Airbnb nails the consumer experience better than the rest

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

bnb_billboard_01-2000x1125Airbnb does an amazing job in delivering an amazing consumer experience. They deliver on their big idea of Don’t just go there. Live there. I have always been a traveler, more than a tourist. And, I would love to live everywhere in the world. I don’t need a hotel.

I have always found it better to rent a place for a week, and live there. And, I hate staying hotels, like a tourist. My first venture was in Peebles Scotland, in 1992. I found an amazing place through the classified section of the newspaper. Do you even know where Peebles is? Wait, do you even know what a classified section is? Then, I met the person, went through a photo album. And, then handed them the cash. I had an amazing time. The flat was the top half of a house, in a small village 30 minutes south of Edinburgh. Then throughout the 1990’s, I found a place in France, Belgium, Austria and New Zealand.

Still no technology. It was not really easy finding these gems around the world. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. But, ever so rewarding when I did find them. I’ve been so lucky to have stayed in so many great places.

Airbnb takes all the hard work I was doing and puts it right in front of the consumer. Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 6.44.58 AMYou can sort by city, even down to the neighborhood, sort by the type of residence, specify a few needs (e.g. wifi) and then put in your price range. With most, you can see 15-20 photos to give you an idea. You can also see reviews, but they need help in that department to ensure honesty.  (e.g. It looks like everyone hands out 4’s and 5’s). You make your choice, select the dates, provide government I.D. to ensure it is really you and then off your offer goes to the owner. Moments later, or when they wake up, the reply saying yes. There is a bit of hunting that goes on, but it is so much easier than everything I used to do.

Don’t just go there. Live there.

Airbnb has nailed the creation of the big idea of “Don’t just go there. Live there.” It replaces their original big idea of “Imagine a world where you can belong anywhere”, which felt a bit dreamy and disconnected from the reality of the product they were offering. Airbnb’s own data says that 86% of the consumers who use Airbnb are picking the platform because they want to live more like a local. Exactly the same reasoning I was looking up places in newspapers. That insight of living rather than visiting inspired the brand’s latest and largest marketing campaign, “Live There.”

At Beloved Brands, we have created a model that shows how to take your big idea down to every part of your business through 5 consumer touch-points: brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and the consumer experience.

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While Airbnb has created a great experience with their system, they are taking it a step further with their advertising and their smart use of partnerships around the world to express the brand’s point of difference versus hotels. The latest advertising really caught my attention as they nailed the insight that speaks to those of us who want to live there. According to Airbnb, 52 percent of these younger-minded U.S. travelers find crowds at major tourist attractions to be more stressful than doing a tax return, while 47 percent don’t like to be labeled as tourists when they go to a new place. Such an arresting spot.

 

In a partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, they were able to recreate Van Gogh’s famous bedroom to be rented for $13 a night on Airbnb. While it showcases the museum, for Airbnb, it really brings their brand experience to life, saying anything is possible.

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Next, to embed the brand experience through the culture, Airbnb built their new office in Singapore around the actual homes on Airbnb to showcase the vast diversity of destinations on offer through the community-driven platform. These include an apartment in Batignolles, Andy Warhol-inspired art loft in Bangkok, a caravan in Cornwall, a villa in Kuta, amongst others.

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“Airbnb has never been a traditional workplace. At Airbnb, we want to create the sense of travel when we welcome people into our office,” said Airbnb Asia-Pacific regional director Julian Persaud. “Simply having photos of unique accommodation and far-off places are not enough, we want our employees and guests to experience the feeling you get when you travel.”

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As a sports fan, Airbnb partnered with the Air Canada Center in my hometown of Toronto to provide an amazing experience for a couple. They converted one of the executive suites at the arena into a place to stay for a couple. They saw a hockey and basketball game, then skated on the ice and shot on the court. Have a look:

What can you do to bring your consumer experience to life?

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson bio

 

 

Would you ever pay more for a bottle of water than you would for beer?

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in How to Guide for Marketers

This past week, I was in Shanghai, China and found the price of a bottle of Evian and Fiji water about ten times the prices of local bottled water (Nestle). And when I went into the Beer section, the water was still twice the price of a Budweiser beer (produced locally). You can also buy Coke or Gatorade much cheaper.

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The prices above  are in Chinese Yuan (1 CYN = 0.15 USD), with the US Dollar equivalent being just under $2.00 US for the Evian or Fuji water, and then only 21 cents US for the Nestle water. The Budweiser is only $1 USD and the Coke is about 50 cents US. Given any worries about “don’t drink the water”, you might easily be willing to pay for the Evian. Or just grab a few Budweiser’s and not worry so much about the water.

