5 minutes read
As we dive deeper into times of uncertainty, the temptation to slash your brand marketing dollars will arise. However, those that have the foresight to maintain and refocus their marketing spend toward more targeted, strategic branding efforts set their business up for greater resiliency and long-term outcomes. In fact, a recent article by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) titled “Don’t Cut Your Marketing Budget. Rethink It” affirms that marketing cuts can be a major misstep that can have significant financial repercussions on an organization. The Harvard Business Review confirms this hypothesis, noting that “Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it.”
The potential consequences from cutting marketing spend are plentiful and range from underperforming growth rates, declines in market share, and weakened brand health, thus resulting in longer-term costs to regain short-term losses. Every dollar you “save” by decreasing your marketing spend will wind up costing you almost twice as much in future investments to recover. Even worse, your shareholder return will decline by what BCG estimates to be 6 percent. And that’s just the beginning in a series of setbacks that you risk by cutting marketing dollars. All of these drawbacks are evidence that, while slashing brand spending may be enticing, your company should use downturns as an opportunity to optimize how you spend.
How? The solution lies in making your dollars work more effectively. It’s a multilayered equation that begins with Precision Branding.
The twenty-first century has opened the door for brand building that’s far more accurate and precise than ever before. This heightened precisions is a by-product of deeper consumer insights, innovations in marketing technology, more agile creative processes, and advanced analytics that stretch your brand dollars further.
Precision Brand Building capitalizes on these advances to reach consumers in the most effective and efficient ways. Customers today have high expectations: they want their user experiences be frictionless and relevant, and Precision Brand Building delivers on that. It ensures that the right messaging never falls on deaf ears; it guarantees that you’re able to reach the subgroups you desire in the moments and with the messages they’re most ready to hear from you. The first step in meeting your customers’ needs (or what they think they need) is to break down into subgroups in a process called Precision Targeting.
If there’s a silver lining to uncertain times, it’s the opportunity to really unpack who your customers are and better understand their shared characteristics. Market segmentation is at the heart of Precision Marketing: this period of discovery will embolden you to pinpoint previously unseens subgroups, identifying their needs, values, characteristics, and behaviors on a more granular level. After you’ve reevaluated your customer segmentation and zeroed in on your subgroups, it’s time to determine where the low-hanging fruit is and how best to position the brand with those subgroups.
it’s well-known that it’s more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. It’s a cost-benefit analysis that boils down to focus on which customers are the most worthy of holding onto and where the potential consumers you should be courting are. After you unpack exactly whom to target, your focus should be on understanding how to speak to those segments at the various points along their customer journey and what channels are most efficient for reaching them.
This meticulous process entails identifying and analyzing (with data whoever possible) every consumer touchpoint. Simply put, where and how are your customers interacting with you, and in what way? Journey Mapping will require you to rethink your marketing message and media mix to find the most efficient ways to reach your customers. This information will let you glean precisely where people are so you can deliver the right message in the right place at the right time. And, of course, this effort must be competitively informed. We generally find heavy clusters of competitive activity along the customer journey, which is why you should focus on touchpoint that others aren’t. Digital channels (compared to traditional mass media) allow for precise zeroing in on touchpoint. Throughout this discovery, you should be open to new digital environments, such as high-impact web, CTV, or OTT. This will require creativity as you still need to intercept your audience at points that will have meaningful impact and with messages that will resonate.
Now that you know who your target segments are, what they care about, how they like to engage, and where they are in their journey, it’s time to craft the proper messaging and activate against it flawlessly. According to BCG, “the most advanced marketers home in on behavioral signals, such as purchase history, frequency of site visits, or specific pages visited.” Keeping that all in mind, they “then serve individuals the most relevant needs-based messaging, taking into account their preexisting brand and competitor associations.” This ensures that those targeted are totally optimized and that brand associations are positive.
Historically, this level messaging and activation was unheard of as mass media has never allowed for this degree of precision. Now, you can personalize marketing campaigns to the smallest and most accurate details. You can build your brand like never before by placing your finger on the exact segments you’ve worked so hard to uncover. A closer look at the data underscores it. Even online videos, which have yet to reach their zenith, offer a “greater influence on purchase than TV by 13 percentage points” and “reach 95 percent of the total US internet audience.” The old notion that digital marketing means a diminished level of real is simply a dated notion.
Periods of economic uncertainty bring plenty of unexpected obstacles that will challenge and test your organization. You may need to shift investment dollars in ways that fo against your instincts or long-cemented norms. You’ll likely see changes in customer behaviors that require you to question your business decisions. New customer touchpoint may emerge and be more fruitful than expected. While these changes may feel confusing or daunting, you must see them as an opportunity to get to know, reach, and serve your customers better by leaning into Precision Brand Building. By doing so, you will assert yourself as a brand with true staying power, a resilient business model, and loyal customers.
Starfish is a branding and creative communications agency that ignites powerful customer connections through the discipline of brand experience.
Starfish CEO | Global Marketing Executive | Brand Strategist