(image via Wikipedia)

Over the last decade, as an industry, we have become brilliant at harvesting the lower funnel. Every prospect who is showing “signals” of making a purchase can be digitally tracked and retargeted from the first flicker of interest to the point of purchase. This tracking has evolved to increase any one brand’s chances of closing the online sale.

But, and it’s a very big but, harvesting doesn’t grow brands. Brands that want to grow must grow their presence in their chosen category and they must find ways to convert increased presence into increased demand.

The agricultural analogy is useful here. A farmer may harvest in August but he or she has had to tend the land and the crop over the previous year to enable that harvest to happen.

To ensure the best crop, the farmer will have selected the right seeds for the soil and climate, ensured that the soil remains irrigated, applied fertiliser to assist plant nutrition, controlled pests, worried about the number of sunny days or frosts and, for more sensitive crops like grapes, tended to each vine manually as the growing season progresses. And, if all these things are done properly, then the farmer should be able to expect a good harvest.

Good brand-building marketing is no different. Brands must be nurtured, positioned, distributed and priced correctly in order to become more demanded by consumers. Only when all these components are aligned can demand be harvested.

This point was recently emphasised by Under Armour who are shifting a greater proportion of its marketing budget on brand and top of funnel activity in order to ‘spend money in the right way’ according to CEO Patrik Frisk (Marketing Week Feb 20).

This echoes a similar sentiment from Adidas who in October 2019 admitted that a focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness led it to over-invest in performance marketing at the expense of brand building (Marketing Week Oct 19).

So, growing the crop is different to harvesting it, and growing the brand is different to collecting the sale. So it’s probably not a coincidence that Byron Sharp chose “How brands grow” as the title for his literary masterclass in marketing. And, if you’ve got this far in this post, it will be clear why he didn’t call it “How to harvest brands more efficiently”. Food for thought wouldn’t you say?