China is in a state of dramatic change

The economy of China has been going through vast changes and you see it live on the streets of Shanghai. The contrast of the modern sky scrappers of downtown Shanghai, with the small street neighborhoods with laundry hung out on the phone lines. The increasing number of Mercedes driving past old school three wheel bikes carrying layer upon layer of boxes for delivery. High end restaurants contrasting against live chickens being killed and bagged for dinner that night. The small boutique 100 square foot stores and the 80,000 square foot Carrefour Super Markets.

While China has benefited from global trade, making Apple computers and Nike shoes to be sold around the world, the government uses protectionist practices to ensure high transfer pricing to ensure local goods benefit.

A brand like Evian, with water from the French Alps can not maintain that positioning if they begin producing in a factory just outside Shanghai. In the Carrefour, they have three specific aisles for “Imported” goods, all recognizable Western brands, but all with dramatic price premiums to the local products. This aisle might appeal to the high number of expats living in China as well as the growing Chinese upper middle class. The rest of the grocery store has 10-20% global brands interwoven among the shelves of local goods. This sets up two specific strategies, produce locally (for instance Nestle) and compete directly with the local goods, or stay in the “Imported” and use the super-premium pricing as a strategy to set yourself apart.

I remember being in France in the early 1990s, where I found myself walking all over Paris for about 4-5 hours on a 35 Celsius day. I finally came across a store selling Diet Coke and it was the equivalent of $6. I was in shock, but my thirst overcame my Scottish blood and I guzzled down the most expensive Diet Coke of my life. Later on, my wife ordered a glass of wine for $3. One more reminder that if you eat and drink like the locals, you will be much better off.

Global Pricing Management Systems

Global pricing models get very complicated. With a desire to do well in every local market, you must consider regional and global pricing to ensure you avoid any grey-market activity. Most of the big global brands are using pricing corridors by region to ensure local pricing stays local. Here are five things when considering your pricing as you enter new markets.

  1. Define your Pricing Strategy in alignment with your business strategy and business objectives and based on a deep understanding of your own competitive position, customer insight and cost-to-serve. When starting to look at your pricing, here is what you should be considering.
    • Market Price: If you are confused, pricing studies that look at various options to identify the price elasticity. In general, the more loved a brand, a combination of interesting or important are more price inelastic. One water scare and Evian could charge $5 per bottle, without seeing a change in the volume would make it an inelastic price.
    • Value Price: A brand has good value if the price is deemed “fair”. For a marketer, the mid point hits when the perceived price and perceived value match up. If the price is too high, there is a risk of losing customers/volume. If the price is too low, there is a risk of not realizing the full profitability on the brand.
    • Strategic Price: the pricing strategy can actually impact the positioning as much as it just reflects the positioning. A super premium brand like Evian can make the consumer believe it must be a super premium if it really can command that value.
    • Short vs. Long-term Revenue Pricing: Marketers can get caught up in the addiction to pricing promotions. Once you get up to 30-50% sold on deal, the actual price begins to have little meaning for the consumer.
    • Portfolio Pricing (Price Points): One option for a brand entering a local market who wants to maintain the price of their global brand would be to create a specific local brand with a local price. This would allow you to own both the super-premium and the value priced brands, with the consumer never knowing you own them both.
  2. Operationalize Pricing Strategy in marketing activities and generate all required input for Price Execution.  Here are the factors you should be considering when you operationalize your pricing into the new markets.
    • Competitor Responses
    • Not-in-Kind (NIK) Replacements
    • Reduce/Increase attractiveness of business
    • Keep out competition
    • Setting Visible Market prices
    • Customer Reaction Product Pricing Cannibalization
  3. Implement Pricing Strategy and Price Determination framework into daily sales activities and transactional processing. As you evaluate the impact of your pricing in the market, here are the factors you should be looking at.
    • Buying Power
    • Supplier Power
    • Place in the Value Chain
    • Price Elasticity
    • Global vs. Local Supply and Demand
    • Capacity
    • Substitute products
  4. Define pricing capabilities and skill sets, establish pricing organization and assure consideration of legal requirements
  5. Enable pricing capability by monitoring and provision of tools, systems and processes related to pricing in an integrated manner

Pricing Waterfall

It is good discipline for brands to map out and manage their pricing waterfall. This provides a good control tool as you can track the waterfall over time and identify problems you are encountering. Here’s an example of the dimension involved in a pricing waterfall, helping move you from a desired price to a profitable price.

