Stability In An Unstable (Marketing) World
by Felicia Rogers
Like practically everything else, it feels like marketing—especially advertising—is changing at lightning speed. Print is out, digital is in. Broadcast no, Social yes. Mass messaging is passé, microtargeting is the new black. Traditional processes? Nah, give me agile please, and let’s add in some programmatic advertising. Right or wrong, these seem to be the prevailing attitudes as technology advances and consumer behavior changes.
So in a world that’s constantly changing and evolving, what are the keys to marketing stability? How can you consistently deliver and reinforce the right messages? How do you stay on strategy?
Here are a few thoughts on keeping your focus amid the chaos.
- Form a long-term vision for your brand and stick to it. Make sure you have a well-defined brand purpose and identity. Once these high-level decisions are made, put them in writing and stay the course.
- What’s the brand story? And what does the brand promise to do to make people’s lives better?
- What types of verbal and visual imagery help reinforce this vision?
- Who is the primary target audience (those most likely to become loyalists), and what about secondary and tertiary audiences (the rings outside of the bulls-eye and beyond)? Be sure you have a clear definition and can easily target these people with marketing efforts.
- Establish a strong foundation. Before launching into creative development and media planning, make sure you have the marketing Ps right. Do all the right homework to:
- Ensure the product or service has broad enough appeal. In the early stages, concept testing should be carried out among a broadly defined potential audience—much broader than the assumed media target. The goal is twofold: (1) make sure the product/service idea is a “win” and (2) identify the most likely buyers. They may or may not be the narrowly defined media target the agency has in mind.
- Confirm you’ve achieved top-notch quality. Both before a full-scale launch and on a periodic basis, the product should be tested by end users to ensure it meets your stated standards. Make sure a sampling of product from each production facility is tested to measure both quality and consistency.
- Verify the packaging is doing its job(s). In many product categories, the package has a lot of work to do. As it holds, protects, and displays the product, it must also catch the shopper’s eye (both on the shelf and online) to break through the clutter. In addition, it has to communicate key information about the product and tell the brand’s story. Package testing is essential to avoid retail disasters.
- Establish the right pricing strategy. A cost-plus strategy works in many cases, but can leave money on the table. Pricing research will help set a price point that the market will bear based on the brand’s promise, product quality, and value proposition. If you can charge another dollar per package, why wouldn’t you? Hard data helps you sell a premium pricing strategy in those buyer meetings.
- Avoid an autopilot mentality. Once the vision is established, product is on the shelves, and creative is in the market, you can sit back and relax, right? (Cue the record-scratching sound effect.) Of course not! This is actually when some of the harder work begins. Sticking to that long-term vision and staying on strategy won’t just happen without an unwavering focus, and the marketing activities require a great deal of attention. Take, for example, creative messages and executions. Without careful oversight and monitoring, a campaign or individual execution may veer ever-so-slightly off course. If you don’t notice what’s happening, you could soon end up on a totally different path without intention. No matter the media plan, the advertising creative should be pretested to make sure it’s on strategy and is resonating with the target audience.
- This one’s going to hurt. Don’t move too fast. In the age of agile marketing, we all risk overlooking potential pitfalls by simply trying to pivot or move too quickly. Setting a strategy and making solid plans takes thought and time. Good research takes time. Technology and innovative research methodologies help us move faster than in years past, but to give your products and marketing the fair shot they deserve, you need to also allocate a fair amount of time to do the necessary groundwork.
- Keep your eye on the prize. Always looking “down” (at the short-term numbers) or, worse, looking every which way to try to keep up is counterproductive. Look ahead. Make sure the right amount of your attention is on the elements of that long-term vision that will propel the brand forward over the long haul.
About the Author
Felicia Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Executive Vice President of Decision Analyst. She may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.
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