How to use the Creative Brief as the bridge from planning to execution

         The tighter the creative brief, the better the advertising will be. The brief narrows down the focus of your advertising to a strategic objective, target, consumer insight, main message and support points.  All the information for the brief are found in the brand plan and positioning work.

         Every client I have ever met wants options back from their agency. Yet, every Agency person hates giving options. As you not an advertising expert, it is natural to have some uncertainty around what type of creative we want. However, Brand Leaders want creative options, not strategic options. And, before writing a brief, you better have just spent all your effort on developing a winning strategy. You do not want to mess it up at the briefing stage.

Creative Brief

Brand Leaders should control the strategy, but give freedom on execution to the experts who will execute on your behalf.

Too many marketers have this backwards, preferring to give freedom on strategy with a big wide brief, with various possible strategic options unknowingly layered within the Creative Brief. When you write a big-wide creative brief with layers of options within the brief, the agency just peels the brief apart into separate layers of the brief and gives you strategic options. If you ever choose your strategy based on what creative you like, then you just gave up control over the strategy to your art director and copywriter.

For instance, if you put a big wide target market of 18-65 years old, your agency will assume you are struggling to decide on a target. They believe it would be impossible to deliver creative that connects with 3 different generations. So they present three separate ads, one ad for 18-25 years old, another for 25-40 years old and a final spot for 40-55 years old. What happens if you like the creative to the younger audience because it was full of optimism and energy, but the smartest strategic target should have been the older target? Well, you just picked your target consumer based on which ad you liked best.

Make sure you focus

When you fail to decide on one main message, your agency will struggle with message priority. They will show you a few different spots, with different lead messages. When you pick the ad based on a cute dog in the spot, then you just chose your brand’s main message based on which ad you liked best. Keep in mind that the consumer sees 5,000 brand messages a day. When you overwhelm the consumer’s brain with multiple messages, their brain will just shut down and move on to the other 4,999 messages. Brand Leaders have to stop believing Advertising is like a bulletin board, where they can just tag on one more message onto the ad.

Finally, there is the case where you put multiple objectives into the brief. You want to drive awareness, trial and increase usage frequency. Those three objectives bring three different targets, three distinct main messages and likely three unique media choices. Your agency will present separate ads for each objective. When you pick the ad you like based on a cool song, you just chose your strategic objective based on which ad you liked best.

If you think you are doing your agency a favor by providing them a big wide brief, you are not.

The agency will see you as confused, and believe they are helping you out by showing you options of which element of your strategy would look like. They think that each new creative option will serve to make decisions on the brief that should have made before you wrote the brief.

Think this is hyperbole? Trust me, I have seen briefs with 8 objectives, plenty of targets that inferred ‘everyone’ and bullet point lists of potential main messages. I have seen some of the world’s best agencies accept those briefs. I encourage you to go through your own briefs and tear them apart. Stroke out 30% of the crap on your brief, and your brief will get better. You will be shocked how clear the task is for your agency becomes. Your job at the creative meeting just got easier. It is an enlightening experience to take your pen and stroke things off your brief.

The true role of a creative brief is to make decisions to narrow the focus, whether it is the target market, strategic objectives, main message and media. The Creative Brief sits between planning and marketing execution to force decision-making. Make the tough decisions to narrow the brief down to:

  • One strategic objective
  • One tightly defined consumer target
  • One desired consumer response
  • One main message
  • Up to two main reasons to believe

The Creative brief defines “the strategic box” for the creative to play within

Here are four things a good creative person does not want from you:

  1. A Blank canvas: Creative people would prefer a business problem to solve, not a wide-open request for advertising options. They hate spinning around in never-ending circles. They hate not pleasing their client. With no direction, they fear the next 10 meetings where you say, “Nope, I’m not feeling that one”.
  2. An unclear problem: Creative people want a tightly defined and focused problem to generate great work that solves your problems and meets your needs. Most creative people are multi-tasking projects, and will likely gravitate to the work that has a clear objective. You run the risk of not getting the best energy from the creative mind you are engaging.
  3. Long list of mandatories: Do not create a tangled web of mandatories that almost write the ad itself. This is one of those dirty little secrets I want to expose, so you don’t repeat the same mistake. Some Brand Leaders have an idea of the creative outcome they want, but even more important, they know the type of creative they don’t want. The long checklists of mandatories traps the creative team into taking various elements in the mandatory list and build a Frankenstein type ad.
  4. Your Creative Solutions: Creative people find it demotivating to be asked for their expertise (solving problems) and then not be fully utilized (given your answer). I remember early on in my career when I stepped over the line and tried to control the creative. When I saw the work at the next meeting, I said, “Yeah, that sure is crappy isn’t it”. I have learned to think of the best creative like someone getting you the perfect gift you never thought to get for yourself. Don’t buy yourself the gift. You might hate it.

Let your creative people solve problems

Most great creative advertising people I have met are problem solvers, not inventors. I would describe them as ‘in-the-box’ creative thinkers, not blue sky “out-of-the-box” dreamers. If they want a good problem to solve, then give them your problems, but never your solutions. Never give your creative team a blank slate or blank canvas and ask them to come up with an ad. Use the Creative Brief is to create the right box for them to solve.

Advice for writing smarter Creative Briefs:

  1. Define a tight target: Do not spread your limited resources against a target so broad that leaves everyone thinking your message is for someone else. Target the people who are the most motivated by what you do best, and make your brand feel personal. The best thing a brand can do is make consumers think, “This is for me”.
  2. Drive one objective at a time: Build advertising that gets consumers to do only one thing at a time, whether you want them to see, think, do, feel or influence their friends. Force yourself to make a decision that links with the brand strategy.
  3. Drive one main message at a time: If you put so many messages into your ad, consumers will just see and hear a cluttered mess. They will not know what you stand for, and you will never build a reputation for anything.
  4. Talk benefits not features: Start a conversation that shows what the consumers get or how they will feel. Do not just yell features at the consumer. Use your brand’s Big Idea to simplify and organize the brand messaging.

Here’s our workshop on how to write a creative brief:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

 

How to win the competitive battle for your consumer’s heart

A competitive brand strategy finds a space in the marketplace that your brand can win over and own. You must decided if you will position your brand to be better, different, or cheaper. Otherwise, your brand will not be around for very long. A competitive brand position matches up what consumers want with what your brand does best, that is better than your competitors. We will look at four types of competitive brand strategy situations: power player, challenger brand, island brand or the rebel brand. Most importantly, you need to make sure you align with the right competitive situation.

Finding your space to win

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce the Venn diagram of competitive situations. Looking below, the first circle should list out everything the consumer wants.

The second circle then lists everything your brand does best. And, finally, the third circle lists everything your competitor does best.

Competitive Strategic Thinking
To win, brands have to find the space where they are better, different, cheaper…
or else they will not around for very long.

To find your brand’s winning zone, you should match up what consumers want with what your brand does best. This provides you a distinct space that you can own and defend from attack. To maintain ownership over that space, your brand should always be able to satisfy the needs of the consumer better than anyone else can.

Your brand will not survive in the losing zone, which is the space that matches up the consumer needs with the area where your competitor does it better than your brand. It is dangerous to try to play in this space, because over the long term, your competitor will beat you.

Brands can win the risky zone

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It becomes harder to be better with a definitive product win, and that leaves you to play in the risky zone, which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie. The tie is important to understand, because brands can still win the tie when they make their brand seem different enough that consumers perceive their brand to be better. Perception becomes reality. The four ways to win the risky zone is to leverage your brand’s power in the market to squeeze out lesser brands, or to be the first to capture and defend the space, or to win with innovation and creativity, or find ways to build a deeper emotional connection.

Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone where two competitors “battle it out” in the space where consumers do not care. One competitor says, “We are faster” and the other thinks, “We are just as fast”. A competitive war starts up, yet no one bothered to ask the consumer if they care.

Competitive situations

In brand management, we never experience pure isolation. Even in a blue ocean situation, the euphoria of being alone quickly turns to a red ocean that is cluttered with the blood from nasty battling competitors. The moment we think we are alone, a competitor is watching and believes they can do it better than we can. To win the competitive battle, you have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand that distinguishes you from others. If you ignore the competition, with a belief that only the consumer matters, you are on a naive pathway to losing. Competitors force us to sharpen our focus and tighten our language on the brand positioning we will project to the market.

In terms of marketing war games, I will use this Venn diagram to map out four types of competitive brands: power players, challenger brands, island brands, and rebel brands. The final situation, where brands have no clue where they stand competitively, I call the cluttered brands. They sit in the cluttered space, lost, disconnected with consumers and in total decline.

Power Players

Power Players lead the way, as the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command a power over all the stakeholders, competitors, and retail partners of the category. In terms of positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at, and they leverage their power in the market to help them own the tie. This expands their presence and power across a bigger market. They leverage the love from a core group of loyal brand lovers to win the tie. These brands can also use their advanced financial situation to invest in innovation to stay ahead of the category.

Power Player brands defend their territory with an attack back at any aggressive competitor or even an attack on itself to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. These brands require a strong culture to continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. To stay as the power brand, you can never become complacent or you will die.

Competitive Strategic Thinking
A Power Player positioning  strategy uses what you do best to dominate the win and uses their brand power to dominate the space where they tie their competitors

Examples of Power Player brands

One of the best Power Player brands is Google, who has managed to dominate the search engine market. Their extreme focus and smart execution gained market power and squeezed out Microsoft and Yahoo. Focused on providing knowledge for consumers, they have continued to expand their services into a bundle of products with e-mail, maps, apps, docs, cloud technology, and cell phones. On the other hand, Blackberry forgot to defend their castle. In 2009, Blackberry dominated the B2B corporate smartphone market. However, they became distracted by the Apple launch and tried to be more like Apple than stay themselves. They launched a bad touch screen phone, an undifferentiated tablet, sponsored rock concerts, and launched Blackberry Messenger (BBM) for young teens. These brands never attacked themselves. They left severe product flaws that frustrated their users. Pretty soon, corporations switched to the iPhone.

Challenger Brands

Challenger brands must change the playing field to attack the leader and exploit a potential weakness or build on their own strength. While you can amplify what your brand does best, it becomes just as important to reposition the power player who you want to take down. The best way is to turn their well-known strength into a perceived weakness that moves them outside of what consumers want. While your first instinct would be to attack the power player’s weakness, the smarter move is to reposition one of the power player’s strengths into a perfective weakness.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
A powerful strategy is to attack your competitor’s strength and turn into a weakness, making their strength either less important or less interesting. 

When you attack a power player brand, be careful of the leader’s potential defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly with even greater resources than yours. Avoid battles that drain your brand’s limited resources or else you will spend a fortune only to end up with the same share after the war. Focus on consumers who are less vested in the leader’s brand to help kick-start a momentum away from the leader. As the leader tries to be everything to everyone, you should drive a narrow attack that slices off the most vulnerable part of its business before it can defend it.

Examples of challenger brands

         Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign defined the Mac brand as simple, confident, and cool, while re-defining the PC as old, uptight, and awkward. Apple repositioned PC’s strength as an intelligent computer and turned it into a weakness that was perceived as complicated, frustrating, and incapable. The ads layered in new ways that Mac was easier, while they highlighted all the problems with the PC that included hardware issues, software problems, and insufficient applications.

One of the best examples of a challenger brand that made significant gains is Pepsi, who launched the Pepsi Challenge in the 1970s as a direct offensive attack on Coke. Taste was one of Coke’s perceived strengths, but the ad implied that Coke’s taste was actually an acquired and memorable taste, not a sweet, superior taste. In the blind taste test, without the Coke brand name visible to consumers, they overwhelmingly picked Pepsi, preferring the sweeter taste. At the same time, Pepsi amplified their own strength as the “new generation” that set themselves up as the solution to those ready to reject the old taste of Coke.

Island Brands

       Island brands move into the blue ocean area all by themselves, where no one else competes. These brands are so different, that they appear to be relatively on their own. Most Island brands start as game-changers who have responded to an identified niche gap in the main category. They satisfy an unmet consumer need, whether that is a new target, price point, distribution channel, format, or positioning. When successful, the Island brand ends up repositioning the main category players as unattached to the consumers. While everyone wants a game-changer, to be so different brings increased risk that the concept may fail. Also, success may invite other entrants to follow the island brand, which puts the brand in a red ocean position. A red ocean is where your brand becomes the new power player brand who needs to defend your territory with full force.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
While using your disruptive approach to change the marketplace, you also want to push mass competitors away so to make them feel out of touch with consumer needs.

Example of an Island brand

Volvo is a great example of an island brand. Most car brands have traditionally focused on the horsepower and speed performance of the car, the interior luxury and comfort or the stylish designs, Volvo focused on safety. For Volvo safety is not just a claim or demo in their TV ads, but is everything they do. But the real beauty for Volvo is their obsession with safety. Volvo was long ahead of the marketplace. Volvo first started the safety angle in the 1940s and became completely obsessed in through the 1960s long before consumers cared about safety when no one was even wearing seat belts. But the market place has since caught up.

This year, Car and Driver reports safety as the #1 benefit that consumers are looking for in a new car. Most recently, Volvo has come up with a very ambitious vision statement for the brand: “No one should every die or be seriously injured in a Volvo.”

Rebel Brands

Rebel brands go against the entire category, into an area too small for the leaders to even take notice or attack back. Rebels pick a segment or target market that is small enough not be noticed that they can easily defend. They take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category. They portray every other brand in the category as old school, flawed, corrupt, overly corporate, or even stupid. Rebel brands believe that it is better to be loved by the few than liked or tolerated by many.

Strategic Thinking Competitive
Rebel brands or craft brands want to win a small space to a highly engaged target, that is far enough away from major competitors, so they won’t feel the need to attack back.

Growth of the tail 

In today’s economy, every category has seen the growth of craft-type brands that satisfy a small segment. As consumers have taken over the buying process, they look for brands that speak directly with them. A typical store that had three to four main coffee brands now carries fifteen to twenty coffee brands. Rebel brands must speak directly with a small group of consumers and own a small enough niche away from competitors. A great strategy is to focus on a niche of consumers who are frustrated by the market leaders.

These brands lead with purpose, they create a deep emotional bond, and try to be seen as “anti-corporate”. Their intention is to be aggressive. They put all the brand’s resources against their small target to gain the perceived relative force of a major player. These brands have to be nimble and quick to seize the opportunity before others notice. They are ready to exit if consumers shift their needs or the major competitors enter. Rebel brands explore non-traditional marketing techniques such as creative names or media options that fit the niche target market.

Examples of Rebel brands

A great example of a Rebel brand is Five Guys Burgers who successfully avoided big fast food chains. While fast food feels frozen and microwaved, Five Guys has gone the opposite direction with high quality and fresh ingredients. They offer larger portions at a super premium price ($8-$10 for a burger). They promise not to start cooking your hamburger until it is ordered. Five Guys have expanded rapidly with word of mouth helping to spread their reputation as “the best burger”. Since then, Five Guys has become a global brand, McDonald’s has yet to generate an adequate competitive response.

Another great example is Dollar Shave who launched as an online subscription model for razor blades. With a $3 billion dollar shaving market dominated by two players, the price of razor blades grew out of control. With only $30 million in the first year, they were too small for Gillette to even bother with. However, without a response, Dollar Shave continued to grow year-by-year. Unilever recently purchased the Dollar Shave brand for $1 billion.

