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DILEMMA: Creating an event-linked ad campaign

The World Cup is finally here, and I know I've missed an opportunity to exploit it to my business advantage. I know there is the potential to integrate such major events into my marketing strategy, but I'm just not sure how to go about doing so. Can you help?

The World Cup is finally here, and I know I've missed an opportunity to exploit it to my business advantage. I know there is the potential to integrate such major events into my marketing strategy, but I'm just not sure how to go about doing so. Can you help?

Linking your marketing strategy to major events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup provides a useful short-term context to promote one's company and services.

And while it may be too late to exploit the opportunities presented by the World Cup, there may be lessons that can be learnt to maximise the effectiveness of future campaigns. After all, the 2012 Olympic Games are fast approaching and offer a great opportunity for your marketing potential.


The 2010 FIFA World Cup has gripped the nation, as the thousands of flags, banners and posters in support of the England team I have encountered during my consultancy travels over the past few weeks has proven.

And sales and lettings agents are no exception, with a number of firms having initiated marketing campaigns to exploit the hype, but with varying results, as we've seen in other sectors.

I have no doubt that the marketeers who selected Theo Walcott to front the Marks & Spencer men's suits campaign are currently feeling somewhat embarrassed and frustrated that the player didn't make the plane, just as much as the team behind Walkers' World Cup-flavoured crisps, who were forced to watch as a number of their flavours rapidly became obsolete as corresponding countries failed to qualify for the competition.

There was naturally an element of bad luck involved in these situations, yet with some basic rules and guidance, you can massively improve the effectiveness of your campaign and influence success.


A comprehensive marketing campaign isn't something that appears from thin air or a mere flash of inspiration. Successful campaigns are carefully researched, considered and focused on details and execution, rather than resting on a single, grand idea.

Targeted marketing campaigns are more than just adding a football in a goal net to your everyday promotional literature.

As close friend and respected marketing expert, David Park of Judd Associates, says: "Good marketing campaigns don't just happen, they require thought, planning and an appreciation of the target audience.

"All too often I see poorly executed advertising that breaks many basic rules and can actually be damaging to the brand."

There are a number of key points that must be carefully considered to ensure your marketing campaign is kicked off with the best chance of success.


Forgive the football vernacular, however the goals or objectives of your campaign are your critical starting point. The planning and preparation for any marketing initiative must focus on what you are trying to achieve.

Is it simply a question of raising brand awareness in your local area, or is there something more specific in your aim, such as attracting new vendors and/or landlords, improving sales results or promoting a new element of your service?

Target audience

The goals will help clarify your target audience, and this in turn will influence the content, style and language of your forthcoming marketing.

Running two separate campaigns, one targeted at first-time buyers and the other at experienced landlords, requires different language to reflect the likely recipients of the messages involved.


Decide what message you want to communicate. Don't confuse the message, and don't try and give multiple messages in the same piece of marketing.

The more messages you give, the more confusing it will become. The most effective advertising campaigns make one point only, and are consistent across all involved media.

In forming your message, ensure that the benefits to the customer of the service or product are clearly and forcefully described. Too many campaigns flounder because customers' killer question - ‘What's in it for me?' - is fudged, particularly where the marketing is feature-led rather than benefit-led.

Some examples that always raise a smile with me include a brand of coffee that is marketed as containing polyphenol antioxidants, and the yoghurt that is promoted as having a probiotic formula. Far from making me rush out to the supermarket to buy these goods, this marketing simply leaves me feeling faintly inept that I am not bright enough to appreciate the benefits of choosing these products over other options. Ignorance is not bliss.


Decide on the format i.e. printed direct mailer, press ad, email and/or poster. It may be only one of these, but superior results are likely if a selection of formats is used with the message carried consistently across all of them.

Whatever the external formats used, ensure that the messages are replicated internally by way of office displays and PC screen usage, and ensure that all staff are trained to explain the ethos and key content of the campaign to clients, existing and new.


There must be a call to action, in other words a reason for people to do something. A simple ‘call us now' is a possibility, but rather weak. There needs to be a clear benefit to the customer taking such action.

There should also be a sense of urgency, a reason they need to take action NOW rather than procrastinate. Consider using ‘offer ends soon' or, even better, ‘offer ends July 11 at 5pm'.


It needs to be obvious what specific action is required, and how the customer should take that action. Consider using any one of the following instead: ‘call into our office'; ‘telephone our sales consultants'; ‘send an email'; or ‘visit our website'.

Whatever you choose, the demand has to be clear enough for readers to know what they need to do and how to do it. Furthermore, in all cases it should be borne in mind that the simpler the method of response, the higher the volume of respondents.


In order to evaluate the effectiveness of any marketing activity, it needs to be measured and there needs to be quantification about how many people actually responded to the campaign.

Consider setting up unique telephone numbers that are only carried on the promotional advertising.

If using email, ask customers to reply to a unique email address or visit a page on the website that can only be accessed via the email, rather than an existing page available to anyone who visits the website.

It is also critical to measure in detail the return on investment, to gauge the value of the campaign and assess whether similar approaches are worthy of future consideration.

Keep a close eye on all associated expenditure, including the less obvious elements such as staff time delivering leaflets or other frontline work, as well as the cost of design, production and use of materials.

Assuming accurate response numbers and resultant business can be judged, the worth of the campaign should be reasonably easy to assess.
Ultimately, it's all about return and if it costs you £5,000 and you make £6,000, it has all been worthwhile, particularly when the immeasurable increase in general brand awareness, which may lead to future business, is taken into account


In the run up to the World Cup, a number of marketing companies have produced related marketing products, which some agents have ordered and used. Not a bad idea, but beware if there is no mention of any right to use FIFA's protected terms, particularly where photography is concerned, and be careful that it is an authorised association.

Bodies such as FIFA have strict marketing rules, which prohibit the unauthorised use of their trademarks, official emblems, event logos, mascot and trophy.

Similar rules will doubtless apply to an Olympic Games-related campaign in the run-up to 2012, so beware.

Case studies

There has been a number of 2010 World Cup estate agency marketing campaigns that have grabbed my attention, but my personal favourite is the one undertaken by Neil Robinson & Associates in Manchester, which incorporates the following offers:

  • Free sale - any vendor instructing the agent before World Cup final day is entered into a draw to have their fees cancelled on completion;
  • Free let - a similar offer as above for landlords;
  • 25% off if England wins the World Cup - all clients instructing the agent between May 20 and July 11 receive this discount, which was arguably low-risk at the time of writing;
  • Special limited edition For Sale/To Let boards.

Other ideas include team and goal-scorer sweepstakes earning the winners discounts.

And the free World Cup fixture card provided by Zoopla has proved invaluable in planning my training and consultancy work around the key games during June and July, just as a well-considered strategy will maximise your chances of a successful marketing campaign.

Don't be left wondering why you didn't achieve your expected result if, like our goalkeeper Robert Green during the US game, you fail to get your body behind the ball and give 100 per cent to the cause.


Julian O'Dell is founder of TM Training & Development


DILEMMA: Creating an event-linked ad campaign

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