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

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I am a Canadian who has done consulting and training work in China. These are my observations of my most recent trips. 

China is in the midst of rapid growth that will continue to transform the country into an economic powerhouse  throughout this century. China can make quick moves, to create technology or transform cities, but with 1.2 billion people, it will take a long time for everyone in China to catch up. 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 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. On my two most recent trips to China, I have noticed a huge 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 $10,000 USD, 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 biggest layer of complexity is around the dispersement 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. Yet with a high growth economy, they are starting to see the trickle down impact as 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 biggest 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.

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 a clearly 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.

Most 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 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 in the bar code 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.

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!">Advertising

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

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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

 

Strategy choices to engage your consumers and tighten bond

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Strategy choices to engage your consumers and tighten bond

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The engagement strategy is a smart way for you to bridge your thinking as you move from brand plans towards marketing execution. Before you know the actions you should be taking, you need to know how important is the decision to consumers and the level of involvement for your consumers in the purchase or usage of the brand? To create a tighter bond with consumers, engagement strategy leaves you with two choices; to drive up the importance of the decision or to drive up the involvement of your consumers.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

Looking at the grid above, we look at inolvement and importance, to discover four types of brands: indulgence, high profile, commodities and essentials. You must understand that the grid lays out where the brand naturally sits, helps determine the challenge of where to move next. Your marketing efforts will either work to drive up consumer involvement or increase the importance for the purchase decision.

Commodities

Commodity type brands are relatively low in importance for consumers, and they have a low consumer involvement in the purchase decision. These are everyday consumer household items, day-to-day staples, or grocery items where the product differentiation is marginal. In my consumer packaged goods career, we used to joke that, “Our role is to make a mountain out of a mole hill,” which means we make small differences seem really important to consumers.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

Driving up involvement is harder for these brands than ever before. These low involvement brands thrived with TV ads, because the interruptive nature of TV enabled them to break through the clutter with their message. With today’s media options, there are less interruptive choices, the associative nature of today’s media options rewards high profile brands to gain attention, but harder for the low involvement brands. It is harder for a laundry detergent to get people to visit their website or Facebook page than it was to air three TV ads an hour to drive home their brand message. This puts even more pressure on the brands to build engaging stories. The most successful brands have used consumer insights to connect, a compelling brand purpose to enhance their brand story, and emotional benefits to drive up the consumer involvement.

To drive up the importance, brands have to elevate the consumer problem to make it highly personal. Find the consumer’s pain points and turn it into an “enemy” that you can attack. For the solution, you can deploy experts to speak on the brand’s behalf or use social media to leverage loyal brand fans to influence their network on the brand’s behalf.

 Just because the brand is naturally a commodity does not mean it has to get stuck there. For instance, the Dove brand is a classic case of a commodity brand that has driven up both importance and involvement. Dove has turned a simple bar of soap into a statement about real beauty with a stated vision that they hope beauty can become a source of confidence instead of a source of anxiety. This emotional brand purpose drives up the importance of the cause, and the bond it has created with the brand drives up the involvement of the consumers who believes in that cause. For decades, Dove had to drive a functional product oriented message behind “ph-balance”, but the brand never found any magic until they launched the “Real Beauty” campaign.

Essentials

Essentials are those brands that have high importance in the consumer’s life, such as healthcare, banking, insurance, supplies, or computer software. They are important enough that consumers cannot live without them, but they are rather boring categories where consumers give them very little thought.. These brands struggle to capture and engage consumers. To drive up consumer involvement, they need to move from product features to consumer benefits. These essential brands need to shift their brand communications away from talking about what the brand does and start to talk about what the consumer gets and how the brand makes the consumer feel.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

Google has used highly emotional advertising with rich storylines that helps turn a potentially boring search engine into an emotional experience consumers cannot live without. With the “Paris” TV ad that aired during the Super Bowl, Google told a romantic story of a boy who went to study in Paris, met a girl, then got a job in Paris, got married, and had a baby. The entire story is told through searching with Google in each moment of the story. Google tells another story out of India of two elderly friends, one a Hindu from India and the other a Muslim from Pakistan, who have lost contact since the partition of India in 1947. The ad shows how the grand daughter uses Google to plan a surprise reunion between the two gentlemen. She was able to find her grandfather’s friend, reach out to his grandson, book a flight and reunite the two. These brand stories are great way to show how involved Google is in the real lives of consumers.

Indulgence Brands

Indulgence brands generate high involvement with consumers, but are considered relatively low in importance to the consumer’s life. The indulgence brands include confectionary, fast food, perfume, beer or coffee brands. These are impulse items with lots of brand switching. The best indulgence brands drive importance by connecting to the emotions of a particular moment of the consumer’s life, either to become part of the day or life stage. These brands have to maintain the high involvement levels to stay within the consumer’s consideration set. They use mass media, social presence, lifestyle marketing, and a “be where they are” media approach.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

While Disney World is an indulgence brand for families, they do an amazing job in driving up their importance by creating memories for your child’s life. Events like the “Princess breakfast” are purely magical to children.

