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Is decision making overload causing poor marketing decisions?

marketing decision making

This post is by Julian Barrans, Business Director, Asia for TrinityP3. Julian has worked as a business, marketing and branding professional for over 30 years, with more than half of that time in the APAC region, working both client side and agency side. A creative business leader who truly understands the importance of team building, working with the right partners as well as making decisions based on sound business strategy and practices.

Let’s face it there are more decisions that marketers need to make today than say a decade, or so, ago.   And no-one thought things were easy then in choosing the right blend of activity and spend options. It was already complex with ‘traditional’ media options on offer in targeting consumers as consumption habits kept evolving. Then came digital media channel opportunities and the targeting options that this added to the potential mix.

When this is coupled with often declining real budgets, this dilemma is amplified and needs to be reconciled with marketing decision making that delivers an optimal path for the ‘right’ brand activity plan, that targets its customers and consumers effectively.

Resources are scarce but marketing options are many…..creating a maze of decision options that may look impossible to navigate.

When you also look at the amount of experimentation that goes on with digital and the relative disjointed nature of measurement across different media, it does pose a real selection dilemma for effective brand activities and communication. Of course with budgets that have often been going backwards in recent years….less spend spread around more options definitely does not equate to more.

Then of course there’s the increased number of reps and strategists that are ‘advising’ on the plethora of media and activity options you should be considering and no doubt presenting their specific case for their offer. It make the maze that bit more complex to understand and navigate. Just consider the following compared to a ‘one stop agency’ with the single media planner….

  • Media sales representatives
  • Ad Tech and Mar Tech sales people
  • Various specialist agencies across different skill areas
  • Consulting firms

If you add to the above points the increasing expectation for this marketing spend to drive the growth desired, then even more decision making pressure is added. So overload and panic can often drive poor marketing investment decisions.

Deciding where to spend those precious dollars is causing decision making overload for marketers, amid the struggle to keep brands top of mind with consumers.

Is there a way to navigate this dilemma successfully?

As alluded to at the beginning of this piece, marketers have always faced change in the media and activity opportunity landscape. It’s just the digital channel opportunities have come thick and fast…continuing almost daily. They cause the current, but on going dilemma for marketers in choosing the optimal path for their brand(s).

So we need to avoid a nervous breakdown, so to speak, and ensure that key brand management aspects are in place to navigate this dilemma.

We’re going to make the assumption here that your brand positioning is still relevant to your consumers’ needs and wants amid the competitive set in the market place.

The really big prize then is to know how the customer journey has changed, or evolved, with the advent of the digital age. It’s not just the arrival of digital channel media opportunities but how the digital age has changed how your brand’s consumers interact with your brand. How do they make purchase decisions with respect to your brand and what are the key points of influence today, versus the past, and where do you think they are going?

Then how does messaging relevance, impact and timing fit into this. Structurally, what do you need to change within the organisation to better deliver against the evolved, evolving customer journey.

There are lots of big shifts we’ve seen over time that have seen major disruption, or changes, in the way consumers interact with brands. For example, how Amazon and other online retailers have influenced the purchase habits of millions of consumers to the detriment of a multitude of ‘traditional’ brick and mortar retailers.

If you’re not an online retail brand it doesn’t mean you have to give up however, and it certainly doesn’t mean you just keep doing what you’ve always done and stick your head in that sand. It also doesn’t mean that you fight back by spreading your budget across an increasing number of media opportunities and assume your brand saliency and relevance will improve by embracing digital channel opportunities and save the day, either.

You need to take a close look at your customers’ purchase decision journey and then choose the media opportunities and activity that place your brand in ‘pole position’ for purchase, playing to your strengths.

Consider what M&S did in the UK with their rebranding to combat their declining sales. They targeted consumers using OOH poster sites near their stores to literally ‘disrupt’ customer journeys, driving home their brand message and driving traffic to their stores. They used their physical real estate as a benefit that allowed immediacy to consumers to satisfy a purchase opportunity prompted by relevant, cut through messaging. It delivered faster than online would be able to do and allowed consumers to touch, ‘try on’ and potentially take home immediately. Plus online range support for further back up to ensure a purchase decision.

Changes to the customer journey

If you consider the Automotive category, the customer journey to purchase a car, in its simplest form, in the past, would have gone something like:

  • Select brands/models for consideration from past experience, brand awareness, friends P.O.V. to get three to four brands
  • Purchase car magazines for any reviews of the selected brands
  • Visit showrooms/sales person to get detailed knowledge/ brochures and see the models up close
  • Arrange test drives with the respective salesperson of the shortlisted two or three models.
  • Make purchase decision, options selection, negotiation, etc.

So the initial set of brands is reduced as the consumer goes through the journey and ends up at the purchase decision.

With the advent of digital, online information, etc, the customer journey has changed and you need to consider where you now need to influence the consumer.

It’s now more like this:

  • Select brands/models for consideration from past experience, brand awareness, friends P.O.V. to get three to four brands
  • Go online for YouTube videos, review forums, brand websites, etc. Add two or three different brands and take out one or two from the original list.
  • Visit dealer showrooms to sit in the car and arrange test drives.
  • Make purchase decision, negotiation, etc.

So the big changes are that online videos and review forums change the brand list that gets shortlisted and the role of the salesperson/dealer showroom has diminished with the consumer possessing detailed knowledge and options themselves already.

Marketers therefore have to ensure the brand media activities and content focuses on not only creating awareness/top of mind, but also for their website, YouTube, support/input to reviews and forums, use of KOL’s, etc. The activities post awareness must ensure there is maximum information and support to keep the brand in the consideration set. Also, the role of the dealer showroom needs to be geared more to test drive booking support and follow up.

A few final thoughts on navigating this dilemma…

So by interrogating the customer journey you can navigate the brand activities that need to be focused on and therefore where your budget should be spent, in broad terms that is. Hopefully, the budget is appropriate, otherwise priorities will need to be set. At least you will know where you shouldn’t be wasting budget and effort.

You are looking to find the brand’s optimal route that allows the customer journey to be understood and worked with, given the changing circumstances faced.

You may need to change processes, ways of working, agency/supplier roster to deliver the required skills, add or adjust internal team skills, etc, in order to deliver the opportunity.

If you need help and want to talk through this in more detail, you know where to find us.

TrinityP3 has developed a suite of products aimed at increasing your marketing performance to achieve improved business outcomes. Find out more here

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Julian has worked as a business, marketing and branding professional for over 30 years, with more than half of that time in the APAC region, working both client side and agency side. A creative business leader who truly understands the importance of team building, working with the right partners as well as making decisions based on sound business strategy and practices.

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