Last February, my co-worker Philippe Boutin-Lizotte wrote a super-interesting article about a trend he’d noticed amongst many clients. In the article, Philippe pointed out a significant change in the ad campaign objectives of some clients: More than ever before, return on investment (ROI) had become their obsession. While this is a legitimate preoccupation, it shouldn’t be so overwhelming as to be detrimental to the long-term success of media investments.
Although this obsession with ROI has been reduced somewhat by the economic recovery, we’re seeing a new worrisome phenomenon arise that we refer to as “I do digital because I have to!”
The cause of this trend is simple: When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, a considerable number of companies had to rush towards digital at breakneck speed to minimize their losses, while only taking into account factors with effects that would be realized in the short term.
Although by July 2020 certain results were encouraging, these companies hit a wall over the holidays—suddenly the growth they sought just wasn’t there.
In this context, a number of organizations decided to multiply their marketing offensives in every digital channel, believing this would stimulate demand. On the B2C side, they launched influencer campaigns, invested in new transactional sites and put in place unprecedented sale campaigns. On the B2B side, they bought advanced CRM licences at great cost, invested heavily in SEM and started writing blog articles.
However, after 3 or 4 months of intense offensives, these companies barely generated stable growth. Naturally some offensives did generate revenue, but the results they obtained were often much smaller compared to the expenses they required. These companies found themselves in that frustrating situation where they were faced with a very prickly question: What should you do if digital isn’t generating growth and traditional methods are no longer relevant?
The answer? Call Adviso!
Joking aside, it’s true that digital can be a vector for significant growth for these companies, similar to how a renovation could potentially increase the value of your home. However, it is still necessary to know where to invest and, above all, to identify the levers to activate.
So what I propose is a four-step game plan with the goal of helping you not just find your way back onto the path to growth, but also better plan your marketing offensives.
This first step is probably the simplest to implement.
When an exceptional situation hits, like a worldwide pandemic, it’s easy to lose sight of our primary and secondary goals. We don’t have much choice except to go into survival mode and do everything possible to minimize losses. That said, it’s impossible to predict when and how the much-anticipated “return to normal” will happen. In fact, this return will probably never happen.
After all, once a tree falls, can it ever really regrow in exactly the same place and in exactly the same way?
That’s why you need to get back to basics once the smoke has cleared by recalling the principal elements of the product or service you offer. To accomplish this, it’s essential to do some deep thinking and take the time you need to ask yourself the right questions.
Above all, you shouldn’t forget that it wasn’t just the world that was transformed by the pandemic, but also consumers themselves, and they’ve probably changed the way they consume your product or use your services. They have evolved, and you therefore need to understand how this affects their relationship with what you’re offering. In fact, it’s a bit like if those consumers had spoken those infamous few words that attend many breakups:
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
If you want to keep satisfying them and responding adequately to their needs, you need to understand their evolution. This also goes for B2B marketing. The working world has been completely transformed. While this naturally leads us to think about teleworking, it’s also about how the priorities of workers have changed, and this will certainly affect the way companies do business.
Get back to basics by ascertaining the needs that your company intends to respond to.
Now that you understand your situation better, it’s time to talk business. Whether you experienced rampant success or major losses, you need to redefine your business objectives.
These objectives are crucial for ensuring uniformity and consistency in the decisions you’ll be making. That means they need to be precise, measurable and well segmented so as to give your teams a clear view of the direction being taken by your organization.
Basically, business objectives are much more than just mere sales objectives! They can include the number and quality of leads generated, the traffic you need to grow, recruiting, etc. Sales will obviously be influenced by the other objectives you’ll be defining.
These will serve as a kind of compass and guide every decision you’ll make in the future, so ensure that they involve every department at your company.
Once you’ve redefined your objectives, it’s time to take action! You need to define a new strategy that responds to your business needs and ensures growth, and which expresses that strategy through a variety of tactics.
When you design your strategy, avoid thinking only about the short term, and keep in mind the return on investment you’re aiming at in the next few months or years. While we all want instant success, the length of purchase cycles varies between companies and between markets. This means it’s advantageous to plan your tactics well so as to obtain good results at each step of the conversion funnel.
At this stage, it’s possible that you’ve realized the necessity of launching a new structuring project, such as a website redesign, the activation of Google Analytics 4 or the creation of a data strategy, which may delay the implementation of certain tactics.
In order to avoid this type of issue, it’s highly recommended to develop a tactical road map in order to plan out the next few years. This will allow you to foresee the budgets you’ll need to achieve your objectives while staying ahead of the changes you’ll need to make.
Want a good example of this principle? The disappearance of third-party cookies. While still inevitable, pushing back their termination to 2023 gives us the possibility of preparing ourselves for the event. It will make it possible to integrate this change into our overall strategy beforehand and set aside a budget for dealing with it when the time comes. While 2023 might seem far off, there’s no such thing as too much lead time when major upheavals threaten to affect all of your marketing offensives.
I’ll bet you’re thinking that patience isn’t really a step. You’re right, but it’s still an essential element of this article. Actually, patience means, perhaps most of all, being realistic, and it’s crucial to take a reasonable approach when it comes to the results you want to see from your offensives.
For example, if you believe you can invest $20,000 in digital marketing and generate $200,000 in sales, you’re mistaken. It’s not that it’s impossible, but it’s just that 10-to-1 ratios are rare—very rare. Basically, if you (correctly) understand that YouTubers offering services that promise thousands in profit within two weeks are scammers, why would you demand that your agency (like Adviso, for example 😉) achieve such similar utopian results?
I often jokingly remark (though it’s not really a joke) that if generating that much value were so easy, I would just buy all my clients’ companies and become the next Jeff Bezos.
So be realistic about the targets you’d like to achieve and ensure your growth by building solid, long-lasting foundations. This, unfortunately, takes both time and, like I said, patience!
In closing, because it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly upset people’s consumption habits, all companies, whether B2B or B2C, need to adjust their approaches within a turbulent environment. To do this, it’s essential to take a step back and look at the product or service you’re offering consumers, review your business objectives, design a coherent strategy and, lastly, be patient as you navigate this long process.
While there’s no miracle recipe, some strategies will be more effective than others. So if you’d like to find the best ingredients, remember that the Adviso team is entirely at your disposal.