Don’t horse around with a misguided media strategy

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Jeff Culliton, President | The Adcom Group

Why does the adage advise putting the horse before the cart? To remind us about the right order of events. Knowing or determining that right order involves more than hitching up our horse and loading our cart. We have to know where we’re going.

Companies understand the value of connecting marketing to sales but are often looking to know how. In many discussions I’ve had with marketing teams, there is sometimes an impulse to take a cart-before-the-horse approach to marketing. That is, to put media tactics in place without identifying desired return on investment. An outcomes-driven approach ensures that marketing will positively affect top- and bottom-line growth. 

In other words, an outcomes-driven approach not only will communicate a brand story, a brand promise, a brand’s value proposition and perhaps even a company’s values, but will also drive measurable returns. And that’s where you want to go.

To measure the value of your communication efforts, you have to decide what results (outcomes) you need as a brand, and in particular the monetary contribution of a given campaign. This assumes that you know what your brand’s strengths are and how they resonate in a given marketing scenario. Brand longevity is great but today brand managers need to pivot in our compressed marketing environment. These shifts need to be planned as part of the equation.

Of course, not all advertising results in conversions. The value of increased brand equity also needs to be measured. Brand managers do this by measuring if the perception of their brand is rising or declining in their market. They also measure sentiment and favorability. These determinants can greatly inform the way a brand’s message might be received and acted upon by its customers — its future equity.

Successful marketers remain very focused on the audiences that return the most value.

For a successful outcomes-driven approach a brand must identify its priority audiences. Successful marketers remain very focused on the audiences that return the most value.

They appreciate them and pay close attention to their behavior and preferences. Having a detailed and constantly monitored audience profile allows marketers to focus their efforts where they will be most effective. Knowing the audience makes it easier to craft the messages you want to convey. And, if you have more than one audience, each one may respond to different messaging. 

Additionally, a brand’s audiences may be found on channels that have not previously been considered. Companies sometimes get locked into channels or tactics with which they feel comfortable.

This isn’t surprising, given the growing number, variety and ever-evolving characteristics of channels (short-form video like TikTok or Reels, OTT advertising, or social audio to name just a few).

Although marketing and sales often are divided into two different groups within many companies, we choose and encourage all our clients to view them as extensions of the same team.

Outcome planning is a sure-fire way to meaningfully connect marketing to sales. Connecting sales efforts with brand strategies and fluctuations with target audiences can be complicated, but not if you take the time to put the horse in front of the cart.

Jeff Culliton is President at The Adcom Group, a creative marketing resource that partners with leading organizations and growth-minded companies to help them achieve their business goals.

Contact Jeff at jculliton@engageadcom.com