Is your Brand Team good enough to achieve your 2014 goals?

2014As you move up, you start to realize that you can’t do everything, and you’re really only as good as your team.  The thing I’ve always said is that better people create better work and that means better results.  The question you should be asking is are they good enough?  Maybe it’s time to invest in making your people better, so that you can be freed up for more leadership, higher level strategic thinking and focusing on driving the vision of the team, rather than caught in the weeds of re-writing copy on a coupon.  

Here are 5 key questions to be asking:  
  1. Do your Brand Leaders think strategically?  
  2. Are your Brand Leaders going deep enough on their analysis?  
  3. Can your Brand Leaders write a plan and communicate it throughout the company?  
  4. Are your Brand Leaders a good judge advertising and communication?
  5. Are your Brand Leaders good at staying focused?

Are they disciplined and fundamentally sound?   Can everyone on your team effectively write a brand plan, positioning concepts, a creative brief, make marketing investment decisions and judge creative work to ensure it delivers the strategy?  The great myth of marketing is that it is 100% learned on the job.  It should be a balance of coaching from a well-trained leader, teaching in a class room setting and learning on the job.  More and more, we are seeing marketing teams thrust new marketers into their roles without any training.  In fact, their bosses and even their bosses haven’t really received any training. So who is really teaching you, on the job, if the person with you isn’t well-trained?   

Q1:  Do your Brand Leaders think strategically?   

Strategic thinking is not just whether you are smart or not.  You can be brilliant and not strategic at all.  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.  bbi trainingOn the other hand, Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.  They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks. With the explosion of marketing media, we are seeing too many of the new Brand Leaders becoming action-oriented do-ers and not strategic thinkers.  They don’t connect their actions to maximizing the results on the brand.  They do cool stuff they like not strategic things that help grow the business and add profit to the Brand.  I see too many of today’s Brand Leaders focused on activity, rather than strategy.

When you are strategic , you will focus all of your resources and energy against the pressure points that drive the greatest return on investment and effort.  There are Four Principles of Good Strategy: 1) Focus 2) Early Win 3) Leverage point and 4) Gateway to something bigger.

  1. 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.  Focus on one target.   Focus on one message.  And focus on very few strategies and tactics.  Less is more. 
  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.  This proves to everyone the brand can win—momentum, energy, following.  
  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.  Crowds follow crowds. 
  4. See beyond the early win, there has to be a GATEWAY point, 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.

To me, with the modern-day Brand Leader, the area where they struggle the is the “FOCUS” part.  Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time.  Focus makes you matter most to those who care.   Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources.  In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all.  Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper.  Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique.  Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing.  Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message  so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”.   With a long to-do list, you’ll never do a great job at anything.   And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. 

Have your Brand Leaders been taught how to think strategically?  I actually don’t know many Brand Leaders that really have been taught.  Yet, we tell Senior Brand Managers, you’re not getting promoted because you’re not strategic enough.  If we taught them how to be strategic, we might find a better pool of talent within your team.  The following training module shows Brand Leaders how to think strategically, and how to think in terms of consumer strategy, competitive strategy or visionary strategy.   Consumer Focused Strategic Thinking starts with the consumer, maps out the need states and best matches your brand to delivering a unique selling proposition that helps connect with consumers, drives added power for the brand which can translate into growth and profitability.  Competitive Focused Strategies have 4 types of  Marketing Warfare Strategies 1) Offensive 2) Defensive 3) Flanking and 4) Guerilla.  Focus and speed are crucial to any warfare.  Being organized and aligned internally is crucial to winning.  Visionary Strategy starts with the purpose driven vision (the Why) and layers in the strategy (the how) and execution (the what) deliver that vision. 

Q2.  Are your Brand Leaders going Deep Enough on Analysis?

I hate when brand leaders do that “surface cleaning” type analysis.  I call it surface cleaning when you find out that someone is coming to your house in 5 minutes so you just take everything that’s on a counter and put it in a drawer really quickly.  I can tell very quickly when someone doesn’t dig deep on analysis.  

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper. 

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Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder. 

Thinking Time Questions that will Help you Go Deeper.  The first analysis is “What do we know?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
  2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
  3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
  4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
  5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

It forces you to start grouping your learning, forces you to start drawing conclusions and it enables your reader to separate fact (the back ground information) from opinion (where you are trying to take them)

The second type of analysis is “Where are we?” with 5 key questions to help you sort through your analysis:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Why are we  here? 
  3. Where could we be?
  4. How can we get there?
  5. What do we need to do to get there?

These questions help frame your thinking as you go into a Brand Plan.  The first question helps the analysis, the second with the key issues, the third frames the vision and objectives, the fourth gets into strategy and tactics and the fifth gets into the execution.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually impact “where are we?” on the analysis.  

Q3.  Can your Brand Leaders write an effective Brand Plan?

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.  For more on how to write a plan, follow this link:  How to Write a Brand Plan

Can your Brand Leaders write a winning Brand Positioning Statement?  Brand Positioning Statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.  While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says. A best in class positioning statement has four key elements: 

      • Target Market (a)
      • Definition of the market you play in (b)
      • Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (c)
      • The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (d)

The more focused your decisions, the more successful you will be: decide on one target, one promise and maybe  one or two reasons to believe that help to directly back up your promise.  But the target shouldn’t be everyone 18-65, and don’t throw your eight best features at the wall and hopefully something sticks.  And the reason to believe has to back up your promise, not be a whole new promise.  To see more on how to write an effective Brand Positioning Statement, follow this link:  How to Write a Positioning Statement

Slide1Can your Brand Leaders write a Creative Brief?  The best Advertising is well planned, not some random creative thing that happens.  The value of a creative brief is focus!  Like a good positioning statement, you’re taking everything you know and everything you could possibly say, and starting to make choices on what will give you the greatest return on your media dollars. If you’re not making choices then you’re not making decisions.  Unlike other creativity, advertising is “In the Box” creativity.  The best advertising creative people  are problem solvers, not blue sky thinkers.  Therefore, the role of the creative brief is to create the right box, enough room to move, but enough direction that defines the problem.  The smaller the brief, the bigger the idea.  A good brief should be brief.  One page maximum.  I’m still in shock when I see briefs reaching 5 or 6 pages.  That’s not a brief, that’s a long!  Take the pen and start stroking out words, forcing yourself to start making decisions.  Avoid the “just in case” type of thinking.  For more on How to Write a Brief, follow this link:  How to Write a Brief

Q4.  Can your Brand Leaders judge communications?

Making great advertising is very hard.  Good marketers make it look simple, but they have good solid training and likely some good solid experience.  As Brand Leaders sit in the room, looking at new advertising ideas, most are ill-prepared as to how to judge what makes good advertising and what makes bad.  It’s a myth that great marketing is learned strictly “on the job”.  I also say “you are likely to screw up your first five ads”.  slide15And if you do one a year, that’s 5 years of advertising.  So, how well prepared are you?  An ill prepared Brand Leader will more than likely deliver a poor ad.  There are fundamentals to help ensure that your instincts are the right instincts.  How many hours of training have you had on giving direction to a creative team?   How many times did you role-play giving feedback to the agency?  How good was the coaching you received on your feedback?  Not only do you need the fundamentals through solid training, but you likely need someone coaching you through a role-playing exercise.  Too many Brand Leaders sit there confused, brief in hand, but not sure whether they like it or not sure whether any of the scripts will do much for them.  The four questions you should be asking:

    • Will this ad attract Attention? (A)
    • Does this ad showcase the Brand? (B)
    • Are we Communicating our main benefit?  (C)
    • Will this ad stick in the minds of consumers? (S)

Using something like the ABC’s makes it easy for Brand Leaders to stay strategic and be able to judge the work effectively.  Here’s a write-up on How to help Brand Leaders judge communications Effectively:  The ABC’s of Effective Communication

Q5.  Are your Brand Leaders good at staying focused?

So many Brand Leaders try to do too much.  When you do too much, you just spread your resources thin across too many activities.   You end up never being able to execute anything to the high quality, you never find out if the program could really achieve what you want to achieve.  I use a very simple grid to focus all the activities.  Get everyone to brainstorm all the ideas on post it notes.  Then using the grid below, get them to sort the ideas based on how big the idea is, and how easy it is to execute.  I push for the top 5 ideas that are in the BIG/EASY zone.  

  • If there’s a big idea that’s difficult, then spend the time brainstorming how to make it easier.  
  • If there are small ideas that are easy, then brainstorm how to make the idea even bigger.  

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There are four areas you need to focus:

  • Pick a focused Target Market:  While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning:  Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer.Slide1
  • Pick a Focused Strategy:  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close.
  • Focused Activities:  While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well.  Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.

Stay aligned to your plan, and don’t be tempted away from your focus.  When you focus, five things happen.

  1. Better ROI:   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE:  Make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation:  When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive:  As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L:  As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits.  And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.
Invest in Your People:  Better Brand Leaders leads to better work and that leads to better Results 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

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

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to help train you  to be a better brand leader.
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How to find amazing Consumer Insights to help your brand

Slide1Great Brand Leaders start with the consumer first, while OK Brand Leaders tend to start with their product.  They can both go on a similar journey of strategy, tactics and execution, but what comes out at the end will be remarkably different.  Look at Apple who starts with the consumer and connects emotionally compared to Samsung who starts with the technology and connects rationally.

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.

Consumers are selfish, and rightfully so, because they have money.  Consumers won’t part with their money until they get something in a fair trade.  They might buy your product one time because of what you do.  But they’ll buy it all the time if they get something from it.  Put yourself in the consumers shoes for a minute and ask two questions:  1.  “So what do i get?” helps uncover the rational benefit and what part of their life you will solve.  2. “So how does it make me feel” uncovers the emotional benefit and figures out how you’ll be part of their life.  For rational benefits, you’ll become liked and can become part of their routines.  But for emotional benefits, you’ll become loved and a ritual in their life.  They’ll pay a premium price for it, defend you at all costs and love you for life.

Brands have really four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Marketers tend to get so fixated on being better that they take some small feature and try to make a huge deal out of it.  But they tend to leave out he option of DIFFERENT.  Within a sea of brands yelling features at the consumer, one of the best things you could do to stand out as DIFFERENT, is to get on the side of your consumer.  Next time you’re writing a brief and you come to the desired response, please don’t put:  “I want to buy that product”.   What you should be striving for is “That brand gets me” or “This brand is for me”.

The only way to really “get” and connect with the consumer is to uncover amazing consumer insights.

What is an insight? 

Whenever I give a talk on insights I use the following stats and ask is this an insight:  In North America, people brush their teeth an average of 1.6 times per day, yet in Brazil people brush their teeth up to 4-6 times a day.  Almost without fail, someone in the audience will think it’s an insight.  And we know this because we see it show up on briefs or in decks that sell in a product.

It’s a fact, not an insight.  What are we missing?   Well it’s just a data point and we don’t really understand much else.  Maybe people in Brazil eat spicier foods, engage in closer conversation, have problems with lack of fluoride, or maybe the people of Brazil have an increased vanity and this is just one more example.  We don’t really know, until we go below the surface of the facts and uncover meaningful insights.

My definition of Insight is Quite Different.  Insight is not something that consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge or news, but not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows.  Here is my definition:  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 hysterically when we see insight 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.  Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices.  Insights need to be interesting or intriguing.  My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends  that could impact changing behaviour.

Jerry Seinfeld is the god of insights, whether it’s his TV show or his stand up routine.  There is zero shock value to Seinfeld and he never tells us anything new.  In fact, everything he says is exactly what our inner self is thinking.  He just serves it up in a creative manner to make us laugh.  I saw Seinfeld do a 90 minute stand up routine and I giggled the entire time because I could everything that he said already part of my life.

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Mining for Insights

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”.  To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.  What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. 

Strategic Planners at Ad Agencies have a certain talent for uncovering insights.  As margins are squeezed, too many agencies are reducing the role of planners.  As a client, that’s a big mistake.  I have always loved having a great planner on my brands.

What I normally do is bring together a collection of people who best know the brand, the business and of course the consumer.  And we brainstorm to get a collection of insights.  Insights can be mined from many sources.

