How to build your brand’s media strategy

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Start with the Brand Funnel

It’s interesting that most people start with where the media is and not where the consumer is in relative terms to where your brand is. Every brand should understand their Brand Funnel, at least measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates. While sales, share, and profits are the obvious measurements of a brand, they are easy to see but are the end result. The funnel provides richer signals of the true health of the brand before they even show up in share reports and provides possible indicators of future performance.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol, which aren’t obvious on the surface but are signals of real health concerns that need to be addressed.

Almost like a fingerprint, every brand has a unique brand funnel. Your brand will have certain strength as well as leaks in the funnel. For instance, most Challenger Brands are either at the Indifferent or Like It stage, and they have a funnel that gets skinny quickly as you move down. While challenger brands can garner Awareness, they struggle to stay in consideration and even fall out even more at the purchase stage.  

I encourage brands to analyze the leaks by looking at how the consumer might move along the brand going from Indifferent (unaware, noticed) to Like It (interested, bought) to Love It (satisfied, repeater) and Beloved Brand for Life (Fan, outspoken). At each stage, match up what the consumer feels about the brand as well as what the possible reasoning for why they might reject the brand.

Brand Leaders like Sony started to see cracks at the purchase stage as consumers started seeing just how much better Samsung when they were able to compare brands at the store level. In fact, people hung onto the Sony brand much longer than they should have. That’s actually a sign of the power that Beloved Brand status gives you.

The Consumer Buying System

Going forward, you now understand your brand funnel’s strength and your leaks that you need to close. Then start to Map out your Consumer Buying System and you’ll be able to see how the media plan begins to take shape. With most brands, you can see consumers becoming Aware and then Consider. The difference is Awareness can be related to how good your programs are, and consideration is related to how relevant or inspiring your brand concept is. Then consumers go into some type of Search to verify what they’ve now heard, whether that means asking friends, reading reviews or looking online. Usually, the Search effort is in direct relationship to either the importance or cost of the item.  Some brands, especially CPG items would have a Trial component.  Brands are now utilizing online to variations to simulate trial–whether looking at what a house or car might look like, customized to your needs. If trial is crucial to your brand, add that into the buying system. The Buying stage where the money is exchanged. At the last minute, something may change a consumers mind.  They may shift based on last-minute information or influence or they may choose to stay with their usual brand. Promotion can move consumers at the last-minute as well, especially on brands where there is little differentiation. After the buying, there can be all types of dynamics, starting with Satisfaction or not meeting expectations. On experiential items, the purchase to satisfaction is even more complicated, especially when product and service are combined (hotels, restaurants, services). After the purchase, consumers quickly decide whether to buy again or reject it or even just buy it occasionally.  It’s not easy to become a usual brand where you start to see the consumer become Loyal or even becoming a Fan of the brand.

 

Every good strategy starts with a focal point, and media strategies are no different.  While there is a temptation to do it all and cover all part of the buying system, in reality, you never have the resources to do it all, so you have to put your money where you think you will have the biggest impact. Even with social media, which is considered “free“, it does still take a lot of effort, so picking the social media that makes the most sense for your brand is crucial to the return on effort. Try to match up to return on effort and return on investment by using some Prioritization Tool. Map out all the tactics as to how big they are and how easy they are. You’re trying to find the big and easy ideas–avoiding small and difficult. If they are big and hard, brainstorm ways to make it easier. If they are small and easy, brainstorm ways to make them bigger.

Linking the love curve to the consumer buying system

Brands that are stuck at the Indifferent stage should focus their resources against driving overall awareness to ensure the start of a strong funnel. But then, they need to convert that Awareness into Consideration utilizing announcement style advertising to highlight differences that can separate the brand from competitors. This is where the combination of mass media and digital media can help hold the hand of consumers as they move along the buying system. The brand can also begin utilizing search to their advantage with experts to re-enforce any brand differences or influential consumers with strong opinions

Brands at the Like It stage can find themselves stuck. They are successful enough to be a strong brand, but sometimes too complacent to do anything different. Instead of keep pounding the mass media out, these brands should use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to capture those consumers aggressively seeking out information as they move through the buying system. More and more, with Google or social media, it’s easy to seek out expertise or just opinions. Trip Advisor and Yelp are great forums where consumers look to what others have said and use that information to help consumers to make decisions. Also, consider media that can get as close to the point of sale as possible whether that’s in-store or online.

When moving from Like It to Love It, the brand usually moves from a product focus to a higher order and one that talks to the experiences. How media can help is to get consumers to wear the brand as a badge or honor or sharing their experiences. Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest can help consumers tell of their experience or even showcase the consumers love for the brand.  Setting up a Listening Forum helps give consumers a voice in how their brand shows up.  Brands that set up a conversation with their consumers such as Whole Foods who engage on Twitter or TD Bank who set up an ongoing dialogue with consumers.

Moving to the Beloved Brand stage requires a bit of magic. Find a mechanism to surprise and delight the consumers that already love you, create an exclusivity club so consumers can feel they are part of the brand at the highest levels. The effort in both of these areas can help your most loyal consumers to influence others into using the brand. At the Beloved stage, you need to continually improve to avoid going back down the love curve, and that means managing every part of the consumer buying system. Close leaks before the consumer even know they are leaks.

A generation ago, brands had firm control over the message and the media, helping to manage their buying system by themselves.  However, with social media, managing the brand becomes even more complicated because consumers are a medium themselves.  While word of mouth has always been there, it’s normally been Mother to Daughter, Father to Son or friend to friend. Now we rely on complete strangers to make our decisions. It’s a bit like playing zone defense instead of man-to-man defense–it can feel a bit looser for Brand Leaders to manage. But in reality, it makes it even more important to know and articulate your positioning, messaging and media choices that make sense. If you engage to listen to your consumers, you have to act on their input and advice. Otherwise, they’ll stop being engaged.

Before seeing a media plan, I’d encourage to understand where your sits on the Brand Love Curve, dig into your Brand Funnel using it to see strengths and to map out the leaks.  Take that knowledge into the Consumer Buying System so that you are choosing the media options that will help drive stronger growth for your brand. The media choices are all about focus and return on resources–both dollars and effort.  Find the focal point that enables your brand to find more growth.

Use your Media Strategy to force choices to ensure Return and Growth for your brand.

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

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

Beloved Brands Book

I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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

  • How to think strategically
  • Write a brand positioning statement
  • Come up with a brand idea
  • Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  • Write an inspiring creative brief
  • Make decisions on marketing execution
  • Conduct a deep-dive business review
  • Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe  

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

At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a marketing plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.

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

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

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

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A Brand Leader’s View of Social Media

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There’s been lots of talk lately about how much marketing and brand management has changed.  I’m not sure it’s changed at all.  As Brand Leaders, we still need to start with the consumer, drive for insights, match up their need states to your brand’s offering and then create a competitive offering that you can own so that no else can.  A great brand has to be either better, different or cheaper.   That still holds true, and we still aren’t at the media decision.

Yes, the media options have changed, but  there is so much more to running a brand than just the media options.  The average consumer now sees 6,000 ads per day, and likely only engages and acts on a few each day.  Not just social media, but every little space to and from work each day.  Media is ubiquitous, making it even more important to choose a media plan that makes sense for your brand.  Before we get into the role of social media for brands, let’s review where Media options fit into the Brand Planning process.   Here’s the fastest 130 word summary of the planning process.

