May 4, 2014
On a daily basis I hear Marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use the sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights, because they figure no one will challenge them. And of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The mis-use of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.
Here are the 10 words mis-used and even abused by Marketers.
When I was running the marketing department at J&J, I jokingly banned this word because it was so abused. I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant”, the room would go silent. Then there’s a pause and someone would add their own brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant”. The room went silent again. So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and it seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice”, because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it. My mom, Megan Fox and my new iPhone speakers are all “nice”. Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. But what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant? Write that answer down and use that instead of just saying “we need to be relevant”.
Most briefs that I see don’t really have a consumer insight. I see facts about the consumer (consumers brush their teeth 1.6 times per day), wishful thinking (half of those who try our product love it and say they’ll buy it again) or even behaviors (consumers like to work out and watch what they eat). None of these are really insights at all. My definition of Insight is Quite Different. Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Here is my definition: Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. And how do you serve up the insight in a way that captivates consumers. If you’re working on helping consumers Quit Smoking, it’s not an insight to say “people try to quit 7 times on their own before asking for help.” You need to go a layer deeper. Get in the shoes of that consumer and use their voice and you’ll find an insight like: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks and I can’t do it on my own anymore.”
The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the pure book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who mis-use the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable”. They’ll say “the final scene of the TV is really emotional and should really drive the equity of this brand”. We look at Brand Health and Brand Wealth separately and then use the model to predict future success of the brand. As Brand Leaders, it’s actually important to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy. But Brand Equity is about the wealth side, linked to Value. There are 8 ways to drive Brand Value: Pricing, Trading the consumer up or down, Product Costs, Marketing Costs, Stealing other users, Getting current users to use more, Enter new categories and Create new Uses for your brand. Those are not ambiguous at all. To read more, click on 8 Simple Ways that Brand Leaders can impact Profits
I’m in shock at how Marketers list out their target market on the creative brief. I once read a brief with a target that said “18-65, new customers, current customers and even employees”. That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists. A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs and behaviors). I actually try to put an age demographic on every brief. Call me old-fashioned or just realistic. The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kiddng yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics”. When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5 year gap. This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you.
This word drives me bonkers and it seems to be growing or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus, the worst don’t. The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t. If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and execution. Stop being so worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers so much that you water down your marketing programs so much we have no clue who you’re talking to or what you’re even saying. As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and who you say it to.
There’s an old selling expression: “features tell and benefits sell”. But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are. Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits. What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits). Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two. Here’s an article on how to write a benefit driven Positioning statement: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement
It’s called a brief, because it’s…BRIEF. I saw a creative brief last year that was 8 pages long. And even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight. Every brief should be one page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it’s relatively easy to nail the one page brief. Here’s how to write a creative brief: How to write an Effective Creative Brief
Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies. The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites and events. The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising. Brand and Product should NEVER be separated. It’s crazy. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BIG IDEA for your brand and then line up the 5 connectors behind that big Idea. You need to make sure the Brand Promise connects the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise.
New Media is around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point. A better way to look at today’s Media is to manage all 5 types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media. Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs. SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search. SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.
To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action. And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.
It’s OK to use these 10 words, as long as you use them right.
How loved is your brand?
We believe a brand’s source of power is the emotional feelings it generates. With that power comes added profitability.
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits. To read more, follow this presentation.