How influencer marketing helps break through the clutter

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Influencer marketing is not new. But, it is substantially better with today’s social media world.  Pre-social media, I launched a confectionary product, where we sent samples (in the mail) to every captain of the high school football team, every head-cheerleader and every student body President. It worked like a charm. Within the first month of our launch, we were the #1 brand in the mint category. No competitors saw it coming. I am not even sure we did.

Pre Social Media

As a former VP marketing, I used to reject any brief or plan that said “drive awareness”.  It was my pet peeve. I only earn my salary if the brand makes money. Last I checked, we don’t make any money from awareness. So I used to ask one simple question: “So if we get awareness, what do we get next?”. I would get various answers but I would try to steer them towards:  “Well, I hope it tempts the consumer to want to try our brand”. I’d then hand back the brief and say “Put that as the objective then”.

Awareness is not enough

Awareness is a crappy objective. I always hate Awareness because it has no movement. I can buy awareness. Marketing must have some type of action. Get consumers to think, feel or do differently than before they saw our marketing. I want marketing that has movement and that creates a bond, whether an immediate one or over time.

Influencer Marketing breaks through the clutter

Sure, influencer marketing drives awareness, but when done right, it drives awareness with an action. The best influencer marketing has a finger wagging at the consumer–telling them what to think, feel or do–without the consumer really even knowing. The world is cluttered. There is more marketing crap out there than ever. Doing a TV ad or digital ads just adds more clutter to the crap we sift through on a daily basis. Aligning to an influencer who the consumer is willing to listen to helps break through and accelerate our brand’s potential for success

Brands are now all about relationships

No longer should a brand think about their consumers in a strictly functional or logical way. The best brands of today capture the imagination of their consumers and take them on a journey of delightful experiences that fosters a deeper emotional and lasting relationship. These brands treat their most cherished consumers with a respect that establishes a trust, that enables consumers to open up to a point where thinking is replaced with feelings, the logic of demand evolves into an emotional state of desire, needs become cravings and repeat purchases progress into rituals that turns into a favorite moment in the day. Consumers become outspoken and loyal brand fans.

Influencer Marketing breaks through the clutter


The pathway to brand success is now all about building relationships

The best brands of today engage in a strategy that follows a very similar path to the rituals of a courtship. Through the eyes of consumers, brands start as complete strangers and if successful, they move into something similar to a trusted friendship. brand love curve relationships

As the consumer begins to open up, they allow their emotions to take over and without knowing, they begin to love the brand. As the brand weaves itself into the best moments of the consumer’s life, the consumer becomes an outspoken fan, an advocate and one of the many ‘brand lovers’ who cherish the brand. From the strategic mind of the marketer, this follows a very similar pattern to the strategies of a successful courtship. The brand could move into a position where the consumer sees it as a forever choice.

The Brand Love Curve

To replicate how brand building matches up with the building of a relationship, I have created the Brand Love Curve, as consumers move through five stages including unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. This Brand Love CurveBrand Love Curve is an anchor used throughout the book to help guide the choices a brand should make to move the relationship along to the next stage.

Where the brand sits on the curve guides the decisions the brand leader will make on the brand strategy and tactics, brand communication including advertising, public relationship and social media, the product innovation and the building of the culture that fuels the consumer experience with the brand. The vision of every brand should be to move the relationship with your consumers to the next stage, to become more loved by consumers, which increases the power and profit potential for the brand.

You have to understand where your brand is today to decide where you want to go next

Even with all these cool new toys available, if you are a Marketer, you need to keep thinking. Long ago there, there was an innovation adoption curve that maps out various types of consumers from innovators to early adopters to early majority to late majority to the late adopters. Depending on the type of product category, we all likely sit at various parts of the curve. I am an early adopter on golf clubs, but pretty much a late adopter on hair styles!  My 18 year old daughter would be an innovator around anything connected to make up, while my 20 year old son knows all the great new shows I should watch.

Innovation Adoption Curve

Depending on where your brand sits on the brand love curve, you might deploy different types of influencers to match up to the type of consumer you are going after.

