A lot of marketing campaigns are developed with a great deal of excitement, only to under-perform and get lost in a sea of other campaigns. Here Chris White explains how to develop a marketing strategy that cuts through the noise and has the best possible impact for your business.
Standing out from the crowd has always been difficult, in all walks of life. Whether it’s a job application, part of a sports team or being part of a friendship group it’s incredibly hard for some people to separate themselves from the others so that they are seen and their voice heard. The same is true in marketing.
Over the years there have been millions of marketing campaigns launched and even more meetings about them, and plenty of projects that failed to have any kind of traction because of the sheer weight of marketing material out there these days. It used to be that your marketing was restricted to newspaper adverts and, if you had the budget, a radio or television ad; but nowadays there are so many new and evolving areas for you to get your brand seen. Or, at least to attempt to, anyway.
Target audiences are constantly changing because of the evolving markets and the variety of different platforms available, and that means that brand messaging has to keep changing in order to stay relevant and to reach out to their target audience wherever they may be. The problem is, however, that there are so many different campaigns targeting the same people that each one becomes a bit like white noise: something that blocks out key messages and campaigns so that we don’t even notice the ones that we might, or should, be interested in.
Essentially, it just gets lost in a crowded marketplace surrounded by a wealth of other marketing materials all designed to catch our attention, but as marketers we want our own campaigns to cut through that noise and become the stand-out campaign. We don’t want to spend weeks or even months planning a campaign just to find ourselves on a pile of other campaigns waiting to be seen or put to one side.
So, how do we do that? Well that’s what we’re here to talk about today. We’re going to explain how you can develop a marketing campaign that helps you stand out from the crowd and get yourselves noticed.
Develop a marketing strategy, not just a campaign
What are you looking for your next campaign to achieve? That needs to be your starting point.
If you go blindly into the creation of a new campaign based on something that came to you in a dream, or perhaps because of a seasonal event that’s fast approaching, the chances are that no matter how creative or how innovative it may be, it just won’t quite work for you – because you don’t know who you’re targeting and what your KPIs are.
When you sit down and start thinking about new campaigns for the next quarter, or the year ahead, it’s vital that you develop a marketing strategy and not just campaign ideas. You need to have a clear roadmap that steers you towards your objectives, whatever you want them to be. Do you want website traffic, or maybe more sales? Are you looking to increase social followings and engagement? Perhaps you’re looking to build up a list of blog subscribers, or you just want to make people aware that your brand exists with something eye-catching and memorable. Whatever it is you’re looking to achieve, make sure that this forms the core of your marketing campaign and then build up from there.
Think practically: as an architect you want every home you design to look great, but if you don’t have solid foundations and a team of builders who can get you there step-by-step, it’s going to collapse. However, if you map out a clear plan that goes from the foundations right up to the roof, ensuring that the structure is solid throughout, you’ll end up with a desirable property that people want to buy.
You also want to ensure that you’re planning far enough in advance for your campaign to have time to make an impact. If you build a marketing campaign off the back of an idea that came to you and you feel you need to act upon it right away, or because you’ve thought of something that ties in with a seasonal event, if you’ve not already gone live with your campaign around a month beforehand it’s just not going to have the kind of impact you want it to. Sure, you might pick up some engagement along with a few likes and followers on social media, but in terms of the true potential of the campaign across the board you’ve missed the boat.
From an organic search perspective you need to give your digital materials time to be indexed and time for the content to start ranking for your desired search terms, and this doesn’t happen overnight. While there is no set time frame for a piece of content to start ranking, you need to build up some authority for it to even be considered for a place near the holy grail of page one in the search results, so your marketing strategy needs to be designed with this in mind.
By developing a marketing campaign months ahead of the event and then building up to it through your blog and social channels, ready for the main event, the chances are that you will already have an engaged audience and a platform to speak from meaning that your content can have a much greater impact than the short lifespan and limited reach of a last-minute campaign.
