The 8 principles of smart analytical thinking in a big data world

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Principles of Analytical Thinking

For Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing–skills, behaviors and experiences. As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each. The key skills you include brand analytics, strategic thinking, brand planning, decision-making and execution. One of the biggest skill gaps I see is the ability to do deep dive analytics and turn it into an analytical story that can set up decisions. From what I see, most people either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from the mounds of data they have gathered.

Analytics 2016 Extract.001

 

Principle #1: Use facts to support opinions or else what you say comes across as an empty opinion that leaves a room divided.

One tool that I use is the “5 Questions tool” where you start with your hypothesis and then ask “so what does that mean” 5 times, each time helping analysis move from unsubstantiated opinion to action-able insight.

The benefit of this type of tool is it helps avoiding getting caught off guard when your senior management starts asking questions. Once you do that, I like to organize my thinking, like a newspaper (if those still exist) with a Headline, Opinion and 2-3 data points.

Analytics 2016 Extract.002

Principle #2: Absolute numbers by themselves are useless. Always find comparisons.

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Is 50 degrees Fahrenheit warm or cold? If it’s Ottawa Canada and it’s December 24th it HOT and it is front page news. If it’s Los Angeles on June 5th, it is COLD and front page news.

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded: vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share. Is it up down, or flat? Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.Analytics 2016 Extract.003

 

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a significant break in the data.

Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show. This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Principle #4: Draw the hypothesis that answer “Where are we” and “Why are we here”

Before you start your planning process, take a few hours to sit down at your desk and outline a few points for each point. You will start to see how the overall brand plan flows. These 5 questions start to map out your overall analysis, the key issues, the vision, strategy and tactics. One of the best analytical tools we use is 5 simple questions that will make you think:

  1. Where could we be?
  2. Where are we?
  3. Why are we here?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

Another set of strategic questions that can get you thinking:

  1. What is your current competitive position?
  2. What is the core strength your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly connected is your consumer to the brand?
  4. What is the current business situation your brand faces?

Principle #5: Gathering the right data allows you to know where you will look for more information to fill in the gaps

Deep analysis requires slower thinking time so you don’t misjudge situation. The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window. A good tool to get you thinking in terms of questions:

  • What do we know? This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  • What do we assume? Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  • What we think? Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  • What do we need to find out? There could be unknowns still.
  • What are we going to do? It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

Principle #6: Like an old school reporter, you should be looking for two source of data help frame the story.

Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend. Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer. Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion. The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion.

Principle #7: Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas.

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t. The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats. It’s a great simple management tool.

Principle #8: Turn the analysis into a story to trigger alignment and management decisions.

When building your presentation for your management team, we recommend you use each of the 5 sections we have gone through here: Category, Consumers, Channels, Competitors and Brand. Building the analytical stories is an iterative process where you build your story based on instincts and facts, so that we can turn our instinct opinions into fact based stories.

Analytics 2016 Extract.007

 

Good analytics get you to the point of “so what do you think?” to help you be a better decision-maker.

To read more about Analytical Thinking, here is the workshop that we run for Brand Leaders.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

How to assess what’s happening with your consumers

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. We believe that spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive and will provide you with a low return on investment and low return on effort, that will eventually drain your brand. Analytics 2016 Extract.001While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact of the resources you apply. Too many Marketers seems to think that the way to make your brand bigger is to be able to appeal to a bigger, broader target. We take a different approach believing that instead of going after who you want the most, we recommend that you should go after those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do.

 

When looking at your consumers, start by figuring out where you are playing, defining who you are serving and who you aren’t serving. Define segments, look at buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment. Gain knowledge by mapping out the buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research. We recommend that you either use some type of panel/scan data if it is available or compile your own data through tracking research. This helps determine what’s going on with consumer behavior beneath the surface. Our preference is the brand funnel tracking tools as it maps out how well your brand is doing at each stage of the consumer buying system.

How to use consumer tracking data 

From the tracking or household panel data (Nielsen or IRI), you have to understand how your brand is doing on both penetration and the buying rate, in order to fill in the simple equation of  “Sales = (Total Population x Penetration rate) x Buying Rate”.

  • Analytics 2016 Extract.003Penetration Percentage: The percent of households who purchased a product, shopped in a certain channel or retailer at least once during a measured period.
  • Buying rate or sales per buyer: Total amount of product purchased by the average buying household over an entire analysis period, expressed in dollars, units or equivalent volume.
  • Purchase frequency or trips per buyer: Number of times the average buying household purchases your product over a time period (usually a year). Purchase Frequency remains the same regardless of which sales measure is used (dollars, units or Equivalent volume)
  • Purchase size or sales per trip: Average amount of product purchased on a single shopping trip by your average buyer. Like the buying rate, purchase size can be calculated in terms of dollars, units or Equivalent volume.

 

How to analyze your brand using Brand Funnels
Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel, knowing what’s causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors. Analytics 2016 Extract.005A classic brand funnel should measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. At the very least, you should be measuring awareness, purchase and loyalty. It’s not just about driving particular numbers on the funnel, but about moving them from one stage to the next.

