The best media decisions should focus on where your consumer is, not where the media is

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

At Beloved Brands, we believe that Marketers must think of Media as an investment that connects with consumers at the point they are most willing to engage in your brand story, getting them to think, feel or act differently enough to generate higher sales, share and profits beyond the media investment. There is no free media in this world, you are either investing with dollars or investing with effort. Both cost money. With all the changes to media in the last 10-15 years, we must challenge ourselves to think differently.

I went to a big huge “Digital Media Conference” in Chicago last year, hoping to challenge myself. And by the 15th presentation, there was this odd feeling I couldn’t figure it out. And then it hit me. I had not once heard the word “consumer” in any of the presentations. Everything was about MEDIA. It was gadget after gadget. How to move up with key words, the 9 types of digital display shaped ads and cool little videos that went viral. Over and over again.

The best media decisions should focus on where your consumer is, not where the media is.

Everything in Marketing has to start and end with the consumer in mind. You have to be more consumer obsessed than you are media obsessed. Yes, media is fun, with cool new stuff happening everyday. But if you are running a brand, consumers are your only source of revenue that you will ever have. Lead with the consumer and you will make better media choices. I one saw a gravel pit on a country road with a sign out front that said “Like us on Facebook”. That’s crazy. I heard about the President of chemical companies that told their brand team to get on Instagram, because their daughter was on it. That’s crazy too. And I know an industrial company who put “Facebook Likes” as one of the major goals for each brand. More craziness. These are media led decision, nowhere near consumer led decisions. As the media world has changed, brand marketers are really struggling with how to approach media decisions. Always keep in mind that the only reason you should ever choose a certain media is if you believe that it matches to where your consumer will be receptive to your brand message, and influence them to change their behavior in a way that favors your brand.

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We will show you three different models to challenge your brain to think about your media with a consumer first mentality. We start with how consumers use media, then show how the degree of consumer connectivity with your brand  impacts your media strategy and then finally, we look at fitting your brand message into the part of the life of your consumer where they will be most receptive to your message.

1. The 8 ways consumers use Media

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Taking a step into the shoes of consumers, we have mapped out 8 ways that consumer engage with media.

  • When consumers want to be smarter, the obvious option is Google for searching whatever comes to your mind. But consumers can also reach for Wikipedia for basic information on complex subjects. Blogs are also an amazing tool for getting smarter (hopefully why you are reading here). In terms of traditional media, consumers still use subject-matter expert type magazines, informative TV stations (Home and Garden) or news/documentary programming.
  • Consumers use media to stay aware of what’s going on. Consumers might look to TV or Newspapers for news, sports or entertainment networks. A lot of on-line news sites (Huffington Post or are providing regular interval stories that get delivered through social media feeds. For business, LinkedIn is becoming the best site to stay aware of though leadership in your industry, new job openings or what is happening job-wise to your peers/friends.
  • For decades consumers have used media to escape from reality, turning on the TV after a hard day at work. The best dramas in the modern world are by non-traditional stations such as AMC, TNT or most recently Netflix. The network TV is becoming like “fast food” entertainment. Many younger consumers are using YouTube for shorter term videos. And magazines continue to provide a nice escape for consumers.
  • The social media options over the last 5-10 years have provided a real chance for us to express ourselves.  We have become obsessed with telling the world what is on our minds through Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Selfies and kid pics. Political opinions. Sports commentary. Facebook has begun to serve this purpose shifting from what are we doing to what are we thinking.
  • Social media allows consumers to stay connected with our friends, with Facebook being the dominant vehicle. SnapChat is doing a great job targeting teenagers and WhatsApp has become popular all over the world (outside North America).
  • Now, e-commerce has become commonplace. So when we want to do things, buy things or go places, we are more likely to reach for our laptops or mobile. than go out to browse the shopping malls. We have some amazing options at our fingertips including Amazon, TicketMaster, Trip  Advisor and Airbnb.

Knowing the 8 ways for how consumers use media should help to match up your brand to the right media choice. As we started to play with these 8 ways that consumers use media, it struck us how closely it links with our Emotional Cheat Sheet we created that maps out the 8 emotional consumer moods that consumers go through each day. These 8 zones include optimism, freedom, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge. For more information on this cheat sheet, contact Hotspex at  These emotional zones can impact your brand’s emotional benefit in a positioning statement as well as the tone of the delivery of your message.

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Below, we show see how closely the consumer emotional need states match up to the consumer media needs. Use this to ensure the media choice you use matches up to the emotional tone of the message you deliver.