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So would you pay a 90% price premium for the Evian? I did. 

Here’s a presentation we use for the deep dive analytical thinking that can help you determine your pricing.

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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Forget the 4 P’s. Focus on the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Beloved Brands Explained

 

The 4 P’s

Most of us started learning about marketing by looking at the 4 P’s:  Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While I’ve seen people adding P’s, a fifth one and even have seen up to eight P’s. I guess it’s a fairly easy way to teach marketing. It’s an OK way to learn, but it seems to treat marketing like an activity and not really a strategy. The 4 Ps are obsessed with what you do, and start you on the path of always thinking about YOU YOU YOU!  The 4 P’s almost ignore the consumer.   Over my 20 years, I learned that the only source of revenue was the consumer, not the product. Sure, we sell the product. Or, better yet, someone buys our brand. It’s just about mindset of how you wish to run your brand. I believe that everything had to start and end with the consumer in mind. We will show you below how we start with the consumer and map out the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity–the promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and brand experience.

 

The natural evolution of brands

It’s true that most brands do start off as a product or service that helps to address some type of problem the consumer has in their lives. Early on it’s about a selling activity where you push your brand onto the target market and hope they buy. As the brand evolves, you start to establish an identity for the brand that gets well-known, you start narrowing what you’re naturally best at down to a promise and begin executing and building your experience around the promise. As you keep evolving, the Brand starts to shift towards becoming an Idea that helps solve the consumer’s emotional problems.

    • Apple is not just a computer or cell phone. It’s based on an idea of “simplicity that deals with the frustration over technology”.
    • Dove is not just a soap or hand cream, but all about the idea of “real beauty that allows women to feel comfortable with who they are”.
    • Starbucks is not just a coffee and pastries, but an “escape from a hectic day”

While a lot of the Beloved Brands have taken 20 years or even 90 years to earn their status, you can advance your brand faster by starting off as an idea. It becomes less about product and more about the big idea from day 1. It becomes less about hopeful tactics and more about insightful strategy.  You’ll be able to build around the idea rather than getting stuck in the constraints of what your product does. An idea helps you connect with consumers and that connection gives your brand added power, and the power can be used to drive higher growth and profits.

A Beloved Brand is based on an idea that’s worth loving.

 

The 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

The biggest problem I have with the 4 P’s is that it builds the brand from your the vantage point of the company, not the vantage of the consumer who actually matters the most. I would rather start with the consumer and then build your brand, based on a promise that motivates consumers, a brand story that engages consumers, an innovation plan that keeps the consumer connected, mapping out what the consumer goes through to the purchase moment and building a consumer experience that helps the brand connect with their consumers.

When we think of the most beloved brands–Starbucks, Apple, Ferrari, Disney, Nike or Mercedes–it’s really hard to figure out the ONE part of the brand that really makes it great. For example on Apple, I have heard: “Apple has the best products” or “they have the best ads” or “it’s actually the experience”. At Beloved Brands, we believe you need 5 magic moments that a brand must deliver at an extremely high degree in order to become a beloved brand:

  1. Brand Promise
  2. Brand Story
  3. Innovation
  4. Purchase Moment
  5. Experience
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  1. Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. Try to use a brand positioning exercise to figure out your brand’s value proposition–we use a brand ladder where we map out the target definition, product features, rational benefits and emotional benefits.
  2. Brand Story: At Beloved Brands, we see Advertising as a tool for telling your brand story in a way that creates a bond with consumers, to establish your brand’s positioning and to drive change in your consumers behavior that leads to higher sales, share and profit. You should 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. The trick with innovation is keeping the serendipity of an R&D team aligned, while pushing for a balance of blue ocean against straying within the perimeters of the brand strategy. New products have to meet consumer needs and many times creating a consumer need they didn’t even know they had.
  4. Purchase Moment: As consumers get near the purchase, there becomes this “moment of truth” when they have to make the final decision to buy. How we manage that, is we use a buying system to map out how consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision.
  5. Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. One of the best brand experiences is Starbucks, providing consumers with more than just coffee, but rather an escape from daily grind a hectic life. At Starbucks, you find that little moment between home life and work life, a cool atmosphere indie music and leather chairs, a barista that knows your name and your drink, you can order in Italian and one of the best things they manage to indirectly achieve–no screaming little kids.

