Category Archives: Target Groups

Marketing Crime Series: Is Your Marketing not Converting? – Crime #2: Missing Concept

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*Grrr* Some crime scenes really are spooky. Picture by Carlos Lopes-Barillas

I also came across really nasty, bloody crime scenes in marketing departments of big corporations. Even big marketing budgets can’t guarantee success. If activities around a product launch, for example, don’t bring high conversion rates, something clearly went wrong. To my observations, it happens due to time pressure, but sometimes also because of a lack of experience. There is no excuse, for example “that a certain measurement never scores higher in returns anyway”. If a marketer thinks that’s the case, then he or she shouldn’t apply it! It’s a waste of money and of other resources. The ROI must be neutral to positive or else the campaign has failed. Having said this, I have only seen very little companies that calculate their return-on-(marketing) investments!

So how can marketers ensure their marketing projects are successful and no crime will be committed in the first place?

  • Step 1: You get an order or a new project, let’s say the launch of a new product.
  • Step 2: Get a briefing from your “sponsor”. What are the objectives (in numbers) and the purpose of the launch? What are the features of the product? What does the competitor offer? Who is targeted precisely and why? What are the benefits for the target group? What are the KPI’s? What is the timeline?
  • Step 3: Write a concept. If you follow the order above including a SWOT analysis and other necessary analysis, you will be forced to breed over this launch in every single aspect. Even though, personally, I know roughly which instruments and tactics to apply in the beginning, I’m sure at this point I still wouldn’t leverage on the full capacity of the campaign. As far as I’m concerned, only during the concept phase the best combination of tactics and creative ideas pop up into my head. Personally, I can only derive a marketing strategy during the conceptual phase.
  • Step 4: Draw up a detailed project plan that you update regularly. This way, you can manage your team easily, are aware of time constraints and can build-in back-up-periods or plans in case something unexpected happens. Plus, you can give feedback on the status of the project easily. And no, a project plan is not some random checklist.

It all takes quite some time, but trust me – it’s really worth it. Make your sponsor aware of it, and the additional time it needs from the start. Not only will you be in control at any time, and you will deliver smart, creative and successful campaigns, it also saves you a lot of stress later on.

Move wisely, and don’t let anyone put you under pressure. The product wasn’t developed in one month either. Ask questions from the beginning right ahead that get you information. Sometimes even the Product Managers don’t know the questions yet. In this case, invite them to do a workshop. I’ve carried out workshops when I realized I had too many stakeholders in a project or my sponsors lost focus on the customer and put the success of the project in the centre of their activities.

If instruments are chosen wisely, they will complement each other and ensure you capture as many addressees of your target group as possible.

Is Social Media Useful for Every Company?

Whether you chose to play the game or not - a strategy is key.

Whether you chose to play the game or not – a strategy is key.

Many companies – from small companies to enterprises – have been juggling this question for the past years. Some have become very active, but their messages or aim are somewhat diluted. Others have resigned and some have simply done nothing. So far.

To help you to potentially draw a conclusion for your company, let me take you back a few steps on some major influences on marketing and communication. It should help you understand the advantages or disadvantages social media can actually have for your company.

We all know, marketing is about the four P’s: product, place, price, promotion. Been there, done that, dusted.

What is important, though, is the competition, the trends, the customer insights and maybe legal aspects or governmental developments. So we added this to our analysis and felt ready to develop our strategy and concepts to communicate with our target groups. Well done, if these are the basics you use to support your sales force, top management and R&D department.

Internet & mobile phones made the “place” bigger

Then, some fifteen years ago the world has changed, when the Internet changed our way of communication and knowledge sharing. All in a sudden the place became bigger, and the opportunities for promotions much more direct and measurable. We were able to track our prospects paths and activities. Still, we produced products for and offered services to customers. All at the same, it was very convenient, but also sometimes threatening that our competitors were just one click away. Overall, we felt pretty much in control.

In this environment, the challenge for a marketer had been to define the necessary KPI’s in order to guide customers and prospects to the website, keep them and turn them into leads or loyal customers. Applause to all marketers that linked online activities with their offline activities, and delivered clear messages and the same brand experience across all channels to the mass (or at least weighted customer segments). As the WWW grew, we got smarter and smarter on search engine and algorithms. So we started fighting for being found. Our target groups got more mobile? Never mind, we integrated mobile marketing into our concepts.

Social media means, customer and product roles are being swapped

With social media the world has changed immensely: the brand is not just a promise anymore. It must overcome criticism, shit storms and truly engage on an personal level. Nowadays the consumer really is our centre. Not our product or the services we offer. We have to market, communicate and satisfy on an individual level to be liked and shared.

But what does a marketer know about individuals? They are not predictable. They can go off with a statement and create a crisis that will leave your brand very vulnerable. The difference is, we are not in control anymore. This is the moment, where big corporations must ask themselves, if they want to take back over the driving seat or stay out and leave everything to chance. This is a big risk. And also a waste of opportunities. Because the brand might not become social. They might not attract the best talent. They might also not raise their image in a particular way and might not be seen as a leader in its field. If marketers have claimed that in the past, we will now be judged on that. Uncompromisingly.

Small and midsized companies on the contrary do have an opportunity of raising awareness, which they otherwise don’t have as easily with a small marketing budget. They can claim their niche and become really popular for that. However, they need to have the resources to deal with that. Front-end and back-end.

Is social media useful for your brand?

Now, is social media useful for every company and brand? To B2B companies, to insurance companies or financial companies? I would say, maybe. It depends on several underlying factors, which take me back to the basics of a marketer’s work: on what your competitors do, on the user’s experiences, on subjects and on the vision you have.  You need to do a thorough analysis on your status quo and on the social media environment you want to plunge into. Define your vision and your objectives. Then develop your strategy, followed by a solid concept – ideally with integrated tactics spanning from online to offline. Don’t get started without any strategy!

Even, if the results of your analysis convince you to stay out of the social media environment, you need to have a strategy for this, too.

The Art of “Knowing” the Consumer

kulturHow many times have you heard somebody exclaiming: “This idea won’t work. I wouldn’t do this.” Tricky one, isn’t it? And all attempts of bringing an idea to life were in vain.

Okay, I confess. I said it. I probably said it a few times. I’m guilty of confusing the consumer with myself. When I was working in London for an international packaging company, we were working on some consumer insight research. We wanted to understand consumers in their drinking and eating behaviors as well as their packaging preferences across the world.

Germany was also a market we were looking at. Being German, I seriously believed that most Germans would prepare their lunch back at home and take it to work. Because I did it (funnily I stopped doing it, when I moved to the UK). And some of the people I knew did it. Fundamentally, I thought, Germans are a nation of homemade lunch packers. Oh boy, I was so mistaken. Our research showed that the majority of Germans actually bought their food “on the go”.

Trust me. Since then statistics are my best friends, and numbers are the best arguments anyway. I hesitate creating strategies or deciding on tactics, before I’m sure to “know the customer”.

The Ethics of Marketing

Today I’ve had an interesting conversation with Annie, a mom of two kids. She told me about some initiatives a big supermarket chain is doing. (No names, they are actually brilliant in their marketing and communications.) Every now and then they have promotions, where they hand out little toys for kids at the till. As a matter of fact, her kids are now furious, if she doesn’t want to go to this particular chain for shopping.

This is a scene that reminds me of a subject, marketeers and people working in advertisement should consider more often. I call it “the ethics of marketing”.

If a supermarket chain hands out toys to toddlers, they are likely not only to drag their parents into the store every time they do the shopping. No, they are also emotionally attached to this supermarket chain, and might – unconsciously – do their shopping at the same chain as adults. Some brands also have promoted to toddlers (or even younger ones) for some time now. They want to influence kids on their later purchasing behavior. As a result, young generations grow up in a world full of promises and temptations. They might not yet know the rules of money, but they know what they want. They see and hear temptations everywhere.

Have you ever been thinking about the moral implications? If ads evoke the desire of “having”, into what sort of people will these kids turn? How difficult will it be to understand that they might not be able to afford all their desires. And their happiness? Will it decrease once they can’t get what a brand promises? Will they be able to compensate?

I think, the line between branding and influencing to kids is really thin, and marketeers should consider this in their daily jobs.

Luckily, Annie is the boss, and not the kids. Shame only, they are too small yet, to actually already do the shopping.