While there may be many consumer opportunities that are important and seemingly appealing, narrowing down the opportunity where your brand can win is essential.
By Bharat Sastry
The e-commerce industry has seen significant traction over time and covid has been a great catalyst. It is essential for e-commerce marketers, whether in marketplaces, subscription sites or online services, to engage with consumers and build a brand. It is therefore essential to have a winning marketing strategy. Here is a simple step-by-step guide for e-commerce marketers under the general umbrella of “Go Narrow…then Wide”.
1. Focus: The first step that needs to be clear is the area of strategic focus for the brand. The area of interest should be narrowed down from a larger set of consumer opportunities. While there may be many consumer opportunities that are important and seemingly enticing, narrowing down the opportunity where your brand can win is key. It requires a thorough understanding of consumer needs and an honest assessment of what the brand can and cannot offer. This is the stage where most e-commerce startups fail as they tend to grow in many areas without understanding their brand strengths and limitations.
2. Brand proposal: Once the area of interest has been identified, the brand proposition or brand message or brand promise can be formulated. It starts with identifying the consumer’s need or “insight”. The benefits that the brand provides to satisfy this need constitute the brand proposition. A great way to frame the brand proposition is to write down the features and benefits that make the offer appealing to the consumer based on insight.
The above two steps are long term in nature, they are seeds you need to sow for the tree that is about to grow. Now is the time to scale up.
…. then Wide
3. Communication: The brand message must now be communicated to consumers. For e-commerce brands, it is obvious that digital media will play the primary communication role. The first step is to leverage the media owned by the brand itself i.e. the website or social media pages or blogs by providing relevant information and building on the content and then leveraging the channels free like SEO and emails to communicate the brand.
message to consumers. Once this is maximized, there is an opportunity to invest in building the brand through sustainable video advertising and performance channels like paid search.
4. Innovation: Consumer expectations are constantly changing and it is essential for brands to innovate to meet them. Identifying these changes and formulating relevant products and services is key to scaling up. For example, the pandemic leading to a change in the behavior of remote working, an e-commerce player in furniture can innovate to offer teleworking solutions. Similarly, a traditional wealth management firm may attempt to provide remote wealth advice, a traditional advertising agency may start creating quick and eye-catching digital videos for their clients, and so on.
The above steps are the water which is regularly needed for the tree to grow and give these fruits. Finally, it is important to measure the effectiveness of marketing. There are many analytical tools and research methodologies to track the effectiveness of a campaign, from tracking the improvement of site metrics to brand studies. Other than these, a great way to measure the effectiveness of marketing spend is to calculate how long it takes for a new consumer or cohort of new consumers to break even and then become profitable. The break-even point is when the profits from consumer purchases equal the marketing expenses.
The framework also implies that marketers should behave differently at different stages. To go further, marketers need to be extremely sharp and choose. And to go further, they must be creative and expansionist. So go ahead with “Go Narrow…Then Wide” and enjoy the meaningful process of growing an e-commerce business and building a brand for the ages.
The author is CEO of Vistaprint India
Also read: Why an integrated brand strategy is vital and how you can develop it
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