Many marketers will look forward to this new year with some trepidation. They face a situation where:
– The brand plan is going to call for substantial growth (in sales and profit contribution), even if last year this wasn’t achieved.
– Yet the advertising budget won’t be larger. The amount of time ‘on air’ has shrunk over the years as more money has gone to in-store activity (largely price promotions), and the media budget has been spread more thinly across more media options as various digital ‘new media’ were added to the mix.
– More than half of sales occur on-deal, hardly anyone pays the normal price anymore for this brand.
– There is the suspicion that the normal price is too high and so sometimes encourages consumers to pause and break habits to look at other brands.
– The brand has more variants (flavours, sizes) than ever before. This was justified on the basis of appealing to new different consumers, and winning shelf space (but the brand has no more shelf space than it had some years ago, probably less – not that this is carefully measured/tracked). Handling and production costs are consequently higher, and it’s suspected there are more stock-outs of the main formulation.
Even for large, successful, profitable brands this situation looks a little bleak. It seems very hard to see where substantial growth is going to come from. This makes marketers susceptible to consultants selling “miracle cures”. In marketing these cures usually speak about restoring brand equity and differentiation, getting consumers to fall in love with the brand again. All sorts of things are put forward as candidates to do this…from loyalty schemes to new advertising pre-testing approaches. Many grasp at these straws, hoping for at least a temporary win that they can put on their CV.
So how can a marketing manager get their brand out of this situation? How can they realistically put a plan in place that has a reasonable chance of delivering growth?
An important place to start is to get a few crucial metrics in place that reveal:
– what mental structures make is easier (more likely) for a consumer to buy our brands? FInd out then make sure your advertising reinforces these.
– how many people did we reach today with ‘advertising’? everyday.
– how many people physically came within close distance of our brand today?
– what things made it a little harder (less likely) for someone to buy our brand?