  • Find insights by bringing intuition to important data points by asking: “so what does this mean” or “how do we think this happened?”.
  • Insights can come from up-close observations of the consumer, in qualitative focus groups or in observing the purchase behavior in action.  Listen to what they say and how they say it.  Capture insightful quotes that summarize a big idea, as inspiration.  
  • Insights can come from mapping out a day in the life of the consumer to understand what’s going on in their brains.  In healthcare, we found Sunday’s nights was the best time to consider a jolt to improving your healthcare, not Thursday.  
  • Insights can come from looking at consumer problems in life, by creating talking about “who is the consumers enemy?”  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
  • If you track Voice of the Customer (VOC), you can find some very interesting raw data from the consumer.  You can potentially mine Facebook or Twitter comments from consumers.  
Framing the Insights

It’s important to decide when and how you will use Insights.  I normally will build 2-3 insights into a creative brief to give it some flavour.  I’ll lead off a Brand Concept with an enemy style consumer insight.   It’s a great way to connect with consumers and set up the potential problem they are facing.  

When it comes to writing consumer insights, I force everyone to start off start off each statement with the word “I” that forces us to get in the shoes of consumers and then put the insight in quote signs that forces us to use their voice.  

Here are Examples of how that can work for you: 

  • For a Bank:  “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours.  I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. 
  • Quit Smoking:  “I know I should quit.  I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.” 
Your Brand will be more engaged and powerful when you take the stance that everything starts and ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

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

Here’s a story I wrote last year that ties in closely by challenging Brand Leaders, click on this link  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

While CPG led the way on TV advertising, they trail dramatically on Social Media

From the 1950s to the 1990s, CPG brand marketing teams had perfected the 30 second TV commercial.  Advertising was all about awareness and creating purchase intent by taking what you do better than your competitor and shouting it at consumers over and over again until you could gain market share.   Now in this new world of social media, the CPG brands seem to be struggling the most.   The CPG brands were starting to master that 30 second TV ad, with positioning work, a creative brief, animatic copy testing, full-scale production and then a steady media plan of GRPs.  

But, with digital media and social media, the CPG brands are the brands that are struggling the most.  

I grew up in the CPG space, working for J&J, Coke and General Mills, and I love CPG marketing because in that space the brands aren’t all that exciting so it always took marketing genius to make the most of them and bring a bit of magic to them.  

But as the media mix has dramatically changed over the last decade, CPG Brand Leaders have to recognize the change in the marketing model. For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school marketing, CPG Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.
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But that’s where the problem lays:  how do you get consumers to talk about brands that have very little talk value?  Yes, doing social media for Apple, Whole Foods or Mercedes relies on the fact that consumers are already talking about these brands at the lunch table.  

Types of Brands

But the reason why CPG brands used the type of interruptive style marketing style is because it suited the type of brand it is:  low involvement and low importance.   Looking at the chart below, I call this a COMMODITY type brand.  The other three types of brands are:  Essentials which are lower on involvement but high on importance like banking, pharma or insurance. Indulgence brands, like beer, chocolate or bubble gum, are the opposite of essentials as they have high involvement but really little importance.  And finally, there are high-profile brands, which are high on importance and involvement.  These brands are your favorite part of you every day life such as your iPhone, your latte from Starbucks, the restaurant you want to go or the latest movie coming this weekend.  These brands are the opposite of CPG, they are talked about at lunch constantly and they find it easy to work social media with a huge following and constant news.

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With CPG brands, the tendency is to put the effort into the brand messaging more than the effort into the creative/media.  However, if you think about it, maybe it should be the opposite.  Yes, messaging is always safer and more predictive, but if you need to counter the lack of involvement by making it a higher involvement brand, then it might have to come from the creative.  

Take the Dove brand for example.  For years, they did a good job behind the litmus test and talking about not being a soap.  They were a good brand, still relatively lost in sea of crowded soaps and hand creams.  Dove’s “real beauty” campaign took the brand to a new level far beyond what anyone could expect and is no longer just a soap but a brand that stands for the modern woman.   The real beauty TV campaign is one of the biggest viral ads in history.  And they have been able to get consumers to keep talking about the brand, through social media vehicles mainly through Facebook with 19 million consumers following the Dove brand.   Ten years later Dove is a legendary CPG brand.   While it’s still just a soap, that didn’t prevent the marketers at Dove from creating an idea for the brand.  

What is your Brand IDEA?

I define a Beloved Brand as “an idea worth loving”.  It’s no longer about a product, but an idea you can convey into the marketplace.  If you can’t get anyone talking about you, maybe the problem is It’s all too easy to sit there with your brand and say “who would ever want to talk about us?”.  That’s a cop-out if you ask me.  The challenge for CPG Brand Leaders is to re-think your brand.  Can you create an idea, a brand purpose and find ways to drive up involvement and importance for what your brand stands for.  Here are three challenges for you:

  • How do you stop trying to make a big deal out of your little points of difference and try to create a Brand Idea for your brand that connects with consumers?   Start with the consumer and find real benefits, both rational and emotional that you can stand behind, rather than just shouting out your product features through the TV.  
  • How do you drive up involvement and importance for what you stand for so that your get talked about at the lunch room table?    You have to understand who are your most influential consumers, the respected mavens within their circle of friends, and allow them to project your brand to their following.  
  • Can you build a Brand Purpose so that you can leverage that purpose as an idea to elevate your brand?   Purpose driven brands (The why) are a growing phenomena and a perfect fit for connecting with consumers through social media.  

While your product might not generate talk value at the lunch table, maybe your idea can be big enough that it will. And when it’s no longer about just your product, maybe your own idea will inspire you in the social media space. 

Maybe the issue isn’t just media.  But have you created an IDEA for your brand to stand behind?  

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

  

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How good do your Brand Plans look for next year?

BBI Learning LogoAs many of you hit Q4 and pushing as hard as you can to drive sales as hard as you can to make the year or at least make your latest estimate,  it might be time to wonder how good your plans are for next year.  

A well-written Brand Plan helps to align an organization around the direction, the choices and the tactics that need implementing for a brand to achieve their goals. The Brand Plan unites functions such as marketing, sales, product development outlining what each group needs to do for the brand to be successful, while setting goals that operations and finance need to support. The Brand Plan gains approval from senior management around spending options, strategic choices and sets forth the tactics that will be implemented. It holds senior management accountable to the plan. The Brand Plan helps frame the execution for internal stakeholders and for the various agencies who will implement programs within the plan. Execution is an expression of the strategy, and the plan must hold agencies accountable to delivering work that is on strategy. And lastly, the Brand Plan helps the Brand Manager who wrote it, stay focused to deliver what they said they would. It helps them to refer back to the strategy and the intention to ensure the Brand Manager “stays on strategy” the entire year.

The questions you should be asking when you look at your plan: 

Are you trying to do too much?  

The biggest flaw of most plans is they try to do everything, which just spreads your limited resources–both financial and people resources–across too many projects.  You end up doing OK in everything, yet never great at anything.   So you never really see a return on that investment.  If you went to Vegas and put a chip on every number, you’d walk away broke.  With your plan, you have to make the choices on those activities that will drive the biggest return on your limited resources.    My rule of thumb for a one year plan is to have a maximum of 3 strategies with 3 tactics per strategy, which means you’ve got only 9 key projects you need to do next year to be successful.  Contrary to that, if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per,  you’d now have 25 projects that just deplete your resources and exhaust your team’s efforts.  One of the biggest flaws in a plan is trying to drive both penetration for new customers and getting current customers to use more.  Of course you want that, but getting that in the same brand plan will never happen.  

How aligned is your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.   The vision helps guide where you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years.  You should brainstorm things that are getting in the way of that vision, which helps align you around the top key issues your business is facing.  Your strategies should directly line up to these key issues and then have tactics line up to your strategies.  There should be a flow to a well-written plan so that everything sings to the same song-sheet.   Every part of that plan that is not aligned to that flow, should stand out as a sore thumb.  The importance of good flow to a plan is more pronounced when you realize the entire organization has to align behind the plan, not just the marketing team, but every functional area–especially sales, product development, executional agencies and every employee working on that plan.  

How Deep was the Thinking?

I’m a big believer in using my instincts.  But equally so, I’m a big believer in digging in deep and uncovering the real issues on the brand.  My biggest pet peeve is when we make too many assumptions.   A great analysis you should be doing before writing a plan is to figure out the drivers and inhibitors that are happening now on your business as well as the risks and opportunities that could happen in the future on your business.  Look at your market data, listen to your customers and consumers, do the needed market research and challenge everything.  I love doing Brand Funnels because it helps you see what’s slightly beneath the surface on your business.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol where you can–the health measures in our body you can’t see.  The same thing with Brand Funnels where you can see how well you’re doing on converting your awareness into purchase and your purchase into repeat business–relative to how you were doing last year and relative to your competitors.  

How many B.S. Buzz words are in your plan?

Too many times, plans are a disjointed collection of small projects that don’t really add up to a strategy.  As a brand leader, you should be the first to call B.S. when you see “drive awareness” and “be relevant” and “create more loyalty”.   All those are great ideas, but let’s be real.  Driving awareness gets you no revenue.  What do you get when you drive awareness?   You get in the consideration set to purchase.  Put that instead. Every brand should be trying to be relevant, but that is the fattest word in marketing.  It’s like saying “nice”.  My best friend is “nice” but Jessica Alba is “nice”.  But not the same type of nice.  I banned the use of the word relevant because once a marketer uses that word, their brain shuts off.  Drill down beyond the buzz word and tell me what your type of relevant you want is, and then put that in your plan.   Loyalty takes more than just marketing–you have to align your entire organization to delivering a brand promise, a story, innovation and an experience.  It goes beyond a marketing tactic, so yes it’s good to have as part of your plan, but if its just a program then I call “BS”.

If you are not happy with your plan, what do you plan to do about it?

Here are some tips to help you to get to a better plan.  

Writing the Plan

Most people get stuck in writing a Brand Plan, because they sit at the computer frozen with writers cramp, over-thinking what to put down, uncertain how to frame it all and unsure how to even write. In the most simplistic of terms, here are the main elements of a Brand Plan and how simple you should keep it:

  • We have some long-term thoughts on where the brand can go (vision) and the special assignment to get us on our way. (mission) And that help shape the things we want to achieve with our brand. (goals) To get started, the brand has different options (strategies) for how to get there and programs that most effectively deliver the choice you make (tactics)
  • We try to find a slice of the population (target) to get them to take an action (expected result) that makes our brand bigger. We then find out what to say and how to talk to them to trigger that action (main message) We need to re-enforce why we can do it and others can’t (support)
  • We then create the most motivating stimulus (product, advertising, sales promotion etc.) to get them to take action and put it in part of their life where they are most likely to hear it and act on it (the medium, launch or channel etc.)

If it is that easy, why do we struggle and how do we screw it up. Maybe it is the fancy buzz words that get in our way of our intention. Instead, start with what you want to do in the plan, not the buzz words of vision, mission or strategy, because those words can get in your way.

One thing I like to do is use 5 key questions to help frame the Brand Plan, the answers help frame everything you need in a brand plan. The five questions to ask yourself are: 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 need to do to get ready?  With these 5 questions answered, it can get you on your way towards a situation analysis, mapping of the key issues, statements of vision, mission and goals, choices around strategies and tactics as well as the execution and measurements:

From there, you could easily write a Brand Plan as matched up and outlined below:

In terms of analysis, there are so many ways to do it but my preference is to use a force-field analysis of Drivers and Inhibitors. Basically, drivers are what is pushing the brand and inhibitors is what’s holding it back. These are happening NOW.  Then add in the a future looking analysis of Risks and Opportunities.  These could happen in the future.  The simplicity of this analysis helps the next stage of your brand plan, and set up the Key Issues which are focused on finding ways to continue/enhance the growth drivers, minimize or reverse the inhibitors, avoid the risks and take advantage of the opportunities.

I like to put the Key Issues into question format, as a rhetorical question (eg. Key Issue: How do I drive more distribution for Listerine?), because the answer to these questions becomes my strategies (Leverage New products to gain added Distribution in the Food channel).  The better the questions, the better the strategies.  

Not enough plans use a vision and mission statement. They are essential in helping to frame the direction of the brand. Think of the Vision Statement as the end in Mind Achievement, thinking 5-10 years out of what do you want your brand to become. It can be a balance of qualitative and quantitative. And it should be motivating and enticing enough to motivate people to get behind it. The Mission Statement becomes the “special assignment” and is tightly connected to the vision, but is more likely a 1-3 year direction—if a vision is a destination, then a mission is a major milestone on the path towards that vision. While a vision focuses on the future state, the mission focuses on the movement the brand must undertake to go from present day to future state.

