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

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. Ben & Jerry’s also spoke out against Trump. But, 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 jacket

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.

Patagonia refuses 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 certainly 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.

 

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

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

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

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

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

How to define the ideal target market profile to build your brand around

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

target market definitionMost marketers think of the type of consumers they want to attract. Why not change your thinking and go after those consumers who are already motivated by what your brand offers? So instead of asking, “Who do we want?” you should be saying, “Who wants us?” In this article, I will show you a few target market examples from across industries. I use seven fundamental questions to define and build an ideal consumer target market profile:

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

Target market definition: Who is your consumer?

In terms of a target market definition, one of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make is picking too broad of a target market. A tight target market decides who is in the target and who is not in the target.

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

Target market example: The shoe shine guy

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

When it comes to your target market definition, instead of going after who you want, go after those who want you

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

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

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

Target market example: The case of the crazy bank that targeted everyone

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

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

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

Narrowing your target helps focus your marketing efforts

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

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

Target Market Definition

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

 

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

What are your consumer’s needs?

If you can make consumers buy, you will never have to sell. The best brands do not go after consumers; they get consumers to crave their brand and come after them. The process I will take you through involves matching up what your consumers want and need with what your brand does best.

Possible functional needs of your target market

To help get you started, I have mapped out nine functional need states to help you understand the potential spaces your brand can play in and eight emotional need states your brand can play in:

Target Market Definition

These need states mean something different for each category of brands, but it should be a good starting point for you to brainstorm where you can add specific words that fit your brand situation.
Who is your consumer’s enemy?

While products solve small problems, the best brands beat down the enemies that torment their consumers every day. Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and find their most significant frustration pain point they feel no one is even noticing or addressing.

Target Market Example: The Starbucks mom

Put yourself in the shoes of the Starbucks consumer, a 38-year-old mom with two kids. She wakes up at 6:15 a.m. to get ready for work and get everyone in the house prepared for their day. Then, she drops off one kid at daycare at 7:30 a.m., the other at the public school at 7:45 a.m. then rushes to the office by 8:30 a.m. She drives a van, not because she wants to but because it is excellent for carrying equipment for after-school activities, including soccer, dance, tutoring and ice hockey. Her only tokens of appreciation are hugs at the end of a long day. Just after getting both kids to bed, she collapses into her bed, exhausted.

Who is the enemy of the Starbucks mom? A hectic life

The Starbucks brand fights her enemy, by providing a 15-minute moment of escape between work and home. Starbucks has no children’s playground, just lovely leather seats. No loud screams, just soft acoustic music. The cool 21-year-old college student not only knows her name but her favorite drink.

Your consumer’s enemy

If you want to understand your consumer’s pain points, think of how you would project their enemy and express how your brand fights that enemy on their behalf. Shifting from solving a rational consumer problem to beating down an emotional consumer enemy is the starting point to reaching into the emotional need state of your consumer. Disney fights off the consumer enemy of “growing up.” Nike fights the consumer enemy of “losing.” Apple fights off the consumer enemy of “frustration with computers.”

Target Market examples of consumer enemies brands beat down on their behalf

Consumer Target Market definition

Consumer insights

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

Avoid relying too heavily on facts and data alone without any context or story. Too many marketers think that data, trends, and facts are insights. Here’s a data point: “People in Brazil brush their teeth four times per day, compared to 1.7 times per day for North Americans.” Do you think that is an insight? Some people do. But when you think of how little you know about this data point, you realize you need to go deeper into the context to gain an understanding. You must start to ask more questions, by asking who, what, when, where, or asking how and even why, that’s when we begin to turn the fact into an insight.

Consumer Insights

Stereotypes and clichés are dangerous.

I once heard someone say, “Women over 50 are stuck in their ways, and not willing to change their routines.” That is not a valid statement for many categories. Here are two examples of women over 50 making dramatic changes: a) Women take 8x more vitamins at 55, compared to 50 and b) The fastest growth for the Apple brand has been women over 50. Be careful you don’t stereotype; especially when you are not in the target market, you are going after.

Common knowledge offers no competitive advantage. I hear insights all the time that are not unique secrets. For instance, “Golfers wish there was a way they could hit the ball longer and straighter” offers no competitive advantage. Everyone in the golf industry knows this. Dig deeper.

