Campaigns are the lifeblood of marketing – they’re how we tell stories and connect with people in measurable, repeatable ways, mixing data with campaign creative to bring brands to life. And the planning of them is a whole other beast. The most dextrous campaign planners have it down to a fine art, delicately balancing actionable insight with flawless creative to reach people in more ways than ever before.
So how is it done? We asked Callum Saunders, Head of Planning at ZEAL Creative, to give us his words of wisdom on incorporating insight into campaign planning as part of an integrated marketing agency. Callum’s input is also featured in our marketing leader’s guide to campaign planning, an all-in-one resource for planning, executing, and measuring campaigns that really perform, according to the experts.
How do you translate business objectives into campaign creative?
It’s important to remember that real people don’t care about the commercial objectives of businesses. What they do care about, are the brands, products, or services that meet their own objectives and needs. And the art of campaign planning is the exciting process of discovery and connection, unearthing genuine insight to find the common ground that people will care about.
Translating a client’s business objectives into campaign creative is all about probing under the surface to discover the intricate insight that provides you with the ‘connective tissue’. A client’s objectives are often broad, single-minded and incredibly focused (if these are SMART and well-written). The needs of consumers and shoppers are inherently more fragmented and nuanced. Planning requires us to look into a multitude of contextual factors – from socio-demographics and individual passion points, to the time of year a campaign is activated – to plot opportunities for genuine connection and resonance.
Which types of processes work best when planning campaigns?
Given the complexity of today’s communication landscape, it goes without saying that there is no ‘one’ process that works as a magic bullet. Perhaps the best analogy is to think of planners walking around with an invisible toolbox, full of different tools and techniques with which to approach a multitude of different problems or challenges.
Going through the process of a rigorous interrogation is the cornerstone of any new project. A ‘brief’ is often a process-led document, rather than the roadmap for success it should be: spending time interrogating the real business challenges will often result in reframing the marketing campaigns to ensure that we’re meeting a brand’s true needs, rather than following a template.
There are different types of planner and different schools of thought regarding approaches, from data-driven scientists to intuitive artists. Regardless of approach, using templated formats can help to formalise thinking and organise the relevant areas of consideration, helping us to make the right connections and identify the interesting.
How do you ensure your campaign will resonate with your target audience?
In my humble opinion, uncovering genuine insight is the high point of our role as planners. It’s the ‘lightbulb moment’ that excites us and presents agency and marketing teams with a truly competitive point of difference that is unique and can be leveraged to effective ends.
In a world of ‘big data’, a lot of marketers can fall victim to ‘analysis paralysis’. There’s almost a fear when presenting insight that isn’t steeped in lengthy and costly ‘research’. But this is a concern that is unfounded. Engaging real people in the campaign development process is critical, as the founding fathers of planning, Stanley Pollitt and Stephen King, attested to in the 1960s. And with increasing time pressures on agencies and marketing teams, the way we generate that insight needs to be flexible and adaptable too.
Agencies are increasingly being pressured to deliver work faster and for less. And as planners, we need agile insight solutions that allow us to ensure campaign creative connects with a brand’s target audience.
Insight platforms like Attest give planners the ability to engage real people in real-time. Not only does this allow marketers to mine the insight that ensures campaigns resonate with a target audience, it also allows teams to test concepts and ensure that campaigns will affect real change in the real world, rather than simply looking good on a PowerPoint presentation.
Want to know more about how the experts plan campaigns that deliver, and how to do it yourself? Get your copy of the marketing leader’s guide to campaign planning – a comprehensive guide that’ll teach you how to incorporate data and insight into your creative campaigns.