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Why Campaigns Fail

There are any number of reasons why campaigns fail—from underfunding to bad timing. However, the biggest reason is often an insufficient messaging runway.

Before diving in, let’s clarify what a campaign means. For the purposes of this post, we’re thinking of campaigns as any extended effort intended to get a specific group of people to take an even more specific call-to-action (CTA). Some examples:

  • A concerted effort to increase newsletter subscribers, social media followers, or event attendees.
  • An end-of-year fundraising campaign for nonprofits or a sales push in the case of for-profits.
  • Regardless of what your organization does, it’s unlikely it is immune to having campaigns fail.

Campaigns are all about moving people from one place in their thinking to another. From not wanting to donate money to actually doing it, and from not knowing about a new product to buying it. See our recent post, “Having Patience with Your Message,” for an example of a typical journey on the road to a yes!

No matter how compelling the prose, no matter how eye-catching the visuals, all successful campaigns have one thing in common: their messages have been given ample runway to fly successfully into the world.

Just as airplanes cannot go from ground to air immediately, campaigns cannot start with the CTA. Here’s how your campaign’s runway sets it up for success:

  • The first 1,000 meters answer the question, who is this organization?
  • The next 1,000 generally explain why your organization does what it does.
  • The third segment gets into the differentiation of how you do what you do in a way that is relevant and competitively differentiated from all the other options people have.
  • The last segment before take-off is your organization’s personality attributes—the emotional undercurrents of your message that speak to your prospects’ emotional wants.

Once in the air, your campaign’s content can align with your specific call-to-action by:

  • Explaining the need
  • Articulating an urgency
  • Specifying the offer or ask
  • Inspiring action!

Not having a proper runway is why campaigns fail. Just think about it. How often have you bought something or donated to an organization without knowing any of those segments of the messaging runway? CAVEAT: Purchases made on Instagram after one too many glasses of wine do not count. Or, so I’ve heard.

Before investing significant time and money into a campaign, ensure you have the proper runway for it to fly.

Not sure how? Let’s talk. We can walk you through steps you can take on your own or with our help.

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