I love that McDonald’s chose their agency based on creativity and not price

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

This week, McDonald’s named longtime Nike ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, as its lead creative shop in the United States. I hope this means we might be moving into a new era, as we leave what I think is our worst decade in the 120 years of marketing. 

Three years ago, McDonald’s made the news for their consolidation of all their agencies into one, with an $800 Million price tag that went to Omnicom. The contract was very unique for ad agencies, as they put a significant bonus linked with the overall sales impact. That is a very uncommon agreement for the agency relationship and as a marketer, it is something I don’t like.

I miss great work

I yearn for great work. 

Three years ago feels like a long time ago. Back then, too many marketing minds wanted to rip costs out of the system. Zero based budgeting. Cut agency fees. Bring agencies in-house. Focus all work on transactional advertising that drives immediate sales. As someone who spent 20 years on the brand side, I had some doubts McDonald’s linking the agency’s compensation to sales might focus the advertising too much on the short-term. 

My hope is this can be a turning point and bring back an era of great creative work.

We need it. 

Should McDonald’s not be seen as industry leaders in producing great work that inspires the rest of us. I miss the simply beautiful tagline of “I’m loving it.” There was the Michael vs Larry Bird, with the “nothing but net” Super Bowl ad. I can’t get “Two all beef patties…” out of my head. And, I crave more Ronald McDonald versus The Hamburgler moments. However, I just can’t remember any McDonald’s ad in the last 3 years.

If you invest in your brand, they will come

I see the role of a brand is to create a tight bond with your consumers, that will lead to a power and profit beyond what the product alone could ever achieve. The problem is that when you just become a short-term sales machine, then who is building the brand?

As a brand, the danger of a performance-based fees is that 100% of your advertising will shift to a fixation on short-term transactional ads.

We need agencies to challenge us to build a pent-up desire for our brand, with messaging that adds a touch of magic that will make consumers love us. If you are after profit, I believe the tighter the bond you generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profit your brand will realize. Marketing research experts suggest the right balance between brand-building and transactional advertising should be a 60/40 split that favours 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.

As a client, I once came out of an agency pitch, awarding the business to who I thought was the best agency, but coincidently the agency was also the lowest price bid. By a significant amount. It’s been many years, so I can say this candidly. I told them, “You were the lowest bid. I will give you the business on one condition. Move your fees up to the next lowest bid, and put that investment into getting great people on my business.” I believe agencies should make a fair profit on your brand. 

If you think it is expensive to hire great people, you should see how expensive it is when you hire bad people. 

Building emotion into advertising directly impacts a brand’s persuasion score

While brand leaders are always trying to find a winning claim, there is proof of a correlation between the feel-good emotions you create with both consumer persuasion scores and overall brand appeal scores.

Milward Brown advertising research finds a direct correlation between how involved consumers are in the ads with the degree of the positive emotional feelings your advertising evokes in consumers. The chart shows that as the feelings go from low to medium to high, the scores for both persuasion and brand appeal also go up.

I hope greatness returns to advertising

Brand leaders need to take a step back and let the creativity of execution unfold. I always say that it is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. As the client, I like to think of advertising as the perfect gift that you never thought to buy yourself. How we engage our experts can either inspire greatness or crush the spirit of creativity. From my experience, experts would prefer to be pushed than held back. The last thing experts want is to be asked for their expertise, and then told exactly what to do. There is a fine line between rolling up your sleeves to work alongside the experts and pushing the experts out of the way.

With advertising, brand leaders do the opposite of what they should do. 

You role should be to control the strategy. Yet you give too much freedom that it confuses everyone. You should give more freedom on the final execution, yet you try to control the creative outcome that it stifles the creativity. I remember one time, after briefing in the agency creative team, my senior account director started to ask me what type of ad I envisioned. I paused, shocked by the request for my prescriptive solution, and said “I have no idea, and I like it that way.” Two weeks later, we saw work that won an Effie. 

We hire agencies to take us on a ride to an unknown place, to make great work we could never have imagined ourselves.

It is time to step back and assume your true role as a brand leader. It is a unique skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. 

Our brand training program will teach your team how to make smarter decisions on creative advertising

Beloved Brands is the playbook for how to build brands that consumers will love

Learn how brand leaders should think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

8 ads that use humor to brilliantly communicate their brand message

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The best advertising must balance being creatively different and strategically smart. When ads are smart but not different, they get lost in the clutter. It is natural for marketers to tense up when the creative work ends up being “too different.” In all parts of the business, marketers are trained to look for past proof as a sign something will work. However, when it comes to advertising if the ads start too similar to what other brands have already done, then the advertising will be at risk of boring your consumers, so you never stand out enough to capture their attention. Push your comfort with creativity and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through. When ads are different but not smart, they will entertain consumers, but do nothing for your brand. Your advertising must be smart enough to trigger the desired consumer response to match your brand strategy. The use of humor in advertising is a great technique for being creatively different enough to stand out, and communicating your key message so that it resonates with consumers and sticks in their mind beyond the ad.

Humor can help articulate the insight or it can be a great way to demonstrate the experience the brand helps address. Humor can also differ over time, across different geographies or demographics. Some of the best humour is when only the target market gets the jokes. Skittles ads are hilarious for teenagers, but anyone above 35 years old just looks at those spots with total confusion. That leaves the teenager knowing the ad is perfectly curated for them.

 

Amplify the benefit

One way to communicate wtih cosnumers is to creatively amplify your brand’s consumer benefit. Bring the idea to life by exaggerating the worst version of the consumer’s enemy, to help set up your brand as the solution that will move consumers to buy. This technique results in some of my favorite ads.  

Berlitz “What are you sinking about?”

Berlitz used a scenario of a German Coast Guard operator who takes on an SOS distress call of a boat that was “sinking.” His response, “What are you thinking about?” is an incredibly fun way to highlight the importance of language training.

Snickers "Betty White"

Play Video

A great example of amplifying your consumer benefit is the Snickers Super Bowl ad with Betty White playing football with a bunch of college-aged guys. After a bad play by Betty, one of the buddies yells at her that she is “not playing like her normal self.” He then hands Betty a Snickers bar and Betty turns back into the college-aged football player. The ad uses the consumer insight of, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” to set up the consumer benefit of how Snickers satisfies your hunger. This technique is a great combination that would fit many brands.

 

Entertain consumers

Another technique to gain attention is to make viewers laugh, cry, or dance. People engage media to be entertained. Make your ad part of the entertainment. Be aware of the evolution of the art of creativity to make sure you match the latest type of entertainment. As much as movies, TV, or music evolve, so should your ads. 

Old Spice "Smell like a man"

The Old Spice “Smell like a man” campaign’s quirky, over-the-top humor is so different, it captured immense attention and helped P&G reinvigorate the Old Spice brand. The ad uses a series of quick cuts, putting the actor in crazy circumstances. His dry, over-the-top delivery adds to the humor.

It's a Tide ad

Above is a compilation of the Tide ads they ran in the 2018 Super Bowl. Not just the creative, but the use of media. I never thought I’d list a Tide ad, but the media creativity Tide used really broke through and made us laugh. I started to think everything was a Tide ad.

