How to Guide for Marketers

How to write an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

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The role of an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan (IMC) is to find ways to trigger a behaviour change in your consumers. Integrated Marketing Communications PlanOur format for the brand communications plan answers seven questions. These questions steer and inspire the creation of the brand story work. It should establish your brand positioning. Finally, it should motivate consumers to see, think, feel, do, or influence.

The plan must answer the following:

  1. What do we need our advertising to do? (Brand strategic objective statement)
  2. Who is in our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)
  3. What are we are selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind)
  4. Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit)
  5. What is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence or DNA for the brand)
  6. What do want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer impact)
  7. Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)

Here’s an example of what your plan should look like:

Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

Q1. What do we need our advertising to do? (Brand strategic objective statement)

Five major brand strategies help move your brand from one stage of the brand love curve to the next.

brand strategy

For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world, where they see an estimated 5,000 brand messages per day. For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference over their current brand choice. At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following over time. Only after they trust the brand, they begin to open up. At the love it stage, the focus shifts tightening the bond with the most loyal brand fans. At the beloved stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.

Writing your strategy statements

You should start off by writing your strategic objective statement using the four components of the a + b + c + d model we use for strategic thinking:Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

A: The statement calls out the investment into a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation.

B: You should provide a focused opportunity, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact.

C: You must have a specific desired market impact to outline the market stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers.

D: Finally, you need a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result on the brand, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

 

Q2: Who is in our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)

Most marketers think of the type of consumers they want to attract. Why not change your thinking and go after those consumers who are already motivated by what your brand offers? So instead of asking, “Who do we want?” you should be saying, “Who wants us?”

I use seven fundamental questions to define and build a profile of your ideal consumer target:

  1. What is the description of the consumer target?
  2. What are the consumer’s main needs?
  3. Who is the consumer’s enemy who torments them every day?
  4. What are the insights we know about the consumer?
  5. What does the consumer think now?
  6. How does the consumer buy?
  7. What do we want consumers to see, think, do, feel or whisper to their friends?

consumer profile

Q3: What are you selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind) 

The consumer benefits ladder helps turn your brand’s features into consumer benefits. You should stop talking about what your brand does and start talking about what your consumer gets. The four steps to building a consumer benefits ladder:

  1. Leverage all available research to define your ideal consumer target profile with need states, consumer insights, and the consumer enemy.
  2. Brainstorm all possible brand features. Focus on those features you believe give your brand a competitive advantage.
  3. Move up to the functional benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer. For each feature on your list, ask, “So, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question up until you move into a richer zone.
  4. Then move up to the emotional benefits. Look at each functional benefit and ask, “So, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a more in-depth emotional space you can win with and own.

Consumer Benefit ladder

Q4: Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit)

I took one logic class at university, and the only thing I learned was “premise-premise conclusion.” It was an easy class, but a life-long lesson that has stuck with me. Here is a classic logical argument statement:

  • All fish live in water (premise)
  • Tuna are fish (premise)
  • Therefore, tuna live in the water (conclusion).

This example fits with my brand positioning statement model, as the main consumer benefit is the conclusion with a need for two support points as the premises. If pure logic teaches us that two premise points are good enough to draw out any conclusion, then you only need two “reasons to believe” (RTB).

Brands that build concepts with a laundry list of RTBs are not doing their job in making focused decisions on what support points are required. With consumers seeing 5,000 brand messages per day, having a long list of support points risks making their brand communications a cluttered mess. Claims can be a useful tool in helping to support your RTB, yet the RTB should never be the conclusion.

There are four types of claims you can use on your brand:

Process support

  • How your product works differently
  • Showcase what you do differently within the production process
  • What added service you provide in the value chain

Product claims

  • Usage of an ingredient that makes your brand better
  • Process or ingredient that makes your brand safer
  • Process that makes your brand cheaper

Third-person endorsement

  • Experts in the field who can speak on your brand’s behalf.
  • Past users/clients with proof support of stories or reviews
  • Recognized awards, such J.D. Power

Behavioral results

  • Clinical tests
  • In market usage study
  • Before and after studies

Q5: What is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence or DNA for the brand)

 Organize everything you do around a brand idea

With today’s consumers being bombarded with 5,000 brand messages a day, the first seven seconds a consumer engages with a brand is a make-or-break moment. The brand must captivate the consumer’s mind quickly, or the consumer will move on. The brand must be able to entice consumers to want to find out more, then motivate consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. I will show you how to develop a brand idea that serves as your brand’s seven-second sales pitch. It is essential for every brand.

What is a brand idea?

To me, the brand idea simplifies everything, not just for the consumer but for everyone working on the brand. The dictionary definition of the word “idea” means a thought, opinion, belief, or mental impression. A brand idea must be all those things. A brand must get consumers to agree on the brand reputation and get employees who work behind the scenes of the brand to agree and deliver. Let’s assume they are the same thing. What we are creating is the most significant, most prominent and yet most succinct definition of the brand. To become a successful and beloved brand, you need a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating and ownable.

Brand idea checklist

The brand idea must be interesting enough to engage and entice consumers on a first encounter to want to know more. Keep it simple enough to gain entry into the consumer’s mind. Your idea must be easily layered to organize everything you do to match up with the five consumer touchpoints, including the brand promise,  brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. To be successful, your idea must be unique enough to build a reputation so consumers will perceive the brand as better, different, or cheaper. The idea must be able to motivate consumers to think, feel, and act in ways that benefit your brand. The idea must represent the inner brand soul of everyone who works on the brand, inspiring employees to deliver the brand promise and amazing experiences. Finally, the brand idea must be ownable, so no other competitor can infringe on your space, and you can confidently build your brand reputation over time. 