High Profile Brands

High profile brands are both high in consumer involvement and importance. These are typically badge products such as clothing, cell phones, computers, make up, sports teams, restaurants, or cars. These brands have to consistently nail the brand promise, the brand story, innovation, the purchase moment, and the experience. Any inconsistency in the delivery of the brand will cast doubt to the base of brand lovers.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

If you want to see how engaged the Ferrari brand lovers are with the brand, go to any Formula One race and you will be in shock at the passion of Ferrari fans. The annual Ferrari Advertising budget is $0. They spend every marketing dollar on the Formula One race.

How to Write Smart Strategic Objective Statements

Brand Leaders need to know how to write a smart strategic objective statement that will provide the necessary clear marching orders that everyone who works on the brand can follow. The reason why I put so much emphasis asking the right questions is that it will lead to a much smarter strategic objective statement as the answer to that question.

Strategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

With the example above, there are four common elements to a smart strategy objective statement:

  1. A smart strategic objective statement must have a focal point, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create an impact. In this case the focal point is on the loyal consumers.
  2. A strategic objective statement must specifically calls out the strategic program with clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion or hesitation. In this case, the VIP consumer experience.
  3. A smart strategic objective statement should call out a specific desired market impact. Which key stakeholder in the market will you attempt to move, whether it is consumers, channels, competitors or influencers? In this case, the desired impact is to turn the consumer’s regular usage into a higher frequency ritual.
  4. A smart strategic objective statement have a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result on the brand, either making the brand more powerful or wealthier. In this case creating a tighter bond with consumers, which will lead to more power over the consumers.

 

Strategic Thinking Engagement StrategyEvery smart strategic objective statement must include all four elements of focus, strategic program, market impact and the expected performance result. This unique strategic model will force you to pick answers for each of these four elements, and help you bring those answers into a strategy statement with crystal clear marching orders for those who will follow the Brand Plan.

How to Write Strategic Objective Statements for Engagement StrategyStrategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

  1. Focus on either increasing the involvement of consumers or increasing the importance of the purchase.
  2. Deploy brand resources against a key strategic program, one of Advertising, Public Relations, Key Influencers, Social Media or packaging.
  3. Achieve a market impact that tightens the bond with consumers, moving them along the Brand Love Curve, moving from Indifferent to Like It, to Love It and to Beloved.
  4. Achieve a performance result that leverages the increased consumer engagement, either driving one of the 8 power drivers or one of the 8 profit drivers.

Examples of engagement strategy statementsStrategic Thinking Engagement Strategy

  • Increase consumer involvement (a) using breakthrough Advertising to help the ‘Real Beauty’ message gain attention (b) to create a base of loyal Dove brand lovers (c) doubling the brand’s market share (d).
  • Increase the importance of Dove’s ‘confidence’ message (a) leveraging social media (b) to build a base of brand lovers (c) who will follow Dove into new categories (d)

Below is our workshop we run to help Brand Leaders think strategically. 

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

Are you treating your best customers better than your average customers? You should be.">Creating Beloved Brands

Are you treating your best customers better than your average customers? You should be.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

I always ask this brand leaders this question, and I rarely get the right answer.

Unfortunately I usually hear, “No, we all our customers the same”or “Our system does not really allow us to treat customers differently or “We have never thought like that”.

My 19 year-old daughter, who is waitressing while going to University intuitively knows she should treat her regular customers better than everyone else. She knows it leads to bigger tips!  Then why don’t marketing professionals do it?

Are you crazy? You should be treating your best customers better. They are your “regulars”.

As a consultant, I have been lucky to travel many times around the world. I have accumulated millions of points for Air Canada. I even have the Visa Card that collects points for Air Canada. While they are a better airline than United or Delta, I can safely say that I am not treated any better than the average Air Canada passenger. Now, as a Canadian, I am relatively stuck. Or as I say sometimes, “I am in points prison” which means I have collected so many points now, that it is hard to quit the program, even if I desperately want to. Last year, after one more frustration with Air Canada, I finally asked one of their representatives “So what do I get for being such a loyal customer?” And her answer floored me: “Sorry sir, we treat all our customers the same”.

I started to wonder: So I collect all these miles so I can go on free trips with an airline that I tend to hate. Maybe I am the crazy one.

