The fundamentals of marketing matter now more than ever



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No longer can we think about consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today, like Tesla, Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Dove or Airbnb have found a way to capture the imagination of their consumers. And, they take consumers on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These modern brands are basing their thinking on the marketing fundamentals.

Brands must treat their most cherished consumers better than others.  They must gain their trust. This enables consumers to open up to a point where they replace thinking with feeling. The logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire. Needs become cravings. And, repeat purchases progress into rituals and turn into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers transform into the most outspoken and loyal brand fans and ambassadors. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the marketing fundamentals needed in a marketing career.

Marketing fundamentals matter

We see every day a war between those with old school marketing ideas and those with new school marketing. There are many new options that allow marketers to manage all parts of the sales funnel. It is not just about more awareness, but building relationships with consumers. The consumer has also changed. They are more knowledgeable than previous generations. They have access to more information and they are tired of being burned by faulty promises. As we debate old-school and new-school thinking, let’s not forget that as much as marketing changes, the fundamentals still matter. 

The marketing fundamentals that we focus on are part of what we use in our marketing training programs. Marketers will learn strategic thinkingbrand positioningbrand plans, writing creative briefsadvertising decision-makingmarketing analytics, and marketing finance

To illustrate, click to zoom in on our comparison of old school marketing vs new school marketing.

Old-school marketing

Old-school marketing no longer works, but the marketing fundamentals matter more now than ever

The old logical ways of marketing no longer work in today’s world. These brands feel stuck in the past, talking about gadgets, features, and promotions. And, brands will be friend-zoned by consumers and purchased only when the brand is on sale. The best brands of the previous century were little product inventions. They solved small problems consumers did not even realize they had until the product came along. 

Old-school marketing was about bold logos, catchy jingles, memorable slogans, side-by-side demonstrations. They used repetitive TV ads, product superiority claims, and expensive battles for shelf space at retail stores. Every marketer focused on how to enter the consumer’s mind. 

Old-school marketers learned the 4 P’s of product, place, price, and promotion. It is a useful start, but far too product-focused. And, the 4 P’s misses out on consumer insights, emotional benefits, and consumer experiences. 

The Crest brand knew that the “Look, mom, no cavities!” TV ads annoyed everyone, yet they also knew it stuck in the consumer’s brain. No one cared how nice the Tide logo looked, as long as it stood out on a crowded grocery shelf. The jingle “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” was often repeated to embed itself in the consumer’s memory bank. And, the side-by-side dish detergent advertising that showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow only a logical play will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

New-school marketing

New-school marketing need to build on the marketing fundamentals to create a passionate and lasting love for their consumers

How can brand leaders replicate Apple’s brand lovers who line up in the rain to buy the latest iPhone? They don’t even know the phone’s features? I see Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every weekend. Many know they will likely never drive a Ferrari in their lifetime. There are the ‘Little Monsters’ who believe they are nearly best friends with Lady Gaga. 

Over 400,000 outspoken Tesla brand advocates put $1,000 down for a car that did not even exist yet. Devoted fans of In-N-Out Burger order animal-style burgers off the secret menu. Every brand should want this type of passion and power with their consumers.

Marketing fundamentals

When your marketers jump straight to tactics, they miss the underlying issues that are hurting the brand. 

Without taking enough time to think strategically, marketers fail to build on their brand’s core strength, create a bond with consumers, win the competitive battles, or improve the business situation of the brand.

When brands try to be everything to anyone, they end up being nothing to everyone. 

Without a clearly defined brand positioning, the brand never establishes an ideal reputation with consumers. This allows competitors to define the brand. The execution team lacks direction, so the brand messaging appears random and confusing to consumers. 

When your marketers try to do too many things in their plan, none have enough resources to make an impact. 

Marketing plans that fail to make firm decisions spread their limited resources across so many tactics, that none of the ideas create a big enough impact to make a difference. With a lack of vision, the plan meanders and confuses those who work behind the scenes of the brand.

When marketing execution is not organized and aligned to the strategy, everyone operates in silos. 

The brand communication, new product innovation, and sales never gain the benefit of working together. Consumers get frustrated by the disjointed execution, and they never feel connected to the brand. 

When your marketers don’t go deep on analytics they miss the underlying issues facing the brand. 

They miss out on understanding the consumer trends, competitive dynamics, evolving technologies, shopper channels, and brand performance. The problems fester and the untapped opportunities are stolen away by competitors.

At Beloved Brands, we have designed our marketing training program to build the fundamental skills that will help your team reach their full potential.

