In our fast-paced, twitter-centric, 140-characters-or-less society and the rise of the digital economy, marketers today tend to fixate on the quick rewards of sales activation. The problem is that sales activation tactics only generate temporary lifts in revenue, not long-term incremental growth. Research has shown that balancing brand building with sales activation is a predictable and evidence-based formula that leads to sustainable growth.
Marketers see the efficiency of short-term activation and more and more are planning their budgets accordingly. But, in fact, what they actually should be doing is making digital activation work efficiently by supporting it with authentic, emotional brand building.
Share of voice matters, but what also matters is how you allocate share of voice between brand building and activation. According to research there tends to be an optimum effectiveness of 60% for brand building and 40% for activation in communications budgets. The ratio is not an absolute and may vary by category. For instance if brand building is easy in a category, you can dial down your brand spend. And if activation is easy in a category, you can dial down the activation spend.
For example, if you have a breakthrough new product that is a breeze to sell you can dial down the activation and tilt towards brand, with a split that’s more like 70/30. Additionally, in categories where there’s a great deal of online research – like, for example, holiday vacations, where people will do research on Google, Booking.com, etc. – activation is easy, so you can dial it down and tilt towards brand as well. The good news is that in a digital economy, there are efficiency gains to be made. There are areas in which you can cut the budget – and often it is the activation part of the budget you can dial down.
Efficiency gains are more important than ever with a possible recession on the horizon. As an article in the Harvard Business Review put it, “building and maintaining strong brands — ones that customers recognize and trust — remains one of the best ways to reduce business risk.” It will be interesting to watch the retreat to brand-building and the pilgrimage to purpose as 2020 unfolds.