In terms of writing of the Brand Plan, my recommendation is focus on the top 3 strategies and then map out 3 tactics per strategy. That’s a total of 9 tactics per year, which is plenty to put all your money behind. Having only 9, allows you to do a great job at each of the tactics, focuses your money on the top tactics that will drive the highest return on investment and effort. Just imagine if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics per–you’ve just gone from the top 9 tactics up to the top 25 tactics. It might feel like you are covering more, but really you’re just spreading your money too thin and not really doing a great job at any of them. Too many brands end up with a “To Do” list that’s long at the start of the year and mysteriously unfinished at the end of the year.

A good brand plan should have a consistency from the vision all the way down to the execution. It should flow. Think of a band playing in perfect harmony. When you write something that does not fit, it should stand out like a “Tuba” player, trying to play his own song. It’s misfit to the plan. As you near completion of your plan, go through your document and see if you can spot misfits. Find the Tubas!

Lastly, I recommend organizations come up with a common format for plans across all plans. Freedom in formats just forces Brand Managers to try to come up with the coolest of power point slides. I’d rather have my Brand Managers putting their creative juices into tactics that get into the marketplace rather than doing cool slides. And while Brand Plans might use 10 or 20 slides (no more than that) ideally you can find a way to get your entire “Plan on one page” making it easier for everyone to follow along.

Use the Plan to Guide Everyone, including Yourself

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to do your Brand Plan or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to Prioritize your Portfolio of Brands

BBI Learning LogoWhen you have a group of brands and you need to sort through the focus, the temptation is to try to hedge your bets and spread a little love to each brand.  As I managed 15 brands at Johnson and Johnson, I finally came up with a very simple rule that I affectionately called “a third, a third, a third”.  No matter how good the year was, a third of the brands would do amazing, a third would do ok and a third would struggle.  To win in the market, and hit my plan, I had to make sure the third that did amazing out-paced the third that struggled.

Some leaders would see that situation and want to spread their resources to that bottom performing brands, just in case the high performing brands didn’t come through.  But hedging your bet just means you never fully realize the full potential of those high performers.  Here’s the rule:  Focus your resources on those brands that can offer the fastest growth and allow them to outpace those that are slower growth.  

First Look Externally at the Market

For decades, people used the BCG priority grid, BCG-Matrixa simple two by two matrix with market growth on one axis and market share on the other.  The simplicity of the grid works:  how healthy is where you play and what is the opportunity to win where you play?  Stars are where you want to invest and dogs are you want to divest.

A very simple improvement on this grid was to go to a 3×3 version of the grid that gives you more flexibility in choices.  Plus calling it market attractiveness goes beyond just growth and competitive strength goes beyond just market share.  If you want to go deep, I’d encourage you to come up with 3-5 criteria for what each axes can mean.  Market Attractiveness can be a combination of growth, size, profitability, ease of servicing, future growth, manageable barriers to entry.  Your competitive strength could be a combination of growth, size, aligned resources and assets, competitive advantage (technology, patents, positioning), brand loyalty and strength of the connection to consumers.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation for either increasing the market attractiveness or increasing your own brand power.  

Slide1

From the grid, you can see three green investment boxes.  Where you have high competitive strength but in a moderately attractive category, it might be worth your while to invest to grow the category.  Conversely, where you have moderate strength in a highly attractive category, you want to invest to strengthen your brand.   The yellow boxes are moderate investment options and the red boxes represent minimal investment or divest situation.  

Then Look Internally at the Market

Once you feel comfortable with how the brands line up externally, it might be worth a second look to compare how they look internally.  As you line up your portfolio, the goal is to maximize the longer term profitability of those brands.  Here you want to look at Brand Growth rates and Margin percentages.  And for each box, there is a recommended action.  For instance if you are a high growth brand with lower margins you want to find a way to take the power associated with the growth and look to increase prices where possible either through a price increase or by trading them up to a premium version of the offering.  Conversely, a medium growth brand in the same low margin box might have less brand power to warrant the price increase, so you should be looking at reducing COGs or marketing spend.  Slide1

You’ll see the same colour combinations, greening meaning invest in growth, yellow is maintain and red means divest.  Each of the 9 boxes has a recommendation of how to optimize the P&L for that brand and the overall portfolio.

To read more about Brand Analysis, I’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

Focus on the growth Brands and they’ll outpace the decline of the weaker brands

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 
 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

 Ask Beloved Brands to run a deep dive brand analysis or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader 

Six Key Principles of Good Analytics for Brand Leaders to Follow

BBI Learning LogoFor Brand Leaders to keep moving up, you need to be good at all parts of marketing.  When I’m assessing talent, I break it up into skills, behaviors and experiences.  As you manage your career, try to close gaps in each.  Yes, we all end up with leader behavior gaps even as we make the highest levels, but you can’t or at least you shouldn’t have a skill gap.  You have to be solid in all aspects of strategic thinking and planning, all types of implementation whether thats advertising, new product innovation or working through the sales channels, you have to be able to manage and run your business including budgeting, forecasting and running the projects.  

People generally advance in marketing careers through one of four means: 

      1. great at thinking 
      2. great at doing 
      3. great at presenting their thinking or doing 
      4. great at leading others to think, do or present. 

But eventually, at some level, you have to be good at all four. And that’s what makes you a great marketing leader.  

As people move up, the biggest skill gap I see is Analytics. They either don’t know how to dig in or when they dig in, they struggle to tell the story from all the data they’ve gathered.

To challenge you on your Analytical Skills, here are some key principles that might help you to close that gap.  

Principle #1:  Opinions without fact to back them up are just opinions and can leave a room divided.

A great tool to Ask yourself 5 times “so what does this mean” and you’ll get a little deeper and start to see the opinion turn into a fact based insight that can align a team and drive action. 

Slide1

Principle #2:  Absolute Numbers by themselves are Useless

 Back in the early 1900s, there was a famous baseball player whose name was Frank “Home Run” Baker.  Yet, oddly enough, the most Home Runs he ever hit in a year was 12.  So how the heck can he get the nickname “Home Run”.  Because in a relative dead ball era of baseball, he won the home run crown four consecutive seasons with 11 home runs in 1911, 10 in 1912, 12 in 1913 and nine in 1914.  Yes Babe Ruth would hit 54 and 60 home runs less than 10 years later but the ball had changed. The absolute number of home runs does not matter–relatively speaking, Frank Baker was the best home run hitter of his generation and deserves to be called “Home Run” Baker.  

Only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story.  You have to ground the data with a comparison, whether that’s versus prior periods, competitors, norms or the category. Every time you talk about a number, you have to talk about in relative terms—comparing it to something that is grounded:  vs last year, vs last month, vs another brand, vs norm or vs England’s share.  Is it up down, or flat?  Never give a number without a relative nature—or your listener will not have a clue.

Principle #3: The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data.

Comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. 

Use the “so what” technique to dig around and twist the data in unique ways until you find the point in which the data actually breaks and clear meaningful differences start to show.   This is where the trend is exposed and you can draw a conclusion.

Example of Finding the point where the data breaks

  • Distribution overall held at 82% throughout the year.   At the macro level, it looks like there is no issue at distribution at all.
  • Distribution on 16 count fell only a little bit over the year going from 74% to 71%.  Even at one layer down—the count size—there’s still very little break in the data
  • Distribution on 16 count at Convenience stores went from 84% to 38% in the last 2 months.  As we are starting to twist the data, it shows a dramatic and quick drop at the Convenience channel.  As you start to dig around you might find out that the biggest Convenience Customer, 7-11, delisted the brand recently.

You need to keep breaking the data points down to see if they start to tell a story. 

Principle #4:  Like an Old School Reporter, two source of data help frame the story.
Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy.  Make sure it’s a real trend.  Dig around until you can find a convergence of data that leads to an answer.  Look to find 2-3 facts that start to tell a story, and allows you to draw a conclusion.    The good pure logic in a philosophical argument they teach you is “premise, premise conclusion” so if you see one trend line, look for a second before drawing a conclusion. 
Principle #5:  Deep Analysis requires thinking time

One of the best ways to separate your analysis is to divide things into:

      1. What do we know?  This should be fact based and you know it for sure.
      2. What do we assume?  Your educated/knowledge based conclusion that helps us bridge between fact, and speculation.
      3. What we think?  Based on facts, and assumptions, you should be able to say what we think will happen.
      4. What do we need to find out?  There may be unknowns still.
      5. What are we going to do?  It’s the action that comes out of this thinking.

One of the best analysis you can do is the simple “where are we” page.  It has 5 simple questions that make you think:

      1. Where are we?
      2. Why are we  here? 
      3. Where could we be?
      4. How can we get there?
      5. What do we need to do to get there?
This page can be very useful at the start of your brand planning—while it forces your thinking, it also focuses your writing of the document.  My challenge to you:  update it every 3-6 months, or every time you do something major.  You’ll be surprised that doing something can actually alter where we are?
Principle #6: Use Tools that can help organize and force Deep Dive thinking in Key Areas. 

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box.  Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now.  You can see the impact in the current year.   Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen.  Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

Slide1

The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats.  It’s a great simple management tool.

Slide1

To read more about Brand Analysis, i’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

The Final Principle is that Good Analysis Only Gets you to the point “So what do you think”

 

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

 Ask Beloved Brands to run a deep dive brand analysis or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

What comes first, the media choice or the creative idea?

slide15When I started in marketing, way back in the mid 90s, life was a little simpler because the media and the creative were both under one agency roof.  The meetings were simple:  you’d see your various TV script options, give some feedback and then the room would go silent and the account person would say “now let’s look at the media plan” and the media person would take you through a 15 page presentation on where else the idea of your TV script could go. You’d see some magazine, OOH and even some sampling idea.  There was no internet advertising yet.  

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

Media is an investment against your strategy and creative is an expression of your strategy.  But both media and creative are only useful if they connect with consumers.  Great advertising must connect through very insightful creative that expresses the brand’s positioning and told in a way that matters to those who care the most. And yet, great advertising must be placed within the consumers’ life where it will capture their attention and motivate them in the expressed desired way to meet the strategy.  So really, the consumer comes first and strategy comes second.  But media and creative need to work to jointly capture the consumer and deliver the strategy.  

The Problem now rests with Brand Leaders.  While one could theoretically argue that if the Big Idea of the advertising is so big, it should work in every medium, that’s just not true in reality.  Some ideas just work better in certain mediums.  And yet the media people could also theoretically argue that if you go for the most efficient and effective media option, the media will do the work for you. That’s also not true. It’s too bad that ad agencies broke apart.  Because agencies could make a lot more money if they continued to answer this question on behalf of their clients. 

Here’s a solution for Brand Leaders 

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

1.  Where is your consumer?

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

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2.  Where is the Brand?

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

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3.  How does the Creative work?

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

  • Attention:  You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising.  Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few.  If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Branding:  Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best.  Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand.  It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
  • Communication:  Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness:  Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time.   In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own.  Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer. 

slide16But in the reality of advertising, not every ad execution will be able to do all four of the ABC’S.  When I’m in the creative room, I try to think about which of the two ABC’S are the most critical to my strategy.  If it’s a new product, I need Attention and Communication, if it’s in a competitive battle I need Brand and Communication, and if I’m the leader with a beloved brand, I need to make sure it’s about the Brand and it Sticks.   

What I recommend you do:

I hold off on making any media decisions until I see the creative idea and how it is expressed in a few media options.  With all the potential media now available, I ask for 3 executions of each big idea.  I want to see it in:

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

Sounds simple, but once I see all 3, it helps me to know that the idea has legs beyond one medium.  It also enables me to begin matching up creative elements to the most optimized media options on the table. 

The “Video” ask would work in TV, movie theatre, viral video or even on a website.  The “Billboard” could be traditional billboard on on-line billboard, website cover or even on the back of a magazine.  The “Long Print” would help with a print ad, social media stories or even a blog on your website.  

With 3 simple asks against each creative idea, I would cover off most of the traditional media options.  Now I can engage with the Media Agency, knowing how the creative idea would work against any of their recommendations.  I’ve done the work that the agency would have done back in the 1990s before they broke apart.  