Brand Idea

Q6: What do want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer impact)

The best advertising can only get the consumer to do one thing at a time, so you should focus your desired response to get consumers to see, think, do, feel or influence others. Decide on what you want the desired response to be before you decide on the stimulus, which is the next question of the brief.

Too many marketers already know what they want to say before they even know the response they want from their consumers. You should start with the desired response, which comes from your brand plan, and only then can you decide what to say to achieve that response.

advertising

Q7: Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)

Media is a business investment that showcases your brand story through creative execution to help connect your brand with consumers where consumers are most willing to engage, listen, think, feel, and act in ways that pay back your brand.

Here are six questions to help build your media plan:

  1. What is the size of your brand’s media budget?
  2. What is your brand’s core strength?
  3. How tightly connected is your brand with your consumer?
  4. Where can you best impact the consumer journey?
  5. Where will your consumers be most open to engage, listen, think, feel, and act?
  6. What media choices will best deliver your brand’s creative execution?

media planning

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statementthat motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand ideato capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand planto help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. In addition, our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

How to Guide for Marketers

How to lead a brand turnaround strategy

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When a brand faces poor external results with a decline in sales, shrinking market share, and lower profit margins due to lower prices or rising costs, the brand leader needs to create a turnaround plan that will fix it. From my experience, you will need both a short-term and long-term fix. The quick fix helps address the hemorrhaging results that are impacting the bottom line of the company.

Assessing your brand situation

Before moving towards a plan, you must fully understand the situation you face. Each year, conduct a deep-dive business review to assess the health of your branded business. A smart brand strategy is a smart business strategy. You are running a live business, with a need to drive sales, manage costs and produce profits. Without addressing the competitive and consumer factors you face, all your great strategic thinking will come collapsing down around you.  

There are four distinct situations your brand could face:

      • Fuel the momentum
      • Fix it
      • Realignment
      • Start-up

Fix it plan

However, most fix it situations have a more in-depth cause, hidden beneath the surface level. You will need a change management leadership style that challenges everyone and everything. fix it planYou will need a new plan, which includes a new vision filled with new ideas. Explore the need for different people to join the team. Losing can be contagious to the culture of a team. You will need to create a new attitude.

The quick fix can buy you time with management to implement what you see as the longer-term fix it plan. Any immediate wins also give the team a much-needed boost of motivation.

Dig deep into a full business review to understand the underlying causes happening in the market. Evaluate changing consumers needs, new competitors, changes in the retail landscape, and changes in technology. Close leaks using a brand funnel analysis. Go through every investment decision. Cut all spending that fails to drive results and reinvest in the new plan. Invest only in programs that give you an early breakthrough win and payback. Once you have the plan in place, make sure you have the right talent in place to make it happen.

The quick fix plan

  • Find early, and obvious potential wins to stop the hemorrhaging.
  • Emphasize results to fuel a performance-driven culture.
  • Use all early wins to boost the team motivation.
  • Celebrate every victory, big or small.

The long-term fix

  • Conduct a deep-dive business review of the market, consumers, competitors, channels and the brand. Focus on the top three issues emerging from the review.
  • Invest in a new brand plan with a brand idea supported by a unique brand positioning.
  • Make focused investment decisions, and take smart risks to fix the brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience.

Your brand should start off with a brand strategy roadmap

Every brand should have a brand strategy roadmap that includes the vision, purpose, values, key issues, strategies, and tactics. As well, it should layer in the brand idea to deliver a consistent brand across the five consumer touchpoints. To ensure you have a long-range plan everyone can follow, you should get your brand strategy roadmap down to one page.

Click this link to read more: https://lnkd.in/evxcthG

Brand Plans

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

How to Guide for Marketers

My hot take on what happens to a brand with zero-based budgeting

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Zero-based budgeting starts off each new year assuming all brand budgets are zero and the brand must prove their case for why it should earn its new budget level. It’s a tool used recently by Kraft Heinz. While zero-based budgeting might make sense in theory, the risk is you become so fixated on ROI and certainty that you choose the short-term sure-thing that delivers a transaction. You begin to fear the unexpected or the unpredictable work that has the chance to touch the hearts of consumers.

Marketing research suggests that the right balance between brand-building and transactional advertising should be a 60/40 split that favors building your brand first. Let me use the analogy of the jar we keep at our front door, where we put our loose coins. Brand building is like adding a few coins for when you need it, whereas transactional ads are like taking a few coins from the jar. If all you do is trigger sales transactions, eventually you will have no coins left in the jar. Same for your brand. If all you do is keep telling consumers to buy your brand now, eventually they will forget why they should ever buy your brand.

The best brand-building takes a chance on what greatness that creates a pent-up desire. Greatness should tempt the consumer’s soul and hope we make them feel “that’s exactly how I feel, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.” If I had a choice between the certainty of Ok and the chance at greatness, I’d always push for greatness. We should never settle. 

The process of zero-based budgeting forces us to our comfort zone where we’ll choose certainty. I’d rather us uncomfortable in the hope we find the unexpected and unexplainable work consumers will love.

zero-based budgeting

What is the size of your brand’s media budget?

Balance your media choices by looking at media efficiency, quality, impact, and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency.

Reach is the number or percentage of different households or people exposed to the ad at least once, over a specific period.
Frequency is the number of times that household or person will be exposed to the ad within a particular period. Be careful to avoid relying on efficiency alone, as you need to balance it with the quality of the media choices.

I always set aside about 10 percent of my media budget to create a high impact to generate early attention to a new campaign or product innovation.

Use your strategic thinking to understand how much you can invest. You need to focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity point you have identified based on a potential change in the market. The reasons you would strategically invest in media include:

  • Discovery of a new brand message you know will motivate consumers to buy your brand.
  • Identified change in consumer needs, motivations, or behaviors, which will benefit your brand.
  • Shift the competitive dynamic, with an opportunity to make gains or a necessity to defend.
  • Continue to fuel brand growth with a window to drive brand profits.
  • New distribution channel you can use to move consumers through before competitors do.
  • The launch of a breakthrough product innovation offering a competitive advantage to your brand.

