The boss was so frustrated and furious that he thumped hard on top of his wooden desk. The teaming cup of coffee wobbled and almost spilled on top of all the sales reports next to it. It was Victor’s second year as CEO of the company and he needed to show that he could deliver positive and concrete results.
The company had invested a fortune in a TV launch campaign and online advertisements on various high-traffic portals to announce the new models of its products, and sales had not reflected any significant increase as expected. It was a frustrating situation.
What had happened? Could it be that creativity had not been good? That the choice of where to put the commercials had not been adequate? That the prices were too high in relation to the competition?
Nothing of that! The problem was at home. The company continued to operate with the philosophy of the 80s and 90s. They manufactured or imported products and a Marketing Manager, with the best of good intentions, went out to look for clients wherever he could find them. That worked for decades, but not anymore. The world changed, customers changed their decision process, which is now out of the direct control of companies, and companies that don’t update their marketing strategy will likely end up disappearing.
In the old strategy, the customer started with several brands in his head and was eliminating them until he made a final purchase decision. His relationship with the brand and whoever sold him ended there. The strategy was to build a brand and stimulate the consumer at the point of sale. Today it is very different. The consumer now goes through a decision process that has four stages:
1 – CONSIDERATION of a series of brands, although today consumers start the process with a smaller number of brands than before. Only here is where traditional advertising can still influence a bit by placing the brand in the mind of the consumer.
2 – EVALUATION of which is the best option. Here the consumer is based on what his friends, acquaintances, people who leave their testimonials and others comment about the product or service. Here the consumer often adds new brands that were unknown to him and discards several that he had in mind before.
3 – PURCHASE that can be done online (more and more) or in the store.
4 – ENJOY THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE, DEFENSE OF THE BRAND AND ATTACHMENT. If the attachment to the brand becomes relevant, the consumer enters from then on into a BUY-ENJOY-DEFENSE-BUY circle where the CONSIDERATION and EVALUATION phase is completely skipped. The consumer becomes loyal to the brand and defends it in all areas. Does this sound familiar to you with some brands like Apple, Nike, Harley-Davidson, etc.?
This may seem very basic, but it has two huge implications at the marketing level. The first is that, instead of focusing on advertising on TV, radio, online, etc., marketers should see how to influence each of the stages of the consumer decision process. Statistics show that currently companies continue to invest between 70% and 90% of their budget in generic advertising and promotions at the point of sale that barely manage to influence consumers a little in the CONSIDERATION and PURCHASE stages. However, consumers today are much more influential in the EVALUATION and ENJOY-DEFENSE-ATTACHMENT stages. The most powerful influencer is, in general, the recommendation of another consumer, whether he is known or unknown. The second is that today’s advertising budgets are built to serve the needs of an outdated strategy.
To influence these critical stages today, you have to make sure you have a solid presence at those consumer contact points with the brand. In the EVALUATION stage it is decisive that there are good testimonials on all online shopping platforms. It is important to place in them all the testimonials that we have already received. If the ones we have are not enough, then we have to promote instances for people to experience the products or services we offer for free and that generates the placement of new testimonials and positive word of mouth. Another example is offering an unconditional guarantee money back in a generous time frame. Many other creative actions can be developed so that consumers experience the benefits of the brand, but always pointing to the testimonials and word of mouth that those experiences generate.
To influence the ENJOY-DEFENSE-ATTACHMENT stage the way is to develop community initiatives, contests, promotions, etc. always aiming at the consumer who has already bought and not the one in the CONSIDERATION stage as is usually done.
Of course, all of this requires good coordination from the entire marketing department. Instead of having a Marketing Manager, companies would have to have a Customer Manager. This Manager would be the director of the orchestra among all the departments of the company, the generator of all the contents for all the actions that are carried out and who would determine the entire strategy to be developed.
In the company that I mentioned at the beginning, they understood the need for profound change, they did it and in the next launch, they managed to position themselves as the number one brand in their field with sales results that exceeded all expectations.
How are the sales results within your own company? Are they at the levels you had projected? If not, perhaps it is time to make a big turning point in the entire strategy. The good news is that small and medium-sized companies can play this game, which has new rules, as equals against any large company.
Are you ready to align yourself with the trends of this new world? Do you dare to rethink the whole strategy?
Knowledge is learned with books, wisdom with experience!