Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Let's ditch copycat marketing

Everyday £millions is spent on marketing activity by businesses, institutions and charities. Their aim is to get us, the consumer, to engage with their brand, to subscribe to their service or to buy their products.

Well, at least that's what you might imagine the aim to be.  Far too often the purpose is lost on the average customer.  It's lost in a sea of self-indulgent and often grandiose advertising campaigns where the production values seem to take precedence over the core message.  Where fantasy takes over from reality.  And, sometimes satisfying an internal audience seems to be more important than engaging the external customer.  

And then there's the copycat or "me too" approach.  Imitation may well be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can be confusing and damaging to your brand also.  Why, oh why, have many High Street retailers decided it's wise to try and emulate the success of John Lewis' advertising in such a blatant way? John Lewis was an early pioneer of using a simple story to convey brand messages and to evoke a strong emotional response from customers.   The production values were high, yes, but they also reflected the reality of great service and quality products.  Competitors may well have looked on with envy at the success of the campaigns.  But, that's no reason to jump on the "me too" bandwagon.  Surely, the recent Xmas trading performance of Marks & Spencer's non-food business shows being a copycat is not a guarantee for success?

Brands need to have their own identity, values and tone of voice.  They need to speak directly to their target audience, be clear about what they stand for and be true to their offering.  It's not rocket science, it's basic textbook.  And it's about time that marketers, their agencies and their leadership realised and acted on that.

In this blog I'll be casting a critical eye over what businesses are up to in the field of marketing, advertising, online and more.  I'll be looking at what I think works really well and not holding back on the criticism, when appropriate.  

By putting marketing under the microscope I'm challenging marketers to up their game.