To make the media investment pay off, you need to be able to drive a performance result that pays back with an increase in brand power you can use in the future or an immediate increase in brand profit.

Six factors to help guide you on the size of your media investment:

  1. Brand profit situation, looking at margin rates and the size of the business.
  2. Past media ROI projected forward as a forecast of the potential.
  3. Impact of your current creative advertising tracking results
  4. Future investment opportunities or future threats to battle.
  5. The degree of competitive pressures in the marketplace and their levels of media spend.
  6. The comparative opportunity cost for investing elsewhere.

Blowfish Plan

When you feel the risk/reward of the media investment is unknown, it might be wise to start with a smaller investment level. Use what I call a “blowfish” media plan so that, among those you target, you appear to be a large brand. Pick a tight target market with a limited media choice or geographic focus to replicate how a more substantial media investment would appear. When the unknown is very high, get smarter by using test markets with various media spend levels to gain the necessary consumer response data before you make a full investment.

Selective Plan

You should use a medium investment level when your brand faces only a couple of the media investment factors listed above, yet your brand has the size and margin to invest. With this level of spend, you should use a selective media plan by making smart choices of the target market who you know will respond to those media choices proven to pay back.

Mass Plan

You should use a high investment level when your brand faces many of the investment factors, including profitable brand, reliable messaging, product innovation, and an intensely competitive situation. You can afford to take a mass approach. However, just because you have a lot of money does not mean you should waste it. I still recommend using one lead media choice and then use support media to supplement. Figure out your lead paid media and your lead earned media to provide focus and alignment with your strategy.

Production Costs versus Media

One important consideration with any investment plan is to balance media spending and the creative production costs. Your brand’s working dollars are those investments that directly reach and influence the consumer. You can directly see the impact and measure the payback. Media is considered working dollars. This costing method is one of the reasons you do not want to spread your brand across too many media choices. If most of your brand’s advertising budget is spent making TV ads, billboards, and radio ads or paying for talent in the ads, then you will not have enough spending left to reach the consumer.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

How to Guide for Marketers

How to conduct a deep-dive business review to uncover brand issues

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Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics.business review

You should do a deep-dive business review at least once a year on your brand. Otherwise, you are negligent of the brand, where you are investing all your resources. Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.

Marketplace

Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all significant issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, and political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories, which could impact your category or replicate what you may see next.

To kickstart your review of the marketplace, here are 10 probing questions:

  1. How is the category doing relative to the economy?
  2. Look at the last five years and explain each of the ups and downs in the category.
  3. What is driving category growth? What is holding the category back? Are there significant open opportunities you can use to your advantage? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years?
  4. What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
  5. Outline the macro trends influencing or changing this category?
  6. What is the role of innovation? How fast does it change? Which innovations are transforming the category?
  7. Which regional or geographic trends do you see?
  8. Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, suppliers, channels, or consumers?
  9. Look at other issues: Operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation, investments, global trade.
  10. What is the overall value of the category? Any price changes? Major cost changes?

Consumers

Analyze your consumer target to better understand the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, and critical insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop and how they make purchase decisions. You should understand what they think when they buy or reject your brand at every stage of the consumer’s purchase journey. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.

To kick-start your review of the consumers, here are 10 probing questions:

  1. Who are your possible target consumer segments? Are they growing? How do you measure them?
  2. Who are the consumers most motivated by what you have to offer?
  3. Who is your current target? How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic, and usage occasion? Generational trends?
  4. How is your brand performing against KEY segments? Share, sales, panel or funnel data, tracking scores? What about by channel or geography?
  5. What drives consumer choice? Describe the primary need states? How do these consumer needs line up to your brand assets? Where can you win with consumers?
  6. Map out the path to purchase and use brand funnels to assess your brand’s performance in moving through each stage. Are consumers changing at stages? Are you failing at stages?
  7. What are the emerging consumer trends? How does your brand match up to potentially exploit them? Where would your competitors win?
  8. What are the consumer’s ideal brand experiences and unmet needs we can address?
  9. What are the consumer’s emotional and functional need states? How does the brand perform against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these benefits?
  10. What is the consumer’s perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Voice of the consumer.

Channels

Assess the performance of all potential distribution channels and the performance of every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, and how well your brand is using their available tools and programs. Your brand must align with your retail customer strategies.

Here are ten probing questions to kick-start your channels review

  1. How are each the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Channel shifts?
  2. Are there new and emerging channels? Are there channels on the horizon, not yet developed?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each channel?
  4. Do you understand the strategies of your retail customers?
  5. Do you have the competencies to service your customers?
  6. Who are the top 5 customers? What are their main strategies? How does our brand fit into that plan?
  7. Who are your primary and secondary customers? Have you segmented and prioritized for growth versus opportunity? How large are they? What are their growth rates?
  8. How is each customer performing? And, how profitable is that customer for your brand?
  9. How is your brand doing within each customer? What are your brand’s strength and weaknesses?
  10. How is the relationship with the customer? Who is the category captain of your key accounts and why?

Competitors

Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the consumer’s perceptions of these brands. To go even deeper, you can map out a strategic brand plan for significant competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your own brand plan.

Here are 10 questions to kickstart your competitor review:

  1. Who are your main competitors? How do they position themselves?
  2. What are your competitor’s use of communication, new products, and go-to-market strategy? How are they executing against each?
  3. Describe your competitor’s operating model, culture, and organization structure.
  4. What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
  5. How is your competitor doing regarding market share, customer market shares, investment, margins, innovation, culture, share of voice, or any regulatory advantage?
  6. Map out the competitor’s brand plan: vision, goals, key issues, strategies, and tactics.
  7. What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role culture plays in their brand?
  8. What is the investment stance and expected growth trajectory of your competitor’s brand? How much and where do they invest? What are the marketing and commercial focus? ROI?
  9. What are your competitor’s brand strengths, brand assets, and reputation?
  10. Are there any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results?

