The Making of a Successful Marketing Campaign

The Making of a Successful Marketing Campaign

Marketing is essential for every company. Far from a temporary or stand-alone effort, marketing strategy is part of a long-term plan to achieve a company’s goals. With modern advances in technology and communication, it is especially important for a company’s marketing campaign to be well planned, yet flexible, to ensure success.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a process undertaken by a company or an individual to increase an audience’s interest in a product, service or idea. A marketing campaign may be reactive, such as when a company is struggling with sales of a new product and wants to determine why it is underperforming. Alternatively, it may be proactive, for example when a company wants to understand the current market before introducing a new service. Marketing can also be aimed at consumers or other businesses.

How is Marketing Different from Advertising?

Though sometimes used as synonyms, advertising is different from marketing. Whereas marketing encompasses the entire process of identifying company and market demands and how to meet them, advertising refers to efforts taken to promote a company and its services and products.

The Marketing Process


The marketing process begins with research and analysis to determine the current needs, wants and resources of the consumer. This may include reviewing what a competitor is offering or looking at one’s company to determine what has succeeded or underperformed in the past. What have customers said they would like from the company? Are there any current products or services that may be improved by new technology or knowledge?


After researching and analyzing information gained from past products or services, a company will then establish goals for the future. They will determine what impact they want marketing to have on customer sales, company reputation, market activity, etc. The goal of a marketing campaign will ultimately be to provoke a customer response, whether it is interacting with a social media post, completing a sale or visiting the company website.

Many businesses adopt SMART goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. A SMART guideline is one way to ensure that a marketing plan achieves its goals and that data gathered can help a team understand what was beneficial or not. If a marketing plan is not meeting goals, then adjustments may be necessary. Marketing must be flexible to shifts in culture, advertising norms and communication, so the message will have an effective impact on those interacting with it.


Once a company establishes their goals, a marketing team will decide the best way to meet those goals. Depending on volatility or unexpected factors within the market, plans can be set for the short or long term. They may also be influenced by current events, anticipated reactions from competitors, or policy changes that might come into effect within this time frame. For example, a company may design a marketing plan that incorporates a recent viral video or criticizes a well-publicized gaff by their competitor. Other teams within the company will work with the marketing team to help create budgets and timelines, provide feedback, and ensure regulatory requirements.

Some marketing campaigns rely upon a call to action (also known as CTA), which is a message that calls on the audience to respond a certain way. A CTA will tell a customer what they should do (e.g. “call now” or “visit a store to learn more”) and then provide motivation for why that action should be done promptly (e.g. “supplies are limited” or “this offer ends soon”).

Other marketing campaigns might be more subtle, such as promoting a company’s involvement within the charity sector so the public thinks more favorably about the company and its products. Another example is a funny and memorable advertisement that contains little information about the company. Such examples of marketing do not have an explicit CTA, but they are intended to influence a person’s willingness to engage with the company and discuss its services and products with others.


A marketing team will work to implement the plans created in the previous step. This may include collaborating with other companies and organizations to ensure widespread accessibility. Within this stage, teams will measure the ongoing reaction to their marketing campaign and determine if changes are necessary. Specific responsibilities and data points will be set so the success of the campaign can be tracked and measured. Project management tools may be utilized to track duties and timelines.


During and following a marketing campaign, the team will analyze data to determine effectiveness. If the intention was to increase sales, a company will track sales data, remove extraneous factors and discover correlations between the marketing plan and consumer behavior. Additional research may be required at this step, such as with focus groups who can speak directly about their impressions of the marketing campaign. A marketing team will reflect upon the successes and failures of the campaign, as well as the lessons learned.

Examples of successful marketing campaigns

‘Just Do It’

The famous swoosh logo was upgraded by Nike in 1988 as part of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign. The trademarked phrase appeared under the company’s logo and went hand-in-hand with testimonials from famous and aspiring athletes who spoke about their accomplishments and motivations when it came to exercising. Customers contacted Nike in droves to share their own inspirational stories, athletic and otherwise.

Though the campaign did not explicitly tell consumers to do anything, it did share an emotionally driven message that connected with customers’ hopes, dreams and success. That led to customer engagement and a tenfold increase in sales in the ten years after this marketing campaign. Today, the brand is worth over $26 billion.

‘Got Milk?’

The California Milk Processor Board launched this campaign in 1993 to increase sales and milk consumption. Not only did the phrase become a common household phrase, but sales went up 10% after the campaign started.

The success of the infamous ads were attributed to the feelings they created in customers — the sense of distress one feels when they do not have milk for their cereal or to dunk a cookie in. Celebrity endorsements and widespread pictures of milk mustaches helped inspire consumer purchases and made this campaign one of the most successful and well-known in history.

‘Daisy Girl’

A political ad that aired in 1964, the ‘Daisy Girl’ commercial is credited with winning Lyndon Johnson the US presidential election. After opponent Barry Goldwater expressed a willingness to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam, this ad capitalized on public fears. A little girl counts down while picking petals off a daisy, but her voice is replaced by a man counting down to the launch of a nuclear bomb.

The controversial ad was immediately pulled but nonetheless discussed and rerun on news programs across the country. The ad did not mention Goldwater’s name, but viewers understood it represented the consequences of him becoming president. As a result, Johnson won in the largest landslide in over a century, despite polling from before the ad indicating that he did not have a sizable lead.