Client Media Math

While the media agency owns the media math that blows your mind, here is some simple client side media math.  

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

 

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

 Ask Beloved Brands to help you with your advertising or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader

The Microsoft Tablet Disaster was so easy to Predict

bgr-surface-red-touch-coverWell, that was quick.  Nine months ago, Microsoft made a big deal about getting into the Tablet business. And now nine months later, Microsoft is writing off $900 Million worth of Tablets that have been occupying a warehouse.   Not only the major write off, but now that the outlook and confusion of what’s next for Microsoft looms, the stock price dropped 10%, losing $30 Billion in market value.  Ouch.  

I hate being right!!!  I just hate it. The reason I hate it, is because it seems like the obvious should be obvious to everyone.  This tablet launch just had disaster screaming all over it.  Sometimes the answers are so obvious, yet people are blinded by not asking the right question.  They just go ahead with wrong answers. For Microsoft, they missed a bunch of right questions?  

Q: What business are we in?   
A: We do software really well.  Especially when we are in a monopolistic position.  We kinda suck at hardware.  Did you see what we did on Zune?  That wasn’t pretty.   

Q: Do we have a leap-frog technology? Is the Microsoft Surface product better, different or cheaper?  
A: Not really different.  It’s like a really nice iPad with a very bad and cheap plastic lid. And better?  Well it is better than a tablet, which people use for fun.  But it’s nowhere near a Macbook Air which people use for work.  So we’re better than one and worse than the other.  We’re a bit confused but we hope the consumer gets it.  And we are going to charge a significant premium, because we are Microsoft and we always do.   So I guess it’s not really better, cheaper or different.  But, we have lots of resources and stores of our own.  Well, not a lot of stores, and they aren’t very crowded.  But we hope this does well? 

Q: Will it be pretty easy to communicate the point of difference?
A:  Not really easy.  We are going to do ads with geeky people dancing and closing the lid. A lot.  People might think they are laptops.  But we’ll press the screen so they know it’s like their iPad, only it has a lid.  We won’t try to out-cool Apple.  We’ll try to be cool, as in “the coolest kid in the Science club” kind of cool.

Q: Apple is already on their 4th tablet and likely has 3 years of incremental innovation in the pipeline?  Samsung Galaxy is an amazing product and they are killing it on cool innovation.  Do we have any R&D innovation beyond the initial launch?    
A:  No.  Is that a problem?  

Q: If we are so good at software, and the world has moved to Apps, which is sort of like software, why don’t we take all our energy and expertise in the software business and start applying that to Apps?  
A:  Wow, that’s a good question, but we’ve already ordered the plastic lids for the Tablets.  Why don’t we do both.  But truth be told, we kinda suck at Apps.    

These questions would have allowed us to look at the vision, promise, strategy, story, freshness and culture that would showcase how ill prepared Microsoft was for the Surface launch. Here’s an example of how a brand like Special K uses the promise, story, freshness, and culture to help guide their brand.

Slide1

Answering these 5 questions also helps to map out the Microsoft Brand Strategy Road Map.   It might also highlight how wrong the surface is to the overall Microsoft brand. Here’s an example of what the Brand Strategy Road Map looks like.

Slide1

 

Predicting Disaster Was Pretty Easy

In the spirit of predicting this disaster, I wrote a story last June on the how the Microsoft Surface would be a disaster.  Like I said, I hate being right.  Click on the story below:  

Why Does Microsoft Keep Copying Apple?

At the time, the response i got back was 50/50, with half of the people criticizing the Microsoft Surface launch and the other half criticizing me for criticizing the Surface launch.  I always figure 50/50 is a good ratio to stir the pot.  But, I was starting to think I might be going overboard on being an Apple lover.  Here’s a summary of my view.

Getting into the Tablet Business Feels like Zune

Getting into hardware is a big gamble and not something that fits with Microsoft’s strengths.  To be a success, you either have to be better, different or cheaper and this feels like none of those.  Just like the Zune, it feels as though they are late and aren’t really offering anything that’s a game-changer to the category.  Like most categories at the stage where tablets are, until someone really shakes it up, the next few years are likely all about constant small innovation, new news each year with Apple leading the way on the high-end and Samsung’s cost innovation will likely squeeze Microsoft right out of the category.  The analysts are so excited by the launch that the MSFT stock price is down 1.3%.

The Best Strategic Answers Start with the Best Strategic Questions

 

To read more on How to Write a Brand Plan, read the presentation below:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to work the Five types of Media to your advantage

 

Slide1Back in the 1990s, we would have thought the 5 types of media would have been TV, newspaper, magazine, out of home and radio.  Life was simpler back then.  But since 2000, media has exploded and shifted dramatically.  Now Brand Leaders are confused as to what to do and how to leverage media to drive their brands. 

New way to think about the 5 types of media:  Paid, Earned, Search, Social and Home media.

 

PAID media is the Traditional (TV, Print, OOH, Radio) and the new Digital options. While paid might look like an equal opportunity to the equal spender, its not always the case. The more Beloved brands win in this space because they get asked first, they get better slots, lower rates, and more integrations.

With EARNED media, you need to create and manage the news cycle with mainstream news, expert reviews and blogs.  Beloved Brands are newsworthy and new Products are a story.  My own belief is that every brand should have a PR plan.  News is such a ubiquitous part of our current lives–you need to be part of that news cycle.

SEARCH Engine Optimization balances earned, key words and paid search.  Being a famous Beloved Brand helps to bypass paid SEO.  So if you are fighting against the power of those beloved brands, you need to leverage search as a way to break through.  On more complicated purchases (cars, electronics, travel) search is an essential tool for the consumer to gain more information before they get comfortable with the purchase options.

For SOCIAL media, we need to first stop thinking that it’s free.  It’s not.  It’s resource intensive to do it right.  And the more Beloved Brands have advocates that follow, put their views forward and share news on the brand that creates positive interactions that helps to influence others.  While you can build up your social, you might need to first build your brand so that the effort you do via social media pays off.  Nothing worse than an embarrassing social following.  I drove past a gravel pit last year that said “Like us on Facebook”.  What a waste of effort to get 19 people–mostly employees and friends.  How about “Rocks $9 a pound” would have been a better option.

HOME media is your landing page.  It’s a destination for some brands or could be a complete waste of time for others.  Depends on the type of brand you have.  Your website where you can use as a source of information, influence or even closing the sale.  If e-commerce makes sense for your business. 

Where is your Brand?

Before deciding what type of media you want, you need to first understand where your brand is.  I’m a big believer in the Brand Love Curve where brands go from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and all the way to Beloved.  If you start to look at how media might match up to that love curve and framed through a consumer buying system, we can see that when your brand is INDIFFERENT, your main focus should be using awareness and consideration to drive trial for your brand.  That would mean announcement style media (mass, targeted digital, event) as well as starting to play in the search area so you can help facilitate consumers looking for more information.

Slide1As you move to the LIKE IT stage, you want to begin separating yourself at the store level.  Yes, you still need the awareness, but you want to make sure that you drive at the crowded retail level to separate yourself from your competitors.  This could mean point of sale signage or even the influence of experts at the store level.  If consumers are satisfied, you should be pushing them to share that positive experience with others. Here’s where social media plays a large role, whether it’s traditional social media (Facebook or twitter) or the more influential social media such as YELP or IMDB.  As you move along the curve to LOVED and BELOVED brands as well as matching to the buying system, you’ll start to see the growing importance of event marketing to core users or social media as a badge of honor to share with others.

The problem I have with many media options, is people at the INDIFFERENT stage think they need a Facebook page.  Well, once all your relatives like that page, you might have 46 followers, which might expose how little people care about you.  On the flip side, I still am seeing LOVED brands pounding out 30 second TV ads that tell the consumers what they already know, all but forgetting the other media options available to them.

What Type of Brand are you?

When it comes to brands, you should understand where your brand sits on the degree of involvement vs importance.

For instance if your brand sits in the low involvement, low importance quadrant, it would be a COMMODITY brands.  This is where many of the CPG brands fit, always trying extra hard to take a marginal point of difference and making it a huge deal.  With commodity brands, the tendency is to put the effort into messaging more than creative/media.  However, if you think about it, maybe it should be the opposite.  Yes, messaging is always safer, but if you need to counter the lack of involvement by making it a higher involvement brand.  Dove has done an amazing job in taking a basic soap and making it stand for the modern woman.  It’s still likely a mass play, but you can begin using social and earned media here to break through the clutter.  The best marketers reside in these areas, because the work they do is essential to driving increased involvement and increased importance in a category that doesn’t naturally warrant either.

Slide1ESSENTIALS are high importance but still lower on the involvement side.  With my experience in healthcare and banking, we’ve looked at ways to drive up the involvement through Search, Earned and Social Media that’s targeted to influencers as well as those who might motivate others.  Many of these brands need routine to help substitute for the falling involvement.  For instance, the biggest issue with getting people to take life-saving heart medication is getting them to take it as prescribed.  The more work the marketer can do against routine here, the better.

Slide1INDULGENCE brands have high involvement but really little importance.  This is where beer, chocolate, and bubble gum reside.  The problem with this category is you’ve got rather large budgets driving against some of the most loved brands in the world.  (Coke, Bud, Mars).   You need concentrated and heavy mass media to break through the clutter.  In the new world, earned and social can be ways to break through, high on creativity to keep consumers engaged.

HIGH PROFILE brands are those that are high on importance and involvement.  These brands are your favorite part of you every day life.  Your iPhone, your latte from Starbucks, the restaurant you want to go or the latest movie coming this weekend.  With these brands, you should be perfecting all five of the media:  paid, earned, search, social and home.

Where is Your Consumer?

I know I know.  Everyone is so excited about the new media options, we tend to forget about the consumer.  But call me old-school, but I still like to start with the consumer.  The fundamentals of marketing always start with where the consumer is before you look at where the media is.  You can see how the buying system above might match up to where the consumer is on that Love Curve.  But even more so, you should always be mapping out a day in the life of your consumer.  Get in their shoes and say “what does my consumers day look like and how will my message fit or interrupt their life?”Slide1

In the spirit of “Be Where They Are”, you need to think about a Total Branding experience to the “Many Me’s of Me”.  While we are the same person, we do have various moods through the day, and your brand needs to fit my mood.  For instance, that rock quarry example of “Like Us on Facebook”, I was out for a nice drive in the country with my wife, in a mood to relax with no pen and no paper.  I might not be back to my computer for six more hours.  How would I remember to like a rock quarry on Facebook?   Not a chance. This is a great tool for putting you into the shoes of your consumer and maybe seeing how your brand’s messaging might fit into their busy lives.    I see ads and signs all day long that really showcase how little Brand Leaders are thinking about how the consumer lives their busy lives.   

As a brand leader, are you using the five types of media to your full advantage?  Use the tools above to begin mapping out your choices, based on where your brand sits, what type of brand you have and how your consumer’s life might influence your choices.  To read more on media planning, click on this link:  How to Build Your Media Plans

Are you Using the Five types of media your Brand’s full advantage?

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

 

  

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

How to Revel in the Ambiguity of the Unknown

ambiguity_road_signThe role of a Brand Leader is very stressful.   You have to find a way to deal with stress or it will destroy you.   Go for a walk, a drive, take breaks, put the feet up on the desk every once in a while.  There are many types of stress:  1) If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating.  Reach for your logic as you re-group.  Force yourself to course correct, rather than continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.  2) Work relationships can be stressful.  Be pro-active in making the first move.  Try to figure out what motivates as well as what annoys them.   Most times, the common ground is not that far away.  3) There is constant Time Pressure.  Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way.   Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions.  4) The unknown of Ambiguity is one of the hardest.  This is where patience and composure come into play as you sort through the issues.  The consequences of not remaining composed is likely a bad decision.  

And from what I’ve seen over the years, how Brand Leaders deal with ambiguity is one of the biggest causes of stress, but equally one of the biggest separators of great, from good.  

Revel in Ambiguity

Years ago, I started asking the interview question:  “How do you deal with Ambiguity”.   A fresh-faced recent graduate answered:  “No one likes Ambiguity, so what I seek to clarify the issue at hand, I organize all the tasks, and I knock off one at a time.  In other words, I eliminate all ambiguity so I can do my job”.  A fair answer.  Then she turned to me and said “What about you?”.  And I said “I love AMBIGUITY.  In fact, I revel in it”

When marketing is done at it’s best, the brand becomes balanced in the emotional and rational.   Yes, there’s strategy to help ground you, but there’s also the expression of the strategy through art.  Yes, there’s a creative brief we all agreed to, but there might be 10 agencies all executing in their own way to various parts of the marketing mix.

