10 ways to build an exceptional Customer Experience, just by saying “stop it” to these brand killers

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

 

 

There is only one source of revenue: Your Customers!!!

The most Beloved Brands create a brand experience that lives up to even over-delivers against the brand’s promise. I always like to remind myself that the customer is the most selfish animal on the planet, and deservedly so, because they have given you their hard-earned money. Brand Leaders are always fixated on driving demand to increase share and sales. Yet they usually only reach for marketing tactics like advertising, special promotion or new products. Many tend to forget about creating exceptional customer experiences. It takes years to get customers to change their behavior and move away from their favorite brand and try yours. Yet it takes seconds of bad service for you to lose a customer for life.

Do you treat those who love your brand better than you treat other customers?  You should. You can never lose their love, and then you have to find ways to use that love to get them to influence others in their network.

As we map out how consumers buy and experience brands, we have created 5 main consumer touch-points that will impact their decisions on whether to engage, buy, experience and become a fan. Our five consumer touch-points we use are:

  1. Brand Promise: Brands need to create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper.
  2. Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers.
  3. Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise.
  4. Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Brand Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day.
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Here are the 10 customer experience things that you should STOP DOING:

#1: Stop it with the attitude of “I’m in shirts not ties”.

It can be extremely frustrating walking up to an employee of a store who has no clue about anything but their own little world. And even worse when they just point and say “go over there”. The better service is those who take the extra step by jumping in and helping and those know what’s going on in every part of the brand–not just their own world.Stop Try asking someone at Whole Foods where something is and they will walk you right over to the product you’re asking about and ask if you need anything else.

#2: Stop it when you make the customer do the work.

The airlines have been shifting all their work over to customers for years–boarding pass, bag tag and now even lifting your suitcase up onto the conveyor belt. While it might help you control your costs in the short-term, you’ll never be a Beloved Brand and you’ll never be able to charge a premium price for your services. Instead, in a highly price competitive marketplace, you just end up passing those cost savings onto to the customer in lower prices. No wonder most airlines are going bankrupt.

#3: Stop it when you feel compelled to bring up the fine print when dealing with a customer problem.

A year ago, I had a problem with a laptop I bought, but I felt extra confident because I had paid extra money to get the TOTAL service plan. Yet with my first problem with the laptop, I was told the TOTAL service plan did not include hardware,software, water damage or physical damage. 1e1d5d079e23366d1149ea834ce8102f62d562519d45930ae0c0fb1b485ffff7Are you kidding me? With a computer, what else is there? As a consumer, I had gone through the brand funnel–from consideration to purchase–and made a choice to buy your brand. Yet, at the first sign of my frustration with your brand you are deciding to say to me “don’t come back.” I had a problem with my iPhone and returned it to the Apple store. They went into the back room and got a new iPhone for me and said “would you like us to transfer all your songs over?” I was stunned. Apple took a problem and turned me into a happy customer who wanted to spend even more money with them.

#4: Stop it when you send a phone call to an answering machine.

We’ve all experienced this and secretly many of us have done this. Now if you know you’re going to get a machine ask the customer: “is it OK if you get their machine”. But willingly sending a caller into a machine is just plain lazy and it says you just don’t care. Treat them with the respect that a paying customer has earned with you and make sure there is a human on the other line.

#5: Stop it with processes that make it look like you’ve never been a customer before.

While brand leaders tend to think they own the strategy and advertising, it is equally important that you also own the customer experience. While the positive view of the purchase process is driven by a brand funnel, you should also use a “Leaky Bucket” analysis to understand where and why you are losing customers. It is hard work to get a customer into your brand funnel, it is great discipline to move them through that brand funnel by ensuring that every stage is set up to make it easy for the customer to keep giving you money. Step into the shoes of your customers and experience the brand through their eyes on a regular basis so you can effectively manage the experience. You should always be shopping your own category, just to see how it is to buy your brand. When you find leaks to the brand funnel, find ways to close them so you can hang on to the customers you’ve worked so hard to get into the doors.

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#6: Stop it with trying to win every customer interaction.

This past Christmas I was lucky enough to be 34th in the return line at Best Buy. For some reason they put the most angry person they could find to manage the returns line. I suppose it lowers their return budget, but it also drives away customers. With every customer, this guy was hell-bent on trying to break the customer’s spirit so they’d avoid returning the product. As I watched, I felt like I was headed into a police interrogation. On the other hand, if you want to see a comfortable returns policy, try returning something at Costco. They take the stance that they are on the side of their “members” and help you go up against the big bad manufacturers. If you don’t have your receipt, they’ll print it out for you. At Costco, the returns process is where they earn that $50-100 membership price. Just maybe you should start treating your customers like members and see if it forces you to see things differently.

#7: Stop it when you are explaining your problems instead of listening to the customer’s problems.

When a place is completely messed up, some workers feel compelled to tell you how stupid they think this is. Unfortunately, this constantly complaining ‘why me’ attitude can quickly become systemic and contagious within the culture. It takes an effort to turn the culture around. The best way is to create service values, driving process that helps reward good service, and driving personal accountability within everyone. Then reward behavior that matches up to the service values.

#8: Stop it with the hollow apologies that seems like you are reading from a manual.

No one wants to deal with people who just feel like they are going through the motions. It’s crucial that you set up a culture that is filled with authentic people who have a true passion for customers. TD Bank retail staff does an exceptional job in being real with customers. When you consider that they hire from the same pool of talent as all the other banks, it’s obviously the culture of caring about their customers that really makes the difference in separating their customer experience from others.

#9: Stop it when you try using my complaint call as a chance to up-sell me. The only up-sell is to get me to come back again.

Last month, I had an issue with my internet being way too slow. When I called my local service provider, instead of addressing how bad their current service was, the first response was to try selling me a better service plan that with a higher monthly fee and a higher priced modem. Then suddenly, they tried to sell me a home security system. If a customer is a point of frustration, why would they want to pay you even more money for a bad service. You haven’t earned my business. The best in class service is the Ritz Carlton who proactively look to turn customer problems into a chance to WOW the customer. It’s built right into the culture as employees are encouraged to brainstorm solutions and empowered with up to $2,000. Instead of up-selling, the Ritz spends the extra effort to ensure you’re satisfied with the service you’ve already paid for.

#10: Stop it when it just becomes a job for you and you forget the passion you have for the business.

When your team starts to feel like they have no power, they just start to show up as pencil-pushing bureaucrats. There’s no passion left–as it’s been sucked out by a culture with a complacent attitude and a bunch of check in-check out types who follow the job description and never do anything beyond it.  Ask yourself “why do you come to work” and if the answer doesn’t show up in your work, then you know that the culture needs a complete overhaul. If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect your customer to love the brand?  