Old-school marketing no longer works

The old logical ways of marketing no longer work in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past talking about gadgets, features and promotions. They will clearly be ‘friend-zoned’ by consumers, to be purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the last century were little product inventions that solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. Old-school marketing was dominated by bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations, repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every Marketer focused on how to enter the consumer’s mind. Marketers of the last century were taught the 4P’s of product, place, price and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, brand promise, emotional benefits and consumer experiences. The Crest brand knew their “Look mom, no cavities” TV ads annoyed everyone, but knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowed grocery store shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was repeated often to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. The side-by-side dish detergent ad showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, just to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow a logical play only, will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

Creating Beloved Brands

The purchase funnel is now circular

Old School was just about getting consumers into the purchase funnel and let the rest of the people in the organization satisfy them. Knowing some consumers would fall out of the funnel, our role was to keep getting more and more people into that funnel. The new purchase funnel is a circle, where the biggest brand fans drive awareness and consideration for that brand. The best brand needs to find ways to create such happy moments for these influential ‘brand lovers’ that will make them want to tell everyone in their network. Instead of just yelling to everyone at the top of the purchase funnel, you should be whispering to your most loyal brand fans, so they whisper to their friends.

Creating Beloved Brands

Brands need to build a passionate and lasting love with their consumers.

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers who line up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone before they even know the phone’s features, the Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every week, even though they know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime, the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga, the 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates who put $1,000 down for a car that does not even exist yet or the devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger who order animal-style burgers off the ‘secret menu’ that no one else knows about? Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers. It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. Yes, these brands are all special. What makes them so special is how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved.

The consumers of today must be cherished and ‘won-over’. Consumers are surrounded by a clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 Million per year, or one message every 11 waking seconds. Consumers are constantly distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—most times at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a big idea that is simple, unique, inspires and creates as much excitement as a first-time encounter.

Consumers are tired of being burned by faulty brand promises. Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first, test second, and at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. The brand’s purpose must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work everyday so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes an immovable conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so strong; the brand would never make a choice that is in direct contradiction with their inner belief system. Consumers start to see, understand and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand.

Brands must listen, observe and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their functional needs, the brand must heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day. The brand must show up consistent at every consumer touch-point, whether it is the promise they make, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to surprise consumers, the happy purchase moments or the delightful consumer experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends about. The consumer keeps track in the back of their mind to make sure it all adds up before they commit. Only then, will the consumer become willing to open up and trust the brand. The integrity behind the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with the brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance each and every time. Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most important moments of the consumer’s lives, and become part of the most cherished stories and memories within their heart.

The pathway to brand success comes from building relationships with consumers

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship. The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice.

To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages that includes unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love
I first came up with the idea when I ran a marketing department with 15 different brands that exhibited various degrees of success. Honestly, it w as hard for me to keep track of where each brand stood. I did not want to apply a one-size-fits-all type of strategy to brands who had dramatically different needs. I could have used some traditional matrix with market share versus category growth rates, or stuck with revenue size or margin rates. But every day on the job, I came back to the idea about how tightly connected the specific brand was with their consumer. I could clearly see that those brands that delivered a stronger bond with their consumer outperformed those brands that did not have that kind of connection. I wanted a unique way I could map out the level of emotional bond between brands and consumers.

Creating Beloved Brands

The Brand Love Curve helps make strategic choices

I started to see how the Brand Love Curve influenced the strategic choices that will create success for the brand. For ‘unknown’ brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. For ‘indifferent’ brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the ‘like it’ stage, the strategy is to build a trust with each happy, and find ways for consumers to connect to the brand emotionally in ways that motivate them to buy and want to be part of a movement or a following. At the ‘Love It’ stage, the focus shifts to tug at heartstrings that will tighten bonds with the most loyal brand fans. At the ‘Beloved’ stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken loyal fans, which will whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

Creating Beloved Brands

The Brand Love Curve can also inspire how you write your annual brand plan, with an inspirational emotional brand vision and purpose to guide the team, or the selection of strategies that are suited to where the brand sits on the curve. Here are 20 potential brand strategies that you should focus on, based on where your brand sits on the curve.

Creating Beloved Brands

The tighter the bond you can create with your consumers, the more power and profit you can generate for your brand.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

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

 

Non-Marketing people really need to stop defining what marketing people do.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

I suppose that everyone who has a TV and can critique Super Bowl ads or those with a Twitter account thinks they can now say they are a marketer expert. Sadly, we have let far too many people use the word “MarketingMarketing”or “Brand” in their title. The commentary that I see coming from non marketers is borderline cringe-worthy or hilarious. I have to tell you that the comments are silly.

