We have spoken a lot on this blog about tactics in today’s marketing world. We have gone over the basic blocking and tackling needed to introduce brands to consumers, and getting those consumers inspired to take action. But this time we thought we’d get out of the tactical space and take a look at the bigger picture to understand what we’re trying to create for brands that will keep them relevant and alive.
Maybe the good old media plan is a great place to start. For decades it has served our clients and us quite well. Build your audience. Break it into pieces. Apply different media types to those pieces. Rinse and repeat.
Of course, there were some assumptions that came along with this, the two most important ones being time and sequence. As far as media plans are concerned, time doesn’t move very quickly. You used to be able to run six-month media plans and be fairly confident that the world would not change that much in those six months, and that the assets you deployed in the last month would be just as effective as the ones that were used in the first month.
Sadly, that is not the world we live in today. Not only is the consumer changing constantly right before our eyes, but competitors, overall market dynamics and competitive differentiators are changing just as quickly. Looking at today’s sales funnel, instead of a clean line from one end to the other, it’s looking more like a crazy ant trail.
Which brings us to sequence. Not only is the consumer zigging and zagging down the funnel, they are also consuming many more channels and assets on their way. Again, think back to the “old days.” Fifty years ago, you sponsored some soap opera and you were done. Forty years ago, you did some television and print and those cars practically moved themselves off the lot. Twenty years ago? Well, we’ll toss some direct mail in there just to keep things moving along.
Now? Audiences are consuming multiple channels, gathering in tribes at the most inopportune moments and generally making a mockery of messaging and media plans. But here is the kicker — each time they move down the funnel, they are probably going to change the sequence in which they consume your brand.
So what is a brand to do? At Palmer, we address this problem with something we call Fluid Brands. At the core of Fluid Brands is a realization that a gigantic reversal has happened with consumers and their relationship with a brand. Marketing used to be about finding the consumer and bringing them back to the brand. But in today’s world, brands have to find the consumer and then go to them instead. Which means now your brand has to flow like a river, moving around unexpected obstructions, finding ways under the competition, and gathering in pools where conversations are happening.
Bruce Lee, one of the world's greatest martial arts masters, famously spoke of the benefits of incorporating principals of fluidity, including the ability to continually grow:
So, how do you build a media plan when you don’t know where your consumers will be? This is the core of Fluid Brands, and it is based on three basic tenets:
1. Trust and credibility can only be created over time.
This is not the land of “taste great, less filling!” Viral videos are fun, and getting people to sign up for causes is fulfilling, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Which means when you build your media plan, plan from the back forward, not from the front. This isn’t a “launch,” and you won’t get engagement immediately.
2. Engagement is as much about creating champions as it is about being one.
In today’s world of social consumers, they are the nodes of your network, not your brand. Empower them rather than fight them. Leave space on the media plan to enhance conversations where they happen. And wait to be invited into those conversations. Remember — a pushy brand is a brand that signals it is in trouble.
3. Consumers will touch multiple channels before they make a decision.
We have touched on this before, but it bears repeating. Consumers will look for different stories from you at different places in the funnel. If you cannot overlay your channels against where the consumer is in the funnel, you will have inevitable failures. In other words, only sell when they are ready to be sold.
It’s a new world out there, and it requires a different approach to how you build your media plan. Fluid Brands gives you the chance to adapt on the fly, approach when asked, and engage when the consumer is ready. And the best part is it’s only going to get more crazy from here.
So stay fluid, and go with the flow. Only then will you find your customer and become a true marketing master.
Want to learn more ways you can improve your marketing? Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts to see how Palmer Ad Agency can help address your unique business needs.