 

Resonate with meaningful insights

Using consumer insights to tell a compelling human-interest story is a great technique to closely connect with your target market, then closely link your brand to the insight.

Toyota "Swagger-wagon"

The Toyota “Swagger-Wagon” ad brings parent insights into their rap song, poking fun at parents who still think they are cool. This ad will connect with any parent who remembers what it was like to be cool.

Zazoo Condoms

I remember when I worked on Child Cereals, and we used to do focus groups with 5 and 6 year olds taste-testing new Lucky Charms and Trix. I used to refer to it as “birth control for brand managers.” Loading a kid up with sugary cereals for 2 hours ends up with kids that seem like this kid.  

This Zazoo condom ad was done as people were just starting to email ads around and it was an early favourite.  Now we see the power of YouTube for showcasing funny ads. This ad sure gains Attention, but a little weak on branding specific mainly because there is no separation of the brand from others.  My guess is that Zazoo did not see a share bump. 

Make your brand a central part of the story

From my experience, it is not how much branding you use, but preferably how closely connected the reveal of the brand is linked with the climax of your ad.

Got Milk "Alexander Hamilton"

“Got milk?” launched a hilarious and engaging storytelling ad with an elaborate tale of an Alexander Hamilton expert. He finds himself on a radio show, ready to answer an easy trivia question about Alexander Hamilton. However, after taking a big bite of his peanut butter sandwich, as he is about to answer, he realizes he is out of milk. With an elaborate story, the reveal of the brand comes at the climax of the story. The “Got milk?” campaign lasted over 20 years.

Create share-able content

Over the last decade, everything has become about creating content that is so engaging consumers want to share it on social media. The key is to use high impact storytelling ads that are highly entertaining, deeply emotional, or inspiring enough to engage and captivate consumers.  

Dollar Shave

One of the best viral ads is for Dollar Shave. The brand created a hilarious, edgy, low-budget YouTube-driven video, which has generated millions of hits. The tagline for the ad is “Our blades are f**king great,” which will undoubtedly alienate many people. However, it will inevitably make the younger male audience quickly love them. The ad tells a quirky story of why the brand doesn’t waste money like Gillette does, setting up the idea its razors are much cheaper than Gillette’s. The ad helped launch the brand, which Unilever bought five years later for $1 billion.

Our Beloved Brands training program

This type of thinking is in our Beloved Brands book

Learn how brand leaders should think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

Take on these six habits that I see in the best brand leaders

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

This is the 30 year anniversary of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book. Here’s my version for marketers. Having spent 20 years in the CPG world of marketing, I have seen almost a thousand brand leaders over the years. On my way up the marketing career ladder, I tried to emulate what I saw as the best traits and I tried to avoid what I saw as the biggest weaknesses. At the senior level of marketing, I hired, promoted and even fired marketers. These are the six habits I see at any level, that separates those that are GREAT marketers from those who are just GOOD.

brand management

Habit #1: Great brand leaders push for focused choices

Everyone says they are good decision makers, but very few are. If you present an either-or situation to most brand leaders, they struggle with the decision, so they say “let’s do a little of both”. But in reality, what separates out a great brand leader from the pack, is great brand leaders know that decision-making starts with the choices where you have to pick one, not both. At the core of business, Brands only exist to drive more profit than if we just sold the product itself. It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment). Forget the mathematical equation, ROI just means you get more out of it than you put into it. Every brand is constrained by money, people, speed and ideas. It becomes all about focus, leverage and finding that gateway point where you realize more from what you do, it than what you put into it.

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

To be GREAT, you need to focus on a tight consumer target to make sure you can get them to do what you hope and love you for it. A new way to think is to find those consumers that are already highly motivated to buy what you have to sell and get them to love you, rather than targeting everyone and get them to like you. Look at how marketing testing is set up: we test among the mass market and see how many we can persuade to use your product. The reality is that leading brands within each category are more loved than the pack of brands struggling to figure themselves out. It’s better to be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone. I once talked to a bank whose target was 18-65, current customers, new customers and employees. That’s not a target. How can you have a ROI if you’re spreading your limited resources against EVERYONE? The only thing missing from that target is tourists and prisoners. You have to matter to those who care the most.

To be GREAT you need to focus on creating a tightly defined reputation that sets your brand up to own an area. You really only have four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing to no one. Today they estimate that consumers receive 7,000 brand messages a day. Wow. How many of those 7,000 do you engage with and digest each day? Maybe 5. And yet, in your creative brief you think 3 or 4 messages is the way to go. You have to focus on one message. When you ask a room full of Brand Leaders, tell me one word that defines the Volvo brand: half the room yells out SAFETY. Volvo has been singularly focused on the safety positioning since the 1950s not just externally but internally the safety positioning guides every decision. That’s focus.

You need to focus on very few strategies. The most simple strategies center around Penetration (getting new users) or frequency (getting current users to use more). Do you want to get more people to eat your brand or those that already do to eat more? That’s a choice you must make, yet I see so many Brand Plans with both. Even worse is when I see creative briefs with both. These are two different unrelated strategies. When you look for new users, you have to convince someone who already knows about your brand and get them to change their minds away from their current brand. When you try to get more usage, you have to convince someone who has already decided how to use your brand, to use it differently, changing their habits or rituals. Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies. Go look at your plan and see if you are making choices. Because if you’re not, then you’re not making decisions.

When you focus, four things happen for your brand: better Return on Investment (ROI); better Return on Effort (ROE); stronger reputation; more competitive and an aligned organization that helps create an experience that delivers your reputation. So next time you are faced with a decision, make the choice. Don’t pick both, just in case you are wrong. All you are doing is depleting your resources by spreading them across both choices. And you’ll never see any movement on your brand so you’ll never find out if you were right or wrong. Make the choice.

Habit #2: Great brand leaders represent the consumer to their brand

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind. I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.

Are you able to walk in their shoes and speak in their voice? Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day. Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals. But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately. Live and breathe insights about your consumers.

Habit #3: Great brand leaders are fundamentally sound and use their instincts

I am a huge believer that marketing fundamentals matter–in fact I train Brand Leaders on everything from strategic thinking to writing brand plans and creative briefs. But that’s a starting point to which you grow from. If you don’t use fundamentals in how you do your job, you will and should be fired. So Good Brand Leaders do a good job of bringing fundamentals into how they do their job. They know how to back up the fundamentals by gathering the right facts to support their arguments. 

Great brand leaders take it to the next level and bring those same fundamentals and match them against their instincts. They have a gut feel for decisions they can reach into and bring out at the boardroom table based on the core fundamentals, the experience they bring from past successes and failures as well as this instinctual judgement. It’s not that great marketers have better instincts, it’s that great marketers are able to believe in their instincts and not shut them down because of what the facts might say.

