On the Campaign Trail

I recently branched out as a freelancer and worked on a B2B marketing campaign, engaging businesses to join an innovative web-based platform. At first, it seemed a world away from copywriting, editing or proofreading, but it soon became clear there are both transferrable skills involved and valuable crossover lessons.
1. Have a plan
It sounds so obvious, but many freelancers and authors approach a campaign piecemeal, which can lead to confusion (on all sides!) as well as dissipated energy for the tasks.
A spreadsheet really is your best friend here, as you can work out contact dates, organisepropsects (which could also be agents or publishers) based on locality, size of business or genre. One of the great things about spreadsheets is that you can sort data to segment your target audience in different ways.

2. Break down your tasks
Understand the sequence and the depednencies (what needs to happen first) so that each activity flows into the next. If you plan on sending out a pitch letter in month two, you need to have it written, edited and signed off in month one. One solution is to work backwards and ask the question ‘what needs to have happened in order to…’. A word of advice though – make sure you fully appreciate the time required for each stage / task.

3. Work to the objectives
Yay, you have a campaign planned. But what is it intended to achieve? Contact, conversions, sign-ups, brand awareness – they are all very different goals and in each case the plan and tasks need to be tailored to that individual outcome.

4. Be adaptable
Sometimes circumstances change and priorities have to change with them. Time, cost, quality or scope can all alter at short notice, each one of those corners that representation the foundation of your plan will impact on the other three.

5. Know what’s yours
You may be able to influence customers and clients, but you cannot control them. Predicting their choices is a tricky one too. What you can do is present your plan and its benefits (you are selling the benefits, right?) in a way that’s professional, unambiguous and appealing. If you’ve done your research well enough, that should give you a fighting chance.

6. Measure progress and success
You need to know when to change tack, or, even better, if things are going well. What does success look like to you? Is it callbacks, or requests for a full manuscript, or sign-ups for a trial offer?
Conversely, rejections and refusals can be useful. Is your message clear enough? Have you targeted the right audience? Have you sold the benefits?

7. Play to your strengths
Getting in specialists (marketing, copywriters, web designers, tech teams, etc.) is not a sign of weakness or failure. It’s a sign of intelligence. Do what you’re best at and bring others on board if you need to.
Derek Thompson @DerekWriteLines
Columnist, copywriter, and blogger, and more besides.

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