A Message for Your Budget Deniers — Don’t Abandon Marketing in 2023

A Message for Your Budget Deniers — Don’t Abandon Marketing in 2023

Gianna Callioni
. 27 Jan 2023 . 7 min read

We’ve all faced a great deal of uncertainty over the past few years and it’s clear the upheaval won’t ease up any time soon. Businesses across the globe have had to manage unprecedented (couldn’t help it, sorry) pressures on their day-to-day operations, from extreme supply issues, unpredictable demand, inflation, huge increases in hard costs… the list goes on. As a marketer, there’s been a burden to accomplish more with less — ‘we need to cut your budget, but you need to keep making us money. Lots more money.’

As you kickoff 2023 in the heart of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s highly likely you’ll need to advocate even harder for your marketing budget. Klaviyo research suggests 6 in 10 small to medium sized businesses will freeze or cut their marketing spend this year.

But, what effect will that have on those businesses? And how can you convince your budget deniers there are better alternatives?

As Dr Simon Broadbent put it,

“The sales of a brand are like the height at which an airplane flies. Advertising spend is like its engines: while the engines are running, everything is fine, but, when the engines stop, the descent eventually starts.”

Message 1 — Don’t Abandon Marketing

The simple fact is the longer you go without exposing your target audience to your brand, the more likely it is they’ll forget about you. All of the familiarity and trust you’ve built up over time (and all the advertising dollars that have gone into doing so), could go to waste.

There’s been proof of that in the past three years alone.

A release by Nielsen in 2020 (right around when the spicy cough was really ramping up) stated, “brands that go totally dark for the rest of 2020 could be facing revenue declines of up to 11% in 2021.” And you know what? They were right.

In early 2020 (pre-WHO declaring a pandemic), I worked with a client who was three months into a six month contract with several influencers. When the news broke, they wanted to cancel those contracts and stop advertising. Their umbrella company’s annual revenue fell 11% in 2020 compared to 2019. And they sold booze. A household staple after toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

Conversely, brands ‘that increased advertising during a recession experienced higher sales, market share, or earnings during or after the recession.

You’d be right in thinking this isn’t true for every business. Of course, every business is different. If you’re a large business in a growth period, you’ll likely appear fine for a couple of years. But if you’re smaller or more stagnant in your growth already, please don’t abandon marketing.

Message 1.5 — Remember That Marketing is More Than Just Advertising

It seems like everyone has collectively forgotten that marketing isn’t just running ads. Including marketers themselves.

Mark Ritson calls it the ‘tactification’ of marketing. The selective memory loss regarding the rest of the marketing mix. The belief that marketing and advertising are ‘the same thing.’

At a time like this, it’s so very important to remember that marketing has (or at least, should have!) access to the other levers of product, price, and place… not just promotion.

Les Binet wrote an excellent (and very detailed) article specifically on the importance of price, and how we can respond to market pressure with price. But, of course, without sacrificing brand equity.

Message 2 — Leverage Available Share of Voice

That’s enough of the tough stuff… there’s hope for us yet!

Other brands pulling back on advertising can mean it’s cheaper and easier for you to reach your audience. Say you have 35% share of voice and your two competitors have 35% and 30%. They decrease their advertising by 10% and 15% respectively. Now there’s 25% of the market share that’s yours for the taking. That’s a very simplistic way of putting it and, unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as that, but you get the gist.

If you skipped over it earlier (it’s ok, we all do it), 6 in 10 small to medium sized businesses will freeze or cut their marketing spend in 2023. Think about how much that will open up advertising channels for your brand to cut through. Particularly digitally, where a large chunk of your costs are directly related to how much competition you’re up against in that moment.

By continuing to advertise, you’re able to leverage the newly available share of voice and build yourself up compared to your competitors.

Message 3 — Build Your Brand Image

“Building brands is not an expense, it’s an investment and it needs to be prioritized. It’s not a choice, you have to build strong brands if you want to have a strong business.” — Brent Smart

This isn’t about boldly (and blindly) spending more than your competitors for the sake of it. It’s about carefully selecting and balancing where and what you spend. To do that effectively, you need to have a good read of the market, macro and micro factors, and competition.

It’s an oft-ignored fact that advertising is about more than just short-term returns; when done well, it also builds long-term mental availability. Consider the customer awareness funnel — unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, and most aware. Building your brand image gives you a better chance at being well-positioned during the solution, product, and most aware stages. Without filling up those earlier points of the funnel, you’re less likely to experience the conversions at the bottom of it.