Habit #4: Great brand leaders never go alone, they rely on the inspiration of others to do great work

I was one of those Brand Leaders that spent the first part of my career trying to do everything, and the second half of my career trying to do nothing. I wasn’t slacking off but I finally figured out that the secret was to inspire others. I fully admit that I was much more successful when I learned to do nothing, but do it really well. Instead of giving people answers to follow, give them the problems that requires their expertise in solving.

As Brand Leaders, we don’t really know much about anything. We know a little about this and that. But purposefully, we are generalists. And then if we surround ourselves with experts, we owe it to ourselves to ask for their help. Put another way: when you tell people what to do, there is one simple answer: YES. When you ask people what they would do, you open yourself to hundreds of solutions you might not even have imagined.

The next time you have a problem, instead of giving the best answer to the experts, try to come up with the best question and then listen.

Habit #5: Great brand leaders create other great brand leaders on their team

While you might think that having a great product, the right strategy and a winning TV ad will drive your brand, the long-term success of your brand is dependent is how good your people are. If you have great Brand Leaders, they will be on top of your business, they will make the necessary strategic course corrections, they will create better executions that connect with consumers and drive profitable growth for your brand. One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to make sure you have a strong marketing team in place. GREAT Brand Leaders understand the very simple equation: better people means better work and that means better results.

Habit #6: Great brand leaders leave a legacy

I’m always asked so what does it take to be great at marketing, and I’ll always jokingly say “well, they aren’t all good qualities”. The best marketers I have seen have an ego that fuels them. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you can manage it and the ego doesn’t get out of control. I always challenge Brand Leaders to think of the next person who will be in their chair, and what you want to leave them.

When you create a Brand Vision, you should think 10 years from now, advertising campaigns should last at least 5 years and the strategic choices you make should gain share and drive the brand to a new level. Yet, the reality is you will be in the job for 2-4 years. When you write a Brand Plan, you should think of the many audiences like senior leaders, ad agencies and those that work on your brand, but you also should think about the next Brand Leader. What will you do, to leave the brand in a better position than when you took it on? What will be your legacy on your brand?

Our Beloved Brands marketing training program

This type of thinking is in our Beloved Brands book

Learn how brand leaders should think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

10 emotional ads that will leave you with goosebumps

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

When brands say they want emotional ads, I usually say “I can’t wait to see this emotional creative brief you wrote.” 

Without digging deep to understand the emotional space you should play in and the consumer insights that lay beneath the surface, your asking for an emotional ad feels like a random game of chance. 

To get emotional ads that work for you, you must understand the emotional space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for your brand, and then layer in emotion-based consumer insights.

Do you understand the emotional space your brand can win?

Please stop writing briefs that say their brand is trusted, authentic, reliable and yet likable. From my experience, marketers are better at the functional than the emotional. Let’s try to take a rational approach to emotions. As a brand, you want to own one emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. I have used Hotspex research methodology to create a ‘cheat sheet’ with 8 major Emotional Consumer Benefits, that includes optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge. To own a space in the consumer’s heart, brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always thinking relative to what zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will confuse your consumer. Use the supporting words to add flavor to your emotional brand positioning statement.

Narrow down to potential clusters of emotional benefits, by matching what consumers want and what your brand does best. Take 2-3 of the emotional zones from the cheat sheet above and then add 2-3 support words per zone to create a cluster.

Using this type of model, here’s how the emotional benefit clusters for Apple and Google shake out. 

The Apple brand is about optimism, supported by feeling inspired, motivating and special. It also is about feeling free, with being alive and excited. 

On the other hand, Google is more about knowledge and feeling smarter, informed and wise. Google allows you to stay in control, with reliable information you can trust and respect.

 

Before you ask your agency for emotional advertising, you should know which emotions you consider most motivating to your consumers and most ownable for your brand.

10 highly emotional ads

Google "Paris"

For all the romantics, this is one of the most creaative ads I have ever seen. The ad tells the complete story through google searches, with a few surprises like the airline ticket, wedding bells and of course the baby. While it tells the story, it still manages to deliver on the emotions of  knowledge and control. 

 

Google "Reunion"

I wrote a story about this, and my article promised a Google ad that would make you cry even though it has not one word of English. Try it out. I remember this old P&G advertising guy who always said “you know you have a good spot if you can turn the sound off and still get the ad”. I watched it without understanding one word that was spoken and I was able to follow along. And I cried.

This Google India ad is a beautiful story of two older gentleman who were childhood friends and desperately miss each other. The ad shows how their two grandchildreen organize a reunion, using Google for looking up, finding, tracking or just checking any little details that makes us more knowledgeable and gives us an added sense of control. The Google searches are throughout the ad, but never seem to get in the way of the beautiful story.  Is it weird that two of the most emotional ads are from Google?

Ram "I am a farmer."

Aired during the Super Bowl, it’s one of the best spots I have ever seen. Using Paul Harvey’s storytelling hit a positive vibe with Farmers and Americans in general. The simplicity of the idea, yet storytelling at it’s best. They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers get so engaged in the ad, they want to know who is it that’s telling this story. While everyone else is being loud, maybe being so quiet stands out. The ad nails the emotions of feel myself, supported by honest, down-to earth values. 

Canadian Tire "bike ad"

This Canadian Tire ad makes me cry every time. We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. Canadian Tire is all about the emotions of comfort and being myself, supported by down-to-earth values, and feeling compassionate. 

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Nike released this inspiration way back in 1995, outlining the benefits of having girls play sports. Brands such as Always “throw like a girl” were inspired by this type of message. The Nike brand continually nails the optimistic and freedom emotional space. 

Bell "Dieppe"

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps. I have been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings. As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere. While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey. This ad does a great job in delivering feel myself supported by family values, honest, and down-to-earth. 

Budweiser 9/11 tribute

Aired only once, only a few months after 9/11 the context of this ad is paramount to the emotion. An amazing salute, by the brand, to the heroes of 9/11. The ad does a great job delivering optimism and freedom. 

P&G “Thank you mom”

Back in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G was making an attempt at a Master Brand strategy. This is a beautiful Ad, that is a nice salute to moms around the world, whether your child is an Olympian, or not. While the kids might be optimistic, the emotions P&G links to their moms is comfort, nurturing and compassion. 

Always "Run like a girl"

The Always “Run like a girl” campaign is an inspirational video that connects with true insight about the perception of how girls run changes as they hit puberty.  The ad starts by asking older teens and 20-somethings to run like a girl, and they depict a negative stereotypical overly feminine running style. Then, it asks 10-year-old girls to run like a girl, and they run in a highly athletic manner. It asks what changes to make the older girls see running as a negative. The ad challenges viewers to rethink their stereotypes. It inspires girls with an uplifting message to be themselves and encourages them to believe that, “running like a girl” is a good thing. The Always brand closely lines itself to the insights about the changes happening at puberty, just as moms and daughter will be choosing the feminine hygiene brand they will use. This campaign really delivers on optimism about a better future and the freedom from stereotypes. 

Nike "Find your greatness"

Aired during the 2012 Olympics, this ad was a very high risk but also ran counter to all the athlete ads. There are many types of motivation, for some of us, Michael Jordan is the inspiration. But not all of us are Michael Jordan. This kid running is the average person that gets out there and makes it happen. My hope is that it inspires you with optimism, to get out there and “just do it”, on your own terms.

