Tag: social media

How to run your B2B (business to business) brand

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 coordinator 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, because 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.

Below is the tool we use to figure out a brand’s Big Idea which revolves around four areas that help define the brand: 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand. 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.b2b big idea map.001

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.

big idea b2b .001Everyone 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. b2b marcom.001

Like any brand, there are really have 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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Are brand leaders getting better…or worse?

When I see someone doing something stupid, I always think “I thought the internet was supposed to make us smarter”.  Sadly, as we’ve added the internet to our lives, many people just use it to just look up sports scores, find updates on Kim Kardashian, vent about a bad day or watch the latest cat videos. All are fine, but clearly, we as a society have not really gotten smarter in the past 20 years. We’ve just filled our brain cells with useless information we never had access to before.

The same holds true for marketers. As brand leaders have added great marketing tools such as digital marketing, internet search, social media, and direct marketing over the last 10 to 20 years, you would think they would naturally have gotten better. But I worry brand leaders are now letting go of the fundamentals of marketing and they are getting worse, not better. Too many marketers think marketing is a series of activities, not a discipline, so they chase the new shiny technology or latest social media craze likely have a to-do list of 93 things, with not paying back for your brand. The new Brand Leaders never make decisions on vision, strategies, tactics, target market or media options. They just keep going and fill their brand leader brain cells with useless information that never drives a return. Here’s a quiz to see how good you are?

  1. Can you describe your brand promise in 7 seconds?
  2. Have you created a BIG IDEA for your brand that helps frame the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience?
  3. Do you know where you want your brand to be 10 years from now?
  4. Do you spend more time on the great questions about your brand than you do on finding the great solutions?
  5. Do you know the top 3 issues in the way of your brand vision?
  6. Do you know your brand’s top 3 strategies this year?
  7. Have you decided if you’re going to focus on gaining new users or getting current users to use more?
  8. Have you narrowed down your target to those who are the most motivated by what you have to offer?
  9. Have you decided on whether you want your consumers to think, feel or act differently?
  10. Have you made decisions on the 9 activities you want to put your limited resources (dollars, people, time) against to drive the highest return on investment and effort?

If you answered “no” to ANY of the 10 questions, then you need to challenge yourself to be more fundamentally sound. If you answered “no” to ALL of the 10, then you likely need help to reach your full potential as a brand leader.

The fundamentals of marketing still matter

Be leery of those who keep saying “Marketing has changed”, because usually it is non-marketers who are saying it who are trying to sell you something. Of course marketers have a plethora of new tools available, but does it mean you should use all of them.

These days, I see too many brand leaders starting off with the solutions before they even know the problem they are addressing. They decide they need to be on Instagram before they even know why they should consider it. From our perspective, strategic thinkers see questions before answers. It’s the non-strategic thinkers who see answers before they know the right questions.You need to focus on very few strategies. The most simple strategies center around penetration (getting new users) or frequency (getting current users to use more). Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more? That’s a choice you must make, yet I see so many Brand Plans with both. Even worse is when I see creative briefs with both. These are two different unrelated strategies. When you look for new users, you have to convince someone who already knows about your brand and get them to change their minds away from their current brand. When you try to get more usage, you have to convince someone who has already decided how to use your brand, to use it differently, changing their habits or rituals. Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies. Go look at your plan and see if you are making choices. Because if you’re not, then you’re not making decisions. When you focus, four things happen for your brand: better Return on Investment (ROI); better Return on Effort (ROE); stronger reputation; more competitive and an aligned organization that helps create an experience that delivers your reputation. So next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong. All you are doing is depleting your resources by spreading them across both choices. And you’ll never see any movement on your brand so you’ll never find out if you were right or wrong. Make the choice.creating beloved brands 2015x.032

I see too many brand leaders trying to do everything, be everywhere, and try to talk to everyone, I see a complete lack of focus. Brand Leaders should be pushing themselves to make focused choices, by using the word “or” and rarely using the word “and”. Strategic people never get the surf and turf, they make a decision on whether it is a steak night or a lobster night. Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are. If you present an either-or situation to most brand leaders, they struggle with the decision, so they say “let’s do a little of both”. But in reality, what separates out a great brand leader from the pack, is great brand leaders know that decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. At the core of business, Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product itself. It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment). Forget the mathematical equation, ROI just means you get more out of it than you put into it. Every brand is constrained by money, people, speed and ideas. It becomes all about focus, leverage and finding that gateway point where you realize more from what you do, it than what you put into it. creating beloved brands 2015x.035

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!  Brand Leaders need to focus on a tight consumer target to make sure you can get them to do what you hope and love you for it. A new way to think is to find those consumers that are already highly motivated to buy what you have to sell and get them to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you. Look at how marketing testing is set up: we test among the mass market and see how many we can persuade to use your product. The reality is that leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out. It’s better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone. I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees. That’s not a target. Trying to do too much just spreads your resources across too many activities. How can you have a ROI if you’re spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE? Strategy starts with choices, applying limited resources to invest against pressure points that break through.creating beloved brands 2015x.034

I see too many brand leaders trying to talk to anyone that will talk to them. Instead, think about trying matter the most to those who care the most. Focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area. You really only have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone. Today they estimate that consumers receive 7,000 brand messages a day. Wow. How many of those 7,000 do you engage with and digest each day? Maybe 5. And yet, in your creative brief you think 3 or 4 messages is the way to go. You have to focus on one message. When you ask a room full of Brand Leaders, tell me one word that defines the Volvo brand: half the room yells out SAFETY. Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety positioning since the 1950s not just externally but internally the safety positioning guides every decision. That’s focus. 

I see too many brand leaders that can’t write a brand plan, thinking a to-do list is enough. They are almost “too busy” executing to create a tool that makes decisions that will make them “less busy”. Their plan lacks vision, which should steer your brand over the next 10 years, and they opt for a to-do list that steers their activities over the next few months. They stay aware of what’s new and keep brainstorming or adjusting to new things they see in the market making that to-do list bigger and bigger. A good brand plan focuses. You should be able to write a great brand plan with 3 strategies and 3 tactics per strategy, which means you only have 9 things to do in a given year.  Out of those 9, the top 3 should likely take up 75% of your dollars. Ok, now I’m starting to sound crazy, right? Looking at the options below, if you try to do 25 things and I look at all 25 things and force myself to pick the top 9, who will have the better year?  I’ll likely get to all 9, do a great job on all 9 and be proud of the outcome, and put enough resources (dollars, people, time, partners) to all 9 that they’ll be successful.  If you only get to 23 out of the 25, whose to say that #24 and #25 might have been the most important things to do this year. 