Watch out that you don’t use insights just related to your product rather than about the consumer’s LIFE! Too many marketers use insights like, “Whenever I get hungry, I love eating my Gray’s chicken nuggets.” This type of statement is too blatant to be an insight, yet people put stuff like this all the time.

How to write meaningful consumer insights

Force yourself to get in the shoes of your consumer and use their voice. Every consumer insight should start with the word “I” to get into the shoes of your consumer, and you should put the insight in quotes to use their voice. Here are some examples of good and bad consumer insights:

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

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

Completing the target market profile

Taking all this work, here is the consumer target profile for Gray’s Cookies brand. The remaining questions will come from your strategic brand plan.

The target market profile works for B2B

Consumer Target Market example

The target market profile works for healthcare

Consumer Target Market example

To read more on consumer insights, click on this story.

Take the mystery out of finding consumer insights to connect with your target market on a deeper level

To see how insights are used, click on this story

 

Five ads that bring consumer insights to life

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.

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

About Graham Robertson

As the founder of Beloved Brands, Graham has been an advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Reebok, Acura, Jack Links, Miller beer, Earls restaurants and Pfizer. He’s helped train some of the best marketing teams on strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising.Graham Robertson

In his marketing career, Graham led some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, and Pfizer, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year”, Businessweek’s best new product award and four Effie advertising awards. His book, Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand consumers will love.

We live by the beliefs that guide us

We believe the best answers are inside you already. My role is to get those answers out, and make your answers even smarter. I never give you the answer. I will ask more questions that challenge your answers to be better.

We believe investing in your people pays off. With my training program, I know I will make your people smarter, so they make the right choices, and produce exceptional work that will lead to higher brand growth.

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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How to write a marketing plan everyone can follow

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

marketing planWe believe a good marketing plan helps make decisions to deploy the resources and provide a roadmap for everyone who works on the brand. You will learn how to write each component of the marketing plan, looking at brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. We provide marketing plan definitions and marketing plan examples to inspire you for how to write each component. Our marketing plan workshop allows marketers to try each concept on their brand. We provide hands-on coaching and feedback to challenge their plans. Below, I will show you part of our marketing plan process that we lay out in our Beloved Brands book.

We offer unique formats for a marketing-plan-on-a-page and long-range strategic roadmaps. And then, we show how to build marketing execution plans. We look at a marketing communications plan, innovation plan, sales plan, and experiential plan. Your marketing plan will help give a strategic direction to everyone in your organization.

The annual marketing plan

  • The analysis section lays out the summary from the deep-dive business review. Provide an overview of the top three points, which envelop what is driving your brand’s growth, what is inhibiting your brand’s growth, which threats could hurt your brand and what opportunities your brand faces.
  • The key issues and strategies section focuses on the top three issues getting in the way of achieving your vision, which you should put in question format. And the strategic solutions are the answers that match up to each of those questions. Set goals to measure your brand’s performance against each strategy.
  • The marketing execution section maps out the specific plans for each of the chosen execution areas that line up to most essential consumer touchpoints.

Marketing Plan template

 

Marketing Plan template

I first came up with this “plan-on a page” marketing plan template when I led a team with 15 brands. It helped me see the big picture quickly, rather than having to hunt through a big thick binder. Also, the sales team appreciated the ability to see the entire plan on one page quickly. Most salespeople also had 15 brands to manage with each of their customers. Everyone who works on the brand should receive the one-page marketing plan. And they should keep it close by to steer their day-to-day decisions.

Marketing Plan Definitions

Vision:

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

Brand purpose:

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

Values:

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

Goals:

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

Situation analysis:

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

Key issues:

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

Strategies:

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

Tactics:

The tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision while delivering the highest ROI and the highest ROE for your branded business.

Brand vision

A well-written brand vision should be the ultimate end-in-mind achievement, which answers, “Where could we be?” Think about significant accomplishments that would make you feel completely fulfilled. Put a stake in the ground to describe an ideal state for your future. Every smart brand plan must start with a brand vision statement. When I see brand teams who struggle, they usually lack a brand vision.

