by Rose Lugo
Thanks to media fragmentation, brand marketers face challenges in a complexity never seen before. They must beat the competition from local brands, international brands, generic brands, disruptive brands, fly-by-night brands—all of which can be found on Amazon. There has been a proliferation of brands available at shoppers’ fingerprints, at the same pace that shopper attention has become a scarse asset.
The plight of the brand marketer gets even more arduous as marketing budgets are cut down in an inverse relationship to the increasing demands on quarterly performance to appease investors. Brand managers definitely have their work cut out for them and here are 5 rules they follow to conquer it all.
1. Be Ahead of the Competition
Marketers must create competitive advantage by constantly instigating change. It is not enough to quickly adapt to market changes, winning brand marketers are themselves the catalyst of change. A new brand loses competitive edge and the ability to secure market share as soon as competitors are able to replicate or counter its benefits. Effective change takes place when it is rooted in consumer insight, both qualitative and quantitative. Marketers who can anticipate shopper behavior are the ones who stay ahead of the competition.
Marketing creativity derived from consumer insight generates brand building breakthrough. Brilliant ideas and flawless executions will make up for lean budgets, and your consumer is your best source of ideas. Make your consumers co-creators of your marketing tactics if you want a marketing mix that is relevant to them. Client brand Huawei, for instance, is keen on gathering consumer insight before releasing new products or launching products in international markets. The brand has grown exponentially, beating Apple to become the second largest smart-phone maker.
2. Be Ubiquitous and Local
Managers of international brands must exercise the freedom to engage in activities that suit local markets. It often means fostering deep variances from the domestic market to attend international and multicultural consumers. Remember that McDonalds serves fruit juice in Brazil, abstain from selling beef or pork in India, and lets consumers order a café-con-leche at their stores in Hialeah, Florida, a city in the Miami Metro area, with the highest percentage of Cuban and Cuban American residents in the United States. Over 90 percent of Hialeah residents speak Spanish. Multinational brands seeking to gain relevance over local brands and master the local culture benefit greatly from partnering with marketing agencies with a strong local presence that can provide invaluable market insight.
3. Be Tech-savvy
The best brand managers know how to leverage technology to build their brands. On the other hand, those who resist technology are doomed to mediocrity at best. Tech-savvy marketers are early adopters, they try everything once and dare to deploy what works best, even if it has never been done in their trade. Technological innovations point to new possibilities, solve problems, and increase profit. This is beyond big data, artificial intelligence, bots and any other buzz words that go around. Yes, it is important to be familiar with these technologies, and consider how helpful they might be for your consumer, but leading brand managers think of technology in terms of product innovation that builds brand equity.
Consider Phillips’ Lumea, which brought the laser hair removal technology for their consumers to use at home at their own convenience. Saving them time with appointments and money from costly sessions at specialized clinics. Then, introduced the exceptional idea to the most relevant shoppers through word of mouth marketing, supported by a massive push for online product reviews at product launch.
4. Be a Relationship Guru
Good marketers are first and foremost customer advocates. Focus on building a relationship with your consumer, and it will lead them to become passionate ambassadors for your brand. Optimize your consumer relationship with your brand to deliver value. This surely includes learning their needs, allowing them a platform to voice their opinions, and deploying personalization in your marketing tactics. CPG brands are not off the hook because they operate in large scale. Just think of the Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” campaign, featuring names and last names in their bottles. How can you make your consumer feel appreciated? What do you know about your consumers, truly? What keeps them up at night? If you don’t know, learn it. Get your consumer insights and tailor your work accordingly.
5. Be the Gatekeeper of Your Brand Equity
Brand managers are often subject to the pressure of demanding investors devoted to quarterly earnings. These marketers are often asked to produce short-term cash flows, predictable growth in sales, and justify how investments in marketing will add value to the brand. Some feel compelled to abdicate from brand differentiation tactics that build long-term equity. They instead succumb to price appeal tactics. They result is reduction in brand value, as consumers are not educated about the brand’s distinctive features and benefits. Nothing is more effective at reducing brand equity than limiting brand experiences to short-term promotions.
Another worrisome industry trend is inept brand innovation. Cost savings makes it easier to launch so-called "new products" using existing brand names. Offering consumers marginal improvements rather than outstanding new products that will convert new shoppers. Overreliance on brand name and lack of genuine innovation turns off buyers and may even confuse them. While this tactic may thwart the success of challenger brands, it surely does not build brand equity, as it turns the brand into no more than a “me too” option.
Be an advocate for your brand equity. Replace “me too” brand positioning with endorsements from opinion leaders who your consumers listen to. Execute tactics that speak to what makes your brand exceptional. When Betty Crocker wanted to make inroads with online shoppers in the UK, it enlisted its consumers to vouch for the uniqueness of its products. In a matter of weeks, Betty Crocker became the most reviewed baking goods brand on the websites of the top four retailers in the country. Who is willing to vouch for your brand’s uniqueness?
Being a competent brand manager can be equated to killing a lion a day, but following these tips modeled after best practices of great marketers will help you excel in your role.
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