How to use a pricing strategy to help your brand win

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

The most beloved brands can use their loyal brand lovers to command a premium price, generating a relatively inelastic price. Moreover, the most beloved brands can get consumers to  trade up to more premium versions of the brand.

With all the love and power the beloved brand generates, it becomes easy to translate that stored power into sales growth, profit, and market valuation.

Here are the eight ways a brand can drive profits: 

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

1. How to use premium pricing

While many marketers think of price as a defensive response to counter inflation or a competitive reaction at the retail shelf, the smartest brand leaders use price as a weapon to drive brand value. 

It is crucial to understand the price/quality relationship of your brand and look for ways to increase the perception of quality. When you find a unique position, which you know motivates consumers, it can differentiate you from competitors. Then you can use the motivation to tighten the bond with your consumers. 

The chart shows a relatively long-term direct correlation between perceived value and price. An indifferent brand has low perceived value and will end up with a much lower price point. A beloved brand can use its emotional connection to drive perceived value and ensure the price premium is perceived as good value. For instance, consumers are undoubtedly willing to pay $5 for a Starbucks latte, $500 for an iPad or $100,000+ for a Mercedes. The same consumers will price shop on brands where they have no feelings. A beloved brand has an inelastic price, which means the quantity demanded does not change very much when the price changes.

  • Price increase: Simply put, brands can execute a price increase when the market or consumers allow the brand to do so. A beloved brand will have an easier time pushing through a price increase as it can use the power of its brand versus consumers, competitors, or channels. When pushing a price increase through retail channel partners, brands usually require proof that the new price will work or that product costs have gone up. Factors that help the brand story include the health of the brand and market.
  • Price decrease: Use this tactic when battling a competitor, in reaction to sluggish economic conditions or retail channel pressure. You can also use an aggressive price decrease when you have a cost advantage, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution. When you have that cost advantage, it may make sense to deploy a lower price to deplete the resources of your competitor.

Price changes always carry a risk of a competitive overreaction. Always consider various potential competitive reactions when doing your financial analysis. Be careful. As difficult as it is to implement a price change, it is almost impossible to change it back.

Build a pricing system to match your brand strategy

Rather than using price as a defensive tool, every brand should manage a pricing strategy that matches their brand strategy. Below is a potential pricing system with five critical questions around price strategy, how to determine and execute your brand’s price, how to build parameters to govern your price corridors, then how to monitor pricing. The complexity of the system can depend on how important or how variable the price is to your brand. Revisit your price strategy annually as part of your deep dive business review.

2. Trade the consumer up or down

Another strategy is to create a range of products at various price levels, with a good/better/best approach that allows the brand to reach up or down to a new segment of consumers. Make sure that you are doing this for the right reason or it could backfire on you.

  • Trading consumers up on price: Make sure your brand can carve out a meaningful difference to create a second or third tier, so consumers can see an apparent reason to move up. Many brands will deploy a good/better/best approach to pricing. When your brand secures trust or a bond with the consumer, it will be easier to use your brand reputation and product performance to move loyal consumers up to the next level. 
  • Trading consumers down: When the brand sees a potential unserved market, it can trade consumers down when the move brings minimal damage to the brand image or reputation. In a tough economy, creating a lower-priced set of products can be a smarter strategy than lowering the overall price of your main brand. Once the economy bounces back, you can discontinue the lower-priced product option.

There are a few cautions around trying to trade consumers up or down. Be careful not to lose your focus on the brand’s core business or image. Stay focused because brands struggle when they try to be all things to everyone. When trading down, try to take costs out of the product to ensure margins rates stay consistent. For a mass brand going through retail channels, it can be challenging to manage multiple price levels. The products with lower sales may receive poor shelf placement and miss out on retailer-merchandising tools.

Financial calculations for a price increase will impact both revenue and profits. You should do an elasticity market research test to find out how your brand will perform. 

In this example, the price goes from $2.50 up to $2.75, only a 10% price increase. I assumed the cost of goods remained flat and I used a forecasted sales decline on units sold. The sales revenue falls slightly, but the profit goes up by $7,500 or by 4.6%.

You can find this thinking in our Beloved Brands book

Beloved Brands is the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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. 

When things get fast, brands should use a mini creative brief

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

With social media, digital advertising and search media, marketing is moving faster than ever. You still need a creative brief; however, you might need to try our mini creative brief. We are seeing things speed up, with opportunities come to brand leaders need quick decisions and even faster execution. If your brand has a solid brand communications plan, you should be able to create a mini brief with a clear objective, consumer target and insight, the desired response, and the main message. 

 

Slowing down will make you go faster.

Going too fast sometimes takes too long. With the explosion of media options, timing is everything. Unfortunately, there are too many “phone call briefs” happening. Even worse, no brief at all.

Without a brief, too many things could go wrong. When you see the creative options, you have to rely on your memory and instincts. When you try to present it to your boss, there is nothing to guide them through their decision-making. One round of rejection by your boss, and you will be wondering why you did not just take the 15-30 minutes to organize your thoughts and write a mini brief.