  • When I read, “Marketers need to think more about the consumer” I think you’ve never met a real marketer. The best marketers starting doing that around 1915. I guess somehow this is now popular among non-marketers.
  • When I hear,  “Marketers should analyze data”, again, I’m thinking what incompetent marketers have you been hanging around with. That’s been a major part of the job since 1950. Sure, big data. But I have been working any data from share report data to Ipsos tracking data to weekly Walmart sales tracking data.
  • When I read, “The CEO should be in charge of the brand”, I think “Well then the CEO should be in charge of the IT system”. Sure, in charge, but they should be smart enough to delegate to the experts who will make their brand stronger. From my experience, the best marketing led organizations have bottom up recommendations, empowering the brand manager to tell their directors what they want to do, who then support them in moving that up to the VP and President. The worst organizations are when the CEO walks down the hall and asks “Why are we not on Instagram? My 15-year-old daughter was just showing me how cool it is this weekend”. This is likely the reason why the average tenure of a CMO is under 24 months at this point. They are likely sports coaches, hired to be fired, by the impatience of getting results.
  • When I hear, “Marketing needs to be more than just advertising” once again, you just don’t understand the job….typically advertising is 10-15% of the job.The best marketers determine the strategy, figure out the brand promise, brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience…they touch all, decide all, but they let their experts run each of those touch points.

Marketers don’t just “do marketing”.

I am glad so many want to be in Marketing. But you really should have to earn your way into it. Go interview for a job, get rejected a few times, push to really get in there and then learn like ton for a few years. I spent 20 years in marketing. I could not believe how much I learned  in my first five years, then even more in the next five, then way more in the following five and absolute insane amount in those last five years. I’ve now been a consultant for over five years and I swear I know twice as much as I learned in the first 20.

Marketing is not just an activity. The best marketers have to think, define, plan, execute and analyze, using all parts of your brain, your energy and your creativity.

OK, my rant is over.

 

To learn more, here’s a presentation on how to create a beloved brand:

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

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan">Media Plans

Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Media is a business investment that showcases the creative execution of your brand story to help connect your brand with consumers at the most impactful where consumers are willing to engage in your brand story. Balance your media choices by looking at efficiency, quality, impact and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percent of different household or persons the ad will be exposed to at least once, over a specific period of time, while frequency is the number of times that household or person is exposed to the ad within a specific period of time. Be careful relying on efficiency alone, balancing the efficiency with the quality of the media choices. Set aside a portion of your media budget and used on driving impact to drive early attention to a new campaign.

Media Plans
Six questions to ask before you start your brand’s Media Plan

  1. What is the size of your budget? Budget is always the starting point to your media planning. The size of your media budget will really depend on your brand’s current profit situation, the projected potential return on investment (ROI) behind your creative execution, the future opportunities to invest behind and the degree of competitiveness you need to defend against. Assess the media ROI by linking your business results directly to the brand funnel results. You can use test markets with various media spend levels to gain the data you need to prove the media investment story. One major factor with media investment is the balance of the fixed overhead costs of producing creative assets versus the variable media costs of reaching consumers. The same thinking would go into the fixed overhead people costs related to content development or social media management. Focus on fewer media choices will ensure the cost of creative resources do not inhibit your ability to reach consumers. Trying to be everywhere drains your resources and just means you will have a low impact everywhere.
  2. What is brand’s core strength? The decision on whether your brand will be story-led, product-led, experience-led or price-led really impacts your brand message and in turn the media choices that will amplify that message. Product-led brands must show why you are better, with a superiority message and media choices that enable you to demonstrate what makes your brand superior. Story-led brands must tell the back-story on what makes your brand different, whether that is an idea, purpose, core belief or a stance, and the media must be able to amplify your story to those consumers will connect with the story. For experience-led brands, you must be able to prove how your people create an experience that is better. This is usually a slower build, in managing influencers, review sites, social media and word-of-mouth to really amplify your brand message that connects to an amazing experience. The price-led brands need to leverage media that can help drive call-to-action brand messaging that fuels the foot traffic needed to push fast-moving items that offset the lower margins.
  3. Where will your consumers engage? Who is your target consumer? Are you looking at a broad mass target or a tight specific target around type of consumer or specific product usage? What are the possible adjacent or related products and services that you can leverage? What part of the consumer’s life will they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide and act? Your media choices should align with potential related life moment, whether those are parts of the day, week, year or even life moments. Consumers use media for certain reasons, whether to be smarter, stay aware, escape, express themselves, connect with others, go places, buy things or do things. Your brand should align with the brain moods of how your consumer use media, so you match up to where and when they will be most receptive to your brand message.
  4. How tightly connected is your brand with your consumer? Where your brand sits on the brand love curve should influence your strategic choices, because the more love you can create should drive more power and profit for your brand. I also believe the brand love curve can influence your execution, as unknown brands need media choices to help the brand be seen by the right consumers, indifferent brands need a media choice that will help consumers think about the brand, liked brands should drive happy purchases, brands at the love it stage should use media that helps the consumer feel differently about the brand and brands at the beloved stage should mobilize their brand lovers to influence others within their network.
  5. Where on brand funnel will you exert impact? A brand funnel should match up to how consumers evolve with your brand, moving through awareness, consideration, search, buy, satisfy, repeat, loyal or fans. Knowing what stage of the funnel you wish to impact should drive both the creative message and the media choice. For an unknown/indifferent brand, the focus will be on the early parts of the funnel to drive awareness and move them to consider and buy. At the like it stage, the message and media choices should be driving purchase and repeat purchase. At the love it stage, it becomes about turning repeat purchases into routines and rituals so the consumers become loyal. At the beloved stage, it becomes about turning your fans into influencers that drive awareness for other consumers. The brand funnel is not really a funnel anymore, but a big circle as brand fans do as much to drive awareness among new users as the brand does.
  6. What is the best media option that delivers the creative execution? You really should make media decisions together with your creative. I have found that not all creative ideas work against all media choices, just because the media numbers say they will. This is the reason you should ask to see each creative idea in a TV ad format, long copy print format and billboard. It allows you to see where the creative idea has the biggest potential, and then begin matching those up to the right media choice. Before decide on media, ask to see what the creative ad would look like. Make the decision together.

