Marketing guru, Professor Jenni Romaniuk, is in South Africa. Hosted by SPARK Media, the academic, whose research concentrates on understanding consumer behaviour and marketing trends, is in the country to launch her new book, How brands grow part 2 and pass on some of its insights to media professionals. Michael Bratt attended the launch and sat down with her to find out what the latest marketing research is telling advertisers.
Held at the Wanderers Club in Illovo, the event was well attended by many media agency professionals. The three main takeaways from the new book are:
- If you think you’re an exception, you’re probably not.
- Physical and mental availability of your brand is vitally important. It’s an ongoing system which has to have both parts working perfectly in order to fully succeed.
- Distinctive assets can provide the edge over competitors
Regarding the first point, the book took a look at different types of advertising including that playing in the luxury brands space. Many of those brands think their strategy is the exception to the basic principles of marketing, but in reality they are doing exactly the same as everyone else. When Romaniuk refers to physical availability she is talking about a brand that is easy for the consumer to find and purchase. Mental availability is how well a brand can embed itself into a consumer’s mind, so that the next time that consumer needs to buy a specific category product, they automatically think about that brand.
Presence, relevance and prominence
Romaniuk advises that the three pillars of physical availability are presence, relevance and prominence. In order for mental availability to succeed the brand’s advertising “needs to cut through viewer’s screening mechanisms”, she says.
“Creativity is a great way to do this along with a message that a consumer can relate to both emotionally and rationally. In reference to point 3, distinctive assets are features that cause your brand to stand out. Examples include logos, characters, taglines, fonts, jingles, music etc. McDonalds, KFC, Apple and many other big brands are instantly recognisable by their logos and for the first two, the characters that they have created, Ronald McDonald and The Colonel respectively,” says Romaniuk.
At the beginning of her presentation, Romaniuk told every marketer in the packed room that marketing techniques need to be constantly revised and rethought as new evidence, which she has gathered through her research, shows certain tactics taught as being the basics of marketing have since been proven to be worthless.
Romaniuk names reach as the most important element of marketing as, “everything else is conditional to exposure to people”. When asked which brand is king of marketing across the globe, Romaniuk was very hesitant to answer saying, “Every brand has its strengths and weaknesses. Every brand is still on a journey of learning and I have not yet seen a brand do everything right.”
Romaniuk also shared her views on native advertising saying she “doesn’t understand it”. She believes advertisers should reveal when they are advertising and can’t understand why said advertisers would want to downplay their brand so much, unless it is not a strong one. Another sector she spoke about was digital marketing, describing the main problem there as being clutter. “Most people don’t go to websites looking for ads. They are focused on the content on the page and often miss ads altogether.”
The pace of digital development
The other problem she forsees is the pace at which digital platforms are developing. “We are developing it so fast and learning so much slower how to make digital marketing work. The technological advances are outpacing what we learn works.” But she reassured that there is still a lot to learn about digital since it is composed of so many varying elements.
At the end of her address Romaniuk left attendees with a four part action plan to set them on their new path of brand marketing.
- Check your media plan is delivering maximum reach across all category buyers.
- Check your touch points are easily identifiable as your brand, even among light category and brand buyers.
- Implement a long term distinctive asset management plan.
- Check for speed bumps that could slow you down.
SPARK Media was able to bring Romaniuk to South Africa as the media owner is a member of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, where Romaniuk is an associate director. The relationship that SPARK has with the Institute allows it access to all of the experts that are associated with it. But SPARK CEO Gill Randall says there is more to the visit than just the relationship. “We try to bring an expert out to South Africa every year to talk on different topics. We’ve positioned ourselves as a company that is insights driven and we want to bring research, insights and learnings to our clients,” says Randall.
Aside from her Johannesburg presentation, Romaniuk is continuing her South African journey with stops in Cape Town and Durban.
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