How to transform your strategy into a creative brief

Let’s look at the seven questions of the brand communications plan  

  1. Who is in our consumer target?  
  2. What are we are selling?  
  3. Why should they believe us?  
  4. What is our organizing brand idea?
  5. What do we need our advertising to do? 
  6. And, what do we want people to think, feel or do?  
  7. Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our brand message?

Do the strategic homework you developed through the brand communications plan, and begin to populate the 12 questions of your creative brief.

This should allow you to turn all the thinking into a master creative brief, that should be able to serve your brand for up to a year. For each smaller project, you can opt for the mini brief above. 

The creative brief should define “the strategic box” for the creative to play within.

Most great creative advertising people I have met are problem solvers, not inventors. I would describe them as ‘in-the-box’ creative thinkers, not blue sky “out-of-the-box” dreamers. If they need a good problem to solve, then give them your problems, but never your solutions. Never give your creative team a blank slate or blank canvas and ask them to come up with an ad. Use the creative brief to create the right box for them to play in, and to solve your problem.

When I see marketers writing a big, wide brief with too many objectives, a vague target, and cluttered messaging, I wonder if you have unknowingly created too much strategic freedom. While you might think writing a big, wide creative brief provides room for creativity, it does not. Your agency will see you as confused, and will likely just peel the brief apart, rewrite the brief how they want, then provide you with strategic options, instead of creative options. The problem is that you will be choosing your strategy based on which ad you like.

When I see marketers write a big, long laundry list of mandatories, everyone knows you are just trying to control the creative output. Do not create a tangled web of mandatories that almost write the ad itself, or you will trap the creative team into taking various elements in the mandatory list and build a Frankenstein-type ad. If you want great work – and I know you do – give your agency the creative freedom they need.

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You can find all this thinking in our Beloved Brands book

Beloved Brands is the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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 conduct a deep-dive business review to uncover brand issues

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. You should conduct a deep-dive business review at least once a year on your brand. Otherwise, you are negligent of the brand, where you are investing all your resources. You should dig in on the five specific analytical sections—looking at the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand. Draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.      

Marketplace Analysis:

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

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

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

 

Consumer Analysis:

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

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

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

 

Channel Analysis:

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

Here are ten probing questions to kickstart your channels review 

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

 

Competitor Analysis:

The competitive section fo the deep-dive business review should issect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution, and the consumer’s perceptions of these brands. To go even deeper, you can map out a strategic brand plan for significant competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your brand plan.

Here are 10 questions to kickstart your competitor review:

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

 

Brand Analysis:

Analyze your brand through the lens of consumers, customers, competitors, and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps, and financial analysis. Focus the deep-dive business review on managing your brand’s health and wealth.

10 probing questions to assess your brand’s performance:

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

 

Summary of the deep-dive business review

Summarize your deep-dive business review, so that it can set up the key issues to tackle in your brand plan: 

What’s driving growth? The top factors of strength, positional power, or market inertia, which have a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan should continue to fuel these growth drivers.

What’s inhibiting growth? The most significant factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps, or market friction you can prove to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth. 

Opportunities for growth: Look at specific untapped areas in the market, which could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.  

Threats to future growth: Changing circumstances, including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes, or potential barriers, which create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Build your plan to minimize the impact of these risks.

 

 

 

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

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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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Brands cannot afford to be friend-zoned by consumers

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Brands need to build 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 before they even know the phone’s features?  I see Ferrari fans who paint their faces red every weekend, knowing 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.

brand love

Do you love it?

When I was a VP of marketing, I remember when one of my brand managers brought in an awful print ad for my approval. I looked at this boring ad, wondering where to begin my feedback. It was obvious he saw this ad as a mere task on his to-do list. I sensed he had no passion for the work. I sat there for 3-4 minutes and tried to think of something to challenge him. It was so awful I had no advice on how to make it better.

So I asked one of the best questions I have ever asked: “Do you love it?” He said, “No, not really.” I gently passed the ad back and said, “Bring me back something you love.”

While I hope it was an excellent lesson for him, it was an even more significant lesson for me. My passion has always driven my work. I wanted to see a passion inside everyone on my team.

It was the first time I asked someone, “Do you love it?” but it indeed would not be the last. I began asking that same question to everyone who entered my office. I asked it of myself when I had to make a decision.

We can never settle for O.K. Each time we reject O.K., the work gets better. It makes our expectations higher. When you have to love your work, you will fight for it, with your agency, your boss or anyone in the way.

You need to build emotion into your marketing

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 take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship.

Brands must treat their most cherished consumers with the respect that establishes trust, enabling 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.

Old-school marketing no longer works, but the fundamentals of brand management 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. They 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 that 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, 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 4Ps of product, place, price, and promotion. It is a useful start, but too product-focused and it misses out on consumer insights, emotional benefits, and consumer experiences.

The Crest brand knew their “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. The side-by-side dish detergent advertising that showed spots on the wine glass of a competitor, just to shame consumers into using Cascade. Brands that continue to follow only a logical play will fail miserably in today’s emotion-driven marketplace.