The first thing to do (see chart above) is look at the Absolute brand funnel scores (A), comparing them to last year, to competitors or versus category norms. Then look at the brand funnel ratios (B), finding the percent conversion from one stage to the next. To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel. For instance in the example below, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine the ratio conversion of 91%. That means 91% of those who are aware become familiar.

 

The data becomes even more powerful when you start looking at the ratios of your brand in comparison (C) to the ratios of your nearest competitor. Analytics 2016 Extract.006In this second part of the analysis, the ratio becomes the focus. Compare the ratios, finding the gap (D) between the two brands at each of the stages. You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. Analyzing the difference (E) between the 2 brands finds the biggest gaps and tells a strategic story that explains the gap. Looking at the example, we see “Your Brand” and “Brand X” are relatively similar at the top part of the funnel, but your brand starts to show real weakness as it moves to repeat and loyalty. This creates a gap you need to fix through the Brand Plan.

The brand funnel data helps tell where your brand sits on the Brand Love Curve. Indifferent brands have skinny funnels throughout. Consumers treat these brands like commodities. Your Brand Plan need to fuel awareness and consideration to kick-start the funnel. The next stage we call Like It brands, which have funnels that narrow at purchase. These brands need a plan to close leaks by getting their brand message closer to the purchase moment. The Love It type brands have a more robust funnel, but may have a smaller leak at loyal. The plan should continue to feed the love and build strength among loyalists. The most beloved brands have ideal funnels, but you should track and build a plan that will attack any weakness before it is seen or exploited by others.

Market Research Studies

Market Research studies can really help uncover issues on your brand. Some brands keep looking back at a study from 5 years ago, and miss out on the major changes that have happened in the marketplace since. Market Research should provide a view of the who, what, when, where and how behind the overall consumer dynamics of your category or market. They can help you understand how consumer behavior and usage changes by brand, helping explain why consumers buy specific brands and what it is that makes those brands distinctive, outlining the rational and emotional benefits. They help identify any perceived gaps in the consumers mind between the brand promise, consumer expectation and the overall brand performance. And, a good market research study can provide an overall vantage of various consumer segments, looking at lifestyle and demographic dimensions, how they consume media, overall attitudes on key drivers or brand benefits.

When we do our brand planning and marketing execution, we manage the executional tactics using a consumer buying system that starts with the consumer and then maps out how they shop, closely resembling the brand funnel. This tool can really helps focus your activities to where your brand needs the most help, either to continue fueling or closing a gap.

Analytics 2016 Extract.007

 

To read more on Brand Analytics, have a look at our workshop presentation.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

 

 

The 3 best ads of the 2016 Olympics: Gold, Silver and Bronze

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgOver the two weeks of the Olympics, there are just a ton of ads. After a while they all blur together. It would be easy to make an Olympic ad, if the goal was just to fit in. Show a little bit of the athlete’s background story,  some footage of the athlete’s accomplishments, then show how this all fits to the brand (even if it is not a natural fit, try anyway) and then cut to black screen at the end with the logo with a tagline come up.

Ta-da. You have a classic Olympic ad.

This type of ad is what I would consider “good but not different”. While you might enjoy watching it and think “I like that ad”. However, after seeing 38 identical ads over the next 2 hours, you won’t remember anything about any of the ads. With such a sea of ads, only the ones that are very different will stand out. The second thing I would stress is that the ad has to fit with the strategy of the brand. The ideal sweet spot is both Smart and different.

As a Brand Leader, you should always be thinking of ways for your marketing communication to break through the clutter and use your brand story to move the consumer. During the Olympics, the objective of these iconic brands is to continue to tug at the heart of your own consumers. You’re not really going to sell to new consumers, but rather re-enforce to those who already love you. With that, you sure better be on when it comes to what your brand is all about.

The best Marketing breaks through the clutter (Attention) links closely to the brand name (Branding), communicates main message (Communication) and makes brand seem different (stickiness).

Strategic Thinking 2016.024

Bronze Medal:  “Thank You Mom” by P&G

Sure it is a basic pool out of the previous two Olympic Games but it is still working. This spot is high on attention and branding as people are now looking for these spots, grabbing the tissues and enjoying these spots. They don’t communicate a ton about the brand, but they have high stickiness, as evidence by sharing (21 million views on Youtube) and talk value at the lunch table. Plus, I still get a slight tear in the eye.

 

Silver Medal: “Unlimited Together” by Nike

Imagine a brief that says “we want to do an ad about the basketball team that screams patriotism…and make it different from anything else”. The first part of that brief would be easy to gather up all the cliches. The second part is extremely difficult. This is a beautiful Nike spot, with Chance the Rapper doing a take on “America the Beautiful”.  Nice visuals, a different look at the behind the scenes of the team. They have nailed it, fitting nicely into Nike’s Unlimited campaign.

 

Gold Medal: “Unlimited Youth” by Nike

Out of all the ads this year, this one resonated the most with me. If an 86 year old doing Iron Man races is not enough to get your butt off the couch, I’m not sure what is.

