Tag Archives: marketing objectives

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to avoid splashing the cash on marketing

Are you buying marketing without a list?

Are you buying marketing without a list?

Have you ever stood at the checkout in grocery supermarket and wondered how you managed to spend so much?  The big retailers are expert in getting shoppers to buy more than they intended, investing huge sums in research, focus groups, loyalty cards etc. so it’s not a huge surprise that it works.

However, sometimes we are the architects of our own downfall.  Research shows that if we don’t plan our shopping and take a list based on what we really need, 60% of us will spend more.  Another factor can be how hungry we are feeling when we shop.  Hungry shoppers are more easily tempted to buy extra items, especially sugary foods.  The consequence is over-spending, food that nobody actually eats or just goes out of date.  An article earlier this year reported that the average UK household wastes £470 of food every year

All very interesting I hear you say, but what has that got to do with my business?

In my experience, business owners selecting marketing activities are a bit like supermarket shoppers.  There are a great many items for sale, and various options at differing price points.  The best approach is to have a ‘list’ of what activities we are interested in, or at the very least a clear idea of what we want them to achieve, a bit like knowing what meals you want to cook before you go to the supermarket.

The worst situation is when the business needs some quick results – the forward order book is low, or competitors have just got more active.  This is the equivalent of shopping when hungry; lots of things look good and we can end up making a poor decision or just buying too much.

Whatever you do, don’t ask marketing agencies to make a recommendation, no matter how much integrity they have, the incentive to sell you something you might not need is going to be very high – you wouldn’t walk into a supermarket, give the manager your credit card and ask what he thinks you should buy!

A clear set of marketing objectives, regular tracking of marketing KPIs and the use, dare I say it, of an impartial marketing expert will make it easy to identify what activities are required, and a sensible price to pay.  Then you can go ‘shopping’ without fear of overspending and waste.

Chris.

Need an impartial marketing expert? Why not get in touch on 0121 222 5743 or contact us?

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Aardvark Marketing Consultancy | Getting to you "more"

Getting to your “more”

Getting to your “more”

In my most recent blog, I covered the subject of marketing objectives, suggesting that very often they begin with or heavily feature the word “more” and challenging you to define your “more”(s). Hopefully you now have these defined, even if you aren’t 100% happy with them, so we can now move on to considering how to get there. Far too often I see businesses that choose their marketing programme based on a whim (what’s fashionable), what they have done before (even if they don’t know if it actually worked), or what the competition do. Clearly, none of these approaches is ideal, so let’s see if we can find a better way to get you to your goals.
This is what is often called your marketing strategy and plan – we’re setting the broad direction you want to take, some key milestones and defining in a reasonable level of detail the specific actions you are going to take for at least the early part of the journey.
But before we do that, I want to pause for a moment to consider what constitutes marketing activity. There can be a lot of debate about what is or isn’t in the marketing plan, and even more often what should be paid for from the marketing budget or managed by the marketing team. I have a simple check that I always use to see if something ‘qualifies’ as marketing or not and it can be summed up in a single short sentence:
“All marketing activity should change either what people think, or what they do.”
It really isn’t any more complicated than that, we want to change beliefs and behaviours. In fact, it’s often even simpler, because the effect that really matters is behaviour – changing what people do (this is where the “more” happens). Where the complexity comes in is in defining some of the elements of that statement:
Which people?
What change in their thinking?
What change in their behaviour?
Over what time period?
How will we measure it?
So, returning to your “more”; the first question is “what belief and behaviour changes” do we need to achieve to make your “more” happen? Do we need to grow awareness, improve credibility, build a fan base or encourage recommendations? Do we need to get more people to try the product or service, build repeat purchase rates, retain more customers, increase transaction size or get purchasers of one of our products to try another one? These are some of the common belief and behaviour changes, but there are plenty more.
A good way to identify these changes is to think about where you want to be (your “more”) and what is stopping that now – what isn’t happening that you need to happen? Although behaviour change is probably the priority, we may need a belief change to unlock the shift in behaviour. For example, prospects may buy a competitor product rather than ours because they believe it to be better, or they have always used it and don’t want to risk trying something new.
In my experience, once the desired belief and behaviour changes are defined, selecting the marketing direction (strategy) and specific activities (plan) becomes a much simpler task. Sometimes it will be obvious what to do, but even if not, you can use your belief and behaviour targets as a checklist against which to test potential marketing actions. For example, advertising, PR, social media and email newsletters will generally be more likely to influence what people think about your brand, while promotional offers are more likely to change what, when and how much they buy.
As the strategy and action plan take shape it can also help to construct a matrix, listing the desired belief and behaviour changes on one side and the proposed marketing activities on the other to check that the total plan gives a thorough and balanced coverage against the results we need to achieve.
For a confidential, no-obligation conversation about this or any aspect of marketing, please give us a call, or send us an email. If your marketing isn’t getting the results you need, our non-‘fluffy’ approach can probably help.
Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | What's you 'more'?