The best Marketers manage their brand culture

Beloved Brands create an exceptional customer experience. They know it’s not just about advertising and innovation. As a consumer, I’ve become spoiled by the best of the brands who raise the bar and continue to surprise and delight me. Think of how special you feel when you are dealing with Disney, Starbucks and Apple. Compare that to how demoralized you feel when dealing with the airlines, utilities and electronics shops. For the Beloved Brands, they understand that Culture and Brand are One. The Brand becomes an internal beacon for the culture—and the brand’s people have to genuinely be the strongest most outspoken fans who spread the brand’s virtues.keep-calm-and-stop-it-stupid.jpg

As you look at your own customer experience, take a walk in your customers shoes and see where your customer would rate you. Are they with you because they love you and want to be with you or because they have to be with you? Even though they like the product, they may feel indifferent to your brand. And they’ll be gone at the first chance at an alternative. And as a brand leader, your brand is likely stuck on a rational promise, unable to separate yourself from competitors and instead you are left competing on price and promotion.

  • Begin by holding the culture up the lens of the brand’s Big Idea and ensure the right team in place to deliver against the needs of the brand.
  • Start finding ways to create a culture that is more consumer centric (customer first)
  • Begin to push the culture to create a unique delivery of the product experience. Use Leaky Bucket analysis to take a walk in your customers shoes and to discuss weaknesses.
  • Set up forums for innovation—that create an energy through the culture and one that starts to take risks on the best ideas.
  • Use a purpose driven vision, with a set of beliefs and values to challenge the team to create and deliver that experience.
  • Reward the behaviors that match up to your values, with both rewards and recognition. Creating a culture of wow stories motivates all employees to seek potential wow moments they can deliver.
  • Begin using power of a loved brand to attract and keep the best. Find fans of the brand who will become your front line spokespeople. They bring that passion for the brand.

Here’s our workshop presentation on “Creating 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

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In advertising, what comes first: the MEDIA choice or the CREATIVE idea?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Of course the consumer always comes first. However, as you begin the advertising process, Brand Leaders need to figure out whether the creative determines the media choice you make or the media choice helps frame the creative. When I started in marketing, way back in the mid 90s, life was a little simpler because the media and the creative were both under one agency roof. The meetings were simple: you’d see your various TV script options, give some feedback and then the room would go silent and the account person would say “now let’s look at the media plan” and the media person would take you through a 15 page presentation on where else the idea of your TV script could go. You would see some magazine, OOH and even some sampling idea. Back then, there was no internet advertising yet.

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Then one day, our media folks from our agency were spun off, had a new name, moved offices and had a new President. It now just meant we had two presentations and the Brand Leader now had to make sense of things and try to piece it together. About a year into that new relationship, I was sitting there confused and asked the question: “So what comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?” The room went silent for about 5 minutes. Then of course both sides talked over each other, both saying it was them that came first.  

All Marketing Execution has to do something to the brand–getting the consumer to think, act or feel differently about your brand. Media is an investment against your strategy and creative is an expression of your strategy. Both media and creative are only useful if they connect with consumers. Great advertising must connect through very insightful creative that expresses the brand’s positioning and told in a way that matters to those who care the most. Great advertising must be placed within the consumers’ life where it will capture their attention and motivate them in the expressed desired way to meet the strategy. So really, the consumer comes first and strategy comes second. Media and creative need to work to jointly capture the consumer and deliver the strategy.  

With separate agencies, the problem now rests with Brand Leaders to figure it out. While one could theoretically argue that if the Creative Idea of the advertising is so big, it should work in every medium. That’s just not always true in reality. Some ideas just work better in certain mediums. Yet the media people could also theoretically argue that if you go for the most efficient and effective media option, the media will do the work for you. That’s also not true. The best overall advertising should work focus on what has the most impact and what has the highest efficiency.  

Here’s a solution for Brand Leaders 

The three questions you always need to keep in your head at all times: 1) where is your consumer 2) where is your brand and 3) how does the creative idea work? 

1.  Where is your consumer?

You should really understand who your consumer is, and who they are not. You need to make sure you understand the insights about them, because it’s those insights within your creative that allow you to connect with them. They’ll say “they get me”. You should always be mapping out a day in the life of your consumer. Get in their shoes and say “what does my consumer’s day look like and how will my message fit or interrupt their life?” Take a “be where they are approach” to your media. 

2.  Where is the Brand?

First thing you have to do is consider where your brand is on the Brand Love Curve where brands go from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved. At INDIFFERENT, it’s about announcement style such as mass media, LIKE IT becomes about separating yourself from the competition while LOVE IT and BELOVED you’ll start to see the growing importance of event marketing to core users or social media as a badge of honor to share with others.

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3.  How does the Creative work? (The ABC’S)

The best advertising should draw ATTENTION, be about the BRAND, COMMUNICATE the main message and STICK in the consumers head long beyond the ad.

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 7,000 brand messages per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 
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In the reality of advertising, not every ad execution will be able to do all four of the ABC’S.  When I’m in the creative room, I try to think about which of the two ABC’S are the most critical to my strategy. If it is a new product, I want all four, but I have to have: Attention and Communication. If the brand is in a competitive battle I have to have Brand and Communication.  If the brand is a leader and beloved, I need to make sure the advertising is about the Brand and that it Sticks.   

What I recommend you do:

In a sense, you have to work the creative and media together. But that’s impossible. So what I do is hold off on making any media decisions until you see the creative idea and how it is expressed in a few media options. With all the potential media options now available, I ask for 3 executions for each creative option:

        1. Video version
        2. Billboard 
        3. Long Copy Print

Sounds simple, but here’s the logic. With those 3, I can now imagine how the advertising might work across all possible media options. 

  • The “Video” allows me to imagine how the creative would work for traditional 30-second TV ad, a 60-second movie theatre ad, 2 or 3 minute viral video for sharing or even a video you could put on a website.
  • The “Billboard” allows me to imagine how it would work with traditional media options such as out-of-home billboard, bus shelter, in-store poster, packaging copy and the back cover of a magazine.  Or if we want to look at digital, it could be a digital billboard, Facebook photo, website cover.
  • The “Long Print” allows me to imagine what how it might work with a print ad, side panel of packaging, brochures, public relations story-line,  social media feed or even a blog on your website.  

With 3 simple asks against each creative idea, it covers off most of the traditional media options, even covering the digital media. So now as the Brand Leader goes to their Media Agency, they will know how the creative idea would work against any of their recommendations. 

Obviously, we always recommend that you focus. So we’ll likely recommend a lead traditional media and a lead digital and lead social option. You need to make the most out of your limited resources of dollars, time, people and partnerships. However, if we want a creative idea to last 5 years, seeing it work across this many media options gives me a comfort that should I need that option, I know the creative idea will work.

The media math from a client’s view

While the media agency owns the media math that blows your mind, here is some simple client side media math. As clients, we have to make the most of our budgets. 

  • Your production budget should be around 5-10% of your overall advertising plan. If you have small budgets, that may creep up to 20%, but that’s it. Every time you do a new piece of creative, the production dollars go up and the media dollars go down. I’d recommend you focus on one main traditional media and have only one secondary option. This keeps your spend focused. 
  • When it comes to social media, keep in mind there is no free media options. Instead of financial capital, you are now exhausting people capital. Just like the traditional options, I would recommend one lead social media and one secondary focus. Do not try to be all things to all people.  
  • The other reason to focus is to ensure you do great executions and not just “ok”.  Pick the media that maximizes the power of the creative. Don’t exhaust the team by spreading them against too many activities.   
  • Allow 80 to 90% of your media spend be on the highly effective highly efficient media plan. That means 10-20% of your media spend can now go against high IMPACT creative ideas that you know will break through.  

