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How to deal with the STRESS of being a Brand Leader

1602788784_1393529605When I was in University trying to figure out my career, my mom said “what about an actuary?”   What a great career:  you make a good living and you have the longest life expectancy of any career.  The life expectancy is directly related to the lack of stress.  Instead I chose Marketing, where the jobs are highly stressful.  Plain and simple.  I spent 20 years in marketing, and no matter what the level, whether as a new Assistant Brand Manager or a VP with 20 years of experience, I found it highly stressful job.  As an ABM, I felt constantly reminded that “not everyone gets promoted” so I worked my ass off just to get that Brand Manager job.  As you move up, through each promotion, that insecurity never goes away, but rather it pushes you extra hard.  At the VP level, you are still reminded that “most CMOs only last 36 months”. The stress never ends.  But I loved every day of my marketing career.   Even with the stress.

Here are the 6 degrees of stress that Brand Leaders face:

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures you will face. There really is no exact answer. As my Economics prof once said “economics proves what happens in real life can actually happen in theory as well”.  I love that answer because marketers drive those supply and demand curves. And similarly, we have to use a combination of fundamentals and instinct to make the right choices. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results. The consequence of stress is usually decision-making first.  So take your time, slow down your thinking, map out decision trees, use tools to help you support your instincts. And make a decision. Most marketers faced with A or B, try to find a way to choose both, but that just depletes your resources by spreading them against two options. 
  • If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. The key to making sure you can hit your results is to make good projections. You should always be doing regular deep dive analysis to ensure you know what’s going on, and can summarize the key issues. When faced with struggling results, reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed as a motivation to dig deep and fix the business in front of you.  As the leader, if you can put a time frame on how long it might take to turn things around, it can help manage your teams stress and work load level.  (eg.  For the next 3 months, we’ll need all hands on deck as we turn around the extra strength business)  The focus helps cut the ambiguity
  • At various times in your career, relationships can cause you a lot of stress. Organizations have natural conflict points with conflicting priorities.  For most marketers, the sales team can be a stress point, as they try to close any short-term gaps while you try to drive longer term equity.  Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the other person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away. Have regular touch points, to hear them out.  I used to have regular lunches with the key account sales directors, mainly to hear them out. I would get nothing during the lunch but a ton between the lunches. I only figured out this late in my career, after years of butting heads with sales at all stages of my career. The other conflict is with your ad agency.  They value pride in work more than they do results. If you can find that happy medium where they are motivated to do great work that drives your results, then you’ll have great advertising. Don’t treat them like a supplier you pay.  That won’t work.  You have to inspire, motivate and energize your agency.  Always tap into their pride.
  • Time Pressure is almost the opposite of ambiguity. Many marketers think being creative means you can have some weakness on being organized.  Not true.  You have to be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way.   Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. And you can actually use time to your advantage, if you can stay cool in the face of deadlines, you can use those time constraints to get everyone focused on the simple answers.  Time can focus your team, as long as you stay cool.  If you get stressed, everyone just freezes.
  • Managing your career:  The best marketers are ambitious and want to get ahead. CPG marketing is still an “up or out” mentality, which puts added pressure to keep moving up.  But your career changes at every stage of the marketing career, so there is a constant change on the pressure.  When you’re a junior marketer, it is all about doing–and making it happen through subject matter experts. Here’s where you also to manage your boss, to make sure they are aware of what you want. I recommend you think of your career as three different aspects:  skills, behaviours and experiences. And as you move up, you need to make sure you are well rounded in each of those.  Identify the gaps, and look to close those through your career choices.   
  • Your personal life:  During your career, there will be tons of things happen in your personal life that can trickle into your work life. Your personal life during your career will be full:  you could be getting married, buying a house and having kids. But you have to be able to compartmentalize and almost separate the personal from the professional life. But just like not taking your personal life to work, you can’t take your work life home.  It’s even harder today to compartmentalize with smart phones that never turn off. But, a career is a marathon, not a series of sprints. 

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. slide123At every new job, I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter. We’ve promoted some great ABMs and watch them struggle and wonder if we made a mistake. But the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival) The biggest gap is that you forget to use your instincts. You spend so much of your time trying to absorb all that is coming at you, that you reach for the basic process instead of your brains. You might be working on a project for weeks before you think to even look at the budget. You work on a promotion for Wal-Mart and then think “oh ya, I should talk to the Wal-Mart sales manager and see what he thinks”. Or you say something in a meeting you think you’re supposed to say, but it doesn’t even resemble anything that you think, feel or believe in. That’s the idiot curve. And it will last 3 months. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict. Feel free to let me know which way so I can add it to the list. (I won’t show names)

I also found at each new level, it got lonely during the first few months.  You don’t know your new peers and it takes them a while to accept you.  Your friends, who might have been former peers treat you differently now.   

Stress will happen, but be ready for it.  The best way to deal with uncertainty is to make sure you  organized and ready to handle it.  Here are some ways to get organized and manage what is controllable:  

  • Hit the Deadlines: Don’t look out of control or sloppy. We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other.
  • Know Your Business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open Communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.  
  • Listen and Decide: While it’s crucial that we seek to understand, it’s equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control Our Destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion.
  • Regular Feedback for Growth:You should always take feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

It’s crucial that you learn to deal with stress you move up, because the stress increases with each level.  Being unable to handle stress will eat you alive and likely limit your career.  To me, one of the best stress relievers has been the work itself.  I pushed myself to love the work.  Being satisfied helped my stress level.  Whenever I settled for OK, it ate away at me for months, regretting I settled.  

Love what you do.  Live why you do it.  

 

To read more on managing your marketing carer, read the following presentation:

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How to drive more Attention in your Brand Communication

Slide1I always use my instincts as my first gut reaction of the advertising.  When the agency shows me an ad, I don’t want any set up, don’t read the brief, don’t tell me “this is really funny”.  Unless we are prepared to buy a 30 second spot to explain our ad and put it right in front of our Ad, then we must watch the work as though we are the consumer.  But even after 20 years and hundreds of spots, I don’t rely on just my instincts.  I do the thinking time.  And the tool I usually turn to is the ABC’S.  I want to make sure we create an ad that attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.   

