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The Kick Off

Every initiative, project, or campaign starts with a kick-off meeting where contributors and decision-makers involved with the marketing campaign get to know each other, define objectives, and align on engagement parameters.

The kick-off meeting is the first step in getting your marketing campaign off the ground. It is a one-hour meeting where contributors and decision-makers get to know each other, define objectives and timing, and align on engagement parameters.

Activities include information gathering, discussion, and agreement on campaign parameters that are documented in the Campaign Brief, Project Plan, and Discovery Questionnaire. If there are outstanding decisions coming out of the kick-off, additional meetings will need to be scheduled to work through and align.

Outputs from the kick-off are a completed Campaign Brief, Project Plan, Discovery Questionnaire, and team roles and responsibilities documentation. The documents from the kick-off will determine the timing, requirements, and ways of working to be followed for the rest of the campaign.

Why it matters

The decisions and alignments made in this meeting clear the path to successful campaign development.

How it works

Decision-makers involved with the marketing campaign (your stakeholders) are brought together to kick off campaign planning. An agenda is shared that guides the conversation and facilitates decision-making. The following is discussed and agreed upon:

1. Define Objective

Objective setting is the most important, and often hardest, part of the conversation. To help make things easier, we break objectives down into two separate categories: Impact and Marketing.

An impact objective speaks to what the specific outcome that the initiative or program is working to achieve. For an existing program or initiative, this is often something like increasing uptake of the program or service. It can focus on changing behaviors (e.g., decreasing smoking) or driving improved outcomes (e.g., securing a higher-paying job).

For a new program or initiative, it’s often generating first-time use or enrollment.

A marketing objective supports your initiative’s impact objective. Marketing objectives often prioritize creating awareness and driving specific actions. For example, a marketing objective could be sending traffic to a digital or physical location and generating leads (people who provide their contact details in exchange for information). The marketing objective is what you need your audience to do to drive your impact objective.

For programs that are “high consideration”—meaning your program requires your audience to take multiple steps, takes a lot of time to complete the process, and/or there may be multiple people involved in decision-making—the marketing objectives need to take into account each step in the process. For example, creating awareness about a program, driving leads of residents that are interested in the program, and generating lead “conversions” where the resident actually enrolls in the program.

Your defined marketing objectives will ultimately determine the “call to action” (CTA) used in your campaign. For example, if your goal is to create awareness with your audience about a new program, your CTA could be “learn more.” If you are trying to drive enrollments in your program your call to action would be “enroll now.”

2. Establish Target Audience

Your target audience is who you want to market or promote the program, product, or service to. Alternatively put, it’s the resident you intend to serve.

A target audience should be defined by a combination of demographic and psychographic information. The more specific the definition of the target audience, the more effective the targeting and messaging will be in reaching and activating them.

For programs with eligibility requirements, you may want to tailor your outreach to likely eligible populations. In those cases you can use demographic information to target media placements to reach residents with similar characteristics of those who qualify.

Demographic information used for media targeting includes criteria such as gender, age, race, marital status, income, household makeup, education, and employment status. Here are two examples of what demographics could look like:

  • Adults 18+, Household Income (HHI) >$50k, high school graduate, unemployed.
  • Moms with young kids at home, <$100k, high school or college graduate, employed

Psychographic information provides insight into your audience’s attitudes, interests, values, and goals. These insights are combined with demographic data to create a well-rounded picture of your target audience. Uncovering psychographic insights is a big part of what happens during the Discovery phase (this comes next) but you might already have a few of these insights in your back pocket.

Examples of psychographics could include things like:

  • Don’t “see” themselves as being the kind of person that accepts support
  • Relies heavily on fast food/takeout due to time constraints
  • Family plays a big role in their lives

3. Confirm Campaign Budget

Not every initiative has a marketing budget, but it’s still important to ask the question. When a rationale needs to be given to secure a budget, scenarios can be developed that help stakeholders understand how different levels of spending can be used to support their initiative’s goals.

Budgets should account for resources needed to:

  • Develop and produce creative assets
  • Purchase and place paid media
  • License marketing technology required to track, deploy, and report campaign performance
  • Conduct research, including compensating respondents
  • Account for other non-media expenses professional services

4. Align on Team Member Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder should be identified. Typically, this involves executive sponsors who are periodically updated on progress, and working members who collaborate to move development forward.