Work with both the creative and media at the same time, figuring out what gives the highest return on your investment

 

To see a training presentation on getting Better Marketing Execution: 

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.

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Barbie is trying to inspire girls to believe that “you can be anything”

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Barbie faced major declines

Barbie has been heavily criticized over the last few decades for projecting an unrealistic image for girls. Launched in 1959, Barbie was the blonde all-American dream, but a complete fiction that many believe to be doing more damage of the self confidence of girls. The modern Moms didn’t want their daughters playing with Barbie anymore. All of a sudden, Barbie sales declined 20% in 2012 to 2014. The brand needed to make a dramatic change.

Barbie took a dramatic step forward–even if just to catch up to where they should be–by launching new possibilities with realistic options for body type (curvy, tall and petite) and various ethnicities (seven skin tones) They needed to create a Barbie that Moms would think acceptable for their girls to play with. These moms wanted a good symbol for their daughters, not something unrealistic and unattainable. The new Barbie is a good first step.

 

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Next, the supporting Advertising for Barbie has gone viral with over 20 Million views. The ad starts by showing a young girls in situation as a College Professor, a Museum curator, a Veterinarian or a Soccer coach.  The supporting copy: “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.” with a bold tag-line:  YOU CAN BE ANYTHING. This is a great ad with a new message that should fit with the modern moms.

 

Barbie sales are up 8% this past holiday period, a good start to the turnaround. 

Here are five lessons for Brand Turnarounds

  1. Ensure the right people in place: Before even creating the plan, you need to get the right leadership talent in place. Talent, motivation, alignment. Mattel brought in new CEO last spring who reshuffled a lot of the executives in an effort to turn the business around.
  2. Look to close leaks on the Brand: Use brand funnel to assess, using leaky bucket tool to close leaks. Find out where the specific problems are coming from. Barbie has done a nice job in listening to their consumers, the moms who were rejecting the brand due to stereotypes.
  3. Cut the fat, re-invest: go through every investment decision, invest only in programs that give you an early break through win. Even faced with Sales declines, Mattel made a smart move to cut costs by 10% to drive profits back into the business. It is hard to do a turnaround while the profit keeps falling.
  4. 3-stage plan: In stage 1, find early/obvious win, halts slide, helps motivation. In stage 2, invest behind new positioning/new plan, focused decisions, take risks. In stage 3, make adjustments to plan, build innovation behind new ideas that fit plan. Barbie started talking about the plan a year ago, listening to consumers and preparing for the big launch. So far, they’ve stemmed the decline, but now they need to build a plan for the next 3-5 years that grows this business.
  5. Motivating a demotivated team: Losing can be contagious to a culture/team. Recognize wins to fuel performance driven culture. People on the team needed new leadership and needed room to take chances with this iconic brand.

We run workshops on Strategic Thinking that looks at brand strategy including competitive war games, focusing on your core strength, building connectivity with consumers and situational strategy.

 

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.

custom_business_card_pile_15837We 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. 

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5 key success factors at the CMO level

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

CMO slides.001At the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) level, success comes from your leadership, vision and ability to get the most from your people. If you are great at your job, you might not even need to do any marketing, other than challenge and guide your people to do their best work. Steer on principles, values and strategy. But let your people equally challenge you from the bottom up. Especially with the shift to media that did not even exist when you started your career. Your greatness comes from the greatness of your people. Once you figure out the magical leadership equation that better people create better work, you’ll be able to deliver better results. Invest in training your people as a way to motivate your team and keep them engaged. At the end of meetings, use teaching and mentoring moments to share your wisdom. Equally, you represent Marketing to the rest of the organization. You must challenge the other functions, challenging your sales peers on ensuring the channel strategies deliver the purchase moment, challenging HR peers to ensure that the organization can deliver the expected brand experience, challenging R&D to ensure the innovation pipeline is strong and challenging your Finance peers to ensure the strategy has adequate resources to deliver the results. You also have to challenge your CEO to push for the right brand strategies and highly creative executions. You have to stay fresh, on top of trends with consumers, channels, competitors, media and in most cases the economic conditions of various geographies around the world.

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

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

Five success factors for CMO roles:

1. People come first

Focus on the People and the Results will come: The formula is simple: the smarter the people, the better the work and in turn the stronger the results will be. You should have a regular review  of the talent with your directors. CMO slides.002I would encourage you to ensure there’s a systemic way to get feedback to everyone on the team, preferably on a quarterly basis. Invest in training and development. Marketing Training is not just on the job, but also in the classroom to challenge the thinking of your people and give them added skills to be better in their jobs. Marketing fundamentals matter. The classic fundamentals are falling, whether it is strategic thinking, writing a brand plan, writing a creative brief or judging great advertising. People are NOT getting the same development they did in prior generations. Investing in training, not only makes them better, but it is also motivating for them to know that you are investing in them.  

2. Be the visionary

You are the Mayor of Marketing: Bring a vision to the role. Look at what needs fixing on your team, and create your own vision statements that are relevant to your situation. Bring a human side to the role. Get up, walk around and engage with everyone on your team. It will make someone’s day. Your role is to motivate and encourage them to do great work. Influence behind the scenes to help clear roadblocks. Know when you need to back them up, whether it’s an internal struggle, selling the work into your boss or with a conflict with an agency. Do they love it? When they put their great work up for approval, and it’s fundamentally sound, approve it. Don’t do the constant spin of pushing for better, because then you look indecisive. 

3. Put the spotlight on your people

Let them own it and let them Shine: It has to be about them, not you. Do not be the super-duper Brand Manager. It is not easy to balance giving them to freedom to lead you and yet knowing when to step in and make a decision. By making all the decisions, you bring yourself down a level or two and you take over their job. Instead of telling, you need to start asking. Ask good questions to challenge or push your team into a certain direction without them knowing you’re pushing them is more enlightening than coming up with statements of direction. Challenge your team and recognize the great work. It might be my own thing, but I never said: “thank you” because I never thought they were doing it for me. Instead I said: “you should be proud” because I knew they were doing it for themselves.  

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4. Be a consistent, authentic, approachable leader

People have to know how to act around you. You have to set up an avenue where they are comfortable enough to approach you, and be able to communicate the good and bad. A scary leader discourages people from sharing bad results, leaving you in the dark. Open dialogue keeps you more knowledgeable. If you push your ideas too far, you could be pushing ideas from a generation too late. Get them to challenge you. Inconsistent behavior by a leader does not “keep them on their toes”. It inhibits creativity and creates tension. Be consistent in how you think, how you act in meetings and how you approve. Leadership assumes “follower-ship”. Creating a good atmosphere on the team will make people want to go the extra mile for you. Knowledge makes you a great leader, and it starts with listening. You will be surprised how honest they will be, how much they will tell you.

