Marcom Strategy – The Basics (part 3)

August 6, 2009

In my last post I touched on ten outcomes of a marcom strategy. But before one can be developed, there are five things every strategist needs to know. Most of this stuff will sound elementary, but you’d be surprised how often one or two pieces are neglected.

consumer_shopping1. Consumer intelligence

Knowing thy customer is the most important input for any strategist. Any person involved in developing a marcom strategy should have a deep understanding of the consumer segment(s) they may need to engage – who they are, what they’re saying, what they’re doing, and why.

Strategists should also be driven by empathy for, not manipulation of the consumer.

2. Brand Immersion

The second most important factor for a strategist is to know the brand on every level: the product attributes, rational benefits, emotional benefits, personality, appearance, history and core insights.

Brands with weak or ill-defined brand architectures are difficult to create marcom strategies for.

And it doesn’t hurt to intimately know a lot about your competitors. Who are they and what do they stand for? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can this be used to your advantage?

macarthur_nimitz3. Goals

Briefs and RFPs usually fail on two counts: 1) tactics are listed as goals or 2) briefs include a list of goals that include everything except a cure for cancer.

The most common marcom goals marketers strive for is awareness, acquisition, adoption, adoration or advocacy. These goals can be a sequential continuum that ladder consumers to the next level of brand relationship.

As a rule of thumb, marketers should focus on no more than two goals, even if additional goals will be addressed indirectly. Having too many goals is a recipe for a diluted, ineffective strategy.

Lastly, I’ve seen both clients and agencies lose sight of their stated goals as early as the planning and ideation phase. Every idea and tactic should be held up against the brand goal and killed if they’re off target.

4. Budget

Brand Marketers tend to keep budgets a closely held secret. They let their agencies play guessing games, pitching numerous ideas and an ala carte menu of estimates.

This game is wasteful and usually results in a Frankenstein-esque collection of tactics – tactics that are chosen primarily because they fit into the budget box, not because they work best together. Integration becomes an afterthought, and matching luggage is hailed as success.

Budgets have an enormous impact on strategy. For example, a marcom strategy designed to drive purchase continuity will be much different with budget of $500,000 vs. a budget of $5,000,000.

iphone users5. Trends

Trends can often be a driving force behind a strategy. Strategists should be aware of societal, cultural, economic, technology, demographic, even political trends.

Just recognize there’s a difference between fads and trends. Latching onto a fad might make your brand appear out-of-touch by the time consumers have an opportunity to engage with your marcom.

Next time…

What makes for a good strategy?

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