A 2013 Fast Company article has some insight that marketers could benefit from.
“Disruptive strategies begin with the courage to zag where others zig,” writes Kaihan Krippendorff. “If your competitors are all starting to turn left, you look right. It is actually not that hard to do. It takes no brilliant foresight. It does not require seeing what others don’t. It simply requires reading the herd. When your competitors all start running in one direction, you just need to ask, “What if I ran in a different direction?””
While the article is talking about focusing on different product attributes to get more customers, this advice could easily be transferred into other areas of business.
In particular, I think that marketers could benefit by thinking this way when determining where to invest their marketing and communications budgets.
As I mentioned in the last post, using the 70|20|10 approach to determine where brands should invest their marketing and communications spend is a great start.
This approach helps brands plan for the future, while also focusing on the things that make them successful today.
As you can guess, investing in new media channels before others do can be very beneficial.
However, a recent Advertising Age article points out that sometimes more traditional forms of media can also be a smart move for a brand, for many of the same reasons that brands choose to try new things.
And, this can be summed up with two words: less competition.
The Value of Getting There First
With any new media channel, there are some brands that will jump on board right away hoping that they will be able to reach consumers before other brands figure it out.
There is a risk involved, particularly if users don’t show up.
Brands could also fail if the users who do show up aren’t in the brand’s target market.
However, because initially costs are low, there can be a high payoff by getting there first.
As the media channel matures and gets accepted by more users, it is inevitable that other brands will start to make an investment in the channel.
This is okay as long as the number of users continues to grow at a faster rate than the number of brands investing in the channel.
However, there usually comes a point when the number of brands investing in the media channel continues to grow, but the increases in the number of users slows down.
Because there is an increased competition to reach a finite number of eyeballs, the costs to advertise on the channel will increase, and thus, decrease the return on investment (ROI).
This concept can even be applied to a brand’s content marketing efforts, where some of the largest investment is in the time spent creating the content. For an example of this, you just have to look what Mark Schaeffer calls “content shock”.
Basically, he pointed out that the supply of content (blog posts) continues to increase, but the demand remains virtually unchanged. This has led to decreased engagement on blogs.
That doesn’t mean that using these new ways to reach consumers are a bad investment, they just tend to get less effective as the competition grows.
Furthermore, this doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should back away from these new media channels or alternative ways to reach consumers as soon as the competition increases.
However, brands do need to measure the effectiveness of each channel and adjust accordingly. The decision to move forward or pivot will need to be made on a case-by-case basis.
The Value of Using Old Media
This brings me to the Advertising Age article mentioned earlier.
The article highlights a study from Nielsen Catalina that was presented at the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement 2016 Conference in New York.
Without getting into all the specifics, Nielsen Catalina found that at least among the consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies that were included in the study, magazines and television outperformed some of the new media options available to advertisers in some of the analyses.
As the author of the article points out, “The study only covers CPG, and deeper analysis suggests media effectiveness may differ for other categories, because it even differs within CPG categories and brands. Big, high-market-share brands purchased frequently had the highest returns on media spending. Brands with smaller market shares or purchased infrequently had lower returns.”
Nevertheless, brands should be exploring all options available to them.
“Much of the money that’s been chasing digital video and driving up its CPMs has been driven by the search to find millennial and Gen Z audiences that have gotten harder to reach with conventional TV or magazines,” the author of the article writes. “But regardless of the demographics, the Nielsen Catalina data suggest there’s plenty of sales impact to be had from older media.”
Note: This analysis appears to only focus on paid media. Digital marketing often includes earned, owned, and shared media. The point that I am making here is that we shouldn’t forget to examine some of the more traditional media options available, particularly when the competition abandons them.
The 70|20|10 approach is great because it encourages brands to invest some of their marketing and communications spend on trying new things.
If a brand is able to try new things early enough, it can learn a lot about what works and reach potential customers even before the competition arrives.
However, while the brands that get there first have a slight advantage, even their results will decrease as the amount of competition increases.
It is therefore important to look at the overall picture and evaluate what works and invest in marketing channels that will provide the best return on investment.
Sometimes, this means looking at some of the more traditional media channels that other brands have abandoned.
In other words, sometimes it pays to zig while others zag, and vice versa.
Photo credit: N i c o l a on Flickr.