Some organizations get so fixated on achieving short-term goals; they chase every tactic in front of them just to make their numbers. Your vision should steer your entire marketing plan. Choose the language and phrases within your vision that will inspire, lead, and steer your team.

brand plan examples

Checklist for what makes a vision great:

  • Your vision should last 5-10 years. 
  • It should help you imagine the ideal picture of “where could we be.”
  • Describe your dream, describing what you see, feel, hear, think, say and wish for your brand.
  • It should be emotional to motivate all employees and partners to rally behind it.
  • It must be easy to understand, in plain words, which may already be a familiar phrase within the company. 
  • A great vision is a balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement).
  • Consider adding a financial (sales or profit) or share leadership position (#1) number.

Situation Analysis

Before you plan where to go next, you need to understand “Where are we?” A deep-dive business review should look take a 360-degree view to dig into the issues related to the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and the brand. In my Beloved Brands book, I go deeper into how to conduct a deep-dive business review. 

For the marketing plan, provide a summary of the factors driving the brand’s growth, the factors inhibiting the brand’s growth, the untapped opportunities, and the potential threats you see. I have provided a marketing plan example using Gray’s cookies.

Summarizing your analysis

  • The drivers are the factors of strength or inertia, which are currently accelerating your brand’s growth. These are brand assets, successful programs, favorable consumer, technology, or channel trends. Drivers also include new products, successful advertising, or performance in retail channels. marketing plan example
  • The inhibitors are the factors of weaknesses or friction that slow down your brand’s growth. These are the “Achilles heel” of the brand, which could include unfavorable consumer trends, changes in the way people shop, competitive pressures, or even gaps compared to your competitors. 
  • The opportunities are specific untapped areas in the market that could fuel future brand growth. They include unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, regulation changes, competitive openings, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. 
  • The threats are identifiable activities that could impact your brand’s growth in the future. These include significant competitive activity, competitive technology gains, changing consumer dynamics, unfavorable distribution changes, or future potential trade barriers, which would impact your brand’s growth. 

While you brainstorm a long list, narrow your focus to the top three points for each of the four areas. As you move from the analysis to the issues, ensure you find a way to continue or enhance the drivers, while you minimize or reverse the inhibitors. You also want to build specific plans to take advantage of the opportunities and reduce or eliminate the most severe threats.

Key issues

Lay out the key issues that answer, “Why are we here?” by taking the summary findings of the deep-dive analysis and drawing out the significant issues in the way of achieving your stated brand vision. How to write a smart Brand Plan Marketing Coach Consultant Workshops

A great way to find the issues is to brainstorm up to 30 things in the way of your vision. Then, narrow down your list to the top 3-5 significant themes you see. Take the themes and begin to write the top issues in a rhetorical, strategic question format to prompt a few different strategic options for how to solve each issue. Spend serious thinking time on these questions because the better the strategic question you ask, the better the strategic answer you will get.

Marketing Plan example of using the four strategic questions to focus the brand’s key issues

Another excellent methodology for finding key issues is to go back to the four strategic questions model I outlined in the strategic thinking chapters. This thinking ensures you take a 360-degree view of your brand. Looking at the example below, I have used the four strategic questions and come up with four specific questions that fit the Gray’s Cookies brand.

With various ways to brainstorm and find the issues I recommend for the annual marketing plan, focus on the top three key issues, which set up the top three strategies. A long-range brand strategic roadmap can typically handle up to five key issues, then five strategies.m

marketing plan example

Writing Strategic Objective Statements

You should start off by writing your strategic objective statement using the four components of the a + b + c + d model outlined in our Beloved Brands book, which is in Chapter 3 on strategic thinking. We go through four types of strategy, including your core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy and your brand situation.

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

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

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

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

Here are marketing plan examples of strategic objective statements. You’ll see how we use the a + b + c +d approach for the various types of strategies.

marketing plan examples

 

Writing your strategy statements

The method I use creates very long strategic objective statement first, before writing a pithier version of the strategic statement. You will notice the wording feels quite chunky and far too long. Once you have three steadfast strategic objective statements, you can narrow them down to a headline. 

marketing plan examples

How to lay out each strategy

Your effort in writing these clunky statements will not go to waste. Once you have decided on your top three strategies, you can lay out a specific slide to explain each strategy within your presentation. 

  • Include the clunky strategic objective statement (told you it would not go to waste). 
  • The goals measure the ideal result of this strategy.
  • Then, list three tactical programs, where you will invest your resources. 
  • I also insert a “watch out statement” to show I am proactively addressing any issue I feel could derail my presentation.

 

marketing plan examples

 

Tactics and Execution

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

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

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

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

Start with the path to purchase that matches your brand’s marketing execution to where your consumer stands with your brand.

Marketing Execution Plan

Focus your marketing activities by prioritizing on return on investment and effort (ROI and ROE).

For each strategy, you want to find the “Big Easy”. Start by putting all your ideas on to post it notes. Then map each idea onto the grid.  Are they BIG versus SMALL impact on the business? And are they EASY versus DIFFICULT? The top ideas will be in the BIG EASY top right corner. The goal of this activity is to narrow your focus to the best 3 activities.

Turn your plan into projects

As part of the marketing plan process, your marketing plan should have:

  • Brand budget
  • Goals
  • Calendar of activity
  • Project work plans

A plan is not complete without project plans that include the project owner, project budget, goals, milestones, and hurdles

To find out more about our marketing training programs, click on this link:

Beloved Brands Marketing training program

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

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How to be a better client at the creative advertising meeting

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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

With the increasing speed of advertising, brand leaders have taken one step in and often find themselves embedded in the creative development. If you are now doing the work, then who is critiquing and who is deciding if the work is good enough and if it fits your strategy? Even using “internal agencies” creates a blind spot. Brand leaders need to step back and let the creativity unfold.

There is a leadership advantage in being the least knowledgeable person in the room. While it may sound strange at first, when you are a layer removed from the specialist who does the work, it allows you to think, question, challenge and make decisions on choosing the right advertising. Focus on the strategy, but stay clear-minded enough to judge if the advertising is good enough or reject if it is not.

It takes a unique leadership skill to be able to inspire, challenge, question, direct and decide, without any expertise at all. As we engage experts, the respect we show can either inspire greatness or crush their creative spirit. From my experience, the best advertising people I have worked with would prefer to be pushed rather than held back. The last thing they want is to be asked for their expertise and then told exactly what to do.

If you knew that being a better advertising client would result in better work, would you do it?

Being good at advertising is something you can learn. I will show you how to judge and how to make decisions to choose the best advertising for your brand. You need advertising with enough branded breakthrough to stand out from the market clutter, so your brand connects with consumers. It must have a motivating message to move consumers along their purchase journey, whether you want them to see, think, feel, do, or influence.

Creative Advertising Decisions

How to handle yourself at the creative meeting

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

What does your gut instinct say?

The reality of a marketing job is you might be coming into the creative meeting from a 3-hour forecasting meeting or deep-dive financial review, or you just got back from working in the lab with scientists on a new ingredient.

It is not easy to change speeds as you head into a creative meeting. Creative Advertising DecisionsRelax, find your creative energy, let it soak in and find those instincts. I created a “gut instincts checklist” to help prompt you for when you need your instincts.

  • Is it the creative idea that earns the consumer’s attention for the ad?
  • Is the creative idea helping to drive maximum brand involvement?
  • Does the creative idea set up the communication of the main consumer benefit?
  • Is the creative idea memorable enough to stick in the consumer’s mind and move them to purchase?

Do you love it?

If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta okay” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. Ask if you would you be proud of this as your legacy.

Is the advertising on strategy?

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

How big is the creative idea?

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

At the decision point, you have three choices:

  • Approve
  • Reject
  • Change

From my experience, brand leaders rarely approve creative ideas outright. There also seems a reluctance or fear to reject outright. Creative Advertising Decisions

So marketers mistakenly assume their role is to change the ads. I see too many come to the creative meeting with a pen and paper and start to write feverishly all the recommended changes they have for each ad. The problem is if we marketers are not talented enough to come up with the ad in the first place, why do we think we are talented enough to change the ad? You are a generalist, surrounded by experts. Use your experts.

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

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

Challenge yourself to get better at advertising

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

My book, Beloved Brands, has everything you need to be successful with your brand. 