If team member roles and responsibilities aren’t immediately clear, it can be helpful to schedule a separate meeting to complete a responsibility chart, commonly known as a RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed). Collectively working through this framework will ensure all team members are aligned on their respective roles and responsibilities.

Meeting cadence and communication methods should also be discussed and agreed upon to set everyone up for success moving forward.

5. Identify Resources to Engage

The resources you use to staff your campaign management and execution will depend on your organization’s capabilities and ways of working. Some organizations have “in-house” teams that can develop and execute marketing campaigns from start to finish, others have a few core team members that are supplemented with external consultants, and others engage a full-service vendor to handle everything for them.

Resources to identify include:

  • Project management
  • Strategy development
  • Procurement coordination
  • Research planning and execution
  • Creative (copywriting, art direction, and production)
  • Media planning and execution
  • Tracking implementation and reporting set-up
  • Legal review

The RACI document (see point #4 above) will help you identify any gaps in your available resources that need to be filled.

It is especially important to make sure you have access to skilled creative professionals (art director + copywriter) who will bring your message to life with compelling, activating creative executions. Some of the best “creatives” only work on a consulting basis, so there is a great pool of talent that can be drawn from when you need it. Your agency may have consultants offering this service on retainer, or a list of consultants that are okay to use.

6. Define Success Measurement

It is extremely important that “metrics for success” are defined up front so you will know if your efforts are working. This means deciding what numbers you will look at to understand how your campaign is performing against defined goals. Those results are used to make decisions to optimize campaign performance.

Your success metrics should directly align with both your impact and marketing objectives.

Marketing metrics can be used to automatically optimize a campaign’s performance and to inform strategic decisions. Marketing metrics often include things like:

  • Conversion rate
  • Total number of conversions
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)

Impact metrics often can’t be assessed until after a marketing campaign has ended. That’s because impact objectives can take a long time to realize, and it’s not possible to optimize a media campaign in real time if the true results won’t be available until months after the campaign ends. In those cases, success can be evaluated against the achievement of defined marketing goals.

For example, your program might provide underemployed adults with training to help them land a higher paying job. Your impact goal is to improve the economic outcomes of the adults you help train, but your marketing goal is generating registrations for the program that helps them get the training. By generating registrations for your training program you are contributing to the improvement of economic outcomes for the people who participate.

How long it takes

Two weeks. The initial meeting takes about an hour, but you may need follow-up conversations if there isn’t initial alignment or tough decisions to be made. Of course, scheduling can always be challenging too.

If your stakeholders are clear on the need to gather and attendees are empowered to make decisions, the kick-off meeting can be quick and easy. It often takes a few conversations to gain full alignment.

We recommend allocating two weeks for this process.

Do it in a day

Teams are busier than ever and it can be a real struggle to find an hour when everyone who needs to be in the room is available. To help accelerate the process, try gaining alignment among stakeholders over email, and shrink the meeting length to 30 minutes (or even 15) to make it possible to meet quickly and align on what the team is working towards and how.


Several key artifacts are produced from the kick-off that document agreed-to campaign parameters. Outputs include:

  • Kick-off Meeting Agenda - a framework to facilitate your first team discussion
  • Campaign Brief - a document that defines the campaign’s objectives, target audience, target launch date and executional parameters (i.e., brand requirements to be followed or if there are known deliverables that will need to be produced).
  • Project Plan - a document that defines the deliverables needed to get to launch, who will be responsible for delivering them, and by what date.
  • Discovery Questionnaire - a document that solicits additional detail and context from the product/program leads to inform the development of the new marketing campaign.
  • RACI (to come) - a framework to identify and document team roles and responsibilities.

Everything that happens next will build on what has been decided in the kick-off and should not deviate from what has been documented. The documents will continually be referred back to over the course of campaign development so it’s important they are accurate and aligned on by all stakeholders.

If there are future changes to a campaign’s parameters (such as adding budget, changing timing, etc.),these documents should be updated and recirculated to project stakeholders.

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