Cluttered Brands

Strategic Thinking Competitive
Cluttered brands are lost in the middle.They lack a point of difference or connectivity with consumers

A cluttered brand has no clue where they stand competitively. These brands are stuck in a cluttered mess. There is no clear target market or clear point of difference. These brands lack a loyal base of consumers and are unable to generate any positive growth or price premiums. They end up an indifferent commodity, disconnected from consumer needs. Without sales growth or profits, they struggle to invest back into their brand, which further accelerates the path of decay.

Examples of cluttered brands are General Motors, Burger King, and Sears, all of whom lack any clear brand positioning. The way to break this vicious downward spiral is to start over and follow the strategy of the rebel brand. Try to own a small niche and build around a unique brand positioning to a smaller motivated target.

Strategic Thinking Workshop

To read more on Strategic Thinking, click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

How strategic thinking can help your brand win in the market.

I will outline the five elements of smart strategic thinking. Strategy starts with having a vision of the future. This sets up questions, that outline the major issues in the way of the vision. From there,  you must allocate resources against your strategic programs that fill an identified focused opportunity you see in the marketplace. When successful, the strategy must generate a market impact that can be leveraged into a performance result, making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

I always joke that strategic people share similar traits to those we might consider lazy, cheap, or conniving. Rather than just dive into work, strategic people will spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking of all the possible ways for them to get more out of something, while exerting the least possible effort or wasting their own money. After thinking of every possible option, they have this unique talent to make a firm decision on the best way forward. They are great at debate because it appears they already know the other options you might raise. They already know why that option will not work as well. .

Strategic Thinking

Are you naturally Strategic or Instinctual?

I see a big difference between strategic thinking and intuitive leaders. Smart strategic thinkers see the right questions before they look for answers. Instinctual thinkers see answers before they even know the right question.

Strategic thinkers see “what-if” type questions before they look for potential solutions. Have you ever been a meeting and heard someone say, “That’s a good question”? This is usually a sign someone has asked an interruptive question designed to slow everyone’s brain down.  They take the time to reflect and plan before they act, to force them to move in a focused and efficient way. Strategy is the thinking side of marketing, both logical and imaginative. Strategic people are able to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, to imagine how events will play out in the future. The risk is that if they think too long, they just spiral around, unable to decide. They miss the opportunity window.

Instinctual Thinkers

On the other hand, instinctual thinkers just jump in quickly to find answers before they even know the right question. Their brains move fast; they use emotional impulse and intuitive gut feel. These people want action now and get easily frustrated by delays. They believe it is better to do something than sit and wait around. They see strategic people as stuck running around in circles, as they try to figure out the right question. Instead, these instinctual leaders choose emotion over logic.

This “make it happen” attitude gets things done, but if they go too fast, their great actions may solve the wrong problem. Without proper thinking and focus, an action-first approach might just spread the brand’s limited resources randomly across too many projects. Instinctual leaders can be a creative mess and find themselves with a long to-do list, unable to prioritize or focus.

Changing brain speeds 

Brand leaders must learn to change brain speeds. Go slowly when faced with difficult strategy and quickly with their best instincts on execution. A brand leader’s brain should operate like a racecar driver, slow in the difficult corners and fast on the straightaway. You must slow down to think strategically. Did you ever think that the job might get in the way of thinking about how to do your job better? With wall-to-wall meetings, constant deadlines, and sales pushes, you have to create your own thinking time.Strategic Thinking

You should block off a few hours each week, put your feet up on the desk, and force yourself to ask really difficult questions. Pick one problem topic for each meeting you book and even invite a peer to set up a potential debate. The goal is not to brainstorm a solution, but to come up with the best possible question that will challenge the team. Go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere just to get away from it all. My best thinking never came at my desk in front of my computer. If you have your head down in the numbers you will miss the obvious opportunities and threats that are right on the horizon. To be more strategic, you should assess the situation, frame questions that challenge your thinking, and consider every element that could have an impact on your brand.

How to slow your brain down and think strategically

  1. Find your own thinking time. Go for walks at lunch or a drive somewhere to get away from it all. Block hour-long “thinking meetings” with yourself.
  2. Organize your week to fit your thinking pace. For instance, maybe talk “big ideas” on a Friday morning so you can take the weekend to think.  Schedule quick updates on Monday afternoon that clears your mind for the week.
  3. Do the deep thinking before the decision time comes? Always be digging deep into the analytics to stay aware, prepare yourself, no matter your level.
  4. Next time in a meeting, spend your energy asking the best questions. Too many leaders try to impress everyone with the best answers. Next time stump the room with the best questions that slow down the team so they think.
  5. Proactively meet your partner team. Get to know their needs, rather than wait for a problem or conflict. Come to them proactively with possible solutions so you both win.

Five elements of smart strategic thinking

Everyone says they are a strategic thinker, but not many Marketers really are. Early in my career, I confess that I was more of an instinctual marketer. So, I know the effort and discipline it takes to slow the brain down and evolve into a strategic thinker. Here are four elements of strategic thinking to help slow your brain down.

Strategic Thinking

1. Always set a vision of what you want for your brand

A strategic thinker thinks about the future to map out a vision for five or ten years from now. A vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a well-defined end result or purpose. Within the vision, you should focus on finding ways to create a bond with your consumers that will lead to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve. With every vision, you should write the statement in a way that should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.

The vision should steer everyone who works on the brand. In fact, I believe every little project should have its own little vision that is closely linked to the overall brand vision to help determine what success looks like on that project. As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you do not know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?”

To be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future. Imagine that it is five or ten years from now. You wake up in the most amazing mood. Think about your personal life and your business, and start to imagine the ideal of what you want. Start to write down the things that have you in such a great mood. Visualize your perfect future and write down the most important things you want to achieve, and begin brainstorming a vision for the future. Even think about language that will inspire, lead and steer your team towards that vision.

Always ask questions

To challenge how to make your vision happen, you must ask interruptive questions of what is the way of you achieving your vision. As the definition of strategic thinking talks about asking questions, the smart strategy must ask questions that frame the issues that are in the way of what you want to achieve. Look to come up with an interruptive type question that will make everyone on the brand stop and think. The brainstorm I use is to list out everything in the way of the vision—trying to come up with at least 20; then narrow down to the three biggest issues you see, and frame it as a big question for the team to solve.

Strategic Thinking

2. Deployment of your brand’s available strategic options

A brand has options to build programs behind the brand’s core strength, build the consumer relationship with one of the five consumer touch-points, battle competitors on positioning, address situational opportunities and engage consumers as you go to market.

3. Focus your brand’s resources against an identified opportunity

The biggest myth of marketing is to believe that a bigger target market is the path to becoming a bigger brand. Too many marketers target anyone. It is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand lovers, and then use that base of lovers to expand the following.

The second myth is to believe that if you stand for everything, it will make your brand stronger. There are brands that say they are faster, longer lasting, better tasting, stronger, cheaper, and have a better experience. They mistakenly think that whatever the competitor does best, they will try to do it better. They will say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears something. Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction that it will never go against what it states. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.

The third myth is to try to be everywhere, whether that means in every channel of distribution or on every possible media option. The worst marketers lack focus because of their fear of missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere.

Focus your limited resources

Every brand is constrained by limited resources, whether financial, time, people, or partnership resources. Yet marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether those choices are in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders are able to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will deliver the greatest return.

Strategic Thinking

The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and conquer with the confidence of strategic thinking. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.” If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize in your own brain that it is okay to do a little of both, then you are not strategic.