 

That’s right: Nike gets my gold and silver.  I saw quite a few other good ads along the way. What is amazing is that Nike is not an official sponsor of the Olympics. They keep stealing the show, without paying the IOC fees.

Here are the Honorable Mentions

 

Apple launched a great new campaign this summer, during the Olympics, but would be hard-pressed to call it an Olympic ad. I love it, and it certainly made me watch. During the most divided year I can remember, this Apple ad does a nice job in bringing the world together.  Have a look.

 

It looks like Coke had the same brief as Apple. Another nice spot for them. However, it does not seem to have gotten the necessary break through. (only 57k views)

 

I also liked the Gillette spot, that showed the darker side of how hard these athletes work. It narrowly missed my podium, because I think it will fit in, more than it will stand out. Fits nicely with the “The Best a Man can Get” brand idea. Well done.

 

To read more on Marketing Execution, have a look at our workshop presentation.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train your brain to change speeds

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Most Marketers seem to take pride in how fast their brains can work. They run from meeting to meeting, making snap decisions, pointing at people and saying, “make that happen.” I bet if they closed their glass door, put their feet on their desk, grabbed a pen and looked up at the ceiling, most people walking past their office would think they have either lost their mind or they are crafting their resignation letter. These Marketers have no time in their schedule to slow down and think strategically.

Strategic Thinking 2016.014The best Marketers can change brain speeds. They can think slowly with strategy, going beneath the surface to understand the issues. The strategic Marketers see ‘what if’ questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out in the future. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, moving in a focused efficient way. The best Marketing brains can change gears as they move to execution, thinking quickly and opening up their instincts. The instinct Marketers see answers before even knowing the right questions, using emotional instincts and gut feel impulses. They can’t explain why they like something. They just do. Any delays frustrate them, believing that doing something is better than nothing at all. This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions risk solving the wrong problem. The balance comes when the best Marketers know when to be strategic and when to use their instincts.

Slow your brain down when thinking about strategy.

When you map out your strategy, start by thinking about the long-term perspective of where the brand can go, with a vision that should scare you a little but excite you a lot. You have to question everything in the way of achieving your vision, looking at drivers, inhibitors, risks and opportunities. Take the time to observe, assess, question and consider every element that can impact your business. Constantly analyze and assess the potential changes happening with consumers, competitors, technologies, media and distribution channels that could impact the health and wealth of your brand. Only then, can you get to the strategies, which are really just the answers to the questions that your situational analysis and key issues have raised. Write a very focused strategy, making very tight choices for the target market, brand positioning and main messages.

Strategic Thinking 2016.017To slow your brain down, it may require an escape from the day-to-day rigors of the job. Book a few strategic meetings with yourself to change brain speeds during the day. Open up your brain as the best strategic thoughts may come driving home after work, going to the gym, watching movies or strolling around the block with your kids. Rarely will your best strategic thoughts come to you, while sitting at your desk, in front of your computer, with PowerPoint open to slide one.

Speed your brain up when it comes to execution.

When you move to the execution stages of Marketing, you have to reach deep for your gut, as it is easy to lose your instincts due to the pressures of the job. Allow the creative process to unfold, as you always hold the power of decision. I have seen too many Marketers treat a creative meeting like a press conference with rapid-fire strategic questions and made up concerns. They completely over-think everything and destroy the creative spirit.

Strategic Thinking 2016.021

Be in the moment. Relax, smile, have fun, stay positive. When your agency shows you work, start by asking, “Do I love it?” If you do not love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love it? Do not cast every possible doubt and concern that can destroy creativity. If you get too tense, or too serious, it can impact the team negatively. Focus on your first impressions. Try to get in the shoes of your consumer, and see the execution as they would. As the client, you always have the option to reject an idea. So why not let the idea breathe a little and see if it can get even better. You can always kill it if it doesn’t. Do not let your strategic brain get in your way of seeing the power of the creativity. Only after fully vetting the work with your instincts should you then think about it strategically to see if it fits your brand. Think of execution like an amazing gift, that you never thought to buy yourself.

Go slow with strategy and fast with execution

To read more about brand strategy, here’s our workshop presentation that we run:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

Knowing where you are today helps you know your next strategic move

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

One tool we use to help guide strategic choices is our hypothetical “Brand Love Curve” which is used to assess how tightly connected your brand is with your consumers. We believe that brands move along the curve through five phases, moving from Unknown to Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved brand. The reason brands need to move along the Brand Love Curve is to leverage their increased connectivity with consumers, to become more powerful against all stakeholders in the market. With that added power, brands gain more profit through higher prices, efficient costs, share gains and a bigger market size.

Strategic Thinking 2016.098

Where you sit on the Brand Love Curve should guide your next major strategic move. At the Unknown stage, the strategy is about getting noticed in the market. For a brand at the Indifferent stage, where consumers have no opinion of your brand, brands should focus on establishing your brand in the consumers mind. Build an opinion about your brand, by taking a stand. At the Like It stage, where consumers see the brand as a rational choice, there needs to be strategic work to separate your brand from the pack and generate a following with a core group of consumers. At the Love It stage, focus on tugging at the heart-strings of consumers to drive a deeper connection with those consumers who love the brand. At the Beloved stage, continue the magical feeling of the brand and get loyalists to scream to their network on the brand’s behalf.