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I see too many brand leaders that can’t write strategy statements. Here is a tool for helping brand leaders to make choices in their strategies. This forces you to pick one of the brand connectors (promise, story, innovation, purchase moment or experience) and then select a tight target market and then pick one area of the buying system to apply your resources with the hope of making your brand either more powerful or more valuable. 

strategy tool.001Now that we are in year 10-20 of digital, search and social media, maybe it’s time now to get back to the fundamentals of marketing. Pick a target market. Pick a main message. Pick a vision where you want to be in 10 years. Pick strategies that will have the biggest impact and match up tactics to the strategies. It’s time to start making decisions, not only knowing what you will do, but also knowing what you won’t do. 

Here is a Powerpoint presentation of the workshop we run on writing brand plans:

Maybe marketing hasn’t changed at all. Maybe it’s time to get back to the fundamentals.

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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Tool for Brand Leaders to help with making advertising decisions

2015 advertising.008A brand leader has to be skilled in so many areas–strategy, planning, leadership management and execution. While there are a few areas in marketing that separate good from great, how the brand leader shows up in the advertising room might be one of the biggest discriminators. The reality is that you can still be a pretty good brand leader even if you’re just OK at the creativity of advertising. However, you won’t be great if you can’t make the right decisions on what advertising will work for your brand. I see many brand leaders show up in a confused state, unable to lead the process and incapable of making a decision. Many hope that the research results make the decision for them. That makes you a facilitator, not a leader.

2015 advertising.104When faced with new creative options, a brand leader has 3 choices in their decision-making process:

  • Approve the work
  • Reject the work
  • Change the work.

Brand leaders rarely approve advertising out right, even if they love it. It’s just not in their nature. And most times, they are too uncertain of the advertising process to reject work so they keep it alive, especially if the agency says they like it. And who hasn’t seen the “we’re so excited” speech. So that really just leaves one last option: Brand Leaders opt too many times to CHANGE the work, usually adding messages or toning down the potential alienation of the creativity. My challenge to you: if you aren’t talented enough to come up with an ad in the first place, why are you now talented enough to do something even harder: to change the ad!!!

So the agency is left spinning and scrambling stretching out the creative process from weeks to months–while many times, the work gets worse (safer), not better.

Brand Leaders get confused on the “hot seat”

2015 advertising.107Many brand leaders are uncomfortable when they get into the advertising room. We always assume the creative team is nervous because they are presenting their work, but the Brand Leader might also feel a bit of nervousness as well. After all, the Brand Leader spent a ton of effort on writing a great brand plan and creative brief which they sold into management and now they are expected to deliver great advertising that will accomplish what they said they would. Here are some of the problems I see Brand Leaders facing when they get in the advertising room.

  • You never find your comfort zone in the advertising room, almost convinced you’re not good at advertising, because you have limited experience, you feel awkward or had a bad experience. Given the months that advertising projects can take, I can tell you that a good leader gets better work than a bad leader–no matter how good you are at advertising.
  • You may have convinced yourself that since you’re a strategic leader, and you’ve also convinced yourself that you’re not that great with tactics.  These types usually show up skeptical, uptight, too tough and too easily annoyed at the creative side. I’ve actually seen Brand Leaders refer to ads as the fun creative part and the smart strategic part.
  • You show up too passive, not knowing if it’s really your place to say something. You figure the ad agency is the expert—that’s why we pay them—so you give them a free rein (aka no direction). Or worse, you give them the chance to mess up, and blame them later.
  • You settle for something you hate, because of time pressure, or you don’t know why. The worse thing you can do is approve something that don’t really love, because it seems ok for now. You might find the agency pressures you with timing that adds to your anxiety that you’ll miss our air date and have to give up your media to another brand.

Another concern you might have is how you will sell it in to management–worried what your boss will think. Being a good client takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Don’t write yourself off so quickly. Challenge yourself to learn how to be a good client.

Here’s a tool that may help you make advertising decisions

Branded Breakthrough + Move-able messaging. The best advertising breaks through the clutter in the marketplace, where consumers see an estimated 6,000 brand messages a day and it should motivate the consumer to take the desired action you want in your strategy.  Great advertising combines “branded breakthrough” (how you say it) and “move-able messaging” (what you say)

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The “Branded Breakthrough” happens when the Ad breaks through by connecting the brand to the ad and communicates the brand’s story. Achieving the “Move-able Messaging”, we see that the main message connects with consumers and motivates them to think, feel or act differently about the brand.

If we take this thought one step further, we would see that the Best Ads: 

  • Break through the clutter
  • Remembered for the Brand
  • Communicates Main Message
  • Makes brand seem different

Said another way, we believe that the best ads start with a Creative Idea that helps to:

  • Garner the consumers’ Attention to break through (A)
  • Puts spotlight on Brand so it’s remembered (B)
  • Communicates brand’s benefits through story (C)
  • Sticks over time making brand seem different (S)

That leads to our tool called the ABC’S which looks at Attention, Branding, Communication and Stickiness

ABCs.001

Attention: 

You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 6000 ads per day, in every part of their lives. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight. You have to EARN the consumers’ attention.

  1. Be Incongruent: get noticed by being a bit off kilter or different from what they are watching. A lot of brand leaders are afraid of this, because they feel it exposes them. Avoid being like “wallpaper”   If you want a high score on “made the brand seem different”, it starts with acting different.
  2. Resonate: Connect with the consumer in the true way that they see themselves or the true way that they interact with the brand.
  3. Entertain them: Make them laugh, make them cry, or make them tingle.  From the consumers view—they interact with media to be entertained.
  4. The Evolution of the Art of Being Different: As much as Movies, TV, music continues to evolve, so do ads. As much as your art has to express your strategy, it needs to reflect the trends of society to capture their attention.  
  5. Location Based: Be where your consumers are open and willing to listen. Make sure your creative makes the most of that media choice.  
  6. Be Part of the Content: As much as consumers are engaged in the content, not the advertising, then having your brand front and center and part of the story. Watching a movie and seeing a product or creating content on-line that engages like Toyota’s Swagger Wagon or the brilliant BMW Films site from 10 years ago.   
  7. Be Sharable: Amazing story-telling ads getting passed around on social media vehicles.These long videos are great for engaging the consumer emotionally.  

