Monday, July 20, 2015

Brands: The Slip between the Cup and the Lip

Everybody seems to be in the business of marketing these days. From personal brands to product brands to service brands, almost every aspect of our lives are buffeted by some form of advertising that features a brand. I remember reading a prediction a few years ago that suggested that virtually every surface we interact with in the future will be a delivery medium for advertising and ultimately brand awareness. This is becoming increasingly true, as walls, sky, sidewalks, roadways, buildings, clothing, bodies, every nook and cranny of the online experience and product placements in movies and television, all increase the number of advertising impressions and marketing opportunities we are exposed to every day.

The baby boom generation, with its higher education, its message of change and a more liberal outlook has created an alphabet of echo generations that have taken “freedom of expression” to new heights through pervasive marketing. The freedom to market to each other on a global scale fulfills an unbridled desire for avarice that has been spawned by this unique time in our history as a civilization. Having said all this, does this suggest that this knowledge and sophistication - and this proliferation of marketing mediums translates directly into a more savvy, focused  society that can manipulate marketing and ultimately each person, to their own benefit? I wonder if we are not both abuser and abused in this new marketing-centric reality.  

A provocative concept if you think of yourself as a marketer (which you probably are in one form or another.) Unfocused marketing and advertising coupled with the ever changing market forces can result in ineffective marketing strategies. We often advertise to the individuals because we can, or to everybody even though we shouldn’t, to gain immediate results, often at the cost of long term growth and potential.    

What does it all mean? The main rule that governs successful marketing plans and their advertising offspring remain effective. “Design any marketing plan and advertising program around the wants and needs of your customer.” Not around the message a marketer wants to deliver. Here are some examples of marketing plans and some insights on how advertising that results from those plans may not be as effective as they should. See if you recognize these examples from your own experience?
  1. You have invested in new technology and added some new features to your product, so you develop an advertising campaign based on the benefits of the new technology rather than the how the technology solves a problem for your customer.
  2.  A marketing plan has defined a number of unique advantages in your product or service. You develop an advertising campaign that tries to highlight all of the benefits at once, creating confusion for the customer. 
  3. You develop a strategy that identifies a group of potential demographic audiences. You then proceed to try and develop a single message that reaches all of these audiences at once.  Audiences don’t connect with your message or your product because of lack of clarity.
  4. You recognize that your product is only beneficial to a small group of potential customers. You try and reach them by developing an advertising campaign that seeks to talk directly to that group in a place and at a time that they are not inclined to give consideration to your product or service.
  5. You fail to create trust in your marketing campaign by delivering the marketing message in a medium that does not engender trust in your audience. For example your ad is placed on Facebook of Linked In and your customers are business to business clients who get their industry information through industry channels rather than social networks. 
  6. You are in a very competitive marketplace and you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors.  Marketing plans determine that you need to use price differentiation and volume to help drive sales. You use tired and common advertising concepts  and get no response from your ad campaign.
  7. You fail to connect your marketing campaign to great customer service.  You make all the right moves, you create a specific message, you reach customers with the right medium, you begin getting good customer response but because of limited staff you don’t answer the phone on a timely and friendly basis and end up loosing many of the leads you create.
  8. You are an organization rather than a company and don’t really think you should have a strong focus on marketing. Your organization is chiefly focused on sharing knowledge and acting as a liaison with regulatory bodies.  You don’t survey your members regularly to help design programs that respond to their needs and you don’t bother promoting the value of your services and begin loosing members.
  9.  You are retailer that buys media space such as newspaper, radio and television because your product appeals to a broad demographic. You do not get any response from your program because the media outlet you have chosen offers to prepare an ad for you to help you to save money and put more money into a media buy rather than a carefully crafted message aimed at your audience.
  10. You develop an advertising strategy and then a corresponding advertising campaign and you expect results as soon as possible. You spend a considerable amount on it and now it is not preforming as you hoped. So you panic and change the program and/or reduce funding budgets before you derive data about the program that will lead you to sound decision making and success over the long term.    

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