The Great Reset of Marketing Priorities, Objectives and KPIs

The Great Reset of Marketing Priorities, Objectives and KPIs

The “Great Reset” was the name of the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The theme was inspired by the response and rebuilding of the economies from the global pandemic crisis with new priorities. The creation of a sustainable economy was at the top of the agenda.

Companies and brands came together to fight and recover from this global ongoing crisis. This meant re-prioritising what is important at this moment, especially in the context of human resources, health, safety, sustainable sourcing and many more. 

For marketing professionals, this was a time to reconsider how marketing activations were done. But more importantly, it was critical to understand why and what marketing can do.

Traditionally, marketing activations fell into 2 categories; either branding campaigns or performance campaigns.

A branding campaign’s objective is to raise awareness towards a product, service and/or brand experience. This is done by reaching as many individuals as possible within a target audience with a simple message highlighting the brand’s value proposition. A typical example is a celebrity wearing or using the brand in an aspirational approach to make the audience want to live that lifestyle. 

In contrast, a performance campaign’s sole purpose is to drive sales and business revenue. This is done by selectively targeting a very small portion of the audience and conveying a message with a sense of urgency and strong call-to-action (CTA). This CTA triggers the audience to buy the brand with the highest return on investment (ROI). “Buy now and get X for free” or “Shop now and receive a voucher/experience” are the classic examples.

The recent shutdown of LG’s smartphone business is a great illustration of why marketing, especially communication is key to success. Analysing the marketing mix (4Ps of marketing), we can conclude that LG had a great, innovative Product, competitive Pricing and was available in all Places but fell short in Promotion. Marquee Brown has done a great video on this. 

There are many reasons why LG is leaving the mobile business. As highlighted by many journalists, one of the key reasons for the downfall is the lack of marketing activations.  They focused on building a great product and driving sales but they forgot to build a great brand (such as Apple, Samsung).

This is a great takeaway that not all marketing activities need to focus on driving sales. Focusing on sales and ROI in marketing is great for the short term. But, it comes at the expense of the company's long-term ambitions. 

In fact, marketing activations don't need to fit into only these 2 categories of branding or performance. The 1920s and the current crisis have taught us that there can be other purposes for marketing activations. For example, activism messaging such as equal rights, climate change, etc.

Let’s take a moment to discuss how we measure the success of marketing campaigns. Answer: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

For branding campaigns, the KPIs typically are linked to the objective which is to measure how many people were “reached” with the campaign, how people are “engaging” with the content and how many video/article/page “views” were generated. Some of the biggest brands also measure the “ad recall” following the campaign and analyse what the “brand equity growth” is.

For performance campaigns, the KPIs focus on cost metrics such as cost per acquisition, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), Return on Investment (ROI), sales generated and quality of customer transformation via conversion rates. 

For activism campaigns, the nature of the activation requires the existing customers to be the voice of the brand and also execute the different communication functions (PR, opinion articles, word-of-mouth marketing etc.). Tesla is the perfect example of how to leverage the most from its followers versus spending on paid advertising. In fact, according to AdvertisingAge “Tesla Motors has no advertising, no ad agency, no CMO, no dealer network. And that’s no problem”. Thus, for such campaigns, brands may be interested to know how many “new recruits per existing client” were brought in and how much of “media value generated per follower” led to their growth in sales and brand equity.

Each type of marketing campaign and KPI has a purpose. Typically, it is symbiotically connected with the customer journey. 

To over-simplify things, imagine, that the journey to buy a brand is broken down into 3 steps. 

  • At Step 1, the person is far from becoming a customer of the brand. This person has not even heard about the brand.
  • In Step 2, the person has heard about the brand and is a step closer to purchasing the brand. But, they have reservations and that is probably why they haven’t bought the brand.
  • At Step 3, the person is now a customer of the brand.

A branding campaign can be deployed to get many people from Step 1 to Step 2. A performance campaign can be used to attract those who are at Step 2 towards Step 3 and make them into a customer of the brand. An activism campaign leverages those who are at Step 3 (the customers) to shout loudly about the brand so that those who are at Step 2 can come to Step 3 and/or those who are at Step 1 can move towards Step 2.

So when a brand does only branding campaigns, it can bring a lot of people from Step 1 to Step 2. But, very few to Step 3. This is also not a profitable approach as it is very expensive to get a new customer. If a brand does only performance campaigns, it can be highly profitable. But, there is no potential for business growth since there are not enough people at Step 2 to begin with. Thus, brands need to engage in the right mix of marketing activation tactics. 

Hopefully, this “Great Reset” moment will allow new, other types of marketing activations such as activism campaigns to take off. This can be possible only if we truly understand why we are doing marketing in the first place and what KPIs matter accordingly. 

Let's educate those who ask about sales from a branding campaign or those who ask about growth from a performance campaign. 

Some marketing activities require complete integration of brand values such as sustainability across the entire company from responsible supply chain sourcing to eco-friendly product development strategy. These marketing actions must not come across as some kind of one-off PR stunt which can be detrimental to the brand, but rather as an integrated approach where these values lead the strategies for the future.

Let's reset priorities and rethink KPIs.