Branding: 

Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad. There is an old advertising saying “half of all advertising is wasted, but we aren’t sure which half”. The average brand link is 50%–we have to get past that mark.

  1. Make your brand part of the story: in the spirit of big ideas, how do you tell a story, using your brand. It’s not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the brand to the climax of your ad.
  2. Is it the truth: It sounds funny, but if there is a disconnect between what you say, and what you really are, then the brand link won’t be there.
  3. Own the Idea area: Be a bit different—make sure that what you do sets you apart from anyone else.
  4. Repeat: simplest way to get branding is to repeat and repeat and repeat.

Communication: 

Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it. Communicating is about selling. Keep in mind, communication is not what is said, but what is heard.

  1. Start a dialogue: If you can do a good job in connecting with the consumer, the branding idea can be a catalyst that enables you to converse with your consumer.
  2. What are you selling? You have to keep it simple—you only have 29 seconds to sell the truth. Focus on one message, keep asking yourself “what are we selling”.
  3. Powerful expression: try to find one key visual that can express what you are selling.This visual can be leveraged throughout
  4. Find Your “More Cheese”: Sometimes it’s so obvious what people want, but we just can’t see it or articulate it. Don’t over-think it or you’ll miss the obvious.
  5. Sell the solution, not the problem: Brands get so wrapped up in demonstrating the problem, when really it is the solution consumers want to buy.

Stickiness: 

Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have to exist in the minds of the consumer. We all want our ads to stick. Ask “will this idea last 5 years”

  1. Dominant characteristic: things that are memorable to the senses (visual, sounds, smells, etc) and have something that dominates your mind
  2. How big Is the idea? It’s proven that a gold-fish will get bigger with a bigger bowl. The same for ideas.
  3. Telling stories: while visuals are key to communicating, people remember stories—that’s how we are brought up—with ideas and morals designed to stick.
  4. Always add a penny: With each execution, you have a chance to add something to the branding idea.
  5. Know your assets: there has to be something in your ad that sticks, know what that is and then use it, in new executions or in other parts of the marketing mix.

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In the room, when viewing advertising for the first time, think fast with your instincts:

When you get in the advertising room, start with your instincts and thinking fast. Clear your mind from everything else on your job so that your instincts can come to the surface. When you see new advertising work, first answer the question: “do you love it?”. How passionate are you? 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. Would you be proud of this work as your legacy?

Then, use your gut reaction, which is the immediate logical view. What’s your immediate reaction when you reach for your instincts? Relax, slow yourself down enough to soak it in, right in the meeting. It’s easier to quickly reject out of fear than find what your gut really says. Many times, instincts get hidden away because of the job. You’re not doing anyone a favor keeping work you don’t love.

After the room, take your time and think slowly with strategy:

First, ask yourself “Is it on strategy?” Is the Ad an expression of what you wrote in your strategy documents? Use the ABC’S tool to help frame things, so you can evaluate it past how you feel. The tool gives you something to ground yourself. Take your time with this thinking. 

Then assess the long-term potential of the advertising. Is it BIG IDEA, you can see lasting for 5-10 years, going across various mediums (mass, on-line, in store), capable of speaking of the entire product line up, Think about leaving a legacy—which forces you to think of campaign-ability. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time, to let things soak in. This is where you make better strategic decisions.

Feedback can make a great ad, or destroy a relationship. 

Remember to relax and smile: I always find that the room gets so tense, stiff and serious: we forget to laugh, smile and be real. Have Fun with it. Take the attitude that If we are having fun, then so is the consumer. Give your feedback in three ways:

  1. What are your first Impressions? During the presentation, it’s great to be engaged enough to say “I like that” or ask a question.
  2. Giving Direction: Focus on giving direction, not feedback: Feedback is static, direction has action. Speak on behalf of your consumer and your brand, trying to react how they would react. 
  3. Leave the Detailed Direction on how to make it better for the day after. Moving the details (copy points, placement, colors) to the next day, helps focus the immediate comments on big picture items. Take 24 hours to digest all the little details.

Below is a powerpoint version of the Workshop we run on getting better advertising.

If how you show up to the agency will produce better advertising work.

Then show up right.

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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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Simple tool to help Brand Leaders write better brand strategy statements

A good strategy focuses your limited resources (money, time, people, partners) against an array of unlimited choices (target market, brand message, strategic options, activities) so that you drive the highest return on investment (ROI) and effort (ROE) to push your brand into a better zone.

The six elements of good strategy

Strategic thinkers see questions before answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before they know the right questions. Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer, they make choices to focus and conquer.creating beloved brands 2015x.033 They make decisions, using the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. They apply limited resources to invest against pressure points that break through. Here are the six elements that make for good strategy.

  • Vision: an aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. It should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.
  • Focus: alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
  • Opportunity: something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology).
  • Early Win: break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.
  • Leverage: ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in.
  • Gateway: realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.

Use the Brand Love Curve to frame your strategy

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.

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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 figure out your strategic options, you need to understand where you are on the Brand Love Curve, so that you can start to understand HOW to move to the next stage. A brand at the Indifferent stage needs to establish itself in the consumers mind, brands at the Like It stage need to separate itself from the pack and create a following, brands at the Love It stage need to tug at the heartstrings of those consumers who have shown some love in order to tighten the bond and finally those brands at the Beloved stage need to find a way to continue the magic and activate the most loyal followers turning them into fans.

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Here is a guideline for Brand Leaders to use in their plans with the 16 possible strategies to use. For instance at the Indifferent stage, you can use a mind shift, mind share, new news or a turnaround to establish your brand in the consumers mind.

creating beloved brands 2015x.050

Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation. As you’ll see, if your brand is at the Indifferent stage, you can’t easily cross sell and you certainly can’t get loyalists to influence others, since you have no real loyalists.

