In times such as these, when things have changed drastically, some businesspeople may feel the urgency to do a creative and innovative marketing campaign to attract new clients. Others will see the need to review their whole strategy to prevail and adapt to new challenges in their competitive environment.
New advertising with a twist on the ads may be opportune as a quick solution to increase cash flow. A good campaign can certainly make a difference. However, sometimes ads are brilliant, but when the purchase is made, the product or services fall short of expectations. Despite an initial surge in sales, there is a long-term negative effect.
When this happens, internal questions arise. How did the product or service fail? Which expectations were not met? Why? Is there misalignment between what we say and what we do? This situation is common. Companies tend to spend much more on marketing than on management consulting. According to statista.com the global management consulting market was US$160 billion in 2019. On the other hand, a total of US$299 billion were spent on global online advertising that same year… only online. It is possibly considered a faster way to increase profits. And that is correct, if and when the strategy of the company is well structured and well executed.
To make sure the money invested in advertising bears fruit, certain things should be checked out first:
- The company strategy should be clear to all. The entire company team should understand how the company generates value for their clients and how each individual is contributing to the company’s purpose. In a well-known Nasa anecdote from the 60’s a janitor was sweeping the floor and was asked what he was doing, to which he answered, I’m helping put a man on the Moon. This type of commitment and understanding is achieved through a compelling, well-articulated strategy.
- Understand your differentiators. Sometimes you see how one company sets the pace and the others try to imitate it. This was the popular case of Southwest Airlines and Continental. Southwest, with an incredibly special low-cost model was doing great. Continental tried to copy them creating Continental Lite but failed enormously because it did not understand it was, in its core, vastly different from Southwest. If the company is copying others without understanding how the changes fit in their strategy, it is making a mistake.
- Operations must comply with performance standards. Is it worth doing a spectacular advertising campaign if when clients come expectations crumble and the clients leave disappointed? Obviously not. The company must have performance indicators in place to validate that it is achieving what it set out to do, take corrective actions if necessary and, that way, comply with the value proposition.
- Know the client well. Sometimes companies over design or overly simplify their products. Generally, you cannot have the exact same product or services for the entire market. If we want to cater to demanding clients, we cannot expect simplistic people as clients too. Understanding the target market well, the customer journey and client expectations enables the company to achieve client satisfaction.
Marketing is important, it allows us to communicate with our clients, it gives us opportunities to reach more people and generate more income. Strategy lets us establish a plan to be sustainably competitive. They are two functions that should be completely aligned, not totally separated. Together, they help the company reach its true potential.