How to inspire great marketing execution 

We lead workshops to train marketing teams on all types of marketing topics. Here’s the workshop we run on Marketing Execution.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

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

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it. ">Whole Foods

Can Whole Foods survive? I hope so. But, unless they change, I doubt it. 

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now?

I remember 20 years ago, someone told me that Blockbuster would go bankrupt once on-line movies would take off. My immediate response was “No way!!!” I had just spent 45 minutes lined up at my local Blockbuster to rent “Usual Suspects” for the third time. How could a brand with so much demand completely fall off the face of the earth?

Now I am starting to wonder if Whole Foods will be around in 20 years? Strategic Thinking Whole Foods I sure hope so. I am a big fan of their brand and all the work they have done. Whole Foods has been the dominant player in ‘organic’ grocery stores the past 20-30 years. They have done everything right. They brought a clear brand positioning, a big idea, a fantastic culture that oozes off the walls of their stores and exhibited through every employee you engage with in the stores. They nail branding as well as Apple, Tesla or Nike. They built an army of outspoken brand fans and they are a beloved brand.

Would you invest in Whole Foods right now? Their market capitalization has fallen from $24 Billion to $9 Billion the last 2 years. None of their moves have re-assured investors that their future is bright.

Is Whole Foods a victim of their own success? 

For the past 70 years, the average grocery stores have served the local community within a 10 minutes drive, with 20,000 skus across 10 aisle grocery stores. The business model of traditional stores pumped out ridiculously high volumes at ridiculously low margins. At the retailer’s head office, the buyers had to beat down manufacturers like P&G, J&J, Coke, Kellogg’s and Kraft. They pushed high listing fees and high trade spend to get any displays or flyer ads. Even after all this work, Grocery stores traditionally make only 20-25% gross margins and then make only 2-4% operating profits. Over the last 10 years Kroger has averaged 22% gross margins and 2.7% operating margins. These are very typical numbers for a grocery retailer.

Whole Foods started as a rebellious disruptor to the grocery category.

Strategic Thinking Whole Foods Rebel BrandWhole Foods came along and figured out they could sell organic raspberries at $5.99  instead of $2.99 for normal raspberries and they could sell organic bacon for $9.99 instead of 3.99. They knew that not everyone would pay, but enough would. Instead of high volume, low margin, they went for modest volume with a much higher margin. Whole Foods averages 35% gross margins (+13% higher than Kroger) and 5.3% operating profit (double that of Kroger).

Up until the year 2000, Whole Foods only had 100 locations, capable enough to own a niche position as a rebel brand, yet small enough to fly under the radar of the bigger grocery players. If you notice the Venn diagram to the right, rebel brands own a niche that is far enough away from the mainstream players, to avoid being seen as a direct competitor. For these rebel brands, they believe it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. These brands take all that passion of their consumers and build around it. At this point, Whole Foods owned organic, and the traditional grocery stores were fine to let Whole Foods own the ‘yoga enthusiasts’.

Most brands start as a rebel brands. They win over the trend influencers, satisfying those consumers who do not want what the mainstream brands offer. The rebel brand takes the aggressive stance against the mainstream, finding flaw in the way they do business.  They stand out as a completely different and a better choice to a core group of trend influencers who are frustrated with all the competitors in the marketplace. This consumer group becomes the most motivated consumers to buy into your new idea. Rebel brands must bring these on board and use their influence on others, as the brand begins their journey from rebel brands to island brands to challenger brands and then onto the Power Player brand. Below is a chart that outlines that evolution, and you can see how to use the different consumer types from the trend influencers and early adopters at the beginning and then finding the mass audience as the brand gets bigger and more powerful.

