From good to better to…

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We had a Client ask for a meeting to discuss the results of a recent line extension. Since we so often get called in when there’s a problem, we expected to hear it was a disappointment. But, what we heard was the launch exceeded all expectations and was considered a “huge win” by management. He then explained why he asked to see us. “Despite all that,” he said, “I have this nagging feeling that we’re leaving something on the table. My gut tells me there’s a bigger opportunity here and I just can’t get a handle on it. Can you help me think through our strategy and messaging to take it to that next level?” Imagine that. Nailing it on the first pass and going back and challenging what got you there. Doesn’t seem to happen often, and it does take a visionary (and confident) marketer to be prepared to consider a possible strategic change or redirection in the face of success.

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Of course, we said “yes!”…and we uncovered an inconsistency in the brand architecture that WAS limiting growth for the overall brand. The result was growth for both the line extension AND the parent brand. Not to mention a very satisfied Client.

While this exact situation may not occur all that often in the life of a brand (or the career of a marketer) it does illustrate a more general principle gleaned from years of experience: effective marketing is a dynamic process that benefits from continual re-examination and questioning.

Here are a few things proven to help uncover that next level of growth:

Marketing is not “one and done” We’ve seen a lot of marketing checklists. The target profiling, messaging content, media mix, the four P’s, and on and on. The danger in checklists is the inference that once the checkmark is there, the specific task is complete. And, once all the boxes are filled the job is done. But, that can lead to inertia and a defensive rather than a proactive, aggressive marketing posture. What has helped us find new growth in both weak and strong brands for our Clients is our belief that marketing decisions and actions are right at the time they are made but should be routinely reexamined. Maybe that’s why we always fill out checklists in pencil.

Embracing change is a success strategy We like to imagine that Heraclitus was marketing sandals in ancient Greece when he wrote “The only thing that is constant is change.” Well, maybe not, but if it was true then, it is even more true today. Seems the only way to keep up with the breakneck speed of change is to anticipate it, stay ahead of it and, even, create it rather than react to it. Maybe that’s why several of our most successful Clients have called on us to help them reexamine and evolve the core or foundational insights and strategies on their brands several times over a five to seven year period…or even more frequently in faster changing markets.

There is no such thing as “the” answer The Holy Grail of marketing. The one perfect strategy that will take advantage of every benefit and address every challenge in one neat package. Turns out it’s kind of like herding cats. Just one or two pesky items just aren’t addressed so let’s keep at it. Meanwhile the marketplace is moving on and things aren’t getting any better. We’ve learned that setting our sights on finding “an” answer that delivers better results, rather than chasing an elusive “the” answer, is actually much more productive and successful. So, we’ve oriented ourselves to developing a range of alternative, mutually independent solutions that will each have their own strengths and identifying the most effective of those directions. Turns out, this actually facilitates decision making and taking action.

What they don’t say is important, too You get the results of what was said by the target. But, how often is what they didn’t say considered and analyzed? Was it just unimportant? Was it too sensitive or uncomfortable to bring up? Could that reveal a new way to connect the target with the product or perhaps tell you where not to go? We’ve learned it’s worth the analytical investment to explore the unspoken for key nuggets of learning. Why? Because understanding why certain topics and ideas didn’t surface can lead to  highly differentiated insights.

The net effect of all this experience has been to approach marketing as a “living” thing rather than a checklist of completed tasks. We help our Clients harness marketplace evolution or competitive disruption or changes in target momentum to drive growth. And really…when is that NOT the case? There seems to always be a reason, and an opportunity, to rethink rather than institutionalize fundamental marketing building blocks…like positioning, strategy and targeting insights.

So for today’s Strategy Break here are a few questions you might want to consider relating to reexamining marketing fundamentals:
  • Am I leaving something on the table that can significantly grow my brand?
  • Is there somewhere we have gotten bogged down in the search for the “perfect” answer?
  • Is there an opportunity to be an even more aggressive “agent of change” in this marketplace?

When you find an opportunity to reexamine the fundamental marketing assumptions on your brand, keep us in mind. Our investigative, analytical and basic thought processes are designed to take a zero-based look at marketing strategy and help our Clients take an even more dynamic approach to share growth.

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