The brand becomes an Idea.

And that’s more ambiguous than the product you can touch and feel.  

Ideas are what makes brands great.  Think Different motivated an entire generation of Apple employees for a decade to challenge themselves to go beyond the status quo.   It provided a benchmark that the iPod, iPhone, iTunes, iPad and the MacBook leaped over.  When Special K became about “empowering women to take control and maintain their healthy body” the brand became more than just a breakfast cereal.

Great marketing is about Ideas.

And trying to organize yourself too early might make you miss the idea.  Marketing is not about tasks to complete.  It’s about making a significant enough impact to move people.  By eliminating ambiguity, you eliminate ideas.  You end up thinking small, not big.  

delicious-ambiguity12Never be afraid of an idea—and never kill it quickly.  If you are struggling with an idea, then go for a walk.  Or put it to the test:  think about it 19 times, test it out, see if you can stretch it or move it, see what it looks like in concept, ask around to see what people think.  It may still fail, but at least you’ve taken it on the journey.  In terms of pressure points, ambiguity and time pressure usually work against each other.  What I have found is the longer I can stay comfortable in the “ambiguity zone” the better the ideas get—whether it’s the time pressure that forces our thinking to be simpler or whether it’s the performance pressure forces us to push for our best idea.  

In fact, I started to use time pressure to my advantage.  Yes, I always hit deadlines.  Don’t get me wrong.  But I took projects to the breaking point of time pressure versus getting the idea even better.  All you have to do is be the most calm person in the room, and knowing the deadline is looming, be the one to bravely ask “So I know this is good but how do we make this idea even bigger and better?”   I’m sure that  caused stress for many people in the room.  I get that.  But this was that magical moment, with everyone’s back against the wall, when the work went from good to great all the way to amazing.   I have never been one to procrastinate, but I know most people do.  It’s the same essential rule.  The time pressure eliminates the over-thinking, it challenges us, forcing the best ideas to come out.  Nine times out of ten, leveraging that breaking point, the work gets way better.  

Stay calm.  And love the feeling of the unknown, longer than anyone else.

I always say, the longer I can hold my breath, the better the work gets.

 

steve-jobs-1011j

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
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. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI 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

 

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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.

8 simple ways to be a better Brand Leader

Brand LeadershipAs we push to be great Brand Leaders, here are 8 ways to push yourself to be better. This is from the 20 years of hiring, training, encouraging and even firing Brand Leaders.  Here are 8 things that separate amazing from OK.

A great Brand Leader takes ownership of the brand.  I’ve seen many Brand Leaders struggle with the transition from being a helper to being the owner.  As you move into the job, you have to get away from the idea of having someone hand you a project list.  Not only do you have to make the project list, you have to come  up with the strategies from which the projects fall out of.  A good owner talks in ideas in a telling sense, rather then an asking sense.  It’s great to be asking questions as feelers, but realize that most are going to be looking to you for the answers.  They’ll be recommending you’ll be deciding.  When managing upwards be careful of asking questions—try to stick to solutions.  “I think we should build a big bridge” instead of “any ideas for how we can get over the water”.  You just gave up your ownership.  I’d rather have you tell me what you want to do, and we debate from there, rather then you ask me what we should do.  I’ll be better able to judge your logic, your passion and your vision. 

A great Brand Leader provides the vision & strategies to drive results. Vision is sometimes a hard thing to articulate. It’s sometimes easy to see times when there is a lack of vision.  You have to let everyone know where you want to go.  The strategy that matches becomes the road map for how to get there.  As the brand owner, you become the steward of the vision and strategy.  Everything that is off strategy has to be rejected and your role is to find ways to steer them back on track.  It’s easy to get side-tracked by exciting programs or cool ideas, but if they are off-strategy then they have to be rejected.  The communication of strategy is a key skill.  Learn to talk in strategic stories that can frame your direction.  Learn to think in terms of pillars—which forces your hand around 3 different areas to help achieve your strategy.  Having pillars constantly grounds you back in your strategy, and is an easy way for communicating with the various functions—they may only have 1 strategic pillar that matters to them personally, but seeing the other parts makes them feel as though their work is worth it.

A great Brand Leader gets what they need.   The organization is filled with groups, layers, external agencies, with everyone carrying a different set of goals and motivations.  Working the system entails taking what you have learned about ownership one step further.  You understand the organizational components, and then you go get what you need.  Again communication becomes key—you can’t let missed communications cause angst or concerns.  Also, its crucial that you get the best from everyone.  I have found it useful upfront to ask people for their best.  It’s a strange step, but I have found it useful.   If you really have someone that’s good, you know they’ll respond to this.  The good news is that only 0.1% of people ask them, so it’s not like they’ve heard it that many times. 

A great Brand Leader can handle pressure.  There are Four Types of Pressure that Brand Leaders Face

  1. Ambiguity is one of the hardest.  This is where patience and composure come into play as you sort through the issues.  The consequences of not remaining composed is likely a bad decision. 
  2. If the Results don’t come in, it can be frustrating.  Reach for your logic as you re-group.  Force yourself to course correct, rather then continuing to repeat and repeat and repeat.  
  3. Relationships.  Be pro-active in making the first move.  Try to figure out what motivates as well as what annoys them.   Most times, the common ground is not that far away. 
  4. Time Pressure.  It’s similar to the ambiguity.  Be organized, disciplined and work the system so it doesn’t get in your way.   Be calm, so you continue to make the right decisions. 

A great Brand Leader can Hold your team to a Consistently high standard of work:  Rather than being the leader by example, I’d rather see you establish a standard and hold everyone and yourself to that standard.  .  For a new Brand Leader, this is one of the harder areas—how to balance the freedom you give with the standard you demand.    You need to organize the team and build in processes in a way that produces consistent output, your team hits all deadlines, stays focused and keeps things moving.  But it can also show up in the quality of brand plans, execution and interactions with everyone specifically sales.  Be the control point of the team, and not let slips, errors or delays show beyond the team.  Delegate so you motivate your stars, but never abdicate ownership of how your team shows up.

A great Brand Leader is an outstanding leader of people by leveraging Consistent People Leadership and Management.   Newly appointed Brand Leaders have taken on more leadership roles.  You have to let your team breathe and grow.   There are likely future super stars within the ranks.   We know you can write a brand plan, roll out a promotion super fast and make snap decisions on creative.  But can you inspire your team to do the same?  Junior marketers have high ambitions–constantly wanting praise, but equally seeking out advice for how to get better.  Brand Managers are still learning to be brand owners, many times younger than they should be.  It becomes the director’s role to manage the talent–giving equal praise and challenges for how to get better.  A great  Brand Leader should be meeting quarterly with each team member one on one to take them through a quarterly performance review.   Waiting for year-end is just not enough.  Be passionate about people’s careers–anything less they’ll see it as merely a duty you are fulfilling.  

A Great Brand Leader shows up Consistently to the Sales Team:   As a Brand Leader, you have to be seen as one who is willing to listen.  Great sales people challenge marketers to make sure their account wins.   I’ve seen many sales teams destroy the Brand Leader because they don’t listen, and they stubbornly put forward their plan without sales input.   Great Brand Leaders should informally meet with all key senior sales people on a quarterly basis, to get to know them and let them know you are listening to their problems.  With this forum, you’ll get more of the bubbling up of problems–not just waiting for problems to explode.   If a sales people feel they’ve been heard, they are more apt to follow the directors vision and direction.   Many times, the debate can be healthy and help the sales people frame the story they need to tell with their accounts.  Be the one Brand Leader that consistently reaches out and listens.  They’ll be in shock, and stand behind your business.

A Great Brand Leader Delivers Consistent Results:  A great Brand Leader hits the numbers and yet when they don’t hit them, they are the first to own it and put forward a recovery plan before being asked.  They have an entrepreneurial spirit of ownership, rather than just being a corporate pencil pusher.   Proactive communication upwards and with your own team.  Reach out for help across the organization.  Know your business and let everyone know what you know.  Be the leader that makes everything perfectly transparent–everyone will follow you.

You might also enjoy this article

Eight Leader Behaviors to Be Great Brand Leader

Challenge Yourself: If you knew that showing up different would drive better Brand results, then could you show up different?

 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

Here’s a presentation on Successful Marketing Careers:  

 

Other Roles You May Be Interested In
  • Brand Manager:  It becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan.  Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.  The good ones let the ABM do their job; the bad ones jump in too much, frustrated and impatient rather than acting as a teacher.  To read about being a successful Brand Manager, read:  How to be a Successful Brand Manager
  • Marketing Director:  It’s more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing.  Your role is to set the standard and then hold everyone to that standard.  To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.  Let your best people shine, grow and push you.  Follow this hyper link to read more:   How to be a Successful Marketing Director
  • VP Marketing or CMO:  It’s about leadership, vision and getting the most from people.  If you are good at it, you won’t need to do any marketing, other than challenging and guiding your people to do their best work. You have to deliver the results, and very few figure out the equation that the better the people means the better the work and in the end the better the results. Invest in training as a way to motivate your team and keep them engaged.  Use teaching moments to share your wisdom. Read the following article for how to be a success:  How to be a Successful VP of Marketing

 

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Monthly Report: One of the first tasks they assign the ABM is writing the monthly sales and share report.  Not only is a necessity of the business, but it’s your best training ground for doing a deep dive on analytics and strategic writing.   To read how to write a Monthly Report, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Monthly Report
  2. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  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 

Brand LeadershipI 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

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below:

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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 to Analyze What’s Happening on Your Brand

Brand LeadershipAs a senior brand leader, I have to confess a frustration when I knew the details better than my Brand Manager.  And it’s not just that senior leaders micro manage, it’s really that they can just analyze situations faster.  They taught themselves the fundamentals of analysis. And they know when a Brand Manager hasn’t done the deep dive thinking.  Opinions are great.  Every brand leader should have one and be able to articulate their views.  But it’s best when you can layer it in fact.  One good rule for communicating your opinion is something I learned in my first year Logic class:  Premise, Premise, Conclusion.  Try it out, next time you’re engaged in debate.  Just make sure the premise is backed by fact.

How to go Deeper

The best way go deep on your analysis, ask “so what does that mean” at least five times and watch the information gets richer and deeper.

Slide1

Looking at the Gray’s Cookie example above, intuitively, it makes sense that going after Health Food Stores could be one option put on the table.  But to say you need to be better, without digging in remains an unsubstantiated opinion.   As you dig deeper, you see that going after Health Food stores, who are highly independent is labor intensive and the payback is just not there.  Yes, you’re way under-developed.  But it’s more expensive than other options.  When you bring the option of going after mass into the mix, which is head office driven, you start to see a higher return on the investment.  This is just a fictional example, but look how the thinking gets richer at each stage.  Force yourself to keep asking “so what does this mean” or “why” pushing the analysis harder and harder.

Analytical Tools:  SWOT, PEST, FORCE FIELD

A good analytical tool helps to separate out attributes on the brand that may contribute positively or negatively, are happening vs could happen.

A SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  I have found it used best for a new launch where strengths are untapped assets the brand can unleash and weaknesses are things that must be over come.  Always force yourself with strengths and weaknesses to look at it through the lens of impacting revenue.  So instead of “boring name”, you’d change that to “name unknown, and lacks inspiration to drive a price premium”.  Always connect your analysis to the P&L.

Slide1PEST stands for Political, Environmental, Social and Technological and is best used when the brand is in a highly sensitive market or one that is filled with conflicts, controversies or at the leading edge of market trends.  This can be added to either of the other two or stand on its own.

Slide1

A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box.  Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now.  You can see the impact in the current year.   Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen.  Invariably, people mix this up and things that could happen move up when they really shouldn’t.

Slide1

The best thing about the force field is you can easily take it into an action plan, because you want to keep the drivers going and overcome the inhibitors Then take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats.  It’s a great simple management tool.

Slide1

To read more about Brand Analysis, i’d encourage you read: How to Go Deeper on Analysis

The Tools Help Frame Your Thinking but Never Replace it. 