Our Beloved Brands marketing training program

This type of thinking is in our Beloved Brands book

Learn how brand leaders should think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

Starbucks taking a page out of Apple’s location playbook creating a tourist draw

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

About five years ago, I was on one of those double-decker bus tour of NYC with my kids. We passed by where John Lennon was shot, and about 5 people stood up and took a photo. Then, we passed by Apple’s 5th Avenue store and the entire bus stood up and took a photo. Over the last decade, Apple has created iconic stores around the world that have become a tourist draw. Now, Starbucks is stealing a page from that playbook.

The world’s largest Starbucks will open on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on November 15th this year, and will overtake the recently opened Toyko Reserve Roastery as Starbucks’ biggest store and is the sixth Roastery in the world, following locations in Seattle, Shanghai, New York City, Milan, and Tokyo. These locations will make the Starbucks brand fans swoon, get out their phones and post all over social media. This will make those Starbucks fans book a trip to Chicago.  

New Starbucks in Chicago

It will be four floors, 43,000 square feet and employs over 200 people. There will be exclusive drinks “inspired by the culture and traditions of Chicago,” too. These Starbucks stores keep getting bigger, with Tokyo at 32,000 square feet, Shanghai at 30,000 and New York City at a very congested 23,000 square feet.

 

Take a look inside Starbucks Shanghai location

Starbucks roastery in New York City has best described as a Willy Wonka coffee factory

Video of the Shanghai roastery location

Delivering on the Starbucks experience led brand

When the consumer experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on creating a link between your culture and your brand. Your people are your product. Use your brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the service behaviors of your people. Then build a culture and organization with the right people who can deliver incredible experiences. 

Experience-led brands need to be patient with how fast they build the brand, as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient as the product-led or idea-led brands. The most effective communication tools for consumer experience-led brands include word of mouth, earned media, social media, online consumer reviews, the voice of key influencers, and consumer testimonials. These brands can make a mistake if they put too much emphasis on price, which can diminish the perceived consumer experience. 

The five elements of strategic thinking allows Starbucks to build an amazing consumer experience

1. Set a vision of what you want

Starbucks wished to become a cherished favorite moment of the day. The question for Starbucks was how to build smartly around the consumer experience to drive significant growth in same-store sales.

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

Starbucks has an strong bond with their consumers, by creating an amazing consumer experience supported by a phenomenal team of employees. Starbucks wanted to bring this culture to the forefront of the consumer experience. These new Starbucks stores will bring this experience to a new level, rewarding the most ardent brand fans around the world. 

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

In 2008, Starbucks refocused to shift the coffee ritual beyond mornings. It wanted to build an all-day gathering place. The company broadened their portfolio around coffee by adding desserts, snacks, and sandwiches. Starbucks saw an opportunity in its under-utilized retail locations, which remained relatively empty after 11 a.m. The company wanted the broader portfolio to boost lunch and dinner sales, and earn a higher share of the consumer’s wallet and higher same-store sales. Watching what Apple has done on locations, Starbucks wants to create a heightened experience that consumers will share with their network of friends. 

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

Back in 2008, Starbucks closed every store for a day to refocus on its service, then built a broader portfolio around coffee. The company successfully reconnected with most loyal Starbucks fans. It was able to turn the morning coffee routine into an all-day life ritual, allowing Starbucks to focus on becoming a consumer experience brand, and a gathering place to savor moments with friends and colleagues. With six Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations, each bigger than the other, they are creating a gathering location for the world’s biggest brand fans. Starbucks is clearly focused on growth in Asia, building a new location every 19 hours. This Shanghai location will certainly be a draw for every tourist coming to the city. Put it on your list. 

5. Performance result that pays back

No longer seen as a destination just for morning coffee, but rather an escape at any point in the day, Starbucks saw double-digit growth for five straight years. Meanwhile, the stock price increased 10-fold over that period, even double what it was a year ago. Early results from these locations show that same day sales are equal to what a normal Starbucks does in a week. 

We have a Starbucks case study in our Beloved Brands book

Have a look at our Beloved Brands book

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Apple books and Kobo

The problem with Uber is they refuse to pick a strategy

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

At the core of strategy is making choices. Back in business school, I had a strategy professor who said, “It’s all about choices” about 30 times a class. Whenever you are faced with options, find a way to narrow down your choices and pick the best path for your brand. 

With Uber, they seem willing to refuse to make any choices–preferring to try to be everything to anyone. Uber has failed to choose a core strength to build behind, they have failed to cultivate a relationship with consumers, they have hung onto their disruptor strategy too long, and failed to build an aligned culture that can deliver a superior consumer experience.

We use our ThinkBox and PlayBox to manage your brand strategy

I want to introduce you to my ThinkBox concept, which I have borrowed from sports. For instance, in golf, using a ThinkBox forces you to consider everything you are facing before taking the shot. Look at any lakes or bunkers in the way, the wind condition, or how well you are playing that day. Then, decide on your shot strategy. As you move to a PlayBox, visualize the ideal shot, think and feel your way through the mechanics of your swing, and trust you are making the right shot. Do not over-think the strategy during the execution.

With your brand, you should use a Strategic ThinkBox, to get a 360-degree view of the situation, before taking action. Consider your brand’s core strength, the bond you have with your consumers, your brand’s competitive position, and your brand’s business situation. Once you have completed your thinking, use the Execution PlayBox to see the ideal execution, think and feel your way, then trust your instincts.  

The four questions in our Strategic ThinkBox

As I created the Strategic ThinkBox, I made it so that each of the four questions uses a forced choice to make decisions, where you must focus on only one possible answer for each question. 

  1. What is the core strength that will help your brand win?
  2. How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
  3. What is your current competitive position?
  4. What is the current business situation your brand faces?
  1. Start with your brand’s core strength. Decide which of four choices you will lead with: product, brand story, consumer experience or price. Your core strength will change your entire strategy, including the brand messages and the focus of your investment. Below, I show a unique process for how to choose your brand’s core strength.
  2. Next, you have to look at your consumer strategy. Start by determining where your brand currently sits on the brand love curve, whether your brand is unknown, indifferent, like it, love it, or at the beloved stage. The goal is to tighten the bond with your consumer and move them from one stage to the next. You can use brand funnel data, the voice of the consumer, and market dynamics to determine where your brand sits on the brand love curve. In my book, I outline clear game plans for each stage.
  3. Regarding the competitive strategy, you must choose from one of four different types of competitive situations you find your brand operating within. The power players are the dominant leader in the category and take a competitive defensive stance. The challenger brands have gained enough power to battle head-to-head with the market leader. The disruptor brands have found a space so different they can pull consumers away from the significant category players. Craft brands aggressively go against the category with a niche target market and a niche consumer benefit. They are small and stay far away from the market leaders. Each competitive situation leads to different strategy choices.
  4. A brand must look at the situational strategy, which starts with understanding your brand health, looking at both internal and external factors. Choose one of four potential situations: whether you keep the momentum going, face a business turnaround situation, realign everyone behind a strategy, or your brand is a start-up. Each situation leads to distinct strategies and leadership styles to deploy. 

Uber refuses to narrow choices on strategy

What is Uber's core strength

To be loved, brands must know who they are and then stand with pride, conviction, and confidence. Too many brands try to have a few core strengths cluttering up their brand positioning, so they end up with no real perceived strength that stands out. Our core strength model forces you to select one of four possible options for you to win with: product, brand story, experience, or price. For many marketers, their immediate response is an urge to pick two or three core strengths, believing the myth that having many strengths makes your brand stronger. A focus will make your brand stronger.

Here is the game I have created to help choose your brand’s core strength. 

  • Using the diagram below, start with four chips. You must place one chip where you believe you have the highest competitive advantage to win. 
  • Then put two chips at the medium level that backs up and supports the core strength. 
  • Finally, the game forces one chip to be at the low end, which is almost a throwaway weakness that will not be part of the strategy. 

It is a great game to try with your team, as it sets up a great debate among your team members.

Having created this model, and used it with over 100 brands, I’d say Uber should focus on being the best ride experience, including the simplicity of ordering through the app, ease of payment and billing for the business rider, the high quality drivers who provide an estimated time of arrival, and take pride in their cars.  Uber could easily use the superior customer experience to command a significant price premium. I’d pay extra.

lyWhen the consumer experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on creating a link between your culture and your brand. Your people are your product. Use your brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the service behaviors of your people. Then build a culture and organization with the right people who can deliver incredible experiences. Experience-led brands need to be patient with how fast they build the brand, as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient as the product-led or idea-led brands. The most effective communication tools for consumer experience-led brands include word of mouth, earned media, social media, online consumer reviews, the voice of key influencers, and consumer testimonials. These brands can make a mistake if they put too much emphasis on price, which can diminish the perceived consumer experience. 

Instead, Uber focuses on their app product and driver network, and they obsess about being a lower price than taxis. Being lower price is a fair entry strategy to gain the attention of the marketplace. However, hanging onto this lower price has forced Uber to pay their drivers poor, which inhibits the delivery of a high quality experience. It is estimated that Uber drivers make between $1-5 an hour, certainly not a salary that will help Uber attract the best drivers. Instead they now getting desperate drivers who cannot deliver the expected high quality experience at all. 

By not taking the experience positioning space, Uber has given this up to Lyft, who is now trying to deliver a better experience at a price premium. Moreowver, it also opens up business consumers to go back to their favorite limo companies, to get the exceptional experience they desire.

Always remember, when you fail to define your brand, you run the risk that your competitors and consumers will define you. And, you might not like it.  

How tight is the bond with your consumers?

Very early on, Uber generated a lot of love with consumers. It was such a disruptive product, they seemed light years ahead of the taxi market. What did they do with all that brand love? Nothing at all. 

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.

Uber is so bad with the consumer, I would go as far as to call Uber consumer-oblivious. They treat all consumers the same–relatively badly. 

  • While the internet has allowed consumers to rate brands, it seems downright weird for a brand like Uber to be rating consumers. Who is paying who here?
  • When do consumers need an Uber the most, during peak hours, Uber charges surge prices that moves them into a significant price premium to a cab.  
  • There is relatively no real benefit to a consumer in becoming a regular Uber user. If you use Uber four times a day every day, you will be treated the same as a new consumer. 

Uber should be cultivating a tight bond with their most loyal consumers, and use that power to bulid their brand.

Uber should be able to leverage their power with consumers to build a better relationship with every city hall, and airports who will want to do what’s popular with consumers. Instead Uber has gone to war with city hall and airports. 
 
With high net promoter scores, Uber should be able to leverage word-of-mouth or social media recommendations, and positive online brand reviews (Yelp or Trip Advisor) to influence new users. Brands at the love it stage must look for unique ways to reward consumers and further tighten their bond with their most loyal brand lovers. By not treating your consumers special, you begin acting like a commodity, and will be treated that way by consumers. As consumers are not treated special, and as the experience begins to decline, Uber runs the risk of losing these brand fans to other, better options. 

Uber should have shifted from a disruptor to a power player

Power players lead the way as the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command power over all the stakeholders, including consumers, competitors, and retail channels.

Regarding positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at and leverage their power in the market to help them own the position where there is a tie with another competitor. Owning both zones helps expand the brand’s presence and power across a bigger market. These brands can also use their exceptional financial situation to invest in innovation to catch up, defend, or stay ahead of competitors. Power player brands must defend their territory by responding to every aggressive competitor’s attacks. They even need to attack themselves by vigilantly watching for internal weaknesses to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. Power player brands can never become complacent, or they will die.    

Uber came in with a successful disruptor strategy that completely rattled the taxi market. However, they never have transitioned into a power player position, where they can leverage that power with various stakeholders.

Uber has an opportunity to own an easier consumer experience that allows consumers to feel in control of their urban travel. They can own the following benefits:

  • Easier to call for a ride
  • Easier to track/control when your car will be arriving
  • Easier to pay and organize billing to keep you in control
  • A superior in-car experience
These are the main benefits taxi consumers are looking for. While lower price was a fine entry point to separate consumers away from taxi cabs, once they established that, Uber should have gone away from the lower price.

What is the situation the brand faces?

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.  

Uber keeps acting like a startup when they should realign

From the outside looking in, Uber appears to have a toxic culture. A brand like Uber needs a consistent delivery of the brand promise. Issues arise when the brand promise shows up inconsistently across the advertising, in-store, new products, the overall consumer experience. It creates a confused and cluttered mess in the marketplace. You do not want the team behind the scenes of the brand moving in different directions.

When different functions operate in silos, you see the marketing and sales team each delivering their distinct brand messages, and the product development team invents products in a lab without any direction from brand or input from consumers. Internal silos among functions behind the brand. Conflict over action plans. Confused messages.  

Uber needs to realign the team by employing a cross-functional team to build a new brand positioning, an organizing brand idea, and a brand plan to get everyone on the same page. Build a shared vision, purpose, values, strategies, and execution. Uber has had significant issues at the leadership level, many of the executives have exhibited such ego-driven statements they appear oblivious to developing a culture that can deliver the desired consumer experience. The leadership style Uber needs to engage is a participative leadership style that will bring everyone together to listen to all points of view and unify them under a shared plan. Uber needs a leadership that can express cohesion and consistency across all consumer touchpoints. 

Uber has failed to choose a core strength to build behind, they have failed to cultivate a relationship with consumers, they have hung onto their disruptor strategy too long, and failed to build an aligned culture that can deliver a superior consumer experience.

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

How to find and focus on your ideal consumer target

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

One of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make is picking too broad of a consumer target market. A tight consumer target market decides who is in the target and who is not in the target.

There is a myth that a bigger target will make the brand bigger, so the scared marketer targets “everyone.” There seems to be an irrational fear of leaving someone out. Spreading your brand’s limited resources across an entire population is completely cost-prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is riskier because you spread your resources so broadly you never see the full impact you want to see. This fear of missing out (FOMO) gives your brand a lower return on investment and eventually will drain your brand’s limited resources. Please focus.

Every time I go to the airport, I see the shoeshine person looking down at people’s feet, qualifying potential customers based on whether they are wearing leather shoes. It reminds me of how simple it is to target those consumers who are the most motivated by what you do. Sure, they could be missing out on the very few people who have leather shoes in their suitcase. However, using a focused approach to profile consumers is a smart way to maximize your return on effort. If shoeshiners can narrow the focus of their target to people wearing leather shoes, why is it so difficult for you to narrow down your target to those who care the most about what your brand does?

Instead of going after who you want, go after those who want you

If you have a golf ball that goes longer than any other golf ball, go after those golfers who already hit it long and want to hit it even longer. If you have a new recipe for chicken noodle soup, go after those who love chicken noodle soup. And if you are selling a mortgage, go after those consumers who want to buy a house. Damn, that sounds simple. Then why do I see golf marketers go after people who hate golf, soup marketers go after those who don’t give a damn about soup and banks trying to sell mortgages to everyone.

To illustrate this point of focus, I look at three types of potential target markets:

  • Selling target: This is pretty much everyone, as you sell to anyone who comes in the door and wants to buy, regardless if they fit your ideal target. However, “everyone” should never be a marketing target. You are spreading your resources so thin your message will miss out on really capturing those consumers most likely to respond, which provides an efficient payback. 
  • Marketing target: You should focus your limited resources on those consumers who have the highest likelihood of responding positively to your brand positioning, advertising, and new product innovation. A tighter target market provides the fastest and highest return on investment. 
 
  • Program target: When working on a specific campaign, narrow the target even further. Focus on people you want to stimulate to see if you can get them to see, think, feel or do things that will benefit your brand. A specific program target is smart when launching a new product, or aligning with a promotional time of year (including back-to-school or Christmas).

The case of the crazy bank that targeted everyone

I worked with a bank that told me its target market for a first-time mortgage (home loan) was adults aged 18-65, new customers, current customers, and employees. Sarcastically, I said, “You have forgotten about tourists and prisoners.” As I pressed to help them narrow their consumer target, they pushed back saying they did not want to alienate anyone just in case. I cringed at the word “alienate” and the idea of “just in case.”

Sure, the odd 64-year-old might be tired of renting for the past 40 years, but they would not be offended having a 32-year-old in the ad. You have to realize that people know when they are a natural outlier, and they aren’t offended when they are. The age target that would be most motivated by a first-time mortgage ad would be someone who is in their late twenties or early thirties.

I improved the target definition, even more, by adding, “They are looking to buy a house.”  This thinking is equal to the shoeshine person looking for someone wearing leather shoes. No one buys their first house on impulse, and no one ever wanted a mortgage without buying a house. Consumers usually spend 6-12 months looking for a house. It sounds obvious, but why was it lost on the bank? 

Think about the difference the focused target makes on the marketing programs. Instead of randomly advertising to everyone on mass media, your brand should focus your limited resources on the consumer who is most open to your message and where they are most willing to listen. Advertise on real estate websites during their lunch hour when they take a break to search the web for new housing options. Use billboards outside new housing developments and use radio ads on Saturday afternoons to capture them while they drive around looking at new homes. 

Who is most likely to try your brand or love your brand in the future?

There are various ways to divide up the market to identify the most motivated possible audience. Here are three main ways to segment the market:

  1. Consumer profiling: Using demographics is one of the easiest ways to segment. While some resist demographics, you will eventually have to put someone in the ad and likely buy media using age. Then add in socioeconomic and geographic elements, and how they shop. Choose to focus on either current customers or new customers, but never both at the same time. Trying to drive penetration and usage at the same time will drain your resources. These are two dramatically different targets needing two different messages, two types of media, and potentially two different types of product offerings.
  2. Consumer behavior: Divide the market based on consumer need states, purchase occasions, life stages, or life moments. You can also divide the market based on purchase behavior, perceptions, or beliefs.
  3. Consumer psychographics: Psychographics look at commonly shared behaviors, such as the consumer’s shared lifestyle, personality, values or attitudes.   

Segmentation forces you to focus. Please do not spend tons of money on a segmentation study and then try to figure out how to go after each segment with a completely different brand message. I have seen marketers do this, and it is borderline crazy. That is not the right way to use these studies. A brand can only ever have one reputation. While this shows 12 different ways you can segment, a good starting point is to use a combination of 3 or 4 segmentation elements to narrow down your target. The choice depends on the category.

Do you know your consumer better than your competition knows your consumer?

Brands should think of consumer insights like you do intellectual property. Your knowledge of your consumer is a competitive advantage. The deeper the love a brand can build with your most cherished consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be, going far beyond what the product alone could ever deliver. There is only one source of revenue; not the products you sell, but the consumers who buy them. 

Consumer insights must show up at every consumer touchpoint

Knowing the secrets of your consumers can be a potent asset for your brand. The best brand communication should be like whispering an inside-joke that only you and your friend get. When the consumer insight connects, it makes consumers stop and say, “Hmmm. That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether through packaging, advertising or at the purchase moment, the consumer will think the brand is made just for them. 

Building out a consumer target profile

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?

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?”

You will find this type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how brand leaders should think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

How to use strategic thinking to help your brand win

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Strategic thinkers see questions before they see solutions.  

Ever hear someone say, “That’s a good question.” It usually means someone has just asked an interruptive question, designed to slow everyone’s thinking, so they reflect and plan before they act. The strategic thinking side of marketing is logical and has to map out a range of decision trees that intersect, by imagining how events will play out in the future. The risk of being only strategic is that, if you think too long, you may spiral around, unable to decide. Moreover, you may miss an opportunity window.

Strategic thinking is the foundation of brand management. I will take you through the five elements of smart strategic thinking, including setting a vision, investing in a strategic program that focuses on an identified opportunity, and how to leverage a breakthrough market impact into a performance result.

The five elements of smart strategic thinking

Everyone says they are a strategic thinker, yet few are. Early in my career, I confess that I was more of an instinctual marketer. To learn strategic thinking, we need to slow down and organize our thoughts. Here are the five elements that make up smart strategic thinking:

1. Set a vision of what you want for your brand

A vision sets aspirational stretch goals for the future, linked to a clear result or purpose. Write a vision statement in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot. It should steer everyone who works on the brand to focus on finding ways to create a bond with your consumers that will lead to power and profit beyond what the product alone could achieve. As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you do not know where you are going, how will you know if you get there?” 

To be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future. Imagine it is five or 10 years from now and you wake up in the most fantastic mood. Visualize a perfect future and write down the most critical milestones you need to achieve. Even think about words that will inspire, lead, and steer your team towards your vision. 

As strategic thinking starts with asking questions, a smart strategy must ask interruptive questions that frame the issues regarding what you want to achieve. By raising those issues early on, you can focus the team on the significant problems that need to be solved to get you on the path to your vision. 

