Premium POV

Cheese Makes Me Gag

Why Every CMO Should Consider Chopping Media Budgets Next Year 

So, as someone who has lived and breathed media for the past 14 years, the above headline made the hairs on my neck stand on end when it popped up in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago.  Greg March, CMO of Noble People, a creative media agency, boldly suggests shaving media budgets and re-allocating dollars toward spiffier creative, experimental and cause-related executions.  He closes with:

“To be clear, I don’t see media as an all-out waste. I just think it’s a giant mistake to overinvest in media. As anyone who’s gearing up for football season can attest, the frequency with which an individual sees the same ad, particularly for big brands, is staggering. Increasingly, you’re also getting the same banner ad in your mobile browser for a hotel you visited and never booked (and probably never will)…You simply don’t need to buy as much to reach as many of the RIGHT people…”

Yeah, but you remembered that hotel… didn’t you?  Never say “never,” Greg.  I find this article analogous with the famous Descartes quote, “I think, therefore I am.”  The truth is, you might exist by just being there and breathing, but does anyone else know that?

Look, I 100% agree that it’s important to invest in premium content and creative. I’m not opposed to a risky stunt or even a “feel good,” mission-motivated operation.  And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, most importantly, we have to reach the RIGHT people.  But to what extent do we cut budgets for deliverables no one will see?  You may be delivering to the right audience but are you delivering it enough times?  Through the right channel?

Think about this…I equate it to my deep dislike for cheese.  Yes, soak it in, I hate cheese.  It’s valid and real.  But it takes about 3-5 times for me to repeat and remind someone that I’m serious about it.  “Don’t put cheese on mine.”  “Cheese makes me gag.”  “I will die if I eat cheese.”  Usually the “die” tactic gains the most traction…especially in a restaurant situation.  But it’s the frequency and the experimentation of how I communicate with someone that cheese is the “devil reincarnated” that finally promotes recall.

Cheese analogy aside, it’s a great segue into the next article I came across by Geoffrey Colon, Disruptive Marketer @Microsoft.

In his doctor versus snake oil salesman approach at explaining the “distribution science” side of marketing, he summarizes his article with this:

“It’s also a scary scenario in content marketing to simply prescribe a publish attitude with no foresight of the objective of who you want to influence and how you will influence them. When thinking of planning your next piece of content, ask yourself, ‘who’s going to see this and how am I going to ensure it gets to them?’” 

And that’s really it, right?  How do you ensure it gets to them? Content, target, channel, data, delivery. It’s not as prescriptive as shaving a media budget in order to fund “more attractive, richer content.”  It’s really about intercepting a consumer in their path to purchase.  And when you’ve made that connection…make sure you connect across as many touch points as possible…as loudly as possible.

This is a time where the customer is in control and the borders between paid, owned and earned media are blurring.  If you really sit back and think about the typical consumer journey across media, the individual disciplines in and of themselves should not define a brand’s communications and marketing approach…it’s just not reflective of the their behavior. The journey may start early in the morning, surfing on a smartphone, or late at night in front of Jimmy Fallon playing Words With Friends on an iPad.  It might start with a link someone has shared on Facebook or a search for Jimmy Choo pumps (birthday month…a girl can dream). How can we expect to become a discussion point in this journey if the focus is on one discipline over the other?  Or, one tactic over the other?

There is no one guaranteed method of influence.  Mr. March and Mr. Colon both have valid approaches, but there is no end all be all. It’s about investing in the consumer space and making a connection. That connection is contingent on the purchase path and, in the end, strategies and tactics should be unique to both brand and consumer…integrating and transcending the traditional silos.

By the way, in case you didn’t get it the first time, cheese makes me gag.

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