I hope this has helped you to learn something new.  Please follow me on Twitter at @grayrobertson1

To read more on How to Analyze Your Brand, read the presentation below:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to help with a Brand Audit or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

What will Happen when Teenagers Leave Facebook?

tumblr_lgfj0tfVVo1qdetk0o1_400I have two teenagers at home, so I can safely call myself the world’s foremost EXPERT ON TEENAGERS!!!   Actually, as a parent of teenagers, I have absolutely no clue what’s going on.  But that’s a whole different blog.  What I have noticed in 2013 is that my two teenagers aren’t using Facebook at all.  A sample of two:  my 16-year-old has only 5 posts this year and my 15-year-old has 7 posts.  I know 40 year-olds that have that many posts in a day, posting anything from photos of cute cats rolling on the grass to a hilarious video of an old lady dancing to 28 photos of their 3-year-old at the zoo pointing to a Lion or commenting on “what’s a color without the letter E in it”.  Unknown-1

And we can’t figure out for the life of me why teenagers would want to leave this cool and fun party?  Actually, the answer is pretty easy: “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”.  I hear that one every day.  Keep in mind, we drop them off where we can’t be seen.  This is the same thing that goes for social media.  Don’t embarrass me!

Facebook was originally developed by College Students for College students and then quickly followed by High School students.  It became the place to be around 2007.  Then 20 somethings got on, then Moms then snuck on in 2010 and now….Grandmas are on there.  The biggest growing demographic is 55+.  And they are commenting on photos.  OMG!!!  WTF!!!  IKR!!!  GTFO!!!  We had to tell my mom not to comment on my daughter’s Facebook page anymore for fear she would be unfriended and blocked.   We are already blocked so we know what that feels like.   It stings.

This is pure comedy, an example of the horror teens are facing.  It’s a mother trying to defend her son, on his girlfriend’s Facebook page.  My guess is they are no longer dating. 

facebook-moms-5

Are we starting to get a picture of why the teens are leaving Facebook?  Just keep repeating this and it will help you understand teens:  “YOU GUYS ARE SUCH LOSERS”.  And then maybe go slam your door.  

Let’s Look at the Facts
  • The active number of Facebook users in the US is down 7.4% in 2013.  The average age continues to climb every year, with 65% of Facebook users are now over 35 years old.  The biggest complaint people have is that it’s boring.  As my friend says “how come people will watch videos of cats falling off a sidewalk on-line, but if we said that’s a TV show, no one would watch it”.  The answer is likely novelty.  
  • Moms have gone on Facebook in droves:  72% of Moms are now on Facebook.  Half of them said they are really just going on to keep tabs on their kids.  And 74% of Moms say they check their kids Facebook several times a week.  Slide1
  • On the flip side, one in three teens are embarrassed by their parents’ Facebook comments.  The problem is that your teenagers know you’re spying.  And they don’t appreciate it.  Over 30% of teens say they have unfriended their parents.  Teens complain they don’t get enough privacy on Facebook.  
  • Teens continue to turn to smartphones as their primary source and as a result prefer App based programs such as SnapChat, Twitter, KIK Messenger, Ask FM and Instagram. Adults can’t even find these and when they do, they can’t even work them. And when you figure it out, teens will just move on to something else.
  • Recent study found 33% of teens called Facebook the most important social network, closely followed by Twitter with 30%.  Twitter is significantly gaining.  Just 6 months ago, the scores were 42% to 27%.  
So now what happens? 

A few things come to mind.  

  • Kids want something that is uniquely their own.  It reminds me of what happened to the Gap Clothing store.  Back in the 1990s, it was the cool brand for teenagers.  Then Baby Gap and Maternity Gap meant teens would now be wearing the same clothes as their cute little nephew or their hugely pregnant Aunt.  Total Horror.  So the teens stopped going and then the pregnant aunt didn’t want to dress like someone uncool.  So sales tumbled.  This could be a metaphor for Facebook.  Once you are everything to everyone, you end up nothing and to no one.   
  • One less chance for Control Freak Moms:  If a lot of moms are on Facebook only to spy on their kids, maybe they’ll now move on and stop using Facebook so much.   How many pictures of Cats can we really “Like” while waiting for your little precious to post something you can tell her is totally inappropriate?   And other moms are likely only on Facebook because it’s the cool thing that teens do.  Once they find out it’s no longer cool, we could have our new version of the tipping point that Gap went through.
  • Advertisers are confused by Social Media yet again.  Just as they were finally able to start putting numbers to social media, the whole world has changed yet again.  Advertisers want to know reliable sources for where to invest their advertising dollars.  They need payback and if the audience keeps moving, then it’s hard for them to have a steady reliable place to invest in.
The same problem continues:  How do we Monetize Social Media Platforms?

Most social media platforms follow the same pattern.  They launch with a unique way of communicating that is a dramatic improvement over prior methods.  There is minimal advertising because they are focused more on gaining a large following that might take a year or two.  Plus, they are so unproven, making it very hard to get advertisers to buy into it.  They end up with a large audience but no proven method of making money from that large audience.  And then they take it public with a promise that “we’ll now use advertising to our huge audience to drive future revenues”.  teens-on-cell-phonesThe claim is that the value of Social Media platforms should not be based on current revenue streams but on future revenue sources.  They say “trust us, this will be huge”.  Right?  You’ve heard this story before.  But as they said in Jerry McGuire:  “Show me the money!!!”  

We have to be able to see how a social media platform can make money.   With some of these sites, I’m not seeing it yet.  But now, as Facebook is still trying to figure out how to monetize their huge user base, that user base is starting to leave.  Down 7.4% is pretty significant for something that is free.  The new mediums they are leaving for look like a total fad.  How do these new vehicles make money?  There are no ads on Instagram or Snap Chat.  Yes, Facebook now owns Instagram for a tidy $1 Billion.  But how do you now make money on it?  By the time they figure out how to monetize, the teenagers are likely already moving on to what’s next.  And the cycle continues.

Facebook had quickly become the wonder-drug of Social Media, the one powerhouse that everyone was engaged in and Advertisers were starting to understand.  Will there be a new version of the mega social media platform or will the future just be fragmented into unique platforms for unique groups?  Does that make it harder or easier on Advertisers?  Yes, there will be better segmentation but confusion over how to go about reaching.  Too many executional options for too many media choices.  

Is Facebook at a Tipping Point?  Will they just become the social media site for the over 30?

What’s Your Next Move Facebook?

 

Follow me on Twitter at @grayrobertson1

 

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

 

Brand LeadershipI 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

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below:

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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.

A Brand Leader’s view of what makes a Good Advertising Agency

It seems that clients are firing ad agencies very quickly these days.  

I’m half way old enough that I’m straddling the fence on whether agencies are as good as the old days.  But it seems that there are pitches going on constantly, and yet no one is really wanting to look themselves the mirror and say “Am I part of the problem?”

I’ve been brought in a few times to look at the situation.  The first thing I normally tell the Brand Leader is “you have to fire yourself first” and then see if the agency is still bad.  The best clients respect the process, the agency and their own judgment. slide1-1And yet, most Brand Leaders under-estimate the role the client plays in getting to great creative.  As a Brand Leader, if you knew that showing up better would get you better advertising, do you think you could?  If there are 100 steps in every advertising development stage and you show up OK at each step, how are you possibly thinking you’ll end up with a GREAT ad at the end?  

How do you fire Yourself?

When a relationship gets off the rails, what I do is an Advertising “Audit” where we look at the behaviors and processes in getting to the advertising.  

    • What’s your brief look like?  Is it fundamentally sound?   I’ve seen 8 page briefs that don’t even have a benefit or any consumer insights.  And I’ve seen other clients that say “we didn’t write a brief for that one, we just phoned it in”.  Even though the media has changed in this modern world, the fundamentals around writing briefs should not.  You need to distill your strategy, either from your brand plan or what’s in your head down to 1 page.  Here’s a story on how to write a better creative brief.  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief
    • What is your behavior like at advertising meetings?  My belief is that advertising is a balance of freedom and control and many clients I see give too much freedom in areas they should control and too much control in areas they should give more freedom.  You should control the strategy and decision-making, but you should give freedom to the creative expression and execution of the work.  I’ll observe tone to see how motivating you are, how you communicate and how you make decisions in the meeting that lead to the direction you give.  My view is that one person should do all the feedback and that the feedback should be motivating yet it really should be directive as to how to improve the work.  Too many clients try to be motivating but fear giving direction so they opt for vague.  The agency walks away not even knowing what’s next.  Here’s an article on how to Judge Advertising:  How to Judge AdvertisingSlide1
    • How do you make decisions?   As long as it’s consistent and transparent, there is room for latitude, but the agency just has to know so they can adjust.  Too many times, clients don’t want the agency to see how decisions get made.  If you have a consensus culture, what I recommend is that during the creative meeting, you take a 30 minute break where your team gathers its feedback and then assigns one person to take the agency through.   If your culture is top down, and potentially the real decision maker isn’t even in the room, I recommend that one senior agency person accompany you through the internal approval process.  They can listen and respond to the comments directly.  And usually, they are better at selling creative work than you are.  As long as they are aligned with what you want, the tag-team approach should be even better.  

The reason you want to “fire yourself first” is it allows you to now see clearly if it really is the agency or if it was just you.  The added benefit is that if you still see that the agency is not where you need them to be and you still want to fire them, then at least you will be showing up better to your new agency, rather than that dysfunctional client before the audit.  

What Makes for a Good Advertising Agency?

I come at this from the vantage of a client, having spent 20 years working as a Brand Leader.  I’m not an Ad Agency guy, never having worked a day at an agency in my life.  But I’ve seen some great agencies and some not so good.  Here’s my list of what makes a Great Agency:

  1. They work for you, not your boss. While your boss pays them and has the final say, they still know you are the client.  Nothing worse than a client services person constantly trying to go above your head.  The best way for an agency to earn your trust is to consistently demonstrate that they work for you.  That trust will earn them a seat, along side you, at the table of your boss.  You will know they have your back and will support your recommendation, not cave at the whim of your boss.    
  2. They understand your goals, your issues and your strategies.  They write briefs that are on your brand strategy and deliver work that expresses your brand strategy.  Yes,  The modern agency struggles to write advertising strategies that align to the Brand’s strategy.  Just as though clients are not trained enough in the areas of strategy and planning, I see the same thing on the Agency side.  As margins are squeezed, the first casualty is strategic planning.  Yet, that might be one of the most important.  I’d prefer to have a great strategic planner on the brand than have 5 client services people each show up taking notes at meetings.  
  3. They make work that drives demand and sells more widgets, not work that just wins awards.  Awards are part of the agency world–helping to motivate creative people and establishing the agency reputation in the market.  I once had an agency person say:  “we can’t write that strategy because it will make for boring work”.  The balance of winning awards and selling more widgets always has to side with selling more widgets.  I’m really tired of agencies starting off creative meetings with the “we are so excited” line.  You want an agency that comes into a room and says “we have an ad for you that will sell more of your product”.  
  4. They give options.  And they don’t always 100% agree.  Come on agencies.  We are in year 100 of making ads and you haven’t figured out yet that the clients like options.  Each option has to deliver the strategy.  Nothing worse than agencies who tear apart the brief and deliver options for each part of the brief.  (e.g. here’s one for the younger audience, here’s one that does fast really well and here’s one that does long-lasting) That’s not creative options, that’s now strategic options.  We collectively decide on the strategy before the creative process begins, not meander the strategy during the creative process.   As clients, options give us comfort.  But even more importantly, options treat us with respect that we can still make the right decision.  
  5. Agencies are not territorial.   They are transparent allowing you open and free access to their planners and creative people.  It’s really the account people here.  Good account people allow you to communicate directly with the creative team.   Most great creative teams that I have worked with want direct access to the client, rather than have it be filtered through a series of contact reports.  
  6. They adjust and easily take feedback.  Agencies serve at the pleasure of the client.  Every client is unique and the best agencies adjust to that style.  Not only the company but even the individual.  I used to sit with my Account leader every quarter and go through how we can each get better.  Some clients aren’t even doing annual agency performance reviews.  
  7. They are positive and already motivated to work on your brand.  While I do encourage clients to motivate their agencies, it’s much easier to motivate someone who is already motivated.  When I see a 25-year old account person openly complaining, I see that as a problem with the culture of the agency, not a problem for the client to have to figure out.  I’m now on the service side as a consultant, and we can never openly complain.  
  8. They teach.  When I was a new Brand Manager, my client services person (Leslie Boscheratto) taught me more about advertising than any client should have to learn.  In fact, I’m still embarrassed at how little I knew, yet thrilled at how much I learned from that team at Bates back in the mid 90s.  
  9. They act like you are their only client.  And you feel important to them, no matter what share your budget is of the overall agency.  Why sign you up as a client and then keep reminding you that they have Coke, Budweiser or Dove.  When you are with me, treat me as though I’m the most important client in the world.  
  10. Trusted Advisor:  They are a trusted advisor who will give you real advice, not just on advertising but on your performance and on the overall brand.  Most senior agency folks have seen plenty of clients come and go.  Never be afraid to find a quiet moment with your agency person and ask two simple questions:  “what can I do better”  and “what do your best clients do that I could learn from”.

