By: Michael Palmer
Is that the theme for marketers in 2009? Should we be just hunkering down and hope that we can survive this economic downturn? Some suggest spending more because there is a real opportunity to take advantage of competitors who will cut back to save. Right – go ahead, march into your CEO or CFO’s office and tell them you want to increase your marketing budget 10% - with all the bad news facing us every day, no way if you value your job.
I’ve also read a number of articles that suggest the top ten things to do in this challenging economy – they include: pay attention to your customer, analyze the competitive landscape, make every dollar count, experiment, don’t cut your product quality, target, etc. These are things you should be doing already if you are a smart marketer. Who wouldn’t pay attention to their customer, or find out more about their customer’s needs, desires; better understand the role your brand plays in their lives?
So what are the smartest marketers going to do? I think they will focus on one big idea. They will work tirelessly to understand the unmet needs of their targeted customers or consumers and work to create a marketing program that blows their socks off rather than try and surround their customers with many programs. They will make a difference, not incrementalize. While Kaizen has its place and is an important aspect of improving, its now time to reach for the stars. iPod is a great example of a breakthrough. Dove changed how women use soap and their impressions of themselves. Axe brand gave young men permission to believe they too can get the girl. Nike offers every sports enthusiast an opportunity to design, build, and indiviualize their own shoes – and they make more margin providing this customized service than they do selling mass marketed shoes. Zappos offers the greatest customer service – they’ve turned this need into a real growth business – in Tony Hsieh’s own words - "We're a service company that just happens to sell shoes." Well 948% growth ain’t bad Tony – congratulations
What’s your big idea for your brand – you’ll find it by first clearly understanding what you know and don’t know about your customers. Take an inventory. Then spend the time to first think about what you can do with that information that your competitors cannot. The issue of course is that this step requires thinking and talking time, not doing stuff time. So you may have to do some of this fun stuff on your time so someone won’t ask you – what are you doing, why aren’t to getting all these projects off your plate? Second you will have to spend time with, yes with not just talking to your customers. Watch they way they use your brand, how it helps improve their lives. A.G. Lafley in “Game Changer” discusses the house P&G built just so the brand team can in a natural setting connect with and interact with their customers. How will you do this?
Survival marketing won’t be surround marketing – now is “the Big Idea” time. Find one great concept – a new advertising campaign like Geico, a better way to engage your customer like American Express and their ability to provide card holders unique access and premium experiences that drive card members' passions and pursuits – and make it important to your target. Focus your efforts, make your brand the most important brand in your target’s mind and you will be able to take some of the hope out of your 2009 marketing equation.
And, if you need any help – don’t hesitate to give us (ANA) a call, we have a number of ways we can help (I know I’m shameless, but we can and will help).