The unknown brand
At the unknown brand stage, the brand might be a completely new innovation, re-launch, hidden gem, small niche looking to expand, or entering into a new region or channel. Many new brands struggle to break through to reach consumers or build distribution with doubting retailers. Leadership team conflicts result in confusion around the value proposition, inconsistent messaging to consumers and everyone in the organization moving in different directions. Like any new launch, there is a risk of being seen as a product, not yet a brand idea. Too many times, companies at this stage fixate more on selling than marketing. There is a desperation for sales, no matter who buys or why they buy. This stage is where the heavy investment is needed to establish both brand awareness and distribution. Being seen as a commodity product, with no real separation from competitors, makes it hard to command a price premium. It is hard to generate efficiencies in selling and marketing.

The 3-point game plan for unknown brands: 1) Create a Big Idea to build everything around, both internally and externally. 2) Stay focused to maximize your limited resources: focused target, tight positioning, tight strategies, and limited activities—always focused on driving a return. 3) Find ways to passionately express your brand purpose as a rallying point, both internally and externally.

The four brand strategies that unknown brands should focus on are:

  • Brand Set up: Establish distribution, brand experience, purchase moment.
  • Launch: Enter market, building awareness with consumers, sales levels with channels.
  • Build core message: Establish niche benefit and a big idea that will establish a reputation.
  • Find early lovers: Build a small base of early adopters, who become fans to build upon.

The Indifferent brand
For Indifferent brands, these brands are likely too product-focused, not yet able to find way to separate the brand from competitors. The brands act like commodities. They suffer from very skinny brand funnels, with low awareness at the top of the funnel, with soft purchase, repeat and loyalty scores. These brands suffer from poor tracking scores on any marketing support programs. Without a big idea or unique positioning, it is difficult to break through with advertising or innovation. To keep selling, these brands becomes reliant on price promotions to drive volume, resulting in a profit margin squeeze. Lower volumes prevent these brands from reaching the needed economies of scale to drive down variable cost of goods. These brands are unable to gain new users or drive frequency. They have no power with retailers, unable to get their fair share of shelf space, display or price promotions. These brands are at risk of being delisted, if they fall below volume thresholds. Private label brands threaten their sales levels. These brands have lower payback on Marketing activities, making the marketing investment (advertising, innovation, in-store) difficult to justify.

The 3-point game plan for Indifferent brands: 1) Create a Big Idea to establish the brand’s uniqueness and build a reputation to stand behind. 2) Focus the brand’s limited resources on establishing a point of difference in the consumer’s mind. 3) More passion and risk into your work.

The four brand strategies that unknown brands should focus on are:

  • Mind Shift: Drive a new brand position or re-enforce current positioning
  • Mind Share: Draw more attention than competitors by being better or different.
  • New News: Launch something new or re-launch to appear new.
  • Turnaround: Focus energy on gaps, leaks in the brand’s execution.

Like It brands
Brands at the Like It stage doing a pretty good job in establishing itself on a rational level. However, without an emotional connection, these brands suffer from a lower than desired conversion to purchase. These brand looks healthy in terms of driving awareness and tracking scores, however the brand keeps losing to competitors as the consumer moves to the purchase stage. These brands usually require a higher trade spend to close that sale. This cuts into profit margins. An important tracking score to watch is “the brand seem different” helping to separate the brand from the pack. Without any emotional connection these brand get to a certain level and then face stagnant market shares. They make gains during Marketing support periods but face declines during the non-support periods. These brands appear content to hold onto their share and grow at the same rate as the category. In categories with high private label shares, if you focus too much on product ingredients and rational features, the consumer will start to figure out they can get the same thing with the private label at a significantly lower price.

Here is a 3-point game plan for Like It brands: 1) Leverage the brand’s big idea to connect emotionally. 2) Focus your resources on building a bigger following by converting awareness to purchases. 3) Build a culture of passion, where everyone loves the work they produce.

The four brand strategies that Like It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Drive Penetration: Bring in new consumers.
  • Drive Usage: Get consumers to use more/differently by building the brand into a routine.
  • Consolidation: Induce consumers to use the brand for more usage occasions.
  • Cross Sell: Persuade current consumer base to try other products within the brand.

Love It brands
Brands at the Love It stage start to see a higher emotional connection and a resulting power in the marketplace. Indicators include a strong conversion from purchase to loyalty. These brands are able to drive strong repeat and loyalty scores, as the brand becomes a routine or ritual. The brand is now seen as different and motivating. These brands see a strong overall brand funnel with an expanding user base and a strengthening usage frequency as the brand becomes part of the consumer’s routine. Highly responsive Marketing programs and tracking results means the brand can shift to more efficient spending with lower GRPs. The brand sees high adoption of new innovation, which allows the brand to continue to stretch the consumer towards the ideal brand positioning. High net promoter scores leads to high word of mouth recommendations, social media recommendations or positive on-line brand reviews (e.g.Yelp or Trip Advisor). These brands should be able to leverage their power with retailers and influencers. Even in a competitive market, a brand at the Love It stage should be able to gain share and widening their leadership stance.

