Spending money to make money
It has been with dismay that I’ve read of the decline in advertising spend and talked to clients who are cutting their budgets. Most of the people that I’ve spoken with about this indicate that their spends are being cut without only loose plans of how they will fill the gap.
Of course it is absolutely possible to be successful with lower cost alternatives to TV, but then, more than ever, you need to have a clear strategy and plan of how you are going to accomplish that. While it’s true that TV is not as strong as it was fifty years ago and while it’s possible to make bad or weak TVCs, TV still delivers the highest reach of any single medium. Cut it out or down significantly without a plan of how to replace it, and your business will suffer.
We at Ipsos ASI have written pieces before about the importance of spending during a recession. Those pieces are extremely considered and cogently argued, but they boil down to a key point: if you don’t remind consumers what is great about your brand during tough times, they will replace you with something else. Your competitor might continue to advertise; own labels will become more enticing, with consumers finding they are as good as branded; or they may find something else entirely to replace the occasion of using your brand.
Now, I don’t like to be all doom and gloom. And I also know that people are worried. So, I’d also like to offer some words of encouragement if you’re facing a year when TV or even print are not possible on the scale that you’ve achieved before.
First and foremost, don’t lose sight of your long-term goal. It’s much easier to fail if you don’t relentlessly remind yourself where you want to be.
Consider how to maximise reach across multiple platforms. Using a true multi-media approach to weave together a campaign that reaches as many people as possible is going to more effective than targeting the same small group of people over and over online and in social.
But, if you’re doing this, remember that, not all media are created equally and that different mechanisms work in different media. Although some principles tend to generate success across all media (clarity and simplicity to name two), what works in print won’t necessarily work in radio. It may seem obvious to say so, but I’ve seen mistakes made here, mistakes that were easily avoided.
Don’t over-rely on price promotions. If 2008-09 is anything to judge by, a lot of brands fall into the price-off trap. The problem with a lot of price discounts is that you can train consumers to expect them. People may ‘pantry load’ or you may be training them to cherry pick.
Accept that you may be trading money for time. Some of this may be invested in relearning media that you haven’t used in some time, such as radio. And while social media may seem more appealing than ever before, managing social well takes an investment in time. Social doesn’t manage itself.
Don’t neglect TV entirely. Yes, it’s expensive to make and to buy, but if done well, the pay-offs can be great.
Creating powerful communications is not easy. But rather than being dismayed by the challenge, we should all be enthused by the chance to do something truly different and compelling. Imagine how rewarding it will be to create success in these conditions.