Thursday, December 31, 2015

As we end the year 2015 and begin the year 2016, it is an apropos time to remember that finishing strong is a powerful way to propel a great beginning.

In sports, common wisdom dictates that to finish well, you must follow through. Karate experts aim beyond the block when splitting it. Sprinters run through the tape when completing their dash. In golf and racquet sports, participants stroke through the ball for better acceleration and control.

In cyclical endeavors, like marketing communications (marcom), where each end is a beginning, following through is vital to continued success. To build momentum, every marcom initiative is ideally followed by another marcom initiative. Brand awareness does not stop with a PR campaign. An effectively designed website without an ongoing plan to drive visitors to it will not reach or grow its intended audiences. Advertising campaigns will not build audience engagement over time without creative updates.

In essence, great creative marketing communicators find ways to push hard through campaigns to keep extending their end line. Done well, this is what builds momentum!

At Archer, we find there are two critical steps for achieving marketing momentum. The first is strategic planning. It is the critical from the onset of working with a client. Time spent in the planning stage is almost always worth it. Think about it—anytime your team gets off to a bad start, the amount of time lost starting over quickly dwarfs the time spent planning. We recommend strategy sessions be held throughout all client relationships and major campaigns.

The second critical step is the follow through. Let’s take a campaign as an example. We can think of the follow through in terms of the (1) campaign finish, (2) the start of a new campaign and (3) the connection between the two.

1. The campaign finish

Leading up to the campaign finish requires alignment. In order to finish with strength and memorability, your marcom initiatives need to work in unison, each adding affirmation to the other. The lead-up should also contain aspects of an overarching strategy. This will help tie your finishing and starting campaigns together.

2. The new campaign

New campaigns can add excitement, relevancy or freshness. Because people bore easily and are always seeking new experiences, campaigns often need to change. A marketing strategy will go a long way towards successfully launching a new campaign.

3. Connecting the campaigns

You do not need to lose the momentum from your previous campaign when you begin a new one. It is always harder to move an inert object than to build momentum on a moving one.

Shifting a campaign and continually building your brand should also be planned out. That is why it is important to continue some aspect of the previous campaign in the new one. It could be continuity in look, style, or voice. It could be a continuity of media.

In every case, the campaign should clearly be recognized as promoting the same brand. As long as the audience can readily understand that it is the same brand, brand awareness and recognition will gain traction.

So, have you built enough momentum from 2015 and planned enough for 2016 yet?  If not, there is no time like now—and, the process of planning may prove helpful in orchestrating ongoing and future marketing initiatives!