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
How to Drive more Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  All those testing or tracking results start with Attention for a reason, your Brand Link scores are a ratio of those that the ad captured.  Driving more branding of a poorly engaging ad doesn’t really do much.  

You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  Most of the media options still, are passive mediums where the consumer is more engaged in the content, and the advertising needs to be interruptive.  No consumer has ever said “what are you doing tonight Bill?”.   “Well Bob, I’m going home, grab a bite to eat and watch some TV ads”.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the best ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
  6. Be Part of the Content:  As much as consumers are engaged in the content, not the advertising, then having your brand front and center and part of the story can be a great vehicle for driving attention. Watching a movie and seeing them using a Mac makes the product seem cool, or driving a red Mini Cooper in the Italian Job made me want that car.  Or creating content on line that engages like Toyota’s Swagger Wagon or the brilliant BMW Films site from 10 years ago.   
  7. Be Sharable:  We are seeing so many amazing story-telling ads getting passed around on social media vehicles.  Most are designed for that very reason, many of them 2-3 minutes in length.  These long videos are great for engaging the consumer emotionally.  

This Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad is a great use of being incongruent.  This extremely quiet spot, was aired during the Super Bowl, when all the other ads are loud, slapstick style ads.  The use of photography only, the great voice of Paul Harvey with “so god made a Farmer” gives you shivers.  

 

 

Budweiser’s Wazzup ad was so different that it jumped off the TV screen.  The language was authentic, connecting with how guys tend to talk to each other, when no one else is around. 

 

 

Lynx ads are so entertaining they become content you want to watch.  This spot from the mid 90s with Jennifer Anniston is hilarious.  

 

 

 

Toyota’s Swagger Wagon videos have been shared by millions, highly entertaining but extremely insight driven of how former “cool people” turn into parents and their motivations change.  

 

 

To this day, there has still never been an on-line idea as powerful as BMW Films for creating on-line content.  What BMW did was give famous directors $1 Million each to make short “films” that make the BMW car the center point of the spots.   These are highly engaging, shareable videos.  These were 10 years ago now, and I keep hoping someone beats these one day.   Here’s Guy Ritchie’s version, with his good friend Clive Owen and wife Madonna.  

 

 

 

You have to earn their Attention, before telling them the rest of your story.  

 

Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S:  How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 

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Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 

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Six Habits of Great Brand Leaders

facebook adHaving spent 20 years in the CPG world of marketing, I’ve seen almost a thousand Brand Leaders over the years.  On the way up, I tried to emulate what I thought were the best traits and avoid what I saw as weaknesses.  And at the senior level of marketing, I hired tons of Brand Leaders, promoted many and even had to fire a few along the way.  I’ve been a Brand Coach the past few years, working closely with Brand Leaders.  And I consistently see these six habits at any level, that separate those that are GREAT from those that are just GOOD.

Habit #1:  GREAT Brand Leaders push for focused choices, using the word “or” and rarely using the word “and”.  

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are.  If you present an either-or situation to most brand leaders, they struggle with the decision, so they say “let’s do a little of both”.  But in reality, what separates out a great brand leader from the pack, is great brand leaders know that decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. At the core of business, Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product itself.  It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment).  Forget the mathematical equation, ROI just means you get more out of it than you put into it.  Every brand is constrained by money, people, speed and ideas.  It becomes all about focus, leverage and finding that gateway point where you realize more from what you do, it than what you put into it.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

  1. To be GREAT, you need to focus on a tight consumer target to make sure you can get them to do what you hope and love you for it.  A new way to think is to find those consumers that are already  highly motivated to buy what you have to sell and get them aboutus_roi_70812766-300x228to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you.  Look at how marketing testing is set up:  we test among the mass market and see how many we can persuade to use your product. The reality is that leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out.  It’s better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.  I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees.  That’s not a target.  How can you have a ROI if you’re spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE?  The only thing missing from that target is tourists and prisoners.  You have to matter to those who care the most.
  2. To be GREAT you need to focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area.  You really only have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique.  Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to no one.  Today they estimate that consumers receive 7,000 brand messages a day.  Wow.  How many of those 7,000 do you engage with and digest each day?  Maybe 5.  And yet, in your creative brief you think 3 or 4 messages is the way to go.  You have to focus on one message. When you ask a room full of Brand Leaders, tell me one word that defines the Volvo brand:  half the room yells out SAFETY.  Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety positioning since the 1950s not just externally but internally the safety positioning guides every decision.  That’s focus.
  3. You need to focus on very few strategies.  The most simple strategies center around Penetration (getting new users) or frequency (getting current users to use more).  Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more?  That’s a choice you must make, yet I see so many Brand Plans with both.  Even worse is when I see creative briefs with both.  These are two different unrelated strategies. When you look for new users, you have to convince someone who already knows about your brand and get them to change their minds away from their current brand.  When you try to get more usage, you have to convince someone who has already decided how to use your brand, to use it differently, changing their habits or rituals.  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Go look at your plan and see if you are making choices.  Because if you’re not, then you’re not making decisions.  

When you focus, four things happen for your brand:  better Return on Investment (ROI); better Return on Effort (ROE); stronger reputation; more competitive and an aligned organization that helps create an experience that delivers your reputation.  So next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong.  All you are doing is depleting your resources by spreading them across both choices.  And you’ll never see any movement on your brand so you’ll never find out if you were right or wrong.  Make the choice.  blog ad 1

Habit #2:  GOOD Brand Leaders represent the Brand to the Consumer, but GREAT Brand Leaders represent the consumer to the Brand

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. bbi twitter ad My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.  

Able to walk in their shoes and speak in their voice?  Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Live and breathe insights about your consumers.

Habit #3:  GOOD Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their facts, but GREAT Brand Leaders are fundamentally sound with their instincts.  

I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter–in fact I train Brand Leaders on everything from strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs.  But that’s a starting point to which you grow from.  If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired.  So Good Brand Leaders do a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job.  They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments.  But GREAT Brand Leaders are able to take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts.  They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement.  It’s not that great marketers have better instincts, it’s that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and not shut them down because of what the facts might say.

