When entrepreneurs plan a marketing campaign, many begin by brainstorming slogans and taglines. In other words, they get fixated on copywriting.

But the copy is only as effective as the strategy behind it.

To increase your chances of having a successful marketing campaign, start by thinking about strategy. You don't want to focus too much on the "wrapper" around the messaging; focus on the messaging itself instead.

To do that, build your campaign in four layers:

Layer #1: The Calendar

The first step to building a successful marketing campaign is to use a calendar. Block off the key time blocks of the campaign, because the timeline of the various stages of your campaign forms the "base layer." It lets you plan the messaging arcs for the campaign over time.

Specifically, mark your calendar for the following main dates:

  • The pre-campaign start date. This is the period before the campaign when you warm up your audience. Start hinting at what's coming, create excitement, and generate interest.

  • The campaign start date. The actual campaign kicks off. During this time, you want to give people as many reasons as possible to take the action you want them to take.

  • The campaign end date. The end of the campaign. You can decide to wrap up with content on your blog and/or social media and create a waiting list of people who didn't take action on time.

The specific things you decide to do in each of these stages aren't as important as the overall strategy that binds everything together. For now, instead of focusing on tactical details, focus on the goals you're trying to achieve at each stage and the campaign elements that will play into achieving those goals.

Layer #2: Messaging Planning

The next step is to plan out the specific messages you'll deliver at each stage of the campaign. Write what messages will be sent out when and what the key points in each item will be. Don't write the actual messages or copy yet.

This is also the time to decide which formats and campaign elements you'll be using to deliver your key messages. For example, will you kick off with a blog post, followed by a series of videos? Or a social media contest followed by an email sequence?

To help you decide, think of what will be the most effective way to get your audience to take action. Don't forget to think of last-minute bonuses or incentives and other ways to build urgency into the campaign.

Once you've built your messaging plan, you're ready to move on to the next step.

Layer #3. Writing the Copy

Since you've built the previous layers of your campaign, the copywriting stage isn't all that difficult. You know exactly what your key points are and how they fit into the overall process of your marketing campaign.

You can choose to emulate the structures of campaigns that have worked for other businesses and that you think will also work for you. Use other successful copywriting examples as inspiration and as a template, but use your own intuition to customize the copy for your own campaign.

Layer #4. Testing (Optional)

The most successful campaigns are those that have been iterated after testing different variations against each other. Split testing can seem complicated but it's straightforward. Essentially, you randomly show the target audience one of two variations of the same message, see what works best, then roll out the better-performing message to your larger audience.

You can test headlines, email subject lines, design elements, text on buttons, the offer itself, pricing, etc.

Those are the four layers you need to go through to construct your own marketing campaigns.

Keep in mind that successful campaigns aren't graded on a pass/fail system. It's not like being pregnant, where you either are or aren't; you can't be "sort of" or "a little bit" pregnant. You certainly can have a moderately successful marketing campaign.

Using these 4 layers to planning your campaign will help you move closer to the successful side of the spectrum and iterate towards the very successful end, as you get better at implementing this process.