7 mistakes companies make while making their advertising strategy
Sometimes even after investing adequate time and effort in establishing a brand, companies could be found wanting in accomplishing their brand objectives.
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Sometimes even after investing adequate time and effort in establishing a brand, companies could be found wanting in accomplishing their brand objectives. They go through the rigorous drill of coming up with a good name.
A nice logo and a catchy tagline.
They back up a good product or service with an honest brand promise.
Why, then, they fail to hit the bull’s eye?
To answer this question, I have identified 7 mistakes drawing from my observations that companies make, rather unintentionally, while making their advertising strategy. Be it a startup or an established brand, these mistakes are often the culprit standing between goals and objectives.
JUMPING WITHOUT DEFINING MARKETING OBJECTIVE
What we see in a TV Ad or hoarding or a social media campaign is the final outcome. The starting point for any advertising strategy is to define the “Marketing Objective”. Without having a clear cut marketing objective in front of the team, it is difficult to define the Advertising objective and so on.
For example, if a well-established brand is facing a decline in sales then the Marketing Objective has to be increasing sales with a specific plan of action in a defined timeframe. If a startup or a new brand is entering the market, the Marketing Objective has to be getting the first few customers or generating some demand. So, it is very important to define a clear cut challenge, issue, or opportunity and set a SMART marketing objective before defining the Advertising Strategy.
NOT ABLE TO DEFINE WHERE TO HIT THE CONSUMER
Every category and every brand has to pass through different stages like awareness, acceptance, preference, and so on. Before thinking about the ad campaign, the team needs to identify the current stage of the brand. For a new smartphone brand, communication has to be focused on generating preference as the product category is well accepted by the consumers. But if a company is launching a smartphone with AI technology, the task is not only to sell, but also to generate awareness about the technology first. Many companies forget this and focus only on creating ad campaigns that can get them instant sales.
I remember one incidence where the client was launching a Hair Oil. Hair oil is a mature category and if you go in the market you have to fight with giants. The client was in need to generate preference but the communication was focused on association and emotional connect. There was no rationale or USP on which the communication was designed. Even after spending some 10 million Rupees or maybe a higher budget, the brand failed.
FOCUSING ON TOO MANY THINGS AT ONCE OR NOT HAVING SINGLE-MINDED PROPOSITION
If I throw 5 balls at you, at once, how many will you be able to catch?
Law of Focus is one of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
As per the Law of Focus, a brand can achieve tremendous success if it can own a word in the minds of prospects.
For example, Federal Express put the word “overnight” into the minds of its prospects to focus on overnight package delivery only. Many brands, especially startups and small companies, fail at this. They want to achieve everything they can in a limited budget with a single ad campaign. Focusing on a single word or concept makes the brand recall stronger and easier. Ad strategy has to be based on “Single-Minded Proposition” so that the right TG can get the right message, which can help in achieving the objective effectively.
NOT MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY IN STRATEGY
I have observed that many startup brands behave like an enthusiastic baby. They jump into the game without any preparation or planning and just out of aggression and passion. They invest heavily in one go and then suddenly stop investment in advertising. These entrepreneurs are very quick in doing something and quicker in taking actions back. Any market demands consistent efforts regardless of whether you go slow or go all guns blazing. You have to plan for the long-term and move step by step. Do not jump to every opportunity you see and waste your money.
Some entrepreneurs start feeling that advertising or marketing is not worth doing just because of some failures. But, if they start playing by the rules of the game, their attitude and perception would be totally different.
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NOT MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY IN COMMUNICATION & STRATEGY
Dove says “with 1/4 the moisturizer”.
Dettol says “be 100% sure”.
Cadbury is focusing on replacing sweets in Indian festivals with chocolates for long and Airtel is targeting consumers who need speed and uninterrupted network.
What they all are doing is focusing on specific TG with a specific benefit, and creating a strong space in the mind of their TG with consistent communication & strategy. Many companies failed at this.
One of the most defining examples is Coca-Cola. In the mid-70s, Pepsi introduced the Pepsi Challenge campaign. People were invited to take a blind taste test of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, in which, Pepsi turned up a clear winner due to its sweet taste. In response to that, Coca-Cola introduced New Coke in 1985, which was more sugary than its flagship product. It was a total fiasco. If consumers wanted a sweeter cola, they already had Pepsi for that. Coca-Cola’s strategy to deviate from its core did not pay off. It’s a lesson in consistency worth learning.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS EVERYTHING
These days, 4 out of 5 clients come and ask us to help them build their brand through social media. Because they think that the whole world is online and this is a very cost-effective medium. Companies feel that other media platforms are now out of date. We say to them that yes, social media marketing is important, but not everything.
Social media is a platform where people come to socialize, not to see your ads or buy products. You have to weave in your brand story in a way that does not disturb them and also helps your brand stay connected. Offline marketing mediums also have their own importance.
We see Amazon’s big sale full-page ad in a newspaper, we see web series promotion on hoarding.
There is a reason why companies do that. Advertising media planning shall be done on the basis of the product’s nature, stage of the product life cycle, target consumer, and most importantly, budget. And remember, brands are not made on social media alone.
CONSIDERING ADVERTISING AS AN EXPENSE AND AD AGENCY AS ONE OF THE VENDORS
I always give this example of 4Ps. The way a chair needs four legs to stand, the same way Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion are four pillars of a successful brand.
If a company considers Advertising as an expense then it won’t be able to give advertising its due importance. The focus will be on money going out versus what am I getting in return immediately. If you see it as an investment in your brand, you will be able to see beyond sales figures. Also, many companies think that they need an ad agency because they do not know how to operate the design software. When you see a brand consultant like any other vendor, you will not be able to use the expertise of the agency.
We hear this from clients, “Do as I say as I am the client and I pay you”. Do we say the same in the operation theater to a doctor? Companies need to select the right agency and allow the agency to work on building strategy which helps them to achieve the marketing objective.
Do you think that your company could be making any of these mistakes? If yes, then it’s time for a course correction. If no, then, well, your company’s advertising strategy is on the right track. In my opinion, one of the sure-shot ways to not wander off in the wrong lane is hiring a brand consultant, and allowing them to work on your brand as a partner. And last but not least, do not fall in love with your product so much that you can’t see the competition, consumer and the market scenario.
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