‘Get a Mac’

The call to action of this campaign is within the name, but the explicitness did not deter consumers. Apple’s marketing campaign in 2006 not only won the company awards but also led to a 42% increase in market share and boosted sales by 36% within a year. A chair of the Grand Effie Awards noted the ads portrayed the Mac/PC rivalry “with humor, class, and honesty without falling into the trap of overtly negative competitive advertising.”

‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’

When research revealed that the Old Spice brand was seen as old-fashioned, the company launched a marketing campaign to show it could be youthful and fun. A TV ad featured a charismatic former-NFL player and promised women that they would have a luxurious life if their men used Old Spice products like he did.

Though a tongue-in-cheek claim, consumers reacted positively. Old Spice’s Facebook and Twitter accounts gained thousands of young followers, and the company responded with personalized, in-character videos. Old Spice’s willingness to engage with customers is seen as key to the success of this campaign. As a campaign writer said: “No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through.”

Qualities of a successful marketing campaign

As evidenced in the examples above, successful marketing campaigns share many qualities. During the research stage, a company will collect accurate and comprehensive data about the current market and the potential for a marketing campaign’s impact. When setting goals, a marketing campaign will foster open communication with all relevant parties to determine what is realistic and appropriate.

Planning a marketing campaign requires psychological and cultural insight to predict what sort of message would best allow the campaign to meet its goals. It requires developed organizational and time management skills, so each step of a campaign will be delivered at the correct time and place — and on budget.

However, it also demands a high level of creativity and flexibility so the campaign’s message will stand out from the competitors’. Often, this means triggering a specific emotional response in the consumer so they are motivated to engage with the campaign’s brand. Finally, when evaluating the results of a marketing campaign, a company needs a firm grasp of data analysis to determine how to further capitalize on successes or cut any losses if it is a failure.

Marketing as a career

Individuals working in the marketing industry often prepare for the role through education and training. Lower-level positions require a relevant bachelor’s degree, but higher-level roles demand more advanced education. Some marketing professionals transition into the industry after a career change to marketing

A typical curriculum for a master’s in marketing might include courses on strategy and planning, content creation, the use of technology, effective communication and public relations. Such degrees can be taught online and may include particular specialties. St. Bonaventure University, for example, offers an Online Master of Arts in Communication — Integrated Marketing Communication, with specialties in content marketing and integrated marketing.

Due to the wide variety of skills required for a marketing campaign, individuals can come from diverse backgrounds such as sales, communications, management, administration, data analysis, finance and IT. Subject matter experts, whether they specialize in a product, service or population, are also in demand when completing research and analysis. Since globalization allows marketing campaigns to reach increasingly wide and more diverse markets, a mix of perspectives are necessary for success.

Careers in marketing have a bright future. From 2021 to 2031, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19% increase in the number of market research analysts. The number of public relations and fundraising managers will grow by 10%, and there is an expected 10% increase in marketing managers. This is in comparison to the national average of 0.5% annual growth for the overall economy. Wages in marketing are also competitive. The national mean wage in 2022 for all jobs was approximately $62,000, whereas marketing specialists earn nearly $80,000 per year, and managers can earn upwards of $160,000 annually.

How marketing strategies have changed

With technology rapidly changing in recent years, marketing campaigns are forced to learn and adapt. Social media have allowed more direct and intimate interactions between companies and their consumers. This has allowed consumers to have more of a voice in reaction to marketing campaigns, and public opinion can easily be swayed by the voice of influencers or bloggers.

In the past, companies were in control of the information about their products and services, but there are more sources of information and opinions now. This makes it difficult to control the narrative of a marketing campaign when others may be seen as equally credible. Additionally, it can be challenging for companies to reach a broad audience since media, journalism and communications have decentralized and expanded in scope.

A marketing campaign may require more research, advertising and evaluation to determine how a message can permeate each of these separate communities. This may benefit a company if they are able to personalize their message in a way that resonates with each community — however, it may come across as pandering or tokenism if done without sincerity or proper understanding.

Since communication has grown faster, companies can now monitor the immediate reaction to marketing campaigns rather than wait for the evening news or the next day’s paper. Successful campaigns, such as the one created by Old Spice above, take advantage of this and interact consistently and promptly with consumers. With the introduction of websites and online resources, companies can invite customers to interact with a brand with very little effort.

Generational differences have also impacted marketing as companies target different groups. Younger populations are less loyal to brands and place more emphasis on social media and online information than older generations. In contrast, millennials prioritize messages that support environmental or social causes and prefer authentic messaging over the recommendation of professionals or influencers. Generation X is generally more nostalgic, change-averse, and skeptical of brands. Baby boomers and older generations have more discretionary income and tend to be loyal to brands and more interested in products or services that offer support or insurance against the unknown. As each group’s needs and wants shift over time, marketing campaigns have adapted to match this.

The future of marketing

With potential advances in artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology, marketing strategies will undoubtedly be forced to change and develop in the future. Successful campaigns will also take advantage of the growing diversity in consumer populations and craft messages that resonate with the unique emotional experiences of each generation. And with improvements in data collection and analysis, companies will be even better poised to learn from the past and improve in the future.


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