Brand

Analyze your own brand through the lens of consumers, customers, competitors, and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps, and financial analysis. You should be managing your brand’s health and wealth.

10 probing questions to assess your brand’s performance:

  1. What consumer benefit can you win with, which is ownable, unique, and motivating for consumers?
  2. What is your biggest gain versus prior periods? Your biggest gap?
  3. What is your market share? Regionally? By channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?
  4. How are you performing on key brand tracking data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per buyer or per trip?
  5. What are your brand’s scores on the brand funnel?
  6. How is your program tracking data doing? Where could you improve?
  7. How far can you “stretch” your brand into other opportunities?
  8. What is your current operating model?
  9. What is your culture? Do you have alignment with the brand story and your employees?
  10. What is the innovation process and capability of the organization?

Summarize your analysis 

  • What’s driving growth? The top factors of strength, positional power, or market inertia, which have a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan should continue to fuel these growth drivers.
  • What’s inhibiting growth? The most significant factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps, or market friction you can prove to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth.
  • Opportunities for growth: Specific untapped areas in the market, which could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.
  • Threats to future growth: Changing circumstances, including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes, or potential barriers, which create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Build your plan to minimize the impact of these risks.

business review

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

How to determine the size of your brand’s media budget

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In my chapter on how to make media decisions to break through the cluttered media world, we use six questions help you frame your media plan. We start with your brand’s budget size. Then, look at your brand’s core strength and how tightly connected your brand is with consumers. From there, identify which point on the consumer journey you wish to impact, where your consumers are most willing to engage your message and what media choices best fit with your creative execution.media

Always balance your media choices by looking at media efficiency, quality, impact, and fit with the brand. The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percentage of different households or people exposed to the ad at least once, over a specific period. Frequency is the number of times that household or person will be exposed to the ad within a particular period. Be careful to avoid relying on efficiency alone. You need to balance it with the quality of the media choices. As a guiding principle, I always set aside about 10 percent of my media budget to create a high impact to generate early attention to a new campaign or product innovation.

How strategy drives media choices

Use your strategic thinking to understand how much you can invest. Focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity point. The reasons you would strategically invest in media include:  

  • Discovery of a new brand message you know will motivate consumers to buy your brand.
  • Identified change in consumer needs, motivations, or behaviors, which will benefit your brand.
  • Shift the competitive dynamic, with an opportunity to make gains or a necessity to defend.
  • Continue to fuel brand growth with a window to drive brand profits. 
  • New distribution channel you can use to move consumers through before competitors do.
  • The launch of a breakthrough product innovation offering a competitive advantage to your brand. 

To make the media investment pay off, you need to be able to drive a performance result that pays back with an  increase in brand power you can use in the future or an immediate increase in brand profit. 

Six factors to help guide you on the size of your media investment:

  1. Brand profit situation, looking at margin rates and the size of the business.
  2. Past media ROI projected forward as a forecast of the potential.
  3. Impact of your current creative advertising tracking results
  4. Future investment opportunities or future threats to battle.
  5. The degree of competitive pressures in the marketplace and their levels of media spend.
  6. The comparative opportunity cost for investing elsewhere.

Media budget levels

Zero-based marketing budgeting starts off each new year assuming all brand budgets are zero and the brand must prove their case to earn its budget level. 

While it makes perfect sense in theory, with 20 years of experience with marketing budgets, this is not an easy concept to implement. One risk I see is that a zero-based budget could lead to short-term and highly transactional advertising.

A brand needs to balance brand-building activities, which add to the long-term connection with consumers with transactional call-to-action messaging intended to trigger purchases. For instance, if you tell me “Buy two, get one free” for five straight years, your consumers will eventually forget why they should buy your product at all, let alone two. There is a degree of uncertainty in making investment decisions. Get comfortable with your instincts to balance the degree of ambiguity to make the smart decision.

Low budget focuses on blowfish type marketing

When you feel the risk/reward of the media investment is unknown, it might be wise to start with a smaller investment level. Use what I call a “blowfish” media plan. Among those you target, you appear to be a large brand. Pick a tight target market with a limited media choice or geographic focus to replicate how a more substantial media investment would appear. When the unknown is very high, get smarter by using test markets with various media spend levels to gain the necessary consumer response data before you make a full investment.

Medium Investment should use selective target choices

You should use a medium investment level when your brand faces only a couple of the media investment factors listed above, yet your brand has the size and margin to invest. With this level of spend, you should use a selective media plan by making smart choices of the target market who you know will respond to those media choices proven to pay back.

High investment level opens you up to mass or always on

You should use a high investment level when your brand faces many of the investment factors, including profitable brand, reliable messaging, product innovation, and an intensely competitive situation. You can afford to take a mass approach. However, just because you have a lot of money does not mean you should waste it. I still recommend using one lead media choice and then use support media to supplement. Figure out your lead paid media and your lead earned media to provide focus and alignment with your strategy.

One important consideration with any investment plan is to balance media spending and the creative production costs. Your brand’s working dollars are those investments that directly reach and influence the consumer. You can directly see the impact and measure the payback. Media is considered working dollars. This costing method is one of the reasons you do not want to spread your brand across too many media choices. If most of your brand’s advertising budget is spent making TV ads, billboards, and radio ads or paying for talent in the ads, then you will not have enough spending left to reach the consumer.  

