Friday 18 October 2019

Reboot marketing strategy and go back to basics

Digital and social media alone is not the answer - the fundamentals still apply and can widen opportunities

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Alan O'Neill

Alan O'Neill, author of Premium is the New Black is Managing Director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go tokara.ie

Every commercial organisation has a marketing discipline in one form or another. Whether you have a structured proactive marketing function or just a 'man with a van' approach, you are marketing. Let's remind ourselves that the fundamentals of marketing are built out from the AIDA model.

In a competitive landscape, you have to get 'Attention' so that the customer will stop and take notice of your brand, product or service.

You want to create 'Interest' and tap into a need in the mind of your customer.

Then you must inspire your customer to 'Desire' your product, over your competitors.

Finally, and most importantly, the purpose of your marketing is to convince your customer to take some 'Action'.

Those preferred actions may vary. It might be to build brand awareness (like Avonmore milk on TV). It might be get the customer to come in to your store (supermarket advertisements in this newspaper). Or it might refer the customer to a website, where second-level more detailed marketing takes over.

With over 33 years of FMCG experience, ranging from marketing to organisational leadership, Colin Gordon has worked across a wide range of product categories, from ambient to fresh.

His experience includes brand ownership of franchisee, distributor, and owned/operated models. With Glanbia Consumer Foods in particular, he played a central role in international market and brand development.

Last week Colin shared with me his strong views about marketing. The first question we contemplated was whether marketing is at a crossroads or at a roundabout. In other words, is marketing changing direction and taking full account of the highly dynamic nature of consumer behaviours? Or have we just encountered an interruption that, once we come to terms with it, we'll be back on track?

Digital marketing on its own is not the answer

There is a lot of noise and disruption in the discipline right now that is causing him great concern.

The focus on digital and 'social' media has gained such traction that it seems to be all that some marketers talk about today. 'Social' media often has separate data teams, while other media doesn't.

Universities and colleges are churning out marketing students with a heavy bias on one medium only.

But what about the other essential elements of the marketing mix? Is this narrow focus causing some marketers to miss wider opportunities to achieve their objectives?

"The thing is that the digital giants have seduced us into thinking that marketing is easy and all about on-line," said Colin.

They convince us that being able to target specific demographics is better bang for our buck. And then their 'data and analytics' magnet adds to the seduction.

"But with this extra focus or rebalancing of the marketing mix, is there real evidence to date of it yielding widespread success?" he added.

"They are just too opaque. Unless they drive a behavioural or emotional response, then why bother?" said Colin.

1Marketing Tips, Back to Basics

If you have been sucked into the digital and social narrative and are putting all of your eggs into that one basket, perhaps you might take time to reconsider that. If you have found yourself attracted to the 'analytics, likes and followers' narrative - then revisit your overall strategy.

2 Get back to the basics of marketing.

Start by agreeing an overall objective for your campaign. In other words, what action do you want as a result of your efforts?

3 Get everyone in the room at the same time

All of this bias towards digital can cause marketers to make fragmented decisions rather than holistic ones.

Take media programming as an example. Marketers might find themselves having to have several meetings with different experts in the media agencies, instead of the wider marketing team getting into the same room at the same time.

"That should include advisers for 'value' and for 'distribution'. Their advice should be at least as important as that of social media analysts," said Colin.

4 Refresh your thinking on the marketing mix.

How does the overall marketing mix that is available to you within your budget, best work for your brand and customer?

(Incidentally, traditional media still gets more of the national advertising budget, for good reason).

And given the emergence of new ways to purchase, is there enough focus on dealing with product distribution or route to market (ie Place being one of the original 4Ps)?

The Last Word

There are many online businesses that have achieved great success with an exclusive online marketing approach. It certainly works for some sectors.

But why does Trivago (which is purely an online platform) advertise on TV? Why do Dunnes advertise a voucher in this newspaper, given that every customer has a smartphone? Why are the great Amazon and Apple opening more physical stores?

Everyone that studies marketing learns about the 4Ps. They provide the marketer with a structure to execute the AIDA shown above.

The 4Ps are Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Great marketers that have a rounded view of the world, know that the 4Ps have stood the test of time. There is an unhealthy narrow focus on marketing these days that assumes it's all about digital and social media.

That's simply not true. Digital and social does of course have a role to play. But it's not the be all and end all. So be very careful. Watch here for a future article where Colin and I will outline case studies for how brands have grown, using a combination of the marketing mix. That too will include online.

In association with RGON, specialists in Employee Engagement Surveys — www.rgon.ie

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