Consumers have changed

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. 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 must be able to explain why the people who work behind the scenes of the brand come to work every day so energized and ready to over-deliver on the brand’s behalf. This purpose becomes a firm conviction, with inner motivations, beliefs, and values that influences and inspires every employee to want to be part of the brand. This brand conviction must be so firm the brand would never make a choice that directly contradicts their inner belief system. Consumers start to see, understand and appreciate the level of conviction with the brand.  

Brands must listen, observe and start to know the thoughts of their consumer before they even think it. Not only does the brand meet their functional needs, but the brand must also heroically beat down the consumer’s ‘enemy’ that torments their life, every day.  

Consistency matters

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

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 become 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 how to build relationships with your most cherished consumers.

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

The first connection point for consumers with a brand is that moment when they see a brand idea worth engaging the brand. The brand almost jumps off the shelf, draws attention to itself on a TV ad or makes consumers click on a digital ad. The brand has to generate interest very quickly.  

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

That’s 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. 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.

The brand idea must last

A brand idea must have enough longevity to last 5 to 10 years and enough flexibility 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.

  • The brand promise connects with consumers and separates your brand from competitors. 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.
  • The brand story helps the brand stand out from the pack and gain the consumer’s consideration for purchase. The brand idea must push consumers to see, think, feel or act differently than before they saw the brand message. 
  • 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.
  • The purchase moment transforms the awareness and consideration into a purchase. The brand idea ensures everyone along the path to purchase delivers the same brand message, using retail and selling strategies to influence consumers. 
  • Create consumer experiences that overdeliver the promise, driving repeat purchase and future consumer loyalty. Partnering with human resources, the brand idea inspires the culture and organization, influencing hiring decisions, service values, and motivation of the operations teams who deliver the experience.

It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love

I created the brand love curve, which shows the differences in how consumers feel about a brand as they move through five stages. It defines their 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. For indifferent brands, the strategy must establish the brand in the consumer’s mind so they can see a clear point of difference. At the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack, creating happy experiences that build a trusted following. 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. 

Five necessary ingredients to create brand love

  1. Everything must be about the consumer: You need to know your consumers as well as you know your brand. Dig deep to understand and appreciate the consumer insights, enemies and needs. Emphasize consumer benefits, not features. Since consumers always wonder, “What’s in it for me?” communicate what they get from you and talk about how your brand makes them feel.
  2. Dare to be different: Your brand needs to stand out as being better, different, cheaper, or else it won’t be around for very long. Be the brand that defines your unique value, rather than adding more clutter to the mountain of clutter.
  3. Build everything you do around your brand idea: Your brand idea is the first point of connection and creates the lasting impression. The brand idea is the reason consumers first buy. Every time your brand delivers, the bond tightens just a little more. Whenever you fail to deliver, the consumer goes into doubt mode, wondering if they will stay with your brand.
  4. Breakthrough focus: You must focus your brand’s limited resources to key breakthrough points you believe will tighten the bond with your consumers, putting the brand in a more powerful position to drive higher profits. You have to know your consumer, know what your brand stands for and be willing to focus on the strategies that will pay back in building the brand.
  5. Passion matters: You must exhibit incredible passion in the marketing execution, consistently focused on surprising your consumers, with a goal of becoming one of their favorite brands. Always remember “I love it” is the highest bar you can set for achieving great work. If you do not love the work, how can you ever expect your consumer to love your brand?

BELOVED BRANDS

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

At Beloved Brands, we 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.

graham@beloved-brands.com

Marketing Finance 101: How to do a quick dissection of your brand’s financial statement

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

For many of us, we became marketers because we were attracted to the strategic, creative, and psychology aspects of business. So if finance is not a natural skill, when your finance manager hands you the brand’s profit and loss (P&L) statement, it can be rather intimidating. You should start by looking at the sales growth, gross margins and 

To assess the performance of your brand, and begin knowing where to dig deeper, start by looking at four key numbers.

  1. Understand the sales growth rate, relative to the economy or the category growth
  2. Look at the gross margin percentage
  3. Dig into the contribution margin percentage
  4. Do a quick comparison between spending growth rate and the sales growth rate.  

Step 1: As a leader of the brand, I start by trying to understand the growth rate.

Most brand leaders have brand growth as their number one objective. You can do a quick calculation to figure out the average growth rate but, as you dig in, you should try to find out what happened each year to give you a better feel of the brand performance. There are two calculations you can use, either average growth rate or compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

In this example, the average growth rate is 7% and CAGR % is 9.1%, but very high compared to the overall economic growth of 2-3%. My first instinct would be to look at the category growth to see if the brand is gaining or losing market share. Next, the year-by-year growth shows the growth rate has shot up to 12% over the past two years. I would make a mental note to expect to see this as an investment brand and determine whether the profit is paying off yet.

Step 2: My eye is drawn immediately to figuring out the gross margin percentage, as a first signal of brand health or to try to understand the strategy behind the brand.

Divide the absolute gross margin by the sales. You can assess the brand’s health by comparing the margin percent over time to see the trend line, with other brands in your portfolio to assess the opportunity cost, or with other competitive brands in the category.  