Media is a business investment that showcases your brand story through creative execution to help connect your brand with consumers where consumers are most willing to engage, listen, think, feel, and act in ways that pay back your brand.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

 

Graham Robertson signature

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Brand Managers are rejoicing at the demise of Kraft-Heinz

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All weekend there were articles about how 3G Capital and Warren Buffet were wrong in their cost-cutting approach that caused Kraft-Heinz to lose 26% of their value on one day. Kraft-HeinzWhile everyone found solace in their own way, the two big mistakes for 3G is they failed to recognize what makes CPG brands successful: investment in the brand’s relationship with consumers and investment in the great people who run these brands.

As someone with 20 years of experience in CPG marketing, lucky enough to manage some of the world’s greatest brands, I will admit that to an outsider, there does look like a lot of wasted spending:

  • Why do we need prime time TV?
  • Why are we still doing that promotion every year?
  • Does an end-aisle display matter and why does it cost so much?
  • Why are there so many ad agency people in this meeting?
  • Will next year’s blueberry flavor do anything for us?

The problem lies in the nativity of those who believe every dollar must be easily explained because the best marketers realize there remains some unexplainable magic in why certain brands work and others fail.

For most CPG brands, a few bright chemistry grad students could knock off the product formula in a lab. Yet, they cannot replicate the passionate and lasting love these brands have with their consumers. It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. These beloved brands are so exceptional because of how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved.  

3G thought they were smarter than the brilliant marketers from the past 120 years. They have learned a hard lesson as they ripped that unexplainable magic out of the Kraft-Heinz brands. The more love you can generate with consumers, the more power, growth and profit your brand will realize.

3G was so busy looking at the cost line, they failed to realize the necessary ingredients to create brand love

Everything must be about the consumer.

You need to know your consumers as well as you know your brand. Dig deep to understand and appreciate the consumer insights, enemies and needs.

The best brands know their consumer better than the competition knows that consumer. 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, but the brand must also heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day. brand love

Brands must invest in Consumer insights to find the little secrets hidden beneath the surface, which explain the underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points, and emotions of your consumers. Your consumers may not even be able to explain the insight until you play it back to them. And when they say, “Yeah, that is exactly how I feel.” Brands should think of consumer insights as a potential competitive advantage, equal in importance to intellectual property.

When you do it right, it is the consumer insights that get consumers to stop and listen to your brand’s promise or brand story, engage in the latest innovation and believe the consumer experiences fits perfect with their life. They open up and are willing to weave your brand into the most important moments of their life.

For 3G capital, they failed to realize there is only one source of income, not the products you sell, but the consumers who buy them. When you stop investing in knowing your consumer, you begin to suck the life right out of your brand.

Dare to be different.

Your brand needs to stand out as being better, different, cheaper, or else it won’t be around for very long. Be the brand that defines your unique value, rather than adding more clutter to the mountain of clutter.

The consumers of today must be won over. They are surrounded by the 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.

Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a brand idea that is simple, unique. It must create as much excitement as a first-time encounter. The best marketing must balance being creatively different from being strategically smart. Find your sweet spot for where the work is different and smart.

3G’s zero-based budgeting pushed hard to explain every dollar before they’d approve. They wanted zero risks and that rips the creativity out of the marketing. Too many brands of today are focused on the immediate gratification of the transaction. The marketing might be smart, but it is not different. You risk boring your consumers, so you never stand out enough to capture their attention. 3G never allowed marketers to push their comfort with creativity and take a chance to ensure the work breaks through the clutter of today.

Attention is like oxygen for your brand.

Build everything you do around your brand idea.

Your brand idea is the first point of connection and creates a lasting impression. The brand idea is the reason consumers first buy. Every time your brand delivers, the bond tightens just a little more. Whenever you fail to deliver, the consumer goes into doubt mode, wondering if they will stay with your brand.

brand idea map

The brand must show up consistently at every consumer touchpoint, whether it is the promise the brand makes, the stories they tell, the innovation designed to impress consumers, the happy purchase moments or the delightful experiences that make consumers want to tell their friends the brand story. The consumer keeps track to make sure the brand delivers before the consumer is willing to commit. Only then will the consumer become willing to open up and trust the brand. 

Marketing research experts suggest the right balance between brand-building and transactional advertising should be a 60/40 split that favors building your brand first. Let me use the analogy of the jar we keep at our front door, where we put our loose coins. Brand building is like adding a few coins for when you need it, whereas transactional ads are like taking a few coins from the jar. If all you do is trigger sales transactions, eventually you will have no coins left in the jar. Same for your brand. If all you do is keep telling consumers to buy your brand now, eventually they will forget why they should ever buy your brand.

Breakthrough focus.

You must focus your brand’s limited resources to key breakthrough points you believe will tighten the bond with your consumers, putting the brand in a more powerful position to drive higher profits. You have to know your consumer, know what your brand stands for and be willing to focus on the strategies that will pay back in building the brand.brand love

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love as brands move from unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. Without investment, you run the risk of getting stuck at the indifferent stage where consumers feel OK about your brand. How sad for some of the glorious brands under the Kraft-Heinz portfolio. For generations, these brands have been tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with their most loyal brand fans.

3G Capital uses something called zero-based marketing budgeting, which starts off each new year assuming all brand budgets are zero and the brand must prove their case to earn its budget level. While it makes perfect sense in theory, with 20 years of experience with marketing budgets, this is not an easy concept to implement. One risk is zero-based budgeting leads to short-term and highly transactional marketing.

A brand needs to balance brand-building activities, which add to the long-term connection with consumers with transactional call-to-action messaging intended to trigger purchases. For instance, if you tell me “Buy two, get one free” for five straight years, your consumers will eventually forget why they should buy your product at all, let alone two. There is a degree of uncertainty in making investment decisions. Get comfortable with your instincts to balance the degree of ambiguity to make the smart decision.

