Top 7 Nasty Marketing Strategy Habits to Avoid to Cure Recession-Related Aches and Pains
By Kevin Clancy and Peter Krieg
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If you’re in marketing, the telltale throbbing head and queasy stomach often associated with a hangover just won't go away. Indeed, marketers all over the country are faced with a bottom-line economy in a deep freeze as their consumer and B2B customers opt to hibernate until the forecast improves. We suggest an aggressive avoidance therapy that will yield positive and lasting effects on recession-related aches and pains, not to mention better marketing performance. Here are seven nasty marketing strategy habits that only serve to make matters worse.
- Thinking only of yourself... when it comes customer satisfaction
Your efforts to improve customer satisfaction will fall flat if you only concentrate on figuring out how well your brand alone satisfies customers on the things they want from products or services in the category or industry. Not understanding how well a brand is doing relative to your competitors leaves a gaping information hole when it comes to deciding where to allocate limited resources. Say a bank finds out its customers give it an 89% satisfaction rating on “providing accurate statements,” but a 75% when it comes to “reasonable ATM fees,” the bank would probably focus on fixing the fees. Smart move? Not if its customers gave all its competitors a 98% on accurate statements and 45% on reasonable fees. Considering only your brand may give you absolute numbers, but absolutely no help when it comes to making the marketing investment moves that will pay off the most.
- Giving up without much of a fight... when it comes to positioning
Noted authors Al Ries and Jack Trout talked about positioning as the “battle for the mind,” but these days most marketers wave the white flag of surrender without putting up much of a fight. We’ve found that less than 10% of buyers could associate anything with the five leading brands in a wide variety of categories that even remotely resembled a reason-to-buy message (a.k.a. positioning). Yet a clear, definable positioning can work wonders for marketing performance (not to mention a marketer’s career). Consider Skol, a bit player in the Brazilian beer market and barely eking out a profit until, that it is, it took up the “smooth flavor” positioning. Today it’s the #3 brand in the world—without a drop sold in North America—and its brand manager became CEO of Inbev, the world’s largest brewer and the new owners of Anheuser-Busch.
- Ignoring what’s right in front of you... when it comes to innovation
The next big opportunity in terms of profits AND competitive advantage could be the next version of your current product. Take the case of Dunkin’ Donuts, a power brand in New England that a few years ago hoped to expand nationally. At the same time it worked to develop and test completely NEW store concepts to roll-out into national markets, it also identified what it could proactively change about its EXISTING stores that would boost sales and profitability. While Krispy Kreme and Starbucks shutter stores around the country and struggle with their brands, Dunkin’s recharged configuration of its current stores means it has more resources available to continue to expand and take on the new 800-pound gorilla in the coffee shop category, McDonald’s. Getting so wrapped up in finding the next product or service breakthrough that you ignore the product or service right in front of you means you’re more likely than not leaving money on the table.
- Talking the talk, but not walking the walk... when it comes to integrating marketing communications
It’s not exactly a well kept secret that each media channel or “customer touchpoint”—be it advertising, PR, sponsorship, direct, tradeshow, promotions, or the sales force—tends to have its own set of managers and handlers who may or may not tune into (or care) what’s going on with everyone else. It’s not impossible to scale the walls that separate advertising from PR, promotions from the sales force—it could be as easy as communicating who the key customer targets are for the marketing organization as a WHOLE and more closely monitoring to ensure the sum of the parts haven’t gone off on a tangent. If you want to maximize the power of your marketing efforts across communications channels, you have to put maximum effort into getting everyone on the same page.
- Leaving media in the dust... when it comes to market segmentation
You may take the time and effort to identify and develop a profile of different market segments to guide product or brand positioning decisions, but when it comes to deciding where and when to communicate with the folks who are in theory most likely to buy your brand, you’re left to your own devices to figure out the most efficient media buy. Something is wrong with that picture. In fact, many of the common techniques used to sort buyers do not deliver groups with distinguishably different media preferences and exposure patterns—a pretty big knock against the usability of the segmentation. Whether you have more money to work with or less, you’re not going to get the most mileage out of your marketing spend if you don’t consider the media decision in your segmentation plans.
- Making too many false friends... when it comes to brand loyalty
While it’s tempting to believe that “heavy buyers” or “heavy users”—the 20% of customers that account for 70% or even 80% of a brand’s sales—are the most loyal and dependable of the lot, this is not always the case. For years, Saks Fifth Avenue put substantial marketing money towards rewarding the folks who spent the most, until, that is, it discovered that they were not exactly monogamous. They were simply fashion-forward, high-powered, wealthy women who spent a lot of money on clothing and spread it around equally to different stores including Saks’ competitors Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. Saks set to work to find its real friends—the customers with positive attitudes, feelings, and perceptions of Saks’ brands, stores, and merchandise—and develop a close relationship with the customers who felt closest to them.
- Making much ado about nothing... when it comes to Marketing ROI
The drive towards making marketing more accountable has brought in numbers, numbers, and more numbers, but little in the way of useable performance results. You can show senior management here’s what we got on this performance metric, that’s true, but you can’t say if it’s a good number, a bad number, or, very importantly, how to improve the number (and these days senior management is very well going to expect you to be able to do just that). In spite of their plethora, the numbers haven’t made it any easier to justify spending, nor offered much in the way of guidance on what’s working, what’s not, and what to fix. And that’s the kind of information CEOs and CFOs need to see and hear about if you want them to take marketing seriously.
Kevin Clancy and Peter Krieg are Chairman and President and CEO respectively of Copernicus, a research-driven marketing consulting firm.
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Article Submitted On: March 10, 2009