Why You Need to Ditch Marketing Campaigns in 2016


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Marketers have long used campaigns as the basis for planning marketing efforts. And for decades, the campaign paradigm worked reasonably well. Today, however, rising buyer expectations and changing buyer communications preferences require new kinds of marketing communications methods that don’t fit the traditional campaign construct. As a result, several marketing thought leaders now contend that the campaign paradigm is obsolete. For example, Forrester Consulting recently wrote:

“. . . most companies are stuck in an old campaign mindset and a corporate reality where each of their touchpoints is typically the domain of separate channel silos . . . The overall result is often messaging, execution, and delivery strategies that are fragmented across touchpoints and out of context to the consumer.” (The Rise of Marketing Orchestration)

The reality is, it’s time to ditch the campaign model and replace it with a planning framework that enables marketers to better align their activities with both buyer realities and critical business objectives. Therefore, the primary output of your planning process should be a marketing communications plan that embodies a cohesive, balanced, and value-driven marketing effort.

The diagram below shows the major elements of a marketing communications plan, which is similar in several ways to the B-to-B Marketing Campaign Framework developed by SiriusDecisions.

Value Themes

In a marketing communications plan, value themes replace campaigns as the primary organizing principle. Value themes are derived directly from your value propositions, but a value theme may encompass more than one value proposition. For example, your product or service may enable your customers to reduce three distinct kinds of costs, and therefore you’ve developed three value propositions to reflect these benefits. In a marketing communications plan, these three value propositions might well be embodied in one “cost reduction” value theme.

Value themes are designed to be used for a relatively long period of time, usually at least a year, and they act as the primary guide for developing your marketing messages and content resources. Most B2B companies will have between one and four value themes for each product or product family and target market combination.

Marketing Program Families

Marketers in B2B companies are tasked to achieve several marketing objectives, and each of these objectives demands a distinctive set of marketing activities. In a marketing communications plan, these activity sets are called marketing programs, and most B2B companies need four types of marketing programs:

  • Reputation-building programs are primarily designed to build brand awareness and credibility with potential buyers in the target market.
  • Demand creation programs are primarily designed to acquire new sales leads and nurture those leads until they are ready to engage with sales reps.
  • Sales enablement programs are primarily designed to provide content and intelligence that supports the efforts of the sales force.
  • Retention & growth programs are primarily designed to sustain and enhance relationships with existing customers, improve customer retention, and increase “share of wallet.”
Marketing Tactics

Your marketing communications plan will also include the specific tactics that you will use to execute each marketing program. The important point here is that most tactics can be used in all four types of marketing programs, although some tactics will play a more significant role in some types of programs than others.
Market Intelligence/Performance Measurement

The final component of a marketing communications plan is a system for (a) gathering and analyzing information about buyer needs, preferences, and behaviors, and (b) measuring the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. In today’s B2B marketing environment, no marketing communications plan is complete without a system for leveraging data to better understand potential buyers and for measuring marketing performance.

Marketing campaigns are no longer the best way to play and organize marketing efforts. For more effective marketing in 2016, think instead about developing a comprehensive, value-driven marketing communications plan.

Top image courtesy of InfoWire.dk via Flickr CC.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.


  1. Hi David

    If I went to any of the CMOs that I regularly work with and told them to stop running marketing campaigns they would think I had had one to many Aperol Spritz the previous evening!

    The truth is that marketing campaigns are going to be with us for many a year to come. That doesn’t mean that they are not going to change though. There are a number of changes that we can already see under way, including campaigns becoming more omni-channel, so that no matter which channel the customer uses each ones knows the customer received the campaign (part of the problem the Forrester quote refers to), Campaigns becoming more contextual, so that the campaign references what the customer is trying to do (another part of the problem). And campaigns becoming more personalised, so that the campaign messaging is all about the customer and not just about the product (the final part of the problem).

    Marketing campaigns are dead! Long live the marketing campaign!

    Graham Hill


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