Stellenbosch Open Day.

Book your seat for Stellenbosch’s Open Day on the 30th of January 2021. RSVP before the 27th of January 2021.

Project Management Fundamentals Short Course. This short course will teach you how to effectively and efficiently approach and execute projects. more info.

Project Management Fundamentals Short Course. This short course will teach you how to effectively and efficiently approach and execute projects. more info.

Has the Pandemic Infected Marketing?

Has the Pandemic Infected Marketing Image

July 2020 – Is there a place for high-budget TV ads – the kind where crowds of hundreds clink glasses as they dance together in a small space? Or is the future of marketing looking a lot more low key?

Connection, connection, connection.

If there is anything that emerged out of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the insight that humans crave connection above all else. It’s what makes them willing to risk their health, and that of others, in their pursuit of activities and pastimes that make them feel that they are part of a greater whole. That’s why the brands that have either reflected or sought to create connection are the ones that have done well during a period that’s been exceptionally trying for brands.

Inevitably, these trials have been passed on to their marketers. According to a Marketweek survey of CMOs, 65% of marketers are expecting to see their annual marketing budgets cut, and 86% predict that their marketing goals will be that much harder to achieve.

Digital marketers, on the other hand, must be enjoying a secret smile, if the survey respondents’ belief that SEO has become more important than ever is anything to go by. Indeed, since most consumers have little option but to bond with their laptops, social media is enjoying a boom, and many brands are taking advantage of this new captive market. There’s a caveat, however: consumers don’t want to be reminded of how things were. According to Forbes.com, they’re more likely to respond to an ad that reflects our current reality, no matter how second-rate that reality is. It comes down to the principle of authenticity: we can’t pretend that life is glamourous when most of us are sitting in our tracksuits – any brand that ignores this is tone-deaf.

On the other hand, brands that point out that this is something we’re all affected by may well win. Forbes.com singles out Nike’s Covid-19 ‘Play inside, play for the world’ campaign as one which does this especially well. From a local perspective, who can forget the SA Tourism’s appeal to put the brakes on travel now, so that we can all travel later? If such a message is backed by an action to ease the collective suffering (like the offer of a payment holiday or donation to a cause), so much the better – but, again, only if it is authentic and transparent.

Since marketing budgets are a lot more slender than they were at the beginning of the year, marketers have to do a lot more with a lot less. That’s nothing new – in essence, they’ve been trying to make their spend go further and further since the recession of 2008 – but this time around, the need to create a connection is so much greater. The accent is on quality content that can add value to consumers’ lives: overseas, brands have found a way to interact with their consumers through interactive classes, videos and webinars on platforms like Zoom or IGLive, for example.

The ultimate takeout? The way we buy and spend has changed, probably forever. Of course we’ll reach a stage where consumers have greater freedom, but by then, online habits may have become entrenched. As always, marketers who have missed out on an opportunity to entrench their brands due to short-sighted cost-cutting will feel the brunt when spending returns to normal; those that have adjusted their strategies – by creating relatable, relevant content and serving it on a platform that speaks to consumers’ needs for convenience and efficiency – may hang on to their niche. It’s nothing new – we simply have better data at our disposal to help us choose where to feature that content, and how to execute it.

Image Credit:

https://images.unidays.world/i/self-serve/customer/CDkPfEJh6kmQAM2mzFI06DrW90xwN8FApKikEZYxtuY=/header/e92576d0-1c75-409f-b0eb-90c15bb5ce7e

Altruism – The Holy Grail for Brands in 2020 and Beyond

Altruism Image

23 July 2020 – Altruism is not a new concept for brands. There has been much discussion about being purpose-led and ‘having heart’ at the core of a business model, but never before has this been more important than during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As far back as 2013, marketing titles were trumpeting the value of cause-related marketing. In the pandemic era, when memes and pithy internet quotes alike are calling for kindness, it could be argued that only tone-deaf organisations turn a blind eye. But what does this mean for marketers now and in the foreseeable future?

Any doubt that an altruistic image affects consumer behaviour can be dismissed with the outcomes of a study conducted in Taiwan. Authors Chun-Tuan Chang, Xing-Yu, Chu and I-Tin Tsai asked consumers if their attitudes and purchase intentions were influenced by cause-marketing campaigns, and the response was unequivocal. “When consumers perceive the company’s motives as altruistic, they form a more positive attitude toward the brand and a stronger purchase intention. Their actual purchase behaviour also reflects similar patterns,” they wrote.

Of course, theory is one thing, practice quite another. Before COVID-19 was on everyone’s lips, the second greatest disaster of 2020, the Australian bushfires, gave local companies an opportunity to express humanity with a marketing exercise that became a movement.