The brand becomes more powerful when everything is aligned under a “big idea” for your brand. In today’s crowded media world, consumers now see 6,000 brand messages every day. They have to quickly sort through those messages, rejecting most and only engaging in a few each day. It’s those brands who can communicate in a headline style idea will grab the consumers attention.

Once you establish that big idea, you can align each of the 5 magic moments underneath that big idea.

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Using the Big Idea map above, we can see the promise comes from the brand positioning, the brand story is told through advertising, the innovation is driven by R&D, the purchase moment is a combination of your sales team and your distribution strategy while the experience comes directly from how you manage the operations and culture of your organization. As you can start to see, everyone and every activity should be driven by the Big Idea. To show you how to use the Big Idea map, here’s the example using the Apple brand, showing how they align behind everything linked to the big idea of “simplicity”.

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The most beloved brands are strong on all of the 5 touch-points of consumer connectivity

Here’s a presentation on what makes 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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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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Don’t be one of these 10 worst types of Advertising clients

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

They say clients get the work they deserve. If you knew that being a better client would get you better Advertising, could you show up better? Would you actually show up better? There’s a reason why there are so many Agency Reviews: clients can’t really fire themselves. However, if you fire your current Agency and then you don’t show up better to the new Agency, they will be doomed to fail from the start. And the cycle will continue.

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I believe that most Brand Leaders under-estimate their role in getting great advertising creative. I have seen OK agencies make great work for an amazing client. I have also seen the best agencies fail dramatically for a bad client. My conclusion: the client matters more than anyone else, as they hold the power in either enabling or restricting impactful advertising from happening. Great clients communicate their desires with passion to inspire their Agency; they hold everyone accountable to the strategy and stay open to explore new solutions through creativity. Great clients are wiling to stake their reputation on great work. If you knew that being a better client would get you better work, do you think you could show up better?

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The 10 worst types of Advertising clients

#1: Clients who say: “You’re The Expert”

While intended to be a compliment to the Agency, it is actually a total cop-out by the client!  You really just give the agency enough rope to hang themselves. As a Brand Leader, you play a major role in the process.  You have to be engaged in every stage of the process and in the work. Bring your knowledge of the brand, make clear decisions and steer the work towards greatness.  

#2:  Clients who say: “I never Liked the Brief”

These passive-aggressive clients are usually insecure about their own abilities in the advertising space.  They keep firing their agency instead of taking ownership, because it is easier to fire the agency than fire yourself. A great Brand Leader never approves work they don’t love. If you don’t love the work, then how do you expect the consumer to love your brand? As the decision maker, you can never cop-out, and you never have the right to say “I never liked…”

#3:  Clients who have a Jekyll & Hyde personality

When Brand Leaders bring major mood swings to the Ad process, it is very hard for the agency. While clients are “rational” people, agencies are emotional and prone to your mood swings. monster_boss_at_conference_table_1600_clr_14572The worst thing that could happen is when your mood swing alters the work and you end up going into a direction you never intended to go, just based on a bad day you had. The best Brand Leaders stay consistent so that everyone knows exactly who they are dealing with.   

#4:  The Constant “Bad Mood” client

I have seen clients bring their death stare to creative meetings where hilarious scripts are presented to a room of fear and utter silence. The best Brand Leaders should strive to be their agency’s favorite client. For an odd reason, no one ever thinks that way. Advertising should be fun. If you are having fun, then so will your consumer.

#5:  Pleasing the mysterious “boss” who is not in the room

When the real decision maker is not in the room, everyone guesses what might please that decision maker. As a Brand Leader, you have to make decisions that you think are the right thing, not what your boss might say. Make the ad you want and then find a way to gain alignment and approval from your boss. And if you are the boss who is not in the room, let the creative process unfold and hope that it pleasantly surprises you. 

#6:  The dictator client

The best ads “make the brand feel different”. If we knew the answer before the process started, the ads would never be different, would they? When a Brand Leader comes in with the exact ad in mind, then it’s not really a creative process, it just becomes an order taking process. When you TELL the agency what to do, there is only one answer:  YES. But when you ASK the agency what you should do, there are many answers. When they come back to you with many, it makes your job of selecting the best, much easier. Revel in the ambiguity of the process, let the work happen.

#7:  The long list of Mandatories client

Clients who put 5-10 mandatories on the brief forces the agency to figure out your needs instead of the advertising problem. You end up with a Frankenstein. I have seen briefs that say no comedy, must use Snookie, setting must be a pharmacy, put our new lemon flavor in the ad, must include a demo. My challenge to Brand Leaders is that if you write an amazing creative brief, you won’t need any mandatories at all.

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#8:  The kitchen sink client

The “just in case” clients who want to speak to everyone with everything they can possibly say. If you put everything in your ad, you just force the consumer to make the decision on what’s most important. Consumers now see 7,000 brand messages every day, yet only engage in a handful each day. When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up nothing to anyone.

#9: The client who keeps changing their mind

Advertising is best when driven by a sound process, with enough time to develop ideas against a tight strategy. Think of it as creativity within a box. However, clients that keep changing the box will never see the best creative work. The best Brand Leaders control the brand strategy and give freedom on the execution.

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#10:  The Scientist client

Some clients think THERE IS AN ANSWER. The world of SEO and Digital tracking and advertising testing seems to be encouraging this mindset more than ever. Where you might think “precision”, I see navel gazing. Be careful giving up your instincts to the analytics. You might miss the blue-sky big picture or the freight train about to run you over. As a Brand Leader, you can’t always have THE answer. Too much in marketing eliminates risk, rather than encourages risk taking.  That might help you sleep better, but you’ll dream less. Revel in the ambiguity of the process. It is ok to know exactly what you want. Just not until you see it.

 

Being a better client is something you can learn.

Advertising takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Ask for advice. Watch others who are great. Never give your Agency new solutions, just give them new problems. Inspire greatness from your Agency; yet never be afraid to challenge them for better work. They would prefer to be pushed rather than held back. Be your agency’s favorite clients, so the agency team wants to work on your brand, not just because they were assigned to work on your business. Think with strategy. Act with instincts. Follow your passion. Be the champion who fights for great work even if you have to fight with your boss. Make work that you love, because if you don’t love the work, how do you ever expect the consumer to love your brand?

Below is a presentation for a training workshop that we run on getting Better Marketing Execution, whether that is through traditional Advertising, social, digital, search, event, retail stores and public relations. 

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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Before you fire your Agency…

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Article that we wrote for Marketing Magazine Marketing Magazine link

firedThey say clients get the work they deserve. If you knew being a better client would get you better advertising, could you show up better? Would you actually show up better? There’s a reason why there are so many agency reviews: clients can’t really fire themselves. However, if you fire your current agency and then you don’t show up better to the new agency, they will be doomed to fail from the start. And the cycle will continue.

The role of the client matters.

I have seen so-so agencies make great work for an amazing client. I have also seen the best agencies fail dramatically for a bad client. My conclusion: The client matters more than anyone else, as they hold the power in either enabling or restricting impactful advertising from happening.

I have always reminded myself that we never really do anything. We don’t make the product, sell the product or create the ads. Yet, we touch everything and we make every decision. Our greatness has to come from leading the experts we engage, so that they reach for their own greatness and apply it on our brand. Great clients communicate their desires with passion to inspire their agency; they hold everyone accountable to the strategy and stay open to explore new solutions through creativity. Great clients are wiling to stake their reputation on great work.

Here’s how to show up better as a client:

  • Narrow your focus with a tight target: Some brand leaders want options to help make decisions. The problem is that clients write such a wide creative brief that it creates room for strategic options, when really the brand leader just wanted creative options. Instead, have one main message and one objective. Keep your list of mandatories to a bare minimum. Do your strategic homework before you write the brief. Start with the consumer and bring their story to life using insights that will make consumers say, “That’s me.” Knowing you have the right strategy will give you more conviction to decide on the right creative expression of that strategy. The smaller the brief, the bigger the ideas.
  • Allow creativity to unfold: 7e11158d-971e-4d29-80fa-cb27b96f0ebe-originalWhen you write a tangled weave of mandatories in the brief that almost writes the ad itself, the agency feels trapped and unable to do anything surprising or spectacular. Don’t use every meeting to steer towards the type of advertising you want to see, while being outspoken against the type of work you don’t want to see. Let the agency take charge of writing the brief. You can still debate every word, always knowing if you hold the power of decision, you don’t need to hold the pen as well. In meetings, show you are open to new solutions. It is okay to know exactly what you want, but you should never know until the moment you see it. Think of advertising like the perfect gift you never thought to buy yourself. As the leader, you always hold the final power of the decision. You will be even more powerful if you never have to use it.
  • Lead with passion: There is no mathematical pathway to choosing the best advertising based on a winning score. Great advertising has to balance the art and science, using both your creative instincts and strategic mind. You need to, be willing to fight to make the best work happen and put all of your energy into making the work spectacular. Do not use the logic of research to choose your path, but to confirm the choice you are dying to make.

