management-consultancyAre you finalizing corporate, marketing, and brand development budget priorities for the upcoming year? Many of our brand consultancy clients are faced with the issue of having to do more with less – attract more customers, launch more products, refresh their marketing materials – all at a lower cost.

In our consulting work, we’ve found three specific areas to look to for improved efficiency.   Focusing on just these high priority areas can free up significant funds that can be used elsewhere to drive sales:

1.   Have you clearly defined and prioritized marketing vs. consumption targets?

The strongest brands recognize that being all things to all people results in a murky brand positioning.  As the saying goes, if you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.

To address this issue, it is useful to classify your various customer groups as either 1) marketing targets or 2) consumption targets.  The marketing targets are the groups you’ll want to focus on in brand strategy development.  They are often highly involved in the category – often the heaviest users – and set the highest hurdles in meeting their needs.  Consumption targets, on the other hand, tend to be less involved in the category, even though in total, they may account for the larger share of the revenue.

Think of the marketing target as the center of the bulls-eye, with concentric circles extending out from the center.  Who is at the center of your bulls-eye?  Who are you building your brand for? By explicitly targeting and meeting the needs of your core marketing targets, you’ll attract interest from the much broader consumption groups as well.

One of the most difficult aspects we find in our brand consultancy projects is not deciding who to target, but rather, deciding who NOT to target. Click here for more information on customer segmentation and the importance of target selection.

2.    Do you have a clear brand architecture strategy or present brands in an ad hoc manner?  

One of the richest areas for freeing up significant marketing funds relates to brand portfolio management. As a brand consultancy, we find that many organizations have far too many brands receiving far too little investment to be effective.  The spending then becomes diffused over a broad, diverse set of products and services, and these dollars are often wasted.

It’s usually far better to “put more wood behind the arrow” by adopting a clear, consistent brand architecture strategy that favors an overarching master brand, with a select few sub-brands targeted at a specific product or market segment.

Apple is a classic example of how to apply a clear, consistent brand architecture.  The Apple corporate brand sits at the top, with strong sub-brands in Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.  They have also effectively branded various features and “ingredients” – such as Apple Care, Siri, Magic Mouse and many others – that provide structure to their product strategy so consumers can “make sense” of what they offer.   Each brand has a role and the sum of the whole is greater than any one part.

BMW is another example of how to construct a strong brand architecture.  BMW obtains economic leverage by investing at the corporate brand level, allowing the company to spend less money on marketing individual model brands.  Compare this to how General Motors, Chevrolet or Ford markets a collection of individual model brands, which results in inefficiency in brand marketing and messaging.

So ask yourself, is it clear to your customers how your products align?  Which brands would you like to emulate in brand architecture development?  Click here for more information on brand architecture. 

3.   Do marketing budgets recognize the shift toward inbound marketing from outbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is receiving a lot of interest as companies begin to harness the power of digital marketing and the social media that surrounds it.  The core concept makes sense and when done properly, can dramatically reshape how your company spends its marketing resources.  Often, this results in shifting money away from traditional media like TV, radio and print, to more efficient inbound efforts – think online marketing, social media, blogging, and email marketing.  So you can move from broad-scale marketing efforts to highly targeting marketing, down to the individual, and save money in the process.

Of course, any shift in marketing strategy needs to be seeded in the realities of your business.  Not every industry or company will benefit equally from inbound marketing.  Much of this depends on industry structure and customer purchase dynamics within a particular category.

As you consider your own corporate budgeting process, consider which of these three areas might make sense for your organization to tackle next year.  Each area has the potential to uncover far more realized savings than the number of resources required to investigate these issues and devise a strategy for addressing them.

EquiBrand is a brand consultancy that specializes in these and other marketing strategy issues.  For more information, please call or email Tim Koelzer at