In this example, the gross margin percentage has fallen from 43% in 2018 down to 37% in 2020, which should prompt you to go a layer deeper to look at price and cost of goods.
Regarding price, dig around to see if there has been an average price decrease, then look to see if it is due to an increase in trade spend, a shift in the sales mix to lower-priced items, or even a shift to lower margin items.

Step 3: Next, look at contribution margin percentage, dividing the bottom line contribution income by the overall sales, using your brand’s cost of goods and impact on overall profit.

Some cost factors are outside the brand’s control, such as foreign exchange, raw material cost increases, duties, and transportation costs. However, you also need to look out for factors within the brand’s control. Was there a strategic decision to change to a higher cost raw material? Was there increased quality control at the manufacturing site? Did you switch to a more expensive supplier or change the location of your production?

In the example, an alarm bell goes off when I see the contribution margin percentage has fallen from 26% to 17% in three years. My first observation is the sales are up dramatically, yet both the gross margin percentages and contribution margin percentages are down. While the gross margin percentage is down, the gross margin dollars increased. However, in this case, the contribution margin dollars have gone down from $5,763 to $4,772. After two years of investment, the brand is not responding fast enough to cover that spend level.

Step 4: Finally, look at the comparison between the sales growth rate and the spending growth rate.

While sales are growing at 12% over the past two years, spending is up 22%. The brand is not covering the spending increase. Dig in to understand if the payback was expected to be slower. If not, I would dig in to explain why it is not paying back: not the right message, competitive activity, or market dynamics. 

There are eight ways to drive brand profit

        1. Premium pricing
        2. Trade loyal consumers up to a higher price
        3. Lower cost of goods
        4. Lower marketing and selling costs
        5. Steal competitive users
        6. Get loyal users to use more
        7. Enter into new markets
        8. Find new uses for the brand

Now you are all set to dig in deeper

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.

  1. How to think strategically
  2. Write a brand positioning statement
  3. Come up with a brand idea
  4. Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  5. Write an inspiring creative brief
  6. Make decisions on marketing execution
  7. Conduct a deep-dive business review
  8. Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

At Beloved Brands, we 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.

 

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

The 10 most abused words in marketing

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

On a daily basis, I hear marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights because they figure no one will challenge them. Of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. 

For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The misuse of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing. Words always matter, but in marketing, the misuse of a word can send your brand on the wrong pathway.

The 10 most abused words in marketing

1. Relevant

When I ran a marketing team at J&J, I once banned the word “relevant” because it was so abused. I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant,” the room would go silent. Then there’s a pause, and someone would add their brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant.” The room went quiet again. So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and sadly that question seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice” because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it. My mom and my new iPhone speakers are both “nice.” Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. However, what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant? When you answer the question, you likely just came up with something better. So use that instead of just blindly saying “we need to be relevant.”

2. Awareness

Just like the word relevant, you’re just forcing me to ask, “so when we get awareness, what do we get after we get awareness?” Once you spend money, you should be able to get awareness–it’s just a question of how much money you spend. In brand terms, we don’t make any money from awareness–we only begin to make money as we can move our consumer through the consideration-search-purchase stage. So, let’s save the word “Awareness” for lazy brains.

3. Brand equity

The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the actual book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who misuse the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable.” They’ll say “the final scene of the TV ad is emotional and should drive the equity of this brand.” I look at brand health and brand wealth separately and then use the model to predict the future success of the brand. As brand leaders, it’s essential to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy. Brand equity is about the wealth side, linked to value. There are eight ways to drive brand wealth: premium pricing, trading the consumer up or down, reducing both product costs and marketing costs, stealing other users or getting current users to use more, entering new categories and creating new uses for your brand. Brand wealth is not unexplainable at all.

4. Target market

I’m in shock how badly we define the target market on the creative brief. I once read a brief with a target that said “aged 18-65, new customers, current customers, and even employees.” That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists. A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs, and behaviors). I try to put an age demographic on every brief. Call me old-fashioned or just realistic. The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kidding yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics.” When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5-year gap. This type of target doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you.

5. Alienate

This word drives me bonkers, and it seems to be growing, or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus; the worst don’t. The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t. If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and execution. Stop being worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers, that you water down your marketing programs to the degree that we have no clue whom you’re talking to or what you’re even saying. As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and whom you tell.

6. Benefits

There’s an old selling expression: “features tell and benefits sell”. But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are. Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits. What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits). Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two.

7. Brief

It is called a brief because it should be…BRIEF. I saw a creative brief last year that was eight pages long. Moreover, even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight. Every brief should be one-page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it is pretty easy to nail the one-page brief.

8. Brand

Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies. The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites, and events. The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising. Brand and Product should NEVER be separated. It’s crazy. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power, and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BRAND IDEA and then line up the five connectors (promise, story, innovation, purchase moment and experience)

9. New Media

New Media has been around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point. A better way to look at today’s media is to manage all types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social, Home media, Experiential and Purchase Moment media. Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews, and blogs. SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned keywords and paid search. SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale. Experiential media is an excellent chance for consumers to take the brand on a test run. PURCHASE MOMENT Media understands how the consumer shops and provides the right messaging at the right moment of the buying system.

10. Strategic

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. However, to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action.

Moreover, while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need to be done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one-minute debating investment choices and then attend a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.  

It is OK to use these words. Just make sure you use them properly.

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

At Beloved Brands, we 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.

 

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

Burger King’s real meals campaign is an embarrassment for marketers

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

BK unhappy mealsWhen I first saw Burger King’s #FeelYourWay  campaign idea, I thought it was a joke. To support mental health, Burger King is offering Not-So-Happy Real Meals. Wow. Now that I fully understand the campaign….it really is an embarrassment to marketing.

We are better than this. We have to be.

May is mental health month, and this is Burger King’s attempt to offer their support. Has no one on the BK brand team or agency team known someone who suffers from mental health?

Haven’t we all?

My goodness, mental health is not about getting a nasty text or having someone write a name on your locker. I have known nice, brilliant, beautiful, successful people, who appear to have it all on the outside, suffer from mental health. For many, it is far beyond their control. A non-happy meal just won’t cut it.

 

Here is the Burger King #FeelYourWay ad

 

 

This is a classic problem/solution ad. I felt they did a very good job on the problem set up. Real situations facing the young people of today. But, the solution is rather stupid–a Whopper, fries and a drink–with a cute name on it. Thinking people are “pissed off” really undermines the real issues of mental health. Apparently, every meal, no matter which one you choose, is the same Whopper, fries and a drink.

Last month, Burger King was talking about the “angry” whopper. Maybe someone at 3G needs a mental health seminar, to help them better understand what real people are going through.

Cool stuff does not equate the smart, creative stuff

Every week, we hear about Burger King or Wendy’s doing a lot of “cool stuff”, then we hear advertising people praise them. Neither brand does anything that put more bums in seats or sells more burgers. By the definition of strategy, much effort for a low result is somewhat dumb. It used to be that BK and Wendy’s were battling it out for 2nd place, far behind McDonald’s. They’ve since been passed by Starbucks and Subway, and will soon be passed by Chick-Fil-A and Five Guys.

You have to earn the right to be purpose-driven

We keep seeing creative work that might be good work, which the first half of this ad could be, but it doesn’t fit the brand!!! As we have moved to purpose-driven work, marketers have to realize you have to EARN THE RIGHT to play in a purpose-driven space.

Yes, purpose-driven marketing is in style. However, that doesn’t mean your brand has to do it. Better yet, can do it. A purpose is a core belief that must permeate throughout every fiber of your company. It’s not some ad you run for 750 GRPs.

This year, Gillette wanted to talk about male toxicity. It is the perfect message for our times, but the wrong brand. Gillette spent 50 years as a product-driven brand, with ads talking about the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th blade they’ve added. All of a sudden, they wanted to talk about improving the behavior of men. You haven’t earned that right Gillette! BTW, they are back talking about how amazing they are at making blades.

Last year, we saw Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad, supporting his efforts to speak out about human rights violations and race relations in America. As a brand, Nike has earned this right, supporting other athletes speaking out.

Burger King has not earned the right to have a purpose

Burger King is owned by 3G Capital, the same company which has cut spending, seen significant sales declines and laid off thousands at Kraft-Heinz, Tim Horton’s and Anheuser-Busch InBev. There are no signs this organization is purpose driven. To me, this campaign feels completely exploitive of the mental health movement.

I didn’t realize it at first, but Burger King is also using this opportunity, to take a shot at McDonald’s, who is famous for their Happy Meals. This feels completely exploitive and, rather pathetic. Be better BK.

As a marketer, I know we can be better than this.

 

 

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

Use your media plan to move your consumer along their consumer journey

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

purchase journeyThe role of any media plan is to move the consumer, whether to see, think, feel, do or whisper to their friends. The best brand leaders can observe how their consumer thinks at each stage of the consumer journey, and then use the right media choice to move them along.

How connected is your brand?

For unknown or indifferent brands, invest in the early part of the consumer journey, with media focused on building awareness to establish your positioning in the mind of consumers to separate your brand from the pack. You also need to get your brand into the consumer’s consideration set.

Brands at the like it stage must separate themselves from others, to build momentum and create a following. Focus on closing the deal, by motivating consumers to buy. Use search tools and deal-closing claims at the point of sale to resolve any remaining doubts. You can utilize your own e-commerce website or sites such as Amazon, Expedia, or Groupon.

Brands at the love it stage must turn your consumer’s repeat purchases into higher usage frequency and become a favorite part of your consumer’s day. The creative must instill emotional benefits, linked closely to the consumer’s life moments. An excellent tool to use is to map out the “day-in-the-life” of your target consumer and place messages where they are most likely to engage. Use consumer insights to make the messages personal to make consumers feel special and attached to your brand.

At the beloved brand stage, you should begin shifting to a maintenance media plan, enough to maintain your brand’s leadership presence and perception. Stay aware of the competitive activity, which may force you to adjust your budget levels. At this point, you can shift some of your media resources into enhancing the consumer experience, to retain your happy consumers, and to drive a deeper love to harness an army of brand lovers. You can begin creating shareable experiences for your brand lovers to share with their friends.