The biggest flaw I see in many brand plans is trying to drive penetration and frequency at the same time. These are two of the hardest strategies for a brand and having them in the same plan just divides your resources in half, doing a bad job at both.

Mapping the Brand’s big Idea and 5 brand connectors

It should all start with the Big Idea of your Brand. The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there? Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers.  From there, we have mapped out 5 brand connectors that are essential to create brand love. big idea map.001

  1. Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. This is set up by your brand’s positioning and customer value proposition. 

  2. Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. This is delivered by your brand’s communication through Advertising, Social Media, PR and Search media.

  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. This is your product development team, supported by claims, technology, innovation and creative delivery mechanisms of the brand. 

  4. Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. This is the point of sale, whether that’s in-store, on line, or through a direct selling mechanism. 

  5. Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. This is supported by the organization’s operations and processes as well as the culture which creates the values and behaviors delivered by the team.

Here is a tool to help Brand Leaders write better strategies:

As I review brand plans for clients, there’s one glaring area where Brand Leaders need to do a better job: the writing of strategic statements. Too many times, they are framed as tasks or objectives, but miss out on the “how to get there” part of the plan. What’s missing is a pathway to power (health) or a pathway to profit (wealth). Brand Leaders need to be better at writing brand strategies that everyone can follow. A good brand strategy focuses and moves the consumer to do something, thereby putting the brand in a better position–either healthier (more powerful) or wealthier (higher profits)

strategy tool.001

Here’s how this tool works. The basic idea is that you will mobilize one of the possible brand connectors to get a specific target profile to take action against a stage of the buying system and then use that to either harness brand power for the future or use it to a specific area that delivers added profitable for the brand. Here’s the five stage process to the tool.

a. Select one of the 5 brand connectors: (brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment or experience

b. Pick target market you will move (user profiles, demographics, regional)

c. to take a focused action along buying system: (awareness, consideration, search, purchase, satisfied, repeat, loyal or fan)

d. To either harness your brand’s power to unleash in the future

e. Or drive one of the 8 profit drivers for your brand

Here are two examples of how you can put this tool to work, and write best in class strategy statements for the Apple brand.

  • Launch the new innovative Apple Phone (a) to Mac loyalists(b) converting interest to trial (c) to successfully move Apple into the phone market. (e)
  • Create an in-store Apple training experience (a) to young seniors 55-60 years old (b) to tighten the bond with apple (c) creating a new user segment for Apple. (e)

Use this tool to write better brand plans that everyone can follow.

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 Ritz-Carlton meets the “unexpressed” needs of consumers

Impeccable service separates Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they are able to charge–the best locations, beautiful rooms, nice beds and great meals.  But in reality, every luxury hotel has to deliver against these or they’ll be quickly out of business. Recognizing that any great brand has to be better, different or cheaper to win, Ritz-Carlton focuses their attention on impeccable service standards to separate themselves from other Hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Ritz-Carlton Training session, and as a Brand Leader, the thing that struck me was the idea of meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As highly paid Marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want, yet Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops and front desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs”. Employees carry around note pads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest and then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Isn’t that what marketers do? So what’s getting in our way?

They bake their values right into the Ritz-Carlton culture

The phrase that Ritz-Carlton uses with their staff is “Radar is on and Antenna is Up” so that everyone can be looking for the unexpressed needs.   These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way:

  • A couple arrives at the hotel, wife is six months pregnant. Normal service would be to observe and do nothing–at best help with the bags. But at Ritz Carlton, antenna up means they get a special pillow for sleeping and alcohol free sparkling cider instead of champagne.
  • A business guest who was staying at a hotel for 4 weeks and the staff printed up business cards with the guest name, hotel address and phone number so that he could give them out during his stay.

But like any hotel, things do go wrong. The staff is encouraged to use these moments to not only address the problem and fix it but also try to surprise and delight guests turning a problem into a potential wow moment. With everyone’s antenna’s up, when a problem does arise they quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input.

  • A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their son had left his stuffed giraffe in the room. The boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son, is that the giraffe was staying on the vacation a little longer. So the staff, found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton. Knowing what the Mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay, including photos of the giraffe sitting by the pool, in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and laying out on the beach. It’s not that the album would make the boy excited, because he was excited just to have his favorite giraffe back.  But imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff and how many friends they may share that story with.
  • An activity coordinator noticed that one of them had a real passion for ballet. Over the week, the activity coordinator even came in before her shift every day to give the girl a private ballet class. She wanted to do something special for the young guest, and decided to teach her a special dance for her parents. On their last day, she arranged for a performance at the Jazz Club, with special music and lighting for the performance.  The couple was very grateful and could not believe how much love and passion the activity coordinator had put into making their daughter’s stay so memorable. To complete the experience, they gave the guests a CD with pictures and videos of their daughter’s performance so they could share it with family and friends on their return home

To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories and stories from other hotels around the world.  This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged. Harvard did a study on Employee Engagement, stating that the average company had 29% of their employees who were fully engaged and they labelled this group as the Super Stars.  Using the same criteria, Ritz-Carlton has 92% of their staff considered fully engaged. No wonder they are able to win so many service awards and no wonder they can create such an experience for their consumers. They’ve fully created a culture that now defines the brand.

So what can brand leaders learn from Ritz-Carlton?

How can marketers challenge themselves to meet the unexpressed needs of guests?  As Henry Ford said:  “”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  So what’s getting in your way?  Are you over-thinking things?  Are you too worried about the short-term results that you’re not even seeing or hearing the unexpressed needs?   Are you so analytical that you need to see the data first and never really reach for your instincts which might challenge the data or even fill in the missing gaps in the data?

How do you get your antenna’s up so that you and your team are always watching, listening and thinking?  As you run from meeting to meeting, filling in forecasting templates and spending evenings pretty-ing up your presentation for senior leaders, how many times a week do you talk to consumers, how many times do you walk into a store or what social media tools do you monitor and listen to. Do you ever sit with customer service for an afternoon?  Do you read through the complaints? And while it’s great that you do this once in a while, how do you operationalize it with your team. Can you set aside time so that you’re doing regular store visits or a quick brainstorm on observations once a week.Slide12

How can marketers push ourselves to wow the consumer?  The Ritz Carlton staff is constantly trying to wow their guests, in either a small or big way believing that both make a difference.  Are you pushing yourself to surprise your consumer?   Are you trying to wow your consumer?   Are you rejecting OK work to force everyone to reach for Great?   Do you have a standard for the work that exceeds that of your consumer, after all if you don’t love the work then how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

Do something this week that meets the unexpressed needs of a Customer–no matter how big or small–just to see what it feels like.  

