Smarter brand leaders leads to better work and that leads to stronger results

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers
When you look at your team of brand leaders, ask yourself:  Are they as good as they could be? 

Are they strategic? Are they disciplined and fundamentally sound? Can everyone on your team effectively write a brand plan, positioning concepts, a creative brief, make marketing investment decisions and judge creative work to ensure it delivers the strategy? The great myth of marketing is that it is 100% learned on the job. It should be a balance of coaching from a well trained leader, teaching in a class room setting and learning on the job. More and more, we are seeing marketing teams thrust new marketers into their roles without any training. In fact, their bosses and even their bosses haven’t really received any training. So who is really teaching you, on the job, if the person with you isn’t well-trained?   

Do your brand leaders think strategically?

Strategic thinking is not just whether you are smart or not. You can be brilliant and not strategic at all. 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 planners who can see connections. On the other hand, Non strategic thinkers see answers before questions. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. With the explosion of marketing media, we are seeing too many of the new Brand Leaders becoming action-oriented do-ers and not strategic thinkers. They don’t connect their actions to maximizing the results on the brand. They do cool stuff they like not strategic things that help grow the business and add profit to the Brand. I see too many of today’s Brand Leaders focused on activity, rather than strategy.

When you are strategic, you will focus all of your resources and energy against the pressure points that drive the greatest return on investment and effort. There are four principles of good strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.

  1. FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Focus on one target. Focus on one message.  And focus on very few strategies and tactics. Less is more. 
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.  
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger. Crowds follow crowds. 
  4. See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger.   It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviours. Return on investment or effort.

To me, with the modern-day Brand Leader, the area where they struggle the is the “FOCUS” part.  Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time. Focus makes you matter most to those who care.   Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all. Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. 

Have your Brand Leaders been taught how to think strategically?

I actually don’t know many Brand Leaders that really have been taught. Yet, we tell Senior Brand Managers, you’re not getting promoted because you’re not strategic enough. If we taught them how to be strategic, we might find a better pool of talent within your team. The following training module shows Brand Leaders how to think strategically, and how to think in terms of consumer strategy, competitive strategy or visionary strategy. Consumer Focused Strategic Thinking starts with the consumer, maps out the need states and best matches your brand to delivering a unique selling proposition that helps connect with consumers, drives added power for the brand which can translate into growth and profitability. Competitive Focused Strategies have 4 types of  Marketing Warfare Strategies 1) Offensive 2) Defensive 3) Flanking and 4) Guerilla. Focus and speed are crucial to any warfare.  Being organized and aligned internally is crucial to winning. Visionary Strategy starts with the purpose driven vision (the Why) and layers in the strategy (the how) and execution (the what) deliver that vision. 

How fundamentally sound Are your Brand Leaders?

Your Brand Leaders should be well-trained on planning, positioning and creative briefs, as well as judging execution to keep it on strategy.  

Can your Brand Leaders write an effective Brand Plan?  

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.  For more on how to write a plan, follow this link:  How to Write a Brand Plan

Can your Brand Leaders write a winning Brand Positioning Statement?  

Brand Positioning Statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind. While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says. A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: 

      • Target Market (a)
      • Definition of the market you play in (b)
      • Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
      • The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe  one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise. But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks. And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise. To see more on how to write an effective Brand Positioning Statement, follow this link:  How to Write a Positioning Statement

Can your brand leaders write a creative brief?  

The best Advertising is well planned, not some random creative thing that happens. The value of a creative brief is focus!  Like a good positioning statement, you’re taking everything you know and everything you could possibly say, and starting to make choices on what will give you the greatest return on your media dollars. If you’re not making choices then you’re not making decisions. Unlike other creativity, advertising is “In the Box” creativity. The best advertising creative people  are problem solvers, not blue sky thinkers. Therefore, the role of the creative brief is to create the right box, enough room to move, but enough direction that defines the problem. The smaller the brief, the bigger the idea.  A good brief should be brief. One page maximum.  I’m still in shock when I see briefs reaching 5 or 6 pages. That’s not a brief, that’s a long! Take the pen and start stroking out words, forcing yourself to start making decisions.  Avoid the “just in case” type of thinking. For more on How to Write a Brief, follow this link: How to Write a Brief

Can your brand leaders execute and stay on strategy?

