Run Campaigns, Not Ads

From my time working in local advertising sales here in Baltimore at WBAL-AM, and of course in the past 6 years as we’ve grown Ainsley & Co.’s client roster here in Baltimore, I’ve seen thousands of advertising buys from all types of businesses both B2C and B2B.

One of the biggest lessons I think small and mid-sized businesses (the people we specialize in helping here at Ainsley) can learn from watching large national/global brands is how they approach their advertising: they don’t just run ads, they run integrated campaigns.

An ad is a single creative piece that may well be funny, memorable, and interesting.

A campaign is a coordinated effort to make a broader impact by communicating a consistent theme across your advertising, sales collateral, company messaging/positioning, social media, and PR efforts.

A campaign doesn’t have to be all of those – it can exist simply through a single ad channel, leverage your website, and your sales collateral. But nevertheless it’s consistent, and can have more staying power than a single ad ever will.

For example:

Dove ran a “Real Beauty” campaign, which focused on creating a wider definition of beauty and fostering confidence rather than anxiety when it comes to beauty. It’s an unbelievable example of how to use a central theme to position your brand.

The Dove campaign was launched in 2004, which brings us to another benefit of campaigns. They have staying power. A campaign can run for weeks, months, or, in the case of Dove, even years.

Another campaign whose duration has spanned years is Allstate’s Mayhem campaign, which was launched in 2010. The campaign focuses on a character, “Mayhem,” played by Dean Winters, who encounters everyday situations that could result in accidents, such as a housekeeper slipping on an area rug and injuring herself or a tree-trimming incident gone awry.

The Mayhem character resonated so much with people that Allstate created a Mayhem Facebook account, which is nearing two million followers as well as an @Mayhem Twitter handle, which has 93K followers.

The point is – A successful campaign helps your customers and the market actually understand who the company is, and what you can do for them.

To run an effective campaign, it’s important to:

  • Have a common theme
  • Maintain consistency across all communication platforms, even internal
  • Stay committed for an extended period of time (of course with proper measurement to ensure the campaign resonates with your audience)
  • Connect with your audiences needs
  • Create memorable collateral that consumers discuss and share
  • Stay current. Campaigns should have staying power, but create multiple ads/creative samples that stem from the central theme and release through the life of the campaign to keep it current. The Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away” national sales campaign, launched in 1998, is a great example of this. By injecting humor into situations that anyone could find themselves in, such as these, Southwest appealed to its customers, yielding a favorable response. The “Wanna Get Away” lower prices added value for the customer and they could relate to the humorous situations, making the campaign memorable. The idea was so successful, the campaign spanned for several years.

We specialize in helping mid-market companies start with the right strategy, and execute memorable campaigns that deliver real results.

Interested in learning more about campaigns? Give us a call