The passion of your people matters.

You must exhibit incredible passion in the marketing execution, consistently focused on surprising your consumers, with a goal of becoming one of their favorite brands. Always remember “I love it” is the highest bar you can set for achieving great work. If you do not love the work, how can you ever expect your consumer to love your brand?

The brand soul defines the moral fiber for why everyone who works on the brand “wakes up each day to deliver greatness on behalf of the brand.” The brand soul must be an inspiration to align the team behind a common purpose, cause or excitement for why they do what they do. Just like the soul of a human, every brand brings a unique combination of unexplainable assets, culture, motivations, and beliefs.

Some of the greatest marketers of the last century have come through the doors of Kraft or Heinz. I know many brilliant minds who started there. When I hear 3G cut 20% of the labor and 40% of the overhead, I just realize how little they invested in their people.

The brands I see invest equally in their people as they do their brands. The smarter your people, the better the work they will create and the greater results you will see on your brand.

3G needs to understand that brand love generates brand power

The tighter the bond a brand creates with its consumers, the more powerful the brand will become with all stakeholders. Think of brand love as stored energy a brand can unleash in the form of power into the marketplace. You can use that power with consumers, competitors, new entries, employees, influencers, media, suppliers and channel partners.

These beloved brands command power over the very consumers who love them, as consumers feel more and think less. The beloved brands become part of the conversation whether it is through social media or at the lunch table at work. These consumers pay price premiums, line up in the rain, follow the brand as soon as it enters new categories and relentlessly defend the brand to any attackers. They cannot live without the brand.

Beloved brands have power over channel customers, who know their consumers would switch stores before they switch brands. Stores cannot stand up to the beloved brand; instead, they give the brand everything in negotiations. The beloved brand ends up with stronger store placement, better trade terms and better promotions from retail partners. 

The competitors, whether current competitors or new entries, cannot match the emotional bond the beloved brand has created with their brand fans. The beloved brand has a monopoly on emotions, making the consumer decisions less about the actual product and more about how the experience makes consumers feel. Unless a new brand has an overwhelming technological advantage, it will be impossible to break the emotional bond the consumer has established with the beloved brand.

Beloved brands even have power over employees, who want to be part of the brand. They are brand fans, who are proud to work on the brand. They embody the culture on day 1 and want to help the brand achieve success.

3G needs to understand that brand love means brand profits

With all the love and power the beloved brand generates, it becomes easy to translate that stored power into sales growth, profit, and market valuation. Here are the eight ways a brand can drive profits: 

    1. Premium pricing
    2. Trading up on price
    3. Lower cost of goods
    4. Lower sales and marketing costs
    5. Stealing competitive users
    6. Getting loyal users to use more
    7. Entering new markets
    8. Finding new uses for the brand.

Beloved brands can use higher prices and lower costs to drive higher margins 

Most beloved brands can use their loyal brand lovers to command a premium price, creating a relatively inelastic price. The weakened channel customers cave in during negotiations to give the brand richer margins. Satisfied and loyal consumers are willing to trade up to the next best model. A well-run beloved brand can use their high volume to drive efficiency helping to achieve a lower cost of goods structure. 

Not only can they use their growth to drive economies of scale, but suppliers will cut their cost just to be on the roster of the beloved brand. The beloved brand will operate with much more efficient marketing spend, using their power with the media to generate lower rates with plenty of free media. Plus, the higher sales volumes make the beloved brand’s spend ratios much more efficient. The consumer response to the marketing execution is much more efficient, giving the brand a higher return on investment. 

brand love

Beloved brands use higher shares of a bigger market to drive higher volume

The beloved brands use their momentum to reach a tipping point of support to drive higher market shares. They can get loyal users to use more, as consumers build the beloved brand into life’s routines and daily rituals. 

It is easier for the beloved brands to enter new categories, knowing their loyal consumers will follow. And finally, there are more opportunities for the beloved brand to find more uses to increase the number of ways the beloved brand can fit into the consumer’s life.

brand profit

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

Bell Let’s Talk is a great campaign for mental health

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The reality is we are all impacted by mental health, whether ourselves or those around us, and Bell Canada is doing something about it. 

Bell Let’s Talk Day is an annual social media campaign where the corporation donates money to mental health funds based on the number of texts, tweets, and usages of their hashtag #bellletstalk on the day. Since its founding in 2010, the campaign has raised over $93 million for various mental health programs around Canada, with hundreds of millions of interactions registered across various forms of communications-based media.

On this day, you can see it all over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. For every interaction, Bell Canada will donate 5 cents. It all adds up:

  • On Twitter, every use of the hashtag or view of the video posted on Bell’s account counts as one interaction.
  • For Facebook, every use of the photo frame and view of the video.
  • With Instagram, every view of the video
  • On Snapchat, every use of the LetsTalk geofilter and view of the video.

Aside from the raising of money, it is getting people talking openly about mental health, letting everyone know they are not alone. Teens are hearing that it is acceptable.

 

Bell owns the #1 TV station (CTV) and #1 sports station and various radio stations and newspapers across the country. All day, they are interviewing various celebrities and sports figures about what they have gone through in terms of mental health. Discussions are getting more honest every year.

Bell Let's Talk

What I love the most is seeing teens listening and engaging with the program. The more we can say “it’s ok, it’s normal, seek help” the better off we’ll be.

Here’s a great interview with Toronto Maple Leafs coach, Mike Babcock:

https://www.tsn.ca/nhl/video/bell-let-s-talk-babcock-s-message-find-something-in-your-life-that-brings-you-joy~1580664

Each year, the LetsTalk program supports dozens of local charities and outreach programs. To date, over 500 different community fund grants have been given out. The program also distributes ‘major gifts’ consisting of larger amounts of money donated to high profile institutions, often in partnership with governments and other charity organizations.

