The hidden P of brand building

Mark Ritson recently added ‘Product’ to the list of forgotten P’s of marketing following my February article nominating ‘Price’ as most worthy of that title. That really only leaves one neglected marketing ‘P’ left, so I figured I’d better get in quick!

Most will guess that ‘Promotion’ is not a contender for ‘most neglected’. Ritson’s whole point is that too many equate marketing to promotion (or more specifically communications), forgetting that ‘real’ marketing is about strategy and execution across all four Ps. So, that leaves us with… ‘Place’.

However, it’s hard to argue that Place is a forgotten P. Much thought, effort and angst are directed at distribution. Whole sales teams are dedicated to building trade relationships and winning in channel. Whole insights organisations are established to provide and dissect data on what is happening in the trade. FMCG’s constantly put their minds to how to take the mantle of category captaincy in supermarkets, and how to improve in-store findability. And everyone is putting their mind to e-commerce or direct-to-consumer possibilities with new business empires (i.e. Amazon) created by disrupting and winning in the Place ‘P’ of marketing.

Place is so important because it is about the sale – the final five yards. The goal is generally to convert demand into purchase at the bottom of the funnel, and the link to dollars is obvious and tangible. BUT, the big blind spot for many organisations is the role of Place at the top of the funnel.

Top-of-funnel is about creating brand awareness and subsequently creating associations that form brand image, build a meaningful difference, and drive preference. And for those goals, it turns out that Place is just as important as that TVC that everyone in marketing has been so focussed on all year. In fact, when it comes to achieving brand building goals at the top of the funnel, Place is often more important than all of your paid media touchpoints, combined.

Paid media accounts for about 25% of total touchpoint impact on brand equity[1]. That leaves 75% that isn’t about paid media! Chief among these ‘other’ touchpoints is the consumer’s actual experience with your product – a nice proof point that Mark Ritson and your average Joe parents won’t be surprised to hear. And if you replace your marketing hat with your consumer one, you won’t be surprised either. Your experience of the product itself is what drives your greatest impression of the brand that created it. It is also very strongly related to the second-most influential touchpoint on brand equity – word-of-mouth. Again, no one should be too surprised to hear this. The question is how to use those forces to drive positive top-of-funnel outcomes for your brand (a topic for another article).

The next big influencer is in fact Point-of-Sale (Place)
Take a moment as a consumer to think about this. You may fleetingly come across a brand’s video content within its campaign investment timeframe, but if you’re a regular buyer of a category, you’re interacting tangibly with its brands every time you buy them.

Many of us might struggle to recall the last Nike video creative we saw in Australia (not to suggest that lack of recall necessarily means lack of influence) but many of us can probably form a mental picture of Nike products on shelf, the combined prominence those products have relative to alternatives, and likely the determined pose of a Nike-sponsored athlete looking over you as you consider your purchase. Thus, it’s worth considering if your brand also has any swagger (or conveys your intended brand associations) when it shows up in the consumer’s real world off-screen, because this is a very significant part of your overall brand experience.

Depending on whether you’re in sales or marketing, you use ‘shopper’ or ‘consumer’ to define who you’re trying to influence. But outside the four walls of your brand, you’re selling to ‘people’ who don’t make the distinction between these siloes. Evidence shows that the brands with the greatest top-of-funnel impact on these ‘people’ are those avoiding disjointed outputs across siloes to create synergy between touchpoints. Does your POS presence look like it came from the same brand that made that TV ad, or better yet, does it enhance the impact of your ads? No doubt different people are in charge of these different touchpoints, and your answer is probably ‘could be better’.

So, my advice for the marketing department …
Next time you’re considering dropping a few thousand on another banner ad, consider if the money is better spent on a boozy lunch with the sales team. Get to know the challenges and strategies at work in their world and figure out how to create symbiosis – because they likely have more direct influence on your brand KPIs than you do!

Check out his earlier articles on why price was the forgotten P and is now the hottest P of marketing too.

Ryan France – Head of Brand Strategy, Kantar Australia

Kantar is the world’s leading marketing data and analytics company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology, we help our clients understand people and inspire growth.

[1] Analysis of Kantar’s global and local Connect touchpoint database