Regardless of your professional background, you must have come across marketing terms like campaign, strategy, engagement, and traction. I say that attached to the hope that you will be able to see the utility of these tools to streamline your professional journey.
To kick things off, what is a campaign anyway? A campaign is any series of actions or events that are meant to achieve a particular result. My favorite example is the elections campaign because, in one capacity or another, everybody has been exposed to them. To win the public vote, a candidate runs a marathon of activities to establish their political campaign. Some, if not all, have a whole team planning their next step. Thousands of millions of dollars go into planning and executing those activities. And all that to achieve one goal; get elected as the next representative of the office. That’s campaigning for a goal at its best.
I’m a digital marketer by trade and for most of my career, I’ve created impactful social media strategies for brands and influential individuals. From experience and tangible data, I know that campaigning works and helps you achieve your goal(s). Recently, I found myself in a position of uncertainty and transition without concrete guidance toward a set direction. I didn’t know what my future will look like but I certainly had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, I had goals! And I want to say that I knew what I was doing but in reality, I had no idea. I was pursuing every and any lead that came my way and crossed my fingers for a desirable outcome. Of course, that didn’t happen. And after having talked to my peers, friends, and mentors, countless hours of networking, and sending my CV out to every job opening on LinkedIn, I started getting frustrated. Why wasn’t it working!? What was I doing wrong?
What am I going to do next?
Every time, when I find myself in a place where the solution is not particularly obvious, I tend to do the following:
- Look into my skillset and how I can leverage what I already know for better outcomes.
- Celebrate small wins
- Ask for help! Look for mentors and inspiration around me
And I am really good at strategizing, implementing, and analyzing campaigns. So, I investigated the simple principle of crafting campaigns to get a desirable outcome and applied it to guide my efforts toward a tangible outcome. I thought of myself as a product and how a set of activities can help me promote myself. That not only gave me the confidence to put to practice my existing skillset but also helped me direct my efforts in more efficient ways.
Now it is important to note that the word “campaign” is not exclusive to digital marketing. It is not a mere set of social media posts. Campaigns, as referred to earlier in the example of election campaigns, can be any form of activity. Marketing professionals around the world use the simple concept of campaign development commonly known as SMART strategy. If you do not have a communication background, don’t worry. I’m sure you already apply this approach without even realizing it in your daily tasks. So what is the SMART strategy?
As reflected in the infographic below, SMART is basically a way to stay on track when you’re working towards a particular outcome. All good campaigns have these 5 components in common.
But the question is, how can you use this in achieving your professional goals? To help my fellow professionals at Atlas Corps, I conducted a workshop to share this idea and I am going to explain the approach in detail here. Think of yourself as a product. You might be a communication, M&E, or project delivery expert and this applies to all of us, we are all products in one way or another. Wherever you might be in your professional journey, you have your eyes set on the next challenge. And this is going to help you get there. Thinking of yourself as a product, basically what you do is use the SMART campaign strategy to strategize your efforts towards achieving your goals.
I will help explain with my personal example. My goal was to network more and get exposure to the diverse international communities that I am a part of. I applied the campaign strategy approach to guide my next steps in making efforts towards achieving those. Here’s how:
S: A specific goal, networking for more employment opportunities.
M: It’s working if I have a measurable metric of how many offers, interviews, and shortlists of organizations I am left with in the end.
A: It’s not a moonshot. I know this is attainable to look for opportunities instead of dreaming to become the next US president and have the most important jobs in the world.
R: It’s relevant to my journey as I transition out of this opportunity and explore future prospects.
T: It’s 100% timebound because there is a definite amount of time that I am going to be in this environment, so all my activities are focused on that timeline.
Similarly, you can identify your goal and cater to it using the SMART approach. It helps you work in a direction instead of barking at the wrong trees, it helps you save time and be more efficient in your efforts and it also helps you identify what you should not be doing.
So this is your chance to build campaigns for yourself and work towards a goal that you want to achieve for your professional development!