The temptation for anyone working on a promotional strategy for a new product or sales campaign is to shortcut the important planning and strategy steps and jump to tactics.

It usually starts with the boss asking something like, “We need more leads FAST. Can we do a [Fill In Trendy Viral Tactic Here]?”

Yes, it’s important for marketers to be agile and quickly pivot when new needs or opportunities arise, but if we only focus on short-term tactics we risk negatively impacting the program’s long-term success.

If you want your promotional strategy to hit a target you need to know where to aim.

Step 1: Start with your buyer, their needs and challenges

It’s important to think about the buyer both as an individual, and how they are impacted by other challenges within their organization. When you understand WHY they are looking for a solution, it’s a lot easier to work on HOW you can attract them.

If you haven’t put together a buyer persona for your target buyer, this is the first place you should start.

Step 2: Don’t skip the creative brief

Yes, it’s easy to assume that everyone understands the project, but too many times this isn’t the case. Be sure everyone working on the project understands a few important facts.

  1. What is the quantifiable goal you are trying to achieve?
  2. Who is the target audience and what are their motivations?
  3. What does your buyer think about the product or service now?
  4. What do you want them to think?
  5. Why should they, what are the proof points that will back up the message being developed?
  6. What is the personality that your campaign needs to bring across?

Working with an extended team is always easier when you have a plan.

Step 3: Think across channels and tactics

Sometimes senior leadership will ask for specific marketing tactics. These can be the right ones, but it’s also possible that others are a better fit. Your promotional strategy needs to be channel neutral. Maybe a social media contest really is the right fit, but it’s also possible that other promotions like content marketing or even pay-per-click could be better.

Step 4: Have a plan for engagement and nurturing

Many marketers have trouble thinking beyond awareness and website traffic building. While these are critical, it’s more important to think about what happens next. Be sure your plan includes how visitors can be engaged to become leads and nurtured to become sales-ready conversations. Your management team will be much happier talking about sales pipelines rather than just looking at site traffic stats (as awesome as those may be).

Step 5: Know how you will measure success

This last step may be the most important of all. Understand how you will measure success before you get started with any campaign. This includes taking baseline measurements before the campaign, monitoring throughout the campaign and reporting the results afterwards. Having quantifiable results will do wonders for getting management behind you for your next campaign.

Building out a solid promotional strategy takes a lot of thinking and work, but if you follow a few best practice steps at the beginning, the outcome will provide better results at the end of the campaign.