Urgh! Do I Really Need to Write a “Campaign Plan”?

Urgh! Do I Really Need to Write a “Campaign Plan”?

Are you one of those people who always seem to “wing it” when it comes to their social media and general digital marketing strategy? Are you guilty of tapping your head and saying “it’s all up here.” Or are you one of those people who agonises over a campaign plan, details it all out only to never get around to implementing it? 
The truth is that either way, you need a plan that offers you a structure to follow. If you don’t do this, either your marketing activities won’t happen when they’re supposed to happen, or they won’t happen at all! Nothing goes to plan and then we decide it was an unsuccessful campaign.
If you plan ahead, you know what is happening and when and how you are going to accurately report on campaign success.

What is a campaign plan?

Most marketing campaigns are based on product/service launches, events, seasonal promotions and key milestone events like a business anniversary.
The plan itself is a blueprint for all marketing activities that are going to happen over a certain period to promote the relevant angle.

When should I write a campaign plan?

Most people come up with a great idea and want to run with it there and then and sometimes, you do need to because it’s a golden opportunity, but, if you are planning in advance, I would write the plan around 6-8 weeks before you intend to start. Larger companies write their campaign plans six months in advance – especially for big events like Christmas.

What should be in a campaign plan?

There is no set way to write a campaign, but I tend to start with some titles:

  1. Campaign name, e.g. Christmas sale
  2. Objectives (what you want to achieve), e.g. X amount of sale items to be sold by X date.
  3. Target audience (who is it aimed at)
  4. Key message
  5. Budget

Then, I break down the marketing channels that I intend to use, such as:

  1. Social Media
  2. Paid Social Ads
  3. Marketing Material
  4. Email Marketing
  5. Events/Exhibitions
  6. Direct Mail

The list can go on and you can use as many or as few as suits the campaign.

Under the marketing channels, I write down how they are going to link into the campaign to promote the overall message. For instance, with email marketing, I would include when it needs to be sent, what the topic will be and how I will report on it.
Then you’ll have some objectives/ KPIs so you know how to measure it and if it was deemed a success.
You can also assign a cost. Some people simply go on external costs, but it’s up to you if you want to include internal costs for your time, etc.

A quick warning though – if you get too caught up detailing all of this out, you’re in danger of spending too much time planning and not enough time doing. Use the plan as a framework – and write it in that way. If you consider it as a blueprint, it becomes something that you can wheel out again and again for similar projects in the future.

Ideal Client

How long would it take to write?

How long is a piece of string…I’ve written them in 20 minutes, and I’m working on one now that will take me about 2 weeks! Here’s an example,
I had a client who was launching a new service. The aim was to direct traffic to their website for email sign-ups, but it would be distributed via social media and their existing email databases and we’d include video content within the campaign. The length of the campaign was to be three months.
This took me three hours to put together – that included research, titles for the videos, topics to cover through social media and email marketing themes. Plus a timeline of when they should be posted, published and via which channels.
For some people, it would take longer. For me, it would have taken longer if there were more marketing channels to consider or more objectives to cover.

Who should have a copy?

Depends on who is going to help you with it. Do you have any employees who will help you carry it out? How about designers? You may not need to give them a full copy; make sure they know what’s expected in terms of their involvement as soon as you can so they are aware and can plan their diary accordingly (which means your plan will also run smoothly without any hold-ups!). If you’re working with a social media agency (like us) make sure they have a copy of the campaign too!

Any advice for writing a campaign plan?

Yes, I do. Ultimately, this is a task that is going to require focus. To coin a popular phrase – you are going to need to work on your business rather than in it. If that means you need to remove yourself from normal day-to-day distractions, then that is what you need to do.

I wish you luck, and I hope all of your future campaigns will run smoothly because of your planning skills! But if you sit down and find it really, really painful – you know we’re here to help!

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