Monday, November 24, 2008

Building brand strength in a stormy climate

Posted by Janelle Rees

It’s the build-up in the Territory and while the air conditioning market might be booming, other sectors aren’t weathering the changing economic climate quite so well.

During an economic downturn one of the first budgets to get cut is often marketing and communications.

As communications professionals we play an important role in demonstrating to senior management the advantages of maintaining the communications spend during stormy financial times.

It’s important to convince management that in many cases an economic downturn can be an opportunity to build brand strength. While your competitors are cutting back, you can be investing in your brand positioning and building long-term shareholder value. When the economy picks up (as it inevitably will), you will be in a strong position to capitalise while your competitors are busy playing catch-up.

Additionally, one of the many factors influencing the weakening economy is consumer confidence. As AMI Chairman Roger James points out, consumer confidence is in many cases as much about perception as reality – and that’s where there is an opportunity for marketing and communications professionals to rise to the challenge and influence public perception.

So how do we effectively communicate that we can’t afford to stop communicating?

Research: Know what your competitors are doing, and how they are doing it. Know your target audience. How have they been affected to date by the economic downturn? Have a general understanding of your organisation’s financial position. Can they feasibly afford to maintain the marketing spend?

Evaluate: Senior management is responsible to shareholders, and shareholders are often most interested in the bottom line. You need to be able to demonstrate how effective your communications activities are to maintaining and growing the profitability of the organisation.

Diversify your communications activities: Are there more effective ways you can reach your target audience? Are there cheaper ways you can reach your target audience? Do you already make the most of cost-effective communications in areas such as public relations and social media? Is there an opportunity to borrow a small amount from your TV spend to pilot a social media campaign or extend your public relations activities? Or do you have the internal skills to pilot a social media campaign for next to nothing?

As communications professionals we need to be able to demonstrate our ability to adapt to changing market conditions while still playing a role that demonstrably benefits our organisation’s reputation and bottom line.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We just keep on asking WHY.

Posted by Tracy Jones

I’m a dedicated fan of Lyn Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves. As a bit of a punctuation Nazi myself, I’m always the one wielding the red pen around here.

So, you might ask, why is there no question mark at the end of the header to this story?

We recently created a campaign for a client about road safety. The campaign theme is WHY. (with a full stop and without a question mark). Here's one of the ads (the other is at the end of this post).

Since it was launched, we have received lots of comments from the punctuation Nazis declaring us to be the enemy of the English language as we know it.

So, before we all get too carried away, where did the question mark go?

The first point to make is that the idea of advertising is to impart a message, a feeling and (hopefully) an action, not to educate the public on grammar. We wanted to start a conversation with the public about road safety and the terrible tragedy of road deaths to every single individual.

WHY. has certainly made people talk – and wonder – about the question mark. Here’s a selection of what people have said:

  • "WHY is a rhetorical question – we don’t expect an answer to it. The answer to the road toll is so obvious. So when you say WHY it’s an expression of frustration.”

  • “This answer is stupid. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech used to persuade the reader to question or think about a particular issue. This isn’t the same thing.”

  • “More than one person has pointed out that a full stop is neither appropriate nor accurate. In the case of these advertisements the aim is to have viewers/readers think about what has happened and why it has happened. You’re saying people don’t expect an answer as to why they’ve lost a family member/friend. We’re asking them to question why this is happening so we can try and avoid it and raise awareness. We’re not posing the question for the sake of it; for no response. This would mean no change. "

  • “It is not a question - we know the answers. People just continue to ignore the glaringly obvious consequences of driving drunk, speeding, traveling without a seatbelt – this uncomfortable feeling that some people seem to suffer from is a good thing regarding this campaign. Look at the whole, the “Why.” icon is just that, a logo a brand a statement of intent – to the drunk driver – we don’t need a question mark as he has no response/answer to justify his behaviour.”

  • “You people are in serious need of a good proof reader. I can offer you my services.”

  • “I can’t figure out whether you guys are incredibly clever or incredibly dumb. "

What do you think?