Are you My Marketing Campaign?

My youngest son likes us to read books to him – lots of books.  A new one which dated back to my childhood has recently entered circulation, its called “Are you my Mother?”.  In the read, a young bird is born while its mother is out looking for food.  Let on its own, without a clear vision or definition of what’s its mother is, the chick is left to figure out who or what it’s mother actually is.  After questioning many other creatures, the bird and his mother are happily reunited, bringing the book to close (and hopefully the day for my son).  This story reminds me of some of my clients where I see marketing teams wandering the halls asking “Are you my Marketing Campaign?”  Let me explain.

As I was reading it the other night, witnessing the little bird try to identify that it was a bird,  I couldn’t help but think about how we as marketers struggle with definitions and how we define them.  Just like the little bird, if a team doesn’t have an imprint of how something is defined, a team is left to wander trying to figure out what something means.  Worse yet is when a team THINKS they agree on nomenclature, when in reality, they aren’t even close.

Case in point:  The simple words Campaign.

Marketing Campaign

We throw it around all the time thinking everyone knows what it means (as we all shake our heads in agreement).  In my experience, if 5 marketers are at the table, there is a good chance that each of them will define it differently.

Definition examples:

Pardot is one of the hottest marketing automation platforms on the market today.  (anecdotally I’ve heard they’re closing well over 250 new customers/month).  Within Pardot, every prospect must be a member of a Pardot Campaign.  This is the first campaign that a prospect was touched by.  A prospect can only be associated with one campaign (a one to one relationship)

Now, let’s look at Pardot’s mothership, Salesforce.com.  Salesforce has campaign functionality as well.  I love to use Salesforce.com campaigns for great reports. (this topic for another day).  A prospect within Salesforce can be a member of many campaigns (one to many relationship).  Additionally, a prospect doesn’t have to be a member of a campaign at all.

There is absolutely no relationship between a Pardot Campaign and a Salesforce.com Campaign.  This is a common point of miscommunication when talking about these two platforms.  I’ve often found myself in conversations with Pardot/Salesforce customers, discussing Campaigns in a technology sense, but later realizing that we were talking about two totally separate uses of Campaigns.

Another way to look at campaigns is in regards to marketing outreach.

A campaign can be the umbrella by which you’re using many channels to reach out to engage your audience.  Alternatively, a campaign can be each of the outreach components by which you’re engaging your audience.

Everything clear?

There is no right or wrong answer, this is simply a matter of communication.  Words matter.

As an organization its imperative that you define what key terms mean.  As a best practice, make a glossary for your team to make sure when you’re discussing a campaign, you all mean the same thing.  During that meeting, take a moment to clarify.

The last thing you want is that marketing associate walking around the office with a glazed look on his face saying “Are you my marketing campaign?”