Creating Beloved Brands Marketing Influencers

Trend Influencers

For trend influencer type consumers, they always want the leading edge stuff and be first to try within their social set. They might dig in deep to the wise experts who they trust or rely on in the category. For cars, technology, fashion, entertainment or foodie brands, this might be the leading bloggers or expert reviews. Marketers with something revolutionary to the category, should be targeting and briefing these wise experts to ensure they fully understand your brand story and point of difference to increase their willingness to recommend the new products.

The earliest stages of your own product development, the more impactful the voice of the wise experts will be. There is a reason why rumors fuel all the speculation of new products. You have to make sure the wise experts know before anyone else does.

Early Adopters

The early adopter consumers rely on their innovator friends for the details of new brands. But they will also look to the social icons to see if they are using the product. This gives them an assurance that this new brand is about to hit a tipping point and they want to become users who are out ahead of the curve (pardon the pun).

As the brand moves to the masses, whether early or late mass consumers, we see that they look for the advice of trusted peers who they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest. They also look to the early brand lovers, who have fallen so deeply in love with the brand, they become outspoken advocates who want to influence their friends. This gives them evidence that the brand does deliver upon their promise. So they feel comfortable to jump in on this trend.

Shift to the experiences

The traditional marketing is not working so well. Old-school marketing used to yell at all consumers hoping some would try it. It was all about the brand funnel, going from aware to purchase and loyal. Now, we must cultivate our harem of ‘brand lovers’ to create the most amazing consumer experiences that will prompt them talk about their favorite brand. Brands need to learn to whisper to those who love the brand their most, so they will whisper with influence to their own network.

Find your brand lovers

I always ask brand leaders “do you treat your best customers the best?”.  And, I keep hearing “No, we treat them all pretty much the same”. I quietly say in my head:  ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZZZZZY!!!”

Marketing Influencers


It is crucial that brand leaders understand exactly where they are on the curve, because the same reason the innovators and early adopters came into your brand is the same reason they may quickly leave.


You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.

Beloved Brands Book

I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

Beloved Brands has everything you need to run your brand. You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a marketing plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

  • How to think strategically
  • Write a brand positioning statement
  • Come up with a brand idea
  • Write a brand plan everyone can follow
  • Write an inspiring creative brief
  • Make decisions on marketing execution
  • Conduct a deep-dive business review
  • Learn finance 101 for marketers

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order:  

We are also on Apple Books, which you can click here to order:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a marketing plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.

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

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

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. Above all, I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

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McDonald’s is about to make the biggest brand strategy blunder of all time: fight two battles at once.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As of 2017, it is hard to really define what McDonald’s stands for anymore. Hamburgers or coffee? Or both? Whenever you try to do both options, you just picked the worst possible strategy.

The one thing I can safely say, is they are no longer “Fast”. On a cold Canadian winter, I called home and asked my son if he wanted a coffee on my way home. He said “sure”. So I got in the McDonald’s drive through line, behind only about 4 other cars. And after 20 minutes, I finally had my coffee. I was in complete shock. Does anyone do fast anymore? You would think in this day of hyper need states, someone would do fast.

Is all-day breakfast really a strategy?

The only success McDonald’s has had in the past 18 months has their all day breakfast, basically taking their normal breakfast foods and making it available 24/7. I guess for the next move they could make their fries available 24/7. And now McDonald’s has added bacon to their Big Mac Hamburgers and talking about it on TV like it is an “Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that” type of innovation.

Strategy choices: Hamburgers or Coffee?

A few days later, I read that McDonald’s was going to invest billions in 2017 to revamp the insides of their McCafe’s around the world. OK, so you want to take on Starbucks. Sure you have a great coffee, but plastic seats, fake fireplaces, annoying toddlers screaming on the floor, and the teenagers lurking around certainly does not make up for the great coffee. That will sure be expensive to replicate the appeal of Starbucks.

