Stay on target

How to avoid expensive marketing mistakes.

Businesses large and small are guilty of wasting precious marketing dollars. We see many of the common marketing pitfalls companies make. In almost every “wasted dollars” scenario we have noticed a recurring theme: the lack of a robust and considered brand and marketing strategy that guides everything from consistency of message to targeting, tonality, presentation and expectations.

There are a number of benefits that are outcomes of a defined brand and marketing strategy for your business and that, if embraced, will save you from wasting precious marketing dollars.

Targeting everyone and reaching no one

Have you ever placed an advertisement in any media or run a promotion and received little or no response in spite of having a terrific product or service offer? Well, rest assured you’re not the “Lone Ranger”! Nine times out of ten the reason is quite simple – poor targeting or the scattergun approach.

What do we mean by this?

Imagine a farmer sowing seeds widely across his whole field, taking no account of whether the soil is fertile or which way the wind is blowing, or not having furrowed the field. It will come as no surprise if only some of the seeds take root and flourish.

“Every successful marketer has a deep and insightful understanding of the market they operate in.”

The same applies to promoting your business and its products – you simply can’t afford to waste valuable seed (ie marketing dollars) in this manner. If you haven’t decided exactly who you want to reach with your message and how best to reach them, you are unlikely to succeed and very likely to waste your investment in marketing.

We adhere to the common mantra, “The marketer who tries to be everything to everyone ends up being nothing to anyone.” In other words, “You are at risk of being beige!”

One of the keys to marketing success is knowing your customers and to target clients really well. We really believe that targeting is critical to attracting customers/clients who are new to your brand. In fact, the more finely targeted you are, the more opportunity you have to be more relevant to your consumers’ needs.

By better understanding and addressing the target customer needs, wants and desires you can create a brand that will be meaningful, relevant and appealing to them.

How best to define your target?

Imagine your ideal customer sitting in front of you. What are they looking for? What do they talk about? What are they saying? What are their motivations?

By considering their buyer mindset, we have a better knowledge of what really motivates their decision-making when they begin to think of buying in your category. What really goes on inside their head at this time?

If you better understand what motivates their buying needs and choice criteria, you’ll almost certainly have a better understanding of how to provide the answer or solution they are seeking.

At BrandQuest, we refer to this as motivational segmentation.

Then you might add other influencers to gain a better insight into these potential customers. What influences them? Whose opinion do they value?

This process assists with targeting because the better you understand what motivates your target audience, and deliver their “buyer motivation”, the more likely you are to strike a chord with them.

Importantly, we also find this segmentation process forces your team to better consider your customers’ motivations, rather than their own sales motivations.

Every successful marketer has a deep and insightful understanding of the market they operate in and carefully segments that market.

We experienced a great example of this when developing a brand strategy for a company who were launching a brand of high-end, premium automatic car washes into the Australian market.

Traditional demographic targeting almost certainly would have created targets along the lines of income status, type and value of vehicle, and place

of residence.

By preferring to trust motivational segmentations it became apparent that many potential users were in fact not high income, did not necessarily drive expensive European cars and did not necessarily reside in traditional high-income suburbs.

In fact, the motivating factors actually bridged demographics to bring together a high income, expensive car owner into the same segment as the blue-collar worker who owned a 2010 Holden Commodore.

This example allowed the company to segment and target a motivational segment of car-proud owners who valued the care and quality that the car-wash provided for them.

Had the brand relied on demographics alone, many similar “car proud” owners of Japanese and older cars would have been missing from all marketing communications.

Segmentation allows your company to tailor your offer in order to become differentiated, more meaningful and relevant to a discreet section, or sections, of the total market.

Having defined very clearly the benefits of targeting segments that you understand and want to communicate with, you’ll be investing marketing dollars, not wasting them.

The schizophrenic marketer strikes again!

Not surprisingly many companies who operate without a brand and marketing strategy get bored of their marketing before their consumers or clients do. This results in a plethora of mixed marketing messages across different channels – from answering the phone to brochure presentation, from website to direct mail, from advertising to sales presentations.

As a consequence, there is no consistency of message, no consistency of tonality or look, a lack of consistency in customer benefits and, all in all, a lack of consistency for your overall brand communicated to people who have a need to buy.

Customers are more likely to buy from you when they have a clear understanding of who, what and why you are different to your competitors.

Brands are like people. A brand needs to be liked and welcomed. It needs to be understood. It needs to be trusted. And the key to understanding and trust is consistency.

Would you stay friends with a colleague who you never quite knew what they were about to say next, or how they would behave in different situations? Of course you wouldn’t. So, why would people feel attracted to your brand or business if it behaves with similar personality traits?

It is often at this stage that the schizophrenic marketing of the past is exposed.

Consistency and repetition are the hallmarks of brands and companies who build trust and whose customers come back time and time again because they consistently deliver, ie they are not one thing one day and another thing another day.

Or, as we like to consistently remind our clients, repetition builds reputation.

Why a change is not necessarily good for your brand

If branding is about consistency and repetition in your client’s mind, then it logically dictates that you should try to keep your brand guardian and brand assets as consistent as possible. However, in practice we often find this not to be the case.

We have witnessed many examples of a new brand or marketing manager coming into the role and wanting to immediately change everything as a way of being seen to make progress.

While this does cause a lot of activity and focus on the brand it is often at the expense of the client, who does not understand or care for the change.

Once the dust has settled, the brand change has been at a huge expense for little benefit – just in time for the next brand or marketing manager to move in and start again!

Graeme Gladman, co-founder and principal, BrandQuest

This story first appeared in issue 30 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

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