The 3-point game plan for Love It brands: 1) Tug at the heart of those consumers who love the brand, helping build a community of Brand fans. 2) Shift to creating a brand experience that turns purchases into routines. 3) Turn the love for your work into a bit of magic for the consumer.

The four brand strategies that Love It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Experience: Shift from a product focus towards creating brand experiences.
  • Maintain: Re-enforce the brand strengths with your core base of brand fans.
  • Deeper love: Match the passion of your consumers, treating them extra special.
  • New Reasons to Love: Re-enforce messages to your most loyal users.

Beloved Brands
Brands at the beloved stage are the iconic leaders in their category. These brands have an extremely healthy and robust brand funnel with likely a near perfect brand awareness (over 95%), high conversion to purchase, with strong repeat and loyalty scores. These brands have good penetration and purchase frequency scores. Tracking results show immediate reaction to new marketing programs—high brand link on advertising and high trial rates on innovation. They usually have a dominant share position, at least in a specific segment. They have the power to take a dominant stance in the marketplace, squeezing out smaller brands and reducing the influence of key competitors. These brands have strong net promoter scores and have cultivated a community of outspoken brand fans. Even competitive-users respect these brands, expressing a potential desire to switch in the future. These brands use their power with retailers, who provide preferential shelf space and use the beloved brand to drive traffic to their stores. Suppliers are willing to cut their costs in order to sign up the beloved brand as a customer. Even governments might offer special benefits. The beloved brand becomes an employer of choice for new talent who want to be part of the brand. The brand even has a power over the earned and influential media gaining efficient and impactful media and positive reviews. The brand becomes an asset, with high profitability. It becomes a good stock to invest in.

The 3-point game plan for beloved brands: 1) Focus on maintaining the magic and love the brand has created with the core brand fans. 2) Challenge and perfect the experience. 3) Broaden the offering and selectively broaden the audience.

The four brand strategies that Love It stage brands should focus on are:

  • Magic: Continue to surprise and delight loyalists.
  • Leverage Power: Drive financial value from the brand’s sources of power.
  • Attack yourself: Continue to assess and improve every aspect of the brand.
  • Use loyalists: Leverage brand fans to influence their network.

Knowing where you are sets up your strategic choices

While you will come up with your own uniquely written strategies, where you stand on the Brand Love Curve can help guide you as to the strategic choices you can make.

Strategic Thinking 2016.099

One strategic flaw I see in many brand plans is trying to drive penetration and usage frequency at the same time. This is a classic case of trying to get away with doing two things, instead of forcing yourself to pick just one. Consider how different these two options really are and you will see the drain on your resources from trying to do both. A penetration strategy gets someone with very little experience with your brand to likely consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they will like your brand. A usage frequency strategy tries to get someone who knows your brand already, to change their behavior in relationship to your brand, either changing their current life routine or substituting your brand into a higher share of occasions. By doing both, you will be targeting two types of consumers at the same time, you will have two main brand messages and you will divide your resources against two groups of activities that have very little synergy. If you decide that you are going to pick both to do at the same time, you have to stop telling people you are a strategic thinker. It is crazy to try to do both. Yes, in terms of digital media, you can find ways to target both. However, you are still dividing your budget out. Also, any strategy usually goes far beyond media. You should be thinking holistically about the brand story, product innovation, purchase moment and brand experience.

Strategic Thinking 2016.105

 

Knowing where you are today helps you know your next strategic move

To read more about brand strategy, here’s our workshop presentation that we run:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to lead a deep dive analysis on your brand

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Understanding the situation

Before we plan where to go next, we need to understand “Where are we?” today. We recommend a deep-dive business review that looks at everything connected to the business including the category, consumer, competitors, channels and the brand.

  1. Category: Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all major issues. Analytics 2016 Extract 3.001Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, political regulations or what is happening in other related categories that could impact your own category.
  2. Consumer: Define your consumer target, digging deep on the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, consumer enemies and key insights. Use a consumer buying system analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop the category and your brand. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data or market research.
  3. Channels: Look at the performance of all potential distribution channels and every major customer in the category. Understand your channel customer’s strategies, as well as the available tools and programs your customers have, so your brand can align your brand with each customer and find a pathway to success within each channel.
  4. Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the perceptions of the brand through the eyes of their consumers. Map out a strategic Brand Plan for all major competitors to help predict what they might do next, and know how you might counter in your own brand plan.Analytics 2016 Extract 3.003
  5. Brand: Understand the reputation of your brand through the lens of consumers, customers and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps and financial analysis. Look at the internal health and wealth (inside the company) as well as the external health and wealth of the brand (in the market place).

