5 Steps to Creating Successful Marketing Campaigns

From startups to Fortune 100 brands, great marketing teams share common strategies to create compelling campaigns.

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By Kenneth Burke • Apr 4, 2022 Originally published Apr 4, 2022

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No one wants to be sold to, yet each of us can name commercials we love. Why? Because there's a difference between marketing campaigns that annoy us and those that draw us in. What it comes down to is telling the right story, and there's a method behind the creative madness that leads to our most compelling campaigns.

Define the enemy

You need something to rally your customers around, and to give your story focus and direction. You need an enemy, something your ideal customers simply do not like, such as their B2B competitor (Apple vs. Microsoft), higher prices (think expensive eyewear vs. Warby Parker ), a negative experience (bland party food vs. Tostitos) or an old or outdated way of doing things ( in-person meetings vs. Slack).

To choose the right enemy, you have to know what your customers like and dislike, what your company stands for and what market challenges you're attempting to solve. There's your enemy, and the trick is to talk about this enemy's shortcomings directly. This is not a prompt to start a fight. Do not create an enemy that doesn't already exist. The goal here is to convey in your marketing campaign, "We think that's bad. You agree with us, right? Let's do something different."

Show how to defeat the enemy

Good stories always have the hero prevail, and in this instance, your customer is the hero and it's your job to show them how to defeat their main enemy. Your standard elevator pitch is normally enough to get the point across. However, if you have the budget, it's your job to make the message even more engaging, generally utilizing video and photo campaigns, while also keeping things simple. You've shown your customer their enemy, and it's the job of your marketing campaign to provide them with an equally straightforward path toward heroism.

Related: 10 Genius Marketing Campaigns That Went Viral

Create a picture of life without the enemy

Your customer ought to be better off with you than without you. Show them what that will be like. We've all come across campaigns with sentiments such as, "Our beer will bring you closer to friends and family" or, "Our software will give you your time and sanity back." These are successful campaigns because they're simple, and they provide a vision of happiness.

Even in a few words, you can depict your customers' enemy, your solution and life on the side of good — on your side. As you're putting your campaign together, explicitly define how your customer will feel. Then showcase that emotion in your campaign. You may even overemphasize it to get your point across. Most successful brands do this, and it works.

Call for action

Customers aren't actively trying to research or buy something before you push it in front of them. Their tendency is to stay the course, even if they're miserable, so you have to break their inertia to get them to act. It's the job of your campaign to tell them what to do — usually multiple times.

Your call to action needs to be clearly stated and simple and must obviously lead to defeating the enemy. Your campaign must absolutely meet these three conditions for your call to action to be effective. A great example might be, "Sign up today to get found online," with a link provided to do so.

Related: 5 Rules for Stand-out Marketing Campaigns

Leave something memorable

A message, a visual, a sound, or a strong emotion that sticks is what makes a great marketing campaign. This is the thing that will randomly come to your customer's mind a week after experiencing your campaign.

Think Budweiser using "Wazzup…" Another cool campaign by the workflow automation platform Workato turned "work" into a bad word with their clever slogan, "Automate the w*rk out of everything." These are unique, memorable campaigns, and that's what customers love and remember.

In a nutshell

Compelling marketing campaigns always tell a good story, and one in which the customer is the hero and you've shown up to give them the tools to defeat their enemy. The campaigns that stand out particularly well tell that story in a very unique way and then provide customers with an action plan. When you do this across all of your marketing channels, you'll create campaigns that your customers absolutely love and remember.

Related: 10 Steps for Creating an Effective Content Marketing Campaign

Kenneth Burke

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Vice President of Marketing

Kenneth Burke has written over 1,000 articles on business growth and helped companies from pre-launch startups to billion-dollar businesses achieve their goals. He's also a champion for Chattanooga, TN and always open to a new book recommendation.

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