Loud. Consistent. Differentiating. Focused.
Each attribute is an essential element of marketing, to establish and maintain a presence in the prevailing, challenging and somewhat suppressed marketplace. Sadly, constrained and reducing budgets are contributing to a loss of visibility for an increasing number of companies, brand names, products and services.
Being removed from figurative and literal shopping lists pre-emptively lessens the effectiveness, creativity and originality in advertising, marketing, promotions, selling and packaging content.
Ironically, some senior executives do not recognise the fact that when existing, prospective and past clients do not recognise or recall the brand name or its value- proposition, sales and transactions are improbable
Invisibility is not a virtue.
Decisions to cut staff numbers, overheads and advertising can be decisive, and – if taken promptly. Often, little consideration and time are given to the consequences, which can be, and typically are, immediate, deep, widespread and lasting.
This scenario is compounded by the presence of multiple like-products, services and applications, each claiming similar features, benefits and advantages – with comparable limited budgets: a boring landscape of sameness.
Making, achieving and projecting a difference, is difficult, if not impossible, with limited resources.
Commoditisation, in which each or all offerings are perceived to be part of a non-differentiated amorphous block, simply exacerbates invisibility (read: non-conspicuous presence) in the marketplace.
Accordingly, the goals set for, and expected of effective marketing sometime become unattainable.
Over-reliance on, and emphasis on single communication channels can multiply the consequences of reductions in advertising expenditure. Social media and on-line advertising present timely case studies. Both are effective among consumers and corporation team members who have entered, or are advanced in the purchase routine, and are seeking specific or targeted information.
For the uncommitted and ill-informed, cuts in newspaper, radio, television and outdoor advertising can, and often do, eliminate or preclude brand names, products and services from any degree of recognition, recall, preference or advocacy (read: invisibility).
In the absence of consistent, regular or periodic exposure to advertising and communications, top-of-mind recall rates can be negligible, – if any – within a 6-week span.
Stop-start advertising effects similar patterns in recall, awareness, preference, and above all, cash-flow! Ouch!
Achieving impact on a limited budget is difficult – not impossible.
A laser-tight focus on activities can effect relative, as against absolute, visibility, impact and differentiation.
Discrete target audiences can be, and at all times should be, identified, analysed and communicated to.
Understanding the media habits and information sources of primary, secondary and tertiary customer groups enables priorities to be assigned, budgets set and allocated, and optimal marketing channels to be utilised.
Thus, with a constrained or limited budget, impact can be achieved and sustained to high-prospect entities, individuals and groups. Leakage and losses among those in the broader marketplace are therefore minimised, and the cost-effectiveness of marketing, advertising, promotion and selling campaigns is enhanced.
Broadening audiences and target markets can be, and ideally should at all times be, achieved by personalised on-sell propositions to customers who have responded positively to the targeted communications. On-selling, recommending and referring are different and later phases of the purchase process than advertising, promotions and merchandising.
Converting satisfied customers to referees, advocates and ambassadors is an art form, utilised by outstanding, high-achieving marketers. It simply takes a disciplined, structured approach, within the construct of relationship marketing.
Secondary and cascading sales are not restricted to, or solely dependent upon the recommendations and introductions effected by purchasers.
Well connected and profiled spheres-of-influence are a diverse collective. Their access to, and influence on differing demographics, psychographics, localities and consumers can, and should, be utilised.
In some instances, that may require conclusion of commercial agreements, with financial considerations, use or access to products, services and applications or recognition in company-based initiated literature. Moreover, dedicated advertising budgets and messages are required.
Marketing mavens are typically few in number, but influential in many purchase decisions. Their seeming insatiable desire to be at the forefront of product knowledge and product-use can be sufficient currency to satisfy the needs of those individuals.
The marketing and communications initiatives of mavens make selling easier.
AN EXTERNAL FOCUS
Thus, once the internal orientation of optimal efficiency and cost-cutting has been achieved, rewards and competitive advantage await those who strive for external effectiveness.
The adroit use and deployment of external resources can and will leverage sales, revenue, productivity and profitability.
Moreover, mentions, references and reflections by spheres-of-influence counter any drift towards invisibility and commoditisation.
In short, a key objective is to become and remain the topic of conversation. Share of mind, does inevitably become share of market. That typically requires a relatively stable schedule of marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and merchandising. Individually, and collectively, budgets and resources are essential. Retention of them is expensive. But cutting budgets and resources can be more expensive, when measured in terms of losses in marketplace visibility, differentiated market positioning, sales, revenues and profits.
So, think, cut it out, and then think again – in this order.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.
Conference Keynote Speaker
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