Brand Innovation

After 2000, the move to organic foods hit a tipping point of acceptance within the mainstream audience. Whole Foods took advantage of this shift and invested in rapid expansion across North America. Whole Foods moved to the next stage of what I call the “Island Brand” stage, where you are so different you are on your own. For the health-conscience consumers, Whole Foods success left the traditional grocery stores in a position where they disconnected from what these consumers want. During this time, Whole Foods expanded from 100 to 430 stores, with forecasts of up to 1,200 stores. Whole Foods had gone from a niche player that traditional grocery brands were willing to ignore to a major threat that pushed the traditional brands to make a counter move.

Strategic Thinking Whole FoodsAs organic moved to the mainstream the traditional grocery store responded by bringing in organic foods into their stores. Most traditional grocery chains report that 25-35% of their fresh food has become organic. These grocery stores are charging 15-25% lower prices than Whole Foods, yet still loving the added margins it gives them.

Simply marketing lesson, no one will ever travel farther and pay more, for something they can get close by at a cheaper price.

As a result, Whole Foods has lost customers to the traditional players. According to Barclays analysts, “Whole Foods has lost about 14 million of its customers over the last 18 months. The magnitude of the traffic declines … is staggering. As most retailers know — once traffic has been lost, those patterns rarely reverse”. Did Whole Foods move to the mainstream too quickly, trying to use the groundswell towards organic among mass consumers to move to a challenger position?

Whole Foods next move was a dumb one.

The history of warfare can be characterized by Generals who over-reacted and under-reacted. Both would lose. Whole Foods made the poor decision to launch a lower price, lower service, and lower margin version of itself called “365”.  I always find it frustrating to watch brands who face an attack and then try to act more like the competitor attacking them, rather than backing up a bit and being themselves. When in a competitive battle, especially against those who own the traditional space who you have attacked, never act like your competitor. Instead of staying themselves, the move to “365” acts more like their competitors.

I do not believe these 365 stores can win. They are a hybrid store which is confusing. They will not attract the mainstream consumer who want their organic foods at lower prices, but still wants to buy Diet Coke and Frosted Flakes. They will not win with the core health trend influencer audience who want more, not less.

How will the 365 stores make money?  Low volume and lower margins is a recipe for bankruptcy.

If they can’t win the mass audience, do they still have the health trend influencers? 

We are seeing local healthy grocery stores pop up around North America ready to offer the health trend influencers more. Due to “costs” Whole Foods has made some moves that will irritate this audience.  They got rid of their freshly prepared market and now use pre-prepared foods. There are now swirling questions about whether their food choices are 100% organic. Whole Foods uses their own standards of judging good/bad food options. Whole FoodsAlso, Whole Foods uses national distribution on most items, not through local farmers. On top of that, Whole Foods carries fairly mainstream brand choices such as Cliff Bars with 28% sugar or Kellogg’s Special K. This confuses or frustrates the health trend setter segment who do not want to see those types of brands in their grocery store.

This leaves Whole Foods potentially without a positioning to stand behind and without a core audience to build around. When you try to be everything to anyone, you end up nothing to everyone. Whole Foods have lost who they are. They could take the advice of Oscar Wilde who once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

The problem I see for Whole Foods is they have been spiraling downward with losing sales base, yet they seem unable or unwilling to make the right changes. I would not invest, would you?  While brands start as rebel brands, no matter what stage your brand reaches, when the world around you collapses, I recommend the best thing a brand can do is return back to the rebel status and re-start their brand. Instead of going mainstream with lower price/lower service options like the launch of their “365 store”, Whole Foods should go back to their rebellious roots and go even healthier, go even more local, add high end services back. Make it a full experience the health trend influencers want. Instead of trying to drive high volume from their current audience, they should add higher margin services. Be more like who they were 20 years ago.

When you lose your way, return to the rebel position and kick-start your brand again.

 

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on How to create beloved brands, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

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

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson

 

 

 

New John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad finally released and it falls a little flat

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

images

I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. I am one of those who love the John Lewis Christmas ads and starts to think about it around early October.

And yet, this year, I just feel “blah”.

Once a year, brand fans await the latest installment of the John Lewis Christmas ad. So much attention, that it creates media hysteria trying to predict when it will be launched. John Lewis took advantage of that hype to use three little 10-second teasers with #BounceBounce to build up the anticipation.

The ad is OK, but not great.

It’s cute, but not brilliant.

It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads.