Being a better client is something you can learn. Advertising takes experience, practice, leadership and a willingness to adjust. Ask for advice. Watch others who are great. Never give your agency new solutions, just give them new problems. Inspire greatness from your agency; yet never be afraid to challenge them for better work. They would prefer to be pushed rather than held back. Be your agency’s favourite client, so the agency team wants to work on your brand, not just because they were assigned to work on your business. Be the champion who fights for great work even if you have to fight with your boss.

Once you show up better, you might find your agency shows up better. Together, you will make amazing work.

 

Do you want to realize your full potential in Brand Management?  We can help you.

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you

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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Can you re-train your Brain to be more Strategic?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

StrategyThe phrase “you need to be more strategic” gets said daily in the corporate world. Everyone seems to proclaim they are a “strategic thinker” on their LinkedIn profile. People get promoted because they are strategic and held back in their careers at a given level because they aren’t strategic enough. Yet, has your boss ever had a real conversation about what it means to be more strategic?  Or do they just say it and you just take it?  Have you ever received training on being more strategic?  I spent 20 years at Fortune 500 companies and I never received any training, tips or feedback on being more strategic. Yet, we keep saying “strategic” all the time. 

So what is a “strategic thinker”?    

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first.  Both offer extreme value to a brand.  

  • Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections.
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and get frustrated in delays. They believe doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They get frustrated by strategic thinkers.

Great Brand Leaders are a bit of a chameleon, able to balance both strategy and execution. While pure strategic people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without taking action. Every day there would be more strategies. And while tactical people get stuff done, is it the right stuff?  I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. Great Brand Leaders can talk with both types, one minute debating investment choices and then at a TV edit deciding on option A or B. Great Brand Leaders think with strategy but act with instincts.  

I think strategic thinking is a natural state, but is challenged or destroyed through our education system. Every test in school has a right and wrong answer, very little room for options or opinion. In the classroom, there is pressure to give the right answer quickly–almost without thinking about it. Teachers grill you with simple questions, and you never get to ask them deep questions. But really, we should teach students to slow down their thinking, encourage asking great questions instead of just giving simple answers, teach them how to map out scenarios to figure out the impact of potential actions.  

We need Brand Leaders who can slow down, so they can decide what to do, before they do it.  As Yogi Berra once said “if you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there”.  

There are six elements essential to good Strategy:  Vision, Focus, Opportunity, Early Win, Leverage, Gateway.  

  1. Vision: an aspirational stretch goal for the future, linked to a well-defined purpose.  A good vision should push you, and scare you a little, but excite you a lot.  
  2. Focus: alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, that creates positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
  3. Opportunity: something is happening in the market, making speed of execution matter, as a potential strategic opening gets taken by someone else or the opportunity may close.
  4. Early Win: break through point against where you put your focus, and you see a shift in momentum towards your vision.  It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping to rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.   
  5. Leverage: ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum with an even greater force of pressure, that leads to the tipping point to something bigger.
  6. Gateway: realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.

Many Brand Leaders seem to fear focusing, yet focus is essential for strategy to work for you to get more from it, than what you put into it.  I once had a Brand Leader list their target as “18-65, current customers, potential customers and employees” and I asked “what about prisoners and tourists?”.  I constantly see Brands try to say 5 or 6 things in their message.  Brand Leaders have 74 things on their to-do lists. When we realize that every Brand has limited resources (financial, time, effort and alliances) they can apply against an endless list of opportunistic choices (target, message, strategy and activities) do we start to make choices.  Strategy is really where you apply your limited resources against pressure points you know you can break through, to gain something bigger than the sum of the resources you put into it.

Slide1All the great military leaders believe in the power of focus.  Napoleon had two basic strategies:  attack their strength first by over-whelming your opponent or attack their weakness first, forcing your opponent to use their strength to defend, dispersing the resources of their strength in doing so.  His choices depended on opportunity. His writings, still read by military experts around the world, puts emphasis on focus, economies of resources and breaking through. Brands Leaders can learn from the principles of warfare.  

Focus makes you matter most to those who care the most. Don’t blindly target consumers:  target the most motivated.  Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest motivation and  propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the highest return on investment.  In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all: brands must be better, different or cheaper to survive. Giving the consumer too many messages will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything to everyone is the recipe for being nothing.  Return on Effort (ROE) is a great tool for focusing your activity.  Doing a laundry list of activity spreads your resources so thin that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through enough to get the early win and find that tipping point to open up the gateway to even bigger success. 

