Published: 11 June 2014

The digital ‘revolution’ has meant big change for marketers. Digital channels have emerged and grown rapidly, segmenting into micro channels as they’ve done so. For marketers, instant measurable responses, high rankings on Google and thousands of fans on Facebook are the new nirvana. Unfortunately ‘embracing digital’ for many brands has often been at the expense of cohesive brand thinking, good ideas and proper consideration of the fundamentals of marketing in their strategic thinking. A classic example of this is when many brands in recent years decided: ‘We need a mobile app’ but often didn’t consider why, what specifically they wanted it to achieve and where they saw it fitting in the context of their overall marketing strategy. The result in this case was often a mobile app that sat to the side of the main marketing strategy not really serving a logical purpose. This sort of thing is still happening as new channels come to the fore. Achieving ‘success’ via digital channels is important and it’s great that marketers have a wider range of options than ever before at their disposal. However neglecting core fundamentals of brand building and choosing channels because they seem to be ‘the thing to do’, whilst ignoring the other myriad components of the wider marketing ecosphere are big mistakes!

Brand is King (or Queen!)
Regardless of the plethora of channels and devices that are now at our disposal as marketers, marketing is still about engaging people with brands. It’s about driving sales by creating desire in consumers as many ways as possible in a strategic fashion. The final task is to get those interested consumers to go the next level and buy. At the centre of any decent marketing strategy should sit a solid set of brand values and objectives. Consumers are notoriously brand agnostic by nature. They don’t sit thinking about brands like marketers do! Therefore it is a constant challenge to keep your brand front of mind. That means you have to know what you’re trying to achieve and use all possible routes to get there.

There is a brilliant Ted Talk by Simon Sinek which sums up the ethos of brilliant marketing. This is that at the centre of every marketing strategy should sit a brand and its ‘why’. If you haven’t watched this talk by the way, click the link at the bottom of this piece and do so, as it’s a must watch for every sales and marketing professional. Once you have the why sorted for your brand, you will have a much easier time garnering consumer loyalty and increasing engagement levels. How does your marketing serve your brand’s values?

How does it enhance the brand proposition and what precisely will you consider a successful outcome? Once you have answered all of these questions, then and only then should you be considering tactics and what channels you should use.

Building a brilliant ‘joined up’ brand experience
Think cohesively! If you are marketing a car brand for example, this means thinking through all the touch points with your brand that a consumer will have and creating a seamless experience of the brand. In this example, the consumer would by rights encounter the brand through a combination of advertising -  TV, outdoor and online, press coverage, direct communications if any interest has been sparked previously – so email or collateral such as brochures, social media and in the showroom. Making sure all these touch points reiterate the brand values and core messaging and work together to drive the car buyer to the point of purchase is the key to success. To only use social media for example would be to lose out on many brand reinforcing opportunities with many of your customers.

False friends: Measurement for measurement’s sake
Of course measurement and ROI are synonymous with successful marketing and right that is too. But measurement for measurement’s sake doesn’t always tell the whole story. Acquiring 5000 Facebook likes or followers on Twitter with no thought as to where they come from or how they will be used ongoing makes their acquisition meaningless. Unless there is a considered plan for ongoing personalized marketing to carefully segmented groups of those new fans/followers, you are without doubt wasting sales opportunities. The right approach to personalised marketing is to look at which groups  responded at which stages in the campaign and how and making sure that those customers receive more of the type of communication that worked.

This last bit is the key; it may well be that more targeted Facebook advertising with a tantalizing online offer is the right way forward. Depending on your brand and the environment it exists in your best route to a certain customer segment may for example be a beautiful piece of tailored direct mail or an even more impressive in store poster and POS unit to drive the customer the last metre to the till. It’s all about achieving that vital ‘brand cut through’ in a competitive environment, it’s all marketing and it all needs to work together!

Simon Sinek Ted Talk:

Paul Stephen

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