Campaign debrief – what and why?

Many organisations spend copious amounts of time and effort in planning their various marketing campaigns. Yes, they will analyse the additional sales generated and if against targets, BUT they do not spend the time on analysing what could have been done better, what went well – there is no campaign debrief.

What is a campaign debrief??

How is it carried out? One of the most effective ways is to have an all hands meeting – it only needs to be an hour or so. Every stakeholder, so not just the marketing team, in a room together, job titles left at the door (or in remote working times on a videoconference together and job titles left at log in).

Why is it important to leave the job titles behind? Empowerment! Sometimes the details are seen by the more junior staff, but they feel unsure about raising something when it is directed at a more senior member of staff.

To get the best out of those sessions, especially when a new concept, have a chair – someone who ensures that the atmosphere is safe and who doesn’t allow one person to dominate the discussions. If you have a person who could dominate then give them the task of note-taker – it tends to quieten those individuals down as they can’t speak as they are taking notes as easily!

How it can work

Here’s an example from my past experience: a one-day conference was held by company XYZ. The MD was allotted a 20-minute welcome speech. A marketing assistant was at the back of the hall giving the traditional 5 min, 3 min signal and then cut. However, the MD purposely avoided looking at the back of the hall after the 5-minute signal was made. He carried on and on. That caused all kinds of issues for the coffee breaks, networking opportunities and so on.

The marketing assistant did not mention anything on the day, but at the debrief, once she had realised that it was a safe environment and that everyone was there to learn, she spoke. She nervously at first told the MD what he had done and what ramifications that had had including reducing the valuable networking time to uncover leads. The MD smiled at her and told her she was right. He had avoided her instructions and that he thought he was more important, but that he was wrong and that he had now realised the additional work he had caused and the impact on the conversations between sessions too because of her feedback.

From that point on the marketing assistant flourished. She realised that her ideas and comments were as valuable as anyone else’s. She contributed more and more. The MD? He never overran at an event again. Pointing out to him the results of his actions meant he learned a valuable lesson too – one that others hadn’t dared, but when everyone was on the same level as well as the same team, then the environment was safe for this to be raised.


So, from the most junior to the most senior, each had learnings for future activities. Of course, during our careers we should never stop learning, we should never stop welcoming construction criticism – no matter what level the person is at compared to us. Whether it is a campaign debrief or not!

Do you have a safe place where feedback can be given? Do you empower every employee to contribute as that marketing assistant did? If the answer to those questions is no, then your company is missing out on a valuable improvement tool – and one that costs nothing.

[originally issued 4/3/21; edited 15/3/24]