Allocating Marketing and Communications Spend Using the 70|20|10 Approach

Photo credit: Daniel Spiess on Flickr.

Nearly every week it seems like there is either a new hot social networking site or an existing one changes the way that it does business in an effort to get more users to spend more time on the site.

With all the buzz that these sites get, it would be easy for some brands to get caught up in all the hype and invest precious resources to chase the next shiny object.

Other brands may fear change and opt to take a wait and see approach.

However, if they wait too long before they decide to invest in the newest ways to reach potential customers, they will be left behind.

While the smartest experts do suggest trying new things, the best advice that they can give is to take a disciplined approach.

This involves allocating some of a brand’s marketing and communications budget to new things, while constantly monitoring the effectiveness of all their marketing and communications spend in an effort to maximize their return on investment.

The 70|20|10 Approach

In Changing Channels with Confidence: A Structure for Innovation, a Millward Brown white paper written a few years ago, Duncan Southgate, Global Brand Director, Digital, and John Svendsen, Global Brand Director, Media, suggest that brands should take an approach similar to the one that Coca-Cola implemented in 2011.

In the white paper, Jonathon Mildenhall, Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy and Content Excellence at the Coca-Cola Company explains that Coca-Cola planned to apportion 70% of its communication spend to support low-risk, “bread-and-butter” content, 20% to innovate based on what worked in the past, and 10% to experiment with brand-new ideas.

According to the white paper, Millward Brown thinks that this is a winning strategy and started recommending it to its clients.

However, they also emphasize the importance of measuring and optimizing based on the data collected.

In other words, what is considered the “bread-and-butter” content will change as time goes by.

“But to say that 70% of the budget should fund communications in channels that are considered to be safe, familiar, and effective is not to say that 70% of a media budget should remain static from year to year,” the authors of the white paper write. “Based on ongoing learning and evolving brand objectives, channel composition within the 70% could vary significantly over time and from campaign to campaign.”

Final Thoughts

The media landscape is rapidly changing.

Brands that don’t adapt to these changes will get left behind.

However, constantly moving all of their marketing and communications dollars into what is next isn’t the correct approach, either.

As the white paper from Millward Brown suggests, the 70 | 20 | 10 approach is probably the best way to keep up with these changes in a way that will help the brand succeed in the future, while continuing to be successful today.

It is also important to remember that some of the things that are experimental today will become the “bread-and-butter” content in the future.

It is therefore important to monitor and measure what is working and optimize based on what the data is telling you.

Photo credit: Daniel Spiess on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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