Modern marketing may make it seem like serving real-time ads is all that matters but SMEs cannot afford to ignore traditional brand building
While in the early days of the internet display dominated, it can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that in the last fifteen years the world of online advertising has evolved considerably. Once advertisers were happy enough flyposting the internet with their ads and hoping enough eyes would see them: now ads are paid for by the impression, cookies capture consumers’ shopping preferences and ad space is bought and sold in milliseconds. However, in this age of automation and analytics, it’s easy for the softer skill of brand building to get left by the wayside and this is something SMEs ignore at their peril.
With many businesses hurtling along at breakneck speed, the concept of taking time to consciously build your brand can seem rather quaint. After all, in the modern age, doesn’t successful advertising really come down to who can get the most clicks? Certainly capturing sales means catching consumers and clients right at the moment they make their purchasing decision and that requires quick reflexes and real-time ad serving. But while many modern brands obsess over this golden moment they can capture a sale, it can be easy to ignore the many steps along the way that can influence someone’s purchasing decision.
Let’s say a prospective client is looking for cloud accounting tools: they pop the search term into Google and it spits out a bunch of PPC ads. While it may seem like they decide on the spur of the moment which ad to click on first, in actual fact this is the final step of a journey they started long ago. Four months previously, they happened to read an article on making the most of your cloud accounting package; one of the brands made some shrewd points that stuck in their minds. When browsing websites covering the ins and outs of running an SME in the weeks that followed, the brand’s display ads catch the client’s eye. Stumbling across a supplement sponsored by the brand, the client begins to recognise that the company is one that it can trust. By the time Google is serving them ads, they’re likely to have a stronger affinity with the brand that has invested the time and resources in cultivating a relationship: being the first to ask them to dance isn’t likely to count for as much as months of courtship.
However, playing the long game doesn’t mean you should just completely give up on tracking your spend. Whether you’re in the market for an MPU, engaging in email marketing or contemplating some content, modern marketing is a results-driven game – if you’re investing in a more diversified brand-building campaign, you need to know that it’s still amassing the impressions and clocking up the clicks. This means that any platform you’re using to build a buzz around your brand needs to be able to offer up actionable insights on any activity you buy.
Ultimately, constructing a meaningful brand building campaign takes work. But as long as multi-channel solutions are embraced and results are carefully tracked, you can ensure your target audience has been properly primed. Having been nurtured already by seeing your brand and exploring your website, they are already on your sales cycle, ready to work with you when the time comes to making a purchasing decision.