The Secret to a Successful Marketing Pie

May 16, 2018

So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. Stay in control, and never panic.

– Martha Stewart

True, Martha was probably referring to her Green Market Apple Pie when she said that, and not a marketing pie, but her wisdom here is uniquely applicable to both types of pies.

And while I’d like to talk more about apple pie (or better yet, eat a slice of pie), we’re here to talk about the marketing pie.

Because the marketing pie has changed. It’s carved into many more slices than it was decades ago, and the slices just keep getting smaller and smaller.

If we think more about what Martha Stewart so wisely advised, we can learn some important lessons when it comes to divvying up the marketing pie so everyone gets the right-sized slice.

Cut It Into Wedges

This is the hardest part: determining how many wedges to cut it into, and how big each wedge should be.

Think back a few decades when a company’s marketing budget may have been cut into four big wedges: print advertising, broadcast advertising, public relations and a chunk for things like consumer research, branding and promotions.

But today, a typical marketing plan may include things like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Facebook ads, influencer partnerships, website retargeting, blogs, listings management…the list goes on and on.

Today’s savvy marketers have made notable shifts in their budget allocations based on loads of consumer behavior research, and it has changed the way ad agencies like ours approach a client’s overall marketing strategy.

Consider these eye-opening trends in marketing spends:

  • The growth in marketers’ digital marketing spend is greatly outpacing that of traditional marketing (The CMO Survey)
  • TV advertising spend dropped 1.5 percent in 2017 and will drop another .5 percent this year and 1 percent in 2019 (eMarketer)
  • Digital platforms accounted for 43.6 percent of total ad spend in 2016 and is expected to grow to 56.8 percent by 2020 (eMarketer)
  • Social media spend has grown 243 percent since 2009 (The CMO Survey)
  • Mobile marketing spend is expected to increase 93 percent in the next three years (The CMO Survey)

…which have been driven by these new findings in consumer behavior:

  • On-demand streaming and “TV Everywhere” is up 114 percent over the past two years (Adobe)
  • Growing retailers had 48 percent more visits from smartphones compared to 2016 (Adobe)
  • The average conversion rate on Facebook ads is over 9% percent
  • Effective user-generated content (UGC) ads can generate about four times more engagement than brand-generated content
  • Mobile marketing ranks at the top in terms of media consumption with 1.8 hours, above TV (1.5 hours) and other platforms.
  • 91 percent of consumers read online reviews, and the number of those who don’t read reviews (only 9 percent) has dropped dramatically, from 29 percent in 2010 (BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey)

To sum it up, consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices these days than they are watching TV—and if they are watching TV, they are likely doing so from their…(wait for it)…digital device. Also, consumers are flooding social sites, paying attention to online reviews and prefer photos and other content shared by people like them—not shared by brands.

Okay. Deep breath.

What this doesn’t say is that TV isn’t effective (it is), that people don’t read magazines anymore (they do) or listen to the radio (ditto). Traditional advertising is still relevant and it still works.

This just shows that consumers are going beyond the traditional marketing “slices,” and now marketers have more opportunities to reach them in a meaningful way.

So, what was before neatly divided into four perfect wedges is now cut into slivers of varying sizes, depending on important factors like:

  1. Persona. What does your target audience look like? Geographics, demographics and psychographics come into play. Do they own a smartphone or do they prefer reading the newspaper? Honda Accord or Tesla? You get the idea.
  2. Objectives/Goals. What are you trying to achieve? Are you more focused on long-term brand awareness and lift or quick conversions?
  3. Budget. It’s easier and more efficient to build a plan based on a figure than shooting into the dark. Depending on the available investment, some marketing tactics may simply not be feasible (read: TV is not cheap).
  4. Owned Assets. What do you have that exists today? A website is a good start, but is it mobile-friendly? Are there pages and pages of rich content or is it pretty flat? Understanding the “state of the state” when it comes to your assets will help your marketing team prioritize their recommendations using the available budget.

So now, you have all that consumer behavior data plus those very important factors like persona and goals that, when woven together, will help you develop the most effective marketing plan that likely consists of both traditional and digital marketing tactics.

This is a simplified approach to marketing pie carving, but it sets the stage for what comes next.

Stay In Control

Wander around our office a little bit and you’ll hear this nugget come up quite a bit in conversation:

The numbers don’t lie.

It’s true. Most marketers (like us) develop their best recommendations based on numbers and data, like the data you see outlined above. These numbers come from well-respected organizations that do all kinds of surveys and other research to help marketers.

It’s hard to argue with numbers.

For some companies, though, these numbers might be hard to hear.

But if a marketing plan is built upon a solid foundation based on current consumer data, it’s hard to take issue with a rock-solid plan.

When a well-defined plan is deployed, your marketing team will continuously analyze the plan’s effectiveness and results on an ongoing basis and make any adjustments if needed.

Just like a pie that’s popped into the oven at 350°, a marketing plan takes time to bake as well. It needs time to breathe and do its thing over time; results don’t happen overnight, and your marketing captain will make sure everything is running smoothly.

Be patient as your campaign launches and takes root.

Never Panic

It’s been a solid 90 days and you take a look at the analytics and you see…nothing.

Don’t panic. That won’t do you—or anyone—any good.

Dig deeper. Did you put too much money in display ads and not enough in TV—or vice versa? Is the pixel firing and capturing conversions? Was the AdWords campaign paused because your credit card expired? Was the Facebook ad declined because there was too much copy on the image?

In 99 percent of cases, you can fix it and move on.

When your pie crust is too crumbly and isn’t sticking together, it doesn’t mean you give up on baking that Green Market Apple Pie, does it?

Nope. You sprinkle it with some water, and you try again.

You don’t panic. You just buckle down and fix it.

Your marketing pie will not be as scrumptiously delicious as an apple pie—let’s be honest. But if you spend a little time with it, play around with some measurements and do some testing and refining along the way, you will undoubtedly find the recipe for success.