Marketing today is more complex than ever with multiple business objectives, a multitude of available channels, and frequently changing consumer attitudes and preferences.
You really can’t do it all unless you have an endless budget, and few companies and marketers are so lucky. Although you may be tempted to chase after every shiny new marketing channel, STOP! Pause before you act. You need to be discerning about what you implement, questioning the value of where you spend every dollar. And not all companies and brands are created equal. You need to personalize your marketing approach and not assume that all channels should be used.
Here is a framework with 5 factors to consider when defining your marketing strategy and channels:
Company stadium. If you are a new or established brand, you need to be careful about the weight of your investment versus brand awareness building activity versus bottom-of-funnel promotional activity. You may think you should only focus on performance-driven digital marketing, but if you don’t weigh your spending on building awareness and getting into the consideration set, you might be doing your business a disservice. Brand. For example, you can generate sales in the short term, but you cannot build your brand equity and you can also lose the impact of sales in the long term. Product alone is not king, as many tech companies are now learning as competition increases in their respective categories. Or consider Old Navy, a more established brand, which lost sales because it realized it relied too heavily on lower-funnel promotional marketing versus building the brand at the end of 2019. Adidas had a similar experience – finding that brand marketing drove 65% of its sales. across most channels yet only 23% of its spend was weighted by upper funnel brand marketing. Or consider the fact that historically, CPG companies have found that advertising typically delivers 2x or more the short-term impact when factoring in long-term effects, increasing overall ROAS.
Business model. Your business model will definitely impact your go-to-market business. If your business is e-commerce focused, you’ll likely be more geared towards digital tactics and more concerned with acquisition and retention, especially in the short term. Email marketing is likely to be a critical channel for retention and will always provide some of the highest returns on investment. However, do not rule out more mass outreach channels at the appropriate stage of your business. As many DTC companies have demonstrated, to develop broad mass awareness, a company generally needs to move away from online alone. Consider Casper, Stitch Fix and Parachute.
For CPG brands, 70% of products are still purchased in-store. So while digital can be part of your mix, be careful how far you are heading in that direction. Also, remember that most CPG categories are mass-targeted. While digital can help you target, in your upper funnel, be careful not to target too narrowly.
For B2B players, content marketing is all the more important. Thinking carefully about how you bring leads into your sales funnel and lead them to a sale is a different thought process than other business categories.
Finally, technology companies are once again different. Whether it’s hardware, software, software as a service, B2B-targeted, or B2C-targeted, all of these can dictate a different marketing strategy and channel prioritization.
Category. The category you play in will also inform your channel choices. For example, fashion and beauty are more social and influencer driven. In CPG, some categories are less engaged and may not need social channels (e.g. trash bags, plastic wraps) compared to food or pet related categories which are more engaged and may derive more value social content. Sometimes a brand can have an unexpected impact on a channel, like Denny’s practically revitalizing its brand through its Twitter content.
Consumers, audiences and customer journey. Before building your marketing plan, it’s critical to start with who your customers, consumers, and/or target audiences are and what behavior you’re looking to drive (e.g., acquisition/first purchase, retention/repeat, load/multiple purchases). You also need to understand a customer’s buying journey to identify the best openings to reach them. For example, you’ll use different media to reach an adventurous or research-heavy foodie versus a more hands-on, impulsive product. Or, if you had a mom-friendly product for school-aged children versus a luxury vacation deal aimed at retirees.
Resources and sophistication. It may go without saying that if you have a small budget, the brand will execute different tactics than a brand with a bigger budget. Yet, I want to stress this again, because it’s often companies with few resources that are drawn to whatever tactics the experts claim they have to execute. Don’t get sucked in! If your resources are limited, you need to be careful and creative in how you deploy those dollars. Additionally, if you don’t have the budget to invest in the right back-end technology, you can also focus on the wrong tactics and try to be more sophisticated in your approach than you need to be. You can easily add more complexity than necessary and deploy resources inefficiently. If you are less sophisticated, remember to walk before you run. Don’t bite more than you can handle. Personalization, for example, will be less important to you. But if you are a sophisticated marketing organization, it will probably be more important for you to test new channels and look into more sophisticated marketing approaches such as data-driven marketing and personalization. Or, if you’re a company that runs categories that tend to cater to younger cohorts (think Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay), as those companies do, you probably want to be at the pioneering new marketing channels that appeal to these audiences.
There is no single marketing strategy and plan.
Be careful not to buy into the hype of all the articles. Social and influencer marketing is all the rage! Personalization is key! Content marketing is where it’s at! Pause. Consider the 5 factors above to start defining how you think about your marketing approach and mix. You need to be smart in how you deploy your resources and make sure you are doing what is right for your business and your brand considering your stadium, business model, category, consumer and customer journey , as well as the level of resources and sophistication. Be smart with your marketing dollars. Invest wisely.
This article was first published at L’Agence Oneto.