The digital revolution and the explosion of social media have profoundly changed what influences consumers as they undertake their purchasing decision journey. When considering products, they read online reviews and compare prices. Once in the stores, they search for deals with mobile devices and drive hard bargains. And after the purchase, they become reviewers themselves and demand ongoing relationships with products and brands. Although companies have access to terabytes of data about these behavioral changes, many still can’t answer the fundamental question: how exactly are our customers influenced?
Recent research has shown that in-store interactions with consumers was more important in communicating a brand’s message and driving potential buyers to consider its products. Yet brands with low customer loyalty are spending a lot of money on tactics, such as building fans on facebook, without fully knowing if this supports business objectives.
Time and time again, companies are aware of the growing importance of touch points such as earned media but don’t understand the true magnitude of their effects or how to influence them.
Marketing has always combined facts and judgment: after all, there’s no analytic approach that can single-handedly tell you when you have a great piece of creative work. A decade ago, when traditional advertising was all that mattered, most senior marketers justifiably had great confidence in their judgment on spending and messaging. Today, many privately confess to being less certain especially when it comes to touch points like social media where the line to ROI is hard to measure. Even in the absence of a single way of measuring ROI for different channels, marketers should move toward an apples-to-apples way of comparing returns across a range of media.
One consumer-packaged-goods company uses econometric analysis and frequent brand tracking to assemble a scorecard of returns in the short term (average and marginal marketing ROIs within 12 months) and the longer term (progress on brand equity and brand loyalty for periods of more than 12 months). The company is tantalizingly close to its ultimate goal of truly being able to make decisions about short- versus long-term trade-offs and to deliver complete answers to “show me the money” requests.
It’s about the brand, isn’t it?
Any brand is simply the collective intent of the people behind it. To everyone your business touches, from employees to consumers, the brand defines who you are and what you stand for as a business. If you want great business results, you and your brand have to stand for something compelling. And that’s where brand ideals enter the equation.
A brand ideal is a shared intent by everyone in a business to improve people’s lives. The ability to leverage this ideal is what separates great business leaders from good, bad, or indifferent ones. A brand ideal is a business essential reason for being, the higher-order benefit it brings to the world yet too many brands focus on benefits that consumers could care less about. They fail to answer the most basic question “what problem does this help me solve?” or “how does your product make me feel better about myself ?”
While a lot of MBA’s and best selling authors try and convince marketers of the complexity of branding today it’s not really that complex at all. If you focus on a clear concise message that resonates with the consumer and ensure that every brand touchpoint is a great experience you are going to succeed. If you don’t, you’re not even if you have 1 million facebook fans of your brand.