The reasons are actually quite simple. Lack of marketing skills at brand management level and the widespread habit of using only bits and pieces of the marketing process instead of all of them that are actually there to ensure a reduction of risk. Add to that another bad habit of basing advertising campaigns on a big idea alone and it's little wonder that an advertising budget becomes more of a lottery gamble than the investment is it supposed to be.
My main occupation is conducting marketing audits, because for the reasons given above, there is a good market for it in this country. It is, in my opinion, the only way of finding out the status of your marketing effort and the efficiency of your advertising.
With the global economic chaos and talks of double-dip recessions continuing, its no wonder that South African businesses are concerned about what is in store for them in the months and years ahead.
So, there is no better time than to consider that in marketing terms the best possible way to ensure that the future does not hold any nasty surprises is to go back to basics.
The first thought to eliminate is that temptation to look for a magic bullet - a miracle of marketing genius to give you that much needed bottom-line boost. Life does not work that way. Sure, it does happen, but the odds in favour of you finding that magic bullet are worse than the odds on winning the Lotto.
History has shown that when it comes to brilliant ideas in business, these are almost always born out of a regimented process and quite a bit of boring homework.
Essentially, one has to start by having a look at what you are doing. Where you are spending a marketing budget. Looking critically at the actual return on your investment and more specifically whether what you are doing now is as relevant as it was when you started doing it.
In almost every marketing audit I have done, I have found that savings are able to be made out of existing marketing budgets - from 10 to 20 per cent for companies with really small budgets to 40 to 60 percent for big spenders.
Marketing strategies and their related budgets are a bit like oil filters on car engines. At first they work extremely efficiently but in time they become clogged with bits and pieces that should not be there and although the engine still feels like it is running smoothly, excessive fuel is being used up and wear and tear is setting in.
Once the actual efficiency of current strategy and budgeting has been determined, then next step is to look at the competitive environment, target market mindset, changes in consumer behaviour and most importantly what forms of marketing communication are still delivering efficient service.
I have found that when one goes back to basics and starts looking critically at what does and does not work today, many companies find that at the cost of marketing has in fact reduced.
So, ensuring for the future by going back to basics not only puts marketing efforts in perspective but most certainly make marketing expenditure a lot more efficient and cost-effective.
If you are the kind of person who understands why it is important to have your car serviced regularly, then you will understand why it is also necessary to have your marketing effort serviced regularly as well.