In our previous column, you learned how to successfully move inventory and the strategies you can use to optimize your placement. In this article, we’re diving deep into the world of advertising! We’ll break down the different types of advertising, why they’re important, and the secrets you need to know to get the attention of top retail buyers.

Let’s get started!

The importance of advertising

Advertising plays a crucial role in CPG marketing. This is highlighted in the fact that “roughly 23% of CPG companies’ budgets were devoted to marketing efforts in early 2023,” making it the highest share of ad expenditures among all U.S. industries.

Overall, advertising in any form serves three primary purposes:

  • Inform
  • Persuade
  • Remind

Advertising also works to serve several strategic functions because it:

  • Differentiates your product in a saturated market
  • Builds brand recognition & loyalty 
  • Drives sales & market share gains
  • Educates others on your products’ benefits & uses
  • Establishes and reinforces your brand image

When it comes to CPG marketing, advertising helps inform consumers and retail buyers about your brand and exists as a platform to educate people about the benefits it provides. It allows you to make a more intimate and emotional connection with your audience.

Then, once you establish credibility with your audience, advertising can be a vehicle to persuade users to purchase your product or service by demonstrating the value it can bring to their lives.

From there, advertising in the form of retargeting or remarketing ads serves to remind past visitors and buyers of your brand by offering new features, promotions, or added value.

Types of advertising

To effectively advertise your brand, it’s essential to understand the various types of ads and choose the ones that align best with your brand’s goals. Some common types of CPG advertising can be broken down into 3 categories:

Traditional advertising

This includes all of your efforts on advertising mediums like television and radio, streaming, print, and out-of-home advertising on billboards, transit stations, and other high-traffic areas.

Digital advertising

This should include a wide variety of paid ads, from search and display to social and video as well as organic content marketing on social. You should also leverage native advertising on other platforms to directly reach retail buyers.

Experiential & event marketing

This is where you give your audience an immersive, hands-on experience. Seek out opportunities for pop-up shops, product sampling events, sponsorships, and tradeshows that can boost brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing around your product. CPG tradeshows are a great way to advertise your brand and make connections with more buyers. Advertising in these spaces can take the form of event sponsorship, elaborate booth displays, personalized swag, or product samples.

The challenges of effective CPG advertising

In the competitive CPG market, several challenges can hinder successful advertising. Being aware of these challenges will help you overcome them:

  • Ineffective targeting and messaging: It’s critical to ensure you know who your audience is and the language they will respond to. If either is off, you can run the risk of creating advertising that doesn’t engage or inspire action or that is delivered to an audience who may not have any interest in your product or service. Additionally, carrying a consistent message across all channels will help you establish more credibility in your advertising.
  • Marketing to a wide audience range: Because CPG brands can be sold in a wide range of stores, both online and in-store, it can be difficult to pinpoint a successful advertising strategy. (This is why extensive audience research should never be skipped!)
  • Aligning marketing efforts with audience behavior: Understanding the ways in which your target audience will buy your product is crucial to demonstrating your brand’s value to retail buyers. It requires researching how the intended user of your product prefers to shop and anticipating how their buying behaviors will change over time. Detailing this in your strategy will ensure you’re advertising on the platforms your audience uses.
  • Balancing short-term sales pitches with long-term brand building: Finding the right balance between short-term sales pitches and long-term brand building in CPG advertising is a delicate tightrope walk. It demands crafting messages that cater to immediate consumer needs while reinforcing brand identity. Effective resource allocation is also vital; an overemphasis on short-term gains can jeopardize long-term growth and vice versa. To succeed, a holistic approach is key, where short-term wins align with the overarching goal of building a lasting, trusted brand presence. This equilibrium ensures that each immediate sale contributes to the enduring legacy of your brand in the CPG market.
  • Standing out visually: It’s no secret that the CPG market is one of the most competitive. Not to mention that the nature of the media landscape is always changing, requiring you and your brand to think and act quickly. Developing the right creative and product design that speaks to the user experience is a big challenge all brands face. CPG brands must have compelling visuals that are easy to identify and speak to their audience’s interests in order to compete with the wide variety of brands vying for attention.
  • Making an emotional connection: Advertising can only reach its true potential when it has the power to make a lasting emotional connection with your audience. This can often be the hardest part of the advertising process as it requires careful consideration of your strategic goals, unique brand story, and predicting how users will interact with a given piece of content.

If that all sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry! In the next section, we’ll fill you in on the secrets successful CPG brands use to anticipate and beat these challenges.

The secrets to CPG advertising success

While the perfect advertising strategy will look different for every brand, there are a few key secrets in the process that can help you get the most out of your efforts. Here are some of our favorites!

  1. Know your target audiences’ purchase drivers

For CPG brands, it’s vital first to understand the emotional and rational purchase drivers that compel them to buy. This should include not only the purchase drivers of consumers but also the retail buyers looking to stock products.

  • Emotional purchases drivers: Identifying emotional purchase drivers requires a deep understanding of your target audience’s behavior, motivations, and the emotional aspects that influence purchasing decisions.
  • Rational purchase drivers: Identifying rational purchase drivers involves understanding the logical and practical factors that influence a person’s likelihood to use, promote, or find value in your product.

Learn more about purchase drivers in Volume 1: How to Influence Buyers.

  1. Compelling brand stories

Your brand story is a big part of what sets you apart from your competitors and helps consumers connect with your product on a deeper level. It should communicate your brand’s:

  • Mission or purpose 
  • Vision or promise 
  • Values
  • Unique selling points that make you, you.

If you’re still in the brand story development phase, be sure to read Volume 2: Branding the Breaks Through the Clutter!