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2. The depth of consumer connection matters

We created the Brand Love Curve to define the strength of the bond that brands have generated with their consumers. At the beginning of the Brand Love Curve, the brands act like a commodity with no connection and we refer to those brands as “Indifferent”. Brands at the Indifferent stage has to focus on the consumer’s head, trying to get consumers to think differently about their brand. Brands move to the “Like It” stage as they separate themselves in the mind of consumers, a rational separation with limited emotional connection.Brands at the Like It stage need to drive action to get consumers to buy and create a bigger following. As the bond becomes tighter, consumers may develop an emotional connection, we refer to those brands as “Love It”. Brands at the Love It stage has to focus on the consumer’s heart, to get current loyal users to connect on a deeper level. And finally, the best brands in the world have the tightest bond with consumers, almost a cult-like following equal to a sports team. We refer to these as the “Beloved” stage. Brands at the Beloved stage have to get those who love the brand to feel part and become outspoken advocates that will influence their network.

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We then find the Media Strategy options by matching the brand strategies we created with the brand love curve up to a consumer buying system that tracks how consumers shop, moving from awareness to purchase to experience and onto being loyal. Below, we can see that brands at the Indifferent stage should focus on the early parts of the consumer buying system with your investment into awareness, consideration and search to influence consumers to move to purchase. For those brands at the Like It stage,  we recommend you focus on the purchase moment in order to close deals and develop a bigger following. Brands at the Love It stage should put their investment into turning satisfied consumers into repeating and then becoming loyal brand fans. At the Beloved stage, your effort should be taking those consumers who love you and mobilizing them to become and outspoken army that generates awareness on their own.

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3. Marketing to the “many moments of me” during the day.

This is a simple but an essential tool that helps match up your media choice to the moment in your consumer’s day where/when they are most likely to engage. Yes, it’s very tactical, but with all the media possibilities, time of day will help ensure you have the right message. The consumer’s mindset changes during the course of the day, based on where they are or what they are doing. If you are selling a house, people might google search during their lunch hours or go visit on the weekends.

The consumer’s mindset also changes during the course of the week, as they are in a different mood on a Monday vs. Thursday, or vs. Saturday. If you are selling healthcare products, try to own Sunday night when consumers are in a thinking mood, whereas you can avoid Thursday and Friday when  they are just planning out the entertainment for their weekend.

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Always think like your consumer and you will make better media choices


To read more about Media Planning for brand leaders, 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 or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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The 10 most abused words in Marketing

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers


On a daily basis I hear Marketing buzz words bantered about and it becomes obvious people say them and don’t really even know what they mean. I think people use the sacred marketing words like relevant, equity or insights, because they figure no one will challenge them. And of course, everyone puts “strategic thinker” on their Linked In profile. The problem I see is that a generation of Brand Leaders have not been properly trained and it’s starting to show. For the past 20 years, companies have said “on the job” training is good enough. But now the lack of training is starting to show up. The mis-use of these words can be linked to the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of marketing.

Here are the 10 words mis-used and even abused by Marketers.


1. Relevant

When I was running the marketing department at J&J, I jokingly banned this word “relevant” because it was so abused. I found that when a marketer would say “we need to make sure it’s relevant”, the room would go silent. Then there’s a pause and someone would add their own brilliance “yeah, we have to be relevant”. The room went silent again. So then I would usually ask a simple question “so what do you mean relevant?” and sadly that question seemed to stump most of my marketers. Relevant has become the marketing equivalent of the word “nice”, because people say it so much now, they have no clue what they mean by it. My mom and my new iPhone speakers are both “nice”. Yes, of course, marketing should be relevant. But what exactly do YOU mean when YOU say the word relevant? When you answer the question, you likely just wrote down something better. So use that instead of just blindly saying “we need to be relevant”.

2. Awareness

Just like the word relevant, you’re just forcing me to ask, “so when we get awareness, what do we get then”. Once you spend money, you should be able to get awareness–it’s just a question of how much money you spend. Jeb Bush just spent $130 Million–everyone knew he was running. No one voted for him and his awareness did very little for him. In brand terms, we don’t make any money from awareness–we only begin to make money as we are able to move our consumer through the consideration-search-purchase stage.  So, let’s save the word “Awareness” for the lazy brains.