5. Run the process and the system

While your people run the brands and the execution, you should run the P&L and essentially run all the marketing processes. You have to run the P&L and make investment choices. Bring an ROI and ROE (Return on Investment and Effort) mind set to those decisions. These choices will be one of the essentials to making the numbers and gaining more freedom in how you do the job. In terms of process, it’s always been my belief that great processes in place—brand planning, advertising, creative briefs—is not restrictive but rather provides the right freedom to your people. Get your people to drive all their creative energy into great work that gets in the marketplace, not trying to figure out what slide looks really cool in the brand plan presentation.  To read more about running the Planning process, click on this hyperlink: 

https://beloved-brands.com/2016/03/07/how-to-lead-the-entire-brand-planning-process-on-your-business/

The head of Marketing role can be very lonely.

I remember when I first led a Marketing team, I found it surprisingly a bit lonely. Everyone in marketing tries to be “on” whenever you are around. And you don’t always experience the “real” side of the people on your team. Just be ready for it. The distance from your new peers (the head of sales, HR, operations or finance) is far greater than you are used to.Your peers expect you to run marketing and let them run their own functional area. They have their own problems to deal with, and likely see many interactions as a win-loss for resources. The specific problems you face, they might not appreciate or even understand the subtleties of the role. Your boss gives you a lot of rope (good and bad) and there’s usually less coaching than you might be used to. It is important for you to have a good mentor or even an executive coach to give you someone to talk with that understands what you’re going through.

As a CMO, you have to know that better people leads to better execution, which leads to stronger brand results

 

 

We will make your team of brand leaders smarter

While you might think that having a great product, the right strategy and a winning TV ad will drive your brand, the long-term success of your brand is dependent is how good your people are. If you have great Brand Leaders, they will be on top of your business, make the necessary strategic course corrections, create better executions that connect with consumers and drive profitable growth for your brand.

One of the best ways to drive long-term business results from your brands is to ensure you have a strong marketing team in place. At Beloved Brands, we can develop a tailored program that will work to make your team better.  Regardless of industry, the fundamentals of Brand Leadership matter. In terms of connecting with your people, Training is one of the greatest motivators for teams and individuals.  Not only do people enjoy the sessions, they see the investment you’re making as one more reason to want to stay. They are focused on their careers and want to get better.  If you can be part of that, you’ll retain your best people.

The Brand Management courses we offer:

At Beloved Brands, our training center offers 10 selected courses to get you ready to succeed in Brand Management.

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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. 

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How to win the Marketing War Games

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand, that distinguishes you from others. Looking above at the Venn diagram, we first start by listing out everything your consumers want, then list what your brand does best and what your competitors do best. The winning zone for your brand to play in is the match up where consumers want what you do best. The losing zone is to play where consumers want it, but your competitor does it better than you. Competitive Positioning Options.001As we are maturing in the marketing, it is harder and harder to come up with a definitive win, so that is where you can win the risky zone by being different, being faster to market, winning with meaningful innovation or building a deep emotional connection. The key to be seen as unique, not just for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for. Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone. This is where two competitors “battle it out” in the zone the consumer does not care about. I say sadly, because I keep seeing this in the market. One competitor starts saying “we are faster” and you see them so you think “well we are just as fast”. No one bothers to ask the consumer if they care about speed. Too often, Brand Leaders start with the claim, and then try to make the most of it in everything they do. The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit,  and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is own-able for you or motivating to the consumer.

When you position your brand you want to focus on the area where you are better than your competitor and then use communication, innovation and experience to extrapolate that benefit’s importance, while then diminishing what your competitor does best.

Competitive Brands

Where you rank and what role you play within your category is a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market. In terms of Marketing War Games, we have mapped out 4 types of competitive brands: the Power Player, the Challenger, the Island brand, the Rebel Brand. If you do not fit into one of those four, by default you become the Battler Brand where you are in a constant dog-fight in, stuck in the middle of the pack, unable to command any point of difference.

The Power Player leads the way: This is reserved for the leader of the category. These brands have a power over the category and over competitors. They can defend their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor. The Power Player is usually the market share leader but it can also be the perceived leader in the consumers’ mind. For instance, Apple is the perceived leader of the cell-phone market, even though Samsung has a significantly higher market share. The best strategy is actually to ‘attack yourself’ by identifying and close leaks in service, experience or products before others can take advantage of those leaks. Challenge the culture to step it up to  continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. Competitive Positioning Options.002Always be launching innovation that is better than your current product. Never become complacent or you will die. Keep an eye on your competitor’s moves—and adjust your own brand to ensure you defend against their attacks. Power Players always block all offensive moves and attacks back with an even greater force than the one attacking you. You always need to demonstrate your brand power—whether that is with competitors, retailers, media or even the very consumers who love you.

Power Players own what they are best at, and manage to achieve perceived parity with competitors on their weakness to avoid opening up a new competitive advantage for anyone in the market to attack them. Where there is a tie winners of these brands win on innovation, emotional, speed or taking the product and turning it into an experience.

A great case study of a Power Brand leader facing the attack from a challenger brand, McDonald’s was able to hold their own under attack by Subway’s weight loss claims and the movie “Super Size Me”. They launched a full array of salads & sandwiches, changed their happy meal to appeal to healthy moms, and voluntarily put calorie counts on their menu. For the next 5 years after “Super Size Me” McDonalds saw double-digit growth when everyone thought it was in trouble. On the other hand, Blackberry is a great case study of a brand that forgot to defend their Castle. In 2009, Blackberry dominated the B2B executive market. But they wanted to be more like Apple than like themselves. They launched a bad touch screen phone, an undifferentiated tablet, sponsored rock concerts and launched BBI for teenie-boppers. They never attacked themselves by improving the flaws of their current product or defended their strength with corporations. Pretty soon, executives were switching to the iPhone and Blackberry was headed for a quick fall to near obscurity.   

The Challenger Brand tries to change the playing field: Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength. The best offensive attack is to actually find weakness within the leader’s strengths. Competitive Positioning Options.003One very powerful strategy is to turn a perceived strength of the leader around by making it a weakness. Attacking a weakness might be insufficient, because consumers already know it is a weakness. Be careful of the leader’s defensive moves, by anticipating a response with full force—possibly even greater than yours.  Avoid wars that drain your limited resources and end up with the same share after the war. Following Napoleonic rules, you need to attack on as narrow of a front as possible to ensure your resources are put to that area—which might be more of a force than the leader puts to that one area. When a leader is trying to be everything, those narrow attacks are effective—enabling you to slice off a part of their business before they can defend it. Where there can be product differences, invest in R&D to achieve a leapfrog strategy where technology and business models become game-changers in the category.

The best example of a Challenger Brand attacking the leader came from the Pepsi Challenge which was a direct offensive attack on Coke.  Without the strength of the Coke brand name and all that went with it, people picked Pepsi in blind taste tests, preferring the sweeter taste. Supported by “the taste of a new generation” Pepsi was able to change the playing field away from Coke’s strength of tradition and heritage over to Pepsi’s taste and youth.   

The Island Brand goes into the unknown areas: An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established. Island Brands go to uncontested areas, in the safety where the leader is not competing. Make sure you are the first in this area. Speed and surprise can help win the uncontested area before the Leaders take notice. Make your move quickly and stealth fully. Follow through matters, to defend the area you’ve won. Be careful that your success on this island may invite others to follow whether it is the leader trying to use their might or copycats looking for an early win. Then you become the Power Player of your island  and must defend your territory with full power you have. Island Brands normally win with new targets, price points (premium or value), distribution channels, format or positioning. In the modern world, we are seeing many brands using completely new technologies such as Netflix or Uber to completely change the playing field. The biggest issue for Island Brands is the increased risk that your concept might not work. These are different concepts in a different space, and that brings a higher risk.