Brainstorm what’s going on. For each of the 5 sections, we recommend that you brainstorm a list of things that you think are are driving and getting in the way, potential opportunity areas and risks to avoid. Base these on your knowledge of the brand, what you might be hearing or seeing and what your instincts are telling you. Keep a running list and even use your hypothesis with others on your team to see what they think.

Drawing Conclusions

Narrow the brainstorm list down to top 3-5 “opinions” that you should list as your “straw-dog conclusion statements”. You need these statements to know where to begin looking. Look for the right data. For each of the statements, list out the information you need that will either support, alter or refute the straw dog statement. Using the data you find, look for breaks in the data and begin piecing together 2-3 main support points and with your new knowledge, begin to re-write the conclusion statement. Continue to modify the story, both the conclusions and support points as you will keep tightening the story.

To draw conclusions from the deep-dive review, you need to summarize the factors driving the brand, the factors holding the brand back and then lay out the risks and untapped opportunities. Below, you will see summary tool that lays out the top 3-4 points for each box.

Analytics 2016 Extract 3.006

  • What’s driving growth? Focus on the top factors of strength, positional power or market inertia that has a proven link to driving growth behind your brand. Your Brand Plan will be built on continuing to fuel these drivers.
  • What’s inhibiting growth? Focus on the top factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps or market friction that can be proven to be holding back the growth of your brand. Your Brand Plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to your growth.
  • Opportunities for growth: Specific untapped areas in the market that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, regulation changes, new distribution channels or the removal of trade barriers. The plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.
  • Risk to future growth: Changing circumstances including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes or potential barriers to trade create potential risk to your growth. Build your Brand Plans to minimize the impact of these risks.

The simplicity of the deep dive analysis is that it provides a starting point for the issues, as you will want to find ways to continue or enhance the drivers, to minimize or reverse the inhibitors, to avoid or manage the risks and to take advantage of the new opportunities.

To read more about How to Lead a Deep Dive Brand Analysis, here is the presentation from our training workshop that with run for Brand Leaders.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

GR bio Jun 2016.001

Learn the 8 little secrets that will help Brand Leaders get better Marketing Execution

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

There is a secret to finding the magic in the Marketing Execution of your brand. 

All of our work is done through other people. Our greatness as a Brand Leader has to come from the experts we engage, so they will be inspired to reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Brand Leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution unfold. I always say that is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of marketing execution like the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself.  It is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all.

Marketing execution must get consumers to see, think, feel, act or scream differently than before they saw the execution. However, you can only do one at a time.
Marketing execution must get consumers to see, think, feel, act or scream differently than before they saw the execution. However, you can only do one at a time.

 

I have come to believe that there are some Marketers who are great at execution and many more who appear to be doomed for failure. One major separation in ok to great is the willingness to learn along the way. No one is great on their first campaign–in fact most of us suck the first time. However, being a good client takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. You can learn how to be a good client. One of the biggest things to learn is that your role is crucial to the process. An OK agency can do great work on a great client. But a great agency will fail with a bad client. The client actually matters the most. My challenge to all marketers is this simple phrase: If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better?  Would you show up better?

Here are the 8 little secrets for getting better Marketing Execution, that I have learned over my 20 years of Marketing. 

  1. Determine if the strategy can be executed. Develop a testable brand concept with with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points that you know are actually motivating. To read more on doing a brand concept click below:
    How to write a Brand Concept that will help you win

  2. Tighten your brief as much as you can. Narrow the target and add engaging insights that tell their story. Focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say. Focus on one benefit and one message.Marketing Execution 2016.047
  3. Make it personal. Meet the creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work.
  4. Lower the pressure. Hold casual tissue sessions to narrow solutions before going to scripts.
  5. Stay big picture at creative meetings. Avoid getting into little details. Do that after the meeting. When giving direction, avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions.
  6. Take creative risks. Build your career by being the brand that will stand out by being different..
  7. Manage your boss at every stage. Early on, sell them, on your vision what you want. Then be willing to fight for great work at every step of the process.
  8. Try to be one of your agency’s favorite clients. Be the client that they “want to” work on your brand instead of being the one they “have to” work on your business. It really matters.

How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. Experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up the sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way. It is time to step back and assume your true role as the Brand Leader.

To read more about Marketing Execution, here is the presentation from our training workshop that with run for Brand Leaders.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

Beloved Brands Training program

At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results.

  • How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.
  • Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan.
  • Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in-store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise.
  • Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication.
  • Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand.
  • Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know how to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise.
  • How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line.
  • Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to be a great Assistant Brand Manager…and of course, get Promoted

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

In my 20 years of CPG marketing, I must have interviewed 1,000 potential Assistant Brand Managers. I was lucky to have hired some of the best, who have gone on to have very strong marketing careers. I became notorious for asking for some of the toughest questions, some even bizarre. I always asked an analytical question to see if they could piece together lots of data and tell a story that made sense. I’d ask a creative question to see if they had a certain flare and pride in the output. I’d ask a problem solving question, some very hard, no real right answer, but I wanted to see how they actually think. And finally, I wanted to know that they had done something at a very high level–it didn’t matter what–but I wanted to know they could make it happen, whatever it was in. Getting that first ABM job is NOT EASY!  I had many failed interviews over the years that I began to wonder if it would ever happen. I remember one interview ended after about 8 minutes when she found out I didn’t have any experience. Thank god, I stuck with it.