Most companies started with a social media post detailing a promotion which saw a percentage of sales going towards fighting the fires; yes, they got to do business – and soaring business at that, because consumers could address their needs while helping others simultaneously. But more than this, the companies emerged not only as purveyors of goods but also as national heroes. It was, as anchordigital.com.au put it, a “win-win-win” because Australia’s fire-fighting organisations got to benefit, too.

Those companies that get altruism right reap significant rewards, as the same website points out, citing Jaden Smith’s JUST Water as a great example: valued at $100 million, he’s making money while also ensuring communities have clean water, thanks to its Water Box offering.

Clearly, this is a company that has ‘good’ built into its DNA – but some companies are getting it hopelessly wrong. Usually, the mistakes they’re making are basic by being flippant, irrelevant or downright inauthentic. Of course, there are times when this tone is exactly what you want, but when you’re trying to appeal to people who are feeling vulnerable, jokes may alienate consumers rather than be seen as endearing.

Brand communication that serves best is succinct, informative and genuine. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s honest – blurring the lines, or making claims that you don’t intend to remain true to, is not likely to be forgiven or forgotten. If you’ve advised consumers that you’re donating a certain percentage of your profits, make sure you do so. So, if there’s even the slightest chance that you’re not going to be able to follow through, don’t make a claim in the first place.

Sometimes, it’s not the message that matters – it’s the medium. Naturally, there’s a hashtag for this: #StopHateForProfit. Suffice to say, if companies like Coca-Cola, Honda and Unilever are saying ‘no thanks’ to Facebook because of its policies around hate speech, there’s a good case for considering how an appearance on social media platforms might impact your brand’s image. Interestingly the criteria for considering media channels is shifting; it is becoming more and more about the brand fit (ideologies and philosophies) and not only about how effectively brands can reach their target audience.

Finally, the old adage about being able to tell a lot about people from how they treat the waiter holds true for organisations, too – although, in this case, consumers are looking at how you treat your staff. It’s all very well to promise to work towards the greater good, but if you’re retrenching, forcing pay cuts and generally not caring about your staff, it doesn’t matter how many entities are benefiting from your actions. After all, charity begins at home.

The golden rules: marketing and brand communication, like everything else, is likely to be changed through this pandemic. Those brands that seek to embody the values that we have increasingly come to cherish – like kindness – are expected to survive, so long as these are reflected within the context of existing brand essence and values. People will always remember who was in their corner during a crisis, while those that showed true colours, which turned out to be less than appealing, will feel the pinch in the pocket.

Finding a balance between volume, cost and quality

Finding a balance between volume, cost and quality 

How often have you heard the Sales Manager screaming for more high quality leads, while in the background the Financial Manager is demanding cheaper leads and higher conversions? For Digital Marketers that have bravely ventured into the world of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), it would appear that the greatest challenge of all is finding a balance between volume, cost and quality. Here’s why…

The market size is only as big as it is

Most, if not all of big businesses in SA now have an online presence with multiple search engine strategies at play. This has led to a highly competitive online environment where each has to outbid or outsmart the other in order to be the first to respond to the customer’s needs. Segmentation and targeting the right audience is key to success and each of these businesses understands exactly who their perfect customer is and where to find them. Unfortunately, the market size of these perfect customers is limited and over time online competition for this perfect customer segment becomes fiercer and more expensive. In order to maintain any forecast growth these companies are forced to find business in other online market segments outside of this highly competitive ‘perfect fit’ customer segment.

Volume comes with hidden costs

As Marketers begin to open up their narrow segmentation strategies to a wider online audience their ability to effectively manage lead quality is compromised. New segments require much more focus and attention than the ‘perfect fit’ segment. The wider Marketers cast their online net, the higher the lead volume and the lower the cost per lead. At face value this appears to be great until the real cost to the business is reviewed; additional resources to manage the higher lead volumes and lower sales conversion rates. It may just be that the expensive ‘perfect fit’ leads were actually more profitable to begin with.

It’s time to tell your bosses they can’t have it all

The reality is that it’s impossible to achieve high volume, low cost and great quality all at the same time. There will always be a trade-off.

Monkley’s Model of Opposing SEM forces illustrates the trade-off between Cost, Quality and Volume objectives for Search Engine Marketing. This model suggests that insisting on high quality and high volume at a low cost is unrealistic and that Marketing Managers have to choose one of these three objectives while carefully balancing the other two. The online market of ‘perfect fit’ customers in any industry is not limitless. The role of Marketing is to know which of these three objectives to prioritize and how much weighting to apply to each objective in order to sustain ROI objectives.

Interested in learning more about Search Engine and Content Marketing? Check out our 12 week short course here