If consumer care is going to help grow brand sales it needs to be funded like a brand marketing activity. We are passionate about helping make that happen and are pleased to share another perspective on how you can better frame consumer care in brand terms. Check out our video on branding for a broad discussion of consumer care and marketing (scroll about halfway down the page for the recording).
One of our most popular blog posts discussed how to frame the 'reach' of consumer care in terms that are more relevant to consumer products business leaders than 'contacts.' Today we will take that line of thinking to the next level and look at how we can describe consumer relations in the common denominator 'currency' that underpins most established marketing measures in consumer products companies - impressions.
Simply put an impression is an 'opportunity to see' an ad or piece of content. The number of impressions is generally assumed to be 'Reach' (the number of people who had an opportunity to see) multiplied by 'Frequency' (the number of times each person may have seen it). If you are interested there are lots of resources to dig further into the topic (I suggest this from the Interactive Advertising Bureau or this from the Media Rating Council or MRC).
Impression counts are sometimes used as a 'raw' marketing outcome measure. But they are often combined with cost to calculate a CPM (Cost Per Thousand impressions) or run Market Mix Models (MMM - a mathematical model that combines consumption data, marketing activity and spending to attribute sales to different marketing programs and calculate a Return on Investment for each).
Exciting stuff - but how is it useful for consumer care? Well its worth understanding how brand management will tend to frame your engagement with consumers, here are two examples:
- If you share that your 'average cost per contact' is $8 when you are describing the business case for consumer care know that brand managers may instinctively convert that to CPM. "$8 times 1,000 = an $8,000 CPM! Our other marketing channels allow us to reach consumers for $10-$75 CPM - this is waaaay to expensive!"
- We discussed framing the size of the consumer affairs audience previously - but when you consider that large marketing campaigns can generate billions of impressions the number of consumers we reach may seem incredibly small.
You can see why sometimes brand teams can lose their enthusiasm for consumer affairs, if we don't reframe our contribution we can seem small and expensive!
Here are three ideas you can use to effectively position consumer care in light of these perceptions:
- 'Equivalize' your impressions: Some brand teams try to put their impressions on a more level playing field by normalizing them to 30 second advertisements - a 60 second ad is worth two 30 second equivalents, a 15 second is worth 0.5. If your time with a consumer averages 6 minutes, you can equate that to 12 30 second commercials! While your brand team may not use this as a measure they will certainly understand the comparison. So rather than "we handle 75,000 contacts a year" describe your operation as "delivering consumer engagement equivalent to 900,000 30 second commercials!"
- Consider a multiplier: Some branding disciplines apply 'multipliers' to their impression counts (while PR associations reccomend against this as a way to measure 'pass along' or the idea that more than one person can read a print article, it certainly persists in that field and apparently in event marketing to name a two). Given what we have seen about word of mouth and consumer care you may consider conducting a simple survey asking consumers how many people they told about their experience and applying that to your description of number of consumers reached.
- Focus on incremental cost: We have all been somewhat socialized to think about 'Cost Per Contact' as a benchmarking figure, calculated by dividing our total department cost by our total number of contacts. While that is a simple, accurate way to evaluate our overall efficiency it may not be appropriate for a discussion with a brand team, where decisions are more likely to be driven by the variable cost of handling one more contact (ie just telecom, labor, postage etc - not department management, overhead, systems and the like). That number is both considerably smaller and a much better representation of the real cost of engaging a single consumer.
There is no right or wrong answer but a familiarity with the basics of CPG marketing measurement and how they might influence the positioning of your work is essential when you are telling the story of consumer care!
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