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Handcarts? This way to hell..

6 April 2018 David Wood

There’s a tidal shift, a swing, a trend, a discernible change and it’s not just us feeling it.

The Agency relationship agencies – the pitch intermediaries – are seeing an increase in clients who want a conversation about the fundamentals – what their brand needs to be and stand for.

Brand managers are there to satisfy stakeholder and shareholder demands and create profitable volume growth, but they actually feel like they are doing a jigsaw in a hurricane.

It seems that every and any kind of business is at risk from disruption. Google or Amazon need only nod towards a category to tank valuations. Every day a start-up starts up and can threaten whatever it is existing firms do.

If you don’t think you’re being disrupted it may be because you probably haven’t noticed.

The old shizzle – ramping up the marketing budget and praying that the ROI figures come in just after you collect your bonus just  isn’t viable any more.

The levers of Ads, PR, Partners, Sponsorship (and God help you if it’s this low) but CRM and Promotions – are now flaccid in the face of what’s breaking over many firms heads.

Just look at Mothercare where my namesake became CEO in a hurry today. The previous management were smart. They invested in stores, they improved the merchandise – in short they became much better retailers. But they did little for the brand which drifted towards irrelevance as shopper habits shifted seismically.  Mothercare have a core target of parents, especially first time parents who are more interested in advice, guidance and brand authority than any other, a group more prepared to form a close-bond in return for an appropriate tone of voice and useful content than any other. But those potential bonds were not valued highly enough and the brand will endure an uncertain future when a bit of imagination might have changed things.

So what?

What do you do? How are people supposed to know? They’re busy, why should they care?

Businesses feeling the pressure know that changing the ad agency or the PR bunnies might make a marginal difference.

But how much more effective are the M&S or Vodafone ads now that they have recently gone through the pain of a major agency change? We’d bet it’s nine tenths of sod all as both brands remain largely irrelevant and disconnected from any serious constituency of regular customers.

Root and branch. Back to basics. Not an every five years job. One you need to do now. How do you re-imagine your brand/s so that they have real commercial power?

How relevant is your brand? Why should people give a toss? How do you articulate the brand? How does it speak to people? How bomb-proof are you? What will you do when Alexa is doing all of the shopping? How much are you wasting on pumping irrelevant messages to people who will never buy you?

Because we’re guessing that you listened to Marc Pritchard last year and realised he was right. Perhaps the programmatic promise the agency sold you proved a little empty? Maybe the “Performance Marketing” teams’ new segmentation ideas just cut the problem into even more pieces.

Fancy a coffee?

 

 

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