When you focus, 5 things happen to your brand: 

  1. Better Return on Investment (ROI):   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be able to move consumers enough to drive sales or push other key performance indicators in the right direction.  
  2. Better Return on Effort (ROE): It’s about getting more back than you put into the effort. Working smart helps make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Stronger Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  Reputation is a power you can push to find deeper wins.
  4. More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you can better defend that positioning territory. You can expose the weakness of your competitors, attract new consumers as well as push internally (R&D, service, sales) to rally behind the newly created reputation. 
  5. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. People with money invest where they see return. 

Case Study:  Starbucks loses Focus by going after entertainment

A great case study in a brand who lost their focus is Starbucks back in 2003, as they took their corporate arrogance and large following to enter the music business. Sure they could hire great music people, but that’s not the core of the brand–either internally or externally. They lost focus on what they do really well: sell coffee in an atmosphere that helps you escape your hectic life. By 2008, people were wondering if the Starbucks bubble had begun to burst. Had they lost it? Starbucks closed stores and laid people off. Would it be the next Benneton? But the Brand used this point to successfully re-focus and build around Coffee. They closed every store for hours to re-train their barista, come out with new coffee flavours and built innovation around the coffee routine with pastries, snacks and sandwiches.  Since the re-focus (see case study below), sales are up 58% over 5 years, and margins are back up to a highly respectable 55% levels.  Slide1

Transforming your Focus into a Gateway to something bigger

Once you break through, it becomes about going beyond the break through.  Too many pure strategists over look the EARLY WIN, and think of strategy as just vision and strategic choices. But they’ve never run a Brand, and they don’t know how many others you need to keep motivated and aligned. You want that Early Win, to kick-start some momentum–slice off part of the business or population segment or have your message connect. You need this to get everyone buying into the strategy. The LEVERAGE is when you start to use the positional advantage or power the early break through has given you. Without this, the early win becomes the only win, and it’s a hollow strategy. Believe in your new power and use the power gained to push and transform your wins into even bigger wins. As you go through the process, it’s important that you not get distracted from achieving the GATEWAY that lines up to your vision. It’s easy to get tempted by new opportunities that your break through has given you, but you have to stay focused on your vision.

Case Study:  D-Day focuses the entire war effort on capturing a beach.

At a crucial point of World War 2, while Germany was fighting a war on two fronts (Russia and Britain), the Allied Forces planned D-Day for 2 years and joined in full force (Great Britain, US, Canada, Australia) to focus all their attention on one beach, on one day. Prior to the attack, there was debate, do we attack in one place that could be penetrated or in multiple spots where the Germans could would have to fight many battles?  The smart decision started with focus. If we look at D Day using the six elements of good strategy, we can see how they won:

  1. Vision: Win World War II, with a goal to re-claim Europe and stop Germany. Spread democracy.
  2. Focus: All of the Allied forces of 156,000 soldiers, landing on the Beaches of Normandy on the morning of June 6th, 1944.
  3. Opportunity: Planned excessively, debated options, looked for beaches unguarded by Germans. Russia was attacking from the East weakening/distracting Germany.
  4. Early Win: Despite heavy casualties, the Allies were able to capture the beaches and within 5 days of D Day, the allied forces were able to put 325,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy.
  5. Leverage: Re-claiming Paris, pushing back the German Army, turned the momentum into the Allied Forces side. The allies were able to take the Positional Power and shift it to where Germany now defending on their own territory.
  6. Gateway: A year later, the allies defeated the German Army in Berlin. The US was now able to focus and fight the Pacific war and defeat Japan.

d-dayIf we were to write a Brand Plan for D-Day, here’s what it would start to look like:  

  • Vision:Win World War II, spread ideals of democracy.
  • Goals: Re-claim Europe, maintain troops.
  • Key Issues: How do we turn the tide in the war effort in Europe? Where would the best attack point to get on to continental Europe? What are the defense technology investments needed?
  • Strategy: pin-pointed attack to gain a positional power on continental Europe.
  • Tactic:  D-Day, taking all our troops and attack the Beaches of Normandy to get back on mainland Europe and battle Germany on an equal footing. 

Case Study: Avril connects with her core audience through free mall concerts.

A great example of strategy that might not look like strategy on the surface was Avril Lavigne’s free mall concerts.  Back in 2005, Avril’s career was flat, after some early success, which is a normal path for young musicians. avrilTo kick off her album, she did a series of free mall concerts—and was criticized as desperate. She was desperate and not everyone understood the logic.  Let’s use the six elements of good strategy to assess the Avril re-launch:

  1. Vision: Be a pop superstar again, #1 album, sold out concerts.
  2. Focus: Malls are exactly where her target (11-17 female) hangs out, allowing her to focus all her energy on her core target. Positioned as giving back to her fans. 
  3. Opportunity: First star ever to give free concerts. She had a new album coming out. There were still record stores in malls.
  4. Early Win: She attracted 5k screaming 13-year-olds per mall which created an early win among her most loyal of fans: those who loved and adored her. Local news covered the story giving her added exposure. Everyone (mom and kids) was happy with the “free” gesture.
  5. Leverage: She was able to leverage the good will and energy to get these loyal fans to go buy her album in the mall record stores which helped her album debut at #1 on the charts.
  6. Gateway: Everyone knows the charts are the gateway to the bigger mass audience–more radio play, more iTunes downloads and more talk value. The comeback complete.

Avril’s strategy holds up very strong.  Not a surprise because Madonna used this same strategy for years, except replace malls for teenie-boppers with London night clubs for 20-somethings where she would drop her songs and even make random appearances.  If you were to write the Avril Brand Plan, here’s what it might look like:

  • Vision:  Recording Super Star
  • Goals:  New Album Sales, increase popularity, new recording contract
  • Key Issue:  How do we drive album sales for a slumping Avril? 
  • Strategy:  Reconnect with core teen fans to create momentum to trigger album sales
  • Tactic:  Free Mall tour to get most loyal fans to reconnect and buy the new album.

Case Study: Starbucks refocuses by building around the Coffee routine.

trbghzsds183Starbucks experienced tremendous growth through the 80s and 90s, mainly because of the their coffee. Starbucks quickly become a life ritual in the morning to wake you up. Following their “hobby” (case study above) into the entertainment field in 2003-2008, they hit the skids and faced some trouble that caused them to re-trench and focus on building around their coffee ritual again.  They rebuilt everything back around the coffee routine.  They closed their stores for an entire day to re-train every barista.  They created snacks and pastries to gain more share of requirements around coffee, launched sandwiches to stretch the coffee routine to lunch and created new versions of coffee to deepen love affair with the most loyal users.  Let’s use the six elements of good strategy to see how they did this.

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs.  
  • Focus:  Build around the coffee ritual, but look to shift the coffee routine to both breakfast and lunch. They built a broader portfolio of products–refreshing drinks and delicious deserts, snacks and sandwiches around these two time-slots.
  • Opportunity: Starbucks had the under-utilized bricks and mortar of their restaurants going almost un-used past 11am.  Driving a broader portfolio would own more share of requirements, while moving the ritual to lunch allowed them to drive higher same store sales from the same real estate investment.  
  • Early Win:  Starbucks launched series of new products that made Starbucks seem big on innovation, including sandwiches, wraps, pastries and cookies, all with high quality and successfully connecting with the most loyal Starbucks fans. 
  • Leverage: The leverage point was turning a coffee routine into a breakfast/lunch routine, expanding the life ritual of Starbucks so that it’s now a broad-based meeting place for breakfast and a light lunch. 
  • Gateway: Starbucks is no longer seen as just for coffee, but rather an escape at any point in the day. Most Starbucks are now open till Midnight.  Sales have grown double-digit each of the past 5 years and the Starbucks brand is one of the most revered and beloved with consumers.  

If you were to write the Starbucks, here’s how it might look;

  • Vision: Cherished meeting place for all your quick service food needs
  • Goals: Increase Same store sales, greater share of requirements from Starbucks loyalists
  • Key Issue:  How do we drive significant growth of same store sales?
  • Strategy:  Move Starbucks loyalists to lunch with an expanded lunch menu.
  • Tactic:  Exotic refreshing coffee choices, light lunch menu, increase desert offerings.

Here’s a checklist to see if your strategy is fully mapped out and not left to some vague chance of success.

  • An end in mind vision, pathway that has milestones, specific goals for your program.
  • Opportunity that creates an opening for your brand to quickly take advantage of. 
  • Pin-pointed focus of your resources (effort, investment, time, partners)
  • An early win as the breakthrough point.
  • Game changing Leverage point, where there is a change in positional power and you’re able to turn a small win into something big.
  • Gateway to something bigger, defined as a win for the brand that translates into an increase in power or value.

Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To read more on strategy, here is a workshop on HOW TO BE THINK STRATEGICALLY, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

At Beloved Brands, we make Brands better and we make Brand Leaders better.™

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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