Making great advertising is very hard. Good marketers make it look simple, but they have good solid training and likely some good solid experience. As Brand Leaders sit in the room, looking at new advertising ideas, most are ill-prepared as to how to judge what makes good advertising and what makes bad. It’s a myth that great marketing is learned strictly “on the job”. I also say “you are likely to screw up your first five ads”. ANd if you do one a year, that’s 5 years of advertising.  So, how well prepared are you?  

An ill prepared Brand Leader will more than likely deliver a poor ad. There are fundamentals to help ensure that your instincts are the right instincts.  How many hours of training have you had on giving direction to a creative team? How many times did you role-play giving feedback to the agency? How good was the coaching you received on your feedback? Not only do you need the fundamentals through solid training, but you likely need someone coaching you through a role-playing exercise. Too many Brand Leaders sit there confused, brief in hand, but not sure whether they like it or not sure whether any of the scripts will do much for them. The four questions you should be asking:

    • Will this ad attract Attention? (A)
    • Does this ad showcase the Brand? (B)
    • Are we Communicating our main benefit?  (C)
    • Will this ad stick in the minds of consumers? (S)

Using something like the ABC’s makes it easy for Brand Leaders to stay strategic and be able to judge the work effectively.  Here’s a write-up on How to help Brand Leaders judge communications Effectively:  The ABC’s of Effective Communication

Invest in your people: Smarter brand leaders leads to better work and that leads to stronger results 

 

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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Be a Better Brand Leader by saying “Let’s cut to the Chase” more often

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Cut to the chase and avoid the spin

Stop being that brand that keeps spinning and gets nothing done.  Within most brand portfolios, there are those problem brands that just seem to spiral downward out of control.  They spin, and spin and spin.  Nothing gets done. Decisions don’t get made. They try something. It doesn’t work immediately. So they change course. And spin some more. Everyone thinks they have the answer, but no-one shares the same answer. And more spin.

What’s missing is a leader who will stand up to everyone on the team say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE”

Cut to the Chase with the The 40/70 Rule

I love the Colin Powell rule that when you are facing a tough decision, you need at least 40% of the information, but oddly enough, you should make the decision with no more than 70%. Once you’re in that 40-70% zone, go with your gut and make the decision.  

If you make a decision with less than 40% of the information, you are shooting from the hip and you will make too many mistakes. The 70% part of the decision-making rule is what surprises many Brand Leaders. They often think that they need more than seventy percent of the information before they can make a decision. A lot of Brand Leaders want as much data as they can. Many times they hope the data will make the decision for them. But if you want the data to make the decision, then why do we need you in the Brand Leader role? Why don’t we just put the Market Research person in your job?  We could pay them less and just go with the data output from the research 100% of the time.

But, in a highly competitive market, if you wait to get more than seventy percent, then the opportunity has usually passed and someone else has beaten you to the punch. A key element that supports Powell’s rule is the notion that intuition is what separates the great leaders from the average ones. Intuition is what allows us to make tough decisions, but many of us ignore our gut.  Relying on too much information can stiffen a leader, paralyzing the team to seek out more data. They become afraid to make decisions. Always keep in mind that marketing is half science and half art. Don’t forget about the art. People who want certainty in their decisions end up working for other people, not leading.

So, next time you feel your team has 40-70% of the information say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE” and see if you can push them to making the best decision they can make.  

Cut to the chase with tough questions

One of the big spin factors is lack of alignment. Everyone at the table has their own view of what needs to be done. The team ends up paralyzed with indecision. A team moving together towards a common strategy, even if it is only a pretty good strategy, is much smarter than a team moving in three directions, with each thinking they have an amazing strategy.

Align first on the Key Issues of the Brand. In terms of analysis, there are so many ways to do it but my preference is to use a force-field analysis of Drivers and Inhibitors. Basically, drivers are what is pushing the brand and inhibitors is what’s holding it back. These are happening NOW. Then add in the a future looking analysis of Risks and Opportunities. These could happen in the future. The simplicity of this analysis helps the next stage of your brand plan, and set up the Key Issues which are focused on finding ways to continue/enhance the growth drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, avoid the risks and take advantage of the opportunities.

Here’s an example of How to do a Key Issues Deck. This is something I do with clients all the time and after a 1 or 2 day session, they can feel they are aligned.

 

Ask the Tough Questions of the team. Tough questions make a team pause and start thinking instead of just doing. I always frame the Key Issues in question form, believing the answers to those questions become the strategy. But I believe that 90% of your effort should go into asking the big challenging questions that startle and yet motivate the team. The better the question you ask, the better the strategy. For instance, if I wanted to lose a few pounds, I could ask the question: “how can I lose weight?” which is not really a good enough question to generate rich insightful strategies. But if I were to ask a better question: “what exercise program would help me successfully lose 10 pounds and work with my busy life?” all of a sudden better strategies start coming to the surface.  

Use these tough questions that force tough solutions by saying to your team: “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE”

Cut to the chase and find your difference

Part of the spin zone brands go through is they never find their own point of difference. They over-react to what competitors are doing, copying them hoping to neutralize what advantage they have. But by trying to be everything that the competitor is doing, they end being nothing really.   

The most Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or else not around for very long. In a crowded market, it’s really hard to be genuinely be significantly better. And unless your entire company is set up to be more efficient than everyone else, it really leaves different. But as you push for being different, you want to be smart and different. Use this venn diagram to brainstorm points of difference.   

Then challenge the team to find their Good and Different. Use the very simple map below to see where your ideas fall. 

  • Good But Not Different: These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar. However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all. So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.
  • Good But Different: These don’t always test well. Consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life. But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”. It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand. This option offers long-term sustainability.
  • Not Good and Not Different:  These are the safest of safe. Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good. The tallest of midgets. They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity. In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market. But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically. What appears safe is actually highly risky. You should have followed your instincts and not launched. This option is a boring failure.
  • Different but Not that Good: Sometimes we get focused on the product first: it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need. So we launch what is different for the sake of being different. It does poorly in testing. Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching. But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference. And it fails. The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

Look to the grid above and say “LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE” and push your team to find something that is Good and Different.

What is Your “Let’s Cut to the Chase” Moment?

To read more about how to create a Beloved Brand:

 

 

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

Ten Best Super Bowl Ads of All Time

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Super-Bowl-47-LogoEven though I’m almost over the Patriots loss from last weekend, let’s start Super Bowl week off with a tribute to all the great Super Bowl ads over the years.  

I hope a few of these spots bring back some good memories for you and if there are any special ones missing for you, feel free to add them in the comments.  

Coke “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)

Bit of that 1970s “cheese” for you, but I remember this one from my teens.  The spot has become as iconic as the drink itself.  

Apple 1984 (1984)

Great story of this ad in the Steve Jobs book–how the board never wanted to run it and they lied about the media commitment.  This was one of the first big Super Bowl ads, that changed the way advertisers saw the Super Bowl slots.    

Diet Pepsi Michael J Fox (1987)

A little bit of that “Back to the Future” feel of the 1980s Michael J Fox.  Very cute tone is a good fit for Pepsi.    

McDonald’s Jordan vs Bird (1992)

This one had a lot of break through and left us with the phrase “nothing but net”.  The current Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy spot uses (steals) the same formula.  

Cindy Crawford “New Can” (1992)

Not much needs to be said about this one, other than that they repeated this 10 years later and she still looked the same.  

Budweiser: WASSUP! (1999)

The simplicity of this one, but it really does capture a male-bonding insight of how guys do interact with their buddies.  

FedEx “Pigeons”

FedEx has been using sarcastic humor to make their point for years.  This spot has a good feel with the FedEx tone.  

Snicker’s Betty White (2010)

Whatever Betty was paid, she’s made millions since because of this spot.  Quickly after this one, the power of a Facebook page demanded that Betty host Saturday Night Live.  A great little spot, one that Snicker’s has yet to fully capture in their pool outs on this campaign.   

Chrysler Eminem (2011)

I love the tone of this spot, perfect casting with Eminem–the rawness of his voice, attitude and authenticity.  The repeat in 2012 using Clint Eastwood was a good spot as well, but not quite up to the Eminem version.  “Imported from Detroit” is a very big idea.  Love it.  

Budweiser 9/11 Tribute (2002)

Even after all these years, this one might bring a tear to your eye.  Months after the tragedy of 9/11, this one takes the American icons of Budweiser and the Clydesdales marching through the streets of America and gives a nice salute to NYC.  

Good luck to this year’s Super Bowl, as many of us will be watching the TV ads as much as we’re watching the game.  The power of the venue as the Super Bowl out draws the final game of the other 3 sports (Baseball, Basketball and Hockey) combined.  

And I lied: I’m not quite over the Patriots loss yet.  

What’s Your Favorite Super Bowl Ad of all time?

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 

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