The moment you get approval to spend money on a government advertising campaign can be a time of conflicting emotions…
by Elin Price
On one hand, you’re chuffed to bits that the hard work you put into the business case, the research, the audience segmentation and planning has paid off.
On the other hand, there’s the daunting realisation that you now have to deliver what you laid out, on time, on budget, and whilst doing your day job.
I experienced all of the above when we had our approval in November last year. The decision had been made - we now had to deliver a paid for advertising campaign in the first 3 months of the year, targeting car tax evaders in 12 UK regions.
We had lots of work to do to get this up and running…
…and the hard work didn’t stop when the campaign launched.
Preparing for launch
Marketing campaigns are very much front loaded with a huge amount of the work going into the planning – developing objectives, identifying and segmenting the audience, setting up contracts, and developing the message and the creative.
Before it has even officially launched, a campaign can be a massive investment of resources on team.
But once up and running campaigns needs regular injections of care and attention to keep them running smoothly. Especially when it comes to the no cost activity.
Keeping the momentum going with no cost activity can be a challenge over any sustained period.
But essentially, for campaigns to be the best they can be the investment of time and effort needs to be maintained throughout – however tempting it may be to sit back and watch nice, shiny, paid for adverts pop up on media channels regularly.
No cost challenge
No two campaigns are the same but spending time on developing a plan on how you can sustain the message through non-paid for activity, at the very start, will help when you are suffering from ‘campaign’ fatigue.
Our most recent campaign used PR, our own social media channels, face to face events and stunts and partner endorsement.
Throughout the campaign no one week was the same as we sought to make the most of opportunities, regionalise content and find new ways to get the message over to our audience.
I have to admit, keeping the campaign message going for 3 months was a daunting task, but there were some principles we applied that made this manageable.
Plan out your no cost activity on a weekly basis throughout the length of your campaign. This can help you identify when and where the messages could land and could help you spot any pinch points or key moments. Be realistic with what you can do with your resources and how much you can commit to doing. Making sure that post - launch you have a plan of regular hooks, events, news angles or content will keep the message fresh.
But while it’s good to have a strategy, don’t be afraid to go off plan as the campaign evolves. Sometimes it might not always be appropriate to stick rigidly to what you set out at the start. If events, feedback or the news agenda sparks creativity, or opportunities arise that you didn't foresee - if it fits with campaign aims and objectives then roll with it.
3. Think big
You can always scale it down. Think what could have the biggest impact for your audience and work out what is in your gift, and what you may need to beg or borrow to achieve it.
Share the love with other likeminded organisations in your field, and most importantly, those who are already talking to your target audience. Look for opportunities for them to engage with the campaign, amplify content or provide that valuable third party endorsement. In our case the DVLA is a well known organisation but our partners in the police and councils can have really close relationships with our audience so why not let them deliver our message?
5. Recycle content
A photo of a paid for advert in situ can make a great Instagram post, a vox pop of a stunt could be fab PR or social media content, a relevant awareness day trending could be a perfect chance to recycle previous content. Find creative ways to maximise the value you get from each piece of content.
6. Celebrate success
The effort, planning and resources that go into a campaign can be epic so it can be tempting to flag halfway. Reporting on any insight or evaluation that you can gather throughout the campaign can give teams the momentum they need to keep on pushing through.
Keeping energy and creativity going post-launch to deliver fresh and unique hooks for no-cost messaging is a challenge for comms professionals. But to deliver the best possible return on investment, maximising no cost opportunities and content is key.
A campaign is a marathon not a sprint!
Elin Price is senior external communications lead at the DVLA and you can say hello to her on Twitter at @MissElinPrice
Image via DVLA