For a strategy to work, brands must see an opportunity, to find an opening in the marketplace based on a change in consumer needs, new technology, competitive opening, or new channels. In today’s electronic world, everyone has access to the same information and in turn can see the same opportunities. You must use speed to seize the opportunity before others can react or else the opportunity will be gone.

4. Leverage the breakthrough to create an impact in the marketplace

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to see a small shift in momentum towards the vision. There are always doubters to every strategy. The results of the early win are crucial proof to show everyone the strategy will work. This helps change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so that everyone can stay focused on this breakthrough point.

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to get more or achieve more results in the marketplace than you put into the strategy.

5. Performance result that pays back and opens a gateway for more growth

The final element of smart strategic thinking is the gateway opening that a marketplace win allows the brand to achieve more growth for the brand. There has to be a shift in positional power in the marketplace that allows you to achieve your vision, drive business results and make gains in terms of a future pathway to even more consumer connection, power and profit for the brand.

For a brand, the end result must either be more power or more profit. In terms of power, a brand can become powerful versus the consumers they serve, the competitors they battle, the channels they sell through, the suppliers who make the products or ingredients, influencers in the market, any media choices and the employees who work for the brand. In terms of profit, there are eight ways a brand can add to their profitability. Those are through premium pricing or trading consumers up on price, through lower cost of goods or lower sales and marketing costs, through stealing competitive users or getting loyal users to use more and by entering new markets or finding new uses for the brand.

As a strategy must pay back to the brand, you should know which power and profit driver your strategy is focused against. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE was notorious for asking employees he would meet, “So how do you add value?” Do you know how you add value? You should.

Strategic Thinking

How Apple re-built their brand around ‘simplicity’

In 1996, the Apple brand was bordering on bankruptcy. They were basically just another computer company, without any real point of difference. Years of overlooked opportunities, flip-flop strategies, and a mind-boggling disregard for market realities caught up with Apple, Windows 95 has seriously eroded the Mac’s technology edge. Apple was rapidly becoming a minor player in the computer business with shrinking market shares, price cuts and declining profits.

Apple looked like it would not survive.

This was the year before even contemplating the return of Steve Jobs. This really showcases how badly Apple was run through the 1990s. They were making bad decisions with inconsistent strategies and most importantly, there was no big idea for what Apple stood for. After Steve Jobs came into Apple in 1997, everything he did was built around the big idea of “making technology so simple that everyone can be part of the future.” He took a consumer first approach in a market that was all about the gadgets, bits and bytes.   Strategic Thinking

Apple’s Smart Strategic Thinking

Here are the five elements of smart strategic thinking that allowed Apple to complete their turnaround plan.

  1. Vision of what you want for your brand: Apple wants everyone to be part of technology in the future. The challenging question for Apple: how can we strengthen and leverage our bond with our most loyal Apple users to help the brand grow.
  2. Deployment of your brand’s available strategic options: Apple needed to drive the ‘simplicity’ big idea into the mass market by using their brand love to influence others. Every brand message, product innovation, consumer experience, purchase moment must drive home ‘simplicity’
  3. Focus of your brand’s resources against an identified opportunity: Focus on a “consumer first” mentality that transforms leading-edge technology into “consumer accessible technology”. Apple has been able to capitalize on consumer frustration with technology that has prevented the mass consumers from experiencing everything that technology can offer. The famous “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ads brilliantly focused on the antagonist consumer enemy of “frustration” to which Apple’s simplicity is the solution.
  4. Leverage the breakthrough to create a market impact: Take a fast follower stance on, making technology easy to use, with consumer-friendly laptops, phones and tablets. High profile launch hype to generate excitement, transforming early adopters into vocal Apple activists to spread the word.
  5. Performance result that pays back and opens a gateway for more growth: Apple created a consumer bond around the Big Idea of “making technology simple” leveraging tight connection with their brand fans to enter new categories. Apple is now the most beloved consumer-driven brand, with premium prices, stronger market share, sales and profits.

The impact on Apple’s Performance Results

Apple has used brand love to help drive a remarkable 40x revenue growth over 10 years, going from 5.7 in 2005 billion up to $240 billion in 2015. This type of rapid growth helps cover costs of Advertising and R&D, giving Apple very healthy operating margins that are up over 35%. All this has increased Apple’s market capitalization to over $500 Billion.

Apple’s Revenue and Profit Growth (2005-2015)

Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking Workshop

To read more on Strategic Thinking, click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

How can a junk business be the best consumer experience of any brand I’ve ever seen

1-800-GotJunkHaving been in our current house for 16 years, as our kids have gone from 4 up to 20 years old, we have naturally accumulated a lot of junk.

Sure they are memories, but at various stages, it has become overwhelming and we needed to create more space, to accumulate even more junk.  And repeat.

We have called 1-800-Got-Junk three times now. And as a brand guy, I’ve been mesmerized by how great of an experience it has been.

As soon as you open the door, you think “This is the type of guy, I wish my daughter would bring home, and say Dad, this is who I’m going to marry”.

Articulate, polite, college kids, smart. Almost just perfect.

They put on their little booties, and walk around the house with you. Every time you point at something, they nod, smile and write it down. Even as you apologize for how much we have, or how rough things look,  they always give the perfect response. Not only can they hold a conversation during the 2-3 hours of the visit, it seems they almost start conversations. I don’t know how they do it, but the people they hire keep smiling and talking as they cart off….junk.

And after each of the three visits, I say to my wife “How can a junk company create such a perfect culture?”

It’s all about the people.

That’s one of the mantras of 1-800-Got-Junk, but they seem to have gone beyond the cliche.

When CEO Brian Scudamore was asked how do you create such happy people, his response was simple: “We hire happy people and keep them happy”.

It doesn’t hurt that they give 5 weeks of paid vacation. Well, not only does that keep the people happy, but it allows you to recruit the best of the best.

Brian Scudamore started his company in 1989 at 18 years old, when he was in a McDonald’s drive thru, and saw a junk removal company. The company grew through the 1990s into a million dollar company, expanded through a franchise model that moved it to a $200 million in annual sales. They pick up junk. 

At various points along his personal journey, Scudamore has used a “painted picture” vision to take a step back. In 1997, he sat on a dock and tried to visualize what the company could look like in the future. His perspective changed when instead of worrying about what wasn’t possible, he began to paint a picture in his head of what was. He closed his eyes and envisioned how he wanted 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to look, feel, and act by the end of 2002.

“My painted picture contained not only tangible business achievements like the number of franchises we would have and the quality of our trucks, but also more sensory details, like how our employees would describe our company to their family members and what our customers would say they loved best about working with us.”  

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

Scudamore amore still uses this technique, trying to visualize what life and your business will look like in 5 years. In 2008, as the economy started to tank, he took another huge personal reflection, writing down what he loved and what he was good at. The two lists almost matched up perfectly, as his passion and skills matched up. Then, he wrote down what he didn’t love and what he wasn’t very good at. He realized he needed to build a team around him, with individuals who could cover off his weaknesses. The overall vision is to make ordinary businesses extraordinary.  

Here’s a few of the questions that Scudamore asks of himself:

  • What is your top-line revenue?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • How would your people describe the culture of your company when talking to a family member?
  • What is the press saying about your business? Be as specific as possible: what would your local paper say about your company? What would your favorite magazine say?
  • What do your people love about your vision and where the company is headed?
  • How would a customer describe their experience with you? What would they say to their best friend?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? What accomplishment are your people most proud of?
  • What do you do better than anyone else on the planet?
  • Describe your office environment in detail.
  • Describe your service area. Who are your customers and how do they feel?

To really make your culture part of the brand, Scudamore has made this visualization part of the culture, with an annual release of a new painted picture, plus quarterly meetings that articulate the painted picture. He’s even cascaded this technique down to his franchise owners, where each franchise articulates what they see for themselves. This allows the culture to form around the vision.

