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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

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Real Marketing vs. Fake Marketing

One newspaper, two different messages. No news there though.

On the one hand, we read a column with the media pundits crying that it’s no time to abandon your brand; consumers are consuming more media than ever; engage your customers… So, we end-up with advice like this:

“But we know that Australians are spending in retail, grocery, pharmacies and online as such FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), pharmacy, local/state and federal government, health advice and online retail should be very active in media spend now,” said Mr O’Brien, chairman of Atomic 212, Australia’s biggest independent media agency.

This won’t make much sense to the well trained, commercial marketer. They don’t need to be active when consumers are facing limited availability in channels; high demand; pressure from the retail duopoly (= low margins); and constrained manufacturing and distribution. It’s just further evidence of how out of touch most on the Agency side are with marketing as a profession. That’s not saying they aren’t awesome at their element of the communications discipline.

And I keep hearing the same old, same old being pedalled:

“History shows companies that keep investing in their brand in down times cannot only build market share but are also best positioned to come back fast when better times return.”

Really? I’d love to see the evidence of this for the majority of brands in the market and not the minority with the balance sheets to pull it off. Yes, consistent investment in Brand matters. But not at the expense of the balance sheet and not with the same message pre-crisis.

Moreover, there are plenty of examples of companies navigating out of a crisis specific to them. BP, Ford, Exxon come to mind. It’s a different territory managing a crisis of such scale and profound impact as Covid-19. This will result in massive change. Not a return to a new normal such as that we saw post GFC.

On the other, a column, written by my favourite marketing opinionator – Mark Ritson – pointing out rightly that communications are just a fragment of what marketing is, and that marketing needs to get back to its core functions in a time of crisis. Actually, all the time. Nail pricing. Refine product and propositions. Rethink packaging. Drive to new channels.

Mark is right. The media pundits are wrong in absolute terms, but right if that fits with your strategy.

“In reality, brands should be occupied with a bigger mission: selling stuff. The pandemic is a massive societal threat.”

The example of Uber Eats developing new propositions and rethinking how it engages with local restaurants is spot on the money. So much better than running platitudes about being here to help. The real work for Marketers right now is the real work around the other Ps.

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We’re all flying blind

Research into CMO’s views tends to humour me more than enlighten. It mostly tends to be out, based on what I am hearing, by some order of magnitude.

The latest from the CMO Council falls nicely into both the humour and out by an order of magnitude category. Here are a few snippets:

  • 84 per cent of global marketers expect the pandemic will multiply business disruption globally. OK, so what are the rest thinking – there either in self-isolation on a mountaintop or in denial?
  • 90 per cent expect to make changes to their marketing plans. Again, what is the remaining 10% thinking?
  • 66 per cent said they don’t have enough real-time visibility and insight into the pandemic’s impact across both the demand and supply chains. That should be like, 100%.
  • 69 per cent are not satisfied with the quality, timeliness and usefulness of decision support data. Again, should be 100%. It’s not that the functions providing the data are failing, it’s just they are living with VUCA as well.
  • Marketers feel they’re addressing customer consternation and concern extremely well (36 per cent) or moderately well (56 per cent). “Feeling” isn’t a fact. What do customers think? The many marketers I’ve spoken to are struggling with how to communicate in a relevant and authentic way, and to scale communications when all the resources they depend on are shutting down.
  • Two out of three said they’re safeguarding employees and support staff extremely well, and 27 per cent moderately well. I’m hearing real concern amongst marketers for their people. Not in terms of whether they are communicating well or not, but rather, whether there will be jobs at the end of this.
  • Nearly 60 per cent expressed moderate confidence in their company’s contingency, containment and recovery plans, while 31 per cent are extremely confident. I’m seeing this skew massively by sector. In banking, high confidence – they are built to weather crisis like this. In travel and hospitality, much less so. In non-essential retail, 100% aren’t. The industry matters greatly. Homogenizing data produces a false result.
  • Nearly half of marketers are bracing for marketing spending cuts. Another 26 per cent don’t know what’s going to happen. Bracing for cuts is right up there with “hope as a strategy”. The best marketers I am talking to are taking a leadership stance in reshaping and remodelling budgets to reflect demand models and architecting a strategy for the next three months, and alternate strategies for beyond that. The budget should be a by-product of strategy.

Your thoughts?

To view an infographic on the data, click here.

 

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Marketing Artefacts

Wandering the streets early this morning – let’s call it mobile self-isolation you can’t miss the marketing artefacts littering the billboards reminding us of another time. Images of holidays, businesses shuttered, products we can’t get, things we can’t do.

So why aren’t marketers rapidly repurposing them for new messages? Or if they have nothing to say, giving the space to those that could use them. Perhaps turning them into sponsored PSA. Or just words of encouragement.

But leaving communications up that is out of touch with times can only result in a brand that is out of touch as well.

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150 Relationships

So how many relationships can you maintain – and for how long can you maintain them without face-to-face contact. 150 and six are the numbers. The Dunbar Numbers:

For Dunbar, there’s a simple explanation for this: In the same way that human beings can’t breathe underwater or run the 100-meter dash in 2.5 seconds or see microwaves with the naked eye, most cannot maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships. Cognitively, we’re just not built for it. As with any human trait, there are outliers in either direction—shut-ins on the one hand, Bill Clinton on the other. But in general, once a group grows larger than 150, its members begin to lose their sense of connection. We live on an increasingly urban, crowded planet, but we have Stone Age social capabilities. “The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us,” Dunbar has written. “Putting it another way, it’s the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.”

  • Learned

The 10 biggest brands on Facebook

Just look at this list. Personal brands – or people as brands – beat businesses as brands in terms of Facebook. The question here is what makes them “biggest”.

I’m not sure followers or likes are the best of metrics. Sure, they are metrics but should we be really looking at engagement at a deeper level – or revenue? Does their success on Facebook afford them more margin or customer loyalty? I like Joe Tripodi’s ideas for measuring Expressions.

So, in addition to “consumer impressions,” we are increasingly tracking “consumer expressions.” To us, an expression is any level of engagement with our brand content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a “like,” uploading a photo or video or passing content onto their networks.

It is stunning to me that 33,764,986 like Coke on Facebook… (including me). We’re on our way with some 55,370 people liking CBA.

For more, read… The 10 biggest brands on Facebook- what’s hot and what’s not – TNW Facebook.