It might feel pretty damn powerful.  

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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5 key areas Brand Managers should focus on to reach their full potential

After 20 years of CPG marketing, I have hired so many potentially great marketers–who were eager for success, brilliant, hard-working and dedicated. But in reality, about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers get promoted to Brand Manager and less than 20% of Brand Managers make it to the Director level. I’ve given it a lot of thought over the years and here is my view on what makes great Brand Managers, great enough for them to get promoted to the next level.  

What separates good from great at any level in Marketing:

Before we get into the specific Brand Manager level, here are the expected behaviors in Marketing at any level.

  • Hit the deadlines: Don’t look out of control or sloppy. We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other.
  • Know your business: Don’t get caught off-guard. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.
  • Open communication: No surprises. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. Present upwards with an action plan of what to do with it.  
  • Listen and decide: While it’s crucial that we seek to understand, it’s equally important that we give direction or push towards the end path.
  • We must get better: When we don’t know something, speak in an “asking way”, but when we know, speak in a “telling way”.
  • We control our destiny: We run the brands, they do not run us. Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion.
  • Regular feedback for growth: You should always take feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Not a personal attack or setback.

And when it comes to being a leader and managing others, here are the biggest factors you should look at:

  • Hold your team to a consistently high standard of work in strategic thinking, planning, execution in the market. Consistency in the Quality of marketing outputs: Advertising/Media, Innovation/New Products and In-store/Promotion
  • People Leadership: your team knows the team vision and is consistently motivated by where you want to go. Seen as actively interested in helping your team to manage their careers.
  • Processes: you organize, challenge and manage the processes so your team can execute. Your team gets things done on time. Deadlines, on budget, on forecast.
  • Coaching: Teach, guide and direct your team members for higher performance. Training and Development: provides on-going skills development to make the team better. Motivation and Recognition: you are seen to actively provide positive commentary to team players, one on one and in public.
  • Consistent Communication: Both written and spoken, big and small. Easily approachable and makes time to wander. Actively Listens to Team: asks the big strategic questions, not the small tactical details
  • Leadership during times of pressure: results, ambiguity, change and deadlines.

Slide1To be a great Brand Manager, here are the 5 key areas you should focus on:

1. A great Brand Manager takes ownership of the brand

  • Many BMs struggle with the transition from being the helper to being the owner. As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of having someone hand you a project list. Not only do you have to make the project list, you have to come up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of.
  • A great Brand Manager talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather than an asking sense. It’s great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most people are going to be looking to you for decisions. They’ll be recommending you’ll be deciding.
  • When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions. You just gave up your ownership. Your director wants you to tell them what to do, and debate from there. 

2. A great Brand Manager provides a vision with strategies that match up

  • Bring a vision to the brand. Push yourself to a well-articulated 5-10 year brand vision. But a vision can be as simple as a rallying cry for the team. But you have to let everyone know where you want to go.
  • The strategy that matches up to the vision becomes the road map for how to get there. As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy. Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected.
  • Communication of strategy is a key skill. Learn to think in terms of strategic pillars, with 3 different areas to help achieve your overall strategy. Having pillars constantly grounds you strategically, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions. Each function may only have 1 strategic pillar but seeing how it all fits in is motivating.

3. A great Brand Manager spends the effort to make their ABM as good as can be.

  • Most BMs struggle with their first five direct reports. The key is to keep self evaluating and looking for ways to improve with each report.
  • Most BMs struggle to shift from “do-er” to “coach. They think they can do it faster, so they may as well do it. They just become the “super ABM”.
  • Many BMs fail to share the spot light, so it becomes hard to showcase the ABM. But the work of your ABM reflects 100% of how good of a manager you are.
  • ABMs need feedback to get better—both the good and bad. I see to many BMs not giving enough feedback. And so many afraid of “going negative” so the ABM is left in the dark or left thinking they are doing a good job.
  • Great BMs take the time to teach up front, give the ABM some room to try it out and then give hands-on feedback in real-time. Use weekly meetings to give both positive feedback and address gaps.
  • Brand Mangers should do QUARTERLY sit down performance reviews with their ABMs, who have the capacity to learn faster than annual reviews allows for.

4. A great Brand Manager gets what they want and need.

  • The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations. You can see how the organization works and appreciating what are are the motivations of various key stakeholders. You then use that knowledge to begin to work the system.
  • You are starting to see key subject matter experts giving you their best. You understand their personal motivations and find a way to tap into those motivations as a way to ask people for their best. It might be an odd step, but from my experience a really motivating step. Very few people ask for “your best”.

5. A great Brand Manager can handle pressure: ambiguity, results, relationship and time pressure.  

  • Ambiguity is one of the hardest pressures. As a leader, patience and composure help you sort through the issues. The consequences of not remaining composed are a scared team and choosing quick decisions with bad results.
  • If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating. Reach for your logic as you re-group. Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Challenge team to “this is when we are needed”
  • Relationships. Be pro-active in making the first move to build a relationship. Try to figure out what motivates and what annoys the person. Understand and reach for common ground, which most times is not that far away.
  • Time Pressure. It’s similar to the ambiguity. Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way. Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. Use time to your advantage.

Conversely, here are the 10 factors that are career limiting for Brand Managers

Conversely, here are the 10 factors that are career limiting for Brand Managers

  1. You struggle to make decisions
  2. You are not analytical enough
  3. You can’t get along
  4. Not good with Ambiguity
  5. Too slow and too stiff
  6. You’re a bad people manager
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners
  8. Never trust or follow your instincts
  9. You can’t think strategically and almost equally important, you can’t write strategically
  10. You fail to run the brand, you let the brand run you. 

Always challenge yourself to get better. You run your career and control your personal brand.

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. To help brand leaders reach their full potential ask us about our Brand Boot Camp.  

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How to lay out your 5-year brand strategic plan on one page

The same leaders who use the phrase: “Let’s all get on the same page”, then send out 110 slide Powerpoint presentations. We take it serious enough to create a Brand Strategy Roadmap that you can use to frame the next 5 years of your brand strategy, and fit it on one page. This way,  you really can get everyone on the same page.  

