Flip your marketing strategy in time for silly season | Part 1

2nd November 2021

If you want a slice of the pie, it’s time to shake things up and flip your current marketing strategy on its head.

It’s the time of year when tinsel dominates in-store displays, a shiny reminder that the countdown to xmas is on. The year’s busiest shopping season is around the corner when SA shoppers spend, on average, “R5 673 over and above their usual monthly expenses” reports IOL. This, coupled with the fact that the festive season offers a perceived respite from our new normal of being a person in the world during a pandemic, means that customers are feeling particularly spendy this year. 

Here’s how to revamp your marketing strategy in a few simple steps.

Take a step back and look at your brand with a critical eye

It’s easy to become complacent and overly familiar with your brand when it’s something you live, eat, and breathe. But in order to level up, you need to assess your branding through an objective lens. Before you do anything else, do a high-level review of all your brand collateral: your slogan (if you have one), social media pages, website, flyers, in-store decor, all of it. Is it still aligned and appealing to your customers? Are there elements that could do with a refresh? What are there elements that continue to deliver? Are there elements that are doing no more than gathering dust? Compiling an inventory of everything gives you some much-needed perspective, enabling you to hone your focus and ultimately maximise your marketing ROI.

'Loer' at your competitors

In a perfect world, your brand would be the only one in your industry, eliminating the need to do any sort of marketing and resulting in your early retirement. Alas!  Competition is a fact of life – and familiarising yourself with your competitors can actually work in your favour. Instead of silently seething at the fact that your biggest competitor seems to be making bank, put on your detective hat and do some sleuthing. What are they doing well? What are their less than stellar ideas, campaigns, or products? What are their customers saying? And then, the million rand question: how can you apply these learnings to your marketing efforts?

Interrogate your wins

Levelling up your marketing isn’t about starting from scratch. Instead, it’s about building on the things that are working and revamping the ones that aren’t. There are bound to be aspects of your marketing that deliver customers who’re ready to buy through your doors (or onto your website). But if you want to replicate them, you need to figure out the reasons behind their success. Your job is to pinpoint the ‘why’ behind this optimal performance:  why did a certain ad result in an increase of clicks? Why is product Y an evergreen favourite? Why do customers consistently choose one option over another? Once you’re able to identify these (often intangible) secret ingredients, you can use them to formulate your very own marketing secret sauce.

Ask your customers

If anyone knows what they want from your brand, it’s the very people who buy your products and services. Ask them –  in person if you can –  about the things you’re doing well, and the things you could be doing better. Then, take a look at your reviews and testimonials. What theme, if any, crops up time and time again? Is it your stellar customer service? Your super-fast delivery time? Or are there any common gripes? By pinpointing the golden thread that runs through your customer feedback, you’re able to build a marketing campaign that either evolves around your USP (i.e.: the one thing that your customers rave about) or one that seeks to solve a problem.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to get comfortable with ~feelings~.

I’m not suggesting you break out the ukulele and burst into a rendition of Kumbaya; instead, I’m talking about figuring out what the emotions are that motivate your customers when buying your products or services. Many brands neglect the fact that shopping is an emotionally driven process. For example, a mother who shells out an extra couple of hundred rands for a superior infant sleeping bag isn’t buying a sleep sack, she’s buying peace of mind.  A lovestruck newly-wed who buys their partner a bunch of flowers on the way home from work isn’t buying a bouquet, they’re buying into the idea of romantic love. I could go on and on because I’m a sucker for why we do the things we do, but you get the gist: your customers aren’t buying your products and services for the heck of it. They’re fulfilling an emotional need. Now ask yourself the ultimate question: what emotion do I need to evoke in order to convert shoppers into customers?

Make room for “silly ideas”

Oftentimes, the best ideas come from those, “Do you know what might be really crazy?”, shooting-the-shiz convos. If you’ve been wanting to gather the troops and pick their brains, now’s the time. The trick to brainstorming some truly great ideas? Having fun. Why? Because brainstorming within strict parameters rarely results in any innovative, “Wish I had thought of that” ideas. From the get-go, make the space free of judgment. Each idea – no matter how ridiculous – is valid. The worst that can happen? You have a few LOLs. Best case scenario: you have a couple of LOLs and get a great idea out of it.  

Used together, the steps above will provide you with a thorough recon of your marketing efforts, and hopefully, form a foundation for a revamped marketing strategy just in time for silly season. In Part Two, I’ll take you through the various channels you can use to implement your revamped marketing campaign for maximum ROI. 

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