Brand Careers 2016.032
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But even after gruelling interviews, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager. So what separates the ok ABM from the great ABM that gets promoted?  There are two factors that I have seen in a consistent manner:  #1:  They get what they need and #2:  What they need is the right thing to do.  Very simply put, great ABMs get both.   The rest either fail on #1 or #2.    

Keep in mind there are some core marketing values you want to adopt over the years as an ABM that will serve you well in your career.

  • Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other. In Marketing, there are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  • 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: It is crucial that we seek to understand and 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. Proactively look for opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage.
  • Regular feedback for growth: Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

The Five Factors that Separate Ok ABMs from the Great ABMs are:

  1. A great ABM is able to tell stories, where others just see data: There is tons of data all over—share results, tracking, test scores, etc. One of the most critical skill an ABM can work on is developing stories with the data. It’s one thing to have the data point, but another to have thought it through and know what it means, and what action you will take on this data. Look for patterns or data breaks, ask questions, start putting together stories and challenge the stories. Use stories backed up by data to sell your recommendations. Never give a data point without a story or action. You risk letting someone else take your data and run with it or tell a story different from yours.
  2. A great ABM takes action and moves before being asked: Most of the projects for ABMs are already set by your manager. When you are new, it’s comfortable to wait for your projects. But don’t get in the habit of waiting for someone to create your project list. But a great ABM starts to push ideas into the system and create their own project list. Some of the best ideas come with a fresh set of eyes and we need a continual influx of new ideas. We also start to see the ABM making good decisions, on their own, and communicating to their boss. Not asking permission but telling what they want to do and look for the head nod. Know what’s in your scope and align with your manager.
  3. A great ABM can get what they want: Instead of just functionally managing the steps of the project, great ABM’s “make it happen”: faster, bigger and better. Faster means you understand what are the important milestones that need to be hit. Manage the bottle necks: the task that have the longest completion time, that impact the entire project. Sometimes you need to push with an inflexible but motivating fist to get it done.
    Bigger means you want to do more than is required. You find that magic to make it even have a bigger impact. Creative solutions or motivating others to do more. Better means you have to take the same people and get them to give their best ideas or their best effort or their best work. Guaranteed you will meet many points of resistance. Every project will. Solving these and still getting the most you can, is what separates the great ABMs from the rest.
  4. A great ABM puts their strategic thoughts forward. You need to be a strategic thinker—asking the right questions to ensure you are focused on the right area, where you can gain a positional power that leads to higher growth and profit for your brand. Ensure you are staying strategic and not just falling in love with some execution not aligned to your brand’s strategy. It’s so easy to be lost in your own “cool” projects. At the ABM level, showing that you can keep things aligned to the strategic is just as important as being strategic. Speak up and represent your strategic thinking. Standing up for your thoughts shows that you are in the game, that you are thinking, and that you believe in your strategic thoughts. Silent ABMs never last.
  5. A great ABM is accountable in the ownership of their work: Accountability is the stepping stone to ownership. And the ownership of the brand is a sign you can be a Brand Manager. We need to see that before giving you your own brand.
    Great ABMs motivate but don’t delegate. If you have to step in, then jump in. You cannot let things slip or miss. You have to stay on top of the timelines and lead those on your project teams. You have to be action oriented, and solution focused. You can never allow your team to get stuck. Be the hub of communication to all team members, and to key stakeholders, including upwards to your manager.

If you can do those better than your peers, then you’ll get promoted. Conversely, if you’re missing any one of these, you might not get there. I hope your boss gives you a quarterly review because I believe ABMs can grow so fast that you need those regular check-ins. If you just get an annual review, you won’t go as fast. Ask for feedback, cherish it, and use the next 90 days to build on a strength or eliminate a gap.

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. The basic rule is: You get dumber before you get smarter.   

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When you first land the ABM job, there’s just so much to learn, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I find it takes 3 months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. It’s over-whelming at first, and yet you see all these other ABMs doing it so that’s even more intimidating. 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 idiot curve normally lasts up to 3 months, and then things just start to click. And you’ll experience it in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.  

ABM roles are hard, but all the work you do now will pay off the rest of your career.  

Here’s a presentation on how to have a successful Marketing Career.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

GR bio Jun 2016.001

How to manage your B2B brand

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many people think that brand management matters most to a consumer brand, and they under-estimate the value of marketing for B2B brands. And many of these people are running B2B brands. They treat marketing as a support function, hiring a low-cost marketing coordinators to support their sales team, and do basic packaging for new launches and run a few basic trade magazines.

B2B marketing is not just about selling products, but about building and selling your brand’s reputation. The role of a B2B brand is to create unique idea for your brand, perceived in the minds and hearts of your customer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit beyond what the product itself could achieve. Too many B2B companies believe they just SELL PRODUCTS. However, you should be building and managing your reputation of your brand. Whereas basic products and services solve small problems, I like to think that a brand beats down the enemy that your customer faces every day. For instance, FedEx fights the enemy of “business moving too slowly” while IBM fights “unsolvable problems” for their customers. What is your customer’s enemy that you can solve for them?

