How to maximise growth in tough times, and why agencies need ‘honest conversations’ with clients

Dentsu media agency, iProspect, has explored the elements businesses should take into consideration while setting commitments to performance marketing in uncertain times.

The second instalment of its Brand and Performance whitepaper series, ‘The Reality of Economic Turbulence’, highlights research results based on previous economic downturns that consumers will start to grade their purchases into four key buckets: essentials, treats, postponables and expendables.


When asked whether brand spending can be categorised in similar logic, chief strategy officer for iProspect, Sam Cousins, said the answer is about “not investing budget into a market with low demand”. 

“Some brands fall into the trap of mining for leads and focusing budget in what they consider an essential area such as performance,” she told Mumbrella.

“I’m not sure it’s simple to categorise spending in such a way, what we should be doing is looking at that perfect blend through the funnel, where is the right intersection of brand and performance? We can only do this with some very honest conversations with our clients.”

The report provides five recommendations for brands looking to maximise growth in tough times. Firstly, it recommends advertisers commit to long-term spending plans earlier in the year, in order to secure more favourable pricing and value from media owners.

To find the balance between long-term budget commitments and budget flexibility, Cousins suggested companies have open conversations “about what is possible now without sacrificing where you brand needs to go”.

“We can’t rely on consistent good times; the last three years have shown us we need contingency plans for everything.

“We reframe our conversations with clients to think about moving from product-centric to consumer-centric and leaning into the WARC effectiveness guidelines by reframing brand as future demand. I find those are conversations most CMOs have better traction with internally.”

Secondly, brands can also consider combing different channels from the same sales house. Cousins added that this could mean “maximising budget with one publisher with economies of scale on things like production, content creation, events etc”. 

Thirdly, brands are encouraged to optimise attention metrics and locate the audiences where they spend the most time. With a shrinking budget, the channel mix needs to tap the customers where they are most engaged.

Fourthly, trialling out new ways to communicate with consumers can have surprising effects on a campaign’s return of interest. Brands that have room for maneuvering can try out previously overlooked channels with measured risks.

And lastly, advertisers should look to leverage audience data across all of the media, all media types. This requires further leveraging the marketing mix modelling to identify the environments and the formats that perform best and deliver the outcomes they require from their media spend.


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