Stop MacGyvering your marketing campaigns

By on 31st August 2013

Saying “No” to MacGyvering and “Yes” to professional marketing campaigns

MacGyver paperclip

Does this say “professionalism” to you?

When it comes to marketing campaigns, sometimes it’s tempting to get a little creative with your collateral. But there’s a fine line between leveraging existing material and hacking together a solution from spare parts.

Sure, you put a lot of resources into generating marketing collateral and want to make the most of these investments. But you can’t just “MacGyver” them into a new shape and hope for the best.

You need a plan. A real plan.

Take a long, hard look at your requirements. There’s a real chance that your collateral will not meet these needs on their own. But is it really worth hacking together a solution that looks like it was made out of spare parts?

Issue 1 – Gumming it up

There’s a sudden shift in the market and you need to respond quickly. Searching through your collateral archives, you group together a selection of documents that sort of cover the topic.

But you can’t just rework material and put it in front of the market. Your audience needs a clear message that outlines your response to the shift. Reworking a paper (or worse, using it as a “template”) just gums up communication–with mixed messaging and odd sentences distracting from your narrative.

Instead, it may be better to start from scratch with a clear vision of what you want to say to the target audience. Then you can craft a message that captures the imagination of your audience, and use existing collateral to reinforce the message.

Issue 2 – Rescuing failing ideas

You have an awesome idea for a campaign, but there’s no need for it in the short term. So you shelve it and move on. But then suddenly, there’s an opening! You reach into the recesses of your campaign folder and pull out your concept, only to find it doesn’t quite fit.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to get your pet project to fly as a marketing project!

The main drive behind a marketing campaign is to effect change in the target audience. If your idea isn’t geared directly towards this goal, then there’s a real chance it won’t inspire action from your target audience.

In these cases, it’s better to shelve the project and take a solid look at your requirements, and start from there. Who knows? Maybe your next idea will trump the first!

Issue 3 – Bending the brief

Marketing can be a fluid field of business, and there’s always the danger that a project facing one direction will end up moving toward another.

Logic tells us that we have to be flexible, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of effectiveness. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting a rolling brief unless it’s really necessary—you’ll just end up with a confused creative team.

If there are serious changes, don’t just change the brief and inform the team. If it’s major, scrap it and build a new one. That way you get a campaign that matches your needs, rather than one that “makes use of your previous investments” but doesn’t deliver results.

Issue 4 – Copying plans

There are a lot of cool projects out there. Some of them are sure to be real head-turners—as well as being super-effective. And it’s tempting to, shall we say, emulate their success.

The problem is that people have already seen the other campaign. The audience already knows it exists and associate the campaign’s tone, style and content with the brand that was first to market.

If you copy their campaign, you’re just diluting your own brand with a forgettable replica. And in some cases you might actually be reinforcing your competitor’s message by mimicking their style.

Build your own cool things. Owning that head-space, and making it work for you, will bring you better results over the long-term.

Issue 5 – Plugging broken campaigns

There’s something to be said for refreshing a campaign that’s performed well in the past. But putting valuable resources into a marketing project that doesn’t deliver a return on investment is a hard sell—and for a good reason.

If a campaign is off the mark, there is little point in undertaking an expensive refresh without taking a good look at the root cause. In these cases, just taking it in for a refresh is like painting over the rust on an old car—it may look brand new, but the problems are still there under the surface.

It’s better for your budget and your ROI to take a hard look at the campaign in question and figure out what needs fixing before putting in the time and effort.

You can avoid the gaffer tape

Your channel marketing campaigns make your partners into thought leaders. And by association, they reinforce your position as a market leader.

If a campaign is off message or incomplete, you both look amateurish and inexperienced—a combination guaranteed to put off paying customers.

Instead of taking material and trying to mash it into a usable shape, build with success in mind from the start. Yes, you should consider leveraging existing marketing investments. But unless you’re actually MacGyver and need to build a jet-ski out of a coffin, there’s no need for such a hack-job.

Do it right first time, and you won’t need tape to hold your campaign together—it will stand on its own.

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