A strong marketing campaign is the most effective method for communicating with the market, for reinforcing a position, and for acquiring customers. A good campaign, ideally, always follows a theme and includes a series of interactions with the market. The minds of the audience today are almost always saturated with information. A message delivered from only one medium rarely makes a mark. The marketplace is a cacophonous affair, and for a campaign to be noticed it must pack a punch to stand out from the crowd.
Many campaigns have an overarching theme which is later used over longer durations with variations and different elements to tell the whole story. One of the most well-known examples of these would The Duck campaign. Launched by the American Family Life Assurance Company (Aflac) in 2000, the target was to increase brand recognition for the company. While it had been doing business since 1955, it had only acquired a 12% brand recognition rate before the campaign launched.
A new character was created, the Aflac duck. It appeared in ads featuring customers who had trouble remembering the company’s name and quacked the name “Aflac”, often ending up in funny predicaments. As a result of this long-running campaign the brand recognition for the company shot up from 12% to 90% and sales increased rapidly enough to catapult Aflac to the position of an industry leader.
Aflac, like many other companies of its size, takes the support of ad agencies, both traditional media and digital marketing agencies to design its campaigns, handle the media buys, and track results.
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Let’s take a look at some of the salient features of a memorable marketing campaign.
Use the Right Media
While most small-to-mid market companies cannot afford to splurge millions of dollars on ad budgets, there are definitely enough opportunities to create memorable campaigns. The agency and company should be collectively looking forward to leveraging different media to boost the popularity of a campaign.
- Online media – interactive ads and banners on websites
- Print media
- Social media
- Direct mail
- Events and trade shows
- Search engines
- Outdoor media
True blue marketing campaigns are hardly ever mere advertisements. They often utilize multiple mediums to provide a sequence of messages over an extended timeframe, which provides adequate support for the campaign and correct positioning for the company.
When planning a group of marketing campaigns, it’s good practice to start with your annual goals and work backward to develop campaigns to meet those numbers. Understand your own marketing needs, how many leads you need to generate, etc. and plan your marketing campaign accordingly, utilizing the best mediums available to you.
The Element of Surprise
It is always a welcome distraction when your daily rut is interrupted by something different, making just another ordinary day memorable. So long as your message is positive it will give people watching it a level of involvement and incite in them the desire to spread the message.
This helps in spreading the good name of your brand to a wider audience. Good marketing campaigns use the element of surprise and cross the expected with the unexpected. The result is something people want to watch over and over again, regardless of its origin.
For reference, remember the Old Spice viral videos from 2009 that used surprise and humor to rebuild the brand’s image?
An Emotional Angle
Everyone loves to be inspired. The best true stories out there involve someone battling all odds to do something previously accepted as impossible. Empathy, hard work, perseverance, happiness, slice-of-life are but a few traits one associates with this type of marketing.
If you are going down this road make sure you have the story to back it up. A good story is always loved by the audience, and the various social media sites these days are perfect hosts for it. Google posted an interesting campaign during a period it was taking a lot of fire for some of its practices. It shows the human side of the company and inspires in people a feeling of being able to relate with it.
Witness Something Different
While it is common knowledge that being different separates you from the crowd, it is also understood that everyone in this age wants to be known as separate from the crowd. Giving your audience the feeling of having seen something unique and previously unexpected would make them feel something similar. The feeling of “Did you see that ad!” is something no amount of marketing can create, and is inherent to the concept of the campaign. As more and more brands raise the standards of advertising campaigns, it becomes more and more difficult to come up with a truly original idea. But that by no means makes it impossible.
A case in point would be Volvo Trucks’ “The Epic Split” featuring Jean Claude Van Damme. It is an interesting use of celebrity to point out an essential and unique feature of the truck, conveyed in a way both relevant and eye-catching.
Experiment with Content
Engaging the audience can take a fair amount of consideration and experimentation. It will be a rare occasion when you hit upon the magic formula straightaway. It is usually a case of trial and error to find out what your audience responds to best. This process may take longer than expected, but keeping things fresh will ensure that your fanbase is always curious about your next move.
One of the first viral marketing campaigns was for the launch of the film The Blair Witch Project. Buzz was created by placing fake newspaper clippings about the documentary-makers’ disappearance on online forums. Many believed the story was true. The result? For a production with a budget of only $30,000 it raked in over $248 million at the Box Office.
Encourage Action and Reaction
Engaging the audience is a crucial aspect of creating an effective and memorable marketing campaign. Engaging the audience would mean getting them to interact among themselves as well as with the brand. It is good if people like your page, or they subscribe to your YouTube channel and view your video. But if nobody is talking about it or sharing it, then a vital aspect of marketing stands unaddressed.
People always want a reason to interact with a brand’s marketing campaign because it helps them understand better what they can get for taking part in it. If you can complete the action-cycle once you have got the audience’s attention you stand a better chance of having a successful marketing campaign. The action does not necessarily have to be give-aways; it could be anything provided it is creative and unique.
At the end of the day, most marketing campaigns that have gone viral have had one thing over and above everything else: simplicity. A strong concept that conveys the message of the brand while staying interactive for the audience is what stays in the minds of the people longest. Achieving a viral marketing campaign is like having that elusive perfect season, or painting a masterpiece; it has a timeless quality to it which is so sought after, but seldom replicated.