By the way, can anyone answer my question: how does Starbucks manage to keep toddlers out of their restaurants?

Then a week later, I read that McDonald’s was going to invest billions in 2017 to revamp their entire kitchens to be able to serve high quality and fresh meat in their hamburgers. Wow. I am big fan of Five Guys, In-N-Out burger, Shake Shack and Big Smoke Hamburgers. But, they are never fast. They each say they won’t start cooking your hamburgers until you order it. At Five Guys, you can see them even pull the hamburgers out and placed on the grill.

McDonald’s is about to commit the worst mistake a brand can do. They are about to fight a war on two fronts.

In the history of warfare, this is the most common mistake of every great general who has eventually gone down in flames. From the third century BC in the First Macedonian War to Napoleon to World War II, the war of two fronts never works.

By trying to be everything to anyone McDonald’s has ended up nothing to everyone. Despite all their efforts the past 5 years, McDonald’s is not perceived as the ‘best’ in coffee. Starbucks is. They don’t have the best burger. Five Guys does. They don’t have the best chicken, best shakes or best sandwiches. McDonald’s does not have the best anything. They aren’t even that fast, that cheap or have that great of service anymore. Getting a McDonald’s employee to say thank you is nearly impossible.

Strategy Myths

The biggest myth of marketing is to believe that a bigger target market is the path to being a bigger brand. Too many Marketers are willing to target anyone. The second myth is believing that if you stand for everything, it will make your brand stronger. There are brands that say they are faster, longer-lasting, better-tasting, stronger, cheaper and have a better experience. They mistakenly think that whatever the competitor does best, they will try to do it better. They are willing to say everything, hoping the consumer hears something.

Hope is never a strategy. The third myth is trying to be everywhere, whether that means being in every channel of distribution or being on every possible media option. The worst Marketers lack focus because of their fear of missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everything to anyone, the brand will end up nothing to everyone. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will eventually end up being no where. Strategy should never be random.

Every brand faces limited resources

Every brand is constrained by limited resources, whether financial, time, people or partnership resources. Yet Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether those choices are in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies or tactics. The smartest Brand Leaders are able to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will deliver the greatest return. I always joke that strategic thinkers share one similar trait with lazy people. Both spend a lot of effort to figure out how to get the most back, by doing the least possible.

The best Brand Leaders never divide and conquer out of fear. Force yourself to focus and conquer with the confidence of strategic thinking. The smartest Brand Leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and”. If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize in your own brain that it is okay to do a little of both, then you are not strategic. You are not even a decision-maker.

Trying to both at the same time means you will lose at both. I can no longer tell you what McDonald’s stands for. Can you?

So if you were McDonald’s, would you choose to win the burger war or the coffee war? I’d pick burgers.


McDonald's Story Starbucks turnaround


To read about how to create a beloved brand, here is our workshop we run:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

Beloved Brands is a brand strategy and marketing training firm that is focused on the future growth of your brand and your people.

It is our fundamental belief that the more loved your brand is by your most cherished consumers, the more powerful and profitable your brand will be. We also believe that better marketing people will lead to smarter strategy choices and tightly focused marketing execution that will higher growth for your brands.

With our workshops, we use our unique tools force you to think differently and help unleash new strategy solutions to build around. I believe the best solutions lay deep inside you already, but struggle to come out. In every discussion, I bring a challenging yet understanding voice to bring out the best in you and help you craft an amazing strategy.

We will help you find a unique and own-able Big Idea that will help you stand out from the clutter of today’s marketplace. The Big Idea must serve to motivate consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal connection with your brand. Equally, the Big Idea must work inside your organization, to inspire all employees who work behind the scenes to deliver happy experiences for consumers.

We will help build a brand plan everyone can follow. It starts with an inspiring vision to push your team. We then force strategy choices on where to allocate your limited resources. With our advice on brand execution, we can steer the brand towards brand love and brand growth.

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

At Beloved Brands, we deliver brand training programs that make brand leaders smarter so they are able to drive added growth on your brands. 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 learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands