Is Social Media is the new “Invisible Hand”?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Well, today is a picture perfect weather day.  Sunny, which is rare, no humidity even rarer this spring, and likely 80 degrees.  It’s a sunday, a lazy one after a few tough weeks of work.  I feel like it’s a rejuvenation day. where we can shut down our brain.  That’s why I’ve picked the geekiest of topics to write about comparing an 18th century economist in Adam Smith with the modern-day world of Social Media.

The Original “Invisible Hand”

The concept of Adam’s Smith’s “Invisible Hand”  can be summarized to say that the individuals’ efforts to maximize their own gains in a free market benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions.  In economics, the “invisible hand” of the market is the term economists use to describe the self-regulating nature of the marketplace. This is a metaphor first coined by the economist Adam Smith. 529423_272713376142007_1735862437_nThe exact phrase is used just three times in his writings, but has come to capture his important claim that by trying to maximize their own gains in a free market, individual ambition benefits society, even if the ambitious have no benevolent intentions. My economics professor once said “economics is the practice of proving what happens in real life can also happen in theory”.  I love that line.  So how we as marketers spin the invisible hand is that we have to know that consumers are greedy, and if we satisfy that greed better than others, our brand will be more powerful and more profitable.

Consumers have the right to be greedy because they have money and options for how to spend that money.  Like Gordon Ghekko said “GREED IS GOOD”.  It’s this greed and the ability of some brands to satisfy that greed better than other brands which separates “likeable” brands from “beloved” brands.  As a marketer, I think greed helps you understand the needs of the customer, it forces you to rise and meet their expectations and it pushes you to beat your competitor for that almighty dollar the consumer could use on either you or them.  Fight for it.

Is Social Media the new “Invisible Hand”?

Over the last 5-10 years, Social Media has been the obvious marketing phenomena.  But do we fully understand it yet?  For most Brand Leaders, it still seems hit and miss.  I mean some of the leading cooler brands like Coke, Nike, Starbucks and Whole Foods are doing an amazing job.  But we see others not doing so well.  Arguably if Facebook hasn’t even figured out how to fully monetize itself, then how would Brand Leaders be able to figure it out.

The “invisible hand” of social media is actually hard to explain.  Just like it took Adam Smith 20= years of research, it might be the same for social media.  By no means am I a social media expert guru.  I’m as confused as the rest.  But what I do preach is the more love you can generate for your brand, the more power you can command and then you can turn that power in profit.Slide1

So my new message to every brand leader, if you want to be loved, you need to engage.  You need to be telling your story, your purpose, your passion and do so in a way that the consumer know you are genuine.  if you have no voice then you give control of you brand to the consumer.  We have seen so many bad cases like Motrin or Kitchen Aid to see what happens when a brand loses control.

Take someone like Whole Foods who has an amazing brand.  They use Twitter to perfection, offering constant recipes and engaging with their most loyal of consumers.  They don’t have any real off-line advertising.  All the energy is generated through on-line word of mouth.   Starbucks, a brand built on word of mouth seemed confused by social media a few years ago has now picked up tremendous steam the last year to where they are also a huge success story. And Apple does such an amazing job they get 2.5 billion of free media a year.

Brand Leaders View of Social Media

A few thoughts from one brand leader to another. Forget all the social media experts just for one minute.  We can approach them once we figure things out.  So here goes:

  1. Your media choice has to be influenced by your brand strategy.  This was true in 1920 when we only had print and signs.   It’s still true now that we have 3,000 media options.  You don’t just randomly select activities.  What other part of your life do you do that?   So then why would you do it in marketing.  Let the tactics match up to the strategy, not just do a bunch of random activities and then try to write a strategy to it.Slide1
  2. Media Plans should also map out the life of your consumer and the media choices be driven by where the consumer is, not where the media is.  A great day in the life analysis has always helped find where to interrupt your consumer with your message.   If you knew that the consumer was awake for 16 hours a day and sees 6,000 messages each day, that means we see a new message every 10 seconds.  Which 10 seconds do you think would be the best of the day for you?Slide1
  3. Don’t put out crap.  Please don’t. Please hire a professional to help you.  It seems people are in more of a rush than ever to put stuff out.  But sometimes when you go too fast, it takes longer.   Please do a strategic creative brief.  Give the creative people enough time to do great work.  If you are going to get into story telling, you should have a purpose driven strategy at the anchor.  You should really know why you come to work every day and once you do, bring that purpose into all your stories you tell.  The “why” is such a powerful message.
  4. Be Interesting, but equally you should be interested.  If you’re going to engage with consumers, don’t just talk about yourself.  Ask them questions that get them talking about themselves.   Instead of serving up what you do constantly, speak in the voice of the consumer and tell them what they get.   No one cares what you do until you care about what they get.
  5. You need to focus.  A brands resources are confined by money, time and people. That’s still true.  Social Media IS NOT free.  Because it takes time and it takes people resources to do it right.   You don’t have to be on Facebook because your nephew thinks you’re a loser.  You should be on it because it’s where your consumer is likely to be motivated the most to engage with your consumer.  Focus on those social media options that most make sense for your brand. 

Now, and only now should you go approach a social media “expert” who will help you figure out how to translate your brand strategy at the social media area, who will map out where your consumer is so you know where/when and how to interact with them.  Make sure you put out quality still.   Crap is always crap.  If you’re going to tell stories and engage, then make sure it’s from the heart.  Honestly means knowing your real purpose of why you chose this business and the struggles you went through.  And finally, I want you to focus.  I know I sound like a broken record.  But if you focus on every other part of your life, then why when it comes to marketing do you all of a sudden thing “it’s ok to cover everything”.   When the discipline of marketing is all about focus.

If you want your brand to be loved, then you have to be engaged in Social Media.  If you are not involved in the conversation about your brand, you’re giving up control to the pack.  And who knows what they’ll say.  

Social Media is more likely the “Invisible Voice” we can’t always hear, but we better start realizing it is there and engaging our own voice.

Here’s a presentation that can help Brand Leaders to get better Media Plans.  

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

I run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

To reach out directly, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

How will Brand Leaders Win with Media in the Future?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I’m not a media expert at all.  So there will be no answers here, just questions about where I might be confused about the future or where I might see an impact to my media thinking. I come at everything through the lens of the Brand Leader. My questions are more about the impact on consumer behaviour and how the brand can win through media in the future.  If you’re a media expert, feel free to add solutions. At this point, like most Brand Leaders, I’m a bit confused and I just have questions, not really solutions!

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future? 

I love asking this question because it usually confuses people, because of the expected downward trend of TV viewership over the last 10 years. At first, this question might sound crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access everywhere, we should expect a shift to watching more TV, not less.  This year, books are up 13% due to increased readership via tablets. Will we see that impact to TV? More access means more use. If you’re on the subway, an airplane, waiting to pick up your kids or on your lunch hour, wouldn’t it be great just to catch an episode of Modern Family?  Now you can. And while this is at the early stages with early adopters, we’ll quickly see it going mass over the next few years. But the TV model will have to change. Consumers won’t want to be watching 8 minutes of TV ads. It seems people see their computer as their personal space and they find intrusive advertising even more annoying on their computer than they do their TV. We need a new model for TV advertising–I haven’t seen it yet.

As a Brand Leader, I recommend that you don’t give up on TV just yet. Maybe it will be on a tablet or a phone.  Just be a bit more creative.  Maybe you need to make your spots more interesting to take advantage of viral shares.  Make sure your spots are more engaging so people want to watch rather than just tolerate.  Be open to integrating your brand right into the shows, or maybe go back to the past when  brand sponsorship kicked off every 1950s TV show.

2. How can Advertisers Capture the Internet Babies (12-22 years old) as they move into adulthood?

As someone said, this segment never “goes on-line” because they are “always on-line”. They are never “off-line”. Last year, my 14-year-old daughter had 3 friends over and when teens visit, you have to expect a bit of excess noise. All of a sudden, there was silence for 20 minutes. I thought they must have left but then I see four teenagers all sitting at the kitchen table texting away, not a word being said. Complete silence.  This generation lives on-line and put their lives on-line. It remains confusing as to their true view of privacy–do they want more or do they just figure their lives are an open book.

This group has their priorities shaped by the age of instant access. They want everything now–sports scores, rumours, or videos of what they just saw on TV. They are multi-tasking so much it’s arguable they never give anything complete focus. When they watch TV, they have the laptop up, their cell phone in hand–navigating Facebook, twitter, texting, instagram and Skype all at once.  No wonder ADD is growing.  They choose Apps over software, expecting an App solution for any problem they have. They see advertising as completely ubiquitous and are more open to brands than other generations. But how they consume media is completely different. E-Commerce is an expectation, as they buy songs, games and movies or a new phone case at a whim.

As a Brand Leader, we need help to figure out how to win with this group when they turn 25?  I know as a parent of this age group, I have no wisdom I can pass on. Maybe someone in this age group can help us out, because I’m utterly confused.

3. Can Newspapers even survive? 

So far, newspapers haven’t figured out the profit model between the traditional broadsheet and the on-line versions. Making it free was likely a mistake, and makes it hard to turn back.  If your newspaper has been free on-line since 1997, I’ll be pissed off if you now expect me to pay for it. If I’m interested in the topic, I’ll just Google the same headline and find a free version. As long as newspaper publishers see a direct link between the actual broadsheet and the newspaper they run the risk of extinction. If you think a newspaper is a collection of amazing journalists, you’re off to a good start. But if you think it has to be a broadsheet, then you’re completely lost. 

News now is instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social.  The tweeting that went on during the US presidential debate (e.g. Big Bird) is evidence of how social media drives the story.  I don’t need to read a journalists take on it. I already know. By the time the broadsheet version of the newspaper is ready, this story is now old news and even has had 12-18 more hours to evolve into a completely new story line. The broadsheet can’t keep up. I love the business model for the Huffington Post. What started as on-line political opinion is becoming a source for broader news–entertainment, sports and lifestyle stories.  With more publishers going without a printed version (e.g. Newsweek just announced they’re cancelling their printed version), this has to be the future.    

As a Brand Leader, I’d recommend moving your Newspaper spend on-line or even choose other mainstream media options.  You’ve put up with the bad production quality for 100 years–is there really anyone under 50 still reading.

4. Can advertisers figure out how to win in the new world?  

The Commodity Brands that have funded mainstream media remain completely confused. 

Traditional media has always been funded by advertisers whether that means TV ads for 8-12 minutes per hour, newspapers and magazines with 25-40% of the space for ads and radio with ads every second song. Traditional Media has been free as long as you were willing to put up with advertising interrupting your usage of the media. That ability to interrupt consumers allowed the Commodity Brands (dish soap, diapers, toothpaste, razor blades and batteries) to break through to consumers, as they sat captive and watching their favourite TV show.

But New Media is free, unbridled and fairly commercial free. In general, a lot of the advertising still just sits there along the sidelines where we don’t click. While the high interest and high involvement brands have started to figure out how to use the New Media, the Commodities remain in a state of confusion. If you want to see what confusion looks like, go see Head and Shoulder’s twitter page with 320 followers or Bounce’s Facebook page “where they talk about fresh laundry” (their words, not mine)

These Commodity brands need to either get people more involved, which Dove is the best in class brand, or they need dial-up the potential importance for a core target which Tide has done a good job.  As we see many of the new media companies (Facebook) struggling to figure out how to make more money from Advertisers, there needs to be a step up in creativity to find new solutions. Banner ads that just sit along the side aren’t going to do much for the advertiser or the media owner. If social media sites want to win over these commodity brands, they need find that right balance of interrupting consumers without annoying their membership.

5.  Are there too many social media options?

I know there are still new social media options every month, but most of these feel fairly niche.  In the mainstream social media sites, we are seeing that winners have emerged and they are turning into leaders as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In and Wikipedia all now dominant in their given area.  It looks impossible for a new entrant to really challenge them. If a new entrant were to try for leap-frog strategy, these leaders would just duplicate the innovation and kill the challenger. Every industry has gone through a similar pattern:  early innovation, divergence of brand options, then a few power brands emerge, and then a power play where the strong squeeze out the weak through mergers and acquisitions until there are a handful of brand owners remaining.

As these Social Media sites look to turn their power into wealth, we will see a shift from fighting for members to fighting for advertiser dollars. This will likely force a convergence of social media options where the strongest brands try to squeeze out the smaller sites. There are already small signs in Google’s strategy they are thinking this way–trying to be the one stop shop. Mergers are always tend to surprise us, almost the unimaginable.  Can you imagine Facebook buying LinkedIn? Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a merger between social media brands and mainstream networks. AOL already tried it with Time-Warner. But can you imagine Google buying CNN, Facebook buying MTV or NBC buying the Huffington Post?   If you’re an Advertiser, expect some uncertainty in the next few years and expect a few mergers.

6. Will new media people ever be able to convince Brand Leaders of what they should do?

Marketers love what they know. It feels safe. The people who spend 100% of their lives living and breathing new media know what Brand Leaders don’t know. The problem is there is no bridge between the Brand Leader and New Media.  New Media don’t really get the marketers, don’t understand their motivations and how they think.  So they just keep barking and no one is listening. Here are some tips: Start with the consumer and map out how they interact. Don’t start with the media. Demonstrate to me that you understand my brand:  who is my target, how do they shop, what is my main benefit, the key issues I face, strategic options available and how my brand makes money.   Show me things other brands in my predicament have done and the results.  Be fundamental in the way you talk with me.  Look at how I was trained, strategy first, tactics second, execution third.  Go in that order so I can follow along.  Don’t show me what Bud did on the Super Bowl.  Teach me as much as you can, because if I have more knowledge I’ll be more comfortable.  And help me to sell it in, because everyone above me is even more confused than I am.  Right now, we are a little scared and we’re doing this because we know we should, not because we know what we’re doing.  Help us.  

When it comes to new media, Brand Leaders still need to be fundamentally sound

 

For a Media Overview that can help Brand Leaders get better media plans by learning more about both traditional and digital options, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

10 annoying things that give Marketers a bad reputation

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

 

I’m a marketer at heart. In terms of career, it’s all I know and all I am. I claim to love everything about marketing. Well, nearly everything. Here are 10 things i despise and even more importantly I believe give us marketers a bad reputation. As Mike Ditka would say “STOP IT”.

  1. The price of popcorn at the Movie Theatre. At the grocery store, a single bag of Orville’s popcorn goes for 29 cents a bag. Yet at the movie theatre, it costs $5.99. I get that the movie is using popcorn to cover the overhead.  But it really is blatantly treating your consumer like a hostage. “Combos” (popcorn plus pop or candy) are even worse. At my theatre, one night while I was 9th in line, I added them up and there is zero savings. So I asked the kid at the front. And the answer the poor kid had to give was “the combos are more convenience than savings”. Wow.
  2. Freight and PDI on a New Car. If you’ve ever bought a car, you have to pay something called freight and PDI. It’s really an admin fee for shipping and preparing the car. What’s frustrating is the negotiation process in buying a car. This is just one more tool at the disposal of the sales people. I know Saturn tried the “no price negotiation” strategy and it backfired. Negotiations with so many moving parts can be a brutal experience. And many times, you start off day 1 with such a negative experience that you’re mad at the brand. Why would you want that?
  3. That’s not all, if you call now…’ Yes, telemarketing is a necessary evil of the marketing game. I’m not a fan. The worst line ever invented is “that’s not all”. That just means we’ve taken this low-cost item we’re trying to sell you and give you a second one for free.  But the rip-off is the “you just pay the shipping and handling” line. You’re likely paying an extra $8=10 in shipping and handling, where the company makes a huge profit on that amount. It’s never double the price to ship two items in the same parcel. And the handling? I wish these guys would stop preying on the defense-less consumer. These techniques make us look bad.
  4. 100% Money Back Warranty…’except for’: Last year, I decided to buy a Toshiba Ultrabook, as it was slightly cheaper than the Mac version. While the Toshiba was a bit flimsy, I decided to buy the 3 year extra service plan from Best Buy. I was told “don’t worry, this warranty covers everything, and while it’s being repaired, we’ll even give you a loaner version”. I figured OK, I”m covered. Six months in, the flimsy screen caught up to me and all of a sudden I couldn’t see anything. Confidently, I took it back to Best Buy. They gave me a loaner and a week later said “we can fix it, but the cost to you will be $400” I said “but I have the full warranty”. And they said “yes, but the warranty does not cover software, hardware or battery”. HUH? What else is there? There is nothing else but software, hardware or battery to a computer. Anyway, I bought the Mac. No wonder Apple does so well in an industry like this.
  5. Paying $3 for headphones on the Airplane. I know pretty much every airline is nearly bankrupt. And I’d never invest a penny into an airline. But the shift to charging the consumer for everything seems like the wrong way to go. There have to be more creative ways than charging $3 for headphones. I was recently on a flight that cost me $1700, which makes that headphone fee about 0.18% of the overall price. Is it really making a dent in the balance sheet of your airline?  Or is giving the consumer a small token a bad thing?
  6. Email Lists you didn’t know you signed up for. I manage my email as best I can. For about 2 months now, I’m getting weekly Hilton Honors email blasts. I finally un-subscribed.  Some of the un-subscribes are easy.  But others are painful with 3 or 4 steps to confirm I really want to un-subscribe and I’m not “mistaken”. Email marketing is just the new form of junk mail. I guess it works for 3% of customers so to get the money from those guys, let’s bug the 97% of customers who don’t want emails cluttering up their inbox. Let’s make it so hard to tick off that “no email thank you” box that we can annoy our most loyal consumers.
  7. Paying more for a large hot tea versus a Small: There are 3 component costs in hot tea. The cup, the bag and the water. The only thing that changes with a larger size is more water. Any chance to rip-off the consumer.
  8. 3-year Cell Phone Contracts: When the technology changes every six months and you’re teenager drops (or throws) their phone at least once a week, having that long contract feels like a prison sentence. I get the whole it’s the only way we can cover the cost. But it puts all these phone companies into a position where they get the sale but lose the customer’s loyalty. It’s not a way to build a long-term love affair but rather a growing hatred for one another.
  9. Gas Price Games.  I want one simple rule for gas prices. You have to set them on the first day of the month and leave that price the entire month. Have you ever noticed that the price of gas goes up immediately at the start of a crisis–in anticipation of prices going up.  So a hurricane hits, prices jump up that day just in case the oil industry is affected. Not because it’s been affected. Just in case. Yet the prices don’t come down in anticipation of the world crisis ending,
  10. Call Center Cold Calls at home. Even worse than junk email cluttering up my inbox are the phone calls coming from overseas. I’ve signed up for the “Do Not Call”, but I guess the loophole is to now call from overseas. You’re in the middle of cooking dinner and the phone rings. And there is some 7 second delay before someone says “Hi Mr Robertson”.

These 10 things are very common to most consumers causing great frustration but also lack of respect for the marketing profession. And yes, it is a profession. What are the things about marketing that annoy you and damage our reputation?

How do we get these guys to “Stop It”?

Read more on how to create a beloved brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

Start a “Hate” page for your Brand, and see if people show up

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

374407_171920299616168_1131330890_n-1If you are serious about the hearing the Voice of the Customer, than start a hate page about your brand.  You might be shocked at how many people show up, and you might find richness in what they have to say about your brand.  

In sports, they say people learn more from losing than from winning. When you lose, you can look at what exactly you did wrong, and from that you can see what you need to do in order to change, so that in the future you will be more able to win.  While it’s more fun to win, no one really learns anything.  

Are you serious about Voice of Customer?

If you are serious, ask yourself why you are gathering the data?   Is it to find out how wonderful you are or is to find the flaws you can fix.  I have sat in research collected Voice of Customer (VOC) meetings, and have seen people get so excited when the score goes up from 38% to 39%.  Everyone starts to smile, mainly because these are connected to the goals for the year-end bonus.   A few of the positive verbatims are read and people beam with pride.  Then a few of the negatives are read, there is silence the room.  And then it’s back to how great the 39% feels.  Click on that Rogers page http://www.facebook.com/CanadiansAgainstRogers and read some of the stories that consumers are have taken the time to post about the Rogers brand.   Every Rogers executive should start their day off by reading these stories and figuring out what they are going to do about it. Before their competitors do something about it.  

Isn’t it better to Attack Yourself on Facebook Before Your Competitor Attacks You in the Market?

I know it sounds a bit crazy, but imagine the richness you can get from starting a “Hate” page for your own brand on Facebook and hearing what’s wrong so that you can attack yourself and fix your flaws faster than your competitor can find them and expose them in the marketplace.  It’s the modern-day version of manning the Call centre for a day.  One tool I love using is the Leaky Bucket. A great exercise in exposing your flaws–your leaks–so that you can attack them.  The learning you might get from your “Hate” page on Facebook might help you populate.  It adds richness to the data of a VOC study.    

Slide1

It’s a great tool for a Brain Storming off-site meeting.  The way the tool works is go through every stage that a consumer goes through as they interact with your brand, as they move from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved Brand.  Write down what you think it is that people like about your brand at each stage, and then start writing down why they leave your brand at each stage.  This is where the richness of attacking yourself comes into play.  ATTACK!!!  You’ll likely begin seeing “leaks” that you can fix.  These leaks are what you can attack and close, so that you’ll retain these consumers rather than lose them.  

Attack yourself before others attack you

To read more on How to Create a Beloved Brand, read the following presentation:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

Positioning 2016.112

Brand Management: How to be a great Brand Leader

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

It seems that marketing these days is more about “doing” than it is about “thinking”.  

“Activity Based Marketing” has replaced strategic brand management. Marketers are content if they are doing something, regardless if it is the right something. Everyone I interact with is too busy doing stuff, running from meeting to meeting, chasing the to do list. Marketers today are so busy, that they don’t have time to think. If you want to be a great marketer, you need to be carving out time to sit back in your chair and say “what’s next”.   

Are you Strategic?  

I know you want to say yes.  And I’m sure it’s on your Linked In profile.  So you must be. But if you are doing more activity than you are doing the thinking, then you aren’t really operating strategically. You are too busy chasing your own tail. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planners who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers. Look back at the past week and ask “are you acting strategically?”

Are You a Fundamentally Sound Marketer?

No matter how bright you are, if you haven’t been properly trained, then you aren’t realizing your full potential.  You likely are struggling with writing your brand plan, you aren’t quite sure what has to go onto the creative brief and you aren’t sure how to give an agency feedback. You’re not sure which media option makes the most sense for your brand. These days, marketing has become a completely “on the job” training ground. There’s very few fundamentals being taught. You are given a desk and a brand and told that “we think marketers learn on the job” and “we think it’s your boss who should be teaching you”. Since there has been a few generation of marketers who haven’t been trained, it’s very likely that your boss isn’t quite sure of the fundamentals of brand management.

If you are a bright, but you think you are lacking the fundamentals, you are not alone.    

Are you running the brand? Do you act like an owner?

Brand Manager has to have a mindset that reflects the CEO, accountable for growth, costs, profit and shareholder wealth. A great marketer runs the brand, rather than letting the brand run them.  The starting ground for running the brand is to have your finger on the pulse of the brand and make sure everything revolves around that pulse. Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA. The Brand DNA (many call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s Safety, while BMW might be Performance and Mercedes is Luxury. The Brand’s DNA has an external and an internal.  Externally, you should be looking at the consumers’ view and the brand personality you’re trying to project outward to them. Internally, the products and the internal brand beacon should help align everyone working on the brand.   

The classic role of Brand Management is that the Brand Leader is at the hub and everything revolves around that Brand Leader. But in reality, they aren’t really revolving around the Brand Leader.  They are revolving around the Brand DNA and it’s just that the Brand Leader owns that DNA and uses it as a lens to judge all the activity around the Brand. That is the starting point of strategy.

Everything revolves around the Brand DNA

The Brand DNA should help frame 

  1. Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 
  2. Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 
  3. Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 
  4. Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 
  5. Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 
  6. Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.  

 

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

 

Use the Brand Plan to drive the direction of the brand

The planning area should help to frame the Brand Plan, which is a combination of a one year Brand Plan and a 3-5 year strategic plan.  The Vision and Mission provide the future direction, objectives align to the Business needs and Brand Funnel objectives and Strategies and Tactics help to drive towards those objectives.  Included as well should be a Calendar and Budgets.  For a tutorial on how to write a Brand Plan, click on the following link:  How to Write a Brand Plan

 

From the DNA, map out a positioning statement that can help frame the Marketing Communications plan.  That includes the creative big idea, the media mix, earned media (PR, Events) social media, key influencers (e.g. Doctors or Contractors or Bloggers). As well, the positioning frames the identity which could include logo, language, look and feel and brand book. My hope is that you don’t change this very often.   Looking at the complexity of the Brand Management system outlined here, it baffles me that Brands facing tough times reach for changing their logo so quickly when so many other factors could be driving the issues. For a tutorial on writing Creative Briefs, click on:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief

Staying on strategy is just as hard as coming up with the strategy 

If you don’t have time to think, then how do you know what you’re doing is the right thing to do?   The Go-To-Market plan should also feed off the Brand DNA and come out of the Brand Plan.  The Distribution strategy and needs should match up to the needs of the brand, including decisions around Key Account focus, pricing, sku mix, promotion and the possible role of new products.  In a fast-moving category like cereal or gum, or a high technology driving category like computers, phones or TVs, both share a high need for product innovation.  For brands that require in store selling, you should also include the In-store experience which could be demonstration, signage or trial as well as possible selling messages for sales people on the floor of the distribution channel.  These messages should feed directly from the brand messages.

The R&D plan should feed off the Brand DNA and develop products that match the brand.  Too many times, R&D is in their own world, trying to invent things that have nothing to do with where the brand sits.  They expect marketing to be able to sell their inventions.  Even in a technology driven business, Apple is driven first by the consumer.  Steve Jobs really understood that you don’t just sell what you have.

Brand also drives the Culture and the DNA should provide a beacon for the People to follow. The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising. Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training. Too many companies are cutting back on training. Remember that better people produce better work that drives better results. Keep investing in your people and the business results will come.  Empower your people to get the most from their ideas.  Leverage values, inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness.

Managing the Brand

Brand drives the Business Results. The more loved a brand, the more tightly the connection it has with their consumers. This connection becomes a source of power that the brand can wield in the market to drive higher growth rate and profitability. The Brand Leader is responsible for driving the P&L, driving sales and share, managing the forecast and costs for an efficiently run brand. The Brand Leader must figure out the levers of the P&L it can use to drive more profits. For a tutorial on driving profits through your brand, click on:  How to Drive Profits through Your Brand

Leading the Brand

Putting the Brand Leader front and centre will allow you to leverage the Brand DNA into each of the areas of your business, whether that’s marketing, sales, R&D, finance or human resources. The Brand Leader should be at the centre of this hub, with each area looking to the Brand DNA as a beacon of how they can do their job most effectively in helping the brand drive long-term growth and profitability.

Here’s a robust summary on Brand Management that looks at it through 8 areas:  

      1. Beloved = Power = Growth = Profit
      2. Brand DNA and Vision
      3. Brand Promise
      4. Brand Analytics
      5. Brand Plan
      6. Execution
      7. Managing
      8. Leading

 

 

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Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As Brand Leaders, our days get busy, running from meeting to meeting, trying to deliver our numbers, gain share and hit our forecasts. We have a few new products that are long over due and now we’re trying to make the most of them. Finance has found a potential cost savings from the plant but it’s unsure if it will be off-set by a one time surcharge. We have a presentation at Wal-Mart next week and think we’ll walk away with a new listing. We have a new claim from the R&D team that we think delivers superiority versus our closest competitor. And finally, we have the go-ahead to do a new ad, but we think our senior managers will insist that we make the ad to their exact requirements and that it delivers their new vision statement. This is an average day in marketing. Except, we have not thought once about the consumer.  Maybe that’s the norm when we get so busy or face pressures to make the numbers.  

I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a walk in the shoes of your consumer: With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going: strategic thinking and consumer behavior. Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way. You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day. Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals. But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find. The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love. Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Live and breathe insights about your consumers. strategy adInsight is not something you just do when you’re spending the hour that you write your creative brief. You should be gathering insight at every chance you can, and unleashing that knowledge throughout every day. Insight is not something that your consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That helps, but you have to go a layer deeper to find your insights. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Get in the shoes of those consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want. Instead of mentioning a feature, force yourself to ask “If I’m the consumer so what do I get” five times to see if you can get to the richness of the functional benefits. Then look at that functional benefit and ask “so how does that make me feel”. Stop talking features and start talking benefits–both the rational and emotional.   No one has ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill, they just want a 1/4 inch hole.   

Consumers are busier than ever. Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time. People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year.  Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world. The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day. The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs. Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer. Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them. The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly. You have to matter to those consumers that really care. And you have to know what connects with them to get the way to stand out.   

Living in the consumers shoes is contagious. When you start asking about how the consumer buys, what they are thinking about now or what do we want them to think, you’ll notice others on your team following your cues and start thinking like a consumer. It will be energizing. When you ask “will our consumer love this” it sets the bar very high. Here’s my simple challenge for you: If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand. The best filter for your work is the consumer. It’s more important than what Wal-Mart thinks or what your boss likes/doesn’t like. When looking at new products, the R&D team should be more obsessed with what the consumer wants than what they might be capable of coming up in their lab. As Steve Jobs famously said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Brand Leaders Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love.  Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer.  And, most brands end up liked but never end loved. My mom wanted me to be an actuary. Apparently, an actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance. Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it. What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big. You can make a real difference. So if you’re not going to be an actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader. We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs. We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers. We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.  

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential. Here are the most popular article “How to” articles. We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic. Click on any of these most read articles:

How to ask big questions that get big strategic answers

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

In our marketing careers, we start off in a doing-role and get completely swamped in execution. We think “if only I had a higher level job, I’d actually have time to think, rather than just do”. The problem for many of us, is not only do we get good at the doing, we get so good that we can’t get past it and we never end getting to the real strategic thinking. We just become a do-er at a higher level and drive everyone crazy beneath us.

When I talk to many of the senior Brand Leaders, at the VP and Director level, I hear 3 common things:

  1. “I am too busy and I have no time for strategic thinking”
  2. “My team lacks the experience so I have to jump in resolve issues myself”
  3. “If I didn’t jump in, it just wouldn’t get done right”

Are you really Strategic?

Everyone out there claims to be a strategic thinker, but I would guess that really only half of us really are strategic.

  • 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.   This is PLANNING!
  • Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.   They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking.   They think doing something is better  then doing nothing.   They opt for action over thinking.    They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They are frustrated by strategic thinkers.  This is EXECUTING!

As a senior Brand Leader, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the details of the execution that you’re making the non-strategic decisions on behalf of the team.   You have just really become the “senior” Senior Brand Manager that really annoys your team.   Instead of providing the team with a vision, challenging on strategy or teaching the team, you’re telling them to make the flash bigger and change the sell sheet to purple.

If you speak in a telling voice, you leave your team with one answer:  YES.   If you speak in an asking voice you leave your team with 3 answers:  YES, NO or let me dig in a bit more and find out.  

Instead of telling people what to do, why not challenge yourself to sit back slightly and ask the really tough challenging questions.  You’ll know you’ve asked a really tough question when you don’t even know the answer.   There’s nothing wrong with stumping the team, because you’re even stumping yourself in the process.

So what are the tough questions to ask?  

As your team might be at the beginning stage of digging in on analysis, here’s are 10 great questions to ask your team:

  1. How do we make money? This focuses them on figuring out the pathway from the activities on the brand to the results in the market and the profitability on the balance sheets. The most beloved brands use the consumer connection to create a source of power that they can use on various areas of the market and then use that power to drive the brand’s profitability.   Your team should be able to map this out and use it as a roadmap for the brand’s future.   If you’re not focused on power and profit, then you’re not strategic.  
  2. What is it that makes us different?  The best of brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or not around for very long. If you can’t answer this question, then how do you expect your consumer to be able to answer. You’re likely just a me-too brand and once that’s discovered, you’ll be on a downward spiral.   
  3. Why are we here?  How did we get here?  Where could we be? It’s great for getting to the vision, without writing the word “vision” up on the board and saying to everyone “ok go”. That gets you no-where. Pick a magical date of 5-10 years from now and say “if you got everything you wanted, what would the brand look like in 5 years?”  Push them hard on the where to, because that’s when the brand starts to transform itself.  
  4. What’s holding us back from being where we want to be? Once you get the team focused on the vision of 5 to 10 years from now. This allows you to start attacking your brand, to find the inhibitors that you can try to unleash or course correct.  
  5. Which would be easier: getting our most loyal users to use more, moving up those who have already bought into the brand to start using regularly or getting a new user? This is pushing them towards a strategic choice, whether to focus on base users or new users–penetration or usage frequency. It also should start to force you to look at your brand funnel to see where you have strength and where you have gaps. Every brand should be utilizing a brand funnel. It’s almost negligent to not use one. That’s like working out at the gym and not knowing your blood pressure or cholesterol scores. When you layer in What would make us more Money, you might start to see the ROI impact of the same decision.  
  6. What would our consumer say about our brand? This shifts the focus of the discussion from a myopic brand focus into thinking about the consumer first. Everything you do should be start and end with the consumer in mind.  After all, if you figure out how to win over the consumer, you become more powerfully connected and can drive greater growth and profits through that power   
  7. For Strategy, what choices are on the table that helps you gain a foothold into the market but also helps to drive the long-term win? A test for any great strategy is whether it has all 4 key elements. FOCUS:  all your energy to a particular strategic point or purpose.  Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort.   Pick a tight target market of those who can love you, and pick a unique position that you can stand behind and win. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Find that connection with your consumer—moving them along the love curve.  LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  Your brand finds a way to turn the consumer connectivity into a source of power the brand can leverage.Seeing beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, which is the entrance or a means of access to something even bigger. It could be getting to the masses, changing opinions or behaviors. Return on Investment or Effort, where you can translate all the power you’ve earned into profits and brand value.
  8. For any choice related to brand positioning and go-to-market, whether it’s target market, main message, media choices or activities, force their hand by asking a few questions to ask: 1) which one gets us on our way to vision faster? 2) which one helps us grow faster  3) which one makes us more money? Always push your team to focus by making them use the word “or” instead of “and”. If you think you are a strategic decision maker, then whenever you choose both, you’ve failed.   When you go into a casino, and put one chip on each of the 38 choices on the roulette wheel, it might be fun, but you’ll never win. By targeting everyone then you’re not making the choice, you’re just depleting your resources. And you run the risk that no consumer ever says “wow, that brand is really speaking to me.”
  9. When seeing new creative execution of anything, ask “DO YOU LOVE IT?” and then watch their eyes.  Do you think our costumer will love it?  Is this connected to personal pride or are they just passing the buck filling in forms. Getting something to market, big or small takes a herculean effort to overcome obstacles. I want to know on day 1, will they fight for it? A great idea that falls on the vine is worth less than an OK idea executed with passion.  If we don’t love the work we do, then how do we expect the consumer to love the brand?    OK is the enemy of greatness.  
  10. Why do you want to spend this money? If you are about to spend millions of dollars, I want to hear the reason why you think it’s crucial, why it will pay back even greater than the resources we put forward. Understanding and aligning to one key objective allows everyone to focus on the outcome.   

And finally, the most important question of all: What do your instincts think we should do? And then listen. You might be surprised by the good thinking on your team and you might be surprised that their answer is better than the one that is in your head.  

This might be most obvious of questions, but how many times per week do you ask this? Imagine the responses you might get from that.  Imagine how motivated your team would be. As a leader, I want you to start exhibiting more patience. You have to learn the art of questioning that sets up the listening. If you learn this skill you’ll start to realize that you can still control the direction of the brand through questions, even more than through direction. On the plus side, you’ll have a fully engaged, motivated team that’s ready to deliver.

As a Brand Leader at the executive level, you should walk into every meeting telling yourself “I know less about this than anyone in the room” and that puts you in the most powerful position to ask the right strategic questions and listen for the right strategic answers.

The bigger the question, the bigger the answer.

To help improve your strategic thinking, read the following presentation:

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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Five questions about media in the future

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

I’m not a media expert at all. So there will be no answers here, just questions about where I might be confused about the future or where I might see an impact to my media thinking. I come at everything through the lens of the Brand Leader. My questions are more about the impact on consumer behaviour and how the brand can win through media in the future.  If you’re a media expert, feel free to add solutions.  At this point, I just have questions!

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future? 

I love asking this question because it usually confuses people, because of the expected downward trend of TV viewership over the last 10 years. At first, this question might sound crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access everywhere, we should expect a shift to watching more TV, not less. This year, books are up 13% due to increased readership via tablets. Will we see that impact to TV? More access means more use. If you’re on the subway, an airplane, waiting to pick up your kids or on your lunch hour, wouldn’t it be great just to catch an episode of Modern Family?  Now you can. And while this is at the early stages with early adopters, we’ll quickly see it going mass over the next few years. But the TV model will have to change. Consumers won’t want to be watching 8 minutes of TV ads. It seems people see their computer as their personal space and they find intrusive advertising even more annoying on their computer than they do their TV.   We need a new model for TV advertising–I haven’t seen it yet.

As a Brand Leader, I recommend that you don’t give up on TV just yet. Maybe it will be on a tablet or a phone. Just be a bit more creative. Maybe you need to make your spots more interesting to take advantage of viral shares. Make sure your spots are more engaging so people want to watch rather than just tolerate. Be open to integrating your brand right into the shows, or maybe go back to the past when  brand sponsorship kicked off every 1950s TV show.

2. How can Advertisers Capture the Internet Babies (12-22 years old) as they move into adulthood?

As someone said, this segment never “goes on-line” because they are “always on-line”. They are never “off-line”.  Last year, my 14-year-old daughter had 3 friends over and when teens visit, you have to expect a bit of excess noise. All of a sudden, there was silence for 20 minutes. I thought they must have left but then I see four teenagers all sitting at the kitchen table texting away, not a word being said. Complete silence. This generation lives on-line and put their lives on-line. It remains confusing as to their true view of privacy–do they want more or do they just figure their lives are an open book.

This group has their priorities shaped by the age of instant access. They want everything now–sports scores, rumours, or videos of what they just saw on TV. They are multi-tasking so much it’s arguable they never give anything complete focus.  When they watch TV, they have the laptop up, their cell phone in hand–navigating Facebook, twitter, texting, instagram and Skype all at once. No wonder ADD is growing. They choose Apps over software, expecting an App solution for any problem they have. They see advertising as completely ubiquitous and are more open to brands than other generations. But how they consume media is completely different. E-Commerce is an expectation, as they buy songs, games and movies or a new phone case at a whim.

As a Brand Leader, we need help to figure out how to win with this group when they turn 25?  I know as a parent of this age group, I have no wisdom I can pass on.  Maybe someone in this age group can help us out, because I’m utterly confused.

3. Can Newspapers even Survive? 

So far, newspapers haven’t figured out the profit model between the traditional broadsheet and the on-line versions. Making it free was likely a mistake, and makes it hard to turn back. If your newspaper has been free on-line since 1997, I’ll be pissed off if you now expect me to pay for it.  If I’m interested in the topic, I’ll just Google the same headline and find a free version.  As long as newspaper publishers see a direct link between the actual broadsheet and the newspaper they run the risk of extinction. If you think a newspaper is a collection of amazing journalists, you’re off to a good start.  But if you think it has to be a broadsheet, then you’re completely lost. 

News now is instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social. The tweeting that went on during the US presidential debate (e.g. Big Bird) is evidence of how social media drives the story.  I don’t need to read a journalists take on it.  I already know.  By the time the broadsheet version of the newspaper is ready, this story is now old news and even has had 12-18 more hours to evolve into a completely new story line. The broadsheet can’t keep up. I love the business model for the Huffington Post.  What started as on-line political opinion is becoming a source for broader news–entertainment, sports and lifestyle stories.  With more publishers going without a printed version (e.g. Newsweek just announced they’re cancelling their printed version), this has to be the future.    

As a Brand Leader, I’d recommend moving your Newspaper spend on-line or even choose other mainstream media options. You’ve put up with the bad production quality for 100 years–is there really anyone under 50 still reading.

4. Can Advertisers Figure Out how to Win in the New World?  

The Commodity Brands that have funded mainstream media remain completely confused. 

Traditional media has always been funded by advertisers whether that means TV ads for 8-12 minutes per hour, newspapers and magazines with 25-40% of the space for ads and radio with ads every second song. Traditional Media has been free as long as you were willing to put up with advertising interrupting your usage of the media.  That ability to interrupt consumers allowed the Commodity Brands (dish soap, diapers, toothpaste, razor blades and batteries) to break through to consumers, as they sat captive and watching their favourite TV show.

But New Media is free, unbridled and fairly commercial free. In general, a lot of the advertising still just sits there along the sidelines where we don’t click.  While the high interest and high involvement brands have started to figure out how to use the New Media, the Commodities remain in a state of confusion. If you want to see what confusion looks like, go see Head and Shoulder’s twitter page with 320 followers or Bounce’s Facebook page “where they talk about fresh laundry” (their words, not mine)

These Commodity brands need to either get people more involved, which Dove is the best in class brand, or they need dial-up the potential importance for a core target which Tide has done a good job. As we see many of the new media companies (Facebook) struggling to figure out how to make more money from Advertisers, there needs to be a step up in creativity to find new solutions. Banner ads that just sit along the side aren’t going to do much for the advertiser or the media owner. If social media sites want to win over these commodity brands, they need find that right balance of interrupting consumers without annoying their membership.

5.  Are there too many Social Media Options?

I know there are still new social media options every month, but most of these feel fairly niche.  In the mainstream social media sites, we are seeing that winners have emerged and they are turning into leaders as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In and Wikipedia all now dominant in their given area.  It looks impossible for a new entrant to really challenge them.  If a new entrant were to try for leap-frog strategy, these leaders would just duplicate the innovation and kill the challenger. Every industry has gone through a similar pattern: early innovation, divergence of brand options, then a few power brands emerge, and then a power play where the strong squeeze out the weak through mergers and acquisitions until there are a handful of brand owners remaining.

As these Social Media sites look to turn their power into wealth, we will see a shift from fighting for members to fighting for advertiser dollars. This will likely force a convergence of social media options where the strongest brands try to squeeze out the smaller sites. There are already small signs in Google’s strategy they are thinking this way–trying to be the one stop shop. Mergers are always tend to surprise us, almost the unimaginable. Can you imagine Facebook buying LinkedIn? Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a merger between social media brands and mainstream networks. AOL already tried it with Time-Warner. But can you imagine Google buying CNN, Facebook buying MTV or NBC buying the Huffington Post? If you’re an Advertiser, expect some uncertainty in the next few years and expect a few mergers.

If you have any solutions to these questions or if you have other questions, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

For a Media Overview that can help Brand Leaders get better media plans by learning more about both traditional and digital options, read the following presentation:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

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

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

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

 

Positioning 2016.112

Does a Brand Vision statement matter?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

The Vision for the Toronto Maple Leafs

I love asking people “Do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs had a good year last year?”.  For non-hockey fans, the Leafs would be like the Chicago Cubs in baseball or  Aston Villa in the English Premier League.  My beloved Leafs are the only NHL team who has not made the playoffs since 2004, and they have not won a championship since 1967.  The last two seasons they finished 29th and 25th out of 30 teams.  That’s really pathetic.

So did the Leafs have a good year?   It depends on what you think the brand vision is?    If you think the Leafs Vision is to Win the Stanley Cup, then it’s been an obvious disaster. But if you think the Leafs Vision is to be the Most Valued Sports Franchise, then it’s been an amazing year, just like the past 8 years. In those eight years of hockey despair, overall revenue has gone up from $117 million to $190 million while costs have gone down from $69 million to $57 million. That’s a P&L the people of Price Waterhouse dream about.  The resulting brand value has seen the Leafs go from $263 million in 2003 up to $521 million–making it the #1 value valued team in hockey. Eight years of missing the playoffs and the value of the team has nearly doubled.  Instead of firing everyone, they should be handing out the bonus cheques. They still have a long way to reach the NY Yankees Value of $2.2 Billion.  

Does a Vision Statement Pay Out?

Companies that have Vision Statements have a better sense of where they are going. And the proof is there that it pays off for companies with a Vision.

  • Harvard Study across 20 industries looking at businesses showed that companies with Vision Statements saw their revenue grew more than four times faster; job creation was seven times higher; their stock price grew 12 times faster; and profit performance was 750% higher.
  • Newsweek looked at 1000 companies with Vision Statements had an average return on stockholder equity of 16.1%, while firms without them had only a 7.9% average return.
  • “Built to Last” showed that for companies with Vision Statements, that a $1 investment in 1926 would have returned $6,350 compared to only a return of $950 for comparable companies without a Vision.

The Vision and Mission help to frame the overall Brand Plan

Think of the Vision as the End in Mind Achievement towards your purpose.  What do you want the brand to become?  Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful.  Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable)  It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused. It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—why you got into this business.

The Mission is the Special Assignment. It should be tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is the how or the major milestone on the path towards that vision. A mission statement focuses on a company’s present state while a vision statement focuses on a company’s future.

Things that Make a Good vision: 

  1. Easy for employees and partners to understand and rally around
  2. Think about something that can last 5-10 years or more
  3. Balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement)
  4. It’s ok to embed a financial ($x) or share position (#1) element into it as long as it’s important for framing the vision.

The watch outs for vision statements:

  1. It’s not a positioning statement.  Almost positioning neutral  Let the positioning come out in the strategy.
  2. Make sure we haven’t achieved it already.  If you are #1, then don’t put “be #1”.
  3. Don’t put strategic statements.  Vision answers “where could we be” rather than “how can we get there”
  4. Try to be single-minded:  Tighten it up and don’t include everything!!   Can you say it in an elevator.  Can you actually remember it?  Can you yell it at a Sales meeting?

Purpose Driven Visions: The Power of Why

More companies are reaching for their purpose answering the simple question:  “why do we do what we do”.  Why do you exist?  What’s your Purpose or Cause?  Start with what’s in you.  Why do you wake up in the morning or why did you start this company long ago?  Simon Sinek, the Author “The Power of Why” says the most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.

Using the Apple brand as an example, Sinek talks about the “Why” for Apple as challenging the status quo, and thinking differently.  People at Apple want to make a dent in the universe.  The “How” is making sure our products are all beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.  Since people buy into the why and the how of Apple and want to be a part of it, it matters less “What” they do and they’ll follow them as they move to new categories.  As Sinek says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Vision and Employees

A well-articulated vision can really make a difference for employees, giving them both a challenge and focus to what they do each day.  For service driven companies, where people are the brand it becomes essential.  Adding in brand values and even service values can assist people in knowing what they should be doing each day and how they should be doing it.  For a product driven brand, it can help all drive focus for all those working around the brand whether that’s ad agencies, R&D, sales or operations.

To see how a Brand Vision helps to frame the brand plan, read the following presentation: 

 

I run Brand Leader Training programs on this very subject as well as a variety of others that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  Click on any of the topics below:

To see the training presentations, visit the Beloved Brands Slideshare site at: http://www.slideshare.net/GrahamRobertson/presentations

If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at graham@beloved-brands.com

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How to Get Fired as a Brand Manager

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

There’s been a lot of great Assistant Brand Managers to be fired at the Brand Manager level.   So that would beg the question:  why were they mistakenly promoted? Just like in sports where they are fooled by size, we sometimes get fooled by Charisma. They seem impressive to us–whether it’s how they speak in the hallways or answer questions in a plans meeting. We think Charisma is a great starting ground for a leader, so hopefully they can learn to be analytical, strategic, creative and organized.  Hopefully that Charismatic leader can get stuff done, stay on track, hand in their budgets on time, know how to turn a brand around, can write great brand plans, work with agencies and motivate the sales team etc…etc… But then we find out that they can’t do all that stuff.  And after 18 months as a Brand Manager, we see they really are “just charismatic” and we remind ourselves of what we already knew: Being a Brand Manager really is hard.

Brand Managers don’t really get fired because they can’t deliver the results. That might happen at Director or VP level. But at the Brand Manager level, we’d look for other Blind Spots that might be leading to the poor results.

I don’t want to see anyone get fired, so use this list to avoid it. I’ve provided advice for each reason, hopefully helping you to address it pro-actively.  

Top 10 Reasons why Brand Managers get fired:  
  1. Struggle to Make Decisions: When these Brand Managers were ABMs they shined because they are the “super doer’s”, who can work the system, get things done on time and under budget.  All the subject matter experts (forecasting, production, promotions) love them.  But then get them into the Brand Manager seat and they freeze. Slide1They can do, but they can’t decide.  They can easily execute someone else’s project list with flare, but they can’t come up with a project list of their own.   For you to succeed, you have to work better on your decision-making process.   You have to find methods for narrowing down the decisions.  When you’re new to decisions, take the time to map out your thinking whether it’s pros and cons or a decision tree.  It will eventually get faster for you and train your mind to make decisions.
  2. Not Analytical Enough: Those that can’t do the deep dive analytical thinking. They might have great instincts, but they only scratch the surface on the analytics, and it eventually catches them when they make a poor decision and they can’t explain why they went against the obvious data points. The real reason is they never saw those data points.  When a senior leader questions you, they can usually tell if they have struggled enough with a problem to get to the rich solution or whether they just did the adequate thinking to get to an “ok” solution. Just because you are now a Brand Manager doesn’t mean you stop digging into the data. The analytical skills you learned as an ABM should be used at every level in your career right up to VP. As I moved up, I felt out of touch with the data so at every level up to VP, I used to do my own monthly share report just to ensure I was digging in and getting my hands mucky with the data.  Because I had dug around in the data, I knew which of my Brand Managers had dug in as well and which Brand Managers hadn’t even read their ABM’s monthly report yet.  Take the time to know the details of your business. Dig into the data and make decisions based on the depth of analysis you do. 
  3. Can’t Get Along:  Conflicts, teamwork issues, communication. These Brand Managers struggle with sales colleagues or the subject matter experts (SME’s). They might be the type who speaks first, listens second. They go head-to-head to get their own way instead of looking for compromise. Yes, they might be so smart they think faster than everyone, but they forget to bring people along with their thinking. They start to leave a trail of those they burned and when the trail gets too big they get labelled as “tough to deal with”. Listen more–hear them out.  The collection of SME’s will likely teach you more about marketing than your boss will.   If you don’t use these people to enhance your skill, you’ll eventually crash and burn.  And if they can’t work with you, they’ll also be the first to destroy your career.  You aren’t the first superstar they’ve seen. And likely not the last. My recommendation to you is to remember that Leadership is not just about you being out front, but about you turning around and actually seeing people following you.   In fact, it should be called “Follower-ship”.
  4. Not good with Ambiguity:  Some Brand Managers opt for the safety of the easy and well-known answers.  They struggle with the unknown and get scared of ambiguity. ambiguity_road_signBrand Managers that become too predictable to their team create work in the market that also becomes predictable and fails to drive the brand. These Brand Managers are OK–they don’t really have a lot of wrong, but they don’t have a lot of right.  You can put them on safe easy businesses, but you wouldn’t put them on the turn around or new products. Ambiguity is a type of pressure that not all of us are capable of handling easily, especially when they see Ambiguity and Time Pressure working against each other. Don’t ever settle for “ok” just because of a deadline. Always push for great. You have to learn to handle ambiguity. In fact revel in ambiguity.  Have fun with it.  Be Patient with Ideas.  Never be afraid of an idea and never kill it quickly.  As a leader, find ways to ask great questions instead of giving quick answers.  Watch the signals you send that may suck the creativity energy out of your team.  When you find a way to stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone”, the ideas get better whether it’s the time pressure that forces the thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for the best idea.  So my recommendation to you is to just hold your breath sometimes and see if the work gets better.
  5. Too slow and stiff:  The type of Brand Manager that is methodical to the extreme and they think everything through to the point of “Analysis Paralysis”.  They never use instincts–and have the counter analytical answer to every “gut feel” solution that gets recommended.  They have every reason why something won’t work but no answers for what will work.  I have to admit that this type frustrates me to no end, because nothing ever gets done.  They struggle to make it happen:  they are indecisive, not productive, disorganized or can’t work through others.  They are frustratingly slow for others to deal with.  They keep missing opportunities or small milestones that causes the team to look slow and miss the deadlines.  You have to start to show more flexibility in your approach.   Borrow some of the thinking from dealing with ambiguity and making decisions.  Realize there are options for every solution, no one perfect answer.      
  6. Bad people Manager:  Most first time people managers screw up a few of their first 5 direct reports.  It’s only natural.  One of the biggest flaws for new Managers is to think “Hey it will take me longer to explain it to you, so why don’t I just do it myself this one time and you can do it next time”.  They repeat this every month until we realized they aren’t teaching their ABM anything.   And they became the Manager that none of the ABMs wanted to work for because you never learn anything.  But as we keep watching great ABMs crashing and burning while under them, we start to wonder “you are really smart, but can you actually manage people?”. To be a great Brand Manager, you have to work on being a better people leader. We expect you to develop talent.  Be more patient with your ABM.  Become a teacher. Be more selfless in your approach to coaching. Take time to give them feedback that helps them, not feedback that helps you.  If you don’t become a better people manager, you’ve just hit your peak in your career.
  7. Poor communicators, with manager, senior management or partners.  They fail to adequately warn when there are potential problems.   They leave their manager in the dark and the information comes their manager from someone else. They confuse partners because they don’t keep them aware of what’s going on. You have to become a better communicator.  Make it a habit that as soon as you know something, your boss does as well–especially with negative news.  It’s normal that we get fixated on solving the problem at hand that we forget to tell people.  But that opens you up to risk–so cover your bases.  
  8. Never Follow Their Instincts:  They forget that marketing also has a “Gut Feel” to it, taking all the data, making decisions and then getting to the execution and believing it by taking a risk. Too many times people fail because “they went along with it even though they didn’t like it”.  You have to find ways to use your instincts.  The problem is that sometimes your instincts are hidden away.  You get confused, you feel the pressure to get things done and you’ve got everyone telling you to go for it. You get scared because you’re worried about your career and you want to do the ‘right thing’. But your gut is telling you it’s just not right. My rule is simple: if you don’t love the work, how do you expect the consumer to love your brand. The worst type of marketer is someone who says “I never liked the brief” or “I never liked the ad”. At every touch point, keep reaching for those instincts and bring them out on the table.
  9. Can’t Think Strategically or Write Strategically: As you move up to Brand Manager, we expect you to be able to think conceptually, strategically and in an organized fashion. We also expect that to come through in your writing–whether that’s your Annual Brand Plan, monthly share report or just an email that you send.  Be organized in your thinking–map it out. I do believe that every good strategy has four key elements: 1) Focus in either target or messaging 2) an Early win where you can see results 3) a Leverage point where you can take that early win and achieve a position power for your brand and finally 4) a Gateway to something even bigger for the brand.  Every six months, I would find a quiet time to answer five key questions that would help me stay aware: 1) Where are we? 2) Why are we here? 3) Where could we be?  4) How can we get there? and 5) What do we have to do to get started?   In an odd way, the more planning you do, the more agile you’ll be, because you’ll know when it’s ok to “go off plan” 
  10. Slide1They Don’t Run the Brand, they Let The Brand Run Them. Some Brand Managers end up in the spin zone where they are disorganized, frantic and not in touch with their business. They miss deadlines, look out of control and things just stockpile on one another. They may take pride in how long they work or how many things they are getting done on their to-do list.  But they are out of control and the business is absolutely killing them. They just don’t know it yet. My advice to you is to stay in Control so you hit the deadlines and stay on budget. Dig in and know your business so you don’t get caught off-guard.  Make sure you are asking the questions and carrying forward the knowledge. Instil processes that organize and enable you and your team, so that it frees you up your time to push projects through and for doing the needed strategic thinking.  Stay conceptual–avoid getting stuck in the pennies or decimals–so you can continue to drive the strategy of your brand.  

Now let’s be honest: You likely won’t be fired for just one of these. You likely will see 3 or 4 of these come together and begin to showcase that you’re just not up for being a Brand Manager. But even 1 or 2 will keep you stuck at the Brand Manager level and you’ll notice your bosses are hesitant to put you on the tough assignments.

But the big question is what do you do about it. My hope is that you can use the list as a way to course correct on something you might already be doing. We each have a few of these de-railers, some that you can easily over-come but others that will take a few years to really fix.   Those who seek out feedback, welcome it and act on it will be the successful ones. I hope that your company has a process of giving feedback or that you get lucky to have a manager that cares about your career and is willing to give you the tough feedback.  But if not, seek it.  Be honest with yourself and try to fix one of these per quarter.

I hope you can figure out the blind spots before your manager does.  

Use this list to ensure that you will be a successful Brand Manager career.

 

Ask Beloved Brands how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
Read more about marketing careers in the following presentation:
 
 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles: