Bottom-Up Marketing is the process of developing a marketing strategy within an organization by finding a workable tactic and then building on the tactic to create a powerful strategy. According to bottom-up marketing strategy, the knowledge about the needs of customers lies with the employees rather than senior management
Conceptually developed by Ries and Trout (1989) in a popular book by the same name, bottom-up marketing is advocated by the authors as an alternative to traditional top-down marketing which involves deciding what the firm wants to do (i.e. strategy) and then figuring out how to do it (i.e. tactics) (see top-down marketing).
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What is Bottom-Up Marketing?
Bottom-up marketing is a strategy that begins at the lowest level of an organization or team. It involves employees, departments, and/or divisions brainstorming ways to market their company’s products or services based on customer needs.
Bottom-up marketing strategies suggest that it is more logical for your employees to create the company’s marketing plan as they have direct customer interaction that helps them better understand what customers need and how to meet those needs.
Bottom-Up Marketing Examples
In support of the approach, the authors Ries and Trout provide examples of organizations such as Federal Express, Microsoft, and Little Caesars whose success is explained, according to the author’s research, by a bottom-up marketing approach.
An example of a bottom-up strategy used by Domino’s Pizza in the creation of its strategy is ‘home delivery in 30 minutes, guaranteed.’ In further conceptualizing the approach, the authors consider tactics to be ‘competitive mental angles’ and strategies as ‘coherent marketing directions.’
What is Top-Down Marketing?
In a top-down approach, the senior management of a company would decide what marketing tactics should be used to promote its product or services. It is understood as the traditional marketing strategy that marketing teams used to prefer.
The plans and strategies are then passed down the chain of command until it reaches the lower-level employees. The problem with the top-down strategy is that those at the top may lack the direct customer interaction that those at the lower levels have, resulting in less effective marketing tactics.
Pros and Const of Top-Down Marketing
With a top-down promotion strategy, you might get the following benefits as well as downsides –
- Structured approach: With a top-down approach, there is a clear plan and structure in place which makes it easier to coordinate efforts.
- Faster implementation time: Decisions can be made quickly without having to consult the entire team.
- Less risk of churn when the PoC leaves: As decisions are being made from the top, customers aren’t as likely to feel disconnected even if the primary point of contact (PoC) leaves.
- Lack of customer and product knowledge: Those at the top may lack direct customer interaction resulting in less effective marketing tactics.
- Needs intensive resources: With less specialization, it can be difficult to allocate the right resources needed for an effective top-down marketing strategy.
- Decreased engagement and morale: Without the opportunity to contribute, employees may become disengaged in the marketing process.
- Tight alignment between sales and marketing is inevitable: The two need to be aligned in order for the strategy to be successful.
Pros and Cons of Bottom-Up Marketing
- Better customer knowledge: Your employees who interact with your customers daily are more likely to have insight into their needs and wants.
- More creative and innovative ideas: Employees are likely to come up with more creative ways of marketing your product due to their familiarity with the customer base.
- Better engagement and morale: When employees have a say in how their company is marketed, they are more likely to be engaged in the process which boosts morale among staff.
- Lack of structure: Without a clear plan or structure, it can be difficult for teams to coordinate their efforts effectively.
- Slower implementation time: When everyone is working independently, it takes longer for strategies to be implemented.
- When the primary point of contact (PoC) leaves, the risk of churn increases: When the same PoC has been managing customer relationships, their departure can result in an increase in churn as customers may no longer feel personally connected to the company.
Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Marketing: Which One should you choose for your business?
A lot of businesses today focus on marketing themselves from the top down, especially when it comes to advertising. They so much concentrate on the top executives who sit in swinging chairs behind big desks wearing expensive suits all day.
Today, the consumer market is tired and fed up with the top-down kind of advertising. The target consumer of today expects advertising that will help them relate to the product or service being promoted. They want to relate to ideas, concepts, and persons featured in an advertisement. The top-down marketing system does not help achieve this. Consumers do not identify with the big man behind the big chair. It is for this reason that business today are shifting focus and too they are doing it at a rapid pace.
“Here is something you should know as a marketer, the top-down kind of marketing is designed to make the big man feel good. In as much as his marketing team knows that the techniques and ideas being adopted for an ad are not good, they still go ahead with them just for the sake of impressing the big guy.”
After all, the big man runs the company, likes the advert, and wants to be a part of it. And even though the idea isn’t the best as advertising is concerned; the marketing team goes ahead and features the big guy in the advert just to stroke his ego.
Honestly, it all doesn’t make sense at all, unless you are looking for perfectly wrong sense (what’s that?)
Effective marketing should be all-inclusive and successful companies follow this. It should focus on the people, the target market, and what the business achieves in the long run. It has to ensure that a company meets its bottom line. In this regard, bottom-up marketing is what you should be thinking of; this is the approach you should be taking in marketing your products.
You need to use people that your target market can identify with. People who build your brand, people who toil hard to ensure that your bottom line is achieved at the end of each financial year. These are people who guarantee that products are made available and that they meet the market’s expectations. For effective marketing, you should show these people in your marketing ads.
You might be asking why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Like it’s stated above, the audience you target needs to see adverts that they can relate with. Therefore, using the group of people mentioned in the parish before this does not work in top management positions, the same way a larger percentage of your target audience doesn’t (You should know that in any firm or company, less than 10% of the employees are in management positions).
Following top-down marketing is not something that will put your business anywhere close to achieving its bottom line. It is sheer ignorance and wastage of resources. Unless you have some other hook that can catch the public’s attention, focus on using the people on the frontline.
“In all this, we are not saying that a top-down marketing strategy is wrong. But in as much as it is still a move that can be taken, bottom-up marketing proves to be more efficient in most cases, particularly where recurrent, fast-moving products are concerned.”
Bottom-up marketing ultimately makes more sense, is more reliable, and won’t just be a waste of money. Because after all, 90% of advertising is usually aimed at the general public where very few people work in top-level management or executive positions.
As you embark on adopting a strategy for your marketing campaigns, ensure that you do that keeping in mind the needs and expectations of consumers.
Many successful brands usually start from the bottom up, involving their entire organization in marketing efforts and then they blend it with top-down marketing to create a powerful message that resonates with the public. After all, the people on the frontline are those who can best relate to the customers and their needs!
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