 

Habit #4:  GOOD Brand Leaders try to do it all themselves.  GREAT Brand Leaders don’t do anything by themselves but they inspire others to do great work

I was one of those Brand Leaders that spent the first part of my career trying to do everything, and the second half of my career trying to do nothing.  inspireI wasn’t slacking off but I finally figured out that the secret was to inspire others.  I fully admit that I was much more successful when I learned to do nothing, but do it really well.  Instead of giving people answers to follow, give them the problems that requires their expertise in solving.

As Brand Leaders, we don’t really know much about anything.  We know a little about this and that.  But purposefully, we are generalists.  And then if we surround ourselves with experts, we owe it to ourselves to ask for their help. Put another way:  when you tell people what to do, there is one simple answer: YES.  When you ask people what they would do, you open yourself to hundreds of solutions you might not even have imagined.  

The next time you have a problem, instead of giving the best answer to the experts, try to come up with the best question and then listen.

Habit #5:  The GREAT Brand Leaders create GREAT Brand Leaders on their team.  

While you might think that having a great product, the right strategy and a winning TV ad will drive your brand, the long-term success of your brand is dependent is how good your people are.  plan adIf you have great Brand Leaders, they will be on top of your business, they will make the necessary strategic course corrections, they will create better executions that connect with consumers and drive profitable growth for your brand. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to make sure you have a strong marketing team in place.  GREAT Brand Leaders understand the very simple equation:  better people means better work and that means better results.

Habit #6:  GREAT Brand Leaders have a desire to Leave a Legacy

I’m always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say “well, they aren’t all good qualities”.  The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them.  That’s not a bad thing, as long as you can manage it and the ego doesn’t get out of control.  I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them.  When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level.  Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years.  When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader.  What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on?  What will be your legacy on your brand?   

Always Push for Great and Never Settle for OK

 

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Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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The one way Brand Leaders can get better Advertising.


Because of my role as a Creative Coach for Brand Leaders, I always get asked “so what makes a Brand Leader good at Advertising?”  Most people are surprised by the simplicity of my answer.  Brand Leaders who are good at advertising can get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air.  Think about that for a bit because that answer is a lot more complicated than first meets the eye. It’s not about how creative you are.  It’s not just picking the right ad either.  

Since Brand Leaders don’t really make the ads, how can one Brand Leader get better work than another?  Well, it starts with your managing your options.  When your agency presents work to you, you really only have three options you can say:

  1. Yes, I approve this ad.
  2. No, I reject this Ad.
  3. Maybe, but here’s some tips to make it even better.

I love when I’m in a room full of Brand Leaders and I ask:  “If you don’t make the advertising and you can only answer yes, no or maybe, then how can you as a Brand Leader, get better advertising?”  The room goes silent, almost like they’ve never been asked this question before. Then the answers start to flow:

  • “keep rejecting the bad ads until they get better ones”
  • “get a new agency”
  • “make sure you give detailed feedback on what to fix”.

Then I say:  “Those answers might you in saying NO to bad ads and MAYBE to ok ads, but how do you get the ads that you want to say YES I approve, are amazing ads instead of just good?”  The room goes silent again, as all the Brand Leaders are stumped.

And then I give my answer:  You have to inspire your agency to make great work.

There’s disbelief.  “Don’t we pay the agency?  We are the client. So why do we have to inspire them?”

Well, let’s look at the simple math.  Most Brand Leaders only make 1 ad per year. inspire Most agencies make 100s of spots per year.  Yet you need  your 1 ad to be great, so you can drive your brand’s results.  The agency needs 5 ads out of 100 to win agency of the year, and about 5 to put in their pitch presentation to try to get new business.  I know I keep changing the question, but maybe the better question for you is “how do you get your ONE ad that you will make this year to be one of the FIVE best ads that your agency will make this year?”

You want to get your agency’s best people to want to work on your brand and you want them to present their best ad ideas.  You want the agency’s best people to go all out, put all of their passion into the work, stay late, call in favors, get the best directors and best talent to want to work on your ad.  

I’m changing the question one more time:  So how do you get the best people at your agency to want to work on your brand and give their best work?

Inspire them.

The best creative people want an opportunity to make great work.  And if they sense you’re the type of client who will enable them, they’ll be attracted to working on your brand.  The best creative people at your agency want problems to solve. They don’t want your answers. At every stage of the process, just give them a new problem they can solve. Don’t say “make it blue” but rather say “how do we make it more bright?” They know great creative has risks and they want to see you willing to take chances.  

Slide1The best account people want to be respected and appreciated. They are always caught in the middle between you and their own creatives. They know their creatives can be a pain in the butt.  You would do wonders for your relationship by not being a pain in the butt as well. They want to see you fight for the work internally, knock down barriers, get your management aligned and be passionate about the work at every stage.  They want you to know how hard they work, and want you to acknowledge their impact.  

The best agencies want a client who wants to make great work.  They want you to show it off as much as they want to. Agencies are more driven by the emotion and pride than they are results. You will get better results if you can tap into the personal pride of your agency.  

Your agency wants you to make work that you love and not settle for work that you think is OK.  I remember struggling one time to give feedback.  1899963_10153777664745332_750304591_nAnd I finally said, “I just don’t love it” and I felt  guilty, like I was telling a girl “it’s not you, it’s me”.  But the reaction of the agency surprsed me because they said “we don’t want to make work you don’t love and the fact that you need to love it makes us want to make work you love” and they pulled the ad off the table.  To me “I love it” is the highest bar you can set.  Because if you don’t love it, then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  

The last question:  if you knew that showing up as a better client to your agency would make the work even better, then would you show up differently?  I hope so.

Because that’s how a Brand Leader gets better advertising.   

 

At Beloved Brands, ask us how we can act as a Creative Coach for you, helping you and your agency get to great creative Advertising 

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

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At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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Worst Ad Ever: I promise I would never let you make this ad

If you made this ad, you should be fired.  If you are the Brand Leader, this did nothing for the Lexus brand.  If you are the agency, you let your client down–and likely they are now about to get fired. 

