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While Navigating the Complex World of Marketing, Don’t Forget What’s Critical

May 21, 2019
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Posted by Jack Curran

 

I recently came across this definition of an advertising strategy on INC’s website – April 2019:

“An advertising strategy is a plan to reach and persuade a customer to buy a product or a service.

The basic elements of the plan are:

  1. The product itself and its advantages
  2. The customer and his or her characteristics
  3. The relative advantages of alternative routes whereby the customer can be informed of the product
  4. The optimization of resulting choices given budgetary constraints.
In effect this means that aims must be clear, the environment must be understood, the means must be ranked, and choices must be made based on available resources. Effective product assessment, market definition, media analysis, and budgetary choices result in an optimum plan—never the perfect plan because resources are always limited.”

Ok, so that sounds simple enough, right? Yes, it seems accurate. It includes all the basic elements of an advertising plan. But today, the marketing communication universe has grown so complex that this basic definition doesn’t come close to helping an entry-level marketer or even some seasoned veterans understand the world they now face.

With social media’s deep analytics and data assessment, speed of change, and plethora of communication touch-points, even the smartest marketers struggle to fully understand it much less implement fully-baked, integrated, strategic communications plans. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, up pops another 100 “Next Big Thing Digital Solutions”, when you’re already juggling email, e-commerce, display ads, “smart” ads, SEO, SEM, Social Channels and more.

But, what about traditional integration? We can’t forget about print, promotion, experiential, radio, and TV. Yet, even these “traditional” media channels are growing and evolving daily. In-store display’s still disrupt the shopper, influence purchase decisions and provide direct SKU based sales measurement.

The reality is, we are now in a world transitioning from simple to extremely complex more rapidly than ever before. And, over the last decade we have seen an interesting outcome of this evolution—all this complexity has bred a culture of specialization.

Specialization is the strategic concentration on a core marketing communication area, its tactics, and tools to become a subject matter expert in one or more adjacencies with best-in-class, focus.

In today’s reality, thousands of specialized agencies fight to differentiate themselves from other specialists. Hundreds of agencies have consolidated independent, specialized marketing firms into single-source, global mega-agencies. Global consulting firms are now using their deep analytic and economic firepower to grow even larger by leveraging their data and processes while assimilating traditional and specialized agencies into global one-stop, integrated powerhouses.

However, in my humble opinion, one strategy must remain at the very top of every business, agency or consultancy, whether large or small, specialized or full-service. And that strategy is to deliver the singular “simple and powerful idea.” It’s not the approach or complexity of the integration, but the insight that is the inspiration for the idea. Of course, you have to have an actionable integrated execution approach that delivers on the insight and resulting idea, but, without a powerful insight-based simple main idea, you will never persuade the customer to buy your product or service over the competition.

So, what do you think – should the Advertising Strategy steer the ship? Should complexity and integration be King? Or is it ultimately finding that one simplified insight driven idea that delivers a powerful position, differentiates your product and delivers growth ahead of your competition?

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