Here’s the flip side to the story with an article I wrote a few months ago on “The worst type of Clients”.  To read that click on:  Ten Worst Types of Advertising Clients

You’ll notice the one thing missing from my list is “They Make Great Work”.  That’s a given because that’s the only reason you hire an agency.  Yes, some agencies make better work than others.  But even those agencies that make great work, also make bad work.  And if we were to look at why, it would likely start with the relationship, processes or interactions.  So if the client can fix what they are doing wrong and the agency can show up right, then you should be able to make good work together.  

Making great advertising is simple, but very hard to do. 

 

Here’s a presentation on How to Be a Better Client

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 Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  3. 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
  4. 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 

Brand LeadershipI 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

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below:

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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.

The new Burger War: 5 Guys vs In-N-Out

s-FIVE-GUYS-BURGER-largeWhen I was a kid, after my hockey practices, my mom and I used to go to Burger King.  It became a tradition.   What did i like the best?   It was nice and quiet, compared to the crowded noisy McDonald’s right across the street.  No lines, no one taking up great seat locations and almost zen.  Today, there’s a new Burger War brewing:  5 Guys versus In-N-Out Burger.  Who will win?

Who has the Better Burger?

I know there’s lots of debate out there.  Let’s dispel the myth here: they are almost the same burger.  They take a high quality ground chuck, and squish it firmly onto the grill which locks in the flavor and creates a juicy burger. 250px-InnoutOremIt’s a much higher quality meat than McDonald’s and much juicier in the end due to the cooking technique.  The only difference is 5 Guys burger feels like the burger actually breaks apart more which could make it feel less fast-food and In-N-Out feels very neatly stacked.  VERDICT:  Tie

Fries versus Shakes

If the burger is a relative tie, then what else you got.  5 Guys wins on fries and In-N-Out wins on Shakes.  Unknown-3I’m a big fries fan, and 5 Guys does have pretty darn good addicting fries.   They give you enough that you likely won’t finish them.  The In-N-Out fries (except for Animal Fries) are a little bit nondescript and boring.  In terms of shakes, the In-N-Out shakes are legendary, whereas 5 Guys is completely missing out by not even having a shake.   Verdict:  Tie, pick your poison and likely only have it once in a while.  

Who has better Atmosphere?

I have to say, neither is very cool at all.  In-N-Out had the plastic feel of a McDonald’s, with booths that are too small to fit those that can eat a double-double.   imagesThe hats on the employees are cute, giving it a 50’s diner feel.  And 5 Guys atmosphere feels like a Costco.  Dusty floors, crappy little tables and chairs.  Plus, do we really need 50 signs per restaurant telling us how great you are.  What you’re doing is opening up the door to local establishments finding a niche against both of these with a cooler pub-like atmosphere.  Verdict:  one bad tie.  

So the overall product is a tie.  

Where does In-N-Out Burger win?

Clearly as I’ve heard from the fans, In-N-Out does a great job engaging with their consumers.  The secret menu and the secret sauce, the traditions of the double-double and the “animal fries” all help create a “club” filled with brand fans who will take on anyone that knocks their brand.  images-1There’s a slight difference in who each attracts.  In-N-Out’s menu items are generally less expensive — the chain is most popular with young men ages 18 to 24 with an income of less than $70,000 a year, according to NPD. By contrast, Five Guys patrons are generally 25 to 50 years old, with an income of more than $100,000.  In-N-Out seems to have a more engaged consumer base that it can leverage as 5 Guys is now into the Southern California market ready to do battle right in the backyard of In-N-Out.

Where does 5 Guys win?

5 Guys has been much more aggressive.  They have pursued winning on reviews and lists that can help drive awareness for the brand.  In 2010, they won the Zagat best burger.   They’ve aggressively gone after celebrities such as Shaq and Obama.  Unknown-1And most of all, they are winning on location, location and even more location.  At this point, In-N-Out is stuck as a West Coast brand, in California, Arizona and Nevada with only 280 locations.  And 5 Guys is everywhere, with 1000+ locations, fairly national and even in Canada.  They are clearly following the McDonald’s real estate strategy by trying to be everywhere.  The other area where 5 Guys wins is pricing.  I’m a marketer, so the more price you can command the better.  For relatively the same burger, 5 Guys charges twice what In-N-Out charges.  In this current stagnant economy, people are proving they’d rather pay for an amazing quality burger than a cheap steak.  It feels like In-N-Out is leaving money on the table with the prices that are just slightly above the McDonald’s price points.  

So who will win?  

At this point the clear winner will be 5 Guys.  Unknown-2Just like McDonald’s versus Burger King in the original burger war, it’s not as much about the burger itself but about the aggressive pursuit of real estate.  Unless In-N-Out wakes up, takes all that brand love they’ve generated among their fans and they go on an 5-year big expansion, they’ll be relegated to a regional brand we only visit on our road trips to California. 

5 Guys Is Quickly Becoming the Upscale Answer to McDonald’s

 

A vote and a shout out for Local still.  At this premium burger price range, and with boring atmospheres in both Five Guys and In-N-Out restaurants, they are keeping the door open for local burger places to stay alive. If you’re ever in my home town of Toronto, Craft Burger (now Big Smoke) on King Street offers a very unique burger and feel.  Hand made, aged cheddar giving it a slightly different feel and the fries are great.   Allen’s on the Danforth has an amazing quality beef and the best outdoor patio around.  Burger’s Priest in Toronto has almost completely copied In-N-Out with lots of mysterious schtick, including the Secret Menu.  It’s fun.  I’m sure you’ve got your own local place.  Here’s to local.  

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
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. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI 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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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 to create a Brand Strategy Road Map

Slide1Master Brand Strategy Road Map

Having the brand road map on one page can help align everyone that works on a brand.   This is especially useful when managing a Branded House or Master Brand where there are various people in your organization that each run a small part of the brand.  The road map helps guide everyone and keep them aligned.  

Here’s the one I use that has all the key elements that help define the brand:

Slide1

Key Elements
  • Brand Vision:  It’s the End in Mind Achievement.  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.  
  • Purpose:  Start with what’s in you:  Why do you exist?  Why do you wake up in the morning?   What’s your purpose or cause behind your brand?   Very personal and connects to your own story.  In the spirit of Simon Sinek:  “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
  • Brand Idea:   A Beloved Brand is an idea that’s worth Loving.  As Brands become more loved, they go beyond being just a product and they become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs in the consumers life.  
  • Five Connectors With the Consumer:  Under the Brand Idea are 5 Sources of Connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers and drive Brand Love, including 1) the brand promise 2) the strategic choices you make 3) the brand’s ability to tell their story 4) the freshness of the product or service and 5) the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.   Here’s an example of how these 5 connections would look for the Special K brand. 

Slide1

  • Brand Values should come from the DNA, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise.  How do you want your people to show up?   What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation?   What type of people do you want to hire?  What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions.   The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for. To read more this subject read the following:  Brand = Culture
  • Goals:  While the vision serves as a 10 year big goal, it’s also important to have annual goals to push and challenge everyone in the organization.  It’s a great way to ensure milestones on the pathway to the vision are being hit. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. which means they should be specific, measurable, attainable,relevant and time-sensitive.
  • Strategies:  These are potential choices you must make in HOW to get to the vision.  Good strategy has focus, early win, leverage and a gateway to something even bigger.  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.  There are four main types of strategy:  1) consumer oriented 2) competitive oriented 3) operational and 4) financial.  My recommendation is that Master Brands have 3-5 key strategies, but never more.  This forces you to focus.  
  • Tactics:  Activities and executions that fit under the strategies. This could be advertising, media, sales, events, social media and professional influence.   I recommend focusing on 3 key tactical areas per strategy, continuing to ensure focus.  

With this format, having it all on one page forces focus and allows you to keep a tight control over those that will be working under the Master Brand.

Here is an another example of the 5 connectors using Apple:

Slide1

House of Brands

When working with a house of brands, where you have multiple brand names under one corporate name (P&G, Kraft, General Mills and Johnson and Johnson) the brand plan would look different.  The big differences are the teams are smaller and the culture of each team usually follows that of the corporate name.  

Here’s a good example of a Brand Plan that would fit within the House of Brands and here is the related story on How to Write a Brand Plan

Plan 2.0

Use your Brand Plan to keep everyone on the same page

 

Slide1


Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.

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

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:

10 Annoying Things that give Marketers a Bad Reputation. STOP IT!

x

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.  shamwow-ad-tbiThe 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.  UnknownI 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”?

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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:

Ask Beloved Brands to help you improve your brand or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

12 Thought Starter Quotes to challenge and inspire Brand Leaders

Here are some thought starters that I hope one of them gets you to think about your role as a Brand Leader just a little bit differently.

 

“Consumer Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes people stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”

 

“When picking a target market, focus all of your limited resources against trying to matter the most, to those who really care”

 

“Half way between the exactness of Science and the unknown of Art lies the power of an IDEA that can bring them together”

 

“Everyone wants to be an out-of-the-box thinker.  How about being an in-the-box thinker, where the box is your strategy”

 

“The most Beloved Brands are either different, better or cheaper.  Or else, not around for very long”

 

“Consumers don’t care what you do until you care what they want.  Instead of just yelling what you do, put yourself in the consumers shoes and ask yourself 5 times “so what do i get?” and then ask another 5 times “so how does that make me feel?”

 

“If your brand only has 3 strategies and each strategy only has 3 tactics, then you should be able to do an amazing job on all 9.  Much better than the current list of 123 things you’re trying to do”

 

“The better the people, the better the work, the better the business results.  So then, are you doing enough to make your people better?”

 

“Ask “Do you love it?” and watch their eyes to see if they tell the truth.  Because, if you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?”

 

“A Beloved Brand uses the love consumers have for the brand to replicate the positional power of a Monopoly.  And from that power, the Beloved Brand drives stronger growth and higher profits.”

 

“Smart Media Plans start with understanding where the customer is, not where the media is”

 

“Most marketers will tell you that branding is about positioning and communication.  But positioning is actually just a means to driving growth and making money”

Challenge yourself to get better every day.  

 

To read more about Beloved Brands and how to turn love into more power and profits:

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. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

Brand LeadershipI 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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

 linkedin-groups-large             images-1              facebook-logo

To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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 to Determine your Brand’s Health using Brand Funnels

Brand Funnels

Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel–what’s causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors.  brand-funnelA classic funnel would measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal.  But in the change of consumer behavior over the last 10 years, I would now add SEARCH between consider and purchase.

At the very least, you should be measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates.  While sales, share and profits are the obvious measurements of a brand, they are easy to see but are the end result.

Brand Health vs Brand Wealth

When we first analyze a brand’s performance, we start by looking at the wealth of the brand and look at things like sales, share, margins.   That’s a great starting point, but anyone can see those numbers.  But that’s like judging someone’s health just by looking at them.  You’d miss out on the cholesterol, blood pressure and the internal health an xray or MRI might show.   Looking at Brand Health would include looking at how well the brand funnel performs, voice of customer, satisfaction scores and any major changes in market trends.  Think of Brand Wealth as the measures you can easily see, and the Brand Health as those measures you can’t easily see.  

Slide1The brand funnel provides a  rich diagnosis of the true health of the brand before they even show up in share reports and provides possible indicators of future performance.  Almost like a finger print, every brand has a unique brand funnel.  Your brand will have certain strength as well as leaks in the funnel.