What’s you ‘more’?

What’s you ‘more’?

In his 1989 book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Steven Covey selects as his second habit ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. It’s one of my favourites, and I do try to adhere to it whenever I can. I sometimes paraphrase it as “work out where you want to go before you set off”. It seems so obvious and yet time and again I see examples in business of this vital step having been missed.
The most common place I see this ‘gap’ is not surprisingly in relation to marketing. Many business owners and leaders seem to be either perplexed by the complexity of marketing and just sign the cheques, hoping something good will happen, or are scared of challenging the marketing team (in-house or external) to define what they are aiming to deliver.
The alternative to beginning with the end in mind is the saying “If you don’t know where you are going, the one thing you can be sure of is that you won’t get there.” This is the situation I often see in small and medium-sized businesses. Lots of well-intentioned marketing activity, but results that surprise and disappoint in equal measure.
When the question is posed – “What do you want your marketing to deliver?” the answer usually begins with the word “more”. It’s usually more sales, more leads, more profit, more business value, more attractive (to staff, recruits, referrers, distributors or suppliers). That shouldn’t be a big surprise of course; if you are investing time and money in marketing, there should be a significant improvement in performance as a result.
What would it be for your business?
If you could move forward in time 3 years, and look back on a highly successful marketing programme, what would it have achieved? What would be different in your business as a result of that marketing activity?
Or, if you prefer to look at it a different way, if you think about where your business is now, what does your marketing have to do to help you address your challenges, take advantage of your opportunities and achieve your goals?
I’ll bet the word “more” features quite heavily!
Chris

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2016: What a Year

2016: What a Year

As 2016 draws to a close, reviews of the calendar year are everywhere, and rarely can there have been such a wealth of stories to draw from.  Whether it’s the sad deaths of many famous people, wars, or politics it seems to have been a 12 months packed with big news.  I was one of 13,000 delighted sports fans who attended the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event on Sunday evening in Birmingham and again there were so many notable team and individual performances, it was hard to cram it all in.
From a marketing perspective, I have picked two stories from 2016 which stood out for me.
If you don’t follow the marketing press and/or aren’t working for a leading FMCG brand owner, you may have missed the emergence of zero-based budgeting or ZBB as it is becoming known in those circles.  Businesses such as Diageo, Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Coca-Cola are amongst those who have adopted this approach to their marketing planning.
I don’t want to appear smug, but it’s a philosophy which we have been recommending to clients since Aardvark began back in 2005 – every marketing expense should be justified for the next financial year on the basis of the expected return.  The marketing plan shouldn’t start with “what we did last year” and then adjust up or down, it should start with zeros in the budget, a set of objectives and a strategy.  Of course, what we learned in previous years (assuming we are measuring our marketing) will help select and refine the activities we choose to invest in, but for me, it’s important to challenge the easy assumption that we’ll do roughly the same as we did last year.  It fits very well with the old saying “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got (at best).”
The other story relates to the voting shocks of 2016 – Brexit, Trump, Ed Balls and of course Boaty McBoatface.  Is this a wave of anti-establishment rebellion, or could it just be that the establishment didn’t really understand its customers?  As marketers, we should never be surprised by the decisions our customers make – if we are then we have a gap in our understanding and that will make it harder for us to succeed.  Whether we’re trying to get people to vote for us or buy our goods and services, if we keep failing to understand what makes them tick we’ll probably get an unintended and disappointing result.
So as you look forward to 2017, my advice is to keep working to understand your customers and prospects and challenge everything in your marketing plan – does it really deserve to be there?
I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Chris

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