Most of us have been involved with our fair share of bad campaigns. A few people would argue that there’s a couple taking place right now, concluding with the general election this Thursday.
Often, however, there’s not enough reflection done after a bad campaign and the same mistakes are made again the next time round. We’re all quite quick to pat ourselves on the back once one has been executed successfully, but when the opposite happens there’s a lot of finger pointing and shirking responsibility. One campaign should always help inform the next one; there are always lessons to be learned.
Use the below six pointers as an action plan to ensure your campaign runs smoothly – helping to avoid any Dianne Abott-type gaffes along the way.
Correspond your campaign with your brand’s personality
Having a campaign which is closely aligned to your brand values helps cement exactly who you are and what you stand for in the mind of your audience. You may find it irritating to repeat yourself, but just know that your message isn’t reaching all your target audience all the time.
Take Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ message this general election campaign. It might be derided by certain people for the fact that it is so often uttered, but to what end consequence? Ironically, by repeating this statement so unashamedly, could Theresa May not be living up to her description of ‘stability’? Only when a lorry with the same message overturns does the message become at all ridiculous.
Brand consistency is key; especially in the modern age where there are so many different types of media via which your message can be dispersed. Using the Conservatives as an example again, Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ message is very much a reincarnation of David Cameron’s ‘securing a better future’ slogan – the brand message has largely remained the same.
Set specific objectives
Politicians must set themselves specific targets, as without them they wouldn’t be allowed to assume power. You should adopt the same mentality; how many seats do you need to win control?
Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) at the very beginning of your campaign. If your client hasn’t set these out for you then you should. If you’re not setting yourself KPIs then your success is always going to be objective – especially when beauty lies in the eye of the beholder!
Have specific metrics by which you measure your success as your objectives may differ from campaign to campaign. One campaign/client might want to raise awareness, another to boost sales, another to grow market share and so on.
Set specific parameters
Objectives are great but clear parameters also need to be defined. The parameters for the general election (campaign time, size of the electorate etc.) are well defined, such is the strict nature of politics, but you will need to establish your own.
Be clear exactly how much time and money you can afford to spend on your campaign for it to be considered a success. Your campaign might succeed in hitting the KPI of raising awareness, but if it comes in £200,000 over budget can it really be considered a success?
This is an area where marketers could learn from political strategists. Most politicians will know exactly how much they need to spend on direct mail to return a vote, while most marketers will struggle to give you the same figure for customer acquisitions.
Establish a strict timeline
It appears to many of us as though all political parties dither around the country for a few months, spewing out the same tired messages, but it’s of course lot more strategic than that.
The first few weeks will be spent assembling a crack team, the next couple collating key data and coming up with core messages, then wider outreach will begin and the team will grow, then those messages will be dispersed, then as the campaign narrows the get out the vote campaign will begin and then finally election day.
Think about your campaign as a series of mini campaigns; setting yourself constant targets. Your campaign, like a political campaign, should also act in crescendo, building up to a big reveal at the end. For example, for a product launch, you might begin by building interest on social media, then sending out various pamphlets and then conducting the big launch of your brand film or outdoor activation.
Choose your channels wisely
No one knows the value of honing in on one channel and owning it like Donald Trump does. Labour insiders from Ed Miliband’s campaign in 2015 are also adamant that the battle was won and lost on Facebook alone. They have a case too – Conservatives spent £1.2 million during the 2015 general election campaign, more than seven times the £160,000 spent by Labour.
But it’s not just a big budget that will win you the race. You also need to know your audience and be able to target them – another area the Conservatives excelled in during the 2015 election. Who are you trying to win over with your campaign and how are you going to reach them?
Different channels have different purposes and different audiences:
• LinkedIn is the best place to reach older professionals and is largely a networking site
• Twitter is the ideal channel for customer engagement and is your best platform for being quirky and off-the-cuff
• Facebook drives the most brand loyalty and purchases and is seen as being more informative
Do your homework on your channels and then build them into your campaign accordingly. If you’re wanting to target 16-24 year olds, then you’re wasting your time buying print media. Similarly, if targeting the over-50s then Snapchat is not going to be the best use of your money.
Rinse and repeat
Every campaign is different, and as such there is no blanket approach to guarantee success. Jeremy Corbyn’s current campaign might have gone down a storm fifty years ago, while Donald Trump’s might have died a miserable death during the same period.
Learn from your mistakes and your successes, and then tweak your strategy accordingly. Having a complete set of guidelines – such as the above – should at least help keep your campaign orderly – if your idea or product is no good then you’re on your own I’m afraid!