 

Advertising looks easy, but it’s not.  

Good Advertising is not random, it is well planned. The best Advertising is an expression of strategy, that should have a goal for the brand.  It should also have a target market, supported by a key consumers insight that connects with the target.  And it should serve up the main benefit through the advertising.   bbi twitter adAdvertising is commercial art, which really means it’s half art and half science, but it is never all art.  That’s called a museum, not my TV set. Advertising is not “out of the box” creativity, in fact it is a form of “in the box” creativity, where the strategy and creative brief create a box for the creatives to find a solution.  The best creative people at agencies are not blue sky thinkers, but rather problem solvers.  

I come at this from the vantage of a fellow client.  I’m not an Ad Agency guy, never having worked a day at an agency in my life.  But I do give coaching on Advertising for clients, and I’d never ever let you make this spot.  In my role, I get asked a lot:  “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”.  I always think people are looking for some type of magical answer, but the answer I give is always very simple yet if you think about it very complex:  “They can consistently get good advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air”.  

This Lexus ad should have been rejected!  When I look at the Lexus ad above, I should almost be able to write the brief and at least answer these questions:

  1. Who Do We want to sell to?  (target)
  2. What are we selling?  (benefit)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (RTB)
  4. What Do We want the Advertising to do?  (Strategy)
  5. What do Want people to do?  (Response)
  6. What do we want people to feel?   (Brand Equity)

I have no idea of the target, the benefit or what they hope the advertising does.  I don’t even know what they want people to do.  Lexus competes with 3 other brands with very well-defined brand positions:  BMW is all about performance, Mercedes owns luxury and Volvo screams safety all the time. While Lexus came into the market with stylish designs and at a new reasonable price, I’m no longer sure what the brand stands for.  (Lexus is my favourite car I’ve ever owned so far)  

Finding your Difference is not easy

good-vs-different-1I’m always pushing to make ads that are unique, but there is a fine line you have to walk between good-different and bad-different. To be good and different, you need to make what you do really interesting.  This Lexus ad is somewhat different (more weird than different), but it is awful. The ad has nothing to do with the consumer, nothing to do with the brand. It hides the product so much that you would think the client and agency both feel there’s nothing really great to say about the brand.  Can you find advertising that shows how much consumers love the brand?       

The car brand that consistently does Different-Good is Volkswagon who finds unique ways to showcase how much love their consumer feels for their brand. Here’s a couple of great examples for VW:

The ABC’S of Advertising 

Here’s a potential tool you can take into the room that is very easy to follow along.  You want to make sure that your ad delivers on the ABC’S which means it attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.  

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
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Attention

Buying media and putting something on air does not attract attention for your ad.  Why would consumers want to listen to what you have to say.  strategy adYou have to EARN the consumers’ attention.  The best way to grab Attention is to take a risk and do something not done before. Here are the 5 ways to attract attention.

  1. Be Incongruent:  This is a great technique to get noticed is by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching.  A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them.  Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.   kitkat
  2. Resonate:  Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or their truth about how they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them:  Strike the consumers emotional cord, by making them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained—so entertain them.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different:  As much as Movies,  TV music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.  Be an albino fruit fly!!!
  5. Location Based:  Be where Your consumers are open and willing to listen.  The Media choice really does impact attention.  Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
Branding

There is an old advertising saying “half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half”.  Coincidently, the average brand link is 50%.  Our goal should always be to get higher.  The best Branding comes when you connect the Brand to the Climax of the ad.   It’s not about how much branding or how early the branding arrives.  

  1. Be Part of the Story:  in the spirit of big ideas, how do you tell a story, using your brand.  It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  2. Is it the Truth:  It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you are….then the brand link won’t be there.  People will discard the ad.
  3. Own the Idea Area:  Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else. 
  4. Repeat:  don’t be afraid of building your brand—and the simplest way to get branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.
Communication

Communicating is about selling.  Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.  The best way to Communicate is through Story Telling that involves the brand.  The modern-day world of the internet allows richness in story telling.  

  1. Start a Dialogue:  If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  2. What are you Selling?  You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth.  Focus on one message…keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.drill
  3. Powerful Expression:  try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling.  This visual can be leveraged throughout
  4. Find Your “More Cheese”:  Many times its so obvious what people want, but we just can’t see it or articulate it. 
  5. Sell the Solution—not the Problem:  Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution that consumers want to buy. 
Stickiness

We all want our ads to stick.  You need to adopt a mindset of “will this idea last for 5 years”.  The Best way to Stick is to have an idea that is big enough.  You should sit there and say is this a big idea or just an ad?

  1. Dominant Characteristic:  things that are memorable have something that dominates your mind (e.g.:  the red-head kid)
  2. How Big Is the Idea?  Its proven that a gold-fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl.  The same for ideas.
  3. Telling Stories:   While visuals are key to communicating, in the end people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals that are designed to stick. 
  4. Always Add A Penny:  With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.  Avoid duplicating what you’ve done…and try to stretch as much as you can. 
  5. Know Your Assets:  There has to be something in your ad that stick Know what that is and then use it, in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

Yes, the Lexus ad is beautiful shot, likely very expensive–both in production and media.  But it’s so subtle, it won’t catch attention, there’s no way it’s going to brand link or really communicate.  Strike that, since I’m still not sure what the ad is communicating, there’s no way it will communicate.  Add all that up and it won’t stick at all.

At Beloved Brands, ask us how we can act as a Creative Coach for you, helping you and your agency get to great creative Advertising

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

 
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At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 
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How to lead a motivating Year End Review for Brand Leaders

BBI Learning LogoThe better the people, the better the work and in the end the better the results. 

As we come up on the year-end, it’s that time of year when we nervously sit down with our bosses and find out how the year went.  For most of us, it’s one of the most dreaded parts of the job, for both those delivering and receiving the news.  But helping to grow our people is one of the most essential parts of the Leader.  No matter how good your strategy or product is, without the greatness of your people you’ll never achieve the results you want.  We all have gaps and we should all be working on closing those gaps.  Performance Feedback is an essential role in the growth of our people.  But without pointing those gaps out and coming up with a plan, then the person will never really improve.

