Much of my first year in marketing has been spent building a foundational knowledge of what marketing means in the B2B SaaS space and how a marketing team operates. There are so many different strategies, channels, and tactics that it can quickly become overwhelming.

I’ve found myself hearing industry jargon, turning to the person next to me or grabbing the presenter after and asking, “but what does X really mean?” There’s no shame in this, and it can often lead to clarity around what is expected of you.

One of these phrases for me has been so simple I couldn’t help but feel a bit clueless for not truly knowing what it means.

Marketing Campaigns.

I hear the word campaign across disciplines and industries and feel like it means something different everywhere you go. Here’s what I’ve come to understand, and it’s given me a ton of clarity and focus as an individual contributor.

What is a marketing campaign?

A marketing campaign is any marketing activity or series of activities done to achieve a goal.

Let’s break this down to really get it.

What is a marketing activity? This can be literally anything. It can be Tweeting, writing a blog post, designing a landing page, sponsoring an event, booking a tradeshow presence, PPC, the list goes on.

A series of marketing activities are a multiple related tasks fit into a group. You write a blog post, then design a graphic for it, then Tweet about it and promote it using paid ads. This is an example of a series of marketing activities.

The goal is what brings these activities together to make it a campaign. Calling something a marketing campaign is simply a way to organize your thinking. That’s it! It’s supposed to make things easier, not more difficult. Yet I wondered for a long time if it didn’t have some deeper meaning.

Nope. It’s a marketing activity or series of activities done to achieve a goal.

So… should everything you do be a marketing campaign? Technically, I would argue yes because you shouldn’t do anything without an end goal in mind. Doing something for the sake of doing it is called wasting time.

The great thing about marketing campaigns is they can be organized like folders, and they are completely flexible. Marketing leadership is usually in charge of strategizing high-level goals and the marketing campaigns around them. An example of these team wide goals would be to become the go to thought leader in your space, or to generate $1,000,000 in sales pipeline.

Once the goals are established, you can create campaigns to achieve them. It could take one campaign to reach a goal, or it could take 10. As an individual contributor you’ll likely be a part of many campaigns. If you work in a startup you’ll probably create and own a few yourself.

How to think about marketing campaigns as an individual contributor

If you’re on a marketing team you’ll have a few projects you own, and it is vitally important to figure out how your work contributes to the team’s overall goals.

This is important for your personal fulfillment, because everyone wants to make a difference.

It’s also important to prove your worth to the organization. Show exactly how you’re helping the team achieve its goals, ideally with data to back you up, and you’ll be in a better position in just about every way. Think promotions, salary negotiation, ability to take on new projects, job security.

Think of your job in terms of campaigns. Your key projects are campaigns, what are their goals? Once you have their goals, fill the campaign with activities to achieve the goal. By working from the top down you understand why you do every activity and everything has a reason. Goals give method to the madness, especially if you are contributing a few activities to a larger campaign.

If you’re running your own campaign use this framework to create it, to sell your colleagues on it, and to accomplish it.

Remember not every goal will be achievable in one campaign. Most big team goals like your yearly lead number won’t be, and you’ll be running campaigns across your team to get there. Always know what part you play and be able to speak to it.

How I think about campaigns

I used to think about my work as projects and a huge to-do list of activities. This lead to a lot of overwhelm, a lack of focus, and a lack of productivity.

Now I’m trying to organize everything I do into campaigns. Instead of random activities everything has a purpose and connects to a larger goal.

Since I work in a startup I have the opportunity to create my own campaigns. This is the fun part because I get to be creative and I only have to follow the script I create for myself. But everything also leads back to me, which forces me to believe in the campaigns I choose. This accountability makes me place bets and have an opinion, a scary thought early in my career because failure will happen. It’s not easy to put yourself on the line. But the sooner you do the sooner you’ll grow.

Tracking everything from the top down flushes out meaningless activities. It requires you to be active not passive, intentional not random.

Start organizing your job in terms of campaigns, and remember without a goal it’s just things to do.