Knowing your audience
FOR A BUSINESS FOUNDER, seeing their brand’s name on a tube platform, in a magazine advert or in bright lights on a billboard is an appealing thought. Paul Gayfer, Planning Partner at London-based media agency Goodstuff, explains how to do it right.
Many founders find the idea of buying media intimidating. How do you advise clients on which channels to use?
There’s an ever-growing selection of channels and options out there. And also a lot of misinformation and misperceptions, too. The first thing you need to address is what is the business trying to achieve, and at what stage in its lifespan is it? We have a range of high spending clients, from early stage business to mature brands, and they all need different things. Companies just starting out need fast returns. So at the start of their journey, cash flow and getting quick sales through the door is important – making a fairly minimal marketing budget return quickly.
A lot of clients start out with a short term performance-led marketing approach; the tools for that are typically online marketing but also increasingly direct response TV ads – the effectiveness of TV in the short term when properly planned is still powerful. After you know what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll better ascertain the type of media activity and how we optimise it. However, for brands who are further down the path, performance-only marketing alone will hit a point where it can no longer drive the volume they need to hit their growth ambitions. Take Eve, who made a big leap with TV adverts on Channel 4, which allowed them to hit volume and scale-up pre-IPO. In sum: Determine your objectives, build your approach and only then consider the channels that can best deliver on that.
Why should a small business work with a media agency?
Our clients perhaps spend 5% of their time thinking about media. They have much more on their plate to deal with, so media agencies offer a dedicated and informed view of what works. Of course, you can go direct, but rarely there’s any financial benefit to doing that – media agencies are set up to save people money through their commission structure with (offline) media owners. Fundamentally it’s about expertise and understanding the role and ability of each channel. Our agency is set up to drive strategic recommendations on how to activate and optimise on those channels. Ultimately, we want the media buy to be the most effective it can possibly be. The combination of expertise and driving more value is an agency’s real benefit. It all depends on which agency you go with, of course. We specialise in helping clients by trading individually on their behalf. Some media agencies trade as a group and therefore some smaller businesses lose out on value.
When, if ever, should a brand deal directly with media owners?
Many clients manage their own digital data, and sometimes clients are so incredibly close to their data that they can optimise their business based on what they’re seeing in advertising faster than any agency can manage. When you’re starting out and doing Facebook advertising and Google Adwords at a low level, and you want to constantly optimise in line with your own data, you could consider doing it on your own if you have the time to devote to it. Many big spenders across the industry are looking at ‘in housing’ their digital and data functions and agencies need to be set up to support them in doing that.
In an age of digital, why are so many young and progressive brands using traditional vehicles such as outdoor?
What out-of-home does brilliantly is reach a lot of people very quickly. We look at out-of-home for new product launch campaigns, for instance. Out-of-home has a unique ability to spike awareness. Such a large format tends to imbue your brand with a sense of gravitas, trustworthiness and aspiration. When we look at billboards, you’re often reaching a metropolitan, high-traffic, high-value, high-income audience.
There’s big a big resurgence of younger brands using traditional channels. Even Facebook, Google and Apple are spending more on out-of-home and more ‘traditional’ channels. After the second bursting of the digital bubble, the ability for digital to deliver every facet of the marketing function has rightly been questioned. People are staring to once again appreciate what traditional advertising can bring.
There’s a plague of short term-ism in the market. Brands have to ensure they grow in the long-term.
Another benefit of a media agency is that we understand and have access to ‘effectiveness research’, which reminds us that wide-reaching channels are fundamental in long-term brand-building. The research says that short-term performance marketing will only get you so far – there’s an optimal balance between long-term brand building and short-term targeting. The huge benefits of reaching large amounts of people at scale in a quality environment is fundamentally appealing, especially when you see the progress of digital out-of-home, which allows you to tailor it based on geography, time of day, or fuel it with dynamic creative work which gives you an additional edge as well. Ultimately it’s about an appreciation of brand building rather than a specific channel centricity.
How do you advise clients on how much they should spend on a campaign?
There are a range of options available depending on where you are in your cycle and how much budget you have to measure the effectiveness of your advertising. For established advertisers you’d use an econometric model, which tells you an optimal spend level per channel to give you the biggest return on your investment. That’s one input we’d look at. Closer to the brand would be evaluating your targets versus your business objectives. Do you want to sell more units? Grow your market share? How much is it going to cost you to get there?
The competitive landscape matters, too. How much you spend versus the whole market is a correlation. Your ad spend is one of the biggest drivers of market share. Growing businesses will outspend their share of the market. We also have tools that can measure the spending of other brands. If we want to make 20% of the population aware of your brand, we can find another brand that’s done something similar and model it out to see how much they spent to get there.
There’s a plague of short term-ism in the market. Brands have to ensure they grow in the long-term. These days, with increased measurement abilities, optimisation is almost instantaneous. And targets are set on a daily or weekly basis rather than annually. Unfortunately, these are also the methods that don’t grow a brand in the long-term. The goal for businesses is to transition from short-term performance marketing only to include brand-centric marketing as well.
“It’s helping us learn who else could be our customer”
Dan Black met Martin Blum at university, launching their first products in 2000. Today, Dan’s at the helm, and he’s counting on Mailchimp’s marketing platform to power the next phase of growth.
At Black & Blum, we design, source and market our own unique range of food-and-drink on-the-go products. In the beginning the business grew organically, through word-of-mouth recommendations. Customers loved the products, told their friends and family about us, or bought our products as gifts.”
Dan told us how they’ve built up a strong following on social media, and through email marketing, giving him a good sense of who his existing customers are. “One of the big challenges now, is that we don’t know who else could be a customer. We know the demographic of existing customers, but we think it could be much broader than that.”
“It’s hard being very focussed as a small business – you’re time poor, and there are so many ways to reach out and target new customers. It’s not a skill you can switch on overnight. Right now, we’re just starting to get under the bonnet of how to do that in a structured way.”
Mailchimp’s new features strike Dan as being just what Black & Blum need at their stage of growth. “Firstly, being able to run everything from Mailchimp – that’s huge. It’s always been a bit of nightmare having to log into several different platforms to coordinate things. Which in turn helps with brand consistency. We’re fastidious about how we design our products, but it’s really easy to lose that level of attention to the marketing of the products online in so many different places at once. Being able to upload one set of visuals, and roll them out across all the different channels, is a dream come true.”
But the biggest thing for Dan is the prospect of tracking data from all channels in one place. “Seeing all the engagement, tracking, and sales data from all our marketing channels – and using that data to decide where to spend and who to target – that feels like the game changer. It’s really exciting.”
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