One week ago
How reinvesting in marketing and branding can future-proof your retail business
by Melissa Webber
It’s common for organisations both large and small to cut costs during economic downturns and their marketing budget is often the first to be affected.
Marketing and promotions have historically been regarded as “fluff” in many companies rather than being seen as the direct interface between themselves and their customers. Given the purpose of marketing in any business is to build the brand, establish relationships and promote the business to drive sales, I have often wondered why it would be the first casualty when times get tough.
Marketing is the only function in your business that helps you to claim your place in the market, showcase your brand and nurture your target audiences. Done well, it also allows you to withstand competitor attack and avoid having to compete on price.
1. Build your brand
A brand is not just a logo – it’s a collection of perceptions in the minds of consumers about your organisation. The role of marketing is to establish and preserve these perceptions in the minds of your target audience.
Your visual identity – your logo and overall brand style – must capture attention, evoke positive perceptions and create emotional connections with your audience. It’s your visual language – your fonts, your colour palette and your photographic style – and it should reflect your unique personality.
A brand strategy is a plan that defines who you are and what you stand for and it articulates how you aim to meet your business goals. If you promote your shopping centre as a “community hub” and yet there is no space for mothers groups to meet, is this authentic? If you advertise your retail store as “eco friendly” but you don’t have an environmental policy on your website, you may wish to reconsider this claim.
Branding without a brand strategy is like a road trip without a destination – lots of fun but no clear goal in mind.
Take the time to determine what your organisation truly believes in and what you’re willing to fight for.
By defining your brand values then embedding them into all your brand touch points, you will help consumers to make value-based decisions about your brand, while at the same time highlighting the intrinsic worth of your products and services.
2. Establish relationships
As we all know, to build a lasting relationship with someone, you have to get to know them first – what do they like, what do they watch, what difficulties do they face, what are their needs?
Find out everything you can about your various target audience groups, but do not rely on long-held assumptions or outdated research so make sure that your data is current. Create Audience Typologies for each of your audience segments – detailed character profiles that provide insight and inspiration to help you develop personalised content and targeted campaigns for each group.
Once you have documented your Audience Typologies, put them at the heart of your marketing plan – aim to surprise them, delight them, solve their problems and meet their needs.
3. Promote your business
Now you know exactly who you are and who your customers are, invest in a customer-centric marketing plan to promote your business and execute your brand strategy. From social media and online advertising to influencer and performance marketing, you can now connect with just about anyone.
Next, develop a suite of segmented communication collateral that appeals to your various target groups, reflects your brand identity and showcases your brand values. As design tools are now so widely accessible regardless of your creative skills, many businesses have opted to produce their marketing collateral as quickly and as cheaply as possible to keep costs down.
However, design is a creative problem-solving process that consists of both thinking and execution. Be careful not to forego the strategic thinking that informs powerful creative solutions that will resonate with your target audiences and reflect your brand identity.
Revisiting the very foundations of your brand will not only benefit your business, it will also reinvigorate your internal teams and enrich your culture as professionals are increasingly seeking out purpose-based organisations with authentic principles that they live by.
It’s time to reinvest in marketing.