Even if your ads don’t get paused completely, you may be asked to only spend on conversion campaigns (it’s not an uncommon request). If you do, it’s very likely that this reduction of coverage will be at the detriment of your brand’s reputation and goodwill. Consumers don’t want to be sold to constantly, so if your only messages are sales messages, well… good luck. Yes, you might see an uptick in response rate, but at what long-term cost?

Consider how you and your company would like people to see your brand in 3, 5, 10 years’ time. What does that look like? Are you the go-to choice for your audience? The most trusted option? Do they want others to know they use your product? This should inform your next steps.

Need some support with your marketing strategy?

Our team can help with that!

Get in Touch

Meet ChatGPT: Your Questions About the World’s Latest Chatbot Answered

Gianna Callioni
. 12 Jan 2023 . 5 min read

Within 5 days, ChatGPT hit over 1 million users. It took Instagram 2.5 months to do that.

But, why all the hype around another chatbot? They’ve been used for years now haven’t they? Well, not quite like this.

What is ChatGPT?

It’s like the chatbots you’ve seen online, but on steroids.

It was built by OpenAI using data from thousands of online sources, including Reddit, to make its responses seem more human. It’s a language learning model which means it’s learned to continually predict what the next word in a sequence should be. Unlike previous chatbots, however, ChatGPT was also trained using human feedback. Meaning it knows what language people expect when asking questions. It can also remember what you asked or said earlier in the chat meaning you can follow up with things. Basically, you can have a seemingly human conversation with it.

But, it does have some key weaknesses. One is that it lacks information released online post-2021, so some of its responses may not include the most up-to-date data. And, as with every other AI program available, it still has issues with biased, surface-level, incomplete, or even potentially harmful responses.

Can it be used to create ads? Inform content topics? Even write a whole website page?

It can! We’ll get to the morality of this later on, but the simple answer is yes.

Through machine learning, the chatbot essentially is able to recreate content it has seen online and tweak it to your specifications.

Ask it to write any number of words on a certain topic and it will. Ask it to write attention-grabbing headlines for LinkedIn and it will. Ask it to create a well-balanced meal plan to hit your weekly macros and it will.

How can you make ChatGPT work at its best?

When you ask it to do a vague action, you’ll likely get a vague response.

“Give me ideas for blog posts” – it’ll give you ideas, but they won’t necessarily align with what you want to talk about. It has merely used its knowledge to regurgitate various blog article ideas its seen.

Instead, try to give the program specific examples or formulas to expand on. By adding qualifiers and descriptors, you can ask it to create very unique (and actually quite well-written) content.

The big one — how far can organisations/individuals go with it before there’s a moral dilemma?

Alongside potentially harmful biases existing within this and other AI tools, the moral and ethical use of these tools is a big hurdle for the industry to face. And the answer might not always be clear-cut.

Selling your copywriting services to businesses but then using ChatGPT to write for you? Definitely over the line.

Using ChatGPT to write your uni assignment? Over the line.

Using it to write your own blog posts? That might depend.

While we may easily agree on some tasks it shouldn’t be used for, others might be harder to see eye-to-eye on.

“I'm intrigued to see how Google hopes to accurately detect AI-written content. It could be very difficult even if OpenAI develops a 'digital watermark' because there'd be ways around that.”

Gianna

I’m concerned by the lack of respect we’re seeing for intellectual property. What the visual AIs have done with regards to copying art styles from working artists... isn't great. Artists should have been contacted and given the option to opt in. Rather than having to opt out after the fact.

Shaelah

I think one of the biggest implications is that digital art and online writing/copy will lose massive value. What’s unique about a bot writing or designing something? There’s absolutely no value in thought, idea, inspiration, etc, and so the work itself will be worthless and a reiteration of what’s already been designed/said by actual humans.

Sequoia

We can agree that there’s certainly value in AI tools. They can help spark ideas and answer questions that everyday users have. As a chatbot for websites and apps, it can provide a much more user-friendly experience. However, beyond this there are implications for both our industry and society at large, which will necessitate changes in practice but also (in all likelihood) at a legislative level. And quickly. What a time to be alive!

Irony and riddles seem to be beyond ChatGPT though, so we’re not completely replaceable yet…

Examples of ChatGPT's responses