Analyzing Brand Funnels

Here are the five steps to analyzing the brand funnels.

Slide1

  1. First take a look at the absolute Brand Funnel scores, compare them to last year, compare to competitors and versus the category norms.  An Indifferent brand will have a skinny funnel, a Like It brand will have a funnel that quickly narrows near purchase.  Loved Brands will have a more robust funnel, maybe with one easily identified gap.  And Beloved Brands have no gaps on the funnel. 
  2. Then you want to look the Brand Funnel Ratios, finding the percent conversion from one stage to the next.   To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel.  For instance in the example above, take the Familiar score of 87% and divide it by the Awareness score of 93% and the ratio conversion is 91%.  That means that 91% of those who become Aware will move to Familiar. Slide1
  3. What’s most useful is to compare the Ratios of your Brand to the Ratios of your nearest competitor.  In this second part of the analysis, the ratio becomes the focus.
  4. You then want to compare the ratios, finding the gap at each of the stages.  You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand.
  5. Analyzing the difference between the two brands finds the biggest gaps and begins telling a strategic story for the gap.
Matching the Funnel up The Brand Love Curve

In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life.  At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings.  Consumers become outspoken fans.  It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with.  The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand.  It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.

With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently.  The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand.  They just don’t care.   It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”.  In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant.  But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved.  Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage. 

  • Indifferent: When you are indifferent, you’ll have a very skinny funnel, starting with very little awareness and consideration.  The issue is no one really knows about your brand.  What could be holding your brand back is a) concept that’s not breaking through into the marketplace b) poor execution behind the awareness driving programs or c) lack of investment behind the right strategy.  The strategic focus should be on driving Awareness and Consideration to establish your brand into the minds of consumers and in the marketplace.  Align the brand promise and the communication of that brand promise to begin gaining customers.  
  • Like It:  At the Like It stage, the funnel is fairly strong at the top but quickly narrows at purchase and has a very weak bottom part of the brand funnel.  As people see your brand as a good rational choice, they might consider it and use it, but it lacks separation from the other brands and it’s missing that emotional connection.  Brands stuck here usually focus on what they do (features) and not what the consumer wants (benefits)  In the funnel, you’ll see pretty strong awareness and consideration but you’ll lose out at the purchase stage and have no real repeat or loyalty at all.  You’ll notice fairly high trade spend just so you can keep your share going–and you use price as a weapon to close the deal.  The best strategy here is to begin to Separate Your Brand from the clutter of the market, by establishing a brand promise based on benefits–rational and emotional.  A brand like Dove was at the Like It stage back in the 1990s.  Only when they could shift from talking about themselves to talking about the consumers would they be able to establish more love for their brand.  
  • Love It:  At the Love It stage, the funnel starts to fill out, but might still have some gaps.  Your focus should be on taking the connection consumers have with your brand and drive repeat and loyalty.  Strategically, focus on ways to Tug at the Heart of your consumers so you can strengthen that connection you have.  This is where you take a little bit of love and try to become a Beloved brand.  And you should aggressively analyze any gaps on the funnel and attack them.  Also, once you start to see strength versus one of your competitors, you can start to leverage that power to squeeze them out and attack their weaknesses on the brand funnel. When Samsung started to become a Loved Brand in the TV market, they took all that power to own the in-store environment shutting out brands like LG, Sharp and Panasonic.   They shifted some spend from Awareness down to Purchase.  Samsung now is using the cell phone and very emotional programs to try to shift from a little bit of love into a Beloved Brand.  
  • Beloved Brand:  At the Beloved stage, the brand funnel should be very robust, better than any competitors.   With such strong funnel, the strategy shifts towards  Continuing the Magic with creativity in marketing programs or Innovation in the product.  The analysis here is to keep analyzing  the funnel over time and versus competitors on a regular basis and any weakness is attacked immediately before a competitor can discover and utilize.  A Beloved Brand like Special K with all their success, has decided to attack their original cereal formula to improve the taste.  

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Attack Your Gaps

I encourage brands to analyse the Leaks by looking at how the consumer might move along the brand going from Indifferent (unaware, not noticed) to Like It (interested, bought) to Love It (satisfied, repeater) and Beloved Brand for Life (Fan, outspoken).  At each stage, match up what the consumer feels about the brand as well as what the possible reasoning for why they might reject the brand.

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Brand Leaders like Sony, started to see cracks at the purchase stage as consumers started seeing just how much better Samsung when they were able to compare brands at the store level.  In fact, people hung onto the Sony brand much longer than they should have.  That’s actually a sign of the power that Beloved Brand status gives you.

Use Brand Funnels to Track and Manage the Health of Your Brand

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
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  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. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

Brand LeadershipI 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

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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 to Conduct a Key Issues Review

Brand LeadershipFrom my consumer-packaged-goods marketing days, I learned the discipline of asking the right questions, before moving to figure out the solution.  Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They first dive deep to make sure they understand what is truly happening.  Then 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.  So it fits that you should do the work to figure out the right questions on the business before figuring out the right answers.  

The right questions are the Key Issues.

The 5 Steps to Doing a Key issues deck:
  1. Start with ‘Straw Dog’ Vision Statement to help frame where you want to go.  
  2. Analysis: Top 3 Drivers, Inhibitors, Risk & Opportunities.
  3. Summarize the Brand Health vs. Wealth, cutting it at both Internal and External. 
  4. Then using the ‘straw dog’ vision as a beacon and the analysis to explain what’s happening; Brainstorm all the things getting in the way of you achieving your vision.  You might come up with a list of 10=20 issues.  Group them, narrow them, sort them.  
  5. Vote to Narrow to the top 3-5 Key Issues. 

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Straw Dog Vision Statement

A straw dog vision is really a big huge goal.  Put yourself in your shoes 5-10 years out, and ask yourself what would the 3 things you want to have achieved on that date?  What would give you a sense of accomplishment?  I use the ‘straw dog’ version more as a place holder at this point, and would keep re-fining the vision through the long-range strategic planning process.  The role of the vision within the Key Issues process is to open yourself up beyond the current day-to-day muck and get you to think bigger.  This allows the issues to become bigger and more strategic. 

Force Field Analysis

There are a few possible options you can use, but for real live businesses, I prefer the Force FIeld analysis:  What are the factors currently driving your business?   What are the factors inhibiting your business?   The drivers are about momentum that you are seeing on your business and you want to keep going.   The inhibitors are the things holding you back and need to be reversed or knocked down.  Always keep in mind, these two factors are happening now. 

When you then layer in the Opportunities and Threats, these are not happening, but could happen.  The opportunities could be things such as new markets you want to enter, new technologies or an untapped area you’re seeing. You want to raise these ideas and opportunities to management in an assertive selling way. Threats have to be real, not pie in the sky maybe’s.  These could be competitors coming into the market, changes in regulations and changing customer behavior.  

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Actions coming out of the Force Field

  • For drivers, you want to Continue/Enhance:  Stay focused on things going right, keep accelerating and driving them.   Continuous improvement.
  • For inhibitors, you want to Minimize/Reverse.  Close the leaks, develop turnaround plans or re-focus the team against the trend.
  • You want to Take Advantage of the Opportunities.  Build plans to mobilize the brand to see if the opportunity is a winning space for the brand.
  • For the Threats, you want to Avoid or build Contingency plans.  Identify and measure the risk, explore plans to avoid.   Fill the gap before a competitor.

For new businesses that are yet in the market, I might switch it up so that Drivers become Strengths that speaks to the assets we’re bringing to the market and Inhibitors become Weaknesses that showcase potential gaps in the business.  Another good analysis for a brand that is impacted severely by the environment is a PEST analysis where you look at the Political, Economic, Social and Technological.  

Deep dive on each Driver and each Inhibitor

Narrow down your list of inhibitors and then a best-in-class deck would blow out the details around each driver and inhibitor with a page or two for each.  Looking at the example below, of a one-page explanation behind an Inhibitor, you want 4 key attributes on the one pager:

  • List out the Driver/inhibitor
  • Use a key visual or chart that showcases the data and facts behind the driver/inhibitor.  
  • Tell the fact-based story with 2-3 argument points.  
  • In the box at the bottom, you should call out a potential action to address this driver and inhibitor. 

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Brand Health and Wealth

A great analysis I recommend is to do a Brand Health vs Brand Wealth.   Think of the wealth as things you can see connected to things like sales, shares, margins or profits.  For Health, it’s the things you can’t see, like trial, repeat, processes etc.  just like a human, you can’t judge the health just by looking at someone.  You need to dig deep and understand below the surface.  Breaking it this way gives us four key boxes

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  • External Health: Connecting with consumers is a source of power for brands. Understand the brand funnel and It’s impact on the results. How your consumer sees your brand, starting at awareness, trial, repeat all the way down the brand funnel to brand loyalty.  Build on your strengths and attack your weaknesses
  • External Wealth: Healthy win in the marketplace.  Beloved Brands can leverage success into power and drive wealth.   Beloved Brands are more efficient, higher sales, lower costs, better margins, higher over all profits. 
  • Internal Health: What is the internal beacon that helps  all employees get it and live it.  The idea of the brand has to be embedded right into the culture in a consistent manner. They have to realize their impact on the end customer.
  • Internal Wealth:  Everyone focused on Profit and Value.  Assets, IP, culture, contracts, ownership. Lining up and delivering the brand promise to a clear set of objectives, helps employees see that they are contributing to and sharing in the brand wealth.   Everyone should understand where and how they impact profitability. 

A great example of why breaking it out this way is crucial is Apple in Q4 of 2012.  if we look at traditional measures, Apple had their highest sales ever, share  increased across all products, margins reached an all-time high, and yet we have to look at the Brand Health to see the stock price came crumbling down.  Apple’s innovation has slowed down, the intensity of feelings among the most loyal consumers has slipped due to challenges from Samsung and they seem to lack an internal alignment going forward.  Clearly the wealth of Apple exceeds the health, so the stock price began to reflect.

Key Issues
Start by looking at the Vision and Analysis and ask: what are the things getting in our way of achieving that Vision?  You might hold a brainstorm with your team and start with 20 things getting in the way.  Narrow it down, by starting to group things, elevate up to the next level or two and challenge to find the over-arching issue that might be made up of a few visible issues.  As a guideline, there should be 3-5 key issues per brand. The crucial part of key issues is getting to the right level.   If you have less, you are likely not detailed or specific enough, and if you have more…you should try to elevate some up to see if you can capture the bigger picture.   Play around with it, until it feels at the right level.
Since business has a history of using warfare examples, here are three ranges of key issues for what the U.S. government might have been looking at for the Iraq war:
  • Too Low:  How do we get more helicopters into Iraq?  This is too specific or too small.  Think about it, if there are other ways to get to the same goal (e.g. you could get more tanks) then the issue is too small.
  • Too High:  How do we drive Peace in the Middle East?  This is aspiration, but unrealistic.  If it feels too much to chew off, then it’s too big of an issue. 
  • Just Right:  What’s the most effective way to change Regimes in Iraq?  This talks closer to the overall objective…but with enough room to give strategic alternatives

Following the Gray’s Cookie Case Study example, here are the three Key Issues.

Slide1

The Power of Three’s:  

When I do these workshops, I force my teams tio use three’s whether it’s the driver and inhibitors or more importantly the Key Issues.  I like to see the teams focus more.  Forcing it down to 3 only might push them to look at the over-arching issues by looking bigger causes and issues than they first look at.

But most importantly, we ask the Key Issues in question format because the answer to that question is the strategy.  So, if you narrow it down to the biggest 3 issues that lines you up to having 3 big strategies.  I also recommend 3 tactics per strategy. That means, the Brand will have 9 major projects to spread the financial and people resources.  Even if you had 5 strategies and 5 tactics under each, you’d exponentially be up to 25 key projects.  I would bet that the quality on the execution of the 9 would exceed the execution of the 25 on the other brand.

Asking the Big Questions Leads to Big Strategies and Big Results

 

Here’s a learning session on Key Issues with a full case study using Gray’s cookies.  

Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement.  Before you even get into the creative brief, you should be looking at target, benefits and reason to believe.   To read how to write a Brand Positioning Statement, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write an Effective Brand Positioning Statement
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The creative brief also requires you to be looking at the Advertising Strategy that comes out of the Brand Plan.   The plan forces you 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. 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
  4. 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

Brand LