Investment In Marketing Reaps Returns


In a down economy, among the first items to be cut are travel and entertainment expenses, the funds that allow marketing and promotion people to attend conferences. (Sales meetings seem to stay in budgets, because they're seen as revenue generators, not expenses.)

Management needs to take a longer view and see that such creative and marketing meetings generate ideas that translate directly into both higher ratings and sales growth. When marketing, promotion and design people get together, they will see effective work, discuss successful campaigns and promotions, talk innovation and edge — all ultimately resulting in new ways to attract and keep viewers. Creative people need this kind of stimulation. It's their lifeblood.

Many of the marketing topics that will be discussed at this weeks Promax & BDA annual meeting in Los Angeles are just as clearly related to making money as when the ad-sales team cracks into a new advertiser category. Here are just a few of the topics:

Develop strategic marketing that builds brands:
Every single communication — whether it's a promotion or a bill stuffer — must drive home your overall strategy. You want to build your business overnight, but you also need to build your brand over time.

As Sergio Zyman, The Coca-Cola Co.'s former chief marketing officer, said: "A brand is a company's most valuable asset."

A product is simply a commodity; a brand attracts loyalty, differentiates itself from competition, and commands a higher price. In a sea of choices, your network or system must stand for something in the mind of your viewer, advertiser and affiliate, just as surely as Volvo stands for safety or Dove soap stands for moisturizing. The only way to do that is through consistency and repetition.

Form long-term relationships with viewers:
Your marketing and promotion people must learn how to connect with those "occasionally committeds" who come once or twice a month. The goal is to convert them into loyal viewers who will be advocates for your network.

For most cable networks, 10% of viewers drive more than half of the ratings. In some cases — especially for channels with a more narrow focus — one-third of the viewers generate over 80% of the ratings!

Mount powerful cross-platform partnerships:
These promotions are hot right now, but many of them don't generate revenue. When done well, fueled by a big idea, partnered with brands that have the right fit and launched with mutual objectives, these programs can deliver amazing return on investment. It also pays to develop franchise promotions that can be repeated year after year. Continually delete weak elements and add to strong ones, driving even more revenue to the bottom line.

Help marketing and creative people measure ROI:
Creative people need to know their efforts will be evaluated for return on investment, just like every single other aspect of your business. Conferences and seminars can help them realize that their peers and colleagues are being measured, too, and give them ideas about how to set objectives and measure results.

Today, it is more important than ever to speak about marketing in terms that management will understand — as an essential
means to driving revenues. These days, it's not enough to have a story. You need to have a story about
the story, and that's what we are doing at Hallmark Channel. We know we must provide enriched experiences that create value for our viewers, our businesses and our key partners.

Marketing and promotion people are in the business of ideas. The more ideas they can grow for your company, the better the harvest you reap.