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3. Brand equity

The term was first coined in the 1980s, as part of the RJR Nabisco take-over when they couldn’t explain why they were willing to pay a higher price than the pure book value of the assets. The word has strayed since in two different directions–those like Brand Finance and Interbrand who still use it to correctly attribute it to the VALUE of the brand and those who mis-use the word when they attribute to the HEALTH of the brand. Where it gets abused is when it has become  a catch-all statement for the “unexplainable”. They’ll say “the final scene of the TV is really emotional and should really drive the equity of this brand”. We look at Brand Health and Brand Wealth separately and then use the model to predict future success of the brand. As Brand Leaders, it’s actually important to keep them separate so that the actions you take hit the right spot on keeping your brand healthy and wealthy. But Brand Equity is about the wealth side, linked to Value. There are 8 ways to drive Brand Value: Pricing, Trading the consumer up or down, Product Costs, Marketing Costs, Stealing other users, Getting current users to use more, Enter new categories and Create new Uses for your brand.  Those are not ambiguous at all.   To read more, click on 8 Simple Ways that Brand Leaders can impact Profits

4. Target market

I’m in shock at how Marketers list out their target market on the creative brief. I once read a brief with a target that said “18-65, new customers, current customers and even employees”. That pretty much covers everyone but prisoners and tourists. A well-defined target should be a combination of demographics (age, income level, male/female) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs and behaviors). I actually try to put an age demographic on every brief. Call me old-fashioned or just realistic. The media you buy, the talent you put in the ad, the stores you choose to sell to, or even the claims you make are likely going to have an age component, so you’re just kiddng yourself by saying “we are more about psychographics than demographics”. When it comes to age, I try to push for a maximum of a 5 year gap. This doesn’t mean you won’t sell to people outside of this target, but it does help give focus to you.

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5. Alienate

This word drives me bonkers and it seems to be growing or at least I keep hearing it. The best brands have focus, the worst don’t. The best marketing programs also have focus, and the worst don’t. If you want to be a great marketer, you must have focus–defined target, positioning, strategies and  execution. Stop being so worried and cautious that you alienate older consumers or your current consumers so much that you water down your marketing programs so much we have no clue who you’re talking to or what you’re even saying. As long as you are staying consistent and true to the brand, no one should be alienated by what you have to say and who you say it to.

6. Benefits

There’s an old selling expression: “features tell and benefits sell”. But I’m seeing that Marketers have become so obsessed with shouting their message as loud as they can, most brand communication is wall-to-wall claims about how great you are. Brand Leaders should be organizing their Customer Value Proposition into rational and emotional benefits. What I recommend you do is list out the brand features and put yourself in the shoes of your consumer and ask “what do I get?” (for rational benefits) and “how does that make me feel?” (for the emotional benefits). Your brand’s communication should be a combination of the two. Here’s an article on how to write a benefit driven Positioning statement: How to write a winning Brand Positioning Statement

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7. Brief

It’s called a brief, because it’s…BRIEF.  I saw a creative brief last year that was 8 pages long. And even that length, I couldn’t find one benefit or one consumer insight. Every brief should be one page maximum. I’ve done a 1000 briefs at this point, and it is pretty easy to nail the one page brief. Here’s how to write a creative brief:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

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8. Brand

Too many companies have now separate Brand from Product marketing, especially on the Master Brand type companies. The “Brand” department handles PR, brand advertising, websites and events. The “product” department handles new products, pricing, distribution, and product-oriented or promotion-oriented advertising. Brand and Product should NEVER be separated. It’s crazy. Our definition of a brand: “A Brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve.” To have a successful brand, you need to connect with consumers based on a BIG IDEA for your brand and then line up the 5 connectors behind that big Idea.   You need to make sure the Brand Promise connects the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers. Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise.

9. New Media

New Media has been around 15-20 years old now. I’m not sure I hear the term “new media” on Mad Men when they talk TV ads, but that’s how crazy it sounds at this point. A better way to look at today’s Media is to manage all 5 types: Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media. Paid is what we think of the traditional media (TV, Print, OOH, Radio and Digital options). With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs. SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search. SOCIAL is about engaging users where they are expressing themselves through sharing and influencing. HOME media is where you host your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.

10. Strategic

To me, the difference between a strategic thinker and a non-strategic thinker is whether you see questions first or answers first. Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions. They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. They reflect and plan before they act. They are thinkers and planning who can see connections. Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions. They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in the delays of thinking. They think doing something is better than doing nothing at all. They opt for action over thinking. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. They are frustrated by strategic thinkers. But to be a great marketer, you must be a bit of a chameleon. While pure strategy people make great consultants, I wouldn’t want them running my brand. They’d keep analyzing things to death, without ever taking action. And while tactical people get stuff done, it might not be the stuff we need done. I want someone running my brand who is both strategic and non-strategic, almost equally so. You must be able to talk with both types, at one minute debating investment choices and then be at a voice recording deciding on option A or B. You need to make tough choices but you also have to inspire all those non-strategic thinkers to be great on your brand instead of being great on someone else’s brand.