Fantastic job Bell.

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

How to handle yourself at the creative meeting

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Creative MeetingsThe best brand leader plays a most crucial role in the creative advertising process. While they are not designed to be experts, they need to know enough to make advertising decisions, but never enough to do the work.

When you are in your next creative advertising meeting, you should think fast with your instincts, while trying to represent your consumer. View the advertising through the eyes of your consumer. Try to see the work how they would see it. I would not even let my agency do a set-up to the ads. I said, “Just show me the work as though I see it on TV.” I felt any setup or explanation clouded my judgment and impacted my ability to use my instincts. As you are sitting in that decision-making hot seat at a creative meeting, here are some challenging questions to ask yourself: 

1. What does your gut instinct say?

The reality of a marketing job is you might be coming into the creative meeting from a 3-hour forecasting meeting or deep-dive financial review, or you just got back from working in the lab with scientists on a new ingredient. It is not easy to change speeds as you head into a creative meeting. 

Relax, find your creative energy, let it soak in and find those instincts. I created a “gut instincts checklist”  to help prompt you for when you need your instincts.

2. Do you love it? 

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 okay” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. Ask if you would you be proud of this as your legacy.

3. Is the advertising on strategy? 

Slow down, and find some thinking time after the meeting. In a quiet place alone, make sure it delivers on what you wrote in your strategy documents. Go back through the brief to make sure the advertising will deliver the desired response, and the strategic objective statement you wrote in the brand communications plan. One caution is not to use the extra time to over-think the advertising and talk yourself out of a good ad that works.

4. How big is the creative idea? 

Is the creative idea big enough to last 5-10 years? Will the idea work across various mediums (paid, earned, social) across all distribution and the entire product line? Think of being so proud of leaving a legacy for your successor to help think about the longer term.

Creative meeting

Making advertising decisions

At the decision point, you have three choices:

        • Approve
        • Reject
        • Change 

From my experience, brand leaders rarely approve creative ideas outright. There also seems a reluctance or fear to reject outright. So marketers mistakenly assume their role is to change the ads. I see too many come to the creative meeting with a pen and paper and start to write feverishly all the recommended changes they have for each ad. The problem is if we marketers are not talented enough to come up with the ad in the first place, why do we think we are talented enough to change the ad? You are a generalist, surrounded by experts. Use your experts. 

Next time you go into a creative meeting, stop giving the creative team your solutions, and give them a new problem you are seeing and then let the creative team figure out the solutions. If the creative brief is the original “box” for the creative team to figure out the ideal solution, then use your feedback at the creative meeting to create a “new box” for the creative team figure out a new solution. 

Use your feedback to challenge and create a new problem for your agency to figure out the solution.

Challenge yourself to get better at advertising  

  1. If you realized that how you show up as a client was the most significant factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would show up differently? If so, then show up right.  
  2. Are you one of your agency’s favorite clients? Bring a positive spirit that inspires everyone to want to work on your brand and never treat them like they have to work on your business.
  3. Do you stay focused on one target, one strategy, one benefit behind one brand idea? Avoid the “just in case list” where you add “one more thing.” The best advertising is like a bullhorn in a crowd. The worst advertising is like a cluttered bulletin board where you can’t read anything.
  4. When building a creative brief or providing feedback, do you resist the temptation to provide your own creative ideas or recommend changes? When you are dealing with an expert, give them your problems, not your solutions.
  5. Are you the type of brand leader who is willing to fight anyone in the way of great work? Even your boss? When you do, you will start to see everyone on the team fight for you.  
  6. Do you resist temptation in approving advertising that is “just OK” and “feels safe”? What signal do you think it sends everyone involved? You have to LOVE your advertising, and you should never settle for OK.

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winningbrand positioning statementthat motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand ideato capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand planto help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brandtrainingprogram will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

 

How to Guide for Marketers

New Gillette ad: Right message. Wrong brand.

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Gillette

The new Gillette ad has sparked quite a stir to start the year. As a marketer, I’ve been in the position where you make what you think is an excellent piece of work, and wait for the consumer to say it works. The reality of any risk you take is that some work, some don’t. Twelve million views are great, but 673,000 giving it a thumbs down on Youtube, and many of the negative comments floating around Youtube and Twitter.

To my fellow men: make no mistake, this is the right message. Maybe you shouldn’t have been the target. If it was intended to inspire change in men, it might not be working.

Would this same message work better if women were the target? Would men have maybe listened a bit better if the message said “hey women, you deserve better”

Purpose is never a strategy

I see people putting “this is a great example of a brand purpose strategy.” What is a brand purpose strategy? That sounds a little shallow. You can’t have a brand purpose strategy if you don’t have a brand purpose. Moreover, you can’t just make up a brand purpose that wasn’t your brand purpose last year, or fifty years ago, or it will feel fake.

Last year, Pepsi put out the infamous Kendell Jenner “save the world” ad, that flopped. It likely would have been fine if it was another brand. However, with Pepsi, it felt fake. For the past 50 years, Pepsi has used Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyonce to “get people to dance and smile” and all of a sudden, they want to save the world?

Gillette has spent the past 50 years adding one more blade every couple of years, putting rubber in certain places on the blade and calling it a system. While they have “The best, a man can be” I’ve always thought that tagline was a bit of a cheesy 1970s, left over from the disco era. For all those purpose-loving folks; be careful, because if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Gillette is a product-driven brand. Everything they do is about technology. You can’t just tack on a brand purpose to a product-driven brand and hope it works.

A brand is not what you say it is. A brand is what your consumer says it is.

Even if you want it to be, that doesn’t make it so.

To paraphrase the CEO of Patagonia, one of the most purpose-driven brands around: “Purpose is never a strategy.”

If it’s just a strategy, you make brand purpose seem very shallow.

