If anyone tells you otherwise, I would strongly question their credentials and motive. For years we’ve seen flash in the pan speakers pedal false philosophies portraying a vision of quickfire success by adopting a simple tactic. At times that involved people positioning social media as the great hope – but they stop short of actually telling you the pitfalls to success, allowing you all to blindly believe in the tactic and inevitably come up short of what our Freud wannabe portrayed.

More recently influencers have become the go-to short-cut tactic of choice. Sadly, not enough narrative is focused on the sheer volume of influencers who’ve profiteered from false follower numbers, achieved through the utilisation of bots. I even know of an acclaimed agency having been elected Agency of the Year despite having their adverts banned from knowingly adopting the aforementioned activities.

I’ve even worked with people over the years, household name influencers who milked revenue from beauty brands by simply creating her own range of products. There was no vested interest in the belief and trust the beauty brands tactically invested in her. And to prove this isn’t just an anti-influencer rant, if we go back far enough in time, tactical use of billboards or TV adverts would have been put forward as a new means to cut through with marketing.

What’s my point? These are all tactics. Tactics that may, or more importantly may not be right for your brand. The point of advertising, if we simplify all those lectures we’ve sat through and the guidebooks we’ve read, is to connect a brand with a relevant audience; an audience who have the potential to purchase and become brand loyal.

My greying hair evidences the time I’ve spent in industry. A large chuck of those grey-inducing years has been spent pouring over media targeting, mining insight into audience demographics and their behaviours. Critical insight that was used to determine the rationale for TV, Cinema, Radio or print media usage. It was the same critical thinking that helped deduce that sending samplers into a high-footfall area may influence on-the-day behaviours with a few hundred people, but it was never going to influence in the volume required to impact category performance.

Again, what’s my point? A myriad of tactics have the ability to influences and impact the spend behaviour of customers if they’re strategically right. Ok, so I can hear most of you saying, “no shit Sherlock!”. And yes, fair point, I am stating the obvious. So, let me ask you this: why are so many leadership teams allocating a spend on Social Media, without setting a strategy.

Take a look at any market research data – we use Global Web Index but you cast an eye on any of them and you’ll see the same outcome: Social Media indexes higher that TV. Would you ever shotgun a TV advert without exploring the strategic rationale for it, grilling key detail such as viewer demographics and psychographics, customer journeys from advert to brand, debate the ‘first-thought’ you wish to land and the actions your audiences will take? Of course, not. You wouldn’t invest without the strategy. So keep in mind the audience size of social media, the volume of differing demographics and psychographics harboured throughout the worlds of Facebook et al, consider the differing content performances and goals across all of the channels and ask yourself this: do we really know what channels we should be focusing on, or did we just guestimate outcomes some years ago and stick with it?  Do we know the advert formats best suited to the audience we want to influence? Do we understand the flaws to single Ad use versus the significant and comprehensive success of ‘nudge nurture’ deployment?

Look, I’m not trying to bamboozle you or make you feel daft. We only know what we know, and if we’ve not had our eyes opened to the above it’s easy to carry on down the same path. I had to learn this at a point in time. The key point to this blog is that something has not changed despite all of the digital evolution we’ve observed in the last thirty odd years: it all starts and hinges on strategy. Selecting a tactic or channel, prior to determining the strategic what, where, when and why – and repeating that by media channel, is the pre-requisite to sustained marketing success.

The only short-cut to marketing success is through taking the long strategic road to incremental and sustained success. The short-cut will only bring you back to the same point in time.

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