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Smart Marketing Delights

Koen Pauwels, Jan 11, 2021

Smart Marketing is a unique book by Dan White, co-creator of BRANDZ, Link, CrossMedia and other successful marketing measurement approaches at Kantar. In a very short time, Dan manages to not only convey most of the good marketing wisdom out there, but also do it in a very visual and easy-to-read style. I especially liked the ‘marketing mix eye’ (above), the media priority matrix, how marketing allocation differs by budget, always-on marketing and the different approaches to innovation.


The media priority matrix combines consumer involvement in your category with your brand’s user experience. As shown in my previous papers, owned media is especially effective when the consumers is involved enough to seek out your brand’s information. Paid media and PR are necessary to guide the consumer to your paid media if your brand is average in the category, while exceptional brand experience allows you to let your current customer raise interest (earned media), after which sampling has an easy time to induce trial. When consumer involvement is low in the category, paid media is a must, and sampling works great when the brand experience is good enough to convert into a regular customer.


How do you communicate to a manager that marketing allocation should differ by the size of the budget? When businesses are very small, the best use of their money are inexpensive ‘low reach’ channels hailed by ‘growth hackers’. The entry threshold is low for those channels, but they only reach a small part of the target population and hence suffer from diminishing returns. In contrast, ‘high reach’ channels only work well above a certain threshold: spending a few $ hundreds on TV a week is not going to break through the clutter. Above this threshold however, they are effective and efficient in reaching a large part of the target population. Therefore, ambitious businesses have to start investing in high reach channels to hit the next growth level.


Once you are an established brand, how do you convey the intuition that continuous ad investment is necessary for keeping that position? Marketing mix models have an easier time picking up how sales increases are driven by marketing changes than in showing the effectiveness of always-on advertising. Again, the above visual expresses the right idea to either finetune models or run limited-scale experiments with shutting down advertising channels to quantify their benefits.


Smarter Marketing also discusses business models and innovation, with above Venn Diagram showing interesting examples: AirBnB and Dell reinvented their industry’s business model, with  little creativity or new technology. Lego and Tesla combined creativity with new technology, but did little on the business model. Amazon, Dyson and iTunes innovated on all three accounts.


Besides marketers who want to get smarter, I think the book is also of great value to technically-oriented colleagues who find themselves in marketing-related roles but without marketing training or experience. In a short read, it teaches all the basics of modern marketing, and hence I would read this ‘Smart Marketing’ book before my own Smarter Marketing with Analytics and Dashboards’, which assumes the reader is familiar with key marketing concepts and wants to improve company-specific actionable insights. Together, these books offer practical and complete advice on how to retool your marketing for a better tomorrow.

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