  1. Consistency

One of the most important aspects of successful CPG advertising is to remain consistent. That means having a consistent message, a cohesive look and feel in your ad creative, consistent posting, and carrying that same energy over all the platforms where your ads live. Being agile and adaptable to marketplace shifts will ensure your message always stays relevant to your audience.

  1. Engaging content

Engagement is about more than just tracking vanity metrics like the number of followers your account has on social media. It’s about analyzing how consumers engage with your content.

To get the most engagement, make content that feels natural to the platform you’re advertising on and offers information of value. Consumers don’t want to feel like their natural social media scrolling has been interrupted by an inauthentic post. So be sure to use language that speaks to them personally and offers helpful insights over sales and promotions.

  1. Influencers

Influencers can be a powerful tool to propel your brand forward. They can help your content reach new audiences and create a link of trust between their followers and your brand. It’s important to understand the different types of influencers and which ones may be best for your brand.

  • Influencers by size:
    • Nano-influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers): Despite having a smaller social media following, nano-influencers possess specialized knowledge in a particular domain, leading to a high level of trust among their followers.
  • Micro-influencers (10,000 to 100,000 followers): Micro-influencers hold a larger following than the average individual but haven’t reached celebrity status yet. They often have a niche focus and maintain strong engagement with their audience.
  • Macro-influencers (100,000 to 1 million followers): Typically discovered through internet-related activities like YouTube or TikTok, macro-influencers are specialists in their respective fields. They boast a substantial following and can drive significant engagement.
  • Mega influencers or celebrities (1 to 5 million followers): Mega influencers are renowned celebrities, such as singers, athletes, or actors. With a vast audience, they possess immense influence and reach on various social media platforms.
  • Influencers by content:
    • Entertainment influencers aim to do just that–entertain! They lean into lifestyle elements to portray a wide variety of categories, from travel and photography to fashion and gaming.
  • Educational influencers produce content that will help consumers learn about specific products, services, or lifestyles. This can be anything from health & fitness to parenting and from mental health to recipes.

Whichever route you choose, always remember to select influencers based on your advertising goal and overall brand story. Ask yourself: does this influencer feel like they are a good representation of your brand and who you are? If the answer is yes, prepare a pitch and reach out!

  1. Referral and word of mouth marketing

Just as influencers can establish a line of trust with their followers, referrals and word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing can be just as effective in increasing brand awareness, especially for small or local businesses. In fact, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer.

  • Referrals: According to Sprout Social, referral marketing is a form of advertising in which businesses encourage customers to recommend their services, products, or experiences to other people.

Encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews on your website, social channels, Google, or Amazon is a great way to leverage free advertising that will connect current customers with new ones. With the data you collect, you can strengthen your advertising strategy to establish social proof that will be critical in persuading merchandise buyers to invest in your product.

  1. Volume of mentions 

Successful CPG brands use social listening to measure the volume of mentions of their brand or product name. A best practice is to measure overall mentions of a specific name before launching advertising, document the results, and then measure the measures again after your advertising campaign has been completed. This will help give you quantifiable data that demonstrates how successful your ads were in steering the conversation online.

In addition to the volume of mentions, it’s also important to carefully examine the context of the conversation around your brand or product name and then quickly analyze the data, determine if the sentiment is positive or negative, and use that information to continue shaping your messaging. This data collection can be used as proof points to merchandise buyers that your brand is connecting with the marketplace. 

  1. A/B testing

Performing different layers of A/B testing with your ads (and retail buyer pitches) is the best way to determine the value and success of ad content. A/B tests allow you to test different ad variations, determine which language or creative your audience responds best to, and then optimize your future campaigns with those learnings. 

Utilizing data and analytics for targeting and personalization will help you maximize ROI by giving you a better idea of what’s working best in each ad environment.

Launching & measuring advertising

Before launching your advertising campaign, it’s vital to begin by setting clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). That way, you can continuously compare the results you see with the goals you set. It may seem easy to “set it and forget it,” but you’ll get much better results and smarter use of your budget when you measure results and optimize accordingly.

Here are a few key performance indicators all CPG businesses should focus on:

  • Page traffic (new visitors)
  • Product Inquiry Form Submissions
  • Social Sentiment
  • Social Engagement
  • Info or Newsletter Sign-Ups
  • Location Finder Search Results
  • Return on Advertising Spend (ROAs)
  • And, of course, pitches won and lost. 

Measuring results consistently and watching trends carefully will allow you to pivot as needed and will ensure you keep putting out relevant and resonating content. Additionally, gathering feedback from merchandise buyers directly and adapting accordingly will add another layer to ensuring your marketing is on target.

The art of advertising for tangible outcomes

By following the secrets to effective CPG advertising and constantly measuring and optimizing your campaigns, you can position your brand for success. Remember, understanding your audience, crafting compelling stories, and staying consistent will set you apart in a saturated market.

Here’s to unlocking the true potential of your CPG advertising and achieving remarkable results for your brand!

Be sure to stay tuned for the next (and final) installment of our CPG Marketing Magic journey, where we’ll explain how to bring it all together to define your SMART goals and get the best ROI.

See you soon!

About fishbat

fishbat is a CPG marketing agency specializing in improving visibility, impact, and bottom line for our partners. We have worked with a wide variety of CPG brands across different product categories, from food and beverage to home goods and beyond, each with its own unique set of goals and challenges.

If you’re looking for expert assistance in developing your brand strategy and executing effective CPG marketing campaigns, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our digital marketing agency has a team of professionals ready to help you navigate the branding landscape and achieve your business goals. Together, we can create a brand that truly stands out in the market and tells your unique story.

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