The master brand strategy roadmap

Having the brand road map on one page can help align everyone that works on a brand. This is especially useful when managing a Branded House or Master Brand where there are various people in your organization that each run a small part of the brand. The road map helps guide everyone and keep them aligned.

Here’s the one I use that has all the key elements that help define the brand

Slide11

Start with the Brand’s Big Idea

Brand’s Big Idea: A Beloved Brand is an idea that’s worth Loving. As brands become more loved, they go beyond being just a product and they become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs in the consumers life. Below is the Tool I use to figure out a Brand’s Big Idea revolves around four areas that help define the Brand 1) Brand’s personality 2) Products and Services the brand provides 3) Internal Beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and 4) Consumer Views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each of the four section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s Big Idea with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

big-idea

The five connectors with the consumer: Under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.Slide1

As an example Apple’s Big Idea is about “taking the complexity and make everything simple enough, so that everyone will be part of the future”. Accordingly, everything in the organization should line up to delivering a simple experience whether that’s the day they turn on the product, installing an App on an iPhone or when they show up at the store to ask questions from the Genius Bar.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 consumers.Slide2

Brand values should come from the Big Idea, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise. How do you want your people to show up? What type of service do you want? How much emphasis on innovation? What type of people do you want to hire? What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side. Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions. The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for. To read more this subject read the following: Brand = Culture

Worksheet Strategy Summary

The 5 year road map should combine the elements of a long range brand plan with the mapping of the brand’s big idea. We recommend you do up a worksheet summary, that allows your team to brainstorm and continue to modify before you go the final road map.Slide1

 

With this format, having it all on one page forces focus and allows you to keep a tight control over those that will be working under the Master Brand.

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Purpose: Why does your brand exist? Keep asking yourself why you do this, to find the personal motivation hidden in the brand. Articulating your purpose can be a very powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Financial Forecasts: sales, A&P spending, margins, profits, market share.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way from achieving your vision/goals? Deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked as a question to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pin-pointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects in the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.
  • Marketing Budget to achieve Results: broken out by trade spend, communication, consumer promo, new products, research.

Putting the plan and big idea togther to create the 5 year road map

How it all comes together is you take the summary elements of the brand plan and the big idea brand map together into the Brand Strategy Roadmap.

Slide1

 

Get everyone on One Page with a Brand Strategy Roadmap that everyone can follow

 

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 re-position your brand by transforming the perception of your competitor’s strength into a weakness

Slide1When you’re struggling, the obvious answer marketers look to is to re-position your brand. Have you tried a strategy where you re-position your main competitor as a way to re-position your own brand?  

Find your brand’s distinction

At Beloved Brands, we believe in using positioning as a way to finding Your Uniqueness.  We believe that brands have only four choices: they are either better, different, cheaper, or not around for very long. The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand. You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique. It all starts by mapping out everything that the consumer needs, then plotting that (using venn diagram in the chart below) against everything your competitor does best and against what you do best. We define the winning zone as the intersection of what your consumer wants and what you do best. The risky zone is where it’s a relative tie between you and your competitor, which we believe the winner will be those who win through speed, innovation or emotional connection. Brands should avoid the losing zone where you try to take on your competitor in the area where they can beat you. And finally, the dumb zone is where the consumer doesn’t care at all–outside of what consumers want.Slide04

When you a using competitive positioning stance (using the two charts below) what you want to do is focus on the area where you are better than your competitor and then extrapolate that feature’s importance with consumers in order to make what you do seem even bigger. The hope is that by doing so, you can diminish the importance of what your competitor does best. 

In a highly competitive marketplace, where your brand needs re-positioning, you want to take it one step farther.  You might find a more innovative approach to re-position your brand by turning your competitor’s perceived strength into a weakness, making consumers re-think their current brand and creating a new problem for which your brand becomes the new solution to that problem. With this type of re-positioning, you are moving your competitor into the “dumb zone” outside of what consumers want, while setting your own brand up as the best solution.  

Slide1

A great example of this type of thinking is in a highly commoditized salmon market. There are two types of salmon: pink and white. For years, consumers had became accustomed and accepting of tins of pink salmon in their grocery stores. In fact, it was really the only salmon on the market. But when the white salmon tried to sell their product into stores, consumers rejected it immediately as it didn’t fit with what they knew about canned salmon. The white salmon fisheries came up with a brilliant line to re-position the pink competition: “Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!”  This is a great example of getting consumers to re-think their current brand, starting to wonder if their salmon was actually safe to eat. The pink salmon fisheries fought back with an equally brilliant line: “Guaranteed: No bleach used in processing!”

Case Study: The Pepsi Challenge

Back in the 1970s, Coke was such a dominant brand–with a strong bond with consumers.  Consumers loved the Coke taste, and all the emotions it evoked with the Coke heritage, americana feel and even Santa Claus. The Pepsi Challenge was a direct offensive attack on Coke–a dagger in their heart–attacking the taste of Coke. In blind taste tests, without the attachment of Coke brand name and all that went with it, people picked Pepsi, preferring the sweeter taste–serving to re-position Coke as the lesser tasting product.. The Pepsi challenge moved Pepsi up to a competitive share position even at times reaching #1. Coke was so dazed and confused they launched “New Coke” with a better taste. Finally, consumers took control of the situation and rejected New Coke, basically saying “it’s not the better taste we want, it’s the usual Coke taste and what goes along with all that is Coke that we want”.  New Coke was killed, and oddly through the process, Coke re-gained what they had lost through the Pepsi challenge. 

Historical: A look back at the iconic Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s (CNW Group/PEPSICO CANADA)

Historical: A look back at the iconic Pepsi Challenge from the 1970s (CNW Group/PEPSICO CANADA)

Case Study: Apple’s “I’m a Mac” 

Let’s face it, Apple is a cool, hip brand. It pushes a strong identification with everything young, up-to-the-minute and smart. The “I’m a Mac” campaign was brilliant in not only defining the Mac brand as smooth, confident and cool, but defining the PC brand as old, uptight and awkward. Even the two characters in the ad resembled the leaders of each organization with a nerdy Bill Gates look-alike, versus a cool hipster in Steve Jobs. At the height of this campaign I was in a crowded bar that went immediately silent when one of the “I’m a Mac” TV ads came on. Apple has done a great job in separating themselves from the competitor, whether it’s the white headphones on the iPod, the number of apps for iPhone and iPad or the cool sleek designs of the Mac. Not only that, the Apple store is a store just for Apple users.  Here are 10 hilarious ads from that “I’m a Mac” campaign. 