A challenge to you: if there are any surprises during the meeting, then you as a leader are not doing your job.  As the VP of Marketing at Johnson and Johnson, I had one-on-one quarterly performance check ins with all my direct reports.  And when I realized that my directs weren’t following my lead, I made the Quarterly Review process mandatory for everyone on the marketing team.  It’s my belief that marketers can grow faster than we think–but they can only grow with timely feedback.  Those quarterly meetings were honest and informal discussions–which made the year-end review very easy.  I also emailed out the written review document 48 hours ahead of time, giving people the chance to digest all the thoughts and to come prepared ready to discuss each point.

As a Marketing Leadership Team, we spent our greatest efforts around managing the people. We talked people performance in every one of our weekly meetings.  The directors were encouraged to bring up people examples of those who were shining and those who were struggling.  If one of the other leaders were not familiar with those that were shining, we’d set up a process or special project where they could become more aware.  We ranked everyone on the team once a year plus a mid-year check in on the rankings.  You have to be diligent in managing your team.

Skills, Behaviours and Experiences

Marketing Skills: Brand Leaders should be measured on the Core Marketing Skills.  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 30 Core Skills for a Brand Leader that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 30 core skills fall under the areas of:

  • Analytics
  • Brand Planning
  • Briefs
  • Advertising
  • New Products & Claims
  • Go-To-Market
  • Leadership
  • Management

You can use this checklist in a few different ways:  1) to see if someone is meeting the needs of the current job–it could be used to set someone up for a performance improvement plan or as a motivation to push themselves 2) for someone who is close to ready for promotion, but you want to close on a few specific areas before the promotion or 3) for your personal assessment to see what you want to work on.

The rating should compare against their peers.  It helps to highlight skill gaps where people should focus their attention.  Any scores in the 1 or 2 are concerning and need an action plan.  The gap could arise because it’s outside of their natural skills or it could just be because it’s been outside of their experience they’ve had.  It’s tough to be good at advertising until  you’ve worked on a brand with advertising.

Leadership Skills:  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 12 Leader Behaviours of Brand Leaders that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 12 leader behaviours fall under the areas of:

  • Accountability to Results
  • People Leadership
  • Strategic Thinker
  • Broad Influence
  • Authentic Style

In the Leader Behaviour space, we all have blind sides that we just can’t see.  This is where the 360 degree feedback can help people to see how they are showing up.  I know that as a Director, I was a Driver-Driver that caused me to have behaviour gaps around Influence and Style.  I had the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway” and I wasn’t getting what I needed from the strategy and accountability I was hoping for.  Once I was able to identify it and work on it, I was able to see a big improvement in my performance and the results started to pay off as well.   Without closing that gap when I was a director, I would not have been promoted and would have honestly been unable to lead the entire marketing team.

Experience:  Many of our gaps as Brand Leaders comes from not having the experience.  When managing others, expect quite a few mistakes in the first few and you might not get fully there until your 5th direct report. When sitting in the hot seat of advertising, you’ll start to realize just how complex it can be–you’ve got to stay on brief, keep the creative team motivated, make judgement calls at every stage of the process and keep your own management on side.  And at every level, you’ll start to notice that the pressure gets higher–whether it’s push for results, the ambiguity or meeting deadlines through your team.  Each of these takes experience.

With  your best people, make sure you identify the experience gaps they have and be fair to them with the next assignment.  It’s far too easy to keep relying on a person’s strengths but it’s more important that you round out that person’s experience.  If they advance too far without covering off those gaps, they may find themselves struggling later in the job.  I’ve known newly promoted directors who had very little advertising experience coming up that all of a sudden found themselves on a desk with lots of advertising.  Their team even had more experience than they did.  Regular people reviews can really help identify the experience gaps that people might have. 

 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising. We do training on all skill levels of marketing, and we provide coaching for leaders wanting to improve.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you to be a better brand leader.
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Ten Things I wish I knew when I was a Brand Manager

I’m a pure marketing guy, with 20 years in brand management in consumer packaged goods companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, General Mills and Coke.  I loved marketing, yet many times my ambitious got the best of me and I tried to get ahead too fast.  I was a make it happen type guy sometimes pushing too hard to go too fast and leaving a debris of casualties along the way.  I wanted people to know I was smart, so I suffered the “smartest the room” syndrome where I talked more than I listened.  Here the the 10 things I wish I knew when I was in the hot seat of the Brand Manager role.  

