How to use insights to get ahead of incumbents.

Sunrise Session hosted by Tracksuit

It’s no easy feat to make it to a Sunrise Session in the middle of winter, but 80 brilliant marketers did anyway! 💡

Tracksuit’s Mikayla Hopkins spoke on the big problems marketers are facing and why making the case for brand investment has never been more important. She also shared Tracksuit’s recently published Brand Health Benchmarks Report, helping shape the global language for brand health and norms of growth. She was joined by Chanel Clark, Marketing Manager at Ārepa, who took us on her journey in marketing, plus all the valuable lessons she’s learned over the past decade.

Mikayla has summarised the key lessons shared as well as some of the questions that they didn’t have time to answer on the day.

What's the big problem?

Between you and I, it’s a wild time to be a marketer or founder. Markets are sobering, wallets are tightening and the problem is this desperate shift to harvest limited demand with short-term sales activity i.e pulling everything from brand and throwing it all into performance marketing. This "convert at all costs" mentality is skewing us too far into short-termism, devaluing our brands and creating major issues for long-term, sustainable growth.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are undeniable, irresistible pressures pulling marketers towards this activity

  • it’s all measurable and manageable with the likes of tools like Google Analytics
  • it’s all immediate and acts as the backbone of communication to the C-suite
  • and these channels, such as Google, Facebook, have given us access to a giant direct response advertising eco-system

I’m not saying there’s no place for short-term activity. It shouldn’t be a binary belief system of "this" or "that". I’m saying, just as Tom Roach shared in his now-famous 2020 Essay, The Long and Short of it, that this Long versus Short is the false dichotomy.

The truth is, marketers have two jobs: to harvest the demand in the market in the short term with conversion activity. And to build future demand for the brand among people who aren’t ready to buy just yet, but who will enter the market later. Both of these jobs are equally important.

And this has always been true, but the reality is with rising costs and price inflation, businesses are looking to seek cuts and save margins.

But we’ve seen this play out before.

Marketers who fall into this trap of only thinking about short-term marketing activity will experience massive increases in CAC, as customers become more expensive and difficult to find, there will be lower valuations, and decreased growth rates.

Without brand, conversion activity stops working as there is no more demand to convert.

How do you make a brand strong?

Strong brands make you think and feel something!

When it feels like there are a million and one things to do to build your brand, start with the basics. If you’re a start-up, the job to be done is to make it super clear what your product is and does - focus on the 'what'. It's also critical to use malleable messaging to help find the most powerful proposition (is it taste? sustainability? that it's natural? NZ Made? Drives the best returns?)

Build your distinctive assets, stay consistent, get feedback from every customer (especially the ones that don’t like you) and use this to shape, and refine your brand.

When I think about how my favourite brands behave in the world, they’re consistent across every touch point, make me feel something and feel like an extension of who I am or who I want to be. They build salience through reach and regularity. They also have communities that provide ample value (and aren’t a breeding ground for sales pitches and product pushes). Their socials make me feel the same way that their customer service team does. Their product or service does the same.

How do you think about conversion measurement vs brand? If we know what the value of tracking conversion is, what’s the real value of being able to track brand?

It’s easy to track the sales/performance metrics in any business. But most businesses don’t have key information about how well known their brand is or whether people feel positively toward it. At Tracksuit, we believe that without knowing these things, and without knowing them in relation to our competitors, it’s hard to diagnose our issues and opportunities or to plan how to address those (for example if you’re at a similar level of awareness to your competitors, but have much lower consideration, then this tells you that you need to spend less budget simply driving awareness, and more on becoming better understood and more well liked among your audience).

The level of awareness and consideration our brand has is a key factor in how much we’re able to sell, and how efficiently – people are much more likely to buy from brands they’re familiar with and feel positively about.

Remember the quote I shared by conversion giant, Facebook?

“Companies without a strong brand eventually exhaust their existing demand, and because they haven’t created any future demand by growing their awareness, their success plateaus.”

-2021 Facebook Research Group.

The ROI on performance marketing (or conversion) next year will be heavily impacted by how well we built the brand this year. So we’d better know how that’s going.

For more on this and brand measurement, check out our Co-Founder's thoughts here.

Can performance marketing build brand too?

Every interaction a client has with your business affects what they think and feel about your brand. So performance marketing plays a role in this, absolutely. If there's one thing to read on the long and short of it, make it this.

How is the tracked data collected? How does it tie to Privacy First?

This is 1st party data! We survey hundreds of people a week from our panels (the same ones Amazon and Shopify use) of millions around the world to update your 'always on' dashboard with fresh data to help you understand how your brand stacks up in the minds of consumers.

Does this only apply to big brands? How can we build with small budgets? How can I measure brand without a tool like Tracksuit?

Brand is fundamental at any point in the journey. It’s a well-known fact that traditional brand tracking can cost upward of 100k, making it out of the question for small, high-growth brands. Tracksuit’s dashboard ranges from 14 - 17k, making it radically more affordable.

I like the view Matt Rossi, one of our brand champions and Head of Marketing at Eucalyptus shared in a Tracksuit blog: “I believe early-stage brands should be looking to drive some sort of action with all layers of their marketing. So [before Tracksuit] we would mostly look for behavioural results like site traffic, consults and orders as a result of brand activity.”

But all growing brands reach a point where brand tracking becomes essential. “This approach obviously doesn't give you a sense of how your brand is being received or what your top-of-funnel awareness and consideration performance look like, relative to competitors. These metrics are often leading indicators of downstream behavioural outcomes, so are just as important to track,” Matt says

Any Kiwi podcasts you’d recommend?

Watch this space for a Tracksuit podcast (all about… you guessed it, brand), but the ones I have on repeat, which are not limited to NZ, are Business is Boring, Black T Shirts (start with this cracker of an episode, with Claudine Cheever, the VP of Global Marketing at Amazon, who talks about brand with a "small b") and Marketing Against the Grain, hosted by Kieran Flanagan (SVP Marketing at Hubspot) and Kipp Bodnar (CMO at Hubspot). In particular, this episode on tying the lift in brand KPIs to a lift in business KPIs.

Also, it’s not a podcast, but my favourite ‘marketing book’ at the moment is James Hurmans’ Future Demand. It’s only available on Kindle at the mo - but I promise to update this post once there are more physical copies.

What ratio of long term vs short term is optimal? Assume this would vary from B2B to B2C to FMCG etc.

Robert Fazekas, Campaign Manager at SkyCity (and a great marketer) commented the following on one of our recent LinkedIn posts, “The starting point is Les Binet and Peter Field’s work that examines the long and short. They’ve got some category-specific advice but generally, the dream state is 60/40 but if you can’t do that, it’s best to determine how much you can commit to for a period of years and maintain that.”

We share the same philosophy at Tracksuit.

How are you actively measuring competitor vs client data i.e what creates the brand percentage of awareness, consideration, conversion, usage?

Our Quant team (the market research experts) define a category through a qualifying question. For example:

I do some or all of the household grocery shopping and I've brought pre-packaged salmon in the last month.

We then sample a nationally representative sample across age, gender and region and weight this data to the latest census. This makes up your total market size (e.g those people who fall within “category”) and metrics are calculated on this.

Here’s a screenshot of the funnel dashboard:

Do you track unprompted awareness? Also why do you favour prompted over unprompted?

For some bigger brands, yes we do track unprompted awareness (the percentage of people involved in the category who are aware of the brand without prompting).

Both are important but often small, but high-growth companies start with zero to very little unprompted awareness.