Case Study:  Avis “We try Harder”

Back in the 1960s, when Avis was struggling behind the clear market leader in Hertz, they created the “We try harder” campaign that openly said “we are #2, so we have to try harder” which turned the strength of Hertz #1 market share into a slight weakness, making consumers wonder if the #1 brand Hertz was resting on its laurels. They layered in reasons to believe saying they couldn’t’ afford to provide unwashed cars, low tire pressure and dirty ashtrays which made consumers start to wonder if Hertz did those things. 

 

Slide1

 

A failed case study is the McDonald’s coffee launch, which seems we are close to saying it’s been a distraction for the McDonald’s brand who now faces 15 straight months of overall sales decline. When McDonald’s launched their coffee, they did so on price claiming that “Fourbucks was dumb” attacking a well-known high priced weakness and while a few came frustrated price shoppers came over the McDonald’s, it did nothing to change the perception of consumers, since they already knew McDonald’s would be cheaper than Starbucks. The actual disappointment for those new consumers is the high price of the specialty McDonald’s coffees were much cheaper. Back in the 1980s, Wendy’s “where’s the beef?” campaign attacked McDonald’s weakness around small burgers, but again, that was a generally accepted weakness for McDonald’s so it did very little to change perceptions. 

What I recommend for you is to start to think about how you can turn your competitors strength into a perceived weakness, which will then make the consumer think differently about their current brand and possibly put them into the zone where they are ready to explore new brands. 

Use re-positioning to open your consumer up to new thinking that the strength of their current brand might actually be a weakness

 

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 write amazing Consumer Insights that will create a bond with your consumer

A client asked me to review their advertising creative brief and I was shocked by a few things: the brief was 8 pages long, while there were many features there were no benefits and while there were facts about the product, there were no consumer insights. If your team is struggling with advertising, the first place you should look is the creative brief. Sadly, it’s becoming a lost art and a lost skill for too many brand leaders. 

The role of consumer insights

At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. 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. The role of Advertising is to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning and drive a change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. We believe that any advertising must do something that changes the consumers’ behavior. And to change their behavior, you need to fully understand what they think today and what you want them to think, feel or do in the future. That’s where insights come into play. While you can paint the picture of the consumer by defining their profile, the insights bring it to life. Slide06

A good target not only decides who is in your target but who is not in your target. 

As you figure out where you are playing, defining who you are serving and who you aren’t serving helps provide focus. Ongoing measurement and adjusting should look at how well you are doing versus your target in terms of share, preference, purchase intention, brand funnel scores and panel data. As well you should track your research against the target and mass population. In terms of choosing target segments, you can break it out by demographics, psychographic, geographic and usage occasion or behavior.

Insights serve as a connection point between the brand and consumers  

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. It’s not just data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying trends or feelings that caused the data. Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices. Insights need to be interesting or intriguing. My challenge is to think beyond just the specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing behaviour.

Insight is not something that consumers ever knew before. That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. 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 one who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight inspires us and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.

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Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE

When writing consumer insights, we recommend that you should start with “I” to get in the consumer’s shoes and that you should frame the insight by using quotes to use their voice. Too many brand leaders out there just jam facts into the brief, usually directly connected to their own brand and think that’s insightful. I love using this example: “in Brazil, people brush their teeth 4x a day compared to only 1.7x a day in North America–is that an insight?” And most times, people will say “yes, that’s an insight”. While it tells something, think of how much that statement doesn’t tell you about Brazilian brushing habits. What insights can we garner as to why Brazilians brush their teeth so much? Is it related to how social Brazilians are, spicy foods they eat, the vanity of the people or attitudes to overall healthcare? Without insights, we may know the fact, but don’t know what’s beneath the fact. 

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Using the Banking example above, look at how little the facts tell us about how consumers feel about longer banking hours. The basic facts are they’ll use the bank more and spend more, but how can we use that as a way to connect with consumers and create a bond between consumers and the brand? Yet, when we dig a bit deeper and get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice, we would hear them say: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. It was this type of insight that led to the bank producing a print ad with a woman doing a head stand with the caption that said “I go to yoga after work, so I switched to a bank that has flexible hours”, which achieved the best ad tracking results in the bank’s history. 

The second example came from my experience when I was a Pfizer, managing the Quit Smoking brand teams, with the Nicorette and Nicoderm brands. The insight in the Nicoderm brief read: “There are no real competitors. But studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” Again, facts say very little and give the agency nothing really to work with. The work we did around the psychological impact of the brand really changed how we managed the brand. Even in focus groups, you could see the irritation consumers had just talking about the times they had tried to quit. We brought this irritation to life through this consumer insight: “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 feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.”  It was that ad that produced this TV ad for the Nicoderm brand. There is no way the facts alone would have provided the creative team with such insight.

Here are the six questions that a brand leader should answer before even starting a brief:

  1. Who is in the consumer target? (Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?)
  2. What is the benefit we are selling? (What is your main benefit?)
  3. Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up what you say)
  4. What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (What is the Big Idea for the brand?)
  5. What do we want the brand communications to do for the brand?  (Strategic Choices)
  6. What do want people to think, feel or do?  (Desired Response)

Consumer Insight is the necessary starting point to creating a powerful bond between the consumer and brand 

To see a more in depth presentation click on the Powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to write a Creative Brief that helps to generate a greater bond, power and profit for your brand.

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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Pick ONE social media lead vehicle. Don’t try to do everything.

