What do you think is the biggest challenge Marketers face?
A good friend of mine who is also a Marketer asked me this question. It took me a while to come up with an answer.
My biggest marketing challenge is making the brand message heard in a noisy environment.
Let me explain.
There are many people with great business ideas. Only a few turn those ideas into successful businesses. Even fewer manage to build a strong brand for their business.
In theory brand building is a fairly straightforward process: a great product, a unique and differentiated message, and proper communication.
I’ve worked in marketing for over 15 years, and I think I became pretty good at developing the positioning strategy for a good product.
What I find increasingly challenging is breaking through the clutter and making the brand message heard. I often ask myself:
Why is it so hard to get the brand in front of customers?
Below are some thoughts.
Firstly, the business environment is more competitive than ever. Globalization and technology allows almost anybody with a dream to start a business. There are many opportunities to find something to sell and suppliers willing to sell to you.
On the flip side, brands are fighting for something that is very limited: people’s attention.
With the level of noise that surrounds each of us increasing daily, many consumers have become immune to any form of communication that is perceived as advertising.
Many preach the need for brands to educate and engage, rather than advertise, and that’s OK. However, in real life, if you need to reach a certain sales target in a limited time frame you need to engage in some form of advertising.
Speaking of brand education, most brands turn to social media to share “engaging” content. I will confess that I am becoming very doubtful of its effectiveness as an educational platform.
In fact I believe social media is a big contributor to the noise pollution we are currently experiencing.
I’ve seen great content being published on social media that got little to no attention. At the same time, a home-made video of a cat doing strange things around the house goes viral. This begs two questions:
How do we define “engaging” and “relevant” content from a business perspective?
Is there too much emphasis on social media as an effective marketing communication tool?
It’s not fair to blame social media exclusively for our inability to communicate with our target audience. There are internal factors that play and important role as well.
One is maintaining brand focus and message consistency.
In an era of multitasking, multi-devices and shorter attention spans, brands have to communicate quickly, simply and clearly. Given the multitude of communication platforms, brand managers have the huge task of maintaining brand consistency in terms of look and feel, as well as the message being communicated.
Many brands are responding to consumers’ need for instant gratification by communicating price discounts, latest items on sale, and other short term incentives.
This communication strategy leads to the creation of a category of consumers with no loyalty to the brand, who expects everything to be free, and are always willing to switch brands in the hunt for the latest deal.
Not the type the consumers you want to build your brand on.
The final point I want to make is that breaking through the noise require money, time and expertise. There is a common belief among many executives that the new communication platforms are free, so the company should just adopt them. This is a false perception.
With the same number of work hours in a day, marketers have to divide their time among many more initiatives, or request help from outside. In the end, the human and financial costs could be quite high.
So how do we tackle this marketing challenge? I think we just need to step back when we feel being pulled from different directions, and refocus our communication efforts.
I also think we need to avoid falling into the trap of adopting every communication platform without assessing its effectiveness as it relates to our individual business scenario.
Brought to you by: The “Brand Positioning 1 on 1” Workshop