The Ultimate Guide to Launching a Successful Marketing Campaign for Mission-Driven Organizations

One of the leading questions mission-driven organizations have to ask themselves is “How can we get our audience to believe in what we are doing?” For associations, non-profits, and philanthropic-focused companies, it’s pivotal to keep this question top of mind. You need to remind people why they supported your organization in the first place by furthering and promoting your mission. But how do you accomplish this?

Our team has found integrated marketing campaigns to be highly effective in increasing awareness and engagement. From the initial brainstorming to the campaign launch and execution, marketing campaigns for mission-driven organizations can communicate brand value, build recognition for a cause, and promote an event.

What is a marketing campaign?

According to Allie Decker of HubSpot, “Marketing campaigns are like their own brand. They require a mission, a vision, and a visual identity. Great campaigns are an offshoot of their parent brand, both visually and creatively — they stay consistent with the business brand but maintain their own identity.”

Marketing campaigns are a series of connected, strategic efforts designed to achieve specific results. They often include a combination of media aimed to reach an audience including paid media, social media, organic search, email marketing, print advertising, and more.

Successful campaigns do not include every marketing effort your organization is currently working on, but instead have a singular focus on one idea or goal (something we’ll discuss in more detail below).

For example, July 24, 2020, marked the second annual “24/7 Day,” recognizing first responders, medical personnel, American Red Cross volunteers, and other hometown heroes who work around the clock, 24/7/365. The event unites our client, the NACS Foundation, with convenience stores across America to raise awareness and donations for the humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross while supporting local heroes and the communities they serve.

Since 2012, Beyond Definition has been the go-to strategy and creative agency for NACS, ultimately leading the association to select our agency to lead the brand reinvention of the NACS Foundation from the ground up, creating a brand identity, website, and an integrated marketing campaign to launch the brand. We also developed the Foundation’s five program areas, as well as brand identities and operational plans for each. Our team worked with NACS to develop 24/7 Day as the signature event for one of the five program areas, Response Relief, which focused specifically on aiding disaster relief and supporting first responders.

An integrated marketing campaign offered the perfect opportunity to build awareness for 24/7 Day. We helped create, launch, execute, and monitor the 24/7 Day campaign to serve the philanthropic efforts of the Foundation’s members, increase retailer participation, and raise funds for the American Red Cross.

In today’s post, we are going to cover the 24/7 Day campaign with strategic insights to help other mission-driven organizations start thinking about, and eventually launch their own successful campaigns.

Let’s go.

Step 1: Define the Campaign Purpose

The first step of an effective marketing campaign requires in-depth strategic thinking to define your campaign purpose. This involves assessing your unique challenges and opportunities to develop a purpose that will clearly connect the target audience to your campaign mission.

Here are a few crucial questions that need to be answered before the creative and messaging phase can begin:

  • Why are we running this campaign?
  • What do we want to accomplish from this campaign?
  • Who are we targeting?
  • How will we reach this audience?
  • How will we measure the campaign’s success?

Through our initial diagnostic and research process, we knew that an increase in engagement on the 24/7 Day landing page, NACS Foundation website, and social media channels alongside partner activation, donations, and the number of community heroes who acted on retail store promotions were crucial to 24/7 Day’s performance and longevity.

The key is taking your campaign purpose and turning it into a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART). Understanding these principles will guide your team throughout the campaign and set the course of action going forward.

Step 2: Audience Alignment

Great communications strategies depend entirely on how well you can craft a message that will resonate with the target audience. Knowing who you are trying to reach and how you are going to align them with your campaign mission can make or break the success of your marketing.

Based on the communities that 24/7 day would serve and the importance of Red Cross employees, volunteers, and fundraisers, we broke down the target audience into three segments:

General Public: Customers of participating retail stores who would bring social media engagement and inspire donations.

Local Community Heroes: Inspire EMTs, doctors, nurses, 911 dispatchers, police officers, firefighters, Red Cross volunteers, and other first responders and local heroes  to take advantage of in-store offerings from participating retail partners.

24/7 Day Partners: Including any participating retail partners, state associations, supplier partners, and media partners to unite the convenience industry and amplify 24/7 Day efforts.

When thinking about audience alignment, try to define what information you will be sharing with them that will further their mission alongside your brand, the pain points they may be facing, and where the audience fits into your campaign purpose.

Next, we will discuss campaign tactics, which only work if your campaign purpose and target audience have been identified.

Step 3: Layout Campaign Strategy

What is your campaign going to look like?

At this point, you know why you’re running the campaign and who it’s going to target. Now you’re ready to align your internal team to prepare for the public-facing launch.