Special K Challenge is an amazing example of an Island Brand. As most cereal was targeting families, facing complaints of high sugar and calories, Special K established itself as a lower calorie and weight loss option. Around 2000, Special K made a dramatic turn in the market. With all the diet-crazed consumers looking for new solutions, Special K had a stroke of brilliance when someone figured out that if you ate Special K twice a day for just two weeks, you could lose up to 6 pounds in 2 weeks. While all the other diet options felt daunting, this felt pretty easy to do. At that time, the big idea for Special K was “Empowering Women to take control of their weight”. Special K’s innovation rivaled that of Apple. It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water. Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option.  it just goes to show you that it’s not about ‘out of the box’ ideas, but rather how you define the box.  All these product launches are aligned to the idea of empowering women to maintain their weight. The diversified line up beyond cereal helps off-set any sales softness on cereal.

The Rebel Brand goes against the category: Going into an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back. Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Competitive Positioning Options.005Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small area, so that you’ll have the relative force of a major  player. Be flexible and nimble. You will need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but also be ready to exit if need be—whether the consumers change their minds or competitors see an opportunity to enter. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you’re playing in a non-traditional market, you’ll be given leeway on the tools you use. For Rebel brands, it is better to be loved by the few, than liked or tolerated by the many. They are at their best when no one even notices or cares.

The Rebel Brands that comes to mind is 5 Guys Burgers. They have avoided taking on the big fast food chains directly, preferring to go into the high quality, fresh ingredients at a super premium price ($8-10 for a burger). They do not worry about calories or salads or even chicken. They are sticking to what they are good at: highest quality burgers. 5 Guys is taking their niche into a high growth situation, with 1000+ locations. The consumers are passionate about the high quality burger. They are stealing the top end of share from McDonald’s but are doing so by owning their niche. While they face other high quality burger joints like In-N-Out or Shake Shack, they are clearly following the McDonald’s real estate strategy by trying to be everywhere.

Dollar Shave has also done a great job as a rebel brand. Dollar Shave Club is a subscription based razor company, founded in 2011 by Mark Levine and Michael Dubin based on the idea that consumers are highly frustrated with the growing cost of razor blades. This is a classic case of finding a major un-addressed problem that consumers are facing in the market, and use a creative brand solution that helps to turn that problem into a consumer enemy that upsets them emotionally. We are seeing many brands use new technology options to set up the old guard as the enemy ready for attack. And this is the strategy for Dollar Shave on Gillette. With the cost of a pack of razors going for $20 at your average drug store or even $40 at Costco, there was a huge opportunity in the marketplace. Yes, we’ve seen huge technology gains in the last 20 years with way more blades than we ever though possible, flex balls and blue lines telling us when to throw it out. But for a great many of us, price still matters. At first Dollar Shave was so small ($25 Million in sales) that Gillette could not be bothered to defend. You can imagine that as Dollar Shave started out, they were up going against one of the biggest consumer goliath brands in the world. Gillette’s global sales are in the billions. For Dollar Shave, first year sales were about $30-50 million, while they likely generated a lot of noise at P&G, that sales level should not even be enough to make Gillette lose an ounce of sleep.

Competitive Positioning Options.006If you are stuck as a Cluttered Brand: Most brands are stuck in a dog-fight in a crowded category where they struggle to find any competitive points of differences they  can take advantage of. These brands battle it out using traditional tools such as distribution, price and promotion to try to win, only to discover that without a Big Idea it is just a constant drain on their resources. These Cluttered Brands act like a commodity, trying to out-effort or out-last their competitors. However, if the brand is a commodity, there will be no loyalty, no price premium and no growth. That means no funds coming back to invest back into the brand. These brands need to find an idea that is unique, own-able and motivating to consumers. The only way to get out of this vicious spiral is to become a Rebel Brand and build around a smaller motivated target by something you can build around or find a game-changing option to become an Island Brand.

Lessons for Marketing War Games

When engaged in marketing war games, here are things you need to do to win:

  • You have to realize that speed of attack matters. Surprise attacks, but sustained speed in the market is a competitive advantage.
  • Be organized and efficient in your management.  To operate at a higher degree of speed, ensure that surprise attacks work without flaw, be mobile enough.
  • Focus all your resources to appear bigger and stronger than you are. Focus on the target most likely to quickly act, focus on the messaging most likely to motivate and focus on areas you can win.
  • Drawn out dogfights slow down brand growth. Never fight two wars at once.
  • Use early wins to keep momentum going and gain quick positional power you can maintain and defend counter-attacks.
  • Execution matters. Quick breakthrough requires creativity in your approach and quality in execution. Expect the unexpected.
  • Think it through thoroughly. Map out potential responses by competitors. 

What is your competitive position for your brand and are your strategies lined up to your role?

At Beloved Brands, we run a brand strategy workshop to help brand leaders at  your company think differently, looking at consumer strategy, competitive strategy and situational strategy.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911.

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Are you strategic?

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

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After 20 years of managing Marketing teams, I have seen hundreds if not thousands of marketers. It is fascinating that everyone proclaims “I’m a strategic thinker”, yet in reality most Marketers are great implementers and not that strategic. Everyone seems to proclaim they are a “strategic thinker” on their LinkedIn profile. I actually think everyone believes they are strategic or have talked themselves into it. Most people think being strategic means you are smarter.

Here are some good questions to challenge where you have been in in your career.

  1. Have you ever had a good 2-hour coaching conversation with your boss about how you could be more strategic and what you should do to be more strategic?
  2. Is your boss really strategic and can you learn how to be more strategic by observing them?
  3. Have you ever received training at work on how to be more strategic and how to specifically relate that back to your job as a Marketer?
  4. Did your company have an expressed definition of what it meant to be strategic, so that everyone could work towards being more strategic?

If you are like me, during my 20 year career at Fortune 500 companies, the answers to those questions are more likely “no” than “yes”. Yet, people get promoted because they are strategic and held back in their careers at a given level because they “are not strategic enough”. When I look back on my career, if I were honest, I would say that I was way more tactical than I was strategic. I was a great do-er. Yet, I likely believed that I was “strategic”.

I had a coffee with a person about to start their marketing career the next week. She asked me “At what level would I have to get to where my job is 100% strategy?” My answer surprised her and possibly deflated her expectations. I said “I made it to the VP level and at that point, I would guess 20% of my job was strategy, 30% was executing in a way that stayed on strategy and 50% of my job was leading and managing others”.

Strategic thinkers methodically see questions before answers. Action thinkers instinctually see answers before they know the right questions. The best minds need to be able to do both fluidly.

Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They take time to reflect and plan before acting, helping you move in a focused efficient fashion. They think slowly, logically, always needing options, but if go too slow, you will miss the opportunity window. Action thinkers see answers before even knowing the right questions, using instincts and impulse. Any delays will frustrate them, believing that doing something is better than nothing at all. This “make it happen” mode gets things done, but if you go too fast, your great actions will be solving the wrong problem.

