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Ad up the benefits of your marketing

In the month when it was reported that Google had overtaken ITV1 as the largest earning channel of advertising revenue in the UK, it seems a good time to re-evaluate marketing investment and assess whether a business’s activities really will encourage more shoppers to part with their money.

Marketing budgets in general, and advertising ones in particular, have always been vulnerable to the pressures of the profit and loss account. They are the obvious points of call when sales come under pressure. This compromise to brand value is recognised as a pragmatic solution in tough times.

Some marketers will protest at the error in such an approach, but their arguments are weakened by the lack of key performance indicators to support the case. Not many financial officers will sleep better knowing that although the business missed its profit target, brand share of voice was in line with expectations. So how can you guard against brand stagnation?

A business needs to be sure it is addressing the core issues. As customers demand better value and a great shopping experience, business plans must support these needs and communicate relevant benefits. This may cause some fundamental questions to be asked about the merits of specific initiatives.

Re-emphasising the desirability of a known brand or range, while ensuring it is brilliantly merchandised, backed by an appropriate stock level and aggressively promoted, will probably provide the soundest return on investment.

Bidding on more key words won’t grab headlines, but compared with a big budget ad, it makes better economic sense at present.

Clive Briscoe is the former marketing director of Littlewoods

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