This is the time to think about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), define the digital channels you are going to utilize, and lay out a campaign timeline. You can also begin working on initial messaging to serve as an overarching campaign theme. Instead of creating an endless list of member benefits, instead focus on the relationship between your audience and the organizational cause to highlight your campaign mission through each phase.

When approaching the campaign strategy for 24/7 Day, we structured everything to spotlight one specific event as well as general awareness for the NACS Foundations first signature program, Response Relief, alongside local community heroes. Therefore,  all of our KPIs were carefully outlined with pre/post event promotions. However, if your organization is looking at something like driving more members to join your association or fundraising for an ongoing philanthropic cause, the campaign strategy will look a little different.

Once you have the campaign blueprint laid out and the concepts idealized, the creative phase can begin.

Step 4: Creative Messaging and Assets

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of building flexibility into your marketing campaign. Creative needs to leave room for quick adjustments on the fly and everyone involved, from the agency to the client,  to be aware of what is happening in the world.

For 24/7 Day, we had to adjust our campaign assets multiple times to account for the COVID-19 Pandemic, ongoing protests over racial injustice, and other considerations from these massive global events.

For example, our 2019 24/7 Day campaign relied on Stock photography picturing first responders from an overview perspective. This year, it was important to recognize the incredible life-saving work being done by those on the front lines of our communities across America and beyond. We shifted the imagery to tie into COVID-19 responders, focusing more heavily on accurate depictions of EMTs, doctors, nurses, and medical personnel than in 2019. This new approach was then incorporated into our creative deliverables.

The creative design and campaign assets should inspire the spirit of your brand and build on the campaigns cause through imagery and copy, taking into account social and cultural movements that directly tie into your mission.

Step 5 : Campaign Distribution and Execution

We have officially arrived at the public-facing part of the campaign. It’s what your audience will see, when they will see it, and how they will see it.

When sharing your campaign, there are several important distribution channels to consider, along with the creative advantages and disadvantages of each:

Paid media is the most straightforward approach. You pay third-party channels to increase your reach. This might include boosted social media posts, paid search, display advertisements, and sponsored content.

Earned media is considered highly credible because it comes from external, unpaid sources. Success with earned distribution can often validate the quality or effort for a piece of content. Many brands seek strong earned distribution options because they drastically improve search engine rankings and the potential for “virality” and authority on a certain topic.

Because 24/7 Day in 2020 built off of a successful campaign in 2019, established a clear audience, and celebrates individuals and partners for their efforts as a community, major media outlets like Forbes covered the event.

Organic media includes referrals, word of mouth, and social media sites. It is essentially the “sharing” of your campaign content.

Owned media refers to publishing your content in a designated space or channel your brand has complete control over. This can include emails, blogs, landing pages, and your website.

Consider tapping into partners, third-party outlets like newsletters and blogs, and other like-minded organizations who share your mission.

Step 6: Monitor and Optimize

Your campaign launch is only the beginning. Now you have to actually drive the engagement, monitor feedback, pivot as new opportunities arise, and determine whether or not the creative assets need to be tweaked. Maybe the call to action isn’t clearly asking your audience to complete your campaign’s goal, or landing pages aren’t converting as much traffic as you had predicted, or a new external event influenced the conversations you’re engaging in.

Measuring and analyzing results as they happen will provide unique insights for how to improve in the moment and over the long-term. With an annual event like 24/7 Day, our team has to look closely at steps that need to be tweaked, removed, or updated to ensure that the 2021 campaign is even more successful.

Step 7: Learn

An entire book could be written on the importance of learning in the days, weeks, months, and even years after a campaign has run. The bottom line is that the post-campaign stage determines your success just as much as the planning stage.

What did you learn? What worked and what didn’t? Are there opportunities to extend the campaign or message with a long-term content strategy? How can you keep the momentum going to further your mission?

Spend time with your internal team reviewing the campaign. Perform competitive analysis and market research to see your campaign’s impact. For mission-driven organizations, a successful integrated marketing campaign can inspire a wave of new members, volunteers, donations, and credibility. The only way to ensure that your campaign actually worked is to measure, assess, and apply your data.

Do You Have Specific Questions About Marketing Campaigns?

Beyond Definition has been serving the needs of mission-driven organizations, associations, and non-profits for over 17 years. If your organization is interested in scheduling an initial discovery call to learn how we can further your mission together, please click here. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter where we provide more strategic insights like this one.

Jonah Malin's headshot

Jonah Malin

Jonah Malin is a creative marketing professional, crafting story-driven content to execute a diverse range of digital, print, and social deliverables.

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