The Marketing Campaign

Definition: A specific, defined series of activities used in marketing a new or changed product or service, or in using new marketing channels and methods .

Effective marketing is often what separates rapidly growing companies from slow-growing or stalled companies that started at the same time, serve the same market and offer similar merchandise. Companies such as Gillette, Frito-Lay and Coca-Cola have succeeded in highly competitive mass markets for consumer goods because, while they certainly produce competitive products, they out-market their rivals. If you expect your business to grow to any size, you'll have to become an effective marketer, advertiser and promoter of your business. In fact, you're likely to grow to the extent that you master marketing, and no more

A marketing campaign isn't something that comes to you while you're taking a shower or reading a blog like this :-) Successful campaigns tend to be carefully researched, well thought-out and focused on details and execution, rather than resting on a single, grand idea. Planning a marketing campaign starts with understanding your position in the marketplace and ends with details such as the wording of advertisements for print, web and social media.

Keep in mind that your plan for a marketing campaign is not supposed to be a prison. You have to leave room to make changes as you go along because no plan can perfectly capture reality and your message may sharpen as time goes by. But you should be able to commit fully to implementing your plan, or some future version of it, f you want to take a strong step toward growing your business and solidifying your online and offline image.

Here are some ways to launch your campaign:

Speak at community events. Offering your expertise at public occasions is an easy way to get the word out about your business. You'll maximize your impact and lend credibility to your product or service. If you're unsure about public speaking, collaborate with an advisor or even an intern and let them take the lead using you and your business as their case study. 

Ask customers for referrals. Generating referrals from current customers is one of the best ways to market your business. Don't forget to query your vendors (they're likely to have many contacts) and explain to your customers exactly what kinds of referrals you're looking for and how they can help. One great way to communicate this to your customers is via email marketing and social media. 

Spend two days in your customers' shoes. To find out what your customers really want, visit a wide range of businesses they're likely to frequent. Observe how customers are treated, as well as the kinds of services that appear important to them; then adapt your business accordingly.

Offer free samples. If you can get someone to try your product or service, chances are they'll buy it later. Have employees pass out product samples in front of your business; if you provide a service, offer free services on a trial basis. 

Ask for help. Whether you talk to a professional or confidant, it is important to test your ideas and apply feedback to your campaign ideas. Listen to your employees and vendors for openings that can lead to collaboration. Build on your existing relationships to foster new opportunities and always, always give yourself enough time for the creative process to unfold. 

Acknowledgments - Entrepreneur Magazine and SBA for ideas and content.