So you have all these great ideas for your business marketing: an app that will take over the world, an e-book that will change the industry as we know it, a banner ad people will actually click on. Ideas and passion are fuel for successful campaigns, but you also need the structure that strategy provides to propel your product into your customer’s hands.
Creativity and strategy work hand-in-hand. If campaigns are solely strategic, they have a tendency to be unoriginal. Purely creative campaigns can lack direction or may not connect with the target market. Combining the logical with the creative can result in an instinctual and compelling campaign that your customers will love to engage with. But you have to know how to begin:
1. The End
All the best strategies are created from the desired end result. Yes, you want potential customers to buy your product or service, but what more specifically?
- Do you want customers to use your site as an authority in your industry?
- Do you want to communicate the values of your company as a selling point?
- Do you want to build brand awareness?
The more specific your end goal is, the more specific and targeted your message will be.
When you communicate this end goal to your creative department, they can mold the campaign around this central goal, making the call to action more natural and intuitive for the user. Speaking of which…
We’re not talking Tron (though we could, for hours!), and we’re not talking Ben Affleck’s ex in The Town. We speak, of course, of the customer on the other end of the screen. He is not a search engine, not an idiot, but is a person that is searching for value. But that’s not the extent of his depth.
- Use Facebook Graph Search to discover your customers’ interests, median age, favorite TV shows, and other creepy yet handy info. You may even stumble upon the hidden gem: Random affiliations (the seemingly out-of-nowhere interests that your audience has in common, like architects who love the Riddick movie series).
- Go to Reddit or a popular online forum for your industry and check out the conversations potential customers have. What questions are they asking? What tone of voice and vocabulary are trusted users writing in?
Use this info along with keyword reports from your friendly SEO and onsite behavior from your team Analyst to determine common behavior and demographics. Where are your customers coming from? Is your search traffic coming from branded or non-branded search? Once they’re on your site, how long do they stay there?
Once you know the path you want your users to take and all the creepy details on what your audience engages with and how they engage with it, you can start getting creative.
1. Role Play
Here’s where the creativity juices start flowing. You know your audience well, perhaps even too well. Put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. What are you looking for? What are your time/money restraints? What entertains you? Make like Daniel Day Lewis and become consumed by your role. Create a lexicon of language they use and pay attention to what they engage with.
Don’t limit yourself by what you’ve done in the past: if you have only done paid search, and your audience loves a certain online magazine, branch out and be seen where your audience spends time. Just make sure every campaign you create is applicable to the audience and why they’re on that publication’s site.
2. Build the set
Now that you are thinking like your audience, create a campaign custom-built for them. If you were building a stage for your audience, what would it look like? Minimalist, clean and white or rustic and cozy with wood paneling? Take these ideas and turn them into a campaign structure that works for your audience.
Is your audience more likely to click on a banner ad, open and engage with an email, or read and share an infographic? Create the structure for your campaign around user behavior by thinking how they think.
3. Break a leg
Here’s the truly fun and creative part: bringing it all together. You know your role, you have your stage set, and now you get to create an experience that’s custom built and written just for your audience.
- Use the lexicon to write in their language, use colors and design elements you already know they like, and push the limits. Go a bit outside your comfort zone, be imaginative, and surprise them. Use any random affiliations you found, dive deeper into the voice than others dare.
- Avoid doing what everyone else is doing. After all the research and role playing you’ve done, you’re bound to see what the other campaigns are missing. Don’t be afraid to put a bit of yourself into your campaigns; every good actor combines character research with personal emotion.
- Delve deeper than others dare. When describing something, include a few seemingly miniscule details that really place your audience in the moment: What are the scents, tastes, or sensations you’re feeling? The more detail you provide, the more connection your potential customers feel to your blog post/product description/whatever copy you’re writing.
So there you have it. The ultimate marketing campaign guide in 1000 words or less: Start with strategy, add some imaginative role playing, and push the boundaries. You have the ability to create a truly compelling experience that connects and empathizes with your customer, and now you have a game plan. Go get ‘em!