Creative without strategy is called art. Creative with strategy is called advertising.
attributed to: Jef I. Richards
In my experience, campaign deployment can be exciting or overwhelming depending on how you approach the task.
Key Watch Outs
- Quick versus Right
Let me take each of these watch outs individually.
This watch out is all about prioritizing the work and understanding the costs associated with it. I have seen brand budgets get into trouble because the cost of implementation for a new campaign grew exponentially and in non-forecasted ways. One example I can offer is when I worked with the state on deployment of the new Ohio capital attraction campaign. The Department of Development was surprised at the cost of routine collateral replacement (e.g. letterhead, envelopes, printed publications, etc.). The cost was way above the previously allocated budget.
In general, cost and timing are inversely related. If you want the conversion done quickly it will cost you a lot. If you have time for deployment, you can better manage and anticipate the cost. Often, getting time simply means setting the right management and team expectations for when campaign deployment will be completed.
I often recommend a “rolling” deployment versus a “hard cut”. In a rolling deployment, you separate what has to happen right away from what can wait. In management terms, you focus on items in the important and urgent work quadrant (Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix). In my opinion, the website often falls into that quadrant. But, not all of the website necessarily qualifies. I suggest clients focus on the navigation design (this is the long-term structure of your website) and key pages (those the data indicates are visited frequently). Be sure the key pages include those you feel are intended to communicate your brand promise (e.g. the ABOUT page).
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Campaign deployment (particularly when you have multiple partners doing the work) can suffer from inconsistencies in copy and visuals. Part of the reason is that both improve with time. Copy gets better and visuals get more on target, but not every appropriate part of the campaign gets changed in real time. Sometimes, the deployment also suffers from strategy creep. This is the worst type of inconsistency.
Having Brand Guidelines can be a big help. But, you also need to proactively monitor compliance with the Guidelines. I have found a periodic table top review to be an effective process. Essentially this entails your team looking at the work and judging if it effectively communicates the brand promise or not. Obviously, if the work is off strategy (ugh) you direct it to be modified. But, the most important outcome of the process is the team conversation about the brand promise. It helps strengthen understanding and promotes on-going buy-in. Both outcomes help minimize future off strategy execution. The process can be managed via a videoconference or face-to-face. I suggest reviews be held twice annually in the first year and then once a year thereafter.
Nothing is more costly and disappointing than rework. Not only do you pay twice, but also while the execution is wrong it is less effective than it could be. Rework is generally a result of poor communication.
To avoid rework, on complicated changes ask to see and approve draft executions. Be as direct as possible if you feel the work does not effectively communicate the brand promise. Given the challenge you always have in getting the campaign consistent with the brand promise, you shouldn’t be surprised if the deployment has challenges as well.
Be clear on what you want to see and approve in-process versus what you are comfortable waiting until the end to review. There should be no surprises on either your end or the team members end. The added benefit of seeing in-process work is that you will also ensure the timeline is adhered to.
Quick Versus Right
Along the way, you will face decisions of getting something deployed quickly versus getting it done the right way. It might be a matter of too tight a deadline or cost. Whenever possible, opt for doing it right rather than fast. If fast is critical, put the right resources against the work to meet the deadline without sacrificing correctness.