By Tom Dougherty
Advertising strategy. Brand is how you market today
There is a new economic order. What are the new branding elements and basics? Marketing was a business function relevant to the old economic order. There have been major changes in branding advertising strategy and marketing dynamics. Even though that economic order is gone forever, most companies still think and work according to it.
And this is costing them waste in their effort to grow their business. It is high time they adapted their business to the new economic order. How can this be? Marketing has been around all along.
What has changed that makes the Marketing function so out of date? A sea change. No less. A transformation of our marketplace. In recent decades, the old economic order has given way to the new economic order and a new advertising strategy. Four factors characterize this transition:
- Intensifying competition has transferred power from the producer to the customer. The more freedom and choice customers have, the more power they have, at the expense of you, the producer.
- Intensifying accountability has transferred management orientation from process-driven to purpose-driven. As more has to be accomplished with each dollar, activities are increasingly determined by their ability to deliver desired results.
- Accelerating innovation has redefined business from its technology base to its relationship with its customers. As new technologies keep emerging, companies have to keep shifting to those technologies that can better serve existing customers, whose loyalty is based less on technology provided by the company, than it is on the perceived benefit they are already getting from the business.
- The perpetual proliferation of higher value has promoted both the ascendency of service business at the expense of manufacturing businesses, and the increasing relative internal importance of the service interface of manufactured goods. These four emergent factors, greater customer power, greater purpose orientation by management, greater customer-relationship based identification for the business, and the ascendency of service business, have together rendered the discipline of Marketing limited and out of date, and replaced it with the Brand.
The Market Has Changed
How can this be? Isn’t brand a mere sub-function of advertising and marketing? Isn’t brand run by the marketing department? Not any longer. Keeping brand within marketing and as the lead in advertising strategy in the new economic order is the surest way to dilute your investments for growth. And as we have seen, tightening accountability can no longer tolerate any such waste.
Not when there are sub-functions of business outside the marketing function that can influence customer perception of your business, and can thus determine your revenues. In the old economic order, it was the inherent quality of the product that was the crux of the business. It was marketing’s function to position it, promote it, sell it, and bring in the revenue. In the new economic order, the crux is no longer the inherent quality of the product. It is subtler quality, and one that lies outside your company.
It is the quality of the customers’ PERCEPTION of the value they are buying. And there are many things that influence this perception — as many things as the customer can experience, and associate with your brand name. Let’s look at this a little closer.
As we saw earlier, power has shifted from the producer to the customer, and has moved from the factory to the emotional and mental fields of the customer. In this new economic order, it is no longer the product or service per se, that determines the flow of incoming revenue for the business and as the defining idea in advertising strategy.
It is now the perception of greatest value in the mental and emotional field of the customer. Customers buy their imagined expectation of what the product or service can provide to them. This “IMAGINED EXPECTATION” is the crux of your business’ revenues in the new economic order. It’s as simple as that.
A New Opportunity in advertising strategy and brand
This means that every business function that can contribute toward the generation of the right “IMAGINED EXPECTATION”, i.e., Brand, and toward its consolidation in customers’ mental and emotional fields, must be regarded as a revenue building opportunity, and must be integrated as such. Which means it must be managed for integration.
All your business’ customer interfacing sub-functions must be managed to work in synch toward generating and consolidating the strongest possible Brand – toward generating the most possible revenue for the investment.
Of course, the traditional marketing sub-functions of Sales, Brand Graphics, Advertising, Promotions, Market Research, Distribution, Pricing, Merchandising and Packaging continue to play an important role in the new economic order.
But the boundary drawn by the marketing function between these sub-functions and other business functions that contribute toward the generation and consolidation of the Brand with customers – is a deadly barrier. Sub-functions like Product Development, Product Research, Product Experience, Billing, Collections, Customer Care and Credit Control, all play critical roles, not only toward the generation of right Brand, but equally importantly, its sustainability over time.
These too are legitimate Brand-building functions, and as such, can contribute substantially to the purchase decision that brings in the revenue for your business. As long as your business doesn’t demolish existing boundaries between the marketing function and all the other brand-building sub-functions, it is setting itself up for inconsistent, if not competing customer experiences from these functions. This means that some revenue investments will be working against other revenue investments, which is the most wasteful thing a business can do! (Learn how to better use your brand as a marketing tool here)
Advertising Strategy is an Outdated Function
In short, advertising is an inefficient and outdated function based on that old producer-driven mentality. Rise to the new economic order. Recognize that Brand is the crux of your business, and reorganize your company to take advantage of the synergies of the new economic order.
In order to ensure that there is no waste in your investment for growth, you must integrate all the brand-building and brand-consolidation sub-functions under a single management function, one that is broader than the marketing function, one that includes several sub-functions that were hitherto not regarded as marketing sub-functions. You can call it what you want. You can call this new function customer department, or brand department, or anything else for that matter. After all, Marketing is dead. Long live the Brand!