“Do What You Love; Let Others Handle the Rest”

Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-Got-Junk

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Brand Plans, helping to lay out the vision, goals, issues, strategies and tactics.  

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.

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

If you want to do great work in Marketing, go work on a boring product

I started my career in kids cereals and every time I tried to do something interesting, I was told “No, we can’t do that” or my VP looked at me sideways like I was crazy.

I kept thinking, my god, “This category is supposed to be the most fun category to work in”. 

So, why can’t we have fun?

The odd answer:  We are already fun.

So then I went to work in healthcare marketing, on Benadryl, Listerine, Reactine, Nicoderm and Band Aid. 

I spent a decade thriving in creativity.

I had fun. Lots and lots of fun. And we made great work.

We needed to be interesting just to stand out. Management welcomed creativity, almost with a relief.  

One of my colleagues summed up what we do: “We make a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Boring products are where you can have the most fun.

This is where the best Marketers thrive. Making boring products interesting.

2017 has been a boring year for Marketing. Lots of little gadgets, but man, I’ve been craving big creative ideas all year. And, I’ve been constantly disappointed. 

Today, I want to celebrate Windex, a severely boring product, that created a 2 and 1/2 minute video that will certainly make you cry. 

I love it. 

Well done Windex team.

You have taken a boring-ass product and made it really interesting. 

 

 

My own story on Nicoderm

When I worked on Nicoderm, someone on my brand team told me “Quitting smoking is very serious, so we should have a serious ad”.

I wasn’t buying it.

My agency really struggled. Two months went by. 

They presented me some of the work, and I thought “my god, it’s dull”.

The Agency secretly told me they hated the work and wanted me to take off the handcuffs that the work must be serious. 

They gave me permission to trash it, so that we opened up fun as a possibility. I did.

The next round, we had too many great ideas, and we were in a position where we were able to pick one among them.

This is the ad that won J&J’s global ad of the year in 2007. 

You don’t need to be serious, to communicate something serious.

Marketing should be fun.

If we don’t love the work, how do we expect the consumer to love our brand?

 

If you want to learn how to show up better, we train marketing teams on how to get better Marketing Execution. We go through how to write better briefs, how to make better decisions and how to give inspiring feedback to realize the greatness of your creative people. Here’s what the workshop looks like:

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.

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

 

The skills, behaviors and experiences needed to be a great Marketer

As you manage your own Marketing Career, you assess your skills, behaviors and experiences, to figure where your gaps that you should address. A marketer must build their capability around key skill areas strategy, analytics, positioning, planning and execution. The best marketers must exhibit leadership behaviors that take ownership and inspire others. And, they run their business like an owner. They can exhibit broad leadership across the entire organization. Finally, many of the more complicated areas of marketing takes experience. Over the years, I found myself saying “you almost screw up the first five times, you…” And, I started to realize, that message fit with advertising, managing others, brand planning, launching new brands, and leading beyond your own team. 

Nail the obvious

Let me start with the expected behaviors for success at any level of Marketing. Trust me, if you do not hit these, you will likely annoy someone enough to get rid of you. These are non-negotiable and if you miss continuously, they could become potentially career-limiting moves.  

What is non-negotiable:

  • Hit deadlines: Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, that if you begin to miss deadlines, things will just stockpile on each other. Do not try to constantly negotiate extensions. There are no extensions, just missed opportunities.
  • Know your business: Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as P&L (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all major competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Be open with communication: There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it.
  • Listen and then decide: It is crucial that you seek to understand to the experts surrounding you, before you make a decision. Early in your career, use your subject matter experts to teach you. As you hit director or VP, use them as an advisor or sounding board to issues/ideas. They do want you to lead them,  so it is important that you listen and then give direction or push them towards the end path.
  • Take control of your 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. When you don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when you know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • Able to use regular feedback for growth: Always seek out and accept feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Do not think of it as a personal attack or setback. Identify gaps you can close, never think of them as weaknesses that hold you back. You should be constantly striving to get better.

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

The crucial marketing skills

At Beloved Brands, we use a 360 degree view, where you need to be able to analyze, think, define, plan and then execute. And then repeat.

1. Analyze performance

  • Digs deep into data, draws comparisons and builds a story toward the business conclusionBrand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences
  • Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand
  • Understands all sources of brand data—share, brand funnel, consumption, financials
  • Writes analytical performance reports that outlines the strategic implications

2. Think Strategically

  • Thinks strategically, by asking the right interruptive questions before reaching for solutions
  • 360-degree strategic thinking: core strength, consumers, competitors, situation, engagement
  • Able to lead a well-thought strategic discussion across the organization
  • Makes smart strategic decisions based on vision, focus, opportunity, early win and leverage

3. Define the brand

  • Defines ideal consumer target, framed with need states, insights and enemies
  • Consumer centric approach to turn brand features into functional and emotional benefits
  • Finds winning brand positioning space that is own-able and motivates consumers
  • Develops a big idea for brand that can lead every consumer touchpoint

4. Create Brand Plans

  • Leads all elements of a smart brand plan; vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, tactics.
  • Turns strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements for the brand plan
  • Strong in presenting brand plans to senior management and across organization
  • Develops smart execution plans that delivers against the brand strategies

5. Inspire creative execution

  • Writes strategic, focused and thorough creative briefs to inspire great work from experts
  • Can lead all marketing projects on brand communication, innovation, selling or experience
  • Able to inspire greatness from teams of experts at agencies or throughout organization
  • Makes smart marketing execution decisions that tightens bond with consumers

Taking this a step further, you can use the assessment tool to identify gaps in your team.

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

The leader behaviors

1. Accountable for results

  • Holds everyone accountable to the goals of their tasks
  • Makes it happen, get things done, don’t let details/timeline slip
  • Stays on strategy, eliminates ideas that are not focused against vision/strategy.
  • Works the system behind the brand, from sales to finance to operations to HR

2. People leadership

  • Manages core team: focus, communication, solutions, results, let others shine.
  • Interested in their people’s development and career development
  • Coaches, teaches, guides the team for higher performance.
  • Provides honest assessments to their people and upwards.

3. Broad influence

  • Active listener, seeks opinions, makes decisions, owns strategy.
  • Controls brand strategy, yet flexible to new ideas on the execution.
  • Carries influence throughout organization.
  • Thinks of others beyond themselves, empathy to pressures/challenges others are facing.

4. Authentic style

  • Aware of their impact on others within and beyond their team.
  • Exhibits leadership under pressure: results, ambiguity, change, deadlines.
  • Consistency in leadership in how they show up.
  • Flexibility in leadership: admits mistakes, challenges self, adjusts to new ways.

5. Runs business like an owner

  • Acts like a ‘Brand CEO’ accountable to the long-range health and profits of the business.
  • Makes smart decisions that adds to the health of brand, not their career or personal wealth.
  • Makes the right choices, good for the company, consumers, customers, market, society.
  • Lives and breathes the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand.

The necessary experiences 

Many of the hardest experiences a Marketer must go through almost takes 3-5 opportunities for the Brand Leader to really nail.  I remember how challenging it was for me the first time I launched a new advertising campaign.  Can I confess now that it was a complete disaster? I had no clue what the major steps were and no one on my side who could teach me. I was lucky that my client service person helped me through every step. Over the years, I would get better and better, learning something new each time. I then struggled the first time I managed a person for the first time. Then I struggled to launch a new brand. It is starting to sound like I was a disaster at everything. Well, I might be over-exaggerating, but I can tell you that i got better each time. And you will as well. 

