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The process of developing and overseeing a campaign for a company's advertising or marketing program can be broken down into these five steps that a marketing manager must oversee or personally complete: determine objectives; establish a budget; evaluate and select an agency (if you decide to go that route); manage the program; and monitor the program and assess its effectiveness.

1. Objectives

Generally, the intent of marketing, and advertising in particular, is to establish a brand image and develop product awareness by providing valuable information for prospective customers. In addition, persuasion is part of complementary marketing efforts to encourage action on the part of customers (i.e., make a purchase).

You will have to create goals tailored to your business's needs. For example:

  • One company's goal for its advertising program may be to gain brand awareness and customer loyalty, increasing customer retention 10%.
  • Another company's goal may be to increase sales by $5.2 million by the end of the quarter.

Your objectives should always be realistic and achievable while maximizing profitability.

2. Budget

Several useful methods of creating a budget might fit your brand's needs and strategy.

A company's leaders or marketing managers decide on a budget at a level they think should be spent or believe the firm can afford, which is also referred to as the arbitrary allocation method:

  • Advantage: The decision-makers are supposed to be experts in the field and thus their decision may be appropriate.
  • Disadvantage: The decisions and judgment are only as good and efficient as the people making it.

When using the percentage of sales method, the budget is determined based on a decided-upon percentage of total sales. For example, a company may decide to allocate 10% of its total sales to be spent on advertising:

  • Advantage: Once a percentage of sales amount is chosen, calculating the budget is quite simple.
  • Disadvantage: The budget calculated as a set percentage of sales may not be ideal for the objectives set; accordingly, choosing the percentage of sales may be difficult in the first place.

The objective and task budget method revolves around deciding on how much should be spent to achieve established campaign objectives. Basically, a value is set on what each objective is worth:

  • Advantage: It is highly customized and specific to the objectives meant to be achieved with a particular campaign.
  • Disadvantage: The value of an objective can be misjudged, or the value might quickly change—before the campaign is completed. Accordingly, the optimal amount for the advertising budget would also change.

One of the simplest methods for selecting the right budget for your campaigns is to meet the competition—that is, choose the same amount of money as your competitors:

  • Advantage: The decision on a specific dollar amount is simple, since you are simply mimicking your competitor's decision.
  • Disadvantage: You will have to figure out how to find out what the competition's budget is. In addition, the amount your competitors spent on advertising may not be optimal or financially possible for your business, depending on your competitors' sales, profits, size, and other important factors.

Higher budgets do not guarantee more favorable outcomes. The success of each marketing campaign depends on many factors, including the quality of its content, personalization or tailoring for the target audience, and the media and channels selected.

A campaign budget should always be realistic—in line with the objectives you set—if you are to avoid inconsistency between expectations and actual results.

3. Agencies

Agencies have two main advantages: objectivity and creativity.

They are objective because...

  • They do not represent a single particular product.
  • They are not influenced by the internal politics of your organization.
  • They are not biased vis-à-vis your product's history, since they do not know it.
  • They view your product or service from an external perspective and thus can more easily create a campaign based on the customer's perspective.

As for creativity... to work at an advertisement agency, applicants are usually required to provide a portfolio of previous work and experience, and to possess a degree in marketing, advertising, or related field. Thus, the people employed by agencies tend to be talented and innovative people who can provide clients with creative input along with specialized experience and knowledge in the industry.

That's not to say your marketing team, if you have one, isn't talented; rather, you simply may not have sufficient marketing resources and may sometimes need to rely on an agency.

Consider the following criteria when selecting an advertising agency:

  • Conflicts of interest: Do not choose an ancy that is representing your biggest (or better yet, any) competitor.
  • Services available: If your company plans to use a specific strategy, such as guerilla marketing or Facebook advertising, make sure the agency you select provides that service.
  • Relevant experience: The agency you selects should not merely provide the services you want but it should also possess relevant experience in that area.
  • Size: The more people an agency has, the more creativity and diversity you can expect. If you have in mind an idea that's fairly extensive, an agency with only three employees is less likely to be able to realize your idea than an agency with 80 employees.

4 & 5. Monitoring and Assessment

Monitoring your program

Whether you hired an agency to develop a campaign or you launched your program yourself, a vital step of advertising management is to oversee and monitor the advertising program.

Monitor the progress and efficiency continuously. Assign a team of detail-oriented people and create a plan on the frequency of monitoring the program as well as the measures to be monitored.

Assessing effectiveness

Assessing a campaign's effectiveness depends on the objectives you set previously. The more detailed your goals are, the easier it is to measure the progress of achieving your objectives.

For example, if the objective of a one-month long Facebook advertising campaign is to gain 10,000 likes and you have only 1,500 likes on Day 20 of the campaign, achieving your goal is unlikely unless the campaign is changed for the remaining 10 days.

Change and Improve

If the campaign is not producing the expected results, reassess the campaign and implement changes to improve its effectiveness.

Sometimes, just one word in the title of an advertisement, for example, can make the necessary difference in accomplishing an advertising campaign's objectives.

If you make a change and the campaign still does not progress toward meeting the expected results, keep adjusting it. If you are working with an agency, it should offer you continual support in monitoring the effectiveness of your campaign.

* * *

Are you in the midst of a marketing or advertising campaign? Where in the process are you and what do you expect to gain from your campaign?

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How to Manage a Successful Marketing Campaign That Meets Your Objectives

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Nicole Elmore is a marketing consultant and business writer who provides small businesses and startups with entrepreneurial insight and useful marketing tips via her blog: