One of the biggest flaws I see Marketers making is when their brand communication talks about what their brand does instead of what the consumer gets. They mistakenly try to jam in as many brand messages as possible, with a strange belief that if we say A LOT to a busy consumer mind, they will at least hear something. Not true. When you say a lot, nothing gets through.
In a Marketing role, it is easy to get fixated on your own brand. I’ve been there. All day long, you talk about you brand. Every meeting is about your brand. You present to management about your brand. You wake up and go to bed thinking about your brand. Also, your brand pays you. Keep in mind, there is only one source of revenue, and that’s your consumer.
The best Brand Leaders are fixated on their consumer, not their brand.
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. 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.
The Consumer Benefits Ladder
We use a Consumer Benefits Ladder that starts with the consumer, defining the target adding the consumer enemy and insights to help add flavor about your consumer. We then outline the key features of your brand (what you do), then ladder up to the rational benefits (as a consumer “what do I get?”) and then ladder up to the emotional benefits (as a consumer “how does this make me feel?”)
The ladder forces the Brand Leader to think about consumer benefits, instead of features. The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps you brainstorm possible messages that you may test with consumers. It can help organize the possible brand messages or it can be a decision-making tool as you begin focusing on the most important, compelling brand messages. This will help set your brand up with a unique, own-able, motivating brand positioning statement.
Who is your consumer target?
What do consumers want? Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in mind. Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost-prohibitive with low return on investment and low return on effort. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want. Great brands don’t go after consumers, great brands get consumers to go after the brand. The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, by understanding what frustration points they may have. We call these consumer enemies. While products solve regular problems, beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment us every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even addressing? To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. Positioning 2016.026Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. Insight is something that everyone already knows and comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama. When Consumer Insights are done right, we get in the shoes of the consumer by starting the insight with the word “I” and we use the voice of the consumer by putting the insight in quotes. As part of the positioning exercise, we recommend that you put together a complete Consumer Profile that outlines the focused definition of the target, add flavor with needs, enemies and insights and then talk about where they are now and where you’d like to move the consumer in the future.
What does your brand do? As you start looking at your own brand, you should look at four types of key features to see if there is a starting point for your story. Here are some questions that will help your brainstorming:
- Is there something natural in your product that you can take advantage of, that makes you show up to your consumer in a way that is better or different than your competition?
- What are the specific performance indicators that you brand is better? (e.g. faster, longer-lasting, stronger, more consistent, easier/simpler, healthier)
- Is there a specific ingredient (or lack of ingredient) or a specific process that would make your product better than your competition?
- Is there an experience or service that comes from your product that makes you show up to consumers as either better or different than your competition?
- Do you have any specific innovations and creativity that may help your product show up better or different than your competition?
- Detail how your product works differently and how that shows up to the consumer.
- Showcase your point of difference in the production process that could make you better/different than your competition.
- What do you do differently than your competitor within the production process?
- What added service/details do you provide in the value chain
- Do you have any consumer evidence (ratings, rankings, consumer satisfaction, awards) that could support a key feature?
- Are there any stories from consumers, that set up support for a key feature?
- Is there any expert in the field who can speak on the brand’s behalf?
- Any clinical test results or in-market usage results that could support your brand features.
- In-Market sales, share, growth results that would support brand strength, power or momentum.
- Any evidence in brand funnel scores (highest loyalty) that would support brand features.
- Before and after studies
What do consumers get? (Rational Benefits) For each feature you list, you want to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and ask “so what do I get?” If your brand works faster, then consumers can get on with their day. If your brand is low calorie, then it’s easier of consumers to lose weight. The challenge here is to ensure that each benefit you stand behind makes you show up as better, different or cheaper than your competitors. Looking at the venn diagram, you have to begin finding the zone where you are meeting the consumers needs and doing it better than any competitor. You can see the two zones to avoid: the losing zone is where you try to play in the space where your competitor is better than you, and the dumb zone where your consumer just does not even care. The dumb zone can be avoided by using this consumer benefits ladder process.
How do consumers feel? (Emotional Benefits) From my experience, Marketers are better at the rational benefits than they are at the emotional benefits. I swear every brand out there thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and yet like-able brand. It seems Marketers want “emotional advertising” but that has to start with an emotional brief. As a brand, you want to own the emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz We have taken this research method and created an Emotional Cheat Sheet for Brand Leaders. This lists out the 8 major emotional consumer zones, optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge.
To own a space in the consumer’s heart, you want to own and dominate one of zones, always thinking relation to what your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will just confuse your consumer as much as trying to own a long list of rational benefits. Once you narrow the major emotional zone you can own, you can use the supporting words of the Emotional Cheat Sheet to add flavor.
Features tell. But Benefits sell.
Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel.
The best way to work the Consumer Benefits Ladder is to hold a brainstorming session with everyone who works on the brand so you can:
- Leverage all the available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target and get all the consumer insights and need states out.
- List out all the features that your brand offers, and the brand assets it brings to the table. Make sure that these features are competitive advantages.
- Find the rational benefit by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and seeing the brand features from their eyes: start asking yourself over and over “so if I’m the consumer, what do I get from that?”. Ask up to 5 times and push the answers into a richer zone.
- Then find the emotional benefit by asking “so how does that make me feel?” As you did above, keep asking, and you’ll begin to see a deeper emotional space you can play in and own.
Put all the information of the group brainstorm into a Consumer Benefits Ladder Worksheet.
At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Creative Brief, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe. Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:
We run workshops that help Brand teams make better decisions on the way to smarter action plans
We are big believers in the workshop process. We think it’s the best way to get the decision makers in the room, push for alignment, make decisions and drive the team towards action. The most noticeable point of difference we offer is that we will challenge you with new ideas to get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. As the facilitator, I bring my executive experience into the room, ready to challenge the thinking and pushing for better answers. It’s like having another VP Marketing in the room.
While anyone can recommend a strategy, we recommend a realistic strategy that drives towards action. Quite frankly, I’m not big on consultants that just bring in big presentations that just sit on the shelf and never make it to the market. They cost a lot, take a long time, and in general they are written by consultants that have never run a business. Even Ad Agencies can recommend strategy, but they usually bring an agency bias and just give strategies that set up work they want to make–whether it drives growth for your business or not. I’ve run many businesses and I understand the pressure you’re facing on driving growth.
My personal promise to you is that I will get your brand in a better position for future growth
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.