Creating valuable customer experience is kind of brave. Coming up with ideas that serve the brand must be done without fear. Being responsible for the results takes courage.
Daring To Be Different.
6 min. reading
A lot of brands struggle with low sales despite high awareness. This is the result of a strategy that prioritizes reach over engagement – that is, the sheer number of posts is more important than attracting positive attention and creating good memories. Agencies are to blame when they stubbornly adhere to comfortable old formulas. This is reflected in the spontaneous media reaction to a proposed fundamental change in strategy for a popular Czech wafer, heard during an analysis of the pleasing figures achieved by interventions - despite declining sales: “Why should a cookie that costs a few crowns have content?”
While agencies, eager for easy income, see further increases in media spending as the way forward, brand marketers see that ROI is decreasing every year. Company management takes the initiative when it's nervous about poor marketing results. Their involvement leads to more meetings, slowing down the decision-making process and the brand’s ability to act. It's a disaster for shareholders – instead of reviving the brand's formerly stellar position, brand managers are digging its grave. Some deal with this by changing companies, others by going into stand-by mode. As a result, both people and the brand suffer.
It's time for agency teams to take on board these new approaches and, rather than building their personal Instagram profiles, put more energy into creating quality content for their brands so they can win back customers.
These days, it’s easy to announce the existence of a brand. There are many great tools for this – paid PPC ads, video pre-rolls, mobile marketing, and of course, conventional media: TV, radio, and print. At the same time, it is apparent that even if the brand’s communication gets through to people, there is still a long way to go before they put its products in their shopping basket.
The way people receive information from brands has fundamentally changed.
Nevertheless, brands continue to put together slideshows, announce new promotions on their social media profile, and supporting this with PPC and OOH showing product benefits. If they've got a bit more money, they shout it loud on the radio and put a TV spot together so that, for at least a few moments, the product gets some big media exposure - all in the hope that their brand will be noticed and remembered by millions of people who, having seen the light, will keep buying it from that point onwards. And because the brand's so great and WOM is trendy, maybe they can also talk about it with others.
They keep repeating the same, outdated pattern... Even though they, too, behave like their consumers: hiding banners, switching channels, preferring to watch paid, commercial-free programs – and they won’t choose a brand they know nothing about just for the sake of a free gift. When someone reminds them that people have long since started resisting the passive intake of information, they just argue that their target group is different. Building brand awareness has become an expensive approach to brand growth. It forces marketers to demand more and more money for an ever smaller theoretical impact.
Marketers often tie up most of their money in PPC media, print, and maybe a bit of TV, without even knowing what creative direction the campaign is taking. And then they often set misguided, instructing the agency to increase brand awareness through a strategy of achieving maximum reach.
Nowadays, a brand doesn't need millions of people to know it exists. It usually lacks the financial resources to achieve this. If marketers have budgets in the hundreds of millions, they can drill a hole in people's heads and tell them what to think about the brand – like Alza, with a media budget of over a billion crowns, or Komerční banka, which invests over half a billion in marketing. However, most brands get by on only a fraction of such ludicrous media expenditure, so this strategy simply won't work for them. Replicating it barely changes anything and gradually drains a brand of all its strength. This is reflected in a further reduction of its annual budget.
People are smarter, information and products are more accessible. When a brand sparks people's interest in a product with its advertising, they first explore the entire category. And it doesn't matter if it's a chocolate bar, insurance, an appliance, or an electric car. While dedicated fans of a brand go directly to the product, others consider other available options. Therefore, if a brand becomes available, people will notice it even without costly expenditure to inform them of its existence.
And, because many competing brands are striving for the same consumer, it's all about what a brand tells them and what memories it evokes. Amongst a huge quantity of products, the consumer, rather than what they know, goes for what appeals to them...
This is where the cookie comes in.
The reason people choose a different product is not because of low awareness. The reason is that people lack a strong enough memory to trigger the buying process.
Honestly, no one goes out of their way for a product benefit. If a brand wants high-quality and rich interventions that have an impact, its agency must be able to find a stronger topic, otherwise people will shut out its message without further examination of the product. That's a shame for the brand. While it's easy for people to replace one product with another, it's hard for a brand to find a new audience. It must therefore stop seeing people as targets.
The story of Oreo proves this. These milk-based cookies are very successful in creating campaigns around the world that people enjoy. Live content attracts influencers, personalities, and the media, attracting massive attention to the brand. Few cookies today have such a great personality. But everything had to change from the ground up.
Read: How did Oreo make the transition from advertiser to ready content creator?
Times are changing. Rather than being a trigger for thinking about buying, nowadays a brand must be able to create strong emotional bonds. Instead of the one-sided self-presentation of its quality, it must create a space in which the customer feels that the brand understands them. And that just can't happen in a TV spot, an ad, or a banner.
Marketers need to go much further than just shooting a commercial or creating banners with fresh visuals.
The modern marketer must be able to connect sales, distribution, finance, management, and production. It is a multidisciplinary activity that has a single purpose – to create memorable experiences with the brand at every touchpoint. In an ever-changing world, this requires an ability to embrace the latest trends in brand building, which means following what their brand category is doing in other countries. It requires replacing outdated formulas with new ones and moving from brand awareness to brand experience. It often means looking beyond their personal assumptions about the target audience.
Schools churn out students with received experience from old textbooks. They then join corporations with a set internal training, getting into the vicious cycle of old patterns heavily supported by advertising veterans - picking up tens of millions of crowns for awareness campaigns without this fundamentally translating into sales. They are playing a precision game of theoretical interventions with imprecise numbers.
Marketers drowning in analytics often trap themselves when they begin to mistake their own personal opinion for the opinion of the audience. They then prescribe the same activities for a brand over and over again. Despite stagnant sales numbers, they refuse to admit that their whole approach needs to be freshened up. They are rapidly falling out of step with the changing world of marketing.
Marketers must give people what they want to keep their attention. The fact that brands need to create valuable multimedia and live content is finally being talked about out loud. Building your own experiential content has come to the forefront of strategy for the coming years. At last, we are leaving the era of cataloguing benefits and entering the era of content-attractive strategies. This is amusing for brands that started this transition years ago. And it's a tough realization for those who are just waking up to the change. Tough, but necessary, if the marketer wants to grow both sales and themselves.
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