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What does Warren Buffett think about marketing?

The man and his investment style need no introduction, but are you aware of Warren Buffett's thoughts on marketing?

One of Buffett’s companies is a well-established insurance business called GEICO (formerly known as the Government Employee’s Insurance Company – good reason to abbreviate it!). The advertising campaign for GEICO over the past decade has achieved cult status in the US.

Buffett admitted in an interview in early 2016 that the GEICO advertising budget in the previous year was $900 million! When you spot the familiar faces of American sports stars, actors and celebrities, that figure isn’t quite as astounding as first thought.

The advertisements use humour and crazy situations (like an ice-skating sumo wrestler!) to grab the viewer’s attention, make them laugh then deliver a short, consistent message as a call to action. After a decade, this format remains constant and Buffett’s company goes from strength to strength. They didn’t give up after the second or third commercial... they’ve kept refining and delivering the message.

Why is this campaign so successful?

Buffett was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article “How a Gecko Shook up Insurance Programs” as saying, 'I love the advertising. (The ad growth is) sustainable as long as I am willing to write the checks. And I love writing them.'

Wow, how often do you hear someone say, 'I love writing cheques'? Especially for marketing? Many business owners view marketing as an expense, not an investment they love.

But here is an extraordinarily successful and unbelievably rich man, admired by millions around the world who loves spending money on marketing. Could this be how he got to where he is now?

It’s not how much is spent – it's knowing what you're getting in return

To be successful, your marketing needs to be consistent and measurable. Marketing must be tied to sales growth. That sounds like one of those “duh” statements but over the years we’ve witnessed financial advisers implement a great marketing campaign with quarterly newsletters, regular blog and social media posts, seminars, etc – and then forget to measure the results. Six months down the track many quit the campaign saying “it didn’t work” or “it’s costing too much”. In most cases, they don’t even know if those beliefs are true.

It needn't be difficult

A measurement strategy might sound hard, but it starts with three very simple questions:

1.  What do we want to achieve? State clear and realistic goals.

2.  By when? Allow time for the campaign to work.

3.  How will we know if we’ve achieved our goals? Measure the results. If you haven’t achieved exactly what you planned, make some changes, re-implement, then measure again.

It’s pretty much like investing!

There are very few of us who have multi-million-dollar marketing budgets, but it’s all relative. For every $100 you spend on marketing, you should be receiving a multiple of that in return. How will you know if you don’t measure it?

When you have proof that your marketing is working, you will be just like Warren Buffett – maybe you won’t have billions of dollars in your bank account, but you will love “writing cheques” for marketing!

PS. You can check out these commercials on www.geico.com/about/commercials. They’re great viewing!



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