Saturday, March 2

Did your marketing campaign fail?

Crisis planning, risk mitigation plan, damage control plans are essential to marketing campaigns since we live in a world with many uncertainties. Either you are doing a KOL (Key Opinion Leader, i.e. Influencers), a social media campaign or even a hoarding for your marketing campaign, you should always have a crisis plan. This will answer your question of did your marketing campaign fail?

Marketing is a combination of psychology and economics with a little sociology thrown in. Marketers need to feel & psychologically think like customers. But even same customer segments can have different purchase behaviors & brand viewpoints. Whilst customer X thinks your marketing campaign is brilliant, customer Y might think its racist or even unethical. 

This is yet another good reason for brands to keep aside religion, politics etc. when planning their campaigns. But over the years, we realize that these are not the only triggers of marketing chaos that eliminated most well-respected brands.

What triggers marketing chaos?

These triggers were identified long time back. ‘Marketing Myopia’ written by Theodore Levitt in 1960 implies that marketing is not just selling, but its more than that. He mentioned in his book that most organizations invest their time, money & energy in just selling a product, rather they ignore the bigger picture. 

Most marketing professionals are trapped in this ‘Marketing Myopia’ to just sell a product, ignoring its outcome.

Examples: (source;

  • Kodak lost much of its share to Sony cameras when digital cameras boomed and Kodak didn’t plan for it.
  • Nokia losing its marketing share to android and IOS.
  • Hollywood didn’t even tap the television market as it was focused just on movies.
  • Yahoo (worth $100 billion dollars in 2000) lost to Google and was bought by Verizon at approx. $5 billion (2016).

When we look at the examples above, we often blame their R&D or their top management. But are they to blame for not identifying that customer requirements change? Or the failure to identify the uncertainty in their value proposition?

So how do we create a crisis plan?

Many authors have mentioned a crisis plan in marketing specifically, in different terms. Contingency plan, disaster plan, damage control plan, risk mitigation plan, Plan B etc. are almost the same in its outcome.

This crisis plan is not something that you study in a textbook or learn by a tutor. It’s something that comes from out-of-the-box thinking and experiences you get from previous campaigns. But I will show you a method in which you can simply make your crisis plan.

Phase 1: Communication Strategy – Third party media

Imagine your campaign has fired back & its causing way too much burden to your brand. Do you stop all communications that you do? Definitely YES & NO!

YES – Stop all communications that triggered the issue!

NO – continue communicating value that your brand brings through official and non-official websites/social media etc (Cardinal rule in marketing applies here, refer the note below). Create a story around it. But remember, do not communicate this immediately. You need to give it a few days or even a few weeks (do an in-depth analysis report. 

5-Why and Root Cause Analysis

This can be as simple as a 5-WHY analysis where you ask WHY 5 times to find the Root Cause, or draw a ROOT-CAUSE-ANALYSIS with the help of a perceptual map) – Read more about 5 Why & Root Cause Analysis here

Online communication channels examples:

  • Gossip websites/Gossip social media channels (Facebook, YouTube etc.) (Cost: medium)
  • Trusted News websites/ News social media channels (Facebook, YouTube) (Cost: medium)
  • Third party verified social media channels (Cost: High)
  • Offline communication channels examples:
  • Newspaper advertisements (Cost: high)
  • In-person events with an expert in the given area (cost: high)
  • Brochures and other marketing tools
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Phase 2: Communication Strategy – Own Media

Use your best communications tool, that is your own media. Your brand represents a story and share a value that your followers (existing & potential customers) believe. It is said that people don’t follow a brand, but a story. This can be best used to minimize the risk. Even though your brand is affected immensely due to the issues triggered, there are followers who still believe your story (brand). Once again, start communications in two phases, immediately and in delay.

Real World Example – Uber Sri Lanka

An example of using this communication strategy, is of Uber Sri Lanka, where they used their own media to communicate that some areas inside Colombo itself did not have delivery drivers, that were triggered by several customers complaining about their geographical areas. This case was successfully handled by Uber using their own app to communicate.

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Benefits of this communication strategy

–       Creates brand trust at a point of crisis.

–       Clear & trustworthy communication strategy

–       Get a specific customer base potential interested customers ––“let me know”.

–       Create a CTA (Click Through Action) button allowing customers to take authority


Phase 3: Social Content Strategy

Affinity through brand association: demonstrated from the mechanisms mentioned above.

Brand affinity is where consumers who believe a particular brand shares common value with them. These shared values help build a relationship which tends to retain loyal customers for longer period of time. Use advocacy from the brand to create awareness, i.e. create viral content that the advocacy will share at no cost. 

Brand advocacy uses its follower’s positive reviews about the brands products or services help to promote the company to new customers. Brand advocates also create new content for the business by posting items on their social media accounts.

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To create advocacy, a good content strategy should be introduced. I will share “how to create a good content strategy article later”.

Phase 4: Trusted KOL channels

This is another expensive method, but it could work if invested properly. The question is how to select the best KOL/influencer for your campaign (I will share “how to select the best micro or macro influencer for your campaign”).

The influencer should not just explain the benefits of consuming the brands, but the values it brings to the customer, the society & create a story around it. Emotional based communication strategy can be used, but this is a very common strategy amongst many brands today. 

As brands, KOLs have a set of followers behind them, who follow their common cause. If the brand identifies the correct KOLs with the right set of followers, a good communication strategy would be satisfactory.

A good communication plan is a good crisis plan…

A good communication plan is a good crisis plan, but communication is not the only mechanism you can use to get out of trouble. When a campaign triggers negative impact for a brand, competitors will immediately activate their communication plan to trigger their benefits and why the customer should switch from your brand to their brand. 

It is important to understand when and how the competitor will react, and upon which, a good communication strategy should be used.

In summary:

You, as a professional responsible for your brand need to understand the immediate and delayed communication strategies that should be executed. A communication strategy executed in delay can be harmful as much as a communication strategy executed in advance. This is the period in which you should be very creative and put your trust in the followers of your brand.

Also keep in mind…

Never doubt the cardinal rule in marketing, irrespective of what non-marketing practitioners say. If you do an online marketing campaign, never do damage control using offline marketing tools. That never works. The moment you do this, you are creating more damage to your brand.

If you still can’t find the Root Cause for your marketing campaign failure, check my article on “What is Root Cause Analysis and how to find answers to your problems”

I hope this article was informative and please do enlighten me if more points can be added. Always a pleasure to share & learn!


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