Marketing Training

Strategic Thinking:

Our marketing training teaches brand leaders how to ask tough strategic questions to slow everyone down. They need to approach strategy in a thoughtful, analytical way. We created a Strategic ThinkBox that allows marketers to interrogate their brand. Most importantly, it helps them look at the most important issues of the business. Furthermore, we force marketers to take a holistic look at their brand’s core strength, competitive landscape, tightness of the consumer bond, and business situation.

Brand Positioning:

Our brand positioning process starts by finding out the ideal consumer is and how they would benefit from the brand. We teach marketers how to find the emotional and functional benefits their brand can deliver. Then, we show how to find a unique space for their brand that is interesting, simple, motivating, and ownable. Furthermore, we introduce our brand idea tool and show how to communicate that brand idea across the organization. In addition, marketers learn how to write a brand concept, brand story, and a brand credo document.

Marketing Plans:

The marketing plan is a decision-making tool that communicates the expectations to everyone who works on the brand. We teach marketers how to put together the vision, purpose, goals, key issues, strategies and marketing execution plans. Our training provides various tools including our one-page marketing plan and ideal presentation deck. Most importantly, we go into detail on how to write key issue questions and strategic statements that forms the foundation of the marketing plan.

Marketing Execution:

Our marketing execution training starts with the development of the creative brief, which serves as the bridge between the plan and execution. We review line-by-line of the creative brief and give you examples of the best and worst. Furthermore, we even provide participants with a checklist to make smarter decisions on your next marketing campaign. We introduce our creative checklist to help make smarter decisions on creative communications. And, we emphasize how to match up media choices to the consumer journey. Essentially, the skills will help your team get better work from their agency partners.

Brand Analytics:

Our comprehensive brand analytics sessions teach brand leaders how to lead a deep-dive business review. They need to know how to assess their brand’s performance, and set up smarter strategic thinking for their marketing plan. As a result, we get marketers to look at the marketplace, consumers, channels of distribution, competitors or other brands in their industry category. Finally, we show how to lead an audit on the performance indicators of the brand.

Marketing Career

Managing your marketing career from ABM to CMO

There are four main levels to a marketing career:
  • Assistant Brand Manager.
  • Brand Manager.
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
  • VP Marketing or CMO.
In simple terms, the entry-level Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.
At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.

When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the success factors at each stage of a marketing career.

Consumer behavior

Consumers have changed but the fundamentals of marketing remain the same

It takes a smart strategy to balance the rational and emotional management of the brand-to-consumer relationship. These beloved brands are so exceptional because of how well they treat their most loyal consumers. They make them feel loved. Being consumer-centric has been part of the fundamentals of marketing for a centruy.  

The consumers of today must be won over. They are surrounded by the clutter of 5,000 brand messages a day that fight for a glimpse of their attention. That is 1.8 million per year or one message every 11 waking seconds. 

Consumers are continuously distracted—walking, talking, texting, searching, watching, replying—and all at the same time. They glance past most brand messages all day long. Their brain quickly rejects boring, irrelevant, or unnecessary messages. Brands must capture the consumer’s imagination right away, with a brand idea that is simple, unique. It must create as much excitement as a first-time encounter. 

Consumers are tired of being burned by broken brand promises. 

Once lied to, their well-guarded instincts begin to doubt first. Test second. And at any point, they will cast aside any brand that does not live up to the original promise that captured them on the first encounter. A brand must be worthy of love. The best brands of today have a soul that exists deep within the culture of the brand organization. 

Brands must be consumer focused. The brand’s purpose explains why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work every day. It has energize them to get them ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes a firm conviction. The inner motivations, beliefs, and values influence and inspire every employee to want to be part of the brand. And, this brand conviction must be so firm that the brand would never make a choice that directly contradicts their internal belief system. Consumers start to see, understand, and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand. 

Marketing fundamentals start by listening, observing, and starting to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. 

Not only does the brand meet their functional needs. It must heroically beat down the consumer’s enemy that torments their life, every day. 

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

The integrity of the soul of the brand helps tighten the consumer’s unshakable bond with that brand. Brands have to do the little things that matter, to show they love their consumer. Every time the brand over-delivers on their promise, it adds a little fuel to the romance. 

Over time, the brand must weave itself into the most critical moments of the consumer’s lives. And, it becomes part of the most cherished stories and memories within the consumer’s heart. In today’s cluttered brand world, the pathway to brand success is all about building relationships with your most cherished consumers.

To illustrate, click to zoom on our consumer insights definition.

Brand idea

A brand idea must be interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and own-able. The brand idea must attract and move consumers.

The first connection point for consumers with a brand is that moment when they see a brand idea that’s worth engaging. And, the brand almost jumps off the shelf. It grips the audience’s attention to itself on a TV ad. Or compels consumers to click on a digital ad. The brand has to generate interest very quickly.  

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how to find your brand idea.

When the brand idea is interesting and simple, it helps the brand gain quick entry into the consumer’s mind. It makes them want to engage and learn more about the brand. The consumer is bombarded by 5,000 brand messages every day. And, the brand only has seven seconds to connect or else consumers will move on. 

That is why the brand idea should be unique and ownable to stand out amid the clutter, and the brand can see enough rich potential to build their entire business around the idea. The idea should inspire the team working behind the scenes to deliver amazing consumer experiences. And, the idea must be motivating to consumers, so the brand can move consumers to see, think, feel, or act in positive ways that benefit the brand. 

A brand idea must have enough longevity to last 5 to 10 years. And, flexible enough to show consistency no matter what media options you choose. 

The idea must provide a common link across the entire product line-up. Everything you do should deliver the brand idea.

The brand has to show up the same way to everyone, no matter where it shows up. Even as the brand leader expands on the idea, whether telling the brand story over 60 seconds, 30 minutes or over the lifetime of the brand, it must tell the same story. 

When the idea works best, the most far-reaching sales rep, the scientist in the lab, the plant manager or the customer service rep must all articulate the brand idea, in the same way, using the same chosen words. Every time a consumer engages with the brand, they must see, hear and feel the same brand idea. Each positive interaction further tightens their bond with that brand.

Use your brand idea to organize everything you do

As a brand leader, you have five consumer touchpoints to align and manage, including the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, the path to the purchase moment, and the overall consumer experience. The brand idea map shows you how to align all five consumer touchpoints. This thinking is part of the new marketing fundamentals.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand idea map of how to stretch the brand across your organization.

Using the brand idea to project the brand to consumers

First, the brand promise connects with consumers and separates your brand from competitors. And, the promise must position the brand as interesting and unique, utilizing brand positioning work to define the target market, the balance of functional and emotional benefits, along with key support points.

Second, the brand story helps the brand stand out from the pack and gain the consumer’s consideration for purchase. And, the brand idea must push consumers to see, think, feel, or act differently than before they saw the brand message. 

Next, the innovation must help the brand stay on top of the latest trends in technology, consumer need states, distribution, and competitive activity. A brand cannot stand still. The brand idea should act as an internal beacon to help inspire the product development team to come up with new ways to captivate consumers.

Creating an experience for consumers

Then, the purchase moment transforms the awareness and consideration into a purchase. And, the brand idea ensures everyone along the path to purchase delivers the same brand message, using retail and selling strategies to influence consumers. 

Finally, create consumer experiences that overdeliver the promise, driving repeat purchase, and future consumer loyalty. When you partner with HR, the brand idea inspires the culture and organization, influencing hiring decisions, service values, and motivation of the operations teams who deliver the experience.

Brand strategy

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love

To show the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages, I created the brand love curve. It defines consumers’ feelings as unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status.

For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out so consumers will notice the brand within a crowded brand world. At the indifferent stage, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. Then, as consumers move to the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following. And, at the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans. At the beloved brand stage, the strategic challenge is to create outspoken, loyal brand fans who are willing to whisper to their friends on the brand’s behalf.


To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand love curve that maps out various strategies.

20 consumer activities

The brand love curve should guide strategic and tactical decisions that go into the writing of your annual brand plan. Here are 20 potential brand activities that match up to where your brand sits on the curve and how to move your brand to the next stage. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand love curve that maps out various execution tactics.

The fundamentals of marketing matter more now than ever

Today’s marketers have become so busy, as they run from meeting to meeting, they have become a little overwhelmed and confused. They have no time to think. Marketing has become about ‘get stuff done,’ never taking the time to stop and ask if it is the right stuff to do. 

To build a relationship, you must genuinely court your consumer. And, to move your consumer from stranger to friend and onto the forever stage, you need to think all the time. With the focus on access to big data, marketers are drowning in so much data they do not even have the time to sort through it all to produce the analytical stories that help to make decisions. Marketers are so overwhelmed by the breadth of media choices and the pressure to be everywhere that the quality of the execution has suffered. 

If marketers do not love the work they create, how can they ever expect the consumer to love the brand?

To illustrate, click to zoom in on how the focus and communication changes at various stages of the brand love curve.

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Graham Robertson

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