Use the love curve to focus your media objectives and strategy.

consumer strategy

 

Old school media focused on the top of the funnel

Old-school marketing used to yell their messages at every possible consumer using mass media, then move consumers naturally through the brand funnel from awareness to purchase and loyalty. With so few media choices, consumers could not escape the advertising. If consumers did not respond the first time, show it to them again and again. Back in the 1970s, it was all about the interruption of consumers, with brands focused primarily on day-after brand recall. Many times, the more annoying the ad, the better it would work. This media planning is not quite the sophisticated media strategy brands need today.

Influencer Marketingf

New-school media uses the bottom of the funnel to influence their friends.

New-school marketing whispers to the most loyal brand fans, hoping they drive awareness with influence to their friends. The word of a friend will bring more influence to their purchase decision than a random TV ad. As the brand moves to the masses, consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest of the category. They also look to the brand lovers, giving them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises.

Types of consumers

Brands evolve from a craft brand to a disruptor, to a challenger brand and finally to a power player. One significant distinction is what type of consumers they focus on. Using the consumer adoption curve, I use four types of consumers:

  • Trend influencers
  • Early adopters
  • Early mass
  • Late mass

I will use this thinking to show how brands can use influencers to trigger each type of consumer, as the brand evolves from the entry-level craft brand all the way to the power player mass brand.

Consumer Adoption Curve

 

The role of influencers on the consumer adoption curve

The trend influencer consumers always want the leading-edge stuff and are first to try within their social set. They want to stay aware of what the wise experts are saying, whom they trust or rely upon for knowledge. For brands competing in the car, sports, technology, fashion, entertainment, or foodie markets, there are leading expert reviewers or bloggers who have become the voice of the marketplace. Marketers who have a real revolutionary addition to the category should target and brief these wise experts to ensure they fully understand the brand story and point of difference. This information increases their willingness to recommend new products.

The early adopter consumers rely on their trend influencer friends for the details of new brands. However, they will also look to social icons as a secondary source for validation. These social icons could include movie stars, singers, or famous athletes. If the social icons are using the new product, this assures the early adopter the new brand is about to hit a tipping point. These consumers always want to stay ahead of the curve, so that they will adopt it now.

Early mass consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect within their network. These are the people we go to for advice on a given subject. The early mass also looks to early brand lovers for validation of proven success; This satisfaction level gives them the evidence the brand does deliver what it promises. The late mass audience is slow to adopt; they look to friends for recommendations but only when they feel comfortable enough to buy the brand.

purchase journey

Use your media plan to move consumers along their journey

To drive awareness, you need to stand out and be seen in a crowd. Invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind using TV, digital, viral video, out of home, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships and experiential events can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand.

To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage the online user review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or review sites.

For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to just confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media. The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move consumers towards the purchase decision.

Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy.

After the purchase, you must turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with special deals. Layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond.

Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers, by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged consumers to drive awareness.

Media Purchase journey

Choose your media based on where your consumer is going, not where your the media is going.

Challenge yourself to get better at advertising and media

If you realized that how you show up as a client was the most significant factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would show up differently? If so, then show up right.  

Be one of your agency’s favorite clients. Bring a positive spirit that inspires everyone to want to work on your brand and never treat them like they have to work on your business.

Stay focused on one target, one strategy, one benefit behind one brand idea. Avoid the “just in case list” where you add “one more thing.” The best advertising is like a bullhorn in a crowd. The worst advertising is like a cluttered bulletin board where you can’t read anything.

When building a creative brief or providing feedback, resist the temptation to provide your own creative ideas or recommend changes. When you are dealing with an expert, give them your problems, not your solutions.

Here’s an article on how to make advertising decisions.

How to make advertising decisions

How to set your media budget

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The brand leader must manage every single element of the brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers
brand idea

Many non-marketers believe marketing is all about logos and advertising. They don’t realize is that when marketing is done right, the brand leader should drive everything in the company. The brand idea should drive the brand positioning, strategic plan, consumer experience, product innovation, brand story, channel management, and business results. While we don’t do any of the work surrounding the brand, we should be involved in every decision.

There are some companies who are sales led. The problem is when each sales rep uses their own message to sell. There’s no consistency in building a reputation you can own. You should use a brand idea to steer your sales team with a consistent message.

There are some companies who are product led. The problem is they start with the product and then try to make it work with consumers. It’s better to make what consumers want, rather than make consumers want what you make. The brand idea should steer those in product development on what fits with the brand and consumers.

Some days in marketing it is hard to figure out whether if we don’t do anything, or we do everything. Yes, there is always an expert covering off every aspect of that specific task. However, you have to inspire that expert and then make every decision for that expert.

It is the brand idea that should steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand.

Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions.

 

 

Brand idea

Your brand idea should drive all consumer touchpoints

There are five main touchpoints that reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand.

