In 1970 US market research firm Yankelovich estimated that the average New Yorker saw 3000 advertisements per day. Today that figure is estimated to exceed 5000. This figure is also growing through the increase in digital communications such as email and online advertising. Unsurprisingly, as a result of 4000 people interviewed by Yankelovich, 50% thought marketing and advertising were out of control (1)! As further evidence of digital’s growth, expenditure on digital communications exceeded that on television in 2009 in the UK. This trend is likely to be mirrored in other countries. Or at least until online advertising auction prices become unbearable.
Let’s assume you’ve developed a great product, service or brand and determined your target market and brand positioning strategy. Yet you now want to get your message to your prospects and turn them into customers. So where and how do you start? What’s the mix of offline and online activity, and how do they work together to command attention and persuade?
First, determine your marketing promotion objective and strategy.
Five marketing promotion strategies
There are five types of promotion strategy to consider:
1. Change image/perceptions; by increasing awareness or changing attitudes to brand. Building awareness is a vital precursor to selling any brand. Changing perceptions is also important for those with flat or declining sales.
2. Trial; by creating (or increasing) new or renewed brand experience (retrial), perhaps through switching from a competitor. Most useful for new or low penetration brands.
3. Loyalty; by increasing brand buying frequency or usage. Also important for brands with flat or declining sales.
4. Relationship building; by understanding, acquiring, servicing, retaining and encouraging customer advocacy. Most common in business-to-business (B2B) markets, but also increasingly so in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets.
5. Stocking or display; by selling-in and encouraging display of an above average amount of product. Most useful for brands who promote or sell via intermediaries, such as distributors, wholesalers or retailers.
Five media strategies
To meet your promotion objective, your next challenge is to get your message across at the lowest possible cost. Either via offline or online media or both. To do this it helps to think like a game-keeper ;-). Here are five strategies to use.
This is the most common and familiar type of media strategy. It involves promoting (pushing) a message to customers via some form of media, such as mass media like tv or radio, more niche media such as magazines, or direct media such as direct mail. Digital marketing vehicles include email marketing (electronic direct mail), online advertising via banners and also pay-per-click (PPC) adverts. PPC advertising is also a form of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ marketing given the customer is in active search mode, i.e. searching using keywords.
This involves attracting (pulling) customers to your brand; for example, via store merchandising or an exhibition stand. Attracting customers to a website via the Internet is the ‘best’ example of ‘pull’ marketing. Websites attract traffic through search engine optimisation (SEO). So think about your website as bait or a lure to attract customers!
Fishing is also a form of ‘push’ strategy. Enabled by digital technology, this involves placing adverts, or embedding links to drive clicks to your website, or capture customers. It is likened to ‘fishing’ in that ‘nets’ or ‘squeeze’ pages’ (3) are placed in locations where there are large shoals of fish, to attract or catch large numbers of customers. Types of fishing include co-opting affiliates, or establishing price comparison sites or portals. Whereby other people, businesses or high traffic websites also catch customers.
Involves building or buying a sales database and continuous promotion to attract, engage and build customer relationships. This type of strategy sits between marketing and sales, and is most commonly used by B2B businesses. Nurturing can also be considered a form of ‘push’ strategy. While originally enabled via direct mail, telephone and face-to-face, digital technology has inspired new communication possibilities.
This involves co-opting customers to a shared interest group. Thus building a community and enabling relationship building between community members and the brand. This type of strategy is used by both B2C and B2B businesses. It has also been inspired by new digital technologies – the major social media platforms, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as purpose-built community platforms.
1. Change your view on each medium to see their role in the whole.
The questions to ask are .. what channel is the most effective for what message? And what combination will generate most leads and sales at the lowest cost?
Consider ways to combine media to increase message impact, interest and activate sales. Link offline to online worlds and vice versa. Promote your website url via different advertising and integrate digital media, for example, blogs to websites, Twitter, and Facebook. Use the same creative across all media and over a series of campaigns. Avoid changing the creative lead too often to avoid confusion.
2. Embrace digital for itself
Digital technology can enhance products or services as well as inspire new promotion opportunities. Extra product benefits include paper-free delivery, paper-free billing, savings on storage and cost, better control or personal management, education, entertainment and social benefits. Adding content and stories provides the ‘sticky stuff’ or ‘scent’, i.e. keywords to attract passing customers.
3. Make the website marketing central and brand home
Websites are no longer just a repository for information, acting as shop windows per se. They also serve a broader range of functions including promotion, entertainment, customer services as well as a place to shop. Consider your website a hub for all marketing communication and relationship building activity, and a home for your brand, housing resources, and downloads. All underpinned by content and customer management systems to store and retrieve everything and enable customer interactivity, purchasing, and service.
4. Create cut-through creative ideas
Set high creative standards for all media to command attention and interest. PPC advertising dumbs-down to a handful of characters, the same text font, and colours. This limits the brands’ ability to stand-out. By creating better-branded communications you’ll boost demand for search phrases and could even set up a unique route to market. In game-keeper parlance, you’ll help the dog see the rabbit, or the customer see the meerkat as Alexandr Orlov has shown.
5. Measurement is vital for management
As Peter Drucker said, ‘what gets measured gets managed’ (4). So compare media cost per hundred or thousand impressions and cost per sale. Only then will you be able to plan, test and learn where best to invest to maximise your return on investment.
(1) Story, Louise; Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad, New York Times, January 2007
(2) Adapted from Arnold, Tim; Tomlinson, Guy; Chapter 31, Managing Digital Marketing, The Marketing Director’s Handbook (2014). 27 new pages that lift the lid on online digital marketing secrets.
(3) A squeeze page is a single website landing page designed for a specific promotion purpose and to capture a customer’s contact details. Arnold, John; Lurie, Ian; Dickinson, Marty; Marsten, Elizabeth; Becker, Michael; Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies (2009)
(4) Drucker, Peter F; The Practice of Management (1955)