The best Brand Leaders know when to be a strategic thinker and when to be an action thinker. You need to find your balance by thinking slowly with strategy and thinking quickly with your instincts. While pure strategic people would make for a great consultant, I would not want them running my brand. They would keep analyzing things to death, asking questions over and over, without ever taking action. Every day there would be more questions and in turn more strategies, without action. While the action oriented tactical people get stuff done, I am not sure I want them running my brand either. They would make great ads, great packaging and highly innovative social media executions but no one ever interrupts them to say “are we going in the right direction?” While it is really hard to come up with strategies, it is even harder to stay on strategy. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and action-oriented, almost equally so.

 

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When I am in a large group setting and I ask people “so, what does it mean to be strategic?”, not a lot of hands go in the air. When I press them, the common answer I get is “making choices” and “having a long-term vision”. I see those as components of strategy, but equally they could easily be applied to tactics. We have mapped out 7 key elements that are essential for good strategic choices: vision, focus, opportunity, speed, early win, leverage, gateway. 

  1. Vision: An aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. It should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot. Challenge yourself to think of the longer term, beyond your current situation, so that you can put a stake in the ground of where you want to be.  
  2. Focus: Alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision. Strategic Thinking 2016.041Every brand is constrained by resources—financial, people, time and partnerships. Yet, every brand faces unlimited choices they could make. The best strategy has focus, that serves to limit those choices to match up to the limited resources that you will apply. From my experience, focus is one of the hardest elements for marketers to be good at. Without focus, you can never be strategic. There has to a willingness to take risks to put your resources against the choice you believe will pay back the most.
  3. Opportunity: Something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology, competitive actions). A good strategic mind can turn data into knowledge and wisdom that allows you to see potential opportunity for you to take advantage of and help win in the market. Just like murder, strategy requires opportunity. You should always be analyzing and assessing situations in the marketplace with regular deep dives on your business to uncover opportunities.
  4. Speed: Like in sports, time and space of the opportunity matter. As soon as you see the opportunity, you must act quickly before others see the same opportunity. In this modern economy, the winners are faster, not because they take random action, but that they are able to map out the series of events in a way that takes advantage of their strengths and quickly matches those up to opportunities they discover.
  5. Early Win: Break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss. This is the starting point to seeing a degree of success and smaller shifts in positional power. It may be a test market validation, a breakthrough with a smaller group of consumers, a win at a certain retailer, or seeing underlying tracking scores that show the brand is moving in the right direction.
  6. Leverage: Ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in. You must be the one to see how to transform what you have gained so far into a new pathway that allows you to go after the bigger win.
  7. Gateway: Realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable. That power may be with the consumers you have won over, competitors that you have gained against, retailers that you have shown proven success or power you see with media options that allows you to continue to exploit your early success. The goal here is to turn your smaller early win into the bigger win that resembles the original vision you set out to achieve.

 

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By mapping out these 7 elements, our hope is that it provides a challenge to the way you think and a good conversation starter to have with those on your team that you want to be more strategic.

 

At Beloved Brands, we run a brand strategy workshop to help brand leaders at  your company think differently, looking at consumer strategy, competitive strategy and situational strategy.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911.

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Brands only have 4 choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

There are some consumer driven marketers who think if you do such a great job in servicing the consumer, you should not have to worry too much about what the consumer does. That is crazy talk, with blinders on as to what is happening in the market. The only reason Apple, Starbucks or Virgin are such amazing brands is they are much better than any competitor within those categories. That is the reason why we call the worst type of brands “Indifferent” not just to convey the consumers blasé attitude to the brand, but to really signal “NOT different”. If you do not find your point of difference, you are a commodity, and should be priced accordingly at market prices like the fish at tonight’s restaurant.

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You have to find a unique selling proposition for your brand, that distinguishes you from others. Looking above at the Venn diagram, we first start by listing out everything your consumers want, then list what your brand does best and what your competitors do best. The winning zone for your brand to play in is the match up where consumers want what you do best. The losing zone is to play where consumers want it, but your competitor does it better than you. As we are maturing in the marketing, it is harder and harder to come up with a definitive win, so that is where you can win the risky zone by being different, being faster to market, winning with meaningful innovation or building a deep emotional connection. The key to be seen as unique, not just for the sake of it, but to match up what you do best with what the consumer is looking for. Sadly, I do have to always mention the dumb zone. This is where two competitors “battle it out” in the zone the consumer does not care about. I say sadly, because I keep seeing this in the market. One competitor starts saying “we are faster” and you see them so you think “well we are just as fast”. No one bothers to ask the consumer if they care about speed. To often, Brand Leaders start with the claim, and then try to make the most of it in everything they do. The problem with that strategy is your claim might not be a benefit, and even if it ladders up, it might not be something that is own-able for you or motivating to the consumer.

A good tool we use is to list out all of your brand assets, which could be your main strengths you can stand behind and begin the match them put to various consumer need states. This will not determine your brand positioning, but help you focus as you move into a potential brainstorming session around positioning.

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What is the core strength of your brand?

Most brands should have a focus as to what they win on, whether that is winning based on product, concept, experience or price. You have to pick an area of focus, rather than trying to be everything. Using our Core Strength Model, we use this as a brainstorming tool to play a little game. We give out 4 blue chips, and force you to pick one strength as your core strength, two at the mid-level that will help support your core strength and the fourth chip forced at low to go of it as a potential. This leaves four types of brands: product, concept, experience or price. Positioning 2016.013

  • With Product Brands, your main strategy should focus on being better. You have to invest in Innovation to stays ahead of competitors, remaining the superior choice in the category. Here, it works to focus on rational advertising that makes sure you re-force with consumers that you are the best. However, in a crowded market, it has become increasingly difficult to win on product alone—as many brands are operating in a parity situation. The product brands doing well include Samsung with the best TVs and phones, Five Guys with the best burger and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who has a unique cooking technique that products the best steak. These brands talk mainly about the great product. In fact, looking at the Five Guys brand, they have almost completely let go of experience or pricing. imgresThe restaurants are almost run down, and the price of a 5 Guys burger is about twice the going rate. For years, Proctor & Gamble pushed this strategy at every opportunity across Tide, Ivory, Pampers and Always. But technology gaps have closed they have been forced to switch some of their brands to focusing more on being different and less on being better. The problem for product type brands is they struggle to be emotionally engaging and while consumers might love the product, they do not necessarily love the brand. While you can run an amazing business this way, if a competitor catches up to you on product or if you wish to move your loyal base into other products, it is not as easy as being a concept or experience brand.
  • With Concept Brands, your strategy should focus on being different. To tell that story, you need to invest in emotional brand communication. You want to connect consumers on a deep emotional level with the concept. Brands in this space include Apple who builds around the concept of simplicity, Virgin stands out in new categories by challenging the status quo and generally accepted ways of doing things and W Hotels combine the nightlife feel, so you never have to leave the Hotel. With these brands, they still need to make sure that the product delivers at a level expected within the concept. If it fails to deliver, there may be a sense of hollowness to the concept that brings the brand down. Instead of calling these loved brands, I call these brand lust, where our initial feelings are the same as love, only to be disappointed by the product experience.
  • With Experience Brands, your strategy and organization should focus on linking culture very closely to your brand. After all, your people are your product. You want to build values and align the culture to those values. And as you go to market, invest in influencer and social media that can help support and spread the word of your experience. white-glove-service-ritz-carltonWells Fargo bank offers comfortable banking, Ritz-Carlton uses impeccable customer service to really separate itself and Starbucks creates an escape with indie-music, cool servers, leather chairs and a touch of Europe.
  • With Price Brands, your strategy has to focus on efficiency and drive low-cost into the products you sell and high turns and high volume. You have to be better at the fundamentals around production and sourcing. Use call-to-action type advertising to help keep the turns very high. McDonald’s of the 1970s perfected this model, but we’ve since seen Walmart take it to the next level. You might not like all that Walmart does from an ethical point of view, but it’s on strategy and helps you get toilet paper cheaper. What consumers don’t notice at Walmart is their obsession with retail turns. On average Walmart sells through their stock within 28 days, compared to other retailers who might average 100 days. You rarely see slow-moving items and rarely see clearance items. Brands like Uber, Amazon and Netflix have combined an amazing experience at a very low cost. These inventive brands have recently figured out ways to use technology to eliminate a lot of waste in the value chain.

