Monday, 15 January 2018

Marketing accountability and metrics

More than ever before, accountability counts. Marketers are using a variety of metrics (both quantitative and qualitative) to measure marketing and media results.

One of the key quantitative metrics is ROI. The Harvard Business Review defines marketing return on investment as:

(Incremental financial value derived from a marketing investment minus the cost of that marketing investment)
divided by
 The cost of that marketing investment

In this ROI definition, the marketer must not only know what marketing costs, it must be able to gauge the financial value gained as a result of making that investment--not so easy.
Often, a company has difficulty attributing a sales increase (financial value) that occurs because of a particular marketing investment (such as one specific promotional campaign). So many influences can affect marketing results, including competition, other marketing efforts, economic conditions, consumer buying behavior, retailer activities and more. In fact, marketing that used to produce a certain result may no longer induce that same result.

Online marketing can be measured in clicks, for example, but there are also quantitative metrics that can prove valuable to long-term financial success--such as the sentiment of social media comments (positive or negative?). This can be measured, but how does a marketer relate that to financial value? And what about ROI of investing in influencer marketing, meaning paying for popular YouTube or Twitter celebs to promote a brand or product.

B2B marketers have to be accountable too, able to measure social media and other marketing efforts. Nonprofits are thinking long-term, not just measuring immediate marketing results from fundraising programmes and other activities.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Targeting business customers like consumers

Businesses don't make buying decisions--people who work for businesses actually make those decisions. And that's why B2B marketers are targeting businesspeople using consumer-driven media, both traditional and social media, with proven B2C techniques like customizing content.

Amazon, the pioneering etailer, has a marketing initiative to sell office supplies to UK businesses. 'Whether you are a sole trader, a buyer in a mid-size company or a chief procurement officer in a large multinational organisation, Amazon Business has the products and capabilities to serve your need', says an executive.

Given that so many businesspeople have purchased from Amazon as consumers, they're already familiar with the range of merchandise and the convenience of ordering. Amazon can work with corporate buyers and procurement procedures. This creates a competitive challenge for office-supply retailers with physical locations.

Yet store-based retailers recognise that small and medium businesses, in particular, often buy in stores or online, without the elaborate purchasing processes utilised by giant corporations. In Australia, the office-products retailer Officeworks knows that it serves both consumers and business customers. Some home-based entrepreneurs might pop in for toner cartridges, or a parent might pick out school supplies for a child. Both are solid markets. When a business buyer or consumer wants to examine merchandise, select an item and take it back to home or office right away, stores are convenient.

Friday, 5 January 2018

UK marketing trends for 2018

What trends should UK marketers pay particular attention to in 2018? Here are what some experts say:
  • Influencer marketing will be increasingly important. Whether a marketer wants to reach a highly targeted audience or reach a broader market, influencers (opinion leaders) on social media can demonstrate products, explain benefits or simply express their positive feelings about the brand. 
  • Highly targeted content for specific segments. Content marketing tailored to each segment offers the benefit of relevant and timely information. With better audience analytics, marketers can therefore target content accordingly, when and where each audience is receptive.
  • Stories are useful for engaging customers. Some brands are using cause-related marketing to tell their stories, reinforcing brand purpose and showing that profit isn't the only motive for marketing. 
  • Trust in many brands must be strengthened. For transparency, be sure the brand promise is clear and specific and deliver on the promise by incorporating the brand's values through all aspects of marketing.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Trend: Online businesses opening physical locations

Trendy Products, which sells furniture online, has opened a 'digital concept showroom' in Cardiff. Trendy is, in fact, on trend, as more e-businesses add physical locations to allow customers to see and experience products, chat with salespeople, access digital catalogues and then make buying decisions.

Trendy has been in business for a decade, building a strong customer base. Now it plans to open more showrooms, expanding beyond digital to reach consumers who want to experience the product and consult with designers before they buy.

One reason for this trend is the availability of good retail locations. Many years of dismal economic growth and cautious consumer spending pushed a large number of stores into administration. Competition from online businesses has also caused retailers and other businesses to shutter some branches that weren't doing well. The result: vacancies in desirable shopping areas. And thanks to good space availability, some retail businesses are actually doing better.

Amazon, the pioneering e-tailer, arranged for space in sections of existing US retail stores for the 2017 holiday season. It owns the Whole Foods Market grocery chain, where it set up displays and sold products. But it also opened some mall stores and rented space in other department stores, enabling shoppers to see and trial Kindles and other products.

Alibaba, China's online retail giant, is adding a physical presence in key cities through partnerships and through, well, giant vending machines.

Each consumer-friendly Alibaba automated location (like the concept shown here) will sell Ford automobiles, starting with a test drive offered to consumers who qualify with sufficient credit to complete the purchase.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Most popular marketing posts ever

According to my blog's statistics, the most popular post ever in nearly nine years of blogging is 'Yes, competitors are stakeholders'. At left, the statistical count shows this post has been viewed more than 12,500 times since I wrote it five years ago.

One reason this post attracts so many views is that when you do a search for the phrase 'competitors as stakeholders' my post is the first result after the top three scholarly articles.

Although some experts believe that competitors should not be considered stakeholders, my post explains why competitors really are stakeholders (click here to view).

Other popular posts are about Tesco's marketing plan and strategy (which continue to evolve as the marketing environment changes), Christmas adverts and #GivingTuesday.

More blog posts are on the way for 2018, including additional ideas about competitors as stakeholders.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Unilever shakes up its product portfolio

Unilever recently sold off its spreads and margarine brands to concentrate on other, higher-potential products in its portfolio. The company's CEO explained: 'The announcement today marks a further step in reshaping and sharpening our portfolio for long term growth'.

Brands sold to KKR, a private equity firm, include Flora, ProActiv, Becel, Country Crock, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and and Blueband.

Although the spreads business was profitable for Unilever, with margins of about 20%, the firm wants to concentrate its marketing resources on products that closely fit its vision.

In particular, Unilever has been growing formerly niche brands like Pukka Herbs tea into mainstream brands to accelerate growth. It's also investing in personal care brands that are growing quickly and launching a number of new products for highly targeted customer segments within specific geographic markets.

This updates the Unilever examples in Essential Guide to Marketing Planning 4th edn.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

What's happening to the bank branch?

If you're banking with Virgin Money UK, you don't walk into a branch, you walk into a lounge. Above, a map showing some of the Virgin Money lounges open to customers who want to play billiards, listen to a jukebox, watch a movie, enjoy free coffee or complete a financial transaction.

Each lounge is unique, because the design and amenities fit the building. In Wales, the lounge is located in a former pizza restaurant. Naturally, Virgin Money is serving free pizza to customers.

If you're banking with Metro Bank UK, you don't walk into a branch, you walk into a store. The company keeps its stores open late and on weekends to allow customers plenty of time to have coins counted or bring dogs in for free water or even open a new account.

And despite the growing popularity of digital banking, branches still attract customers. Metro's data show that 55% of its customers go to its stores. Of course, its customers also use mobile banking and online services.

Yet looking at the UK bank industry overall, more than 700 bank branches around the UK were closed in 2017--the largest number of closures ever recorded in one year. Are banks going to carefully tailor branches for each community rather than have one-size-fits-all banking? Or will they shrink the size or number of branches to reduce costs while offering selected in-person services? Let's see what happens in 2018.

This post updates the Metro Bank example in Chapter 11 of Essential Guide to Marketing Planning.