It’s not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it’s about marketing effectively in a digital world.

In a world obsessed with short-termism and quick wins, don’t overlook the importance of a robust marketing strategy.

Is your business prioritising short-term impact over long-term effectiveness?

Research shows the majority of businesses are focusing on short-term tactics over long-term strategy, which is impacting the effectiveness of their marketing.

According to a survey of the marketing industry by the IPA and ISBA, 75% of marketers agree that short-term tactical needs often take priority over longer-term objectives.

Just 14% of marketers “strongly agree” that marketing objectives focus on the long-term (the next one-to-three years), yet 59% “strongly agree” they have a short-term (one-to-six months) plan in place.

This is mirrored in finance professionals’ experience of marketing. None of those questioned “strongly agree” that the marketing objectives they sign off are long-term, while 50% say they sign off short-term plans. Just 20% “strongly disagree” that marketing plans are long-term in view.

This type of thinking is significantly impacting the effectiveness of marketing.

How can effectiveness be improved?

While 76% of marketers place “great importance” on being able to demonstrate ROI, 70% say that focus is on reviewing and reporting individual campaign/activity/channel effectiveness.

Short-termism in the marketing industry is one of the areas that needs improving if marketing effectiveness is to increase. Currently, marketers rate their effectiveness at six out of 10.

It’s time to focus on the bigger picture!

According to the report ‘The long and the short of it’ by Les Binet and Peter Field, on average marketers should invest 60% of their budgets in long-term brand building and 40% in short-term sales activation to achieve the best return on marketing investment (ROMI).

Studies have proven that brand-building activity drives much stronger sales growth over periods of 6+ months than the temporary uplifts driven from by short-term sales activation. Brand-building activity leads to long-term improvements in base sales that short-term sales activity cannot. The same studies highlight that investing less than 60% in brand building activity means the equity required to generate future sales will not accumulate.

Don’t get blinded by digital.

In our experience, many businesses get lured by the bright lights and metrics of digital marketing. What they overlook is that digital marketing is one piece of the marketing activation pie that is traditionally focussed on top of the funnel customer acquisition.

This approach means businesses forget the fundamentals of marketing and while it may lead to an initial increase in ‘leads’ and ‘customers’, this growth flatlines and can’t be sustained over the long-term.

Instead of putting all your chips on ‘digital marketing’ it is essential to consider digital marketing a part of your overall approach to marketing.

It all starts with strategy!

Most businesses that we encounter that are struggling with the quality of their marketing activity dive straight into marketing activation without first defining a robust, scalable strategy.

But what is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy refers to a firm’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.

While the full process for defining a marketing strategy can often be complicated, as per the diagram below, keeping it simple can often be effective and by answering three questions you will have the bones of a good marketing strategy:

  • Which customers are we going to target?
  • What is our position to those customers?
  • What is our objective with those customers?

Why now?

It’s always the right time to invest in building your brand but now more so than ever.

According to the annual report by consulting firm Gartner, Chief Marketing Officers are, for the first time, prioritising brand strategy ahead of analytics, personalisation and marketing technology. 33% percent of CMOs now rank brand strategy as one of their top three priorities, up from “near the bottom of the list in 2019.”

So why the big shift in focus?

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a significant shift in how brands communicate with consumers. CMOs have therefore quickly reordered their priorities to focus on brand strategy for a number of reasons:

  • Many businesses have been forced to shift their business strategy and operational models and so a refocus of their brand strategy to reflect this is key to the success of the pivot
  • Businesses are expected to be more socially, culturally and ethically aware in the shifting environment and so are placing more emphasis on their values and responsibilities
  • As with all recessions we have seen an increase in disruption and start-ups which makes existing brands reassess their position in the market in order to protect their share of it from new entrants
  • Marketing budgets have been significantly reduced meaning a more focussed proposition and communication strategy is essential to ensure absolute clarity of messaging

The importance of the customer journey

Regardless of your sector, size or age, your audience falls into one of five ‘buckets’ that form your customer journey.

The fundamental objective of any marketing strategy should be in how, using a variety of tactics, channels and messages, you aim to nurture people along the customer journey i.e. nurturing people from one bucket to the next:

Targets: People that buy or would consider buying what you sell, but not from you.

Prospects: People that have given you permission to share your marketing messaging with them.

Leads: People that have expressed a specific level of interest in your product/service.

Customers: People that already buy from you.

Promoters: People that buy from you and actively promote your product or service to others

By defining a strategy that is focussed on this objective and putting robust measurement criteria and ongoing optimisation processes in place, you will build incredible value and scalability to your marketing activity.

    If you’re looking to make your marketing more effective, start with strategy.
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