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Planning Your Campaign

Pull together your defined strategies and validated messaging to create specific tactics to reach, activate, and optimize audiences by using media placements, creative execution, data collection, and reporting.

In this phase of work, you’ll develop the plans, assets, and infrastructure that will be implemented during campaign production. This includes media planning, partnership development, creative development, and tracking & reporting planning.

Key activities include the identification of recommended media partners, placements, and costs; extending the winning creative concept into the different formats required by the media plan (banner ads, emails, etc.); and aligning tracking and reporting requirements.

Everything developed in this phase will be executed during Production.

Why it matters

These tactical elements serve as your campaign’s infrastructure.

How it works

Four campaign components happen in parallel:

1. Media Planning

Using the strategic approach and media channels defined in your communication strategy, a detailed “media plan” is developed. The media plan details how long your campaign will run, the specific properties (such as Facebook, local TV stations, radio channels, etc.) on which you will run, the placements where you will appear, the creative assets that will be required, and how your budget for paid media (if you have one) will be spent.

You also want to gather all creative production specifications (“specs”) for all media placements and add them to the creative brief. This information will be used during production.

2. Partnership Development

Most organizations have relationships with a network of partners and community-based organizations. These partners likely serve the same constituents you are trying to reach, and they can serve as a great resource to help amplify your marketing message.

Develop a list of potential partners and conduct outreach to understand their willingness and ability to support your campaign, their required timing, and the formats and assets they can use. For example, can they send out a blast email, post on social media, post a physical flier, or include a blurb in an upcoming newsletter?

Pro Tip

It is not unusual for 20% of the partners to generate 80% of activity. Sometimes you have to do a wide test to identify who will generate the most volume, but if you have a good sense up front who that will be, consider focusing initial efforts on the top providers and then expand to more partners over time.

3. Creative Development

Your final creative concept will now be translated into different formats based on what is required by your media plan. That could include transforming – or “translating” – your creative concept into billboards, website banner ads, social ads, emails, radio spots, etc.

It could also include creating landing pages or a microsite that capture traffic from your campaign and focus your audience on taking the desired action (such as registering for a program).

Your final creative concept should serve as the foundation for all campaign creative assets. Doing so ensures your audience experiences a consistent message and experience across all campaign touchpoints (ads, emails, etc.) they interact with.

Pro Tip

Remember that the more things you try to communicate in an ad, the less anyone will remember. Each creative asset only needs to do one thing: help nudge your audience forward in their journey. The individual creative assets work together to tell a complete story. No single asset should be expected to do or say everything.

4. Data, Tracking, and Reporting

Before planning out how you will set up campaign tracking and reporting, it’s important to take a big step back and remind yourself of your campaign’s marketing objectives – what is it you are trying to get your audience to do? This will determine what actions you track and what you will report on.

During discovery, you developed and aligned with your stakeholder on your marketing goals, and the metrics you will use to evaluate your success in achieving them. You now need to determine how you track those metrics, how you will report on and analyze those metrics, and how you will optimize your campaign to perform against those metrics.

The identification of what needs to be tracked and how you will be tracking it will be actioned in the next phase when you produce your campaign.

  • Campaign “actions” that need to be tracked. Based on your campaign’s marketing goals, what are the actions you are asking your audience to take? Is it to visit a website, register for a program, or call a phone number? Whatever the action that you are asking your audience to take, and that has been identified as a “metric for success,” will need to be tracked and tied back to your campaign’s activity. Make a list of all the actions that need to be tracked to share with your web development or analytics teams to implement during production.

    There are many website analytics platforms that can be used to track digital activity, and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. The Office of Innovation uses Google Analytics 4 for our campaigns as it is relatively easy to use and the free version supports basic analytics needs.

  • How campaign performance data is set up and delivered. A campaign performance dashboard should make it easy for you to see at a glance how your campaign is performing against your goals and tell you a story about what is driving the performance. Take that big step back and ask yourself: if the report could only tell me one thing, what would that be? That is where your report starts.

    As an example, if your marketing goal is to increase registrations to your program over the year before, your report would start with that number: a year over year percent increase. That could be followed by the total number of registrations generated that month, then a channel breakdown of where the registrations were coming from, and perhaps a look at the creative assets there were generating registrations.

    Traditional detailed campaign performance reporting is still critical as a mechanism to understand (and optimize) the tactics that are driving performance against campaign goals. These details are critical for the people responsible for analyzing campaign performance and making changes to campaign set-up to improve performance.

How long it takes

3-4 weeks.

Media Planning, Creative Development, and Data, Tracking, and Reporting can happen in parallel.

Often this work can be done in as quickly as 2 weeks. However, if you are building out a new digital experience (website or landing page) the tracking and reporting work may take a bit longer depending on how far along the digital experience planning and production is.

If you are in a time crunch, identify which creative assets need to go first and prioritize their build. That way, you can launch with the most important placements/assets first and rollout with everything else as soon as they are available.

Do it in a day

Focus on channels and assets that require very little lead time such as paid search, social (paid ads as well as your own social media presence), and your email list to develop a quick plan and creative treatments within a day.


  • Media Plan
  • Data & Reporting Requirements
  • Approved creative treatments for all formats required by the media plan

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