  1. I wish I knew that leadership was more about follower-ship.  Too many Brand Managers, myself included think that leadership must be a visible person charging out in front of everyone.  The problem for many is when you turn around, no one is following you.  The power of leadership is when you are able to motivate, inspire and challenge everyone to be as great as they can be.  Realize that everyone on your team wants to do a good job, the leader taps in the personal pride to enable them to reach the full potential of their greatness.
  2. I wish I understood that brand was more than just about messaging to the consumer.  I didn’t realize then that brand did as much work internally as it did externally.  Now, i see the connection internally how the brand idea guides the culture which helps add to the brand experience.  Brand should also guide the R&D team to create new products that fit with the brand idea, rather than just random innovations that we have to figure out how to market.  A beloved brand is based on an idea worth loving and then all the connections of promise, strategy, story, innovation and culture should deliver behind that brand idea.
  3. I wish I listened to my experts more.  At times,  I always thought I had to be the smartest person in the room.  Many Brand Managers face the same issue as they confuse ownership of a brand with dictatorship.  As I moved up and gained experienced, I would actually tell myself im the least knowledgeable person in the room and spent more time listening than talking.  I tell marketers that the subject matter experts you are trying to lead will teach you more than any of your managers.  Listen and learn.
  4. I wish I relied on my own team more.   Many Brand Managers are actually bad managers.  Those poor ABM’s who get some rookie manager that is still thinking more about impressing others than helping the ABM get better.  We all come across that moment when we know it would only take us 15 minutes, but an hour to explain.  While it gets done, no one got better.  Challenge yourself to make your direct reports better.  You have to realize that better people means better work and that means better results.  And I’m a big believer in getting people trained so they have the fundamentals to enable them to perform at their highest potential.
  5. I wish I started with my brand’s consumer and not the product I worked on. When you are assigned to work on a brand, it’s so easy to fall in love with that brand.   And you think more about your product, than you think about you consumer.   I now like to start the other way around, thinking about consumer needs and insights and trying to match them up to what I do best.  Walking in the shoes of the consumer and answering the question of “so what do I get” forces you to shift from features to real benefits.  I also wish I believed more in the balance of building an emotional connection rather than just the rational messaging and strategy choices.  Finding the emotional benefits answers the question “so how does that make me feel?”
  6. I wish I was more grounded in the fundamentals rather than just instincts.  When I came in as an Assistant Brand Manager, I was told that “most of the learning is on the job”.   My first manager was unable to teach me anything so I learned on my own, rather than “on the job”.  I only spent 20 months at the ABM level and with that little training, now I was given an ABM to manage.  Just imagine how little I knew in helping them to get better. The  idea of learning “on the job” is a myth that we need to stop.  There has to be a balance of learning the fundamentals so that Brand Managers are taught how to write brand positioning statements, creative briefs and brand plans, as well as how to judge advertising and media plans.  At Beloved Brands, we run brand training sessions in everything a Brand Manager needs to know:  
  7. I wish I focused more.  As a Brand Manager we all try to do too much.  I wish I tried to do a few things really well, rather than trying to do too many things. Focus is one of the most important things you can learn–you have to take your limited resources (money, people and time) and place all of them against those programs that drive the highest return.  I’m a believer in 3 strategies per brand with 3 tactics per strategy, keeping you focused on the top 9 things you have to do to be successful.
  8. I wish I was able to handle conflict better.  A marketer meets conflict on a daily basis whether it’s with sales, ad agencies or subject matter experts.  One of my best bosses always said “likely, you are both half right” and you need to start from there to figure out where to go next.  I love that idea because not only does it force you to look for compromise, but it forces you to hear out the other person.  Too many times, conflict starts with a failure to listen.  
  9. I wish I wasn’t such an ivory tower marketer.  Time is an easy thing to blame for staying in the office.  But, I should have gotten out more, get in the stores, to the plant, to see customers and to talk directly with consumers. Look at the world through your consumers eyes, walk in their shoes and speak in their voice.  Marketers get caught up in writing the next presentation and working in their office that they turn into the classic ivory tower marketer. And in today’s modern media world, they should be getting on twitter and Facebook to see what people are talking about on-line.  
  10. I wish i wasn’t in such a hurry to move up.  Before I got into marketing, I wanted to be a Brand Manager.  Technically i was only a brand manager for 36 months.  I loved it.  Every part of that job.  And yet i still wanted to move up.  I got my wish, but i think another 2 years at that level would have been ideal.  Be patient with your career, and as long as you are learning, that matters most.  

I hope that you find something in common with this list and that you can challenge yourself to get better rather than just get ahead.  If you have any words of wisdom or tips, please comment below.  

Invest in Your People:  Better Brand Leaders leads to better work and that leads to better Results 

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  gr bbi picOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands how we can help train your team to be better brand leaders.
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While CPG led the way on TV advertising, they trail dramatically on Social Media

From the 1950s to the 1990s, CPG brand marketing teams had perfected the 30 second TV commercial.  Advertising was all about awareness and creating purchase intent by taking what you do better than your competitor and shouting it at consumers over and over again until you could gain market share.   Now in this new world of social media, the CPG brands seem to be struggling the most.   The CPG brands were starting to master that 30 second TV ad, with positioning work, a creative brief, animatic copy testing, full-scale production and then a steady media plan of GRPs.  

But, with digital media and social media, the CPG brands are the brands that are struggling the most.  

I grew up in the CPG space, working for J&J, Coke and General Mills, and I love CPG marketing because in that space the brands aren’t all that exciting so it always took marketing genius to make the most of them and bring a bit of magic to them.  

But as the media mix has dramatically changed over the last decade, CPG Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school marketing, CPG Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.
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But that’s where the problem lays:  how do you get consumers to talk about brands that have very little talk value?  Yes, doing social media for Apple, Whole Foods or Mercedes relies on the fact that consumers are already talking about these brands at the lunch table.  

Types of Brands

But the reason why CPG brands used the type of interruptive style marketing style is because it suited the type of brand it is:  low involvement and low importance.   Looking at the chart below, I call this a COMMODITY type brand.  The other three types of brands are:  Essentials which are lower on involvement but high on importance like banking, pharma or insurance. Indulgence brands, like beer, chocolate or bubble gum, are the opposite of essentials as they have high involvement but really little importance.  And finally, there are high-profile brands, which are high on importance and involvement.  These brands are your favorite part of you every day life such as your iPhone, your latte from Starbucks, the restaurant you want to go or the latest movie coming this weekend.  These brands are the opposite of CPG, they are talked about at lunch constantly and they find it easy to work social media with a huge following and constant news.

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With CPG brands, the tendency is to put the effort into the brand messaging more than the effort into the creative/media.  However, if you think about it, maybe it should be the opposite.  Yes, messaging is always safer and more predictive, but if you need to counter the lack of involvement by making it a higher involvement brand, then it might have to come from the creative.  

Take the Dove brand for example.  For years, they did a good job behind the litmus test and talking about not being a soap.  They were a good brand, still relatively lost in sea of crowded soaps and hand creams.  Dove’s “real beauty” campaign took the brand to a new level far beyond what anyone could expect and is no longer just a soap but a brand that stands for the modern woman.   The real beauty TV campaign is one of the biggest viral ads in history.  And they have been able to get consumers to keep talking about the brand, through social media vehicles mainly through Facebook with 19 million consumers following the Dove brand.   Ten years later Dove is a legendary CPG brand.   While it’s still just a soap, that didn’t prevent the marketers at Dove from creating an idea for the brand.  

