... but what is it then, and what should it be?

I was at a party with too loud music when a journalist remarked that what ONE Agency did for Humo with Humo Radio was not a campaign. With a bit too much alcohol in my blood I spontaneously replied: a campaign, is that the kind of thing you put in a lot of money to then throw it away after two months? Well, we stopped after two months, so it should qualify as a campaign then :)

Of course Humo radio didi not stop after two months to make it a campaign. It was a test and targeted at the summer festivals and by now it's winter. But the question remains, what is a campaign, and do they have to be short term by definition? I don't think so, on the contrary, a good campaign lasts for years.

So why do we launch campaign? To attain certain objectives: sales, brand notoriety, image building, etc. And that's a job that is never finished. I still haven't met a marketing manager who can go home after a campaign and tell his or her family that all objectives have been met and the final goal has been reached. Reality is different, the work is never finished. A good campaign is based on a sound long term strategy that stems from a fundamental insight of what drives your customers.

Look at it from the customer's perspective. What does he or she think of being bombarded with messages for a few weeks, to then hear nothing about a brand for months. Any expression of creativity, be it a game, a video or a simple banner can live on the internet for months or even years. YoutTube, spele.nel, marketing blogs or brand enthusiast communities build extensive archives of what advertisers produce. And if somebody get to know your brand through a campaign, but there is no place online for the customer to turn to and engage in a conversation, he or she stays behind lonely. Disappointed, or worse even, frustrated probably.

That is why good interactive communication must have it's roots in a permanent platform. Brands must offer their customers a home where they are welcome to engage in a conversation with the brand (and it the people behind it) and their 'fellow-customers'. Such a platform can be build within your own platform, a dedicated platform such as Connections did with www.connectr.be or even a simple group on Facebook can be enough.

So, a campaign is not something in which you put a lot of money to then throw it away after a few months. An interactive strategy is build on a platform that is re-used time and again, and is adapted and improved continuously. In that way, brands can take the media in their own hands and create long term engagement with their customer. Customer will start feeling at home with a brand, making your investment in interactive communication even more worthwhile in the long run.