Here is the ad, and before I lose you I have put all the John Lewis Christmas ads below for you to compare with.

 

Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed?  Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy.

 

How do you feel about it? Is it just me?

The people at John Lewis felt that last year’s spot was “too sad” and they didn’t want to do “sad-vertising” anymore. Personally, I loved last year’s spot. It did bring a tear to my eye, but in a good way. John Lewis has also said they are trying to tap into the insight that 2016 has been a tough year, with Brexit and the US elections. Wouldn’t a more elaborate story be a better escape for consumers?

 

John Lewis has created a legacy around Christmas that is tough to live up to

I have worked on campaigns that lasted 10 years and 5 years. The hardest thing for a Marketer is to stay on track, yet try to beat last year’s spot. It is very hard to be creatively different, yet stay in line with the campaign. marketing-execution-2017-extract-9-001Those fight against each other. Since 2009, John Lewis has wiggled a little each year. But what they have not done yet, is sold out to the pressure. Each year, the ads have been highly creative, the ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis has always been on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis branding in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership.

 

Rachel Swift, head of brand marketing at John Lewis, says “It is has become part of our handwriting as a brand. It’s about storytelling through music and emotion. The sentiment behind that hasn’t changed – and that is quite intentional. The strategy behind our campaigns is always about thoughtful gifting.”

Let’s use that summary to see how well the 2016 spot lives up to the John Lewis ads of the past?

  • There is not much of a story.
  • It is not very emotional at all.
  • It is not really about thoughtful gifting.
  • No one in the ad even seems happy.

In my view, 2016 ad falls flat and now I have to turn my attention to other retailers to see what they do. My hope is someone does something extra special. Right now John Lewis is the gold standard for Christmas ads and this latest puts them at risk that another retailer easily outshines them.

 

 

The history of John Lewis Ads

Here is last year’s spot, that might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it.

Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.

 

Here are the John Lewis spots from the last few years and you can tell me which one you like the best.

2014:  Monty the Penguin:

 

Here is the one from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. You will notice this year’s Man on the Moon feels very similar.

 

This is also a great one from 2010

 

And you can see the one from 2009.

 

In 2012, the “snowman” ad felt bit too dark for me with the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard.  Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.

 

I also found the 2013 ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit.

 

I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad!  🙁

 

Christmas is 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year. Here is a link to the 7 best Holiday ads for last year:

Our 7 favorite Holiday ads of 2015. Have your say.

 

Passion in Marketing Execution Matters. If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. To read more about how to drive your Marketing Execution, here is our workshop that shows everything you need to know, to have the smarts of strategy, the discipline of leadership and the passion of creativity to generate brand love in today’s modern world.

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. 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 use workshop sessions to help your team create a winning brand positioning that separates your brand in the market, write focused brand plans that everyone can follow and we help you find advertising that drives growth for your brand. We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. Our Beloved Brands training center offers 10 training workshops to get your team of brand leaders ready for success in brand management–including strategic and analytical thinking, writing brand plans, positioning statements and creative brief, making decisions on creative advertising and media plans.

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.

bbi-creds-deck-2017-007

How to manage your B2B brand

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

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

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

Start with a Big Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

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

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How to find your brand’s ideal Consumer target profile

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers
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As part of the positioning exercise, we recommend that you put together a complete Consumer Profile that outlines the focused definition of the target, add flavor with needs, enemies and insights and then talk about where they are now and where you’d like to move the consumer in the future.

Who is your ideal consumer target?

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

  • Selling Target: Of course you should sell to anyone who wants to buy. I just wouldn’t spend my money against this large of a target. You can always reactively sell to anyone who engage and show interest in your brand, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, as every brand is constrained by limited resources, we just don’t recommend that you spend your limited marketing resources against this large of a target, especially when you have seen no signs that they will respond enough to provide an efficient pay back.
  • Marketing Target: The best marketers know exactly who is their ideal consumer. In the new world of Marketing, we can know more and more about these people. We recommend that you focus your limited resources on those consumers that are the most motivated by what your brand offers, those most likely respond to your brand story or your product offering, which then provides you with the fastest and highest return on investment and return on effort.
  • Program Target: Specific campaign target that you hope to move to think, feel or do with your specific marketing program.