  • We have some long-term thoughts on where the brand can go and the special assignment to get us on our way.   And that helps shape the things we want to achieve with our brand.  To get started, the brand has different options for how to get there
  • We try to find a slice of the population to get them to take an action that makes our brand bigger.   We then find out what to say and how to talk to them to trigger that action we need to re-enforce why we can do it and others can’t.
  • We then create the most motivating stimulus to get them to take action and put it in part of their life where they are most likely to hear it and act on it.

So the media choice is all about finding a part of the Target Market’s life where they are most likely to hear the message and act on it.   As I’ve always looked at media plans from the vantage of the Brand Leader, I’ve always looked at a balance of strategy, media efficiency, the link in with the creative and finally, the mood of the consumer at the time of the media exposure.  So with TV, while day parts matter to the efficiency, the day of the week also matters to the mind and mood of the consumer.  How receptive will they be to your message at the time of exposure?  When I worked on serious healthcare brands that wanted to deliver serious news about the brand, we wanted to own Sunday nights when people’s brains were working full-speed as they get ready for work.  But we would avoid Thursday night when we knew they were thinking about the weekend.  When I worked in confectionery, the reverse was true, as we wanted to own the weekend slots.

So as we look at Social Media and where is their mood and emotional state as they engage certain social media options?   I started with the 8 emotional need states that Hotspex as mapped out:

  1. I seek knowledge
  2. I want to be in control
  3. I want to be myself
  4. I’d like to be comfortable
  5. I feel liked
  6. I want to be noticed
  7. I want to feel free
  8. I feel optimistic

I then mapped out the consumer’s mood and emotional state while they are using the various social media tools.

For instance, when the consumer is seeking knowledge, they might use google, slideshare, wikipedia, TD Ameritrade or Harvard Business Review, depending on what knowledge they seek.   But when they in the mood to be noticed or liked, the same consumer might then choose Facebook, foursquare, meebo, twitter or even Pinterest to express their personality on-line and connect with friends.  The same consumer seeks out various social media tools to fuel their emotional needs at different points of the day. I know at lunch, I sneak away from the seriousness of work and read gossip on People.com or check for sports trades on ESPN.

From a Brand Leaders view, as you try to win with consumers,the first thing to do is  understand where your brand stands emotionally with consumers.   Using the Brand Love Curve, most brands start off at Indifferent, then move to Like It, then to Love It and finally to becoming a Beloved Brand.   Be honest in your evaluation, use data to support your view, because it impacts the mood and emotional feelings of your consumer about your brand.  For instance, at the Indifferent stage, where consumers have little or no opinion, I’d recommend using display ads that create awareness and in places that match up to your brand’s main strategy, positioning and messaging.  You might not want to create a Facebook page that only 17 people like–which re-enforces that consumers are indifferent to your brand.  Last month, I saw a rock quarry with a sign that says “Like Us on Facebook”.  That’s crazy!   Conversely, if you are a Beloved Brand, it becomes more about opinion and less about the pure facts.  Engage on Facebook and twitter to continue the conversation and fuel the love of your consumers, use your popularity in those mediums to influence the feeling of a movement and popularity for your brand.

Whenever I talk to Social Media experts, they rarely talk about anything that involves the consumer.  When I ask about the consumer, they blow me off, as though I don’t really understand Social Media and how powerful it will be in the future.  They tell me I’m old school.   But, regardless, I keep asking about the consumer because that’s what old school marketers are told to do.  I need to know how my consumers interact with the medium because I need to match up the behaviour of my target so that I can get my message to them in a way that matches up with my strategic needs–whether that’s connected to the stage of my brand, any strengths and weaknesses in my brand funnel or a large opportunity in the market that plays into my brand’s natural strengths.  Wait a second, that’s the same thing that great marketers have been doing since the 1920s. So while the execution of media has dramatically changed with the internet, the strategic thinking of really good marketers has not.

So next time you sit with a media expert, as they present ideas ask

  • How does my target consumer use this medium?
  • What is their mood and emotional state when they use that medium?
  • How receptive will they be with my brand’s strategy, positioning and message when they are engaged with that medium?

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands. I do executive training and coaching of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc. and can help you find the love for your brand. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc, visithttps://beloved-brands.com/inc/

How to drive profits through your brand

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The more loved the brand, the more powerful the brand and in turn the higher growth and profit it can generate.

A beloved brand can use the connection with their consumers as a source of power. The tighter the connection to consumers, the more loved the brand. As a brand becomes more loved, it becomes more powerful, and is able to wield that power onto all aspects of the market. A Beloved Brand can entice consumers to keep coming back, it can fight off competitors to win with key targets, it can generate earned media easier, it can challenge suppliers to come back with lower costs and it leverage its positional power to gain preferential treatment with real estate owners, government or tour operators. Even employees would rather work for a powerful beloved brand than an indifferent brand.

Brands move along a “LOVE CURVE” going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It, and then they’ll make it their Brand For Life. The farther along the curve, the more connected to the brand.

The “Brand Love Curve” can be linked to the Brand Funnel which becomes the underlying scoreboard. You can use the funnel to map out the buying process for the consumer, identifying both strategy and tactics to move them along the funnel towards being more loved. Used properly, the Power of the Brand can help drive the P&L with four important levers: driving increased price, lowering costs, increasing share, creating new markets. As a result, a powerful connected brand is much more efficient. And that efficiency can leverage the P&L to invest back in the brand’s connectivity and drive Profit and over the long run create value for the Brand.

As a Brand Leader looks to how to drive their Brand through the P&L, here are the four ways the Brand Leader can drive profits:

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1. Using price as a weapon to drive Brand Value. It can be a price change, up or down, or it could be trying to get consumers to trade up or down.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. It’s likely your Competitors will (over) react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.

  • Trading Up: If you have In a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Does your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading Down: Risky, but you see unserved market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash. There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus, can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. Can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what does it do your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

2. Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the potential selling costs.

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers, you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere. Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.

  • Selling Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Selling Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

3. Externally, the Share and volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or get current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.

  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “life saving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

4. Increase the Size of the Market by Finding New Users or Creating New Uses.

  • Find New Users: When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.
  • Create New Uses: Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

Beloved Brands drive strong sales growth, which helps the P&L work harder and more efficiently.

  1. Higher volume helps you exert pressure on costs. That could be supply costs, operations costs, distribution over even media costs.
  2. Get More for Less From the Trade. You can begin exerting power over the sales channels to your advantage–trimming variable trade costs with retailers while demanding more display, prime real estate, coop advertising and more control over pricing. ROI on trade programs.
  3. Smarter More Efficient Management: manage your inventories, meet customer expectations, control pricing and drive cheaper costs.
  4. Growth means you start outgrowing any fixed costs. This includes start-up costs, sales force, product plants or R&D costs.
  5. Lower Cost of Capital: More certainty means lower risk and you can re-invest, knowing the ROI will be quicker and stronger.

