Search is on the increase, which brand specialist Peter Field has labelled “short-termism undermining long-term success in advertising”, but this opinion piece by sbFlourish CEO Jessica Sullivan (pictured below) explains in true ninja style how to use the intel from one to leverage the other.
Today’s marketing ninjas don’t think of spending on search and brand as two separate sales funnels, but in true ninja style use the intel from one to leverage the other.
Why ninjas are so awesome
We all know that ninjas are some sort of elite warrior, but many of us have not learned the secret of why they were so valuable. Ninjas came into being during a period of Japanese history where a class of feuding warlords were battling for control. Enemies were everywhere and there was the constant forming and breaking of alliances. The task of the ninja was to be constantly collecting intelligence on the intent of other warlords so that the powerhouse conventional forces of the warlord could be mobilised at the right place and the right time for maximum effect. Ninjas were valuable because they generated data on intent that was a force multiplier for the warlord’s conventional troops.
Why you need a digital marketing ninja
It turns out digital marketing ninjas are valuable because they work just like the ninjas of old. Digital marketing ninjas work with both search and brand, using the data on intent from search to act as a force multiplier for brand.
With a digital marketing ninja, the question isn’t “should I spend on search or brand?” Rather, it’s “how do I most effectively use my search intel on buying intent to force multiply the power of my brand?”
Ninja marketing secrets
Ninja marketers don’t just know the value of brand – they know the role of brand in a world dominated by search. The reason search has become a dominant force in marketing spend is that search activity is a great indicator of intent. Bidding for ad space in search makes sense because it positions offerings to a customer at the beginning of the sales funnel. The challenge in using search alone, however, is that competition for ad space drives up the price per click and makes the offerings of competitors clear to consumers.
Get search and brand to work together
The secret of being a marketing ninja is in combining search and brand together to act as a force multiplier in influencing customer choices. A click in search is really data about intent that can be used to target brand spend for greatest effect. This means personalised marketing that uses the data generated by search to send the right brand message at the right time to influence customer choice.
Brand has long been a tool to influence decision making when customers are faced with an excess of choice. Search presents customers with a choice overload, and is therefore an ideal place to use brand to influence outcomes. What a marketing ninja does is make sure that customer data from the search is used to tweak the delivery of the brand message in cross-channel marketing so that it resonates with the customer and leads them along the customer journey at a critical time.
Build customer offerings over time to outflank search
While the initial goal of a marketing ninja is to get search and brand to work together to capture the customer, what they are really doing is playing the long game of outflanking search and building a direct relationship with customers. Search is a powerful initial tool for brands to capture a customer into their sales funnel, but is only the beginning of building a 360-degree view of their customer. Real marketing ninjas ensure that every subsequent interaction with the customer across all modes is captured to better predict future customer needs and intent. That way, the band can be strengthened by relevant offers and incentives in a personalised marketing approach to meet customers’ individual needs. Customers have no need to use search when brands are already giving them what they want.
Knowing a marketing ninja when you see one
You can tell a marketing ninja from a standard digital agency by the way that they are obsessed with customer data. They don’t see search as a competitor, but an integral source of data that can be harnessed to lead customers into an engaging and ongoing customer relationship.
Importantly, they encourage brands to develop a whole-of-business approach to the collection and analysis of customer data so that it can be used as a force multiplier to build and exploit the brand. In the end, marketing ninjas are all about getting and using intelligence to make sure brands’ resources are spent at the right place and time for maximum effect.
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