A new way to Look at Social Media

Here’s a good summary of the various social media sites out there.  My recommendation is to stand behind the one that best fits what you’re trying to accomplish.

social media summary

Another way to think about the social media options is to match the choice up against the emotional zone where you want to position your brand.

social media emotions

What is your Brand IDEA?

I define a Beloved Brand as “an idea worth loving”.  It’s no longer about a product, but an idea you can convey into the marketplace.  If you can’t get anyone talking about you, maybe the problem is It’s all too easy to sit there with your brand and say “who would ever want to talk about us?”.  That’s a cop-out if you ask me.  The challenge for CPG Brand Leaders is to re-think your brand.  Can you create an idea, a brand purpose and find ways to drive up involvement and importance for what your brand stands for.  Here are three challenges for you:

  • How do you stop trying to make a big deal out of your little points of difference and try to create a Brand Idea for your brand that connects with consumers?   Start with the consumer and find real benefits, both rational and emotional that you can stand behind, rather than just shouting out your product features through the TV.  
  • How do you drive up involvement and importance for what you stand for so that your get talked about at the lunch room table?    You have to understand who are your most influential consumers, the respected mavens within their circle of friends, and allow them to project your brand to their following.  
  • Can you build a Brand Purpose so that you can leverage that purpose as an idea to elevate your brand?   Purpose driven brands (The why) are a growing phenomena and a perfect fit for connecting with consumers through social media.  

While your product might not generate talk value at the lunch table, maybe your idea can be big enough that it will. And when it’s no longer about just your product, maybe your own idea will inspire you in the social media space. 

Maybe the issue isn’t just media.  But have you created an IDEA for your brand to stand behind?  

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

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At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
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How good do your Brand Plans look for next year?

BBI Learning LogoAs many of you hit Q4 and pushing as hard as you can to drive sales as hard as you can to make the year or at least make your latest estimate,  it might be time to wonder how good your plans are for next year.  

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.

The questions you should be asking when you look at your plan: 

Are you trying to do too much?  

The biggest flaw of most plans is they try to do everything, which just spreads your limited resources–both financial and people resources–across too many projects.  You end up doing OK in everything, yet never great at anything.   So you never really see a return on that investment.  If you went to Vegas and put a chip on every number, you’d walk away broke.  With your plan, you have to make the choices on those activities that will drive the biggest return on your limited resources.    My rule of thumb for a one year plan is to have a maximum of 3 strategies with 3 tactics per strategy, which means you’ve got only 9 key projects you need to do next year to be successful.  Contrary to that, if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per,  you’d now have 25 projects that just deplete your resources and exhaust your team’s efforts.  One of the biggest flaws in a plan is trying to drive both penetration for new customers and getting current customers to use more.  Of course you want that, but getting that in the same brand plan will never happen.  

How aligned is your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.   The vision helps guide where you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years.  You should brainstorm things that are getting in the way of that vision, which helps align you around the top key issues your business is facing.  Your strategies should directly line up to these key issues and then have tactics line up to your strategies.  There should be a flow to a well-written plan so that everything sings to the same song-sheet.   Every part of that plan that is not aligned to that flow, should stand out as a sore thumb.  The importance of good flow to a plan is more pronounced when you realize the entire organization has to align behind the plan, not just the marketing team, but every functional area–especially sales, product development, executional agencies and every employee working on that plan.  

How Deep was the Thinking?

I’m a big believer in using my instincts.  But equally so, I’m a big believer in digging in deep and uncovering the real issues on the brand.  My biggest pet peeve is when we make too many assumptions.   A great analysis you should be doing before writing a plan is to figure out the drivers and inhibitors that are happening now on your business as well as the risks and opportunities that could happen in the future on your business.  Look at your market data, listen to your customers and consumers, do the needed market research and challenge everything.  I love doing Brand Funnels because it helps you see what’s slightly beneath the surface on your business.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol where you can–the health measures in our body you can’t see.  The same thing with Brand Funnels where you can see how well you’re doing on converting your awareness into purchase and your purchase into repeat business–relative to how you were doing last year and relative to your competitors.  

How many B.S. Buzz words are in your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.  As a brand leader, you should be the first to call B.S. when you see “drive awareness” and “be relevant” and “create more loyalty”.   All those are great ideas, but let’s be real.  Driving awareness gets you no revenue.  What do you get when you drive awareness?   You get in the consideration set to purchase.  Put that instead. Every brand should be trying to be relevant, but that is the fattest word in marketing.  It’s like saying “nice”.  My best friend is “nice” but Jessica Alba is “nice”.  But not the same type of nice.  I banned the use of the word relevant because once a marketer uses that word, their brain shuts off.  Drill down beyond the buzz word and tell me what your type of relevant you want is, and then put that in your plan.   Loyalty takes more than just marketing–you have to align your entire organization to delivering a brand promise, a story, innovation and an experience.  It goes beyond a marketing tactic, so yes it’s good to have as part of your plan, but if its just a program then I call “BS”.

If you are not happy with your plan, what do you plan to do about it?

Here are some tips to help you to get to a better plan.  

Writing the Plan

Most people get stuck in writing a Brand Plan, because they sit at the computer frozen with writers cramp, over-thinking what to put down, uncertain how to frame it all and unsure how to even write. In the most simplistic of terms, here are the main elements of a Brand Plan and how simple you should keep it:

  • We have some long-term thoughts on where the brand can go (vision) and the special assignment to get us on our way. (mission) And that help shape the things we want to achieve with our brand. (goals) To get started, the brand has different options (strategies) for how to get there and programs that most effectively deliver the choice you make (tactics)
  • We try to find a slice of the population (target) to get them to take an action (expected result) that makes our brand bigger. We then find out what to say and how to talk to them to trigger that action (main message) We need to re-enforce why we can do it and others can’t (support)
  • We then create the most motivating stimulus (product, advertising, sales promotion etc.) to get them to take action and put it in part of their life where they are most likely to hear it and act on it (the medium, launch or channel etc.)

If it is that easy, why do we struggle and how do we screw it up. Maybe it is the fancy buzz words that get in our way of our intention. Instead, start with what you want to do in the plan, not the buzz words of vision, mission or strategy, because those words can get in your way.