You should be looking at your business through the lens of your brand. Yes, the brand promise sets up how the external community views your brand whether that’s consumers, customers or key influencers. It’s the consistency in delivering the promise that connects consumers with your brand, both emotionally and rationally, letting it become a part of their lives. But equally so, brand becomes an internal beacon to help guide behaviour, decisions, action, structure and the formation of a culture. You should drive your growth and profitability through your brand, with a focus on driving share, enhancing price while managing costs and finding new markets.

Most marketers will tell you that branding is about positioning. I think positioning is a means to driving growth and making money.

 

To view a copy of How to drive Profits into your Brand, click below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

 

Positioning 2016.112

Target Market: Why not just target everyone?

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“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.  You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it”                                                      

Steve p. Jobs

I once had a Brand Leader tell me that their target was “18-65, new potential customers, current customers and employees”.  My response was “you’ve left out tourists and prisoners?”  It took me another hour to talk them into potentially focusing their limited investment on a group of people who might be most likely to buy their product. That Brand Leader was a Bank selling first time mortgages.  While there could be an 18-year-old or a 64½ year old that might be buying a mortgage for the first time, it’s actually not likely.  In fact 18-65 is the opposite of a target.  I did manage to talk them into a 28-33 year old target, which gave us the chance to build insights about all the life-changes these consumers were going through (careers, babies, need for more space) that allowed us to develop Advertising Creative around moments that the consumer goes through and we focused the media in places where the 28-33 year olds would most likely see our ads. That would have been missed with the broader 18-65 target range–we would have spread our dollars so thin that no one would have seen it, and we would have spread our message so broadly that no one would have felt any connection to it.

A good brand strategy has four key elements: 

  1. FOCUS all your energy and investment to a particular strategic focal point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Make tough choices and choose to be loved by the few rather than tolerated by the many.
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Without the early win, you’ll likely seek out some new strategy even a sub-optimal one. Or someone in management will say “it’s not working”. You don’t want either of those–so the early win helps keep people moving towards the big win.
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  This is where strategy provides that return on Effort–you get more than the effort you are putting into it.
  4. Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger. It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Since Every brand has limited resources—marketing dollars, people resources to carry out programs and any share in the market, whether that’s share of voice, shelf, display, recommendations–you never want to waste these resources by spreading them so thinly on everyone.  When you turn to your brand P&L, your CEO and finance people will expect you to deliver an appropriate ROI, or that investment will start to get smaller because they’ll give your dollars to someone else that can deliver a higher ROI.  And yet, even with that, you still refuse to focus? If you had to lift up a car, would you rather 8 football players each standing 3 feet apart or a simple $89 car jack. I’d take the jack because lifting up at a key focal point gives you an early win as you start to watch that car start moving up, the leverage point of the jack holds that 3000-pound car in the air so you can change your tire without even breaking a sweat (the gateway) and you can now drive away. Those poor football players would begin shaking after a few minutes.

Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. Be honest in assessing your brand’s assets and then match those assets up to who is most likely to be motivated enough to buy your brand. That’s when you start to define the target, and then take your resources and do your best to get them to buy.

Who is the Consumer Target and What do they want?

Try to balance the target based on demographics (age, sex, income) and psychographics (behaviours, attitudes and values). Yes, people criticize relying on demographics, but when you go to market, traditional media usually sells their media based on demographics (e.g. TV target is 18-34 years old).  With new media, whether that’s search, display or social media it allows you to focus more on psychographics and match up to whats most important to the consumer. In terms of the creative, I always challenge people to narrow the target down to a 5 year range (eg. 28-33 years old) to give the creative the appropriate tone and feel. For every part of the buying system connected to your brand, take a walk in the shoes of the person who is paying their hard-earned money for the brand you offer, whether that’s a customer, consumer, purchaser, contractor or medical professional. I always think of my consumer as the “most selfish animal on the planet” just to ensure I’m doing the most I can to satisfy that selfishness. After all, the selfishness is well deserved, since they have money spend. Understand and meet those needs.

What do they want?
Consumers don’t care what you can do, until you care about what they need. 
They will only pay you money, if you give them something. That sounds simple. But, keep in mind they will pay you even more money if you give them what they need. And they’ll start to do that over and over again if they get even more from your brand. That means moving your brand from just features up to benefits and all the way up to emotional benefits. Ask consumers what they want. Listen. Don’t start with what you’re selling.   Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself over and over again “so what do I get from that” until you’ve come up with something powerful. Speak in terms of benefit, not features.

And remember, no one ever really wanted a quarter-inch drill; they just needed a quarter-inch hole.  Sell the hole, not the drill. 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

Positioning 2016.112

 

 

 

How to write a Monthly Brand Report that measures performance

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

Monthly ReportIn a world of big data and analytics, every brand should have a monthly report to track how the brand is doing through the course of the year. While these reports can feel tedious to write, the 3-4 hours it takes to dig in is a good investment in discipline, knowledge as well as maintaining that touch-feel of managing the brand.

The report serves as a guide for all those across the company to stay on track with the annual plan everyone is committed to delivering. It gives senior management awareness of the grass-root issues, it enables course correction decisions at the senior levels, it exposes weakness and risk. It should carry action statements within the document that serves as a mini-version of the brand plan. And finally, it gives everyone a sense that the brand team has full control of what’s happening on delivering the plan.

Consumption Section

The monthly report should answer the following CONSUMPTION questions:

  1. What’s the one-line story that captures what’s happening on the brand? This is your elevator speech for the CEO.
  2. What’s the dollar, tonnage or unit share, on a 4-week, 12 -week and YTD basis? Focus on the share that the company uses–it can vary. Having all 3-time breaks allows people to see the trends.
  3. How’s the brand doing vs year ago, prior periods, vs the category or vs plan for the year? Speak in terms of both % and share point changes. Theory of relativity allows you to tell the story better.
  4. What’s the competition doing? Trends in the consumption, tracking results related to their brand funnel or potential action that’s rumored in the marketplace.
  5. What are the top 3 drivers of the brand for the month or year? It can be a combination of consumption trends (sku, regions, channel, account, flavor etc), beneath the surface Brand Funnel scores, program results that are contributing to share, competitive moves. Explain how you’re going to continue these going forward.
  6. What are the 3 inhibitors and what are you doing about it? These are things that are holding back the brand. Expose weaknesses you’re seeing in the programs, potential distribution gaps, competitive moves that are beating you, changes in consumer behavior etc. Explain what you plan to do about it, giving the assurance that you are running the brand.

 

Sales section

The monthly report should answer the following SHIPMENT questions:

  1. What’s the one-line story that captures what’s happening on the brand? This might be the story that you know you could back up when confronted by the VP of sales in the same elevator. If it’s bad news, they will have to answer to the CEO.
  2. What’s the overall sales for the month, the quarter and how will it impact the year-end call? Senior management might adjust their own forecast or may change their short-term investment stance based on that performance.
  3. How are the sales by key account, by skus or by regions? Track on both the month and on a YTD basis. This highlights the strength and exposes weakness.
  4. What are the top 3 drivers of the brand for the month or year? You want to highlight the accounts, skus or regions that are showing the most growth, explain why and tell what you’re going to do to keep these going.
  5. What are the 3 inhibitors and what are you doing about it? These are things that are holding back the brand. While the sales numbers are on the chart, start to explain the top line of what’s happening. Connect with the Account lead, ensuring they buy into the statement you’re about to put. This gives you a chance to stay connected to what’s happening on each account. If your account people aren’t great at getting back to you, saying “I’m about to write a monthly report for the President and I want to know what’s going on at your account”. They’ll get back to you. Also, you need answers in the report to show that you are trying to get as much out of the brand as you can. Both short and long-term.

Monthly Report

Digging in on the data 

As you are analyzing the mounds of data in front of you, you want to dig in everywhere that you can.

  • Start at the 4-week share for the brand overall, compare it to the 12-week, then the 52-week and see the major trend. This is the start of the story. Dig deeper on regions, channels, and skus, figuring out the relative differences you start to see–either on the overall share basis (development index) or on the overall growth rate. Do the same with major competitors. That should give you the basis of your 4-week story and you can begin the document.
  • You next want to focus on the performance for the overall year. With both consumption and share, you want to give management a good forecast on what you think will happen. This can be in consultation with sales and your demand teams. The story has to be consistently told and shared with the senior leaders. If they sense a disconnect, it will look bad on you.
  • If you have good tracking studies, dig in on program tracking (advertising, sampling, in-store, professional recommendations etc) any brand funnel tracking (awareness, trial, repeat, U&A) that can support what’s happening on the consumption and shipments.
  • Drivers and Inhibitors are things that are happening in the market, not things that could happen. Ideally, they should match up to the Annual Brand Plan and the objectives of the brand. Think of these monthly reports like 1/12th of your brand plan–not only highlighting how the brand is doing, but what you are willing to do about it.
  • Keep it all on one page, forcing your writing style to be more direct. A senior leader should be able to digest it in 10 minutes.

Writing the report

When I was an Assistant Brand Manager, I dreaded having to do the Monthly Report. It was a chore that cut into my life. It took all day to find the data. Even all night. I always wondered if anyone would ever read my report. And, I was awful on my first few attempts. I kept thinking if I can just get promoted to Brand Manager, I will no longer have to ever write a Monthly Report ever again. After a year, I became a master of the report. When I did get promoted to Brand Manager, I re-wrote it for my boss. 

And when I made it up to the VP level, I read everyone’s report in detail, even sending back inquiry questions for each of the 15 brands I had under me. I started to do my own version of the report for the regional President. I dug in the same way I had at the junior levels and crafted the story. Not only did it project a sense of control over my business, it allowed me to sleep better because I knew what was going on with my business. I actually was in control.

I always believe, “You run the brand. Don’t let the brand run you.”

When we get out of control, the brand starts to run us. It takes over.

Here’s our training workshop we run on creating a business review for your brand:

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

Beloved Brands Book

I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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

  • How to think strategically
  • Write a brand positioning statement
  • Come up with a brand idea
  • Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  • Write an inspiring creative brief
  • Make decisions on marketing execution
  • Conduct a deep-dive business review
  • Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe  

We are also on Apple Books, which you can click here to order: https://lnkd.in/e6UFisF

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

At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a marketing plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.

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

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

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

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

Graham Robertson signature

 

8 necessary leadership behaviors to being a great Brand Leader

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

No matter what stage you are in your marketing career, here are eight behaviours that may challenge you to be a great marketer.  Whether you’re in a junior or senior role, my challenge for you is to find more balances within your leadership style.  Avoid getting stuck into a rut by saying “this is how I do it, like me or hate me, but I can’t really change who I am”.   You have to be constantly changing and evolving.   Find your balance of strategy and execution, being analytical versus being creative.  Try to be both.  Bring in your instincts to your well thought plans and don’t always opt for the usual answers but sometimes choose the path that may feel a bit of riskier move.  Revel in ambiguity for a bit longer and see the answer comes to you.  Putting the consumer first allows you to meet their needs and find ways to create a tighter bond with them which will set you up to win in the market.  Listen first, talk second.  Leadership implies follower-ship and if you’re always talking first, I’d challenge you to look behind and see if anyone is following you.

The 8 Behaviors of a Great Brand Leader

  1. Be Consumer Focused:  Everything Starts and Ends With the Consumer in Mind.  Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and think like them.  Steve Jobs said he never needed research, but he must have been amazing at listening, observing and anticipating how the consumer would react.  I’d still recommend you do research, but go beyond the statistics of the research and learn how your consumer thinks.  Whenever I go to focus groups, I watch their faces.  And when the research results come back you always have to ask “so now what do we do”.  The research helps you, but never gives you the exact answer.  Match up the needs of the consumer to your brand assets to figure out your ideal brand positioning.  The best marketers represent the consumer to the brand, NOT the brand to the consumer.  I always believe that consumers are selfish and deservedly so because they have money to spend.  As a consumer, I don’t care what you do until you care about what I need.  Focus on them, not on you.
  2. Follow Your Instincts:  Gut Feel of Marketing:  Listen to your inner thoughts, they are in there.   Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it”.  The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away.  You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it.  You get scared because you’re worried about getting promoted and want to do the ‘right thing’.  But your gut is telling you it’s just not right.  My rule is simple:  if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand.  The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad”.  If you blame your agency or team after the fact, I have a word for people like you:  “useless”.
  3. Revel in Ambiguity:  Be Patient with Ideas.  Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly.  Watch the signals you send that may suck the creativity out of your team.   If you become too predictable to your team, then your work in the market will also become predictable.  Ambiguity and time pressure usually work against each other.  Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline.  Always push for great.  What I have found is the longer I can stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone” the better the ideas get whether it’s the time pressure that forces our thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for our best idea, I always say, the longer I can hold my breath, the better the work gets.
  4. Be Organized:  You Run the Brand, Don’t Let the Brand Run You: Be thoroughly organized, well planned and know the pulse of your business.  Every six months, I would find a quiet time to answer five key questions that would help me stay aware: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be?  4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we have to do to get started?   In an odd way, the more planning you do, the more agile you’ll be, because you’ll know when it’s ok to “go off plan”  Stay in Control:  Hit the Deadlines, don’t give the appearance that you’re not in control. We have enough to do, that things will just stockpile on each other.  Know Your Business and don’t get caught off-guard.  Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.  Enjoy doing the monthly report because it makes you the most knowledgeable about the brand.   Stay conceptual; avoid getting stuck in the pennies or decimals.Process should enable us, not hinder us:  A good process can force your thinking towards a solution.  If it restricts your thinking, it’s not a good process.  But if it means, you free up your time for strategic thinking, instead of format thinking, we’ll move much faster.
  5. Manage your Boss:  Be the Brand Leader not the Follower The more you keep your boss informed the more rope they may give you.   If they don’t know what you’re doing, they may clamp down and micro-manage you. . Ensure a policy of open communication with no surprises:  Make sure you keep your team informed and involved.  Keep senior management informed.  You must be the champion of the brand.  The best ideas are those that erupt out from the brand team–not from a top down perspective.  You have to be a self-starter that pushes your idea through the system, in the face of resistance or doubt.  And you will meet resistance from so many people in the system.  All the best work I ever did met a large degree of resistance.  You have to anticipate this and work through it.  One subtlety to ownership is your tone. When you don’t know something, speak in an “asking way” and openly seek out the wisdom and advice of your agency, your manager or your peers.  Put your ego aside and listen.  But equally, when you do know the answer, speak in a “telling way” that gets others to follow you, including senior management.
  6. Speed, Simplicity and Self Confidence:  a) Speed:  We don’t do things fast for the sake of it; we do things fast so we can take advantage of opportunities that have a window.  If you recognize an opportunity, realize that others are also recognizing the same opportunity.  So speed to market can enable you to win before they get there.  Also, doing things fast does not mean sloppy.  b) Simplicity: I’ve always said, “If you have a complex answer to something, odds are you are wrong”.  Keep it simple enough to explain, and so that the people who need to execute our ideas can really execute them.  c) Self Confidence:  As the brand leader, speak your mind.  After all, we are all just walking opinions.  Find a way within your leadership style to engage your team, agency or your boss in a debate to get to better answers.
  7. Actively Listen: As a brand leader, you should be constantly listening, not trying to be the smartest person in the room.  When you tell an agency or employee what to do, there is only one answer you’ll hear:  YES and the conversation is over.  But when you ask an agency or employee, you might hear YES, NO or MAYBE and the conversation is just beginning.   You’ll also find that by listening, you can learn from all the other disciplines–finance, sales, production, R&D and HR.
  8. Focus on the People and the Results will come: The formula is simple:  the better the people, the better the work and in turn the better the results.  You should have a regular review of the talent with your directors.  I’d encourage you to ensure there’s a systemic way to get feedback to everyone on the team, preferably on a quarterly basis.  Waiting for the annual review is way too late and almost negligent as a leader.  Your people have the potential to grow with feedback.   But without feedback, they’ll be confused and even frustrated.  You should invest in training and development.  Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom to challenge their thinking and give them added skills to be better in their jobs.  Marketing fundamentals matter.  And the classic fundamentals are falling, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief or judging great advertising.  People are NOT getting the same development they did in prior generations.  Investing in training, not only makes them better, but it is also motivating for them to know that you are investing in them.  And that helps drive retention and commitment into producing great work and driving results.  Use every moment as a potential teaching moment for helping your team get better.

Everyone has a gap against one or more of these leadership areas.  No one is perfect.  The real question is what are you willing to do to counter that gap.  

To read more about how you can manage your career, follow the story below (which can be downloaded and printed)

 

Positioning 2016.112

 

How to run a brand with the Brand Leader front and center

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers


People outside of marketing tend to think marketing is rather easy.
It’s just a bunch of TV ads, sell sheets, twitter accounts, new products and spending endless money without any ROI or responsibility.  People debate the value of marketing. During a downturn, it is the first thing that gets cut. Some companies have even begun separating product from brand–what a mistake. The two have to be one, not two. Other companies are sales led, selling what they have, with marketing following what sales needs.  And there’s even recent debate going on that the CEO should drive the brand. The CEO should focus on being the CEO. Why hire talented, high-priced marketers if you’re just going to over-rule them and micro-manage the brand. Shouldn’t the CEO stick to doing their own job, driving the results for the shareholders and inspiring greatness for everyone in the company.

Instead of driving marketing down, it is time to build Brand Management back up and placing them front and centre within your organization. Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA.  The Brand DNA (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s Safety, while BMW might be Performance and Mercedes is Luxury. The tool I use to determine a Brand’s DNA revolves around the Brand’s personality, the products and services the brand provides, the internal beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and consumer views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s DNA with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.

Slide1

The Brand DNA should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.  

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

  • The planning area should help to frame the Brand Plan which is a combination of a one year Brand Plan and a 3-5 year strategic plan. The Vision and Mission provide the future direction, objectives align to the Business needs and Brand Funnel objectives and Strategies and Tactics help to drive towards those objectives.  Included as well should be a Calendar and Budgets. For a tutorial on how to write a Brand Plan, click on the following link:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  • From the DNA, map out a positioning statement that can help frame the Marketing Communications plan. That includes the creative big idea, the media mix, earned media (PR, Events) social media, key influencers (e.g. Doctors or Contractors or Bloggers).  As well, the positioning frames the identity which could include logo, language, look and feel and brand book. My hope is that you don’t change this very often. Looking at the complexity of the Brand Management system outlined here, it baffles me that Brands facing tough times reach for changing their logo so quickly when so many other factors could be driving the issues. For a tutorial on writing Creative Briefs, click on:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief
  • The Go-To-Market plan should also feed off the Brand DNA and come out of the Brand Plan. The Distribution strategy and needs should match up to the needs of the brand, including decisions around Key Account focus, pricing, sku mix, promotion and the possible role of new products. In a fast-moving category like cereal or gum, or a high technology driving category like computers, phones or TVs, both share a high need for product innovation. For brands that require in store selling, you should also include the In-store experience which could be demonstration, signage or trial as well as possible selling messages for sales people on the floor of the distribution channel. These messages should feed directly from the brand messages.
  • The Customer Value Proposition outlines the relationship of the consumer needs to the Benefits offered by the Brand. First, map out the 2-3 consumer insights that epitomize the needs of your consumer target. When you list out the main features that you can offer, you’ll start to begin to match up these features into a zone where you see benefits. With each feature, put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and say “so what do I get” and push yourself until the benefits come alive.  Remember, your consumer doesn’t care what you do until you begin caring what they need.  Try to find a balance of rational (thinking) and emotional (feeling) benefits and provide those to everyone that might touch the brand. Within this area, you should track insights, target segments, use a brand review to find the changes within the consumer. The brand funnel provides a great tool for measuring brand health with Awareness, Consideration, Trial, Purchase, Repeat and Loyalty. To me, it’s like keeping track of your internal health such as Blood Pressure or Cholesterol scores.
  • The R&D plan should feed off the Brand DNA and develop products that match the brand.  Too many times, R&D is in their own world, trying to invent things that have nothing to do with where the brand sits.  They expect marketing to be able to sell their inventions.  Even in a technology driven business, Apple is driven first by the consumer.  Steve Jobs really understood that you don’t just sell what you have.
  • Brand also drives the Culture and the DNA should provide a beacon for the People to follow.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.    Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are cutting back on training.   Remember that better people produce better work that drives better results.   Keep investing in your people and the business results will come.  Empower your people to get the most from their ideas.  Leverage values, inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.
  • Brand drives the Business Results.  Slide1 The more loved a brand, the more tightly the connection it has with their consumers.  This connection becomes a source of power that the brand can wield in the market to drive higher growth rate and profitability.   The Brand Leader is responsible for driving the P&L, driving sales and share, managing the forecast and costs for an efficiently run brand.  The Brand Leader must figure out the levers of the P&L it can use to drive more profits.  For a tutorial on driving profits through your brand, click on:  How to Drive Profits through Your Brand

Putting the Brand Leader front and centre will allow you to leverage the Brand DNA into each of the areas of your business, whether that’s marketing, sales, R&D, finance or human resources.  Brand should be at the centre of this hub, with each area looking to the Brand DNA as a beacon of how they can do their job most effectively in helping the brand drive long-term growth and profitability.

To read more on this subject, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

Positioning 2016.112

 

How to build a smart brand plan everyone can follow

Posted on 25 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

A smart brand plan gets everyone in your organization on the same page. Everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics. In this article, I will show you all the brand plan definitions and provide brand plan examples and brand plan templates.

 

A plan should allocate your limited resources

A smart brand plan makes choices on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to drive the biggest return. The plan gains approval from senior management around spending, strategies, tactics, goals, and projects. The plan aligns, steers and inspires all functional areas of the organization including marketing, sales, finance, supply chain, product development, human resources and any outside agencies. And lastly, the Brand Plan even helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, to stay focused on delivering on what they said they would deliver.

 

 

Five questions to set up your rough draft of your Brand Plan

An effective Brand Plan answers where are we, why are we here, where could we be, how can we get there and what do we need to do. Once you answer these 5 strategic questions, you will see that you have your analysis, key issues, vision, goals strategies, execution, and measurement. 

 

 

While there is a lot of work with our planning process, you will end up with a Brand Plan on ONE PAGE. Here is a brand plan example.

 

Start with a rough draft outline

Before you start in on working on the brand plan, I recommend that you write 2-3 bullet points for each of the five strategic questions. This provides an outline to ensure the overall flow of the plan. Below is our recommended strategic worksheet with a brand plan example using Gray’s Cookies to help:

The elements of the brand plan

Following our Brand Plan we recommend building your plan around the following elements of the plan:

  1. Situation Analysis
  2. Key Issues
  3. Vision/Purpose/Goals
  4. Strategies
  5. Execute
  6. Measure
 

Situational Analysis

Start the planning process with a deep-dive business review that answers “where are we”, by looking at everything connected to the business including the category, consumer, competitors, channels and the brand.
 
From the deep-dive business review, summarize what is driving the business, what’s holding it back and then lay out the risks and untapped opportunities. Try to focus on the top 3-4 points for each box below:

Brand Vision

When I see brand teams struggling, they usually lack a vision. As Yogi Berra once said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”. The vision answers “where could we be” and becomes a beacon for everyone working on the brand. It is the one that defines your success. If you achieved it, everyone would feel proud.

We like to ask brand leaders: “if you woke up ten years from now and you were in a great mood because of what was happening on your business, what are the 2-3 things you would have achieved”. This gives you a straw dog vision, framed as a very large goal. We then provide some examples of the best-in-class vision statements to see if sparks some creativity in writing a final vision statement.

A good vision should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.

It should be motivating and enticing to stretch your mind while getting everyone focused. Ideally, it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable). It is perfectly fine to embed a financial ($x) or share position (#1) element into it as long as it is important for framing the vision. The vision should easy for everyone to understand and rally around. It should stand at least 5-10 years or more. It should be a balance of aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement)

A brand vision is not a positioning statement or a strategic statement. These both come later in the plan. Try to be single-minded in the statement. You do not need to include everything. Make sure you haven’t achieved it already.

Key Issues

One tool we recommend with finding the key issues is to ask 4 questions that determine “why are you here”:

  1. What is your current COMPETITIVE position?
  2. What is the CORE STRENGTH your brand can win on?
  3. How tightly CONNECTED is your consumer to your brand?
  4. What is the current business SITUATION your brand faces?

Combine the deep dive analysis with the answers to these 4 questions and you will have a good start on your competitive, brand, consumer and situational issues.

Strategies

The strategy is always about “how to get there”. At the strategic level, you have to make choices. When Marketers come to a decision point that requires focus, too many try to justify a way to do both. You have to decide. The best strategic marketers never divide and conquer. They make choices that help to focus and conquer. Marketers always face limited resources in terms of dollars, time, people and partnerships. They have to apply those limited resources against unlimited choices in a target market, brand positioning, strategic options, and activities. The best Marketers are able to limit the options through decision-making helps to match up to the limited resources.

The Brand Love Curve can help pick your strategy

The Brand Love Curve guides your strategy. We have created a hypothetical “Brand Love Curve” to assess how tightly connected brands are with their consumers. Brands move along the curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved with consumers becoming outspoken fans, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings and thinking is replaced with feelings. Brands use their connection with consumers to become more powerful against the very consumers who love them, against the channels who carry them and against the competitors trying to beat them. With that added power, brands gain more profit through price, cost, share and market size.

Where you sit on the Brand Love Curve influences your next major strategic move.

At the Indifferent stage, focus on establishing your brand in the consumer’s mind. You have to create an opinion. At the Like It stage, consumers see you as a rational choice. There needs to be strategic work to separate your brand from the pack to generate a following. For the Love It stage, the focus should be on tugging at the heart-strings of your consumers to drive a deeper connection with those who love you. And, at the Beloved stage, the strategy has to continue the magic of the brand and get your loyalists to speak on the brand’s behalf. Mobilize brand fans as advocates.

Use the Brand Love Curve to focus your activies. While you will come up with your own unique strategies, we have used the Brand Love Curve to map out 20 core activities to begin playing with.

Don’t try to do two things at once

The biggest strategic flaw of most brand plans is trying to drive penetration and usage frequency at the same time. This is a classic case of trying to get away with doing two things instead of picking just one. Look at how different these two options really are and you will see the drain on the resources you will experience by trying to do both.

A penetration strategy gets someone with very little experience with your brand to likely consider dropping their current brand to try you once and see if they like it. A usage frequency strategy gets someone who knows your brand to change their behavior in relation to your brand, either changing their current life routine or substituting your brand into a higher share of the occasions. By doing both, you will be targeting two types of consumers at the same time, you will have two main messages and you will divide your resources against two groups of activities that have very little synergy. If you are really strategic, pick one, not two.

As we wrote our key issues in question format, then the strategy becomes the answer. Look how they match up. This brand plan example uses Gray’s Cookies, and this type of brand plan format can make a great brand plan template for you to lay out your strategies.

Tactics and Execution

“What do we need to do to get there” matches up marketing execution activity to the brand strategy, looking at communicating the brand story, managing the consumer towards the purchase moment, launching new product innovation and delivering the brand experience. We use our Big Idea to drive each of these key areas of the brand. To read more, click on this link:

How to use a brand Idea to capture the consumer’s mind and heart

Marketing Execution has to make your brand stronger. It has to create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand, it establishes your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning and it influences consumers to alter their behavior to think, feel or act, making the brand more powerfully connected, eventually leading to higher sales, share, and profit.

Start with a Consumer Buying System that can match your brand’s Marketing execution to where your consumer stands with your brand.

Focus your marketing activities by prioritizing on return on investment and effort (ROI and ROE). For each strategy, you want to find the “Big Easy”. Start by putting all your ideas on to post it notes, then map each idea onto the grid as to whether they will have a BIG versus the SMALL impact on the business, and whether they are EASY versus DIFFICULT. The top ideas will be in the BIG EASY top right corner. The goal of this activity is to narrow your focus to the best 3 activities.

Bringing the Plan together

The power of 3’s: As we said earlier, the plan is about making decisions. We recommend that you narrow your effort down to 3 strategies and then 3 tactics for each strategy. That means 9 core projects for each brand to focus their resources on during the year. Compare the subtle difference that 5 strategies with 5 tactics for each strategy explodes into 25 projects that might cripple your brand’s resources. By doing less number, you will be focusing your limited resources on making each project has a big impact. When your team lacks time to do everything with full passion, they run the risk of turning out OK work that fails to connect with your consumers.

Avoid misfits within your brand plan

When you write a plan, think of it like conducting an orchestra. There are a lot of moving parts and, if you do not stay organized, the plan may begin to look like many scattered thoughts. When your plan is disjointed or looks like a collection of disconnected ideas, it will confuse and meet resistance, which are the opposite desires for why you create a plan. A smart brand plan should have a consistent flow in the writing as you move from the vision through to execution. Like an orchestra playing in perfect harmony, everyone is playing the same song. 

When you write something that does not fit, it tends to stand out like, “a tuba player playing their own song.” When I managed a marketing team, I came up with this analogy and started to call plan misfits “tubas.” 

From my experience, senior leaders are skilled at finding “tubas,” which can derail your presentation, as the debate becomes more about why the “tuba” is there and less about the bigger aspects of your plan. Go “tuba hunting” by reading through your brand plan and eliminating the “tubas” before your management finds them.

The worst “tubas” are those elements of the plan that seems to ‘die a quick death’ in the document or they ‘come from out of nowhere’ with no analytical setup. 

 

The two worst types of “tubas”

  1. A reasonable idea is presented early on and dies a quick death never to be seen again in the plan. If, early on in your plan, you say part of your brand vision or purpose is “to be the disruptive leader in innovation,” then why is there no innovation strategy, innovation process or new products for the next four years? Sure, your vision sounds catchy. However, it appears to be a misfit “tuba” with very little to do with the rest of your plan.
  2. A creative tactical idea presented late in the plan seems to come out of nowhere. If the focus of your plan for a new product launch is to drive early trial, then why is there a significant investment in your tactical execution plan to create a VIP club for high-frequency users? If there is no analytical set-up of an opportunity or strategic set-up, then a tactic that comes out of nowhere late in the plan is a “tuba.” It risks causing conflict or confusion. 
 

Brand plan definitions of key terms

Vision: 

The vision should answer the question, “Where could we be?” Put a stake in the ground that describes an ideal state for your future. It should be able to last for five to 10 years. The vision gives everyone a clear direction. It should motivate the team, written in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot.
 

Brand purpose:

The purpose has to answer the question, “Why does your brand exist?” It’s the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. The purpose is a powerful way to connect with employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul. 
 

Values: 

The values you choose should answer, “What do you stand for?” Your values should guide you and shape the organization’s standards, beliefs, behaviors, expectations, and motivations. A brand must consistently deliver each value.
 

Goals: 

Your goals should answer, “What will you achieve?” The specific measures can include consumer behavioral changes, metrics of crucial programs, in-market performance targets, financial results, or milestones on the pathway to the vision. You can use these goals to set up a brand dashboard or scoreboard.
 

Situation analysis:

Use your deep-dive business review to answer, “Where are we?” Your analysis must summarize the drivers and inhibitors currently facing the brand, and the future threats and untapped opportunities.
 

Key issues: 

The key issues answer the question, “Why are we here?” Look at what is getting in your way of achieving your brand vision. Ask the issues as questions, to set up the challenges to the strategies as the answer to each issue.
 

Strategies:

Your strategy decisions must answer, “How can we get there?” Your choices depend on market opportunities you see with consumers, competitors, or situations. Strategies must provide clear marching orders that define the strategic program you are investing in, the focused opportunity, the desired market impact, and the payback in a performance result that benefits the branded business.  
 

Tactics: 

The tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision while delivering the highest ROI and the highest ROE for your branded business.
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Learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand. 

 
 

How to be a successful CMO

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

 

Quintessentially, rule #1 is you have to make the numbers. 

As the VP, your main role is to create demand for your brands. What’s expected of you is to gain share and drive sales growth to help drive profit for the company. The results come from making the right strategic choices, executing at a level beyond the competitors and motivating your team to do great work. But how you do it, and the balances you place in key areas are choices you need to make. Making the numbers gives you more freedom on how you wish to run things. Without the numbers, the rest might not matter.

Here’s my Six points of advice on How to be Successful VP of Marketing. 

  1. While your people run the brands and the execution, you should run the P&L and essentially run all the marketing processes. You have to run the P&L and make investment choices. Bring an ROI and ROE (Return on Investment and Effort) mind set to those decisions. These choices will be one of the essentials to making the numbers and gaining more freedom in how you do the job. In terms of process, it’s always been my belief that great processes in place—brand planning, advertising, creative briefs—is not restrictive but rather provides the right freedom to your people. I’d rather my people drive all their creative energy into great work that gets in the marketplace, not trying to figure out what slide looks really cool in the brand plan presentation. I’ve worked as a Brand Manager in a marketing team without process and it was total chaos, not fun at all.
  2. Focus on the people and the results will come: The formula is simple: the better the people, the better the work and in turn the better the results. You should have a regular review of the talent with your directors. I’d encourage you to ensure there’s a systemic way to get feedback to everyone on the team, preferably on a quarterly basis. Waiting for the annual review is way too late and almost negligent as a leader. Your people have the potential to grow with feedback. But without feedback, they’ll be confused and even frustrated. You should invest in training and development. Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom to challenge their thinking and give them added skills to be better in their jobs. Marketing fundamentals matter. And the classic fundamentals are falling, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief or judging great advertising. People are NOT getting the same development they did in prior generations. Investing in training, not only makes them better, but it is also motivating for them to know that you are investing in them. That helps drive retention and commitment into producing great work and driving results. To view examples of best in class Marketing training: Beloved Brands Learning Sessions
  3. Be consistent: People have to know how to act around you. You have to set up an avenue where they are comfortable enough to approach you, and be able to communicate the good and bad. A scary leader discourages people from sharing the bad results, leaving you in the dark. On the other hand, open dialogue helps you be more knowledgeable of what’s really going on, so you can run the business. Also, they have to be able to challenge you and push forward new thinking into the system.   This helps your brands to stay modern, push new ideas and connect with consumers. If you push your ideas too far, you could be pushing ideas from a generation too late. Be consistent in how you think, how you act in meetings and how you approve.  Inconsistent behaviour by a leader does not “keep them on their toes” and create an atmosphere of “creativity”. It inhibits creativity, and creates tension that adds no value to the brands. People forget that leadership assumes “followership” from your team.  Creating a good atmosphere on the team will make people want to go the extra mile for you. Be a good listener and you’ll be surprised on what people tell you—how honest they’ll be, how much they’ll tell you. Knowledge makes you a great leader, and it starts with listening.
  4. Let them own it and let them shine: Remember when you were a Brand Manager and the passion you put into that job—the greatness you sought–drove you even harder.  Now it’s time, for you to step back and let them have that same passion to do amazing work and drive the results. It has to be about them, not you. At the VP level, I used to walk into every meeting knowing that “I knew less about the issue on the table, than anyone in the room”. I looked for ways to support and encourage great thinking, while challenging them to reach for even better. It’s not easy to balance giving them to freedom and yet knowing when to step in and make a decision. When I was a Brand Manager, my VP once said to me “every time I make a decision, I weaken myself”. Honestly, I thought he was certifiably crazy, until I was in the VP role. And then it made sense. By making all the decisions, you bring yourself down a level or two and you take over their job. They’ll start to look to you to make EVERY decision and that just makes you the “Super-Duper Brand Manager”. Instead, knowing how to ask good questions of your team to challenge or push them into a certain direction without them knowing you’re pushing them is more enlightening than coming up with statements of direction. But on the other hand, when they put their great work up for approval, and it’s fundamentally sound, approve it. Don’t do the constant spin of pushing for better, because then you look indecisive. For how those on your team can be better, view: How to be a Successful Marketing Director or How to be a Successful Brand Manager or How to be a Successful Assistant Brand Manager
  5. You are the Mayor of Marketing:  Bring a vision to the role.  I tried to use vision statements to rally the team, almost like campaign statements. I used  “Everything starts and ends with the Consumer in Mind” to push my team to be more consumer focused. And I used  “If we each get better, we all get better” to bring a re-commitment to training and development. Look at what needs fixing on your team, and create your own vision statements that relevant to your situation. Bring a human side to the role.  Get up, walk around and engage with everyone on your team. It will make someone’s day. Your role is to motivate and encourage them to do great work.  Challenge them and recognize the great work.  It might be my own thing, but I never said “thank you” because I never thought they were doing it for me.  Instead I said “you should be proud” because I knew they were doing it for themselves. Influence behind the scenes to help clear some of the roadblocks in the way of their success. Know when you need to back them up, whether it’s an internal struggle they are having, selling the work into your boss or with a conflict with an agency they are struggling with.  
  6. It’s a rather lonely job: I remember when I first took the job as VP, I found it surprisingly a bit lonely.  Everyone in marketing tries to be “on” whenever you are around. And you don’t always experience the “real” side of the people on your team. That’s ok. Just be ready for it. Also, the distance from your new peers (the head of sales, HR, operations or finance) is far greater than you’re used to.  And it might feel daunting at first. Your peers expect you to run marketing and let them run their own functional area. And the specific problems you face, they might not appreciate or even understand the subtleties of the role. Your boss also gives you a lot of rope (good and bad) and there’s usually less coaching than you might be used to. It’s important for you to have a good mentor or even an executive coach to give you someone to talk with that understands what you’re going through.

