John Wanamaker (1838-1922) the inventor of the price tag, considered to be the early department store tycoon and a marketing pioneer, was quoted explaining “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.
Approaching what is a century after Wanamaker’s death, how much of that has changed?
With multiple channels of advertising is involved, together with the option of converting online and in-store as well as taking into consideration the spin-off of brand equity, which may result in a brand recall and a later conversion, the task of figuring out which channels are effective is multi-layered and complex. Undoubtedly, it’s not a copy-paste solution but rather a challenge that is unique to each business, it’s value chain and the audience it’s trying to engage.
Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher explained that if you know your enemy and know yourself, you can fight hundreds of battles without disaster. For marketers and agencies alike, there is significant value in applying the same principle in gaining a similar understanding of their business and audience, which should form the basis upon which they base their marketing strategy on.
AutoTrader South Africa, the number one marketplace for motoring in South Africa, undertook such an exercise which involved 10 years of research and consumer preference monitoring. The research would be used to inform their product, business channels and ultimately their business model. The result, AutoTrader South Africa announced at the end of April 2017 the final printed issue of their magazine as they chose to go fully digital.
Their decision was purely based on tracking consumer preferences and adjusting their business to suit the understanding they gained.
AutoTrader South Africa tracked their consumers’ behaviour by creating two sets of telephone response numbers, one printed in the magazine and the other on the website. The telephone response numbers were identified as the common denominator between their different channels and was as a result used as the yardstick to measure the effectiveness of each channel; responses via the magazine versus the website. Tracking month-to-month, AutoTrader South Africa could identify how quickly consumer preferences were changing, allowing them to build a strategy that was entirely consumer based.
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories” – Sun Tzu
Howell J Malham Jr, in his book “I have a strategy (No you don’t)“, explains that a strategy should have:
- A purpose
- A plan
- A sequence of actions or tactics
- A distinct, measurable goal
The basis of which, I believe, should be deeply rooted in a clear understanding of your consumer and their preferences.
Below you will find a Digital Strategy Checklist based on what I believe is the best explanation of a comprehensive strategy that I’ve come across: