campaign can seem like one of the most intimidating parts of starting a business. Marketing is a big, broad discipline, and one that’s constantly evolving. But it is possible to do it yourself, and you’re already armed with your greatest asset: the world’s best understanding of your own product.
Let’s start by refreshing some definitions.
Your business plan contains the practical elements of your company (including finances, staff, processes, timescales, stock management and delivery); the nuts and bolts of how you will operate on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
Your brand strategy is concerned with all of the non-physical stuff – your image, your reputation, your philosophy, your ethos, and your aesthetic.
Your marketing campaign concerns the methods of communication you will use to reach your customers. It’s the final step that takes the practices and the positioning of the two previous stages and broadcasts it out into the world, and to your customers’ attention.
What are the components of a marketing campaign?
Although creating a marketing campaign from scratch can seem onerous, everything gets easier when you break it down. Here are the four key components to consider.
1. Outlining campaign goals
Any creative knows how easy it is to veer off-brief. Outlining your goals and setting them in stone is the first line of defence against this. This is a step that should be completed first and foremost, run alongside the entire process of promoting your business, and be reassessed at the end (and continually). In other words, you can never put too much focus on your goals! There are several pitfalls to be cognisant of in this stage:
- It can be easy to get distracted by what your competitors are doing. You might aspire to gaining 10k new Instagram followers, because that’s what your competitors are doing, but their progress will depend on their time in the market, resources, contacts, finances, and a lot of other aspects unique to them. “Because that’s what x is doing” should never be your rationale for a goal.
- When evaluating different marketing channels and tools, be wary of sales pitches and skewed data. This is particularly relevant to readerships. A zine, blog, or newspaper might offer promising readership figures, but pay close attention to how relevant these readerships are to your customer base. For example, the London Metro paper has a readership of 1,715,000 per day. Impressive numbers – but only 670,000 of those readers are female. If your product is female-oriented, your budget might be better used elsewhere.
- Similarly, social media ads don’t just depend on potential audiences, but how your target customers use each platform, how often, and how loyally (e.g. are they likely to move away anytime soon? See changing userships between Instagram and TikTok for an example). Always dig deeper into demographics.
- It’s very likely you’ll come to this stage with an idea in your head of your ideal customer. When data contradicts that image, it can be hard to let it go. When researching, you’ll need to prepare yourself to deal with some inevitable doses of confirmation bias – more on that further down.
2. Determining your marketing campaign budget
Before you begin promoting your business, you’ll need to work out the level of funding required to attain your goals. These goals might take the form of new accounts or new followers. They might be tangible like sales, or non-tangible like increased awareness.
Naturally, your budget will be primarily dictated by two things, your cash in the bank (savings, investor funds), and your projected revenue. If you’re unsure of how much you should be spending, a good guide is to invest between 1-4% of your funds in marketing and advertising. If you’re sourcing investment through venture capitalists or crowdfunding, it’s very common to request funds specifically for marketing campaigns. Making this part of your pitch instils confidence in your prospective investors, as it presents a clear path to proliferating their money.
The percentage you allocate to your marketing campaign will also depend on your sector. Here’s some handy data from 2017 indicating average advertising to sales percentages for each industry. As the guide notes, this is not a hard and fast rule for how much you should spend, but it provides some handy benchmarking for checking you’re relatively in-line with your industry average.
Your marketing campaign budget will also inform how much you’ll be able to allocate to pre-market objectives such as surveying and focus groups, one example being incentivising people to provide feedback if you’re struggling to get big enough sample groups.
3. Conducting market research
An intelligent marketing campaign is the direct opposite of a scattergun approach. Rather than pushing a load of information into various digital, social, and physical realms and hoping people pay attention, an effective marketing campaign is based on existing data and insights, and is uniquely tailored to reach the right people at the right time.
So where do these data and insights come from? Your market research. This should form the foundation for any and all marketing campaigns. It includes things like surveys, industry and statistical research you conduct online, results from focus groups or conversations with your existing/prospective customer base, and comprehensive competitor analysis.
