The word ‘campaign’ is enough to strike fear into the heart of the small business marketing manager.

It sounds BIG, with a high expectation factor. It (literally) sounds like a war to be won. It sounds like something Boots or Marks & Spencer do. “Eek!”, thinks the marketing manager, our business is TOO small for a campaign. We don’t have enough to say, we don’t have a PR firm, we don’t have any ‘news’. How can we make the kind of splash that is expected from a proper campaign?

I totally identify with this thinking, and for years I felt the same. As a young, eager-to-please marketing manager, when colleagues (usually sales directors) requested a ‘campaign’ it filled me with horror. My first thought was always: I’m not clever enough to create a campaign. Or: are you mad? We don’t have a big enough budget for a campaign!

Then I adapted my thinking.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of a ‘proper’ campaign, of the level of ‘This Girl Can’ or ‘Just Say No’ (if you are older) – both of which had HUGE budgets and teams of people working on them – I decided to start taking a ‘campaign approach’. And, now I recommend that my clients think along these lines too. A ‘campaign approach’ is the same as a campaign, but on a much smaller, more manageable scale.

You select a time frame, pick a topic that relates to your business, and helps your prospects to understand why they need your product or service, then base all your marketing communications for that time frame on that topic.

The ideal is to plan out your topics for the whole of the coming year.

So, if it’s going to be small, why do you need this at all?

Well, everything is easier when you have a theme. And, a campaign is really just a glorified theme.

My son comes home from school every Tuesday with spellings to learn, and homework based on the ten words of the week. The task is to write one sentence for each of them. He finds this overwhelming and difficult (he’s 7). There is just too much wide-open space for him to work in. He starts freaking out because he can’t think of any sentences involving the word ‘hold’, ‘gold’, ‘steak’ etc. (again, he’s 7).

So, I’ve learned that giving him a theme really helps. Now I say: (as he’s crying, lying on the floor, wailing and gnashing his teeth about how hard it is) “Let’s pick a theme for the ten sentences…how about this week you write all the sentences about animals?” Suddenly, he’s engaged; he’s got something to work with, the homework becomes easy and he can do it in about ten minutes.

The point of this rambling? To show that by introducing a campaign approach (or theme) for your business that changes every, say 3 months, you’ll suddenly have something to work with. It will seem less overwhelming and be more achievable on a small budget.

For example, for my business I might choose a campaign theme to run for 12 weeks around marketing planning. Suddenly:

  • I can see that my next 12 blog posts need to be based on this subject.
  • I can go out and hunt down content to share on my Facebook or twitter feeds about marketing planning.
  • I can invite my mailing list to an event about marketing planning.
  • I can host a webinar, Facebook live or speaking engagement on the subject.
  • I can create a special offer around developing marketing plans.
  • I could even have a HASHTAG! How about #marketingplansarethebomb….?

The “campaign approach”, makes things easier, more straightforward, easier to promote, quicker to develop and it helps your customers to interpret your message.

If you want an example of a business doing this BRILLIANTLY, check out the organisation with whom I did my social media training: Digital Mums (on Twitter, their handle is: @DigitalMumsHQ). Their current campaign is called #cleanupthefword (October 2017). You could get lots of ideas from their Twitter feed alone.

For once, I’m not recommending thinking big. This time I want you to think small.

For help developing a “campaign approach” or a marketing plan for your business, get in touch.

Remember #marketingplansarethebomb!