One of the first casualties in a difficult economic environment is an organisation’s spend on marketing. Unfortunately, most of them reduce their expenditure at the expense of results.
Indeed a recent international survey showed that there was a very strong parallel between the reduction in marketing expenditure and the reduction in enquiry levels.
Notwithstanding this, in my view, it is possible for many organisations and, in particular, many organisations in Western Australia to reduce their marketing spend without impacting negatively on their results. Indeed, there are a number of organisations I’ve looked at where they could reduce their marketing expenditure and improve their results.
So what’s the secret?
Well of course there are the steps that we all know about including:
- Set clear objectives
- Research your market
- Develop a strategy
- Monitor strategy
Clearly these are all important but have all being discussed to death before and they are being ignored as much today as they’ve ever been ignored. It is truly amazing how many organisations think they can achieve their potential or even achieve adequate levels of profitability without addressing these issues.
Clearly, there are a lot of people out there cleverer than me.
Setting aside these old chestnuts, I want to discuss five things that are, in my view, critical to minimising expenditure on marketing, or more specifically, communication. They are:
- Be distinctive
- Be authentic
- Keep it simple
- Boost accountability
- Think product
Time and time again there is an inverse relationship between the degree to which a product or service is seen as distinctive and the level of expenditure on marketing communication. The fact is, if you offer something different and are seen to be to different, better satisfying the needs and wants of the consumer, the cost of communication is lower.
Conversely, if you are saying the same thing as everyone else, then you have to shout louder and spend a whole lot more to get noticed. It’s not just about the look and feel of the communication; it’s more about what you are saying.
And this leads me on to the point of authenticity. Often do people see an advertisement, indeed how often do you see an advertisement, pursue the product offering and find out that it is entirely different to that promised in the advertisement? More commonly, however, how often have you seen an advertisement which says a product or service is different and when you’ve gone to look at the product or service you’ve found it is exactly the same?
Take housing developments and project homes for example. They’re all the same. They promise something different but deliver the same thing. They’ve engaged someone to package up an ad which makes them look different, but they haven’t focused enough attention on developing something which actually is different. They are not authentic.
Keep it simple is, in my view, critical. How good are the Coles advertisements at the moment featuring the slogan “Down Down”? They might be infuriating but the message is simple, the promise is simple and it doesn’t take a lot of repetition to lock it in your head.
The simpler the message and the simpler the offering, the lower the cost of marketing communication.
You simply have to boost accountability. Most advertising is not measurable but some advertising and communication is. Why so much money is still spent in the press, when it could be spent online and therefore so much more accountable is beyond me.
Increasing the level of expenditure online, allows you to monitor the impact of your advertising, and fine-tune both the creative and the media selection.
The number of Western Australian organisations that take the lazy road or take the lazy advice from their consultants and use television, radio or press, when more accountable forms of advertising would produce better results and greater accountability is staggering.
Finally, in line with the comments about authenticity, marketing is not just about communication. It is also about the product, how it’s priced and how it’s distributed. But most of all, it is about the product. If the product doesn’t have a competitive advantage, isn’t distinctive, doesn’t offer something special, then promoting it is going to be more expensive.
It is essential for business to invest more in research and development and develop product which people want to buy more than other product. And if they do, the cost of marketing communication will come down.
In my view, many major advertisers in Western Australia spent far too much on marketing communication and it’s because they don’t follow the simple principles outlined above.
Well – that’s what I say. What say you?