4. Creating buying personas
Buyer personas are not a new concept, but they’re becoming really big in modern business planning. They play a crucial role in segmenting your audience, helping you to crystallise who you’re targeting, why you’re targeting them, and how you can use their purchasing habits, values, behaviours, and preferences to find the best way to reach them.
Use the insights you gleaned from your market research to identify 3 ‘ideal’ customers (people who your product is relevant to, who can afford it, and are likely and able to buy it regularly). Next, look at the common traits between the three. Do they shop in the same places? Use social media in similar ways? Have similar hobbies, lifestyles or friendship groups? These similarities will help you hone in on the key contact points for reaching your ideal customers.
If you’ve read our stuff before, you’ll know that HubSpot is one of our favourites for this, but there are loads of other resources available, like Content Harmony’s free customer persona template download, or Xtensio’s more in-depth software that facilitates easy creation, presentation and sharing of your personas.
Confirmation bias in your marketing campaign
Your biggest enemy throughout this stage will be confirmation bias. Sometimes, a small piece of data can confirm exactly what you want to hear. It can be very tempting to follow certain insights down a rabbit hole, even if it contradicts what the majority of your respondents are saying.
Let’s say you sell athletic clothing. A survey from a 32-year-old male indicates that every time he’s purchased a new piece of running gear, it has been via an ad that popped up on his Facebook feed. Because Facebook marketing can be convenient and cheap, you might be tempted to decide all 30-something males purchase this way, tempting you to overfund this channel, and neglect others.
Another risk point for confirmation bias is the target audience that truly exists for your product. Sticking with the athletic company example, you might see yourself as a young, sexy fitness brand targeting Gen Z and purchased exclusively by Instagram models. But let’s say your survey indicates a whole new demographic to promote your business to, like ballet dancers, hikers, or pilates groups. Are you going to pursue the trendy influencer crowd, expand to be more inclusive, or reposition all together? Constant and honest assessment of your business goals will protect you against confirmation bias.
Promotion and execution of your marketing campaign
When it comes to execution time, you should be equipped with a full list of channels through which to promote your business. A basic version might look something like this:
- Company website
- Social media (Twitter account, Instagram account + giveaway on launch, Facebook account (active in x communities)
- Weekly mail-outs to existing customer base
- Blog (2 articles to be posted per month)
Underneath each, you’ll add detail on your exact strategy. You’ll then combine it with an all-important schedule.
Use a calendar, reminders, or a social media planning tool like Loomly. As you’ll no doubt be busy with the day-to-day running of your business, you might decide to create several weeks’ worth of posts and content ahead of time. There are also lots of automatic publishing tools like Later and Hootsuite to help you stick to your campaign schedule.
In some cases, for example if you’re making a big announcement or launching a competition, you’ll want to hit multiple channels at the same time, ensuring fairness as well as maximum impact across your whole audience. You might promote some things on Instagram, but not on LinkedIn, depending on the level of formality. If you’re struggling to decide which to combine, think of the strengths of each platform. Instagram is highly visual, Facebook is community oriented, Twitter is punchy and news-focused. Always think of how they’re working together as well as their separate strengths.
Analysing your marketing campaign
If all goes to plan, post-campaign analysis (PCA) should be one of your most rewarding tasks yet. Hopefully you’re able to see the fruits of your labour, and lock down the invaluable tools and tactics that did their job and that can be replicated again.
In your PCA, you should work to understand:
- What worked well, and how can this be replicated?
- What didn’t work well, and how can this be improved?
- Are your results aligned with your objectives?
There are certain metrics you’ll use for each marketing channel you employed to promote your business. For Google ads, you’ll consider Cost per Valued View. For social media, you’ll be looking at likes, shares, and new followers. Because there’s so much to cover in this section, we’ll be following this piece up shortly with a full-length article on Measuring Success, where we take an in-depth approach to analysing your market campaign in order to learn, grow, and find your formula to marketing success.
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