It is OK to use these words. Just make sure you use them properly.



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 or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.


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 or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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Target Market: Why not just target everyone?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.  You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it”                                                      

Steve p. Jobs

I once had a Brand Leader tell me that their target was “18-65, new potential customers, current customers and employees”.  My response was “you’ve left out tourists and prisoners?”  It took me another hour to talk them into potentially focusing their limited investment on a group of people who might be most likely to buy their product. That Brand Leader was a Bank selling first time mortgages.  While there could be an 18-year-old or a 64½ year old that might be buying a mortgage for the first time, it’s actually not likely.  In fact 18-65 is the opposite of a target.  I did manage to talk them into a 28-33 year old target, which gave us the chance to build insights about all the life-changes these consumers were going through (careers, babies, need for more space) that allowed us to develop Advertising Creative around moments that the consumer goes through and we focused the media in places where the 28-33 year olds would most likely see our ads. That would have been missed with the broader 18-65 target range–we would have spread our dollars so thin that no one would have seen it, and we would have spread our message so broadly that no one would have felt any connection to it.

A good brand strategy has four key elements: 

  1. FOCUS all your energy and investment to a particular strategic focal point or purpose. Match up your brand assets to pressure points you can break through, maximizing your limited resources—either financial resources or effort. Make tough choices and choose to be loved by the few rather than tolerated by the many.
  2. You want that EARLY WIN, to kick-start of some momentum. Early Wins are about slicing off parts of the business or population where you can build further. Without the early win, you’ll likely seek out some new strategy even a sub-optimal one. Or someone in management will say “it’s not working”. You don’t want either of those–so the early win helps keep people moving towards the big win.
  3. LEVERAGE everything to gain positional advantage or power that helps exert even greater pressure and gains the tipping point of the business that helps lead to something bigger.  This is where strategy provides that return on Effort–you get more than the effort you are putting into it.
  4. 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 behaviours.  Return on Investment or Effort.

Since Every brand has limited resources—marketing dollars, people resources to carry out programs and any share in the market, whether that’s share of voice, shelf, display, recommendations–you never want to waste these resources by spreading them so thinly on everyone.  When you turn to your brand P&L, your CEO and finance people will expect you to deliver an appropriate ROI, or that investment will start to get smaller because they’ll give your dollars to someone else that can deliver a higher ROI.  And yet, even with that, you still refuse to focus? If you had to lift up a car, would you rather 8 football players each standing 3 feet apart or a simple $89 car jack. I’d take the jack because lifting up at a key focal point gives you an early win as you start to watch that car start moving up, the leverage point of the jack holds that 3000-pound car in the air so you can change your tire without even breaking a sweat (the gateway) and you can now drive away. Those poor football players would begin shaking after a few minutes.

Spreading your limited resources across an entire population is cost prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might safe at first, it’s actually less safe because you never get to see the full impact. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focusing all your attention on those that can love you. Be honest in assessing your brand’s assets and then match those assets up to who is most likely to be motivated enough to buy your brand. That’s when you start to define the target, and then take your resources and do your best to get them to buy.

Who is the Consumer Target and What do they want?

Try to balance the target based on demographics (age, sex, income) and psychographics (behaviours, attitudes and values). Yes, people criticize relying on demographics, but when you go to market, traditional media usually sells their media based on demographics (e.g. TV target is 18-34 years old).  With new media, whether that’s search, display or social media it allows you to focus more on psychographics and match up to whats most important to the consumer. In terms of the creative, I always challenge people to narrow the target down to a 5 year range (eg. 28-33 years old) to give the creative the appropriate tone and feel. For every part of the buying system connected to your brand, take a walk in the shoes of the person who is paying their hard-earned money for the brand you offer, whether that’s a customer, consumer, purchaser, contractor or medical professional. I always think of my consumer as the “most selfish animal on the planet” just to ensure I’m doing the most I can to satisfy that selfishness. After all, the selfishness is well deserved, since they have money spend. Understand and meet those needs.

What do they want?
Consumers don’t care what you can do, until you care about what they need. 
They will only pay you money, if you give them something. That sounds simple. But, keep in mind they will pay you even more money if you give them what they need. And they’ll start to do that over and over again if they get even more from your brand. That means moving your brand from just features up to benefits and all the way up to emotional benefits. Ask consumers what they want. Listen. Don’t start with what you’re selling.   Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself over and over again “so what do I get from that” until you’ve come up with something powerful. Speak in terms of benefit, not features.

And remember, no one ever really wanted a quarter-inch drill; they just needed a quarter-inch hole.  Sell the hole, not the drill. 

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 or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

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