Very few businesses these days have to trail-blaze when it comes to their marketing. In most cases, you’re walking down a beaten path more or less…facing some of the main challenges other businesses in your field and respective marketeers have faced throughout the various stages of a company’s maturity cycle and having to resort to more or less the same marketing strategies and channel approaches as most of your “peers”.
Or do you?
Any good growth hacker and channel marketer will start their work with competition analysis – but as many tend to find out when putting your learnings into practice, it’s rarely a 100% match rate to expected results. And it could have nothing to do with you doing something wrong…you’re just not doing the right things for YOU!
There are many factors that go into the efficiency of each marketing channel as well as that of an orchestrated effort. Depending on where you are in each of these areas, results may vary.
In this first part of our extensive guide, we cover the first 3 important aspects to take into account and how they impact the marketing strategy and approach.
Brand Identity and Positioning
Let’s start from the very beginning. If you’re unfamiliar with the Centrality-Distinctiveness map (C-D map), this basically splits brand positions into 4 quadrants based on consumer perception: Unconventional, Aspirational, Peripheral, Mainstream.
Image Source: HBR
A brand’s position on the map can vary dramatically depending on the customer segment, region, or other factors. The marketing strategy will vary depending on the quadrant the brand wants to position and solidify itself in – from using more display, video, programmatic and above the line to showcase performance, exclusivity, uniqueness and top quality with a substantial dollar value generally attached to advertising and the respective assets to more transactional approaches that rely more on offers and discounts.
So, in short, depending on who you are and how you want to be perceived, the way you use, at the very least, Google and Facebook and where you invest your budgets (premium assets, advertising budget or both) can look very different.
Importance of Brand Awareness
Brand awareness often causes mixed feelings, especially with performance marketers, because depending on the business, it can be quite tricky to quantify it. Businesses often do not have the know-how or the tools to perform this analysis. And many times budget is also a factor, as it can be tricky to get sign off on a 3 month initiative that would really move the needle for awareness and sales.
Amazon wanted to help brands assess the impact of their awareness campaigns on the purchasing behaviors of new shoppers. They conducted a study amongst a set of advertisers whose offerings focused on apparel, shoes, or handbags and compared aggregated shopping behaviors of those who became new-to-brand customers during the campaign with shoppers who made their first brand purchase without any awareness advertising.
According to the findings, when brands proactively reached new shoppers with awareness campaigns, it helped drive incremental growth.
Fashion brands who worked with Amazon Advertising to help drive awareness of their offerings not only yielded incremental new-to-brand shoppers (+19%), but these buyers also had an increased propensity to make repeat purchases (+12% lift) throughout the year. This translated to a 20% lift in value when comparing first-time brand customers who purchased during the campaign period to those new-to-brand shoppers who entered in the absence of advertising.
Company life cycle stages and channel mix
If you’re a start up, you are definitely not doing the same things a market leader is doing…for multiple reasons: financial, resource and/or expertise shortage, lack of time. Your priority would be: launched is better than perfect and much of what is tracking, data and reporting can be considered minimum viable in most cases.
The pressure to hit certain concrete KPIs will drive businesses in the beginning more towards performance marketing campaigns: registrations, leads, subscribers, purchases – everything is geared towards direct response.
If you’re bootstrapped you’ll be doing different things than a company with substantial investments. Fail fast is the key to growth – but that growth is steep depending on how big of a cushion you have to fall back on and provided that you’re also identifying channels that work. The speed to which you can test and iterate is for most digital aspects directly proportional to how much you can invest.
Once again, bootstrapped will mostly be about direct response campaigns and user growth. Anything on top of that will have to be thought out so it influences user growth as directly as possible.
Have you identified your profitable marketing channels and the ones most effective for overall growth or are you still testing? (PS: Always be testing and trying)
In the beginning, everything is a test! But as data gets accrued, you can identify scalable channels and as you focus and work to maximise them and the results they’re generating, you will, at some point, find that you need more and more touchpoints and more above the line. By that point, your marketing strategy will be at a whole new level of complexity, and (hopefully) a better picture of how each cog fits in the machine.
Discovering your initial winning marketing strategy is different from growing a brand.
And if you’re a startup trying to copy successful growth recipes from similar businesses, you have to bear in mind that you need to defer to their past data and approaches – the current ones will not help you much. This is often overlooked in the competitive research excitement.
The 3 simple considerations from above will shape what is appropriate for you just as much, if not more, than all the other points on this list because they relate to the healthy existence of your company. If there is no company, brand positioning considerations will not matter.
In part 2 of this study we’ll look at some of the more elusive aspects of a marketing strategy and why some of them are more important than you may have thought.