Brand Advertising: Why do we need it?

Every marketing plan that is actioned is to fulfill a certain goal or purpose. Mostly, it is for the business to generate revenue or to make a profit, which is the case of most businesses, however ‘performance’ driven activities are not the only way to make a business successful.

To explain better, a ‘performance’ activity, is along the line of a tactical campaign, i.e. to generate more business through lead generation, or online purchases via e-commerce. But not all marketing activities can be purely performance based, while it is the primary objective, as a marketing professional, it is important to keep in mind the marketing funnel.

At the start, the first objective should always be about generating brand awareness. Of course there are certain brands who are quite fortunate that they have considerable awareness and aspiration attached to them, such as Apple & Samsung in the mobile phone industry, but not everyone is so lucky, and even if people are familiar with the brand, it is not guarantee that the brand will make it to the consideration set of the consumer, which is dependent on the consumer’s budget, convenience, and other internal values and preferences.

So what is the best way to work with this?

Firstly, it is important to keep promoting the brand as well as the offers. This is essential because a brand is a lot more than it’s offer, and more importantly by promoting the brand regularly, you keep it in the mind of the consumer, which is beneficial especially if they are thinking of, shopping around to purchase your business’ product. But even if they are not, regular brand awareness activities keeps overall marketing costs down in the long run, as less effort and spend is then required to generate brand awareness before a major offer or promotion period coming up.

Secondly, brand awareness activities are also dependent on the actual product. Specifically the life cycle of the product, purchase cycle or frequency of purchase as well as the overall product cost. Products which have a high purchase point, require the additional spend for brand awareness. This is because, due to the high investment required, consumers need to be convinced not only about the offer but also about the actual product and the brand. This usually takes the form of a rational or emotional connection to the brand, which is essential and part of the product they are purchasing. Consumers need to be convinced about the value of the product and of the brand. The cost for brand awareness in these cases is often justified by the high returns through sales.
Products which have a predictable purchase cycle, make it easier to pin-point times of high sales. This can be determined by evaluating sales history to predict key periods. In between these sales cycles, the time can be equally divided between promoting the brand, followed by the promotion of any offer leading up to the high sale periods. This ensures that the brand along with the offer are promoted in time. By sticking to these sales cycles, more efficient use of budgets can be made maximizing on key periods only. For products who have short life cycles or whose key sales periods cannot be identified, it may be necessary to promote the brand throughout the year in small controlled amounts. This keeps the brand in the mind of the consumer without big pushes in key periods.

Third, it is important to consider what will be the message, or what exactly is to be promoted in a ‘brand campaign’. A promotional message, will feature the offer, what’s included in the offer etc. while a brand message, in essence talks about the brand. This includes the brand values, what are its main selling points, or unique identifiers, and what are the brand touch-points. These messages are important, as it is this message that emotionally connects to the consumer and justifies the brand value. Without a brand message, the consumer only buys into the actual product which can impact on overall loyalty in the long run. Consumers who tend to only purchase based on offers, are more interested in short term deals and will most likely switch to another offer or deal, unlike those who are invested with the brand.

But finally, for any marketing activity to be successful it is essential to have a combination of brand as well as offers, however this is dependent on the budget and the level of management support in the company. In cases where there is a restricted budget and / or management requires you to do more performance based activities, all hope is not lost. There are other channels to be used for brand related promotion, two such being PR & social media. Both these channels are excellent for story telling, and brand stories, and also are good and engaging channels through which to connect to the consumer. While normally these should ideally be part of the marketing mix, the usage levels would change as part of your overall strategy.

So all in all, it is important to run brand as well as performance activities for a successful marketing campaign.

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Campaign: A definition

If you’re in marketing, there is a term which is, thrown about quite often and quite loosely and that is ‘campaign’. Everyone in Marketing & Communications seem to be constantly running campaigns, however I feel that it is better to take a step back and first understand what a campaign really is.

According to Merrim – Webster, a campaign is defined as “a series of activities designed to produce a particular result”; as such it compromises of a series of actions or steps that implements your tactics that have come about in support of your overall marketing strategy.

So to further clarify, this is how it would be:

Example:
You are launching a new product on the market; therefore:

Business Objective: Increase Brand Awareness by X%

Strategy: Establish social presence for new product

Tactics: Set up Social media accounts and grow followers by x% and engagement by x%

Campaign 1: Run Social Media Competition

Campaign 2: Social Media advertising – Promoted Page

Campaign 3: Social Media offer

 

So from the above example it can be understood that a campaign is a specific activity, designed to achieve a set result. There can be one or multiple campaigns all to support a specific strategy tactic, however the main difference to note is that a campaign is to achieve a set goal, so it has fixed KPI’s associated to it, and runs for a set time frame.

Now if I was to take another example, for many Digital Marketers, search marketing is one of the first channels we turn to for advertising, more often SEM rather than SEO. It is always good practice to keep Google Ads on-going especially if it relates to the brand or generic level searches. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘brand campaign’, while it does support the overall brand, it is not necessarily a campaign as it is firstly on-going , usually throughout the year, and secondly there are no specific actions associated with it besides constant optimisation. The same goes for SEO, can it be defined as a campaign? Well…. while SEO can be done as a tactic (for a specific offer or promotion), usually keeping in mind the length of time it takes to optimise and see the results it is not always advisable, also the results of an SEO campaign is long reaching, so once optimisation stops, the results take some time to disappear from Google, therefore I would not define SEO as a campaign.

To clarify a campaign does not necessarily mean a short term activity, it is not the term but having a defined term which makes the difference. A campaign also does not focus on only channel but can also be multiple channels, offline and online, as long as each channel has a specific role to play and at the end there are specific KPI’s determined.

While I hope this post clarifies the use of the term,  the main purpose was to discourage the use of jargon when more simplified communication not only makes the activity easier to understand, but can deliver better results when they have more specific meanings.

What other words have you heard being used often and without a specific meaning?