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

Think through the options of where you should invest in moving your brand into a more powerful and profitable position. The programs you choose should solidify the brand’s core strength, build a brand idea that tightens the consumer bond, battle competitors on positioning, or address the situational challenges and opportunities.

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

Focus your limited resources on a distinct opportunity you have identified based on a potential change in the market, including changes to consumers, competitive situation, technology, or sales channels. 

In today’s data-driven world, everyone has access to the equivalent information and in turn, can see the same opportunities. Use speed to seize the opportunity before others can take action, and then that opportunity is gone. The best brand leaders never divide and conquer. They force themselves to focus and win. The smartest brand leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and.”  If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize doing a little of both, you are not strategic. Force yourself to make choices.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they are financial, time, people, or partnerships. Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. The smartest brand leaders limit their choices to match up to their limited resources, to focus on those that will deliver the highest return. 

Many marketers struggle to focus 

Myth 1: The most prominent myth of marketing is to believe that your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market. 


Reality: Too many marketers target anyone. I will always argue that it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. You have to create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans, and then use that fan support to expand your following. 

Myth 2: The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything. 

Reality: Hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone ends up becoming nothing to everyone.

Myth 3: Your brand will achieve higher sales if you try to be everywhere, whether in every sales channel or on every possible media option.

Reality: If you went to Las Vegas and put a chip on every square, you would be bankrupt before midnight. The worst marketers lack focus because they fear missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere.

When you focus, five amazing things happen to your brand:

  1. Stronger return on investment (ROI): When you focus your dollars on the distinct breakthrough point or against a program that you know will work, you will see the most positive and efficient response in the marketplace. 
  2. Better return on effort (ROE): You must make the most efficient use of your limited people resources. Find the Big Easy! Focus on the ideas with the most significant impact that is the easiest to execute. Avoid those ideas that are small and difficult to implement. While you may not always have the data to calculate your ROI, you should have the instincts to figure out your return on effort (ROE). 
  3. Stronger reputation: When you limit your audience and brand message, you will have a better chance to own that reputation among that core target audience. 
  4. More competitive: When you focus your message to a specific target audience, your brand will start to create a space in the market, and you can defend against others from entering that space.
  5. More investment behind the brand: When you focus and deliver business results, your management team will ask you to do that again. They will give you more money and more people resources. Even with increased resources, you must take the same focused approach. 

4. Leverage the breakthrough market impact

A smart strategy turns an early breakthrough win into a shift in momentum, positional power, or tipping point where you begin to achieve more in the marketplace than the resources you put in.

Many underestimate the need for an early win. I see this as a crucial breakthrough point where you start to look at a small shift in momentum towards your vision. While there will always be doubters to every strategy, the results of the early win provide compelling proof to show everyone the plan will work. You can change the minds of the doubters—or at least keep them quiet—so everyone can stay focused on the breakthrough point. 

The magic of strategy happens through leverage, where you can use the early win as an opening or a tipping point where you start to see a transformational power that allows you to make an impact and achieve results in the marketplace. A smart strategy should trigger the consumer to move along the buying journey from awareness to buy and onto loyalty, or it can help tighten the consumer’s bond with the brand.  

5. Performance result that pays back

The shift in positional power in the marketplace moves your brand toward your vision and creates a future pathway to building a consumer bond, brand power, and brand profitability. 

A brand can become powerful compared to the consumers they serve, the competitors they battle, the channels they sell through, the suppliers who make the products or ingredients, the influencers in the market, any media choices and the employees who work for the brand. We explored these eight sources of power in the opening chapter. 

You can drive profit through premium pricing, trading consumers up on price, finding a lower cost of goods, using lower sales and marketing costs, stealing competitive users, getting loyal users to use more, entering new markets or finding new uses for the brand. We explored these eight ways a brand can add to their profitability in the opening chapter. For a strategy to work, what pays off in the marketplace must pay off in brand power or business results.

Using Gray's Cookies to demonstrate strategic thinking

We will use the fictional Gray’s Cookies as a case study. Gray’s Cookies are the ultimate healthy cookie, which is excellent tasting, low fat, low calorie and made from the best ingredients. I did mention it was fictional. This cookie is battling the major mainstream competitors, starting from a small niche with a core target market of fans who are beginning to love the brand. 

How to turn thinking into strategic objective statements

Let’s now look at how to turn your smart strategic thinking into writing a strategic objective statement that can provide specific marching orders to everyone who works on the brand. 

 

The process covers all five elements of smart strategic thinking. You can see the brand vision, and key issue statement covers the first strategic element. However, you need the strategic objective statement to cover off the remaining four other strategic elements, including the program investment, focused opportunity, market impact, and the performance result.

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 

  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

The 10 worst types of advertising clients. Don’t be one of these!

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I come at this from the vantage of a fellow client. I’m not an advertising agency person, never having worked a day at an ad agency in my life. I spent 20 years in brand management. But, I have seen all these types of clients. I wrote this slightly tongue-in-cheek, and would like you to laugh a little, but think, “Hey, I know that person.”

I’d also like you to see a little of yourself in a few of these and if you are into personal growth and improvement, then challenge yourself to get better and stop being that type of client. We can always get better.

 

I get asked a lot: “So what is it that makes someone good at advertising?”

The answer I give is simple: “The best brand leaders consistently get good advertising on the air and consistently keep bad advertising off the air.”

 

The challenge for many marketers is that it takes a lot to get good advertising on the air. The best clients respect the process, the agency, and their judgment. And yet, most Brand Leaders under-estimate the role the client plays in getting to great creative. As a Brand Leader, if you knew that showing up better would get you better advertising, do you think you could? Or are you stuck being one of these types of clients?

The 10 worst types of advertising clients

#1: Brand leaders who say, “You’re the expert!” 

While you might intend this to be a compliment to your agency, it is usually a total cop-out! You end up giving your agency enough rope to hang themselves. As a brand leader, you have to realize that you play the most significant role in the process. Your agency needs you to be engaged in every stage of the process and the work. Your agency requires you to inspire and motivate the team. I have seen a good agency make fantastic advertising for a great client, but I have seen lousy clients suck the life out of the world’s best agency. As the brand leader, bring your knowledge of the brand, show your passion for great work, make clear decisions, and inspire the work towards greatness. 

#2: Brand leaders who say, “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the script.”

Passive-aggressive clients are usually insecure about their abilities in the advertising space. They keep firing their agency instead of taking ownership over their role in the process. I guess it’s easier to fire the agency than fire yourself. A great brand leader never approves work they don’t love. If you don’t love the work you create, then how do you ever expect the consumer to love your brand?

#3: Jekyll & Hyde

When brand leaders bring significant mood swings to the ad process, it will be very hard on the agency. They try to read the room and adjust to your mood. The worst thing that can happen for you is when your mood swing alters the work, and the work moves into a direction you never intended to go. As a brand leader, you have to stay consistent, so everyone knows precisely what exactly you are thinking. Be completely transparent.