A few years ago, I was working with bank who told me that their target market for a first time mortgage (home loan) was 18-65, new customers, current customers and employees. Sarcastically, I said, “You have forgotten tourists and prisoners”. As I pressed to help them narrow their consumer target, they pushed back saying that they didn’t want to alienate anyone “just in case” someone outside the usual target wanted a home loan. While the odd 64-year-old might be tired of renting for the past 40 years and wanting to finally buy their first home, they would not be offended if there was a 32 year old in the advertising. The reality is that first time home owners are usually in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and they usually spend 6-12 months looking for a house. No one buys a house on impulse. And no one ever wanted a mortgage, without buying a house. The target should be: “28-33, already considering buying a house within the next year and nervous about their debt load.” Imagine the difference that focused target market will make in the brand message and in the media choices you might make now. For instance, instead of just randomly advertising to everyone on mass media, you can focus your resources where the consumer would be most open to your message. You could advertise on real estate websites, take out billboard ads outside of the new housing developments and buy radio ads on Saturday when people are looking at new homes. The focused target market helps focus your resources on those consumers most likely to respond to your brand messages.

Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want. The best brands don’t go after consumers, they create a desire and connection, to get consumers to go after the brand. The best way to get consumers motivated is to tap into their need states, to understand their frustration points they may have and to connect by showing that you understand them. Motivating someone to buy your brand should start with the consumer not your product. You have to understand consumers, to match your brand up to their needs, wants and desires. Done right, if you can make consumers want to buy, then you will never have to sell.

Who is your consumer’s enemies that you will fight?

While regular products solve regular problems, the most beloved brands beat down the enemies that torment consumers every day. What are your consumer’s frustration point that they feel no one is even noticing or addressing? For instance, the Disney brand fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up”, while Volvo fights off the consumer enemy of “other drivers” or Starbucks fights off the consumer enemy of a “hectic life”. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down a consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional state of your consumer. Positioning 2016 Extract 2

Put yourself in the shoes of your Starbucks consumer, who is a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 am, not only to get ready for work, but to get everyone in the house ready for their day. She drops off one kid at daycare, the other at public school and then rushes into the office for 8:30 am. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is a great transportation choice for carrying all the equipment needed for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. It never stops. No one is really old enough to thank her, the only appreciations are random moments of celebration or a hug at the end of a long day. Just after getting both to bed, she slinks into her bed exhausted. What is her enemy? Her enemy is the hectic life that she leads. If only she had a 15-minute moment to escape from it all. She doesn’t want to run from it, because she does love her life. She just needs a nice little break. A place where there is no play land, but rather nice leather seats. There are no loud screams, just nice acoustic music. There are no happy meals, just nice pastries have a European touch. Not only does she feel appreciated, but the cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but knows her favorite drink. Starbucks does an amazing job in understanding and fighting off the consumer’s enemy, giving her a nice 15-minute moment of escape in the middle of her day. Yes, the Starbucks product is coffee, but the Starbucks brand is about moments. Starbucks provides a personal moment of escape from a hectic life, between work and home. If you want to show that you better understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project the enemy to the consumer that you are fighting on their behalf.

Consumer Insights

We think of Consumer Insights as secrets that we have discovered and then use to our brand’s advantage. To paint the picture of our consumer target, you should use Consumer Insights to help to crystallize secrets, thoughts and stories that bring the consumer to life. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. All we know is one piece of data and if we don’t find out more, we might make a mistake. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other, or they eat spicier foods or they have a lack fluoride in their water system, or Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet.

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The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, when you come across a data point, you have to keep looking, listening, and asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. You have to understand beneath the surface to turn the data point into knowledge and even wisdom about the consumer.

You can start with observations, trends, market facts and research data, but only when you start asking the right questions do you get closer to where you can summarize the insight. Look and listen for the consumer’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. Because the facts are merely on the surface, you have to dig, or you will miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying feelings within the consumers that caused the data. Think beyond the specific category insights and think about life insights or even societal trends that could impact changing behavior.

Get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE. We force every insight to be written starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and force them to put the insight in quotes to use their voice.Creative Brief 2016.035

When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions. If we want consumers to believe the brand is for them, then the insight is the first signal that says “we get you, you should listen to us”. It is not easy to explain a secret to a person who doesn’t even know how to explain their own secret. Try it with a friend and you will fail miserably. Imagine how hard it is to find that secret and portray it back to an entire group of consumers. Safe to say, consumer insights are hard to find.

Knowing the secrets of your consumers is a very powerful asset. An insight should ONLY connect with the audience you are talking to. I hate when people say, “We don’t want to alienate others”. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. Yes, when we target, we actually do want to alienate others. That’s the only way we will truly connect. Your ability to harness those secrets into creating insights that are arresting or intriguing, fuels the creative spirit as you tell your brand’s story, launch new innovation and move the consumer through to the purchase moment. After all, there is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy. In a tough competitive market, your ability to harness the secrets of your consumers that only you know, is a huge potential competitive advantage.

How do you define your consumer?

At Beloved Brands, we lead workshops to help teams build their Brand Positioning Statement, helping the team find the target, main benefits, reason to believe.  Click on the Powerpoint file below to view:

 

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.

 

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