Have a look at the new Gillette ad: 

If the goal of the ad was to inspire men to be better versions of themselves, it’s not working. The majority of the backlash seems to be coming from men. I’ve worked on many brands focused on inspiring change, whether to quit smoking or adopt a new health routine. You cannot lecture, guilt or tell people to change. It would be best if you used a very gentle helping hand to move people through the stages of change. Even then, you have to expect resistance.

Maybe the brand is wrong. Perhaps the target is wrong.

Maybe this message should be towards women, not men. Use the same theme, same storyline, but instead of “you can be better” it could be “you deserve better.” If this was for Olay or Always, would men resist the idea as much? Could the message get out there for men to see, almost without the ability to challenge.

I love the #LikeAGirl campaign for Always.

The right message for our times. The right message for both women and men to hear. However, would this same ad have worked better on a different brand?

The bad news is about a month from now, and the financial-driven P&G will force the team to change up the brand message.

As a man, let’s not let Piers Morgan or the Twitter Cowboys speak for us. We actually should be better.

Don’t give up. This type of message is needed. Maybe another brand can take the torch and carry it.

This is what I wrote 3-4 years ago when Always launched #LikeAGirl

Always “Like a Girl” ad will re-define stereotypes

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Guide for Marketers

How brand archetypes can shape the brand role and personality

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Brand archetypes have done a fantastic job in borrowing from the archetypes of psychology. brand archetypesThe 12 different choices can help brands think about what role they want their brand to play, with various word choices to help drive your overall brand idea.

The brand idea blueprint

Let me back you up, before we get into the role of archetypes in the brand discussion. I created a brand idea blueprint, which has five areas that surround the brand idea. 

On the internal brand soul side, describe the products and services, as well as the cultural inspiration, which is the internal rallying cry to everyone who works on the brand. On the external brand reputation side, define the ideal consumer reputation and the reputation among necessary influencers or partners. The brand role acts as a bridge between the internal and external sides. 

  • Products and services: What is the focused point of difference your products or services can win on because they meet the consumer’s needs and separate your brand from competitors?
  • Consumer reputation: What is the desired reputation of your brand, which attracts, excites, engages, and motivates consumers to think, feel, and purchase your brand? 
  • Cultural inspiration: What is the internal rallying cry that reflects your brand’s purpose, values, motivations, and will inspire, challenge, and guide your culture?  
  • Influencer reputation: Who are the key influencers and potential partners who impact the brand? What is their view of the brand, which would make them recommend or partner with your brand? 
  • Brand role (archetype): What is the link between the internal soul and the external reputation?

Brand Idea

Using archetypes to determine the brand role

Borrowing from the world of psychology, where they use personality archetypes to describe people, we can use brand archetypes to help you figure our the role of your brand, which adds to your brand idea. When a brand offers spiritual, freedom or knowledge they fit with the explorer, sage or innocent archetypes. Brands delivering stability, structure and control fit with the ruler, creator or caregiver. Brands that take risks, create an impact or reach for achievement, they fit with the hero, rebel or magician. Then, brands that focus on belonging or connections, they may look to everyman, lover or jester.

Types of Archetypes

  • Creator: The artist and dreamers, who are imaginative, expressive and innovative. They believe they can see a better future.
  • Ruler: Industry leader, who are confident, responsible and authoritative. They promise power, control and stability to their consumers.
  • Caregiver: The helping hand, who is selfless, empathetic and nurturing. They offer protection, safety and support.
  • Everyman: The approachable brand who is down-to-earth, dependable and honest. They offer a sense of belonging and comfort.
  • Jester: The carefree brand who is joyful, carefree and unusual. They give consumers permission to have fun and be happy.
  • Lover: The idealistic dreamer who is passionate, magnetic and committed. They exude passion and create desire with their consumers.
  • Innocent: The romantic dreamer brands, who is optimistic, wholesome and pure. They want a safer and more beautiful world.
  • Sage: Trusted advisor and teacher, who is wise, articulate and open-minded. They promise wisdom, wanting to help their followers.
  • Explorer: The self-discovery brand, who is worldly, independent, and purpose-driven. They promise freedom, innovation and experiences.
  • Magician: The visionary brand who is unrelenting, driven and charismatic. They offer a transformative knowledge and new experiences.
  • Rebel: The anti-establishment brand who is unconventional, defiant and free-spirited. The promise of a disruptive revolution.
  • Hero: The winner brand, who is determined, skillful, and selfless. They fight off the enemy with the promise of triumph and success.

Here are the examples for some of the world’s most famous brands.

brand archetypes

And, for B2B brands, here are some examples to show how this model works equally well for B2B.

brand archetypes

How to find your brand idea 

Step 1: Keywords brainstorm for each of the five areas

With a cross-functional team working on the brand, start off with a brainstorm of keywords for each of the five areas around the brand idea. Expose the team to the work you have done on the brand positioning statement, including details on the target profile, consumer benefits ladder work, and the consumer benefits sort. Ask participants to bring their knowledge, wisdom, and opinions from where they sit within the organization. 

The first step is generating 15-20 words that describe each of the five areas.      

brand idea

Step 2: Turn keywords into key phrases for each of the five areas

Next, get the team to vote to narrow down the list to the best 3-5 words for each section. You will begin to see certain themes and keywords. Take those selected words and build phrases to summarize each section.

Step 3: Summarize it all to create a brand idea

Once you have phrases for all five areas, the team should feel inspired to use their creative energy to come up with the brand idea. Find a summary statement that captures everything around the circle. Try to get a few different options for the brand idea you can test with both consumers and employees. 

Here’s how the brand map comes together:

Brand Idea

And here is an example for a B2B brand:

Brand Idea

To back up and learn about brand positioning, click on this link below:

How to build a brand positioning statement

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

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

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature