CEO CARL FREMONT’S ADVICE TO MARKETERS IN AD AGE

Let customers lead based on their new behaviors in a business-as-unusual world.

There’s no magic switch when it comes to messaging in a 24/7, always-on world. With the global pandemic redefining how we live and work, most of us need to fine-tune our messaging, timing and delivery.

Brand marketers must ensure their brands are well-represented while providing a relevant and engaging consumer experience, delivering on consideration and driving sales. What exactly should marketers be doing right now?

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Start by outlining a brand and demand solution that delivers on both brand and performance marketing imperatives. Some actions to consider:

Establish your sales platform For those marketers that count on retail sales, everything is topsy-turvy. Now is the time to rethink how consumers can access products. Brands that were mostly sold at retail can reconfigure their offerings and hasten their d-to-c efforts. Many brands start by using Amazon, which has the advantage of an existing audience and infrastructure. While those are strong benefits, using a third-party platform eats into margins and does not allow brands to own the consumer experience. That means no cross-selling, upselling or even capturing the best data on customers.

Although retail spending on the whole is down, spending on certain consumer goods is higher. For some brands, this might be the time to create their own d-to-c platform. This is quite an undertaking as warehousing, distribution and supply management come into play. But since the brand controls the entire experience, it has the opportunity to manage the customer journey from beginning to end. For many, a multi-pronged approach combining omnichannel platforms and a brand’s own d-to-c platform is the best combination.

Test and learn Once a brand establishes where to sell, it should determine what products to sell or bundle; now is the time to get creative. Consider the home office equipment category, historically sold through big box retailers. With customers staying home and creating or updating home offices, now is the perfect time to offer office bundles like printers, paper and ink delivered straight to their door.

Also consider testing free shipping vs. paid shipping to see which leads to better margins. Determine which messages and creative executions drive the most traffic and consider using creative optimization tools like Flashtalking, Google or Zeta to evaluate which messages work.

Let data be your driver The cadence of budget allocation for brand awareness, consideration and purchase is an ongoing marketing conundrum further exacerbated by the current crisis. With the abundance of consumer usage and marketing performance data, decisions on which consumer segments are most likely to respond and how they will respond can be adjusted in real time.

Additionally, media rates in certain channels, including linear television, are very favorable, giving brands the opportunity to test messaging on platforms that might have once been out of reach. A brand can test TV commercials at all times of day, for example. Using tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics, they can immediately evaluate whether the ads are leading to an increase in digital traffic, product searches or social media chatter and then adjust accordingly—realizing the most effective return on investment.

Engage customers where they are Develop an engaging consumer brand experience in owned, earned and paid channels. Now is the time to rethink and re-map the brand’s consumer experience. The consumer journey from a few months ago is almost certain to have changed based on newly formed consumer shopping and purchasing behavior. Clever use of video—along with audience targeting solutions across real-time bidding platforms such as The Trade Desk and Media Math—will engage the right audiences and drive more purchase intent and sales. An updated and optimized web and mobile presence, reflecting new audiences, purchase, competitive strategy and delivery options, must be adopted into your revised marketing approach.

Lean into your customers A brand’s customers are its most important assets. Now is the perfect time to communicate with them. Remember, marketing is a service. During this time, especially, brand marketing should be of service to consumers. Showcase brand features and benefits to consumers with helpful and useful information. Use email and app notification effectively to obtain and reinforce loyalty. Let customers opt in (and also opt out) so they have control over the frequency in which they hear from you. And, provide those who engage with special offers and rewards. Remind customers that the brand is always on and always available for them.

These are classic brand-and-demand considerations that borrow on practical and established direct marketing principles. With digital and technology advances, brands can be quicker to market and optimize performance in real time. Dial up your brand-and-demand strategy, and let customers lead based on their renewed and omnipresent behavior in this business-as-unusual world.

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