Businesses of all shapes and sizes are in overdrive. Trying to find a space for themselves in ultra-competitive markets, the digitisation of every aspect of our lives has created both new opportunities, and new pressures.
Concurrently, consumers are becoming increasingly savvier in where they spend their money. An underlying element of distrust in digital advertising – exemplified by the rise of ad blockers – and squeezes on spending power only add to the difficulties brands and agencies face.
Yet, ultimately, we are our own worst enemies. With stakeholders and board members demanding instant results, advertisers are prioritising short-term sales targets over brand growth. Agencies, armed with cutting-edge analysis tools that can measure Cost Per Sale, Lead and Response in real time and optimise campaign activity accordingly, are allowing this culture to embed itself within the industry.
Since both parties lose out in these circumstances, it’s time to be more assertive in our support of longer-term, bigger-picture strategies.
Having short-term goals is, of course, important to the success of a wider marketing strategy. The significance of the word ‘wider’, however, cannot be overlooked. For whilst pay per click, online display and paid social media ads can be efficient in delivering short spikes in sales, those spikes will only become harder to achieve in the following year without a broader brand building strategy in place.
A truly successful marketing plan requires two key commitments from the advertiser. The first is to ensure there is a balance between mass reach medias that maximise coverage, forge credibility and create memorability – think TV, outdoor and radio – with the more targeted and interactive short-term sales activation channels detailed above.
With both sides working harmoniously together, advertisers are not only boosting their chances of converting customers ready to buy now; they’re also implanting their brand in the purchase considerations of consumers who may one day become customers.
The second is long-term investment. At a time when consumers are increasingly looking for purpose, values and value in their choice of brand, advertisers need to consistently communicate compelling causes and propositions through quality creatives. The need to cultivate trust, authenticity and stature is acute.
As for agencies, our responsibilities centre on creating an environment where advertisers can feel confident and empowered in committing to a longer-term approach.
We need to ensure businesses are able to build their brand with scale, whilst providing a level of expertise that melds the various components of a multichannel strategy into one seamless campaign that maximises the strengths of each.
Our value resides in identifying the right media combinations, buying inventory that represents value for money to the client, and ensuring short-term sales targets are met within the wider context of a successful brand building campaign.
A paranoia exists in the media industry that, by evangelising on the importance of the long-term, we risk casting ourselves as unscrupulous money-grabbers – in fact, the opposite is true. By continuing to focus on short-term gains, we are depriving clients of the opportunity to realise their full potential.
Ultimately, from shareholder down to media executive on both sides, we need to embrace the bigger picture, and realise that, by concentrating on long-term brand growth, businesses stand the best chance of reaching out to new eyeballs, increasing customer acquisition rates, and securing a larger share of their market. Isn’t that the end goal, after all?