There is no denying that marketing has become more complex and one of the main drivers of this complexity is the rapidly increasing number of channels in which we can engage consumers. Technology is providing more ways of connecting while at the same time the budgets available to marketers has remained largely stagnant or are even reducing.
So when you are confronted with an increased number of options or choices, what should you do?
- Stick with what you know and the choices you always make?
- Try one or two new options to see what they are like?
- Try everything while still keeping all your current choices?
- Throw everything out the window and make all new choices?
This is what is currently confronting marketers. And the choices they make are insights into their strategic abilities and personalities.
1. Stick with what you know
The more established and traditional FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), have taken the path of sticking with their tried and tested strategies, even in the face of falling performance, they see this as less risk than moving to more untested options. Usually driven by the huge established infrastructure and process that demands consistent and predictable, if slightly diminished returns over the unpredictability of the new.
2. Test and learn before you buy
Other brands, especially in the highly competitive automotive category, have taken on and tested new channels and strategies with a 70/20/10 approach putting 10% of budget into new strategies, 20% for developing those that show real promise and 70% continued to be invested in the existing strategy. This test an learn approach has seen innovation with controlled risk.
3. Add more options to your repertoire
Telecommunications and financial services, along with other high volume brands have usually taken the more, more more approach, embracing new channels with more activity on the basis that more begets more. But does it? The volume of communication activity appears to lead to burn out within marketing, their agencies, suppliers and ultimately the customer.
4. Start from scratch
Really the only category that has thrown out the rule book and built a new model from the ground up is the new players in the market – The tech-start ups – who have no marketing legacy baggage and often as they are online, they rely heavily on the online presence to drive awareness. Think start ups like Instagram, Pinterest and the more established Facebook and Google. But even companies like Google are using traditional advertising for products like the Chrome browser and the like.
So what are the best options?
It depends on a number of criteria and circumstances including:
- Current performance – Which channels are performing and which are under performing? If you are unsure then time to do some test and learn on your existing channel mix to identify those channels that are not delivering results and drop these in favour of those delivering results.
- Strategic requirements – Review your marketing and communications strategy and identify the channels which best meet your requirements. Is the strategy awareness or engagement or both? Is it simple or complex and which are the channels that best deliver these strategic requirements.
- Audience engagement – Where is your audience and how do they engage and interact with each of the channels? Where are the best opportunities to engage with the audience at the right time and in the right way?
- Competitive activity – Often overlooked or misinterpreted. Rather than simply identifying where they are spending and trying to out spend, it is often better to look for the channel opportunities they have overlooked and make them your own. The problem is if everyone in your category is filling a particular channel then the consumer turns off.
- Budget flexibility – Realistically what can you afford to do? It is far better to do one of two channels really well than trying to spread a limited budget over too many channels.
Basically the rule is “do not do more, but do more of the activities that drive results and do them more efficiently”.
How do you select the channels for your brand and your strategy? And what approach have you taken in the face of so much more choice? Leave a comment here and let me know.