The more loved a brand is by its customers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. With a connected brand, it helps to warm up sales leads–many times they’ll already know your reputation before you call. A brand can connect with customers so that pure pricing becomes less of a factor. If the customer is satisfied and connected on one piece of business, they’ll look to you to solve other problems for them.

Start with a Big Idea

The best brands use a Big Idea to help explain themselves in 7 seconds, and use that Big Idea to help extrapolate that same brand story into 60 seconds or even 30 minutes, depending on the situation. In a crowded branded marketplace, Big Ideas help simplify your brand message so it’s easily understood and remembered, own-able in the customers’ mind and heart and motivating enough to change consumer beliefs and behavior. That big idea should transform your brand message into a brand reputation.

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Below is the tool we use to figure out a brand’s Big Idea which revolves around five areas that help define the brand: 1) Brand’s character 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer reputation of the Brand and 5) the role of the brand in connecting with consumers. How we use this tool is we normally brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four distinct sections and turn create sentences for each. Then looking collectively, we begin to frame the brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind. The tool works! 

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Once you have your Big Idea, you should then use it to frame the 5 different connectors needed to set up a very strong bond between your brand and your customers.

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Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers. Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Use your brand story to motivate customers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. You need a fundamentally sound product, with innovation that keeps your brand at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. The purchase  moment is where customers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their work life so that your customers always turn to you first.

Whereas B2B brands currently treat marketing as a support function, once you have your big idea you can see how for a B2B brand, that the idea should drive every part of your organization and that your brand’s experience will be supported by the culture, people and operations which then transforms that idea into a brand reputation. Below you can see how that Big Idea should be a beacon for your top-to-top leadership, your sales team, the problem solvers, customer service team and the experience delivery team.

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Everyone in your organization must be saying the same message. For a B2B brand, marketing’s role is to make sure that the external and internal story are given equal importance so that everyone in your organization must be communicating and delivering the same big idea to customers that they see in trade magazines, at trade shows or in the sales materials.

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Like any brand, there are really only four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for very long. For B2B, when your product is a commodity, you have to find a way to use service levels as a way to find your point of difference. When you start to treat your own brand like a commodity or believe that you are, that’s when you’re in trouble. What you want to do is use that Big Idea to create an internal culture and use that culture to build your brand’s reputation as the way to help separate you in the marketplace. As you build your culture, you’ll see that you can begin to use culture as a way to stand out and then you’ll evolve to where you see culture becomes the backbone that delivers the brand experience. At the ideal stage where you become a beloved brand you see that culture and brand become one as your own people become the most outspoken fans of the brand. 

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Your brand is your reputation and it can never be a commodity

Click below on the Powerpoint version of the B2B Brand Workshop we run for clients.

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

LEGO: An amazing Customer Service letter to a seven year old boy

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

lego-secrets-brand-longevityWhen you are 7, the Lego brand is much more important to them than Starbucks or Apple is to an adult. For generations, Lego has been a beloved brand for those inventive minds who liked to create complex objects from very simple bricks. Current Lego products are a little more complex, but the idea of Lego remains the same.

This customer story involves a 7-year old boy who lost his Lego when he took it on a family trip to the mall. Kids lose a toy all the time. But he was so upset that he wrote a letter to Lego, telling them the story and asking for a replacement. He lost just one figure in his Lego kit (Jay ZX) but to him it’s the most important thing in his life.

Hello, my name is Luka. With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kid of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good. My daddy just took me to Sainburys and tole me to leave the people at home, but I took them and lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat. I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one. I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.

Thank you.  Luka

Someone at Lego, made the brilliant decision to send the boy some replacement product and send the following letter. While strategy is important, it is the many little things of a brand can really make a difference in exhibiting the passion of the company.

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For Lego, in the world of social media, this type of story does wonders for continuing the magic of their brand. And it’s a great example of going above and beyond. What I like in the letter is how they please the boy, but also give a solid wink to the parent who is likely the bigger target of this letter. The dad ended up tweeting about the story, lots of viral hits and then picked up in the mainstream media including TV and newspapers in the UK, US and Canada. And now millions are reading about this story (including you right now.)

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When you reach the beloved brand stage, the strategies become all about continuing the magic of the brand. That might mean attacking yourself on product innovation or finding new ways to surprise and delight your consumer base. There are legendary customer service stories that come from Nordstrom’s, the high-end retailer that add to the mystique of the Nordstrom brand. One story involved a Nordstrom employee who found luggage and a plane ticket for a flight that was taking off soon. Figuring the customer was on their way to the airport, the employee got in his car and drove to airport to meet the customer. The second story involves a customer in Alaska returning tires that he bought at the store that was the prior tenant to the Nordstrom store. After much debate, they decided to take the tires back, even though it’s not a product they carry.

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

GR bio Jun 2016.001