“What is the best form of marketing?” The challenge with this question is the underlying assumption that one form of advertising is better or worse than another and they are not – they are simply different. We have lots of successful clients and they do share a common theme. They have carefully balanced the different channels available to communicate with their prospects. Everyone wants a simple answer to the marketing challenge but the answer is always complicated.
The common success story is a balanced strategy using all the marketing channels available in the right mix. When you get to the bottom line with this discussion, a good marketing plan is about balancing:
- Timing; aka luck
The challenge here is these factors are connected to each other and improving one often results in degrading one of the others. Others have a sweet spot that is a balance between quality and quantity. For example, increasing frequency is positive up until the point that it becomes an irritant. If I see your brand once a week it keeps it in the coveted top-of-mind position but if I see it 20 times a day I no longer notice the advertisement.
I was recently working with a Coaching Client who has 17 operations across Midwest and Southern states in the US providing a local service that is a mix of emergency service and quoted work. The different regions are all independently managed with a central AdWords Account. They get radically different results using the same keywords, ads, bids and other settings. The difference in results is directly connected to the other marketing the branches have selected. The bottom line is that when the branch invests in brand building efforts, the PPC results improve. They are not directly connected to each other but they are related and support each other.
The classic example of this is the support that organic and PPC provide to each other. In several studies we have seen that 1+1 is greater than 2. What I mean by this is that if a first organic position gets a 3% click through and a first PPC gets 1% then both of them get a collective rate of 6% or simply stated 3+1=6. The numbers vary depending on the study but the effect is consistent. While nobody can prove what causes this my belief is that two listings lend authority to each other. I will be the first to admit that there could be other things that cause the result but the result is consistent.
The challenge of this part of your plan is finding the right balance. I use a simple spreadsheet to help me think through the problem and it is what I call a zero net sum. I put the channels on the side then the audiences on the top. I then give every cell the same amount – typically 5 points. If I have five channels and four audiences then I have 20 cells and a total budget of 100. I start to move budgets around to the various cells with the rule that the total cannot exceed 100. This way if I have a priority of 18-25 year olds and give them 10 points for display marketing then those points have to come from some other cell. This game is basically to help me understand the priority distribution in my plan. Once I like the result I can then apply that to the real budget and decide how much resource goes to each cell in my marketing plan. I typically like to create the priority of the audiences first then distribute that across the channels but you can play this game anyway you want.
Once you have your distribution you can now start to create campaigns that fit your strategy. Typically, this process should happen on an annual basis to keep up with the constant changes in your business.