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10 tips to evaluate your new marketing program

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Have you seen the new “ship my pants” ad from Kmart? The TV spot has gone viral and been featured on CNN and The Today Show. Kmart’s ad agency Draftfcb Chicago proposed the spot, which sounds a lot like what happens when you don’t quite make it to the bathroom.

When does “edgy” marketing go over the edge? A creative marketing campaign can help a company recast its image and be seen in a more compelling light. On the other hand, sometimes a marketing idea is just too “out there.”

Here are 10 tips for evaluating a new marketing approach:

  1. Take your time. Sometimes you need to get used to a new idea. Give yourself time to think over the concept from every angle. Consider the pros and cons. Anticipate the potential reaction from internal and external audiences.
  2. Listen to the agency’s rationale. If your ad agency has done research to fully understand your marketing challenges, including talking directly with people who buy your products, they should have deep insights into your goals, brand, customers, competitors, market positioning and message. The rationale for their ideas should reflect this insight.
  3. Look at the agency’s track record. If your agency has a history of getting attention and delivering market share and sales, they probably know what they’re talking about. Their recommendations deserve your full consideration.
  4. Evaluate the emotional impact. What emotions does the campaign evoke? Be sure you want the audience to feel these emotions in relation to your brand.
  5. Consider the campaign’s deployment in all media. What looks very clever in a print ad could sputter out or be completely inappropriate in other media. Ideally, the concept should work across your entire marketing strategy.
  6. Test the campaign with focus groups. If you’re unsure how customers and prospects will react to the idea, convene a focus group and ask them.
  7. Talk to your salespeople. Preview the concept with a few trusted sales representatives to gauge their responses. Will they be excited to talk with customers about this new campaign?
  8. Get your boss on board. If you’re going to go out on a limb with an idea, you need buy-in from the most senior marketing decision-makers in your company.
  9. Plan for the market’s (and the media’s) reaction. If your new campaign is likely to provoke a strong response, be prepared to handle any controversy that emerges and capitalize on the campaign’s high visibility.
  10. Trust your own judgment. If you think the concept is right on target and a real game-changer, give it the green light — even if others in your company don’t agree. But if your gut tells you it’ll be a disaster, you’d be wise to reject it.

Many marketing experts have weighed in on the effectiveness (or grossness) of the Kmart campaign. There’s no question it has garnered attention for the brand. How can you get people’s attention in a noisy and crowded marketplace (without running the risk of offending them)?

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at


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