The ‘react and repeat’ trap and how to avoid it

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The ‘react and repeat’ trap and how to avoid it

By Jamie Graham, client solutions director, Isentia


Short-term versus long-term campaigns have been a hot topic for discussion among marketing and communications leaders over the past few years. The growth of real-time consumer data has enabled a rise in reactive marketing and can be invaluable for more immediate campaigns, but it’s crucial not to overlook its importance in brand building over time.

When we work with businesses at Isentia, we always start with the end: by focusing on what they are trying to achieve in the longer run and understanding what overall success looks like for them. Organisations need to be consistent in their messaging over time, otherwise they risk getting stuck in a cycle of ‘react and repeat’.

Take Dove for example, the beauty products business is the poster child for smart marketing. It has successfully managed to combine a range of data in its global brand building programme ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’. The campaign was based on an analysis of women’s thoughts about beauty and which aimed to change perceptions around how they could feel ‘beautiful’. It integrated marketing, communications and advertising into a consistent vision for the brand, and ensured smaller short-term campaigns fitted into the long-term strategy.

It’s a model other businesses would be wise to follow, and once they have a vision in place they need to be versatile along the way. This is where short-term approaches come in. In the case of Dove, this involved category-specific campaigns that boosted awareness and consideration of their products alongside their overall brand building.

In the era of algorithms, we’re seeing customers, whether they’re in the market for beauty products or something else entirely, demanding personalised services. No one wants to be treated as generic. Media insights, as well as market intelligence and CRM, can enable campaigns to be customised for different audiences. They can be designed to best appeal to your target audience at a granular level.

The data can also help businesses to react quickly, and change their approach if necessary, as campaigns evolve, audiences respond and external events impact on the best-laid plans. Media analysis, for example, is a powerful tool that can show how your campaigns are resonating you’re your audience. This can be anything from real-time reactions on social media through to how the news agenda may affect the direction of your projects. It allows you to see where the conversation is going and get ahead of the curve. However, there must be an overall strategy and goal guiding these decisions.

Too many people are in a hurry to hit short-term goals without laying foundations for the enduring health and growth of the business. The temptation – and pressure from the sales team – may be to shift resources from brand building investments to marketing and communications campaigns that produce instant results. However, a sole focus on chasing the quick wins will lead to inconsistency and create a lack of trust. Businesses must recognise that strong end goals, rarely take short, or direct, routes.

There’s an abundance of data available – it is all about getting it together, taking a step back, and asking yourself what you want to get out of it. That’s when data is at its most powerful.