Brian Creath

Hiding: Not A Brand Strategy.

In Advertising, Brand, Marketing, Strategy on April 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm


Companies that have reduced, or eliminated marketing efforts as a way to ‘stop the world’ for a period of time, take notice: You are about to lose market share.

Brands, like businesses, do not exist in a vacuum. They exist in an open market — which today, is flush with new competitors, customers in transition and a brand new economic landscape. While no one can blame any company that took a deep, long breath during the past few months to revise and prioritize strategic direction, these same companies now need to be reminded that business is moving on — with or without them.

In a recent Ad Age article, Julie Roehm, a marketing consultant, says: “Stop hiding. No one ever got ahead by hiding themselves away. The same is true for brands. Now is the time to make a statement. Be bold, be present. It’s cheaper and just as many people are listening but far fewer are talking. The easy decision is to contract and hide yourself away hoping that if you as a company or marketer never lift your head up, it will never get lopped off. But if you never lift your head up, the consumer can’t see you. Be smart, try new things. In this economy, you can be noticed at a fraction of the cost and be rewarded for trying new mediums and new messages.”

In the same article, Anne Bologna, CEO of Toy, reminds us, “In the Great Depression, Kellogg continued to market its cereals while rivals cut budgets. Kellogg pulled ahead of Post in sales, a change that has never been reversed.”

Today, every company and every category, is different than it was before the recession began. The world has changed, and continues to change. Which means the company that simply sits back, waiting for all of this to ‘blow over’ before it resumes business-as-usual marketing and sales efforts, is in for a very rude awakening. Chances are, that company already has new competition ready and able to fill the void created by lagging marketing efforts. More challenging still, that company (and its brands) face a new reality in terms of customer relevance and meaning.

Positioning and marketing must address these issues, and they must be addressed, now.

Smarter, smaller, more value-driven companies are springing up everywhere…are you ready? Are your brands? Is your message? (By the way, if you need a bit of strategic assistance, I know a firm that can help.)

As I discussed in an earlier post, companies that plan today, increase their chances of winning tomorrow. Is your company planning to lead, or planning to follow?

While I’m working on my next post, I hope you’ll read about how Cohesion helps organizations build stronger messaging to increase consistency, lower cost and drive growth, here.

  1. The bunker mentality of reduced marketing investment may preserve cash, but risks not only lost market share but lost strategy. Short term margin increases can seduce execs into believing that marketing really is only cost and an expendable one at that. I see this in the operations-focused, sales-driven industrial B2B sector; what I’d really like to see is the NPV of marketing investment versus the incremental feet-on-the-street they often feel more comfortable with.

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