The experiences that you need learn at each stage of the way include:

  1. Write Brand Plans: Writing a brand plan takes experience. I recommend you should learn some of the same skills through writing brand recommendations, writing a brand review or writing a section of the brand plan. Leading a Brand Turnaround: When the results are not meetings the expectations of the business, the pressure goes up exponentially and the scrutiny intensifies. If there is a hint of concern, senior leaders will roll up their sleeves and get involved.
  2. Launching new advertising: Launching a big new campaign from scratch involves a lot of crucial steps to manage, while dealing with the ambiguity of what makes a great creative and smart media choices. On top of that, it is essential to keep the agency motivated, while keeping your boss aligned.
  3. Managing a team: Managing can be such a challenge that when I worked at J&J, when we promoted someone to Brand Manager, we usually tried to avoid giving them a direct report. Most people mess up their first direct report. A similar pattern happens: excited to have someone do the little stuff they hate doing, then the person struggles so the manager does it themselves and gets mad at the person who can’t do it, then begins to think their direct report is incompetent. On the other hand, the direct report thinks their boss refuses to train them, gives them little feedback and is a control freak. Firing a Marketer: This sounds like a strange experience to put on the list, but it is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make. I wish you never would have to fire one, but the reality is that you will. To make sure you are making the right decision, you really need to understand the role and be able to measure that person against the criteria for what they can and cannot do.
  4. Launching a new brand: While managing a brand is difficult enough, creating a brand from scratch involves every element of marketing from the concept to the product to naming to production, selling, shipping, advertising, displaying, promoting, and analyzing the performance. You better be great at Marketing before taking on a launch from scratch.
  5. Leading across organization: As you move into more senior leadership roles, a great way to extend your breadth across the organization is to take on more cross-functional roles, whether special projects or moving into a cross functional role. This allows you to begin seeing every corner of the organization through the eyes of other team players in sales, HR, operations and finance. 

Here is a tool to track your experiences from an entry-level up to a senior role. I tell Marketers that you should try to have a good balance as you move up, so you can avoid having any experience gaps when you hit a senior level. 

Brand Careers Skills Behaviors Experiences

Here is a presentation that can help you manage your career in Brand Management.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. We use our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make brand leaders smarter, so they can unleash their full talent potential. We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

How to build your brand positioning statement around benefit clusters

The reality with most brands is that great brands can do a few things, that give the consumer a few different functional benefits and a few different emotional benefits. One of the tools I work with clients on is to figure out the clusters, which are the groupings of similar benefits that a brand can deliver, then work to narrow down which of those benefits can stand out as the most motivating to consumers and the most own-able for the brand. What you are looking for is that winning zone where you are meeting consumer needs better than your competitors. To be successful, brands have to be better, different, cheaper…or else they will not be around for very long. This process will help you find your winning zone.

The Consumer Benefits Ladder

The Consumer Benefits Ladder helps turn your brand’s features into consumer benefits. You should stop thinking about what your brand does and start thinking about what your consumer gets.

Consumer Benefit LadderConsumer Benefit LadderThe 4 steps to build a Consumer Benefits Ladder:

  1. Leverage all available research to brief the team, helping define the consumer target profile with consumer insights, need states and the consumer enemy.
  2. Brainstorm all the possible brand features that your brand offers, plus any brand assets. Make sure that these features give your brand a competitive advantage.
  3. Move up to the functional benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer and for each feature on your list, ask “so if I am the consumer, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up to 5 times, to the answers into a richer zone.
  4. Then move up to the emotional benefits of looking at each functional benefit and then ask “so if I am the consumer, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a deeper emotional space that you can play in and own.

Functional Benefits

 To help Brand Leaders, I have taken the 9 functional need state zones shown earlier in this chapter and expanded the list to over 50 potential functional benefits that you can build your brand around. As you look through the list, gravitate to the functional benefits you think will fit the needs of your consumers, and where your brand can do it better than competitors. Start with my words and layer in your own creative language with the specific category or consumer language.

Functional benefit Cheat Sheet

Emotional Benefits

Below you will find a list of 40 potential emotional benefits. From my experience, Marketers are better at the rational benefits than they are at the emotional benefits. I swear every brand thinks their brand should be the trusted, reliable and yet like-able. As a brand, you want to own one emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. When I push Brand Managers to get emotional, they struggle and opt for what they view as obvious emotions, even if they do not fit with their brand.

I have used Hotspex research methodology to create a ‘cheat sheet’ with 8 major emotional consumer benefits, that includes optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge. To own a space in the consumer’s heart, brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always thinking relative to what zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will confuse your consumer. Use the supporting words to add flavor to your brand positioning.

Emotional benefit Cheat Sheet

Build Around Benefit Clusters

 As you start to make decisions on which benefits your brand will stand behind, I recommend you start by looking at the two cheat sheets and find potential clusters of the functional and emotional benefits, that you believe match up with what consumers want and what your brand does better than other competitors. Below where I have mapped out benefit clusters for Gray’s Cookies, a fictional cookie brand that combines great taste and low calories.

In terms of functional benefits, it makes sense to build the brand around functional benefits such as healthy, sensory and experiences and emotional benefits such as control, knowledge, and optimism. Once you have those benefits, you can apply the unique brand or category language to write out benefit statements. For instance, you could use the clusters to write a functional benefit statement such as “I get a great tasting cookie, as good as my current cookie” or an emotional benefit statement like “I feel in control of my health”.

Consumer Benefit Clusters

Use the brainstorm to populate the Consumer Benefits Ladder worksheet to focus your thinking. Like any brainstorm, you will end up more choices than you can use. 

Consumer Benefits

Benefit sort

The next step beyond the worksheet is to narrow down the list by sorting through the benefits to find those that are the most motivating to consumers and the most own-able for your brand. Use the grid below to evaluate, where the zones match up to the Venn diagram on brand positioning. Think of this as the flattened out version of the 3 circles.

Positioning Grid

Looking at the Brand Positioning Benefit Sort above, you can see on the grid how The “Guilt free” consumer benefit offers the highest potential, as it is highly motivating and highly own-able for the brand. This is the winning zone that matches up to the positioning zones we showed in Chapter 8 on competitive strategy. The consumer benefit of “New favorite cookie” is highly motivating, but falls into the losing zone, as it would be owned by the power player competitor brands in the category. The “Feel more confident” benefit falls into the risky zone. To win this zone, the brand would need to use speed-to-market, creativity or leveraging emotional marketing. Avoid the dumb zone, where the benefit shows up low on motivating and potential ownership. In this case, “More comfort in choices” is neither motivating nor own-able.

Turning it into a Brand Positioning Statement

After doing all the homework, you can now confidently put together a winning Brand Positioning Statement that addresses:

  1. Who is your consumer target? Keep the target focused. Do not be vague in your definition. Never go after two segments at the same time. Bring the target to life with need states, consumer insights, and a consumer enemy.  
  2. Where will you play? Define the space you play in, against those brands you compete against. Which competitor do you fight against for the same dollars?
  3. Where will you win? Narrow your benefit down to one thing. Never try to stand for too many things at once—whether too many functional benefits or too many emotional benefits. You cannot be all things to all people. Make sure you talk benefits, not features. Find the ideal space that is unique and motivating to the consumers, while being own-able for your brand.
  4. Why should they believe us? The role of support points is to close off any potential doubts the consumer might have when they see the main benefit. Watch out that these are not just random claims or features that you want to jam into your brand message. They should support and fit with the main benefit.

Brand Positioning Statement

 

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to define your brand, including the benefit cluster tool.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

 

 

Graham Robertson bio

The miraculous transition of China is happening, but it may take the entire century to complete.

China is in the midst of rapid growth that will continue to transform the country into an economic powerhouse throughout this century. As a Canadian, I find it fascinating to see elements that are ahead and behind the western world.

