When leadership requests limited-time advertising messages, speed is crucial. Leadership wants immediate results for decision-making, but scraping together existing assets and half-hearted ad creative will only eat up your ad spend.

Having a process in place for the next time you receive a request allows you to act quickly without sacrificing results and ad spend. Even in limited timeframes, you can still earn significant results.

What Counts as a One-Off Campaign?

A one-off campaign is anything outside of your “always-on” initiatives. Typically, these campaigns have a short run time.

Here are common reasons for running such campaigns:

  • Launching new features/capabilities
  • “Pet project” initiatives from top-level leadership
  • Promoting timely content
  • Major industry news
  • Testing a new audience
  • Promoting company events

The challenges in a one-off campaign are glaring: campaign goals tend to be ambiguous, you need to avoid competing with always-on campaigns, and leadership may be reluctant to adjust messaging to align with persona needs.

However, these challenges should not overshadow the opportunities.

Running unique messages for a limited-run campaign can uncover new insights about what your personas respond to. And with added interest from leadership, this type of campaign is a great time to demonstrate your creative ideas and valuable insights.

Here’s our tried-and-true process for running effective one-off advertising campaigns.


1. Proactively Uncover Upcoming Requests

The biggest obstacle with one-off campaigns is time. Get ahead of the curve by requesting a calendar of upcoming initiatives from key parties. Is your marketing team planning any events? Is the product team preparing for any new launches?

See if you can identify any patterns in one-off campaign requests. Do executive teams propose ideas in quarterly business reviews? Or do they follow up the week after the review with an idea that was sparked during the presentation?

Knowing what’s ahead will give you a significant advantage.

2. Set Expectations from the Start

Because on-off campaigns usually have different goals than always-on campaigns, ensure that everyone is on the same page about the campaign. Once a request comes your way, communicate timelines, required information, and what they can expect from you. Be clear about how long the platform will need to optimize the account and exit the learning period before you can report on concrete results.

Here are a few key pieces of information you should have documented in a campaign brief:

  • Goal of campaign
    • How does it differ from or support the always-on campaigns?
    • What is the main conversion action to report on?
  • Budget amount
    • Is it additional ad spend or is it taken from existing budgets?
  • Audience
  • Key messages
  • Promoted assets
    • Is there an existing blog post, landing page, or whitepaper? Will one need to be created?
  • Run time
  • Nurture sequences
    • What content will we reengage this audience with?

Pro tip: Keep your top-performing ads on instead of switching all spend to the one-off campaign. Dramatically reducing budget or pausing ongoing efforts completely will halt conversions.

3. Align Messaging to Persona Needs

Companies often focus on products and features, while customers think in terms of pain points and benefits. Raise concerns early on and push back on messaging that contradicts with what you’ve already learned about your audience. Bonus points if you have documented A/B test data that can back up your claims.

Consider workshopping campaign messaging and design concepts with key stakeholders before sending the copy over for final design. There are lots of eyes on the creative for one-off campaigns and you usually need approval for multiple individuals. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve wrapped a project up only to have three additional rounds of back-and-forth revisions.

During the Campaign

4. Uncover Early Insights and Optimize

The ads are launched, but you’re not done yet! Dive into the performance data and see which ad creatives are resonating the best. Pause low-performing ads and make campaign adjustments to improve performance. What learnings can you report on?

5. Follow Up on Nurture Sequences

When you filled out the campaign brief, you should have discussed how you were going to follow up with audiences from the one-off campaign. If a retargeting campaign isn’t already in action, it’s time to get that up and running. Don’t let too much time go by between audience interactions with your one-off campaign and the next touchpoint.

Post Campaign

6. Consolidate Learnings

After the campaign has ended, debrief and put all of your learnings into a single location for easy reporting and future reference.

A few things to include:

  • Expected result
  • Campaign strategy
  • Optimization actions taken
  • Results
  • Messaging insights
  • Creative insights
  • Campaign learnings
  • Next steps
  • Will the messages be incorporated into ongoing campaigns?

7. Reflect on the Campaign

Since another one-off campaign is likely to come your way again, take time to reflect on the campaign. Is there anything you would do differently? Loop in the person who requested the campaign. Did they get the information they hoped to gain? Were the results what they expected?

Finally, evaluate the overall effectiveness of the campaign. If similar initiatives arise in the future, would you expect them to succeed? Should you push back on this type of campaign moving forwards or double down on your efforts?

Try out these seven steps the next time a campaign request comes your way. Instead of rushing to push something out the door, you’ll have a process in place that adds genuine value to your organization.