Don’t try and please everyone: just your target audience
When you work on a marketing campaign it’s natural to try and adapt your messaging to suit everyone, especially those who have no idea who you are and what you do. It’s also pretty natural to write for everyone who isn’t currently a customer, but who might know of you and your services, so your messaging starts to get a little blurred, especially with multiple pieces of marketing material out in the public domain.
The best strategy that you can adopt is a measured approach that targets specific demographics, not the whole world – they’ll soon come when you get the messaging right!
By thinking about exactly who you want to target you can do some background research into their interests and behaviours before tailoring your content to suit them and their needs. If you can identify a particular pain point or something that they need to make their daily or professional life simpler, then build your campaign around this and explain how your brand, product or service can solve that problem. By building up an emotional connection with your audience you can come across as though you are speaking directly to them, and then open the door for a genuine conversation with a prospect or they may visit your website to find out more themselves, or even go and make a purchase off the back of your campaign.
Speaking directly to your target audience through a well-thought-out marketing campaign is likely to be much more effective than a scattergun approach that seeks to reach everyone, and only succeeds in making it to a few spam folders or being scrolled past on social media because it simply blurs into every other campaign on the web or in their social feeds.
You have a number of ways to ensure that you reach that audience, too. These days there are a number of different methods to ensure that you cut through the noise with your marketing campaign and reach an engaged, interested audience. For instance, you can profile an audience on social media platforms and then target ads towards them to ensure that those who are interested in similar brands and services see your content, and then you can pay to promote that content in the form of a sponsored advert so that it gets maximum exposure.
You also have the option of developing an email marketing list, which is going to take much more time but enables you to send messages to people who are already interested in you and what you have to offer, whether that’s a product, service or your content. By enabling people to subscribe to updates from you you can send different messages to different people through A/B testing, and ensure that you send messages out to different demographics at the time that suits them, ensuring that your marketing content arrives in their inbox at the optimum time. After all, there’s no point targeting people on their work email address at the weekend when they work Monday to Friday.
Show what makes you unique
Ultimately, if you’re going to cut through all the noise and ensure that your marketing campaign is the one that hits the targets and reaches out to the right people at the right time, you need to be producing something that is unique in itself, and shows that you are unique, too.
Too many marketing campaigns are launched as copycat versions. They’re often made in haste a few days after the launch of a competitor campaign and are poorly thought through with little or no content of value for the audience, and that’s why it fails. It’s not a marketing strategy or campaign, it’s content made because they felt the need to produce something.
If you don’t have something to say, something that’s different and something that will make you memorable for all the right reasons, don’t publish it. Anyone can produce a marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to succeed. Just because your competitor has launched something doesn’t mean that theirs is going to change the world, either.
By all means look at what the competition is doing, but look at opportunities, don’t just try and play catch-up. Analysing competitor activity is nothing new and can certainly inspire a wealth of new opportunities and marketing campaign ideas, but it’s vital that you capitalise on anything and everything that they are NOT doing, and that you avoid simply repeating what they have done. That’s not cutting through the noise with a successful campaign, that’s just trying to shout at the same time as everyone else.
You need to show people that your brand is different from the rest. That you can give them exactly what they are looking for, even when they don’t realise it beforehand. You need to produce the kind of marketing strategy and campaign that elevates your brand above the noise, and brings you to the front of people’s minds when they need a particular service.
If you can do all of that then you don’t need to shout over everyone else, or spend thousands on monthly ‘big bang’ or ‘hero’ marketing campaigns, as you will have earned and developed a pedestal for yourselves to stand on and speak to the people that matter most – your audience.
There is, and always will be, a need to try and compete with your competitors, but there also comes a point when you need to look for a new, unique angle or approach. It might even be the case that you can revisit an old, under-performing campaign and refresh it with new, unique and engaging content and, who knows, as it already has some online authority and has already been indexed by search engines, it may enable you to cut through the noise more effectively so that you can achieve your marketing goals.