The difference between cutting

through and getting lost.

It’s not brain surgery. A great idea is only as good as its execution. Or reception. Right place, right time is always going to be a determining factor. But sometimes lobotomies do happen. Sometimes downright crises take over, like when Nike and Accenture had to unravel their sponsorships of a psychotic Oscar Pistorius and a philandering Tiger Woods.

But that’s just taking delight in unintended irony. What you really want is to plot your best-case path to purchase, ensuring that your spend is effectively hitting all the right chain-reaction of chords along the way. The big spenders, of course, will have a multimedia approach with far more robust budgets. Hit your market over the head often enough from every angle and you’ll get your message through, soon enough.

But most brands don’t enjoy profligate financing. Nor should they. Money works best, and hardest, when it’s strategically focused, rather than wantonly sprayed.

A known tactic is to take targeted ownership of a weekly programme, print issue or regular edition. Actually, taking the viewer or reader hostage is more like the form, where you’re subjected to precisely the same ad or message over and over again. This can perhaps be penny wise and pound foolish, spending big on space domination and yet killing the opportunity with dull, uninspired repetition. Whatever happened to the days when a campaign meant an entertaining series of executions, rather than one, usually crowded, overplayed message, plugged to death? Your media positioning might very well be the right context, but without engaging and entertaining diversity of execution, there’s the probability that the programming or publication rubs viewers and readers precisely the wrong way. It is also fairly surprising that media owners allow advertisers to engage in this type of hijacking. Big money can be brash. So can algorithms.

Tracking previous online purchasing is, obviously, a neat way to re-market with relevance. It’s the efficient prerogative of ecommerce. It demonstrates that we’re on the side of the shopper, that we really value your spending interests. “You may also like …” to consider that pre-programmed categorization cannot possibly know my state of mind when I’m purchasing. Yes, it’s selling, but it really doesn’t have my customer engagement at heart. This is not personalization. It’s optimization. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Pertinent cross-selling is perhaps easier for for banks, say after an airline ticket is bought by credit card. It shouldn’t be too long before the “Need forex?” SMS comes through. Or your airline’s partners usher you not-so-gently towards great accommodation deals. And the partner car hire team gets in on the act. Contextually, it all follows. It’s relevant and it’s all value-added cross-selling.

Perhaps the most contained and controlled opportunity for right-time context is that most important medium of all: the good old store. Whether we’ve responded to an enticing promotion, or we happen to be shopping with a trusted brand, our very decision to spend time inside a store is the prime opportunity to present an entire offering and solution. Wardrobe updates are a salesperson’s gift. A DIY project is ‘game on’ for making sure you have all the right tools and products. Buying a computer? There’s no end to the add-ons and accessories that you’re never sure you might need. But the context for relevance and value-add purchase is right then and there. Contrary to sales motivation, it’s not about selling up or down. It’s about selling right. Empower the customer in the context of making their own purchasing decisions, and you won’t just have sold more, you will have bought a trusting customer.