#4: The constant bad mood

Even worse than the mood swings, is when a client shows up mad all the time. I have seen clients bring a death stare to creative meetings. Hilarious scripts get presented to a room of fear and utter silence. A true brand leader must motivate and inspire all those who touch their brand. Your greatness will come from the greatness of those who work for you. Be a favorite client, so people want to work for you, never treating them like they have to work for you. Advertising should be fun. When you are having fun, so will your consumer.

#5: The mystery person that’s not in the room

When the real decision-maker is not in the room, everyone second-guesses what might please that decision-maker. As a brand leader, you have to make decisions you think are right for your brand, not what your boss might say. Make the ad you want and then find a way to gain alignment and approval from your boss. The best brand leaders I know will fight anyone in the way of great work, including their boss.

#6: The dictator

When you TELL your agency what to do, it leaves your agency with only one answer: YES. When you ASK your agency a question, then there are three answers: YES, NO, MAYBE. When a brand leader comes in with the exact ad, then it is not a creative process, it just becomes an order taking process. Great ads have to make your brand feel different; different will always feel a little scary. To find greatness, revel in ambiguity and enjoy the unknown. The unknown should be what makes marketing such a great job.

#7: Driven by mandatories  

Don’t write a long list of mandatories that steers the type of advertising you want to see, and avoids the kind you don’t want to see. Give some freedom to allow the creative process to unfold. I believe the best ads are like the perfect birthday gift that surprises us, and we never thought to get it ourselves. Let go!!!  If you write an excellent brief, you don’t need a list of mandatories.

#8: The kitchen sink

Those clients who always have the “just in case” list. They want to speak to everyone, say everything possible, never focusing or making decisions. When you put everything in your brief, you force the creative team to decide on what’s most important. Brands that try to be everything to anyone will end up nothing to everyone. When you try to jam in every message into the creative, you end up with a complete mess. With each new message you add, it lowers the potential for the consumer to digest what you’re trying to say. Focus on a tightly defined target, with one main message. Get rid of anything on your “just in case” list.

#9: Keeps changing their mind

The best advertising people are in-the-box thinkers who like to solve problems. They are not necessarily blue-sky thinkers. The creative strategy is the starting point of the box for your creative team to solve. Every time you give feedback is a new box, for them to answer. At any stage, if the box keeps changing, you will baffle your agency and will never see the best creative work. The best brand leaders stay confident enough to stand by their decisions.

#10: The scientist:

Some clients believe there is ONE answer. Digital advertising is creating a belief that an A/B test can make the decision. What is the role of creative instincts? Marketers are not actuaries where we can punch in the data, and the answer comes out. As a brand leader, you can’t always get THE answer. When you try to eliminate risk, rather than learning to deal with risk-taking. Certainty might help you sleep better, but you will dream less.

 

Other stories you might like

 

  • How to write a creative brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a creative brief, click on this link: How to write a creative brief
  • How to write a brand positioning statement. Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe. To read how to write a brand positioning statement, click on this link: How to write a brand positioning statement  
  • How to write a brand plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this link to read more on writing a brand plan: How to write a brand plan

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 

  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

New Disney+ will create the most love and desire on day 1

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

With Disney+ every day will be like going to Disney World. While every other streaming service exerts effort to create content to fill up their pipeline, Disney+ starts with 90 years of the most loved family movies, the most innovative animated movies with Pixar, the best action heroes with Marvel, the most viewed movie franchises with Star Wars  and a library of 20th Century Fox movies. While we can debate whether the streaming services should be the producer or the carrier of content, Disney has vast experience in both. Disney+ will be the carrier, while the Disney production house will be the producer. They have long experience in not interfering with one another.

Streaming TV is going to get messy, but in terms of positioning, Disney is the clear winner on day one

TV is changing right before our eyes. Within the last 40 years, we have seen two gigantic shifts, going from bunny ears to cable in the 1970s/80s, and now cable to streaming. While a few people out there keep showing charts about traditional vs. digital, I would argue the average consumer does not care HOW they get their TV; they want more of it, hopefully, high quality, and for the best price possible.

 

Let me simplify this. We love TV. We don’t care how it is delivered. Do we? 

We have proven we will spend $100 for a lot of content, organized by channel types. By 2025, we will likely pay $100 for a lot of content, organized by content type, possibly across a handful of streaming services. If you don’t have smart TVs and devices all over your house, you will soon.

While brands race to win the streaming wars by 2025, that might only be stage one. We will see companies continue to take a shot at this market and fail. 

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • NBC Universal
  • CBS/Viacom
  • Sony
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Samsung
  • Alibaba
  • AT&T

Anyone else? This could end up looking like a dance off, with partnerships, eliminations and consolidation.  

We can already define Disney+

On day 1, Disney will be defined by the quality and well-known reputation of its content. Most services will, but we already know and love a ton of the content they will carry. They will launch with original films and television series based on Disney movies, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and 20th Century Fox. 

Disney

  • Lion King
  • Aladin
  • The Littlest Mermaid
  • Frozen
  • Bambi
  • Tarzan
  • Snow White

Pixar

  • Toy Story
  • Monsters Inc
  • Finding Nemo
  • The Incredibles
  • Cars

Marvel

  • X Men
  • Deadpool
  • Spider-man

20th Century Fox

  • Star Wars
  • Avatar
  • Titanic
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Hidden Figures
  • Lincoln
  • Home Alone

On top of that, Disney owns ABC and ESPN TV stations, which will be included in the US market, but I predict they could be coming to other markets within a few years. 

 

I can no longer define Netflix

High-quality content with the movie-like quality. Easy to access and commercial-free. With others now entering the streaming space, won’t Netflix now have to define itself so that it can compete? I’d already say the quality has fallen; HBO seems to have the most consistent content. I see Netflix entering into reality type TV shows with cooking and dating type shows. Many of their latest movies have a made-for-TV quality to them. 

Now that streaming is a commodity; I no longer know how to define Netflix. Can you? 

If I were Netflix; I’d be scared. In the last six months, taking out some market fluctuations, Disney valuation is up 18%, while Netflix is down 13%. I think the market might still be underestimating how crazy consumers will feel about Disney+

Amazon and Apple could end as carriers more than producers

Whenever I have that debate on if you are a carrier or a producer, everyone seems to want to say BOTH. 

While Amazon has produced some great content in the last few years, that’s likely not their greatest strength. As someone who orders $5 items for next day delivery on my Amazon Prime account, I see Amazon’s longer term win is they will have access to the largest network of eyeballs for any producer who wants their content to be viewed. Just as they are turning into the world’s largest retailer, they could turn into the world’s largest movie and TV house. 

 

As it appears Apple is willing to carry anyone in their news service, we could see the same as they get set to launch their own streaming service. While I can’t predict if Apple will be successful, shifting a corporate culture from producing cool gadgets into producing cool stuff could be a gigantic learning curve. Yes, they have access to billions of consumers worldwide, why not just acquire Netflix? Is an offer of $150 Billion fair?

 

The big question; when do these streaming services start taking advertising?

This type of brand thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 

  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books