Old world versus future world

There are many layers of complexity within China, whether cultures, tiers of cities or the stark differences in generations. The older adults are living the simple lifestyle they learned in the 20th century. It is common to see 50-year-olds riding basic bicycles to work. Or see people eating at small local eateries that do not look or feel safe in western standards.

However, young adults are not only modern; they appear to be living in the future, beyond western standards. Everything is app based, e-commerce driven, global payments and QR codes for purchasing or learning more. While we have the odd retailer specific payment app here in the West, we do not yet have globally accepted pay apps that stretch across all retailers.

Alibaba is a brand we all need to watch

On my two most recent trips to China, I have noticed a considerable decline in retailers, restaurants or even or taxis that take Visa. Everyone is using Alipay, linked closely to the Alibaba e-commerce giant (market capitalization of $350B) who could take on Amazon (market capitalization of $450B) on the world stage. 

alipayAs much as we in the west are fascinated with Amazon, do you think you understand Alibaba enough to learn from them? Alibaba’s market capitalization has gone from $200B up to $356B in the last 12 months. A 78% gain in 12 months. Wow. 

The social media app of choice is WeChat with almost a billion active users. WeChat provides text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast messaging, video conferencing, video games, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing. You can even exchange contacts with people nearby via Bluetooth. Like Alipay, WeChat has a payment service that wants to be considered the digital wallet. When will these global payment systems become mainstream in the west? And who will own it?  

Income disparity is vast, but signs of improving

In the last ten years, the average income for China has tripled. The problem is that it is still under USD 10,000, compared with over $45,000 for many of the western nations it competes with. Within any statistics in China, there are layers of complexity. The most significant layer of complexity is around the disparity of income levels. 

While people of the west are trying to figure out solutions of rich versus poor, the evidence is even more overwhelming in China. With a high growth economy, they are starting to see the trickle-down impact of wealth, helping the creation of a real middle class in China.

It is expected that from 2012 to 2022, those in China making more than $34K US will increase from 3% currently up to 9%, and those in the growing middle class ($16K to $34K) will increase from 14% up to 54%.  These are huge jumps that will likely continue for the entire century. Wealth in China

The growing professional workforce will be the most significant force of transformation of the economy. Reminiscent of America in the 1950s, Chinese parents are investing in the education for their children, as they realize their children will be richer 20 years from now than they are today. This was the root of the American dream. 

The rapid growth of cities appears well planned

Shenzhen ChinaI loved my recent trip to Shenzhen, just across the water from Hong Kong. On a daily basis, thousands and thousands of Hong Kong residents stream across the border to work in Shenzhen. It’s not an easy commute going through border patrols and customs, to and from work each day.

Shenzhen is quickly transforming into a beautiful city. One of the most underestimated elements of China are the trees throughout the streets. When a westerner would think about cities of 25-30 million, we would normally think it must be a concrete jungle. Shenzhen in China is lined with gorgeous and rich trees. Similar to Shanghai of the French concession area. Keep in mind, Shenzhen did not even exist 20 years ago, and today, it is home to 20-25 million people. This city is benefiting from smart urban planning.

Luxury brands are everywhere

Within the city, they have created neighborhoods for the rich, with some of the nicest malls you will find. Evidence of the disparity of income is everywhere. Shenzhen MallsI went through an affluent shopping mall in Shenzhen that would rival any high-end mall in America. Hugo Boss, Coach, Sephora, Rolex, Lululemon. You name a brand, and this mall had it.

I browsed for prices and could not find any deals. Imported goods in China are a sign of prestige, yet you will have to pay for it through higher prices.

There are 2,600 Starbucks throughout China. If these high-end items are considered badge brands in the west, imagine what a badge it is to confirm your social status as one who has made it in China.

Further evidence was the cars on the road including Mercedes, BMW’s, Range Rovers, Ferrari’s and Audi’s. While China has recently become the #1 car market in the world, only those in the elite class are driving cars.

Bikes are still a reality

Most western cities have bike rentals, where you slide in your visa and take a gentle ride to see the sights. In Europe and North America, it’s something tourists would use. In China, these bikes offer a much more functional need state, and this is seen as a business that has been a disruption to transportation so that people can get to and from work. The bikes are not locked, and they do not accept Visa. People here use WeChat or Alipay payment apps on their phones, to scan the barcode on the bike and then pay and go where you need to go.

5 Questions for the future

As I look at the next 80+ years for China, here are the questions in my mind

  1. Will China make the shift a product-driven economy to a brand-driven economy? 
  2. Can locally grown brands begin to push back against the influx of the imported brands?
  3. How will China close the gap on Marketing talent, to be strong on strategy, analytics, brand positioning, brand planning and creative marketing execution?
  4. Will China be able to move some of their successful platforms such as WeChat or Alibaba into the western markets? Will we ever see a global battle between Alibaba and Amazon? 
  5. How long can China sustain such a growth mode before they need to make adjustments, and how will they handle the normal ups and downs of growth and recessions?

Here’s a Powerpoint presentation on how to get how to create a beloved brand, something for China to consider as they shift from product-driven economy to a brand-driven.

And, keep an eye out for the launch of our first book. We will be launching beloved brands in April of 2018.

beloved brands book

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson bio

The 10 essential steps of the Creative Advertising process the Brand Leader must lead

When it comes to advertising, one of the biggest struggles that Brand Leaders have is when the project gets out of hand. While there are ten essential steps, the Brand Leader must keep their head in the game at all times. One slip and they run the risk of losing control of the final execution. These steps are not written from the vantage of the agency, but rather that of the client.

Creative Advertising Process

  1. Strategy Pre-Work: The brand positioning and brand plan homework make it easier to write a great creative brief. Go deep on finding the consumer insights and consumer enemy, understand the brand positioning, the big idea and then lay out a brand concept. From the brand plan, write a tightly focused brand communications plan. Only once you have done all this homework done, should you take a pen to the creative brief.
  2. Focused Creative Brief: Sit with your agency and turn your homework into a creative brief. Debate every point. Keep it focused. Think of the brief like creating a strategic box the ad must play within. The brief must have one objective, a tightly defined target market with rich consumer insights, one crystal clear desired consumer response of whether you want consumers to see, think, feel or do and then one main message that you know will motivate the consumer target will respond positively.
  3. Creative Expectations: Just after signing off on the brief, you should request an informal meeting with the creative team to help convey your vision, passion, strategy and needs to the team. This is your first chance to inspire the team and begin the push for great work. It always surprises me that the first time the marketer meets their creative team is at the first creative meeting, which is two-three weeks after the creative team started to work on your brand. That is crazy. It seems like an old-school way for the account team to control both the client and creative team, keeping them at arm’s length. I believe the best advertising comes from a highly personal relationship with your creative team.
  4. Tissue Session: When you have a completely new campaign or working on high-risk campaign, you should ask to hold an informal tissue session before the creative meeting. At the tissue session, the creative team normally presents ten roughed out advertising ideas, usually with hand drawn visuals, with a simple headline and description of a story. This is a good chance to get your hands dirty, understand where the team wants to go, either encouraging them to keep exploring further on some ideas or talk about how some ideas might not fit. Think of this meeting as your chance to see behind the creative curtain. Do not abuse this privilege by adding your ideas to the mix. Focus on big ideas and use the meeting to inspire and push for better.
  5. Creative Meeting: How you show up at the first creative meeting is crucial to the entire project. I have seen the relationship fizzle on the spot. Think of it like a first date. Be on your best behavior. Stay positive and focus on big picture decisions. Give direction and make decisions. However, do not use this time to add your own solutions. Stop thinking that your job is to fix the work you see. Do not get too wrapped up in small details, as there remains plenty of time to keep working on details. Use your feedback to inspire the team.Creative Advertising Process
  6. Feedback Memo: Work it out with the agency ahead of time that you will give a feedback memo 48 hours after the creative meeting. This gives you the chance to gather your thoughts, balancing your creative instincts with your strategic thinking. The memo should clarify details you did not have a chance to talk about in the creative meeting. Where you are stuck, frame it as a problem, but avoid giving your specific solutions. Use the memo as a chance to create a new box for the creative team, an evolution from the creative brief.
  7. Advertising Testing: The use of ad testing can depend on timing, budget or degree of risk. Where you have a new major campaign, you should potentially test 3 ideas you feel have the best chance to express your brand positioning, communicate the main benefit, break through the clutter and motivate consumers to purchase. You can use qualitative focus group feedback that will help confirm your instincts, or quantitative testing to replicate and predict how it may do in the market. However, I am a big believer that you should only use ad testing to confirm your pick, never to make your decision.  
  8. Gain Approval: It is essential to keep your boss aware at every stage. Use your first meeting with your boss to state your vision for the project. Through each update meeting, keep your boss aligned to your vision, explaining every move you make with respect to that vision. However, you will still need to sell in the ad. Be ready to fight any resisters to make the ad happen. With every great ad I ever made, there were many resistors. However, with every potential bad ad on the table, I seemed to be the only resistor trying not to make it. Own your vision and make it happen.
  9. Production: The production process can be a very complex element of the project. Remember, you have zero expertise in any production area. Do not even pretend you do. Your main role is to deliver as close to the original script that was approved, while managing the tone to ensure it fits with the brand. During the shoot, try to get more options than you need, just in case it looks different in the final edit room.
  10. Post Production: As you move to the post-production stage, you become even less of an expert. Many clients decide to stay close to their account person. I believe you should talk directly with every expert (editors) you work with. The personal approach will enable you to get the most out of each of the experts. Your greatness happens through their greatness.