 

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 brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

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 brand 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

About Graham Robertson

As the founder of Beloved Brands, Graham has been an advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Reebok, Acura, Jack Links, Miller beer, Earls restaurants and Pfizer. He’s helped train some of the best marketing teams on strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising.Graham Robertson

In his marketing career, Graham led some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, and Pfizer, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year”, Businessweek’s best new product award and four Effie advertising awards. His book, Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand consumers will love.

We live by the beliefs that guide us

We believe the best answers are inside you already. My role is to get those answers out, and make your answers even smarter. I never give you the answer. I will ask more questions that challenge your answers to be better.

We believe investing in your people pays off. With my training program, I know I will make your people smarter, so they make the right choices, and produce exceptional work that will lead to higher brand growth.

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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How to be successful at the Assistant Brand Manager level

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

In my 20 years of my CPG Marketing career, I must have interviewed 1,000 potential Assistant Brand Managers. marketing jobI was lucky to have hired some of the best, who have gone on to have significant marketing careers and I became notorious for asking for some of the toughest questions, some even bizarre. I always asked an analytical question to see if they could piece together lots of data and tell a story that made sense. I’d ask a creative question to see if they had a certain flair and pride in the output. I’d ask a problem-solving question, some very hard, no real right answer, but I wanted to see how they think. Finally, I wanted to know that they had done something at a very high level–it didn’t matter what–but I wanted to know they could make it happen.

A marketing career is very challenging. At the entry-level role, only about 50% of Assistant Brand Managers will get promoted to Brand Manager. The percentages go down at each level.

On a classic brand management team, there are four key levels:

  • Assistant Brand Manager
  • Brand Manager
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director
  • VP Marketing or CMO.

In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future. At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report. When you get to the Marketing Director role, it’s becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

Careers

My advice to new marketers

The most eager first-time marketers want to change the world. The role is a reality check where you learn before you can run. Too many new marketers want to focus on strategy right away, but the ABM is a “doing” role. You will be executing programs, analyzing results and learning how to be a project manager. Through the execution, send signals you are capable of thinking and leading in the future.

What separates the average from the great ones that get promoted? The best seem to figure out the right thing to do and then make it happen.

  • Some figure out the right thing to do but struggle to work the system to make it happen.
  • Others can work the system, but they forget to think through what is the right thing to do.

The Assistant Brand Manager role can feel frustrating. Many times, it will inhibit your creativity and even your ideas. Fight through it. It provides a foundation and discipline you will use throughout your career.

You have to nail the obvious

You must hit deadlines.

Never look out of control or sloppy. Marketers have enough to do, so if you begin to miss deadlines, things will stockpile on each other. Do not be the one trying to negotiate extensions constantly. There are no real extensions. Just missed opportunities.

You must know your business.

Avoid getting caught off-guard with questions that you cannot answer, such as P&L (sales, growth, margins, spend) market share (latest 52, 12, 4 weeks for your brand all significant competitors) and your sales forecasts. Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge.

Open Communication.

There should be no surprises, especially with your boss. Keep everyone aware of what’s going on. When you communicate upwards, always have the situation, implications, options and then quickly followed by an action plan of what to do with it.

Take control of your destiny. We run the brands; they do not run us.

Be slightly ahead of the game, not chasing your work to completion. Proactively look for opportunity in the market, and work quickly to take advantage. When you don’t know something, speak in an “asking way,” but when you know, speak in a “telling way.”

Able to use regular feedback for growth.

Always seek out and accept constructive feedback, good or bad, as a lesson for you. Do not think of it as a personal attack or setback. Identify gaps you can close, never think of them as weaknesses that hold you back. You should always be striving to get better.

Listen first; then decide.

It is crucial that you seek to understand to the experts surrounding you before you make a decision. Early in your career, use your subject matter experts to teach you. As you hit director or VP, use them as an advisor or a sounding board to issues/ideas. They do want you to lead them, so it is essential that you listen and then give direction or push them towards the end path.

Five success factors for Assistant Brand Managers

  1. Turn data into analytical stories  
  2. Take action before being asked. 
  3. Make it happen through others
  4. Speak out to challenge the strategy
  5. Be accountable for your work

1. Turn data into analytical stories

  • The role has a ton of data with market share results, tracking scores or test results. Look for patterns or data breaks, ask questions and start putting together stories.
  • The analytical stories show you know what it means, helps sell recommendations, and supports the action you will take. 
  • Never give a data point without a story or a recommended action, or you risk letting someone else (your boss) take your data and decide. 

2. Take action before being asked

  • On day one, your manager will set most of the projects for Assistant Brand Managers. When you are new, it is comfortable to wait for your projects. But don’t get in the habit of waiting for someone to create your project list. 
  • As you mature, start to push your own ideas into the system and create your own project list. 
  • Start making smart decisions, on your own, and communicate those choices with your boss. 
  • Don’t ask permission, but tell them what you want to do and look for the head nod. Know what’s in your scope and align with your manager. 

3. Make it happen through others

  • Instead of just functionally managing the steps of the project, find ways to make each project better, faster, or deliver more significant results. Marketing Careers
  • You need to understand each critical milestones to hit, and manage bottlenecks. Every marketer meets resistance; the best knock can down those resistance points.
  • Figure out the task with the longest completion time and the element that is most important, as both will impact the entire project.  
  • You will need to push people to get things done. You need to find a bit of magic by inspiring people to give their best ideas, put in their best effort and deliver their best work. 

4. Speak out to challenge the strategy

  • Stay on strategy. Show you are always thinking, and feel confident in your strategic thoughts. Avoid just falling in love with an execution tactic that is not aligned with your brand’s strategy. It is so easy to get lost in your own “cool” projects. 
  • Ask the right questions. Challenge the strategy to make sure you understand. Silent marketers never last.  Show you are always thinking, and feel confident in your strategic thoughts.

5. Be accountable for your work

  • Accountability is the first stepping stone to ownership, which sends a signal you are ready to be a Brand Manager. 
  • You have to find the right balance by motivating experts to give their best and knowing when to step in to avoid letting things slip or miss. Never allow your team to get stuck. Stay on top of timelines and lead your project teams. Be action-oriented, and solution-focused. 
  • Be the hub of communication for all team members, and keep your manager aware. 

Ten reasons ABMs fail

  1. Can’t do the analytical story telling.
  2. Struggle to deal with the ambiguity of marketing.
  3. Slow at moving projects through.
  4. Selfishly think about themselves.
  5. Don’t work well through others.
  6. Miss answers by not being flexible.
  7. Fall for tactical programs that are off strategy.  
  8. Hold back from making contributions to the strategy.
  9. Settle for “OK” rather than pushing for “great”.
  10. Poor communicators with their manager.

The Idiot Curve

One thing to keep in mind is the Idiot Curve. The basic rule of the idiot curve is you get dumber before you get smarter. When you first land the Assistant Brand Manager job, there’s just so much to learn, it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I find it takes three months to get back to being just as smart as you were on the first day. It’s overwhelming at first, and yet you see all these other Assistant Brand Managers doing it, so that’s even more intimidating.

However, the idiot curve is inevitable. It just shows up differently for each person. No matter how hard you fight it, you have to ride the curve. (But, please fight through the curve, you have to for your survival)

The idiot curve lasts typically up to 3 months, and then things start to click. You’ll experience your own version of the idiot curve in a new and exciting way you can’t even predict.

Marketing Careers

Here’s our story on how to land your first marketing job. You have to want that marketing job, more than anyone else.

How to land your first marketing job

 

My book, Beloved Brands, has everything you need to be successful with your brand. 

 

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 brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

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 brand 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

About Graham Robertson

As the founder of Beloved Brands, Graham has been an advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Reebok, Acura, Jack Links, Miller beer, Earls restaurants and Pfizer. He’s helped train some of the best marketing teams on strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising.Graham Robertson

In his marketing career, Graham led some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, and Pfizer, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year”, Businessweek’s best new product award and four Effie advertising awards. His book, Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand consumers will love.

We live by the beliefs that guide us

We believe the best answers are inside you already. My role is to get those answers out, and make your answers even smarter. I never give you the answer. I will ask more questions that challenge your answers to be better.

We believe investing in your people pays off. With my training program, I know I will make your people smarter, so they make the right choices, and produce exceptional work that will lead to higher brand growth.

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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