Summary: At its heart marketing should drive sales. Marketing campaigns that are funny, or memorable don’t mean a damn thing if your business is losing customers. Too many agencies are still promoting awards for creative campaigns for brands that are still in trouble because they like to pat themselves on the back.
At the end of the year I usually start to read about the year’s best marketing and advertising campaigns, but as I read these lists I noticed that a lot of the best campaigns didn’t do a damn thing to lift sales. Is advertising dead? Hardly, but in an era where consumers are multitasking while watching TV and ignoring commercials, for the most part, marketers have forgotten that extended frequency and reach don’t translate into more sales.
According to various research reports marketers are being asked to quantify the money they spend, but words like “awareness” and “website visitors” don’t mean a lot if sales are tanking. For products in grocery stores marketing dollars may be better spent by paying for better shelf placement or FSI’s than on catchy ads.
I’ve noticed some trends over the last couple years in qualitative research with consumers. They are..
1ne: Consumers are willing to try new brands/products, but they balance that trial with the cost and inconvenience of switching brands.
2wo: No, they don’t go online to research a $. 99 box of microwave macaroni and cheese. The idea that consumers research all the products they try is a pure canard.
3hree: Consumers are not in a forgiving mood. If your brand fails to meet their expectations, it’s going to take a lot more money to win them back.
4our: Bad customer service can make even the best marketing moot.
5ive: Too much shouting “buy me” without enough reasons.
6ix: Big brands equal big corporations who don’t care about their customers is a perception among all age groups.
Finally, a general lack of empathy. This year I consistently heard that paychecks were getting eaten by the rise in health insurance costs and gas prices, but consumers feel that most brands deaf when it comes to these issues. One supermarket chain in Massachusetts heard this an offered discounts on gas with purchases of groceries. When we asked about that we heard shoppers say “they loved it” and that it showed they care.
Marketing has become too much of a big business and in this transformation they are trying to use science and big data to help streamline their branding. It isn’t working. Blockchain is a buzzword that has little to do with consumers who have more choices than ever before and are very careful about who gets their money.