If a bad workman blames their tools, then a poor marketer blames the tactics! The property market is booming, yet Purple Bricks, the online estate agent which was founded in 2012 by Michael Bruce and Kenny Bruce, is having a bad time of it. Mobas MD Adam Tuckwell examines the truth behind the reasons given for its poor performance.
Helena Marston, the new chief executive, has given a damning verdict of her predecessors after the online estate agent fell to a loss last year despite the property market running at its hottest since the financial crisis. Marston has reportedly been critical of expensive and ineffective marketing campaigns, not firing underperforming agents fast enough and losing sight of ‘what differentiates us’, according to The Times.
Marketing seems an easy target for business leaders who are keen to paper over the cracks that form when organisations are structurally weak, have poorly defined brands or lack a clear and compelling point of difference. In fact, so poor is marketing viewed that even the UK Government has launched a campaign calling on businesses to divert marketing spending into cutting prices.
Time after time, we see business leaders seek to demonise marketing, demonstrating their deafness to industry and its lack of understanding of how marketing actually works. If we were to excuse the irony of the Government running a publicly funded advertising campaign to encourage businesses to spend less on marketing, we mustn’t allow the narrative that marketing is the source of business problems to continue.
There are plenty of poor marketers, and there are countless campaigns being run every day that are ineffective at delivering value for brands. However, the source of the problem shouldn’t be blamed on the tactics themselves.
When budgets are tight and pressure mounts, it’s natural to review all spending to make sure it’s being used effectively; however, no one should be criticised for investing in getting their marketing strategy right, and I’ll tell you why.
Gone are the days when the marketing tactics you had to choose from were essentially a combination of outdoor display, press advertising, TV and PR. There’s a whole heap of cost-effective tactics that mean businesses can target their ideal customer easily and with just a small spend, including social media, PPC and even using digital TV targeting. The traditional view of marketing is that you need big budgets to reach your audience, but this simply isn’t true.
If your message isn’t connecting with the intended audience, saying it louder isn’t going to help. Changing tactics or ramping up your marketing without reviewing the underlying problem is about as useful as putting lipstick on a pig. You can’t dress up something that isn’t delivering what your prospects need to hear in order to pay attention.
The problem of ineffective marketing usually lies in organisations not knowing which tactics to use. This is where your marketing strategy comes in, which is why it’s so crucial for organisations to invest in getting one in place. Rather than taking a scattergun approach to marketing and wasting vital funds, knowing who you’re targeting, what you’re targeting them with and why they might buy from you (rather than your competitors) can be a very powerful vehicle for growth. Larger companies may have the luxury of being able to take a ‘test and learn’ approach to some of their marketing tactics, but an SME needs to get closer to their audience and understand where they’re consuming content because they don’t have money to waste.
At Mobas, we create marketing strategies that transform businesses and brands. From strategic research and insight, our team take an outside-in view of our clients’ sectors and markets to deliver clear, actionable insight that improves the effectiveness of your campaign, brand and business. If you feel your marketing is proving ineffective, don’t blame the tools: pick up the phone and talk to us about your marketing.