How do you motivate your target audience to market your product? The answer – co-design a marketing campaign with them. How do you do that? Set them a campaign challenge activity that’s fun, time-bound and competitive.
At YouthNet, we invited 12 Nottingham students to compete in a campaign challenge with a mission to improve reach for our flagship website, TheSite.org.
All in just two and a half hours.
Though the overall aim was to raise awareness of TheSite.org, the students were also competing for three different awards: ‘Most effective campaign message’, ‘Most impressive campaign reach’ and ‘Most creative approach’.
Here’s how the challenge worked. The students split into three groups then took on a section each of TheSite.org – work & study, sex & relationships, and mental health. Then they drilled down into that section’s content to identify a campaign message they felt strongly about.
Structuring the Event
Each group had a facilitator. In this case our corporate partners at Capital One provided some of their social media and communications staff to support the event. We set each group an ice-breaker and suggested a time-frame for generating ideas, making sure there was plenty of time for actual implementation too.
Working within this loose structure, the groups also took part in campaign ‘boosts’. These were mini challenges designed to help them get their campaign seen on TheSite.org’s Twitter account, TheSite.org homepage and offline using posters. The boosts occurred at set times throughout the day and were limited to 15-30 minutes. During each boost staff at YouthNet’s head office judged each team’s delivery and implemented winning submissions in real time. The boosts helped to energise and maintain each groups focus.
By the end of the challenge the participants were buzzing. They were having a good time and YouthNet had gained three strong campaign ideas and fresh insight into the issues that matter to young people.
Here’s a list of the winners.
Most Creative Approach. Winners: Work & Study Group
The group chose to focus on alternative pathways to university without A-levels. They presented a powerful case for their campaign drawing on the personal story of a young woman in the group who returned to education after having a baby. They also showed amazing initiative by walking to a local radio station to try and get a promo spot and taking TheSite.org postcards to a local job centre.
Most Effective Message. Winners: Sex & Relationships Group
The group initiated a memorable campaign about infidelity. Their tagline ‘Where’s your line’ challenged young people to think about what cheating means to them. They came up trumps with their empathic messaging and developed a range of ideas to help with a public conversation we’re having more widely on TheSite.org around strengthening relationships.
Most Impressive Reach. Winners: Mental Health Group
The winning group dedicated themselves to raising awareness of mental health difficulties among young men and easily demonstrated the most tangible outcomes. Their call to action to get people sharing sad selfies on Twitter with the tagline: ‘lets’ talk’ was an immediate hit that had potential beyond the time frame of the challenge. I was able to capture some of the campaign’s activity on the day via Storify, which you can see here.
The creative energy each group generated and the initiative we witnessed has given us the confidence to run the event again to promote our Labs funded website Madly in Love. We expect to make this challenge event even better, using some of our learning from Nottingham.
What We Learnt
The boosts were great for energising the group. Next time we want to include more stimuli about Madly in Love’s use as we think this will give the groups more confidence and precision in their implementation. This is because on reflection we think that had we shared info on things like ‘most popular article in your section’ or ‘most commonly asked relationships question’ it would have helped the students contextualise their campaigns and link them even more strongly to TheSite.
We think that the time frame was ambitious for achieving long-term impact. It was great for keeping the group motivated, but they said they’d have liked more time and that it would have helped them to make a bigger difference.
Having the right tools for the job is vital. We could have done with a couple more tablets or smartphones to share out tasks. That way every individual would have had a device and could have achieved more.
Next up we’re hoping to run a Campaign Challenge event for Madly in Love. In the meantime if you’d like to know more then please use the comments section below to ask me any questions.