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Flawless Marketing Campaigns – The DACI Process

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Managing marketing campaigns to increase business sounds simple, but it can turn into a nightmare if you don’t have experience launching them.  Most of the time there are lots of moving parts and the plan you start out with often changes as you move towards campaign execution.  It is important to have a process or system to help you navigate from a campaign idea to execution

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Personal Experience

I started my marketing career managing The Corporate Card for Small Business direct mail campaigns at American Express.  We estimated that during a typical three-month campaign we made 10,000 decisions.  That was tremendously exciting to me because the reason I got my Columbia MBA was to be a decision-maker.  I felt like a conductor in an orchestra with lots of people, each with a specialty, requiring precise coordination and timing to produce good work in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, in campaign management, if someone doesn’t perform on time or performs incorrectly you may never hear about it until it is too late.

I was fortunate to have a great feel for the people I worked with.  I instinctively knew who to pay special attention to and when to check-in.  We had a run of 3 years where we conducted over 75 campaigns and they all went out on-time, error-free while we were setting direct marketing performance records.

Although I would like to say that my innate abilities would suffice in all situations, from experience I know that is not the case.  Campaign management is mostly about decision-making, communication, and collaboration.  A few years ago I learned of a process model that embodied what I had been intuitively attempting all along.  The model is known as “the DACI Model.”

The DACI Model

DACI is a decision-making model that defines roles involved in arriving at effective decisions.  DACI is an acronym for Driver-Approver-Contributor-Informed. The great thing about the DACI model is that it clarifies who:

  • Is in charge of making the project work
  • has approval authority
  • needs to be consulted before a decision is made
  • needs to be informed once a decision has been made

DACI was developed by Motorola in 1985 and became well-known because Jack Welch made it the centerpiece of his efforts at General Electric.  It is used in Six Sigma projects (a set of tools and strategies for process improvement), project management applications and can be used for general business operations.

At the beginning of a campaign the owner, or Driver, groups involved people into Approval, Contributor, or Informed categories, to help manage the process, and improve the quality of campaign decision-making. Below is a summary of each role.

Driver – the Driver owns the campaign or decision-making process. Their role is to move the process along and launch the campaign (on time).  A Driver handles the overall coordination of the campaign, the DACI applies to. The Driver usually has responsibility for communicating with other team members and ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clear. Usually, the Campaign Manager (person primarily responsible for a successful outcome) is the Driver for a project, though at times this is not the case and a campaign may even have more than one Driver.  In fact, I often ask contributors, I am concerned about, to prepare a DACI for their portion of the campaign.  In many instances, although I may be the Driver for a campaign, for individual processes I may be an Approver or Informed.  For those you are concerned about, being an Approver or an Informed in their process can provide great comfort.

Approver – the person or people who have the authority to approve or refuse approval for decisions affecting the progress of the work being done by the project team or workgroup.  They owe it to the Driver to clarify what criteria they have that will enable them to approve, e.g. it must be within a certain budget; comply with a certain standard, etc. Approvers do not necessarily get to approve all decisions, so the DACI should specify which types of decisions are made by which Approvers. There should be one or three Approvers. Two is a tie, hence a potential stalemate. Either way, there should be as few Approvers as possible. If an Approver doesn’t have final authority, i.e. they need to escalate it up, then by definition, they are not the Approver.

Contributor – A Contributor must be consulted to provide input for certain types of decisions. Often a Contributor is involved in the campaign but does not have approval authority.  Contributors have key responsibilities that can help produce the campaign. They may be subject-matter experts, analysts, customers… really in any role or department from which they can provide meaningful support to help the campaign management process.   At times a Contributor is an individual or department who is not a campaign team member but whose area of operations affects or is affected by the work of the campaign team.  There should be as many contributors as necessary and no more. Implicit in this is one per subject area. That contributor should be able to represent their team or group’s combined efforts to feed into the campaign-production process.

Informed – this is usually the largest group. The Informed are all those people that will need to be notified of campaign decisions, as they affect them. They may be required to implement it, e.g. launching a new product; or may be directly affected by it, e.g. increased amount of work.   An Informed does not necessarily have a role while the campaign is being developed, or a decision is being considered but must be informed once a decision or change is made. Informed have a passive role relative to the others, who must take action for campaign progress to occur.
The Driver can save time and frustration by applying this model early in the campaign planning process. By grouping “stakeholders” into their respective roles upfront, expectations are properly set and better decision-making and coordination can flow.

Combining a DACI process with a well-thought-out project/creative brief can provide a powerful combination for turbo-charging your marketing to increase customer acquisition, retention, and growth.

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