How to know when to start a new campaign vs. evolve an existing one?
Marketers are often faced with a decision when approaching seasonal campaigns: revolution or evolution. With increased demands on marketing department resources, budgets and media requirements we're often asked, "Is this the season we should do something new?" We've got six questions to ask yourself that should reveal the answer for you.
When it comes to planning seasonal campaigns, marketers are often faced with two options for how to approach them: revolution or evolution. With increased demands on marketing department resources, budgets and the needs of the various owned, earned and paid channels it can make the task of creating a new campaign from scratch seem like a tall mountain to climb. It’s a big decision and one we’re asked about regularly by our clients, “Is this the season we should do something new?”
The usual answer we give is “ it depends” and in full transparency, as a creative agency we don’t really have a preference in either direction. The good news is we’ve got six questions to ask yourself that should reveal the answer for you.
1. Business direction
Ideally, this would be the only question you’d need to ask yourself. Has your business direction changed since your last campaign. Has your offering evolved, your target audience changed, your competitors introduced something you should respond to? Has your industry experienced an upset or an issue you should address? Is the world a different place, caring about different things since your last campaign. The more of those questions you answer “yes” to, the more likely you should be looking to start with a fresh campaign.
Let’s be honest though, while the business landscape should dictate this quest, money speaks volumes, and usually the “stay the course” or “start from scratch” questions are spurred by the assumption that an evolution of a previous campaign is simply cheaper than creating something new. Although this can be the case as you can often streamline or simplify the concepting portion of campaign development and lean into your already developed concept, the amount of creative concepting and development required to create fresh executions that fit into an existing campaign while leveraging new insights can be just as much as starting from scratch. Often times, creating a new campaign with smaller budgets in mind can be more effective than trying to apply a smaller execution budget to a big budget campaign.
3. Campaign Performance
Was last year’s campaign the best performing campaign you have ever put in-market? If so, it might seem tempting to simply re-use that campaign and keep the good times rolling. In scenarios like this, it is always good to dig in and understand the WHY behind the success of a previous campaign. Was it simply an incredibly topical campaign developed on relevant insights? Was it extremely aligned to your brand and therefore resonated with your audience? Changes in your brand or the insights that are leveraged to develop the campaign might mean that this isn’t a slam dunk. Alternatively, if the insights are solid, expanding on that same concept and the strong insights could be a great case for staying the course.
4. Creative Fatigue
Today’s media landscape is putting incredible demands on the amount of content needed and the frequency associated with its exposure. It can be very easy to burn through creative at a pace that is will verge on boring, or worse, irritating your audience. A fresh campaign breathes new life into the creative, allowing you to engage audiences with a more relevant message. If you decide the campaign concept remains relevant, we’d still recommend freshening your messaging and visual assets. At the same time, make sure it isn’t just you that is sick of looking at that one image. Evaluate the exposure to your audience carefully. They’ve usually seen it a lot less than you have.
When you created the previous campaign was there an intention that there would be room for the campaign to grow over several years? With proper campaign planning, you can tackle more complex storytelling over multiple year’s worth of marketing executions, all while bringing your audiences along for the ride. Didn’t think that far ahead last year? Maybe this is the chance to lay the groundwork and architect a campaign that will span the next couple of seasons.
6. Lack of strategy or insight
Maybe you just don’t have any new information from last year and are feeling as though the campaign brief will simply be the exact same as previous years. Although this could also just be an excuse for being lazy, if you’ve dug in for relevant insights, and nothing has changed, resist the desire to change for change’s sake. Continuity is far better in the absence of a strategy.
These six considerations are the starting points in which we help guide the majority of our clients asking these questions. Each campaign and situation will have its own answers, but having a solid understanding of how each of these will impact your campaign decisions should help set you up for success.