In marketing and advertising the main question for business owners is always – will any of this stuff lead to sales or grow the brand?
It’s a fantastically mysterious question that still stalks the woodlands of business development today.
Many report that advertising is working really well, while at the same time, even more report that they’ve wasted thousands of dollars on ad campaigns that never moved the needle.
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest brands still run too-huge campaigns, and run the same ad campaigns and brand assets for decades, and invest in new mediums with seeming success; why would they continue to advertise and invest in marketing, if it doesn’t work?
And so we arrive at our departure point for this book report, Les Binet & Peter Field’s
“The Long and Short Of It; Building Short & Long-Term Marketing Strategies”
Published in 2013 by the IPA, The Long and Short Of It takes research and analysis of 996 marketing case studies from over 700 brands in 83 different categories, and looks at actual business outcomes based on short-term and long-term performance metrics, all pointing to one conclusion – brands that balance and harmonize short term sales activation with long term brand growth are better positioned for marketplace dominance.
The report is cut into three sections that demonstrate how balancing the long and short term in three key areas; Strategy, Channels, and Metrics, is essential to creating lasting brands and maximizing profits. I’ll provide a brief overview and thoughts on these sections, but really – you need to go pick this report up.
Balancing the Strategy
The most striking and simple conclusion that best encapsulates the whole vibe of this report is this short sentence – “Short-term metrics will not create long term brands.”
“The way in which long-term effects sales is different than short. Although long-term brand branding produces some short-term sales activation, short-term sales will never produce long-term success. Long-term growth is not a compounding collection of small, short-term effects.”
Sales increasing is obviously the main lifesource metric for marketing departments. But as you can see in the graph above, without a strong Brand Building aspect to your marketing strategy, overtime, Sales Activation campaigns will have a limited impact on Sales Uplift.
Binet & Field have also discovered that other measurements (Profit, Market Share, Penetration, Loyalty, Price Sensitivity) can be deeply influenced and impacted by strong Brand Building campaigns that are paired with a Sales Activation component.
Based on their data, Binet & Field believe that a marketing strategy that mixes 60% Brand & 40% Sales is a good place to start from.
This is not an either-or scenario, and this ‘balance’ is not a hard and fast rule.
Depending on competition and other factors, the blend may have to be aggressive on sales to quench overhead demands, but then again the brands that are favoring short over long have to realize at some point, that ain’t gonna get you to where you need to go.
Direct Response or Sales Activation advertising, no matter how great, will not build brand salience in the minds of consumers.
So what type of marketing activity qualifies as short-term Sales Activation or long-term Brand Building?
The main point of this section is to outline the differences between short and long, and how the true path forward is creating more marketing strategies and campaigns that consider a healthy balance between Sales Activation and Brand Building.
Balancing the Channels
Now that we appreciate the necessity of a marketing strategy that balances Sales and Brand; what do we do with all this?
The authors have given us a quick guide on choosing distribution channels for the messaging, based on the objective.
Brand Channels – TV, Press, Online Display, Outdoor, Radio, Cinema
Activation Channels – Online, Search, Classifieds, Direct Marketing
Once again, these are not prescriptive, just suggestions from people who have been providing the best research and analytical thought in advertising since 1917.
Formed from a well-balanced marketing strategy, the most successful advertising campaigns in the study mix the distinct advantages of each of Brand and Activation channels to reach their audience for the greatest impact.
The example provided in the study of a McDonald’s ad campaign in the UK is a great example of blending the short term and long term metrics and tactics;
This was a massively successful campaign because it blends Sales Activation and Brand Growth.
McDonald’s is focused on Sales by enticing customers to visit the store with a giveaway, (not a price reduction which is harmful) and to try new recipes for sandwiches.
And on the Brand Growth front, McDonald’s chose to focus the media buys on highlighting its ethical sourcing of it’s ingredients, and the dependability of its classic menu options.
This campaign works because it’s focused on broader and bigger effects, and thusly, aimed at a larger addressable audience. You’re not just speaking to loyalists in advertising, you’re trying to get everyone in the category to notice you.
Indeed, this is a massively important finding from this report; sales activation activities like advertising campaigns SHOULD NOT be targeted solely to existing customers. To grow your brand and find new customers, you have to target all buyers in the category with your messaging.
So the real genius is creating campaigns that speak to both existing customers and long-term prospects that may not be familiar with your brand.
The effectiveness of broad-reaching campaigns aimed at both new & existing customers is dramatically greater than those targeting either type of customer alone.
Balancing the Metrics
So the win-win situation according to this report are strategies that balance long and short term, but how does one measure long term performance metrics?
Binet & Field do not disappoint in this department. Along with Share Of Voice (market share plus industry benchmarks) and other insightful measurements like Price Elasticity (the ability to raise prices without losing customers) there are several ways to measure marketing performance other than just straight Sales and Profit.
And even more, there are the ways these metrics can play out over time, and how effective they can be in growing a brand. This scorecard for short term and long term effectiveness from the report has a collection of various data points that can guide strategy and planning and business development initiatives.
Get the report. Dig into marketing strategies and ad campaigns that build brands AND activate sales, and know that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all world. Marketers need to build interesting brands with creative and awesome ads based on an awesomer understanding of the business problems we need to solve.
As marketers focus on making money, there should be a momentary pause to realize that we can and do make so much more than money.
So let’s make marketing strategies that kick ass, get noticed, and achieve business goals and build legacy brands. If not now, when?