You have two questions to answer:

Are you better, different or cheaper? 

Are you a product, concept, experience or price brand?

Below is a presentation from our workshop on How to find a winning brand positoning statement.

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911.

New 2015 Bio .001

Stop telling consumers what you do and start telling them what they get and how it will make them feel

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Turning features into benefits

The consumer will not care about what you do, until you start to care about what they get.  Many brands get stuck at the Indifferent or Like It stage because they talk non-stop about themselves, almost like the consumer does not even matter. It should be one of the most obvious elements in marketing, but it seems lost on many. If we look to the previous century, we see many of the Consumer Packaged Goods brands of the 1970’s and 1980’s screaming their features over and over. Tide gets rid of grass stains, Dove is ph-balanced and Pampers has stay-dry lining. It was all about finding a space in the consumers mind, a wee little space and then extrapolating that one thing to give the perception that you are the best brand. Competitors were able catch up and duplicate the performance of these features, negating any competitive advantage. Even store brands easily duplicated these features and grabbed 10 to 20% of market share. What did the marketers do? They kept finding smaller and smaller incremental features to scream, while trying to hold onto share. As the consumers evolved to wanting more from brands, these brand leaders were stuck talking features. Let’s put this in human terms: if you were on a date, would you be more successful telling your date what a great job you have, what an amazing volleyball player you are and every amazing thing  you did since College. Or should you ask about them: What is it that made you become a lawyer? What is your favorite part of the job? When you do well, how does that make you feel?  Like in dating, stop telling about yourself all the time. Show interest in your consumer as you would a dating prospect.benefits.001

The tool we use is a Customer Value Proposition Ladder that helps move you from shouting your features and to start talking about benefits, both rational and emotional. It is a four step process that starts with the consumer, defining the target, outlining any need states or pain points and then helping paint the picture of the consumer with consumer insights and potential enemies that torment them.

We then list out the product features, listing out your top strengths, claimed and any unique points of difference that can separate your brand. We try to get in the shoes of the consumer and using their voice, we ask “So what do I get?” This sets up the rational benefit. And finally, still in the voice of the consumer, we look at the rational benefits and ask “So how does that make me feel?” This tool forces you to change your focus of your brand where you are shouting at consumers to a new perspective where you as the consumer are asking the brand what you get and how you feel.All Beloved Pics.098

Using a fictional brand of Gray’s Cookies, use the brainstorming to complete a Customer Value Proposition Ladder  Worksheet, with an example below:

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Some CVPs can end up very cluttered, but the more focused you can make it the easier it will be for you to choose which one you will stand behind, and which one benefit you’ll communicate. At the brainstorm stage, we try to limit the numbers of 3 or 4 of the best of each whether that’s enemies, insights, features, rational benefits or emotional benefits. If you are uncertain, you might choose to do some qualitative research with some type of benefit or claims sort to hear which ones are the most own-able and motivating.

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits.  I swear every brand creative out there says: trusted, reliable, self-confident and yet like-able. It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers. Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers. I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at http://www.hotspex.biz  

We leverage this type of research and would encourage you to build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs. Leveraging Hotspex, I have mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below we call our Emotional Cheat Sheet:

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Within each of the eight emotional zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition. The challenge here, like any in marketing, is to narrow down your focus to owning one potential zone, not all of the zones. While it is tempting to want to be noticed, in control and knowledgable, those are 3 distinct emotional zones and if you try to build a reputation by telling consumers you own every emotion, they will either be confused by who you are or in disbelief that you are any of who you claim you are. Neither of those lead to building a brand reputation.

Once you decide on which benefit you will stand behind, you can begin to move forward with a classic positioning statement that includes 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)

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Get in the shoes of your consumer and use their voice to speak to your brand about what they want.

Below is a presentation from our workshop on How to find a winning brand positoning statement.

Here is a related story on how to find the target market: Target Market

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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Stop targeting everyone and focus on those most motivated by what you offer

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I am so worn out by marketers thinking that their target market is everyone. If you were supposed to target everyone, the brilliant marketing minds would never have come up with the term “target market”. And stop telling me you are “afraid to alienate current customers”. Unless you are making offensive advertising, which I do not recommend, then you won’t alienate anyone. If people see you going after a new type of consumer, here is the worst thing they will ever say: “wow, it looks like my favorite brand is doing so well that they are now looking for new customers.” 

Just stop it.

Who is the consumer target?

Brand Leaders always think about who they want, but rarely ask the better question: “who wants them?” target market.001As you are starting to think about the target, keep asking “who is the most motivated to buy what you do?”  Next time you are walking through the airport, and you pass the shoe-shine guy, watch how they decide whether you are a customer or not. They look at your feet and if you have leather shoes on, they will ask if you want a shine. If you have runners on, they will let you walk right past. If they understand that the best customer is someone already motivated by what they do, how come marketers struggle with this question. Marketers are obsessed with size of the target because they assume the bigger the target the bigger the brand. Our whole argument of Brand Love would suggest that it is better to be loved by a few rather than merely tolerated by everyone. If you have a target that will one day love you, that is an asset you should seek out, because they will crave your brand, recommend your brand to their friends and they will defend your brand to no end. 

Defining the Marketing target versus the Selling target

Obviously, it makes sense to sell to everyone and anyone who comes in the door. However, you should not apply your limited resources of money, time, people against the entire population because it is cost prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might safe at first, it is actually higher risk because you never get to see the full impact of your effort. And then you never know if your program worked. Instead of figuring out who you want, focus on who wants you! Pick the target that is most motivated by what you do.

