The Death of the Campaign

The campaign mentality is dying. Sounds a little harsh doesn’t it? Maybe not as rash of a statement as you’re used to coming from my fingertips?

But, it’s something I do believe to be true. Why? Because in the traditional sense, a campaign has a starting point and end date. It’s often full of one time recommendations from an influencer who never talks about the brand they’re recommending for a campaign again.

Instead, brands are finding that ongoing relationships with influencers lead to brand advocacy and action from the influencer’s audience. Hence a transition from campaigns to ongoing relationships, real time marketing or other buzz words of choice that all mean one thing—keep in touch with and keep rewarding the influencers who are out there selling your brand.

Whether it’s the guy in the grocery store recommending your cereal or the blogger who is obsessed with your yoga pants or the instagrammer who loves taking pictures of your food—keep the communication going, keep them feeling like a part of your brand and keep rewarding them!

True Word of Mouth Recommendations

84% of consumers make a purchase decision based on a recommendation from someone they know. This doesn’t mean someone whose blog they visited once or saw one tweet from. “Someone they know” is a someone that consumers interact with on a regular basis.

With that said, a true, authentic and organically fitting word of mouth recommendation is one that occurs naturally throughout a blog post or often in a twitter feed. Not just “oh this brand sent me this shirt here is a picture of me wearing it” and then it’s never mentioned again.

This brings about two main criteria that must happen for a word of mouth mention to work:

  1. The consumer must feel some sort of connection with the person giving the recommendation. For example a family member, coworker, close friend or an employee they see regularly at their favorite clothing store or a blogger or social media person that they have opted to follow (opted being key).
  2. The recommender must truly stand behind their mention. This means the recommendation comes up in conversation or in the post when appropriate. It’s not forced. And to cause uber action instead of just a little action, the mention should come up more than once.


Why Campaigns Are Not Sustainable

Campaigns are not a sustainable form of marketing because consumers are simply getting smarter. They are blind to traditional advertisement. It’s usually pretty obvious when a brand pays a blogger to recommend their product once. The blogger never talks about said brand again and the audience doesn’t really think the blogger actually cares about the product.


When an influencer talks about a product or brand on an ongoing basis and weaves it in to their content organically, authentically and passionately, the influencer’s belief in  the brand becomes apparent. Thus, the consumer actually TRUSTS the recommendations. And we all know that a trusted recommendation leads to purchase decisions.

A “campaign” with a start and stop date doesn’t usually embrace the concept of ongoing relationships. And we’re starting to see a transition in the way we reach consumers making the popularity of in house marketing, long term relationships with agencies and the use of influencer identification platforms like GroupHigh popular

Consumers Are Part of Your Brand

Influencers and consumers are no longer an extension of your brand, in fact they are absolutely part of it. Think about the tweets that go out when a consumer is uber unhappy or happy about something a brand did.

Brands can’t ignore consumers and pick and choose who they interact with and how. Everyone has a voice so use this to your advantage and tune these voices to say pretty things about your brand.

Marketing and digital PR tactics should be ongoing strategies and influencers should be continually communicated with. Here are some popular ways to keep advocates and influencers feeling like they are part of your brand:

  • Send product from your brand on an ongoing basis
  • Have your influencers on an email list where they learn brand information before the rest of the world
  • Ask them for their feedback on decisions concerning the brand
  • Send infographics, research, etc to insert in to their posts when relevant
  • Make them feel as if they are part of the brand’s inner circle
  • Don’t forget your “thank you’s!”


Who’s Embracing Ongoing Relationships?

I learn best by example. Someone can type stats to me and lecture to me until they are blue in the face about how campaigns are no longer the effective tactic but I gotta see it in action before I’m in. So if you’re like me check out these posts on campaigns who are truly grasping real time marketing.

You should really check out how Char-Broil does it, these guys give me the warm and fuzzies.

I love Hubspot not only to learn marketing tactics but to also witness their very very good marketing tactics. I’ve never been pitched their software yet I follow their blog and use them as a go to resource for all things in-bound marketing. When it comes time for me to purchase a marketing platform, who do you think I’d pick?

GUESS has a team who specifically promotes their watches while working with a network of 60 bloggers they’ve curated to promote their products. “Bloggers have been major for our brand. They have really given a personal voice to the brand that is genuine and varied and exciting to keep up with. It has really set us apart. Lots of brands work with bloggers but not to the level that we do,” explained Kate Neary, Social and Community Manager for GUESS Access. To keep the bloggers on board and to create a mutually beneficial relationship with the bloggers, GUESS compensates them well for their valuable word of mouth recommendations. They send them free watches for review and they often send out random gifts to their network of bloggers.

I want to hear your thoughts on such a bold statement. Campaigns, are they in or out? Please share in the comments below and cheers to a great discussion!

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