The rush to accountability by major advertisers may wind up eliminating most major consumer brands from store shelves. Marketing and promotion budgets are now being evaluated by click-throughs, actions taken and regression modeling metrics that rarely reflect reality -- more so than ever before. The silver bullet has become special offers, price reductions and other short-term gimmicks. Brands that follow this practice will eventually become faceless commodities. And when that happens, store brands and private labels win the price war.
Consumers buy brands they can trust and have a long-term relationship with. Advertising creates the relationship, not low price offers. "I Want My MTV" had no price offer; it was great image advertising. Same for the original ads for Absolut Vodka, Volkswagen and the Energizer Bunny. If all advertising becomes nothing more than measured classified advertising, why should the consumer be willing to pay more for a brand than a private label?
Major marketers need to reinvent themselves in their thinking. Clients have squeezed ad agencies on their fees, with the result that great advertising is a thing of the past. The quick solutions are gimmick- and price-driven. Great advertising that not only builds brands but keeps them relevant requires enough creative people on an account, with enough time to think. Sad to say, this no longer exists.
Marketing executives should not function as accountants. Out of the box thinking often cannot not be justified or quickly measured, but it often produces phenomenal results in the long term. Short-term marketing cannot produce long-term results. Unfortunately, today's marketers have been forced to become short-term thinkers by the accountants.
Great magazines such as The New Yorker, O The Oprah Magazine, Sports Illustrated, etc. could save a great deal of money by eliminating all four color editorial pages. Would consumers cancel their subscriptions? I doubt it, but the brand would become less relevant over time.
Fashion, beauty and some travel advertisers still sell their brand image. That's why consumers will often pay more for their products than store labels and brands. Classified advertising and banner ads work because what's being sold is often a known brand. If marketers continue to put more of their budgets into only measurable advertising and promotion, then their shelf space and consumer connection will dramatically erode over time.
Today's consumers are sleep- and time-deprived. Their attention spans are short. To get their ongoing attention you need ongoing image advertising that sells the consumer benefits. The reinvention that's called for is "Back to the Future." It simply means using marketing budgets for marketing the way it use to be, when the glass was half full and CEOS did not try to measure every ad and every dollar spent. A creative and effective marketing process is hard to measure in the short term.
Steve's new book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is blacker-reinventions.com and e-mail address is email@example.com
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