All Beloved Pics.096The example I use in my speeches involves a fictional golf ball that goes 50 yards farther than any golf ball in the world. Trust me, I wish this ball existed. I will ask who the target should be, and  shockingly, the answers are all over the place. Rarely does anyone say “those who really love golf and want to hit the ball longer”. Is that too simple of an answer for you? Marketers are always tempted by the size of the market, and for this example they think “this is our chance to get non-golfers interested in golf”. Increasing market size after all is the holy grail that will turn golf haters into golfer lovers. They forget to ask golfer haters why they hate golf, because if they did they would find out they hate the clothes, find it boring and embarrassing and that it takes half day of their life. Hitting the ball longer does not help any of those pain points. In my mind, the best initial target market would be the 5 best golfers at every golf club. These golfers already hit it 280 yards would love to hit it 330 yards. They would certainly pay a price premium to be first and get that competitive advantage. They would likely carry more influence in spreading the word to the rest of the golfers of the club. So yes, we would sell to anyone, but we would market to those most motivated by what we have to offer. The best marketing target market would be “the best golfers at every club” which is likely 0.001% of the general population. Now that’s a focused marketing target market that would be easy to find, highly self-motivated and an easy sale. That is the starting point to a very efficient marketing campaign.

I once worked with a bank who told me that their target market for their latest ad campaign for first time home loans (mortgages) was 18-65, new customers, current customers and employees. I laughed and said “you have forgotten tourists and prisoners”. True story. This is a classic case of a selling target that includes everyone. We will sell to everyone and we are afraid of narrowing our target. Yes, the odd 18-year-old might be wanting to buy a house, and there might be a few 64 year olds that have been renting for 40 years and tired of their landlord. But neither would be offended if there is a 27-year-old or a 32-year-old in the ad. The bank clearly needs a marketing target. The first rule is to find those most motivated by what you do. You have to matter to those who actually care the most. The only people who care about your home loan message are those that are close to buying a house. It is obvious that the house comes before the loan. And equally obvious that a house is certainly not an impulse purchase. If it is this obvious, then why didn’t the bank know it was obvious. The shoe shine guy gets the idea of a motivated target, yet the bank does not. The first narrowing of the target would be “27 to 32 and those looking to buy a house in the next six months”. With a tighter target like that, imagine how this limits where you will spend your limited resources. Where are they? Every weekend they are out house-hunting and every night and lunch hour, they are on-line looking at potential houses. That makes for a very targeted media plan with on-line banners for real estate listings and out of home signage near new home developments. What is their motivation?  Well, they are scared because it is their first time and they are risk averse because it is a lot of money for them. They are fixated on the house and not even thinking about the home loan. What would move them? Due to their fear and unknown, they would want a comforting experience with someone who will guide them through the process. It is one of those first “grown up” big moments and they want to be successful. The role of the bank should be that of an enabler, providing support and advice through experts and content focused on helping people buy their first home. We can see ideas for the brand, just by narrowing the target from a general population selling target to those clear first time buyers who need help and advice, in a very comforting supportive way.

As you figure out who you are serving and who you are not serving helps provide focus.  In terms of choosing target segments, you can break it out on the following:

              • Demographics
              • Behavioral or Psychographic
              • Geographic
              • Usage occasion

The most beloved brands know who their customer is and who it is not in their target. This is one of the first decisions you will make on focus because spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive–and will always generate a low return on investment and low return on effort. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is actually less safe to have a broad target market because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. It becomes all about choices and you will be much more effective at convincing a segment of the population to choose your brand because of the assets and promise that you have that match up perfectly to what they want.

A pet peeve of mine are those brands who conduct highly elaborate and expensive market research to determine market segments. I love segmentation, but I hate how it is used. The whole role of segmentation is to figure who is your target and who is not. However, marketers are using segmentation as their game plan for targeting everyone. And they put a game plan to each segment. For segment A, here is how we show up and for segment B, we have to show up completely different and for segment C, we will be value priced and for segment D, we will charge a premium to join our club because we know they love clubs. This is craziness. Not only are you spending your limited dollars across the entire population, you are now taking your limited people resource and getting them to alter how you show up to various segments of the market. On top of that craziness, if we believe that positioning is about managing your reputation, then how on earth will you manage six reputations at once. Plus, consumers better not compare notes on how they see your brand. Pure craziness.

Just stop it.

Focus your limited resources on those consumers that are the most motivated by what your brand does.

Here’s a presentation from our workshop on how to write a brand positioning statement

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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The marketing world has changed, and brand leaders need to change with it

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

When we say Marketing has changed, the first answer people gravitate to is the change in media options over the last 15 years, with the opening up of digital, social and search. That change is at the surface level, but it is not really enough of a reason to warrant the change we are seeing. 

In the previous century, it was product driven brands like Tide, Kodak, Xerox, Microsoft and Ivory soap that always stressed product superiority with repetitive mass media strategies behind 30 second TV ads that used side-by-side demos and robotic rules like saying the brand name in the first 7 seconds and the see-say product shots over the last 5 seconds. But now we see the most modern brands like Starbucks, Whole Foods, Facebook, Tesla, Uber and Netflix driving success with the modern consumer in a completely modern fashion. While each of these brands has a clearly defined brand big idea, there is no real memorable advertising, no tag line we can recite and yet consumers are tightly connected and outspoken fans of each brand. Do you even remember the first time you heard of these brands? How? All I know, is that I’m sure you remember your last experience. 

These modern brands combine big ideas backed by amazing experiences to create a feeling. They find new ways to tell their brand story that spreads like wildfire and they focus more on being different than being better. The organizational culture of these modern brands has become the foundation of their story, their brand purpose and expressed values have become the substitute for brand claims and product demos. The brand story isn’t done through a traditional media blocking chart. Instead of yelling your message over and over to every consumer in the marketplace hoping some buy you, the most modern brands whisper to their most loyal fans, hoping those brand fans whisper with an underlying influence to all their friends and families. 

Old school brands fought for a space in the consumers mind

The best brands of the last century were based on product inventions that solved small problems consumers didn’t even realize they had until the product came along. Old school Marketing was dominated by TV ads, logos, product superiority claims, coupons and a battle for shelf space at retail stores. Products were developed by scientists in a lab, pushed to the market, shouting “we are the best” to anyone who would listen. It was about awareness, brand recall, persuasion and trial, driving volume up to push costs down and drive competitors out of the market. The old school brands fought for a space in the consumers mind, with a motivation to win over a broad target. These brands are liked by everyone, but not really loved, and many are struggling in the new economy.

Modern brands fight for a place the consumers heart

In the new economy of the 21st century, Brand Love is the currency, with marketing shifting to building big ideas, leveraging purpose-driven story telling, creating experiences, managing ubiquitous purchase moments and steering the brand’s reputation. The best brands of the new economy are based on a big idea that consumers connect with. The idea has to reflect the brand’s soul, with a clear purpose and set of values to create an organizational culture of people who live the brand and who will deliver an amazing brand experience that exceeds any expectations. These brands are seen as consumer brands because they were developed through observation of consumers, with innovation that beats down an identified consumer enemy that torments them every day. The growth comes from finding those consumers already motivated by what the brand does. Consumers are made to feel part of brand, they desire it, crave it and are outspoken fans of it. Instead of shouting at consumers, the modern brands confidently whisper to their most loyal fans, who then whisper with trusted influence to bring their friends to the brand. These Brands now fight for a space in the consumers heart.

Brand Leaders need to change.

This is our Beloved Brands credo, and the inside jacket of our new book to be released in early 2016.

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Here’s a presentation from our workshop on how to create a beloved brand

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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