As you are coming up through the marketing roles, observe great leaders equally watch bad leaders.  I learned equally from watching both. It will help frame how you will do the job. Keep a checklist of “when I’m in the VP role”. Bring those into the role, and look to improve upon what your predecessor left for you.  I was lucky in that my predecessor did a great job in turning around the business, giving me freedom to bring energy and passion into the role.

My last piece of advice for you is, Enjoy it. Yes, it’s stressful. You worked hard to get here. Bring that enjoyment into the role.  If you love the work, it will be contagious and your people will feed off that passion and energy. They will be better for it.

After all, the better the people, the better the work, and  in turn the better the results.

To read how to run your career as well as those on your team read the following document. Feel free to download and share with your team.

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

Positioning 2016.112

How to differentiate your brand through product innovation

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office,  1899

The quote above may have missed out on the airplane, radio, TV, microwave, car, computer, internet, nearly every cpg product and of course my beloved iPhone. Maybe the sentiment of the quote was just about 100 years too early. In the last decade, most of the great innovation has been relegated to social media and electronics. I hope this century brings us much more than just Facebook, BBM and Twitter. In the consumer goods area, we must be on the 197th version of “new” cherry flavoured bubble gum since 1955, we’ve now seen hundreds of “new” peach yoghurt and I hope I never see another “new” laundry soap telling us that their little blue beads get their clothes really clean.  

New products that truly solve a consumer problem in a unique way are rare. This is the generation of marketing incrementalism. On most brand plans I see “launch innovative new products”  sits comfortably in the #3, 4 or 5 slot on the plan, while #1 is fix the advertising and #2 is get more distribution.  

There are four key stages to innovation:  1) Invention 2) Differentiation 3) Experience and 4) Perception.  And the marketing is different at each phase.

Stage 1: Invention of the Core Product: The challenge of a truly new product is to finding something that is truly different: a new technology, delivery, format or process.   Rarely, do we get to work on a game changing “invention”.  
Stage 1 of a new product usually focuses all of their efforts on launching and explaining why it is needed.  The product at this stage is usually just the core product, not yet perfected, higher costs and limited sales with no profits. The advertising is about awareness and the message is simple:  you have this problem, we solve that problem.   There’s an effort to the distribution, because many customers are risk averse and afraid of new products.   Consumers are willing to pay a little more to solve the problem, they overlook all the flaws and limitations, and they think “why didn’t I think of this”. While some consumers love the new product already, most consumers still sit at the skeptical and indifferent stage.  

Stage 2: Product Proliferation means Differentiation: With a little bit of success in the market comes copy cats. With more consumers buying, there becomes room for some differentiation, but mostly limited to product still: new features and added services on top of the core product.  They might have found a way to make things cheaper, easier to use or better tasting. Prices come down and brands offer more variety.  Distribution becomes a battle ground and getting full distribution becomes the goal. Customers try to line up behind certain brands–looking for preferential treatment. The advertising is about consideration and purchase, trying to stake out certain spaces, shifting from product to brand and separating your brand from others. Brands now sell the solution, not just the product.  And consumers start to choose, one brand over another.  While some consumers prefer one brand over another, most consumers are at the like it stage.

Stage 3: It’s all about the Experience: In order to establish leadership or challenge for leadership, brands begin to talk about the experience consumers will have with their product. It becomes no longer about the brand or product but about the consumer and how your brand fits into their life. Brands look to use positioning strategies to separate themselves, focusing on key targets, with unique benefits–a balance of emotional and rational benefits. Advertising brings the consumer front and centre, trying to establish a routine with your brand in it. Brands try to move to the love it stage, some do, but most will be stuck still at the like it stage. Those that get stuck are forced into value and focusing on price, promotions or value. The brands that reach the love it stage can command a premium, drive share  and establish leadership in the category.

Stage 4:  Managing the Perception:  As the market matures, any share point movements become difficult gain any traction on real quality so the shift moves to perceived quality.  Strategy shifts to brand personality where tone and manner in the execution are paramount so that Consumers connect with the brand and begin to see themselves in the brand. Brands push to become a Beloved Brand, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings and Consumers become outspoken fans.  The brand becomes powerful, with power over distribution because consumers would switch stores before they switch brands and power over competitors who are stuck trying to establish their own point of difference. Profits are at their highest–revenue, margins are both strong and spending is focused and efficient on maintaining the relationship.  While at the top of the mountain, with firm leadership in the category, the brand is always at risk of losing that leadership. Challenge yourself continuously the stay at the top. Avoid becoming complacent.

Ask Gap Clothing, Cadillac, IBM computers, Levis, Sony or Kodak who have each reached the Beloved Stage only to be replaced by new products and brands and moved back down the love curve towards Indifferent. Most recently, Blackberry.  Only 18 months ago, people jokingly used the term “crackberry” to describe their addictions.  No longer.

The four stages can easily be matched up to the Brand Love Curve and help establish strategic focus for the brand.  At the Invention stage, consumers remain indifferent until you build awareness and explain how your product solves a problem in my life. At the Differentiation stage, some like it, but you are now facing proliferation and attack forcing your brand to stake out a claim. At the experience stage, you need to become part of your consumers life and balance the emotional and rational benefits that can move you to the love it stage. And finally, you have to tightly manage the Perceptions to become that Beloved Brand for Life stage, it’s about connecting with consumers so they see themselves through your brand.  You need to establish your personality and begin to wield the power of being a Beloved Brand.

But be careful: very few brands remain at the top for very long.

  

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

Positioning 2016.112