How the brand idea stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning.
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while establishes the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer. The brand story should align all brand communications across all media options.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation. Steer the product development teams to ensure they remain true to the brand idea.
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision. The brand idea helps steer the sales team and sets up retail channels to close the sale.
  • Consumer experience: Turn usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day. The brand idea guides everyone who works on the brand to deliver great experiences.

brand idea map

 

Use your brand idea to steer everything you do

As the brand leader, you are the custodian of that brand idea and need to make sure everyone in the organization is following and use it to drive every major element of your brand. As the owner of that brand idea, your role as the marketer sits at the center of this hub and spoke structure and you must drive each element of the brand: 

The brand leader should manage the brand strategy

The brand leader must manage the strategic plan that will steer your business, in both the short and long term outlook. Use an annual brand plan to make decisions for the upcoming year and a brand strategy roadmap to guide the longer term choices for the next 5 years. Always write the plan in a way that everyone can follow. We show you how to build your brand vision, purpose and values that should last 5-10 years. We then show how to map out the key issues, strategies, and tactics. Click this link to learn how to write the brand strategy roadmap: How to write your brand strategy roadmap And, to read more on how to build your annual brand plan, click: How to write your brand plan

Figure out the brand positioning

Your role as a brand leader is to figure out a brand positioning statement that will motivate consumers and be ownable for your brand. Start by defining your consumer target, then use our cheat sheets to figure out the functional and emotional benefits you deliver, and the reasons to believe that support the brand positioning. To read more on brand positioning, click: How to build your brand positioning statement

Consumer Centricity

As the marketer, you have to take responsibility for staying in touch and maintaining the relationship with consumers. Invest in market research to find ways to listen and observe so you can adjust to the changing needs of consumers. You should be listening for the voice of the consumer, to use their own words within your work. Continue to invest in tracking consumers and gathering consumer insights. It is crucial to building a consumer profile: Building your ideal consumer profile

Build a culture behind the brand

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea, as well as getting everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.

Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.

When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization.

Drive the innovation

As the brand leader, you need to work with the product development team to push and steer the innovation process. The brand idea must drive the innovation, and stay on strategy with the long-range brand strategy roadmap. The innovation will be driven by brainstorming to identify new opportunities to get a continuous pipeline of ideas, then an assessment tool to make a go/no-go decision, followed by go-to-market planning and execution. It’s crucial the brand leader oversees the entire process, and be involved to move things along throughout each stage.

new product development

Many times, the product people will be much more technical than you. Use your advantage of knowing your customer, to work with them to determine how their ideas can be translated into more consumer-focused ideation.

Run the business performance

As the brand leader, you own the P&L and should be doing everything you can to drive revenue and profit. You should be continuously tracking the in-market performance including market share, brand funnel performance, and the individual execution performance tracking. Internally, the brand leader should own the sales forecasting, cost management, and pricing. You have to understand every component of the P&L because you own it. Here’s a link to an article I wrote on how to do a quick dissection of your brand’s profit statement. How to manage your brand’s profitability

A bad marketer hangs onto their budget just for the sake of it; while the best brand leaders make investment decisions thinking of both the short-term and long-term performance of the brand. Here’s a good story for you on how to create a monthly report to track your brand consumption and brand shipments: Monthly Brand Report

Partner with the sales team on channel management

Brand leaders should work side-by-side with the sales team to manage the consumer through the purchase moment. The brand plan should guide the sales team on specific strategy and goals. Given sales owns the selling execution, you must gain the sales team’s alignment and buy-in on the best ways to execute your brand’s strategy through direct selling, retailer management, and e-commerce options. The programs include pricing, distribution focus, shelf management, promotional spending, customer marketing, customer analytics, and specific promotional tools.channel management

Use a “triple win” to find the ideal retail programs, which match up with wins for your channel customer, your shared consumer, and your brand. Marketers must understand that sales leaders work through relationships, and need to balance the strategies of their customer with the desired strategies of your brand. Your channel customers are trying to win in their market, satisfying a base of their own consumers through your brands, while battling competitors who you may also be going through that customer. Your most successful programs will provide a win for your channel customer, as you will get much more support for your program.

The brand leader decides on pricing

  • Price increase: Simply put, brands can execute a price increase when the market or consumers allow the brand to do so. A beloved brand will have an easier time pushing through a price increase as it can use the power of its brand versus consumers, competitors, or channels. When pushing a price increase through retail channel partners, brands usually require proof it will work or that costs have gone up. Factors that help the brand story include the health of the brand and market.  
  • Price decrease: Use this tactic when battling a competitor, in reaction to sluggish economic conditions or retail channel pressure. You can also use an aggressive price decrease when you have a cost advantage, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution. When you have that cost advantage, it may make sense to deploy a lower price to deplete the resources of your competitor.

The brand leader manages the advertising process

While most non-marketers believe the marketer’s job is all about advertising, I would estimate that advertising usually takes up only 10-20% of a given marketing role. It would be good for advertising agencies to know this, which could explain a lot of what their client is going through. Aside from launching a new product, running an advertising campaign is one of the more complex projects you manage. Here’s an article on how to manage the entire advertising process from start to finish:  Advertising process

Advertising Process

Challenge yourself to get better at advertising  

If you realized that how you show up as a client was the most significant factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would show up differently? If so, then show up right.  

