Think about it: You encounter hundreds of ads daily. At the end of the day, only a handful leave a lasting impression. Behind those billboards and web ads are masterminds who carefully assembled and optimized a message to maximize their canvas and resonate with your age, values, and tribe — turning information into experiences people care about.
This is the phenomenon of consciously crafting content for the subconscious viewer.
The concept of communication is simple and timeless, yet communication methods continue to evolve faster than we can keep up. A social media expert today could be an amateur tomorrow.
But a medium-minded communicator understands the fundamental principles of adapting any message to its relevant medium. An effective communicator is a lifelong practitioner of the craft, committed to the ongoing exploration of people, language, and behavior.
If you’re looking for help promoting your next event, activity, or launch initiative you've come to the right place!
This eight-step marketing campaign builder will serve as a guide to organizing your thoughts, overcoming common marketing myths, and encouraging a deeper understanding of various channels and tribes that you are committed to. Gather your team, grab a notepad or better yet, create a shareable document, and let’s get started!
At the core of anything you aim to promote are facts, opportunities, and intentions. Start by making a list of the basic who, what, when, and where. Then dig deeper by asking questions like:
1 What is our goal in organizing this initiative (purpose)?
2 What’s in it for the beneficiary (incentive)?
3 If someone decides to engage or participate, what other details will they need to be aware of?
The campaign core is an essential to the healthy start of your campaign and a critical resource for your team, your vendors, and yourself. The end result should be a plain and simple list of facts to be referenced at a glance with little decoding.
Identify where and how others will learn about your initiative. To do this, you’ll need to learn as much as possible about your prospective audience.
Start by reviewing the campaign core for clues to the target demographic and their content consumption habits.
Next, define your prospect accessibility.
This refers to the level and means by which you can access the attention of your prospective audience. Simply put, it’s how much time, space, and attention you occupy in their life. For example, your audience might regularly listen to your podcast or attend your live presentations. You may have a compiled list of their emails and/or phone numbers. Or maybe intend to capture their attention for the very first time.
The combined knowledge gained from the campaign core and prospect accessibility notes should give you valuable insight to jumpstart a search for the most effective oral, written, and non-verbal mediums and more specifically, channels.
A word of caution There are countless digital and traditional mediums to spread your message. Publishing to every channel accessible to you is a sure way of wasting resources and clouding up your organization’s communication stream. If you want to engage with your tribe in a meaningful way, stay attuned to where the conversation is happening and join in.
Once your list is complete, it’s time to prioritize! If you're working for an organization with lots of other marketing initiatives, your campaign is just one of many. You should always consider other content that exists or is scheduled to be published on your channels of interest. Should there be a conflict in utilizing a specific channel, your prioritized list will help you pick the next best alternative.
If you’re just starting out, this process can seem overwhelming. The most effective strategies can vary between each tribe and the right choices may not be clear right away. With a little research and experimenting, you will soon have numbers to back your future decisions.
One of the biggest marketing and communication myths of our time has been influenced by the age-old phrase, “same message, different medium.” This implies that a message generally maintains its meaning, intent, and effectiveness as it is consumed from different mediums. But have you ever read a book on your TV? Or watched a movie on a billboard?
The reality is that each medium has a bias and each channel has a unique personality of its own that affects the content it’s hosting. A billboard would simply not be a viable canvas for a movie because billboards have a short effective cycle. Inversely, you wouldn’t utilize a theater screen to show a billboard. You certainly could try, but based on what we know about movie theaters and their consumers, we can strategize to use the screen time more effectively.
From this we can gather that each medium has a bias or a preference and the medium can, in fact, affect the message.
The medium does not have to work against the message, though. Medium biases can significantly improve the effectiveness of your message. Define the bias to unlock a world of strategies for the platforms you choose to invest in. Some mediums favor photos, some prefer video, and some just like plain text.
Use your prioritized list from step 2 and add the biases next to their respective channels. This will give you a clear understanding of what each platform favors, and how users engage with the content.
Create a Strategy
Don’t be the guy that shows up to the pool party in a tuxedo. Learn the proper etiquette for each medium and tailor your message accordingly.
Based on what you’ve learned from the campaign core, prospect accessibility, and medium bias, write a brief 1-3 sentence strategy for each medium.
For example, a strategy for an event print flyer might be, “For a more palatable visual experience, layer event info by prioritizing the title, incentive, and call to action with typography and reveal more content as reader gains interest. Include a discount incentive with the presentation of flyer”
An Instagram strategy for a product launch might be, “Stop the scroll with a sleek product photo, displaying the words ‘It’s here’. In the post description, introduce the product and list three reasons why they need it. Conclude with a call to action to learn more by following the link in the bio.
The most effective way to zero in on the right platform, strategies, and content that engage your tribe is to measure the user feedback. How will you know if the thousands of dollars you spent on mailers is worth a second chance? Is it really worth paying that photographer to take more pictures for your social media?
In some instances, it’s as simple as using web analytics to track these metrics and determine the effectiveness. For more traditional mediums, strategies like event check-in questionnaires, incentivized surveys, or coupons/discount codes are a common choice. Get clever and build organic ways to measure the effectiveness of your campaign (more on this in steps 7 and 8).
