Marketing operational excellence: Production

In our previous post, we discussed the virtues of building a better upfront planning process to deliver results. Now, we’ll take it a level deeper and look at the campaign production process in detail, from briefing to final approval.

Campaign production includes copy creation, channel selection, and audience segmentation. Each of these components is critical to the success of a campaign, but just as important is efficiently managing these interconnected processes when building and designing the campaign.

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Develop a detailed campaign brief that is universally agreed upon

Think of the production process as the “engine” of your marketing organization—it needs to be running efficiently in order to deliver optimal marketing performance. A well-defined process is required with all parties in agreement.

The campaign brief is the backbone of the campaign and kicks off the production process. It serves as the master document dictating the budget, resources, and processes that will be managed throughout the production, execution, and measurement phases of a campaign. Without a brief, a campaign can incur large amounts of excess work and rework due to lack of a common understanding of the original goal. Consider these tips when creating a campaign brief:

  • Define your audience. The brief should document who the audience will be, the audience’s various profiles, the campaign’s tone of voice, and what you want the audience to think, feel, and do in response to the campaign.
  • Define success. If you cannot explain what success should look like at this stage, then you should not commence work until it’s clearly defined. Measuring success or failure is the only way to improve future campaigns.
  • Be collaborative. Everyone involved in delivering the campaign should contribute to the briefing process in some way, whether it’s reviewing the brief to ensure they can fulfill its requirements or add to its contents.

Identify campaign deliverables and assign ownership

Now that we’ve detailed the elements that should be in the brief, it’s time to discuss the deliverables.

1. The copy and creative
Creativity and structure are often considered opposing forces, and it’s difficult to create the right balance. Many times, deadlines can stifle and interrupt creative thinking. Develop a structure that enables creativity with these tips:

  • Take input. Test your message or creative to a small control group who are uninvolved in the campaign—sometimes, those involved are too close to the campaign and struggle to have an unbiased opinion.
  • Deliver tailored processes. Rather than working from a deadline-based schedule, use an agile framework like a Kanban board. Having too many task trackers can mean huge amounts of administrative work for a creative team.
  • Structured feedback. It’s important that feedback and reviews are consistent and visible to all involved. Without structured feedback, confusion can reign and result in large volumes of rework.
2. Audience segmentation, channel selection, and offer management
These components normally fall into the hands of an analytics teams and need a more specific level of detail that may not be documented in the campaign brief, such as:

  • Will offers, messaging, and creative differ by audience?
  • What is the strategy per channel and does it differ based on audience?
  • What is the personalization strategy for each audience group?
  • Are there real-time triggers to set up based on someone’s engagement with the campaign?
  • What will you A/B test and which is your control group?

It’s important for the analyst to document the components that highlight the alignment of each segment with the correct channel, creative element, and offer. Lastly, they must take spending caps into account so that the budget and strategy are thoroughly thought out.

3. Measurement preparation
Ensuring that all above elements are in place upfront will lead to significant time savings in post go-live measurement and also aids in optimizing the campaign in real time. There is no better feedback than that of your target audience, so make sure you are listening to their signals and can pivot appropriately if required. Key questions to ask about measurement prior to go-live:

  • Are the back-end systems capable of delivering the triggers and metrics required to measure the campaign appropriately?
  • Do you have a plan B if this doesn’t work (very important when you are testing new messaging, creative, channels, or audiences)?
4. Measure the effectiveness of your production process
Finally, measure the efficiency of your production process to identify the bottlenecks and determine how to fix the core issue. Key indicators of efficiency should include:

  • Ease of iterating copy and creative. Avoid too much rework. Revisit the brief to see how you can improve the information flow to enable better deliverables the first time around. Maintain a log of reasons for content rejection or reworks and the new changes that are incorporated.
  • Time from brief approval to final approval. This will vary by campaign type and size, so build benchmarks and measure against them. This will help in identifying process efficiency issues.
  • Planned effort versus actual effort. Effort is often the missing value in most ROI calculations but helps to answer questions like: Is it more effective to use a freelancer or should we do this in-house? A high variance in this measure will identify learnings for future campaigns.

As you begin to build out this level of sophistication into your marketing planning and production process, you may find that there is a breakdown because most still plan in spreadsheets. Learn more in our upcoming webinar to discover how Anaplan helps marketers deliver an effective and efficient operational process.

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