Be one of your agency’s favorite clients. Bring a positive spirit that inspires everyone to want to work on your brand and never treat them like they have to work on your business.

Stay focused on one target, one strategy, one benefit behind one brand idea. Avoid the “just in case list” where you add “one more thing.” The best advertising is like a bullhorn in a crowd. The worst advertising is like a cluttered bulletin board where you can’t read anything.

When building a creative brief or providing feedback, resist the temptation to provide your own creative ideas or recommend changes. When you are dealing with an expert, give them your problems, not your solutions.

Here’s an article on how to make advertising decisions.

How to make advertising decisions

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

Case Study: Patagonia goes against the norms of business, and it works.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

PatagoniaPatagonia is considered one of the gold standard brands for brand purpose. The problem for those copycat brands is they only go half way, whereas Patagonia goes all the way for environmental causes. The copycat brands make an ad about purpose, but they don’t live it and breathe it the way Patagonia does.

For example, Gillette ran a purpose-driven ad in January, ran it for 6 seeks. Some loved it, others hated it. They lost market share and shifted back to a fireman who needs a sensitive razor because his mask rubs against his face. That’s not purpose driven.

Pepsi made an ad a few years ago, about trying to save the world with Kylie Jenner.  It flopped, so they went back to selling cherry flavours the next week. That’s not purpose driven.

Purpose can’t be a short-term attempt to gain share because we all of a sudden like brand purpose.

Patagonia has made some decisions the copycat brands would never have the strength to do

Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. They have given away $90 million in cash to grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities. They have encouraged other businesses to join their cause. That’s purpose.

Patagonia has fought President Trump on his views on the environment. This year, they announced they were giving away the Trump tax cut, estimated at $10,000,000, to environmental causes. I didn’t hear Unilever or Ben & Jerry’s giving the tax dollars away. I get it, it’s not easy. But, that’s purpose.

Don’t buy this jacketpatagonia

A few years ago, they were trying to figure out how to handle Black Friday. They launched a campaign encouraging their consumers not to buy a new Patagonia jacket. Ok, now that’s crazy.

Why? Everything they make takes something from the planet we can’t give back. Each piece of Patagonia clothing, whether or not it’s organic or uses recycled materials, emits several times its weight in greenhouse gases, generates at least another half garment’s worth of scrap, and draws down copious amounts of freshwater now growing scarce everywhere on the planet.

They placed the ad in the New York Times asking people to buy less on Black Friday. Yes, they are in business to make and sell products. Yes, they need to make money, and they are growing, but they want to make sure they address the risks of consumerism and don’t want to show up hypocritical.

They refuse to sell to Wall Street or Silicon Valley

Last week, it was revealed that Patagonia will no longer sell co-branded fleeces into companies who do no share their purpose of saving the planet. That means no to Wall Street and no to Silicon Valley. The way they get around this is to stay they will only sell to those companies who are willing to give away 1% of their sales. Turning away willing customers, because they don’t share your views: that’s purpose.

Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.

For years, Patagonia has used “We will build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire” as their mission statement.” This year, they have dialled up their mission to “be in business to save our home planet.” That’s definitively purpose-driven.

Sensing many other brands are trying to copy the way they do purpose, The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, now 81, has taken note and said “Purpose is not a strategy”.

Chouinard went on further to say, “You can’t reverse into a mission and values through marketing. The organisations that are struggling with this are probably the ones that are thinking about marketing first. The role of marketing is to authentically elevate that mission and purpose and engage people in it, but the purpose needs to be the business.”

This environmental stance is embedded into the culture. They have stated that when Patagonia has a job opening, all things being equal, they will hire the person who’s committed to saving the planet no matter what the job is. No other company is that committed to their purpose.

Purpose is not a strategy, and it’s not an advertising line.

If you love brand purpose, you should treat brand purpose properly, and where it sits within your brand actually matters.brand purpose

Purpose is NOT a strategy.

And, purpose is NOT an advertising line.

Purpose answers, “Why does your brand exist?” It is the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. It gives your brand a soul. Moreover, it should sit very high on your plan. You can’t make up a purpose.

If you were a product-driven razor brand for 50 years, it takes another 50 years to transition to a true purpose-driven brand. Your first audience of your purpose should be your employees, not consumers.

Purpose impacts the values and beliefs of your brand, which then impacts the expected behaviours of all those who work behind the scenes of the brand. Can you see now, how it takes time for it to sink in. One ad, just won’t cut it.

Don’t be ashamed of your real brand purpose because you likely can’t deliver the fake one you think is cool

Be honest with yourself. If you are Pepsi, what the heck is wrong with making the world smile and dance? Not everyone has to save the world? Authentic means being true to yourself, not just appearing earnest in an ad.

Every brand should have a purpose. Not every brand should use it in their ads. Use purpose if it motivates consumers and is ownable for your brand.

The biggest thing we can learn from Patagonia, is we can never be them.

Patagonia is uniquely laser focused on the environment, not as a way to connect, but as a life-long commitment to why they exist.

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