By now you should have plenty of information to guide the campaign building process. Better yet, you have a document that clearly outlines your campaign and your team will love you for it!
There are three keys to crafting engaging, effective, and measurable content.
To capture and maintain someone’s interest, you need to meet or exceed their subconscious engagement values. These values are shaped by the engagement your audience experiences in their day-to-day content consumption.
Before the age of Starbucks Coffee, the mature/silents generation in America prided itself on old-fashioned canned coffee. One cup of coffee was the same as the next. All were bitter and called for an acquired palette. That was until Starbucks set out to change the American coffee culture for the baby boomers by introducing flavored lattes and coffee drinks. Starbucks has since been succeeded by a new wave of micro-coffee roasters and precision baristas favored by today’s millennials. The combined efforts of which reduce bitterness and produce more tasting notes than the finest wines have to offer. Each of the coffee waves mark a standard for their respective coffee consuming generation. An exceptional cup of black coffee to an elder might be acceptable at best to a baby boomer, and most likely intolerable by a millennial.
In the same manner, different demographics have been exposed to a variety of media produced at varying qualities. Each have a standard for which we aim to reach in order to have a seat at their table.
Key 2 Conversation
Ever found yourself in a one-way conversation where the other person just talked about themselves? Companies do this all the time! Let’s face it, no one likes to be around the “me monster.”
Make it known that you want to hear from your audience. Put down your megaphone and grab a cup of coffee. Engage them with conversation starters and questions that create an interactive, two-way connection. You might have a phone number on a printed piece, or a comment section on a social media post. Maybe someone sends you a personal message or even mentions your name in their post. Your personal care and response will yield customer loyalty and brand advocates. Just be ready to respond when the time comes!
Key 3Call to Action
At its core, marketing connects points of interest. It’s important to have a roadmap for someone who shows interest in what you’re offering. An effective way to convert curiosity to measurable outcomes is with a call to action. A call to action prompts an immediate response, should the individual choose to further engage. A call to action can be as laid-back as “Learn More”, or as assertive as “Buy Now!” A call to action is a great tool for measuring the engagement and conversion of a campaign as well!
The moment you’ve been waiting for has (almost) arrived. Before hitting that send button, here are a few things to consider:
1 Use an SMM (social media manager) service: When the rubber hits the road, it can get difficult to manage, perfectly time, and track down your campaign elements. Test out Hootsuite or Buffer, two of the many management services used for publishing and measuring campaign analytics on popular digital platforms. They also allow you to stay organized and respond to your followers quickly. Try MailChimp or Constant Contact for an industry-standard email campaign service. They help you build presentable emails and stay compliant with commercial email etiquette.
2 Schedule out your campaign: While a simultaneous cross-platform blast is helpful in particular circumstances, experiment with scheduling your content to roll out in phases to maximize the effective frequency. An initial blast can create buzz, but consistent reminders are often more likely to encourage an action from the user.
3 Be courteous: If a user gives you permission to email them, post on their social feed, or take up any real estate in their life, honor their time and space. Refrain from sudden blasts of information or multiple posts. Maintain your friendship by providing hand-curated content every time.
Measure your campaign to learn more about your tribe and inform future decisions. Almost any medium can be measured with three simple metrics: reach, engagement, and conversion.
Reach refers to the number of people who are exposed to your message.
Engagement measures reaction and interaction to your post. Some platforms specifically identify interactions as “clicks.”
Conversion traditionally describes the transition of a browsing customer to a paying customer. However, since the success of communication isn’t limited to monetary outcomes, conversions take on an expanded definition. In our context, conversions identify those who have demonstrated obedience to the call to action or fulfilled your end goal. The end goal might be that they watch your video, buy your CD, or just show up to an event. You decide, and measure conversion based on their destination.
Metrics are as useful as you make them. Block out time periodically to review campaign results and debrief by asking questions like:
1 What was the original purpose and intent of the campaign?
2 What was the outcome? (use your metrics from step 7)
3 What were some wins?
4 What could we have done better?
5 How can we adjust future campaigns?
As the campaign lead, you need to make concluding decisions that determine how you will conduct your future campaigns given what you've learned. Compare the resources spent against the overall effectiveness to determine the return on investment, or ROI. If the campaign was executed as planned but failed to yield satisfactory ROI, you can try pivoting your content or distribution strategy.
In the beginning, you may have to take larger pivots and sometimes completely abandon certain channels. Don’t give up! Eventually, you’ll find yourself making smaller and smaller tweaks to get future campaigns dialed in.
You’ve consciously crafted, launched, and wrapped your first campaign. Things only get better as you repeat this process! I hope that this guide can serve you with basic reminders in your future efforts.
As you learn more, you might develop your own methods. At some point, this process might even become second nature. Consider this guide as the box. Thinking outside the box can produce fresh ideas and help you stand out, but the box will always serve as a foundation to your future growth. Never lose sight of your tribe and always remember, subconscious influence is consciously crafted.
Sources: Hipps, Shane. Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith. Zondervan, 2016.
Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Currency, 2017.
Wise, Justin. The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication. Moody Publishers, 2014.