Our clients on fiscal year calendars are heads down, planning and budgeting for the coming year. And many have asked, “How much should I budget for a branding campaign?” The answer is simple…it depends.
We don’t mean to be flip. It’s a simple question and deserves a thorough response. But because there are no two situations that are exactly the same, and no two clients are the same, we’ve learned these 6 components most often impact budget planning.
If you’re considering a brand campaign in the coming year, please keep these factors in mind.
1. Current versus Desired Market Position
Consider how wide the gap is between your current market position and where you’d like to be. The wider the gap, the larger the investment you’re likely to make in your brand delivery vehicles, including both traditional and digital buys. Remember to consider your market position for individual service lines as well as your organization as a whole.
2. Brand Perception
As a health care marketer, you know the difference between brand awareness and brand perception. As you consider perception, think about how much your audience prefers your brand. What your audience knows and doesn’t know about your health system will shape your efforts to move from their current view of your brand to the desired perception. Accurately gauging your audience’s brand perception will forecast the likelihood of your audience embracing your brand messages. First impressions prove difficult to shift—low perception scores may require higher funding for brand campaigns.
Once you’ve determined how your audience perceives your brand, you can take a look at how to identify their unmet needs to improve the brand experience. Learn how in this article.
3. Competitive Threat Intensity
Your competitors may have several faces; these will impact both your strategy and tactics.
The Quiet Giant Competitor
This market leader advertises very little. As a result, they may not immediately retaliate against your campaign. When budgeting, develop an appropriate set of brand delivery tools and media mixes to reach your audiences consistently while chipping away at the competition’s brand position. Read more about how the quiet competitor often behaves.
The Election-Night Competitor
This competitor operates as a political campaign, seemingly always on air, and will likely retaliate with their own strong messages once your campaign launches. Use aggressive media buying strategies to keep your messages top-of-mind with audiences and prevent the competition from drowning you out.
The Dense-Cluster Competition
Systems in dense urban markets with multiple competitors need to identify the top competitors to budget against. Focus on select systems that will threaten your branding effort. While you shape your campaign largely with these nemeses in mind, you will need to account for the frenzy of noise bombarding audiences from all the players in your market.
4. Media Market Cost
High-cost media markets challenge the commitment and stamina of branding campaigns—yet achieving preferred brand status requires a real investment. Because of its compelling storytelling, television remains the gold standard in delivering branding messages; this medium can lure an eager prospect to online platforms that provide detailed information and calls-to-action.
Remember, there have been tremendous shifts in how we position our brand and tell our stories through video. In this year’s Health Care Marketing Trends Report, we took a look at the changes we’re seeing in video as a primary storytelling vehicle.
5. Size of Health System/Markets Served
Health systems with hospitals in multiple markets must apply a proper budget determined by ranking media markets from highest to lowest in cost. From there, weigh the budget allocations based on the possible gains in each market after branding. Following this process, you may discover that your most expensive media market should receive less of the total percentage of your budget. Your analysis may prove you’ll gain more perceived share of positive audience opinion (and long-term market share gains) by focusing on lower cost markets with fewer competitors.
6. New Brand Entity/Enhancing Existing Brand Entity
If your branding campaign serves to announce a recent merger, acquisition or another new brand enterprise, more funding is needed to establish the new brand in the start-up phase of the brand life-cycle. Pre- and post-campaign research should also be budgeted to measure the branding saturation and to determine follow up campaign directions.
The budgeting needs assessment for new brand entities doesn’t discount the importance of properly funding campaigns for existing brands. Existing brands have their own unique challenges: namely, changing perceptions.
While it would be easier to define a set dollar amount for every brand campaign, it simply isn’t realistic. If you’d like help thinking through how to prioritize your budgets, media buys and strategies for next year, please give us a call.