One thing I like to do is use 5 key questions to help frame the Brand Plan, the answers help frame everything you need in a brand plan. The five questions to ask yourself are: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be? 4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we need to do to get ready?  With these 5 questions answered, it can get you on your way towards a situation analysis, mapping of the key issues, statements of vision, mission and goals, choices around strategies and tactics as well as the execution and measurements:

From there, you could easily write a Brand Plan as matched up and outlined below:

In terms of analysis, there are so many ways to do it but my preference is to use a force-field analysis of Drivers and Inhibitors. Basically, drivers are what is pushing the brand and inhibitors is what’s holding it back. These are happening NOW.  Then add in the a future looking analysis of Risks and Opportunities.  These could happen in the future.  The simplicity of this analysis helps the next stage of your brand plan, and set up the Key Issues which are focused on finding ways to continue/enhance the growth drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, avoid the risks and take advantage of the opportunities.

I like to put the Key Issues into question format, as a rhetorical question (eg. Key Issue: How do I drive more distribution for Listerine?), because the answer to these questions becomes my strategies (Leverage New products to gain added Distribution in the Food channel).  The better the questions, the better the strategies.  

Not enough plans use a vision and mission statement. They are essential in helping to frame the direction of the brand. Think of the Vision Statement as the end in Mind Achievement, thinking 5-10 years out of what do you want your brand to become. It can be a balance of qualitative and quantitative. And it should be motivating and enticing enough to motivate people to get behind it. The Mission Statement becomes the “special assignment” and is tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is a major milestone on the path towards that vision. While a vision focuses on the future state, the mission focuses on the movement the brand must undertake to go from present day to future state.

In terms of writing of the Brand Plan, my recommendation is focus on the top 3 strategies and then map out 3 tactics per strategy. That’s a total of 9 tactics per year, which is plenty to put all your money behind. Having only 9, allows you to do a great job at each of the tactics, focuses your money on the top tactics that will drive the highest return on investment and effort. Just imagine if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per–you’ve just gone from the top 9 tactics up to the top 25 tactics. It might feel like you are covering more, but really you’re just spreading your money too thin and not really doing a great job at any of them. Too many brands end up with a “To Do” list that’s long at the start of the year and mysteriously unfinished at the end of the year.

A good brand plan should have a consistency from the vision all the way down to the execution. It should flow. Think of a band playing in perfect harmony. When you write something that does not fit, it should stand out like a “Tuba” player, trying to play his own song. It’s misfit to the plan. As you near completion of your plan, go through your document and see if you can spot misfits. Find the Tubas!

Lastly, I recommend organizations come up with a common format for plans across all plans. Freedom in formats just forces Brand Managers to try to come up with the coolest of power point slides. I’d rather have my Brand Managers putting their creative juices into tactics that get into the marketplace rather than doing cool slides. And while Brand Plans might use 10 or 20 slides (no more than that) ideally you can find a way to get your entire “Plan on one page” making it easier for everyone to follow along.

Use the Plan to Guide Everyone, including Yourself

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to do your Brand Plan or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
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How to Prioritize your Portfolio of Brands

BBI Learning LogoWhen you have a group of brands and you need to sort through the focus, the temptation is to try to hedge your bets and spread a little love to each brand.  As I managed 15 brands at Johnson and Johnson, I finally came up with a very simple rule that I affectionately called “a third, a third, a third”.  No matter how good the year was, a third of the brands would do amazing, a third would do ok and a third would struggle.  To win in the market, and hit my plan, I had to make sure the third that did amazing out-paced the third that struggled.

Some leaders would see that situation and want to spread their resources to that bottom performing brands, just in case the high performing brands didn’t come through.  But hedging your bet just means you never fully realize the full potential of those high performers.  Here’s the rule:  Focus your resources on those brands that can offer the fastest growth and allow them to outpace those that are slower growth.  

First Look Externally at the Market

For decades, people used the BCG priority grid, BCG-Matrixa simple two by two matrix with market growth on one axis and market share on the other.  The simplicity of the grid works:  how healthy is where you play and what is the opportunity to win where you play?  Stars are where you want to invest and dogs are you want to divest.

A very simple improvement on this grid was to go to a 3×3 version of the grid that gives you more flexibility in choices.  Plus calling it market attractiveness goes beyond just growth and competitive strength goes beyond just market share.  If you want to go deep, I’d encourage you to come up with 3-5 criteria for what each axes can mean.  Market Attractiveness can be a combination of growth, size, profitability, ease of servicing, future growth, manageable barriers to entry.  Your competitive strength could be a combination of growth, size, aligned resources and assets, competitive advantage (technology, patents, positioning), brand loyalty and strength of the connection to consumers.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation for either increasing the market attractiveness or increasing your own brand power.  

Slide1

From the grid, you can see three green investment boxes.  Where you have high competitive strength but in a moderately attractive category, it might be worth your while to invest to grow the category.  Conversely, where you have moderate strength in a highly attractive category, you want to invest to strengthen your brand.   The yellow boxes are moderate investment options and the red boxes represent minimal investment or divest situation.  

Then Look Internally at the Market

Once you feel comfortable with how the brands line up externally, it might be worth a second look to compare how they look internally.  As you line up your portfolio, the goal is to maximize the longer term profitability of those brands.  Here you want to look at Brand Growth rates and Margin percentages.  And for each box, there is a recommended action.  For instance if you are a high growth brand with lower margins you want to find a way to take the power associated with the growth and look to increase prices where possible either through a price increase or by trading them up to a premium version of the offering.  Conversely, a medium growth brand in the same low margin box might have less brand power to warrant the price increase, so you should be looking at reducing COGs or marketing spend.  Slide1

You’ll see the same colour combinations, greening meaning invest in growth, yellow is maintain and red means divest.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation of how to optimize the P&L for that brand and the overall portfolio.

To read more about Brand Analysis, I’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

Focus on the growth Brands and they’ll outpace the decline of the weaker brands

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 
 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

 Ask Beloved Brands to run a deep dive brand analysis or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader 
Continue Reading