Brand Managers heard the term “social media is free” and thought it was a media buffet so they got a crappy website, then got on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and had no clue what to do next. With no strategy or though, brand leaders went out and built very bad websites that talked about how to cleanse a wound, how to pick the right color of a dishwasher or a basic list of all the sizes and flavors you offer. You spent money on a viral video and put it on your website. Then, brand leaders created a Facebook page (with 173 likes), a Twitter account (with 97 followers) and thought about creating an Instagram account but not quite sure what you’d put on. And so now, you’re making the most of this free media?  Last year, I was driving leisurely along a country road on a Saturday afternoon and I saw a rock quarry with a sign out front that said “Like us on Facebook”. My first thought was, why would I want to like a gravel pit on Facebook? I thought what kind of updates would they be giving? Would my friends see that I liked a page with 37 likes?  Maybe that gravel pit should have used their sign for better use like “We’ve got Quartz at $9 a pound” The lesson here is that not every brand should be using Social Media, just because it’s free. And like any tactical tool, it should be well thought out and fit with your brand strategy. Don’t just go on there because you think you have to be, go on because you see that it will help grow your brand.

The role of Advertising is to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning and drive a change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. For brands, media is an investment at touch points where consumers are most willing to engage in the story. Media has to be used to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning, learn about your consumers and influence a change in your consumers behavior (think, act or feel) that leads to higher sales, share and profit. Since we still think social media is “free”, you have to realize that social media takes “effort” which means employees and time. You need a strategy, guidelines, interesting content, continuous feeds, engagement mechanisms. You need smart, strategic, fully engaged, creative people. So let’s look at it from an ROE point of view (return on effort). 

Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity

Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. Here are the benefits to the Brand by focusing your efforts: 

  • Better Return on Investment (ROI): With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.
  • Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.
  • Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation.
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return.

New school thinking for media planning

Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer. In the old school, Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again. It was all about driving AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where you use advertising to build Awareness which leads to conversion and then Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty. The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where you cater the most to your most loyal users, who will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase. It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends. In the last few years, I’m noticing more and more queries of Facebook where people will put “I’m going to Boston, does anyone know a good restaurant?” or “I’m buying a new phone, anyone have a recommendation?” as they trust and rely on their friends. It will be those people within their network that will carry more influence than any marketing you can provide. So if one of those is a motivated loyal user of your brand, they’ll speak with passion and conviction, carrying a great influence in that purchase decision. 
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The modern Brand Leader gets the power of being a loved brand. When your brand is loved, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings and thinking is replaced by feeling.  Consumers become outspoken fans ready to speak out and battle competitive users. This connection between beloved brands and their consumer becomes a source of power for that brand to use.  In today’s world of Brands, the most Loved are the most powerful.  Brands like Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods aren’t using TV advertising, but instead they are taking their brand experience to social media and influencing their most loyal brand lovers to spread the word. People post a picture of their Pumpkin Latte on Facebook and now 137 people now want one. Equally, if they complain about their phone, it evokes similar negative feelings or doubt in us about the same phone. 

The old school thinking is what gets measured gets done. Old School media has always been about efficiency and the ROI (Return on Investment).  But New School media is about Impact and ROE (Return on Effort). The influence of social media is like the new “invisible hand” that you know is there, but can’t always measure. Yes, TV is and always will be the most efficient medium. It’s easy to stick with what you know and has a whole system of measurements.  But TV is an announcement medium, not an influence medium.TV is best used for broad awareness and new news. But it’s not as good at influencing as social media.There are loved brands who still spend 95% of their ad budget on TV. Yet, their TV ads tell us nothing new and fail to move the brand forward. The better spend would be take all that stored energy within their most loyal users and get them to influence their network of friends. Your most loyal consumers become the medium for attracting new users.  

It’s not just demographics but emotional-graphics

As a consumer, I use many of social media tools available, but it seems my mood changes when I switch from one tool to another. Not thinking about it, but I have different emotional expectations from each social media tool I use. When I’m on Linked In, I am hoping to advance my career–I seek out knowledge, leads on jobs or see connections who may help me get ahead. But on a second’s notice I switch over to Facebook looking for an escape where I can connect with old friends, post photos of my recent trip to Hawaii or comment on some issue that my friends are talking about. I click over to Twitter and I retweet a funny meme that makes me laugh or Tweet about something crazy I saw on the way to work. I switch over to the Weather Network to see if my Golf Game on Saturday will be free of rain, and click on a Huffington Post article about something stupid Bieber did last night. Then I go back to work. I may not realize it, but I have satisfied many of my emotional needs–thirst for knowledge (Linked In), need for control (weather), wanting to be liked and noticed (Facebook) as well as wanting to be free (Twitter) and finally a little of being myself (Huffington Post). 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that passion matters, both with the consumer and brands. The more emotional connection that brands can create with consumers, the more powerful that brand will be. Brand Leaders tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex Research have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this method contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging the Hotspex work, we’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simple way below in what we call our “Emotional Cheat Sheet” for Brands:

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Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of your consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition. How it works is you have to figure out which emotional zone your brand can own through research or using instincts. And just like a rational position, you can’t try to own them all. Force yourself to stay within a zone that may include 1 or 2 of the emotional need states.  If we think of the world’s leading car companies, Volkswagen’s quirkiness allows you to be comfortable with being yourself, Volvo’s safety features makes you feel knowledgeable and in control, yet a Mini Cooper’s spunky styles gets you noticed or be liked and the power of the Dodge Charger allows you to feel free and feel optimistic on the road. 

Match up your Brand’s emotional zone to social media site’s emotional zone

Once you figure out what emotional zone your brand can own, we recommend that your lead social media vehicle should play in that same emotional zone. The Dodge Charger might be better off showcasing their brand on Youtube and having an outspoken voice on Twitter. Volvo better own every safe word on Google, make sure their Wikipedia page accurately reflects their brand’s record. Volkswagen could use a provocative voice on the Huffington Post or own Trip Advisor. Using our “Emotional Cheat Sheet, we’ve mapped out where some of the leading social media and digital sites fall.  

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For Brand Leaders to get it, they should be living in the space of social media. It’s a great chance for Brand Leaders to get in the shoes of your consumer, see how they live, hear what’s important to them, use their rich language and feel what they think about your brand. Be active and be engaged. You’d better hurry though, because pretty soon what we see in front of us as new school media will be old pretty soon. And then you’ll be completely out of it.

Use social media to take a walk in the shoes of your consumers

To see a more in depth presentation please read the Powerpoint presentation below which is a Workshop to show brand leaders how to use Media Planning to generate more power and profit for their brand.

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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