As a brand leader, my bias is to be creatively led, with media trailing. Yes, it’s fine to have a lead media choice in mind. However, as for secondary media choices, I hate forcing a given media choice on the creative team, only to find out it does not work. I would rather have a range of media options and see which one works best. At the start of the process, you have a few media thoughts of where it could go. As you  see the creative, you narrow down the range to what media choices seem to work best with the creative. And once you have the creative in hand, you can then make the final media decisions. 

Creative Advertising Process

 

As brand leaders, it takes a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. 

 

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to get better at Marketing Execution, looking at both the creative and media.

 

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

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant

 

The reasons why so many Marketers suck at Advertising! Here is how you can get better!

I always get asked “So what is it that makes some Marketers great at advertising?”.  To me, the best Marketers are able to get great advertising on the air and keep bad advertising off the air.

I have seen some Marketers who are great at the execution side, but I have see more who struggle. I try to tell people that it really takes five big campaigns for you to get into your zone where you are good. That might sound a little comforting, but it is supposed to be equally challenging because it suggests you should learn from those five campaigns so you become great.  Too many Marketers who struggle, actually get worse. They start to believe they suck, or their agency sucks.  Sure Advertising takes some  good instincts, but it also takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. You can learn how to be great. You will not learn if you do not adjust. 

If you knew that being a better client would make your execution better, could you actually show up better? Would you?

From my experience, here are the main reasons that some Brand Leaders kinda suck at advertising.

You blame yourself

  • You never find your comfort zone: You have convinced yourself that you are not good at Advertising, so you show up skeptical, uptight, too tough or too easy and you seem easily annoyed by everything.
  • You don’t know if it is really your place to say something: You figure the agency is the expert and will even say “That’s why we pay them” so you give them no direction. Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up and blame them later. You can never abdicate decision-making to anyone else, when you are running your brand.  
  • You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure: The agency says if we don’t go for it now, we will miss our air date and have to give up our media to another brand. So you cave in to the pressure and go with the Ad you hate. You have to figure out how to use time pressure to your advantage. A lot of the best ideas come right up against the clock. 
  • You can’t sell it in to management: You are not sure if it is the right thing to do, which makes you hesitant and unable to sell the idea in to your boss. Once you decide, you have to own it and sell it. 

You blame the Agency

  • The Agency writes a brief you don’t like or you box the Agency into a strategy they don’t like: If either of you force a brief on each other, then you are off to a bad start. You must be collaborative with your agency.
  • The Agency’s creative team over sells you and you feel you get hood-winked: You are not sure what you want, so you settle for an OK ad in front of you—the best of what you saw. Tell your agency you have to love the work and then if you don’t love it, you have to reject it.
  • You lose connection with the agency: One of your primary roles is to keep your agency motivated, challenged and engaged. Be the client they want to make great work on, rather than have to work on. And never assume they have to work for you, just because you are paying them. You might be paying WPP, but you are not really paying the people at the table. 
  • You lose traction through the production and edit: Talent, lighting, directors and edits—if the tone changes from the board to edit, so does your ad. This is where experience pays off. The advertising process is likely more complex than anything else you will work on. 

You blame your brand

  • The “I work on a boring brand” argument: You think only cool brands like Nike or Apple would be so much easier to work on. Guess what, Nike and Apple don’t really need you. However, with a so-called boring brand, you have more room for creativity, that while it is a challenge, it should actually be even easier to work on a boring brand.
  • You are too careful: Great ads either go left or right, not in the middle of the road. You have to learn how to take smart creative risks.
  • Advertising roulette: Where brand managers have not done the depth of thinking or testing, the briefing is like a game of chance. You have to do the homework to know your strategy is right, making the execution easier to nail. You should never figure out your advertising strategy by doing advertising work. 
  • Your strategy sucks: You figure we don’t have a great strategy, so maybe a good Ad can help. A great strategy can make an ad, but an Ad by itself will never make a great strategy.

Marketing Execution Advertising

To get better, you have to find the magic in the execution of a brand. Inspire greatness.

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 Management has been built on a hub-and-spoke system, with a team of experts surrounding the generalist Brand Leader. When I see Brand Managers of today doing stuff, I feel sorry for them. They are lost. Brand Leaders are not designed to be experts in marketing communications, experts in product innovation and experts in selling the product. You are trained to be a generalist, knowing enough to make decisions, but not enough to actually do the work. Find strength being the least knowledgeable person in every room you enter.

  • We don’t make the products.
  • We don’t make the packaging.
  • We don’t make the ads.
  • We don’t buy the media.
  • We don’t hire the front-line staff.
  • We don’t sell the products.
  • We don’t do the accounting.
  • We don’t really do anything.
  • But we do touch everything.
  • And yet, we make every decision

As Marketers, our only greatness comes from inspiring experts to reach for their own greatness, and to apply it on our brand.

To get better, it is time Brand Leaders step back and let the creativity unfold. Find comfort in ambiguity.

It 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. 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. It is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. Brand Leaders need to rediscover the lost art of doing nothing. 

Here are the 8 secrets for getting better Advertising:

  1. Determine if the strategy can be executed. Develop a brand concept you know is motivating to consumers, with rational and emotional benefits, plus support points.
  2. Tighten your brief as much as you can. Narrow the target, add engaging insights that tell their story. Focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say. Focus on one message.
  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. Work off line or behind the scenes.
  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 one willing to stand out by being different. Make the ad you want to look back on with pride.
  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. Be your agency’s favorite client. Be the client they “want to” work on instead of being the one they “have to” work on your business. It really matters.

To get better, Brand Leaders need to stay focused on your vision at every stage, always inspire and yet challenge.

 

Here’s a powerpoint presentation on how to get better at Marketing Execution, looking at both the creative and media.

 

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. 

Graham Robertson Bio Brand Training Coach Consultant