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  • Gary

The three-legged stool

Fifty years ago, David Ogilvie famously commented, "I know half of my advertising is wasted; I just don't know which half." Today, the real-time nature and granular metrics associated with digital marketing allow us to manage and maximize campaigns like never before.

So today, with all the data available and the ability to pause or augment campaigns, why don't all marketing initiatives succeed? The answer is rooted in the fact that time-tested marketing disciplines still apply. Here is the recipe to a successful marketing campaign.

This is something I've seen proven in my thirty-five year career in marketing, advertising, sales and management. Think of a three-legged stool. A stool can support your weight and be useful, if the legs are correctly sized and placed in the right spots. If we consider the seat of the stool representing a successful marketing campaign, what do the three legs that support the stool represent? Audience, Schedule and Creative.

Audience. You must correctly identify your target audience of potential customers, prospects, donors, etc...

Schedule. You must have enough budget (either through cash or in-kind advertising) to generate the minimum reach and frequency among your target audience that historically results in success.

And creative. Your creative must speak to your target audience.

If any one "leg of the stool" is not maximized, your campaign will either fail or not reach its full potential. Consider... You can have all the money in the world (Schedule), have the most polished creative, but if you don't get it in front of the correct audience, your campaign will not succeed. If you have all the money in the world and have targeted your market perfectly, but your creative doesn't speak to them, your campaign will not succeed. You can target your market excellently, have killer creative but you don't have the budget to hit the minimum reach and frequency requirements, again you're out. And now you can see all the rest of the permutations and combinations that will not result in success.

But... When all three legs of the stool are maximized and you are advertising or promoting on established digital marketing platforms (and the campaign is being actively and professionally managed), your campaign will succeed.

Now obviously, there is a lot of detail and expertise associated with finding a need in the market, devising a successful, creative campaign and executing it. But, the three legged stool is a truism. Consider your past campaigns that didn't succeed or didn't reach its full potential... I bet you can isolate one (or more) of the legs of the stool that weren't fully optimized. And take heart... Now that you understand the truth and power associated with the concept of the three-legged stool, your future campaigns will benefit.

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