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Geometric Pattern

No Smoke, No Fire: A Lesson in Full Funnel Marketing

February 20, 2024

3 Key Considerations For Building Your Next Campaign

By now you’ve all heard about and forgotten the epic Solo Stove “smokeless” campaign, but several months later we’re still over here stewing about all the coverage of its “failure.”  

At the time of its reveal, the inventive campaign was labeled as “genius,”  showcasing remarkable success in terms of awareness metrics, including a surge in Instagram followers, millions of engagements, and extensive media coverage. 

Despite these achievements, the press indicates the brand’s CEO is out of a job, with current leadership expressing disappointment over the lack of a significant sales uplift from this campaign and “other marketing activities.” (That Macy’s parade float was awesome, though.) 

Often, brands expect an all-in-one solution for their campaigns, briefing their agency to “big big” on awareness while secretly striving for immediate sales as the ultimate measure of success. And that’s great, if you have the cash to commit to a big splash and a full-funnel approach, but you can’t expect to launch a moonshot awareness campaign and watch the DTC sales roll in. So if you’re a marketer with limited funds and broad ambitions, here are 3 key takeaways to consider as you think about your next campaign objective.

1. Get Real on Goals 

If Solo Stove had briefed their agency with sales goals, that agency would have proposed some truly epic paid social ads, and maybe even some direct mail campaigns. A flashy, attention-grabbing marketing campaign is not the way to drive short-term sales.

Awareness is an investment in your brand with the intention of attracting new audiences, and eventually nurturing them into customers over time—a strategy that requires both patience and a solid paid media plan. 

2.  Timing Is Everything

According to Forbes, Solo Stove typically sees 35-40% of their sales in the fourth quarter, coinciding with the holiday season. Consumers start planning their Black Friday purchases right after Halloween, but this campaign launched immediately in advance of Thanksgiving. If it had been a few weeks earlier, it could have captured the consumer at the right moment, instead of a moment too late. 

3. Price Matters

Immediate sales might not have been the best metric given the nature of the product. With a lineup priced between $200-400, Solo Stove’s offerings are an expense most consumers have to consider well in advance. Immediate or impulsive purchase decisions might not be common, especially during the competitive holiday shopping season when budgets are tight. 

The Bottom Line

When all is said and done, a campaign that moves the needle on your bottom line should have an aligned bottom line strategy. Let this case serve as a reminder that true success in marketing lies not in the magnitude of the campaign, but in its ability to drive meaningful outcomes towards your brand’s intended objectives.