Three new routes to build winning campaigns in eight weeks (or fewer)

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Taking a brand campaign to market takes true grit. The amount of time, money and internal capital invested in a single initiative is often enormous, and the process frustratingly drawn out. If reach, awareness and profile are your goals, then it may be worth it. But if it’s meetings and sales you want – and sooner rather than later – following this campaign development model isn’t the most effective way to go.

We’ve argued that brand-first campaigns can’t deliver consistent, timely sales – making the case for a sales-first approach to campaigns that helps you get to ROI faster. Speed to market is critical to this approach, and demands new routes that can fast-track long campaign development. Using super efficient processes and frameworks, it’s possible to create winning campaigns in eight weeks or fewer. ‘Accelerated campaigns’ get to sales faster by streamlining, rethinking and reversing typical ways of working.

1. Streamline: The five day sales proposition

The core of any sales-first campaign is a targeted sales proposition that speaks clearly and directly to your target buyers – tapping into their priority business goals, suggesting what they may be overlooking in the pursuit of these goals, and demonstrating why you are uniquely placed to help achieve them. It’s the most important component to ensure any campaign leads to real ROI, but needn’t take months of hand-wringing. Adopting a sprint model, it’s possible to build, hone and client-test a sales proposition in just five days – allowing you to start on research and content quicker.

Google Ventures is the pioneer of the approach, which we’ve adapted for B2B services – creating new frameworks designed to generate and test sales propositions. Our sprint model rests on:

A prototyping mindset: The final day of the sprint is dedicated to gathering client feedback on your sales proposition. This is a prototype, not perfection. Working quickly, trying things out, evolving them collaboratively and making fast decisions is crucial to the sprint, and your clients are our partners in this process. Perfection is what comes after their feedback – a strong sales proposition that makes them want to buy from you.

A bulletproof structure: A clear, focussed sprint agenda with daily outcomes and deliverables keeps the sprint on track – everyone knows what they’re there to do, why and how their contribution plays into the final sales proposition. Specially designed frameworks also provide direction to discussions – there is no time for tangential conversations in the sprint – failing to achieve the goals on one day has a knock on effect that will derail the whole process.

Sparing use of experts’ time: There’s nothing worse than sitting in a long meeting to which you don’t feel able to contribute – other than perhaps several of your fee earners sitting in there too! Getting the right people in the room at the right stage of the process is critical to an effective sprint – avoiding wasted time and disgruntled stakeholders. This means quick fire one-to-one sessions to gather information, small workshops to review and develop ideas and a single decision-maker – with little overlap between these contributors to minimise time commitment.

2. Rethink: Research that proves your business case (and no more)

Evidence is important to brand-first and sales-first campaigns alike. But where traditional campaigns use research to uncover market trends or gather audience perspectives across sectors, geographies and groups – often meaning expansive and expensive data collection – accelerated campaigns seek only to make a targeted business case for your sales proposition.

With a sales rather than awareness focussed goal, research can be specific – creating a compelling call to action for your big bet for growth – and appropriate – gathering the data you need to make the case and no more. Without the need to satisfy multiple internal stakeholders, and appeal to a range of media with several data stories, much of the cost and time involved in conducting research can be eliminated.

Take a practical approach to selecting your research approach, balancing the time and budget available with the burden of proof required to convince prospective buyers. For example, to credibly question an industry-entrenched blindspot that’s holding clients back from achieving their business goal will require robust, bespoke data. But one carefully selected data point may be enough to make the case for them to reconsider ‘the way things are done’ in their organisation – and it could exist within research you already have.

3. Reverse: Turning content development on its head

Brand-first campaign content is built around an awareness-to-sale model. High-level, wide-reaching content leads – reports, press releases, social tools, and so on – followed by more specific content – podcasts, articles, roundtables, case studies and so on – as prospects move through the funnel. Creating rich, engaging and insightful content that serves the whole funnel is a big undertaking – often involving external partners, data, design, integration and significant stakeholder and marketing time.

The sales-first approach makes it possible to reverse the process – starting with only the content you need to generate a sales meeting and convert in the room. Business leaders love the ‘thud factor’ of a whitepaper – that bastion of thought leadership – but sales and marketing leaders tell us that these rarely set up a focussed commercial meeting, and don’t provide specific cues to guide conversations towards tangible new business opportunities. One email, a questionnaire or a single framework may be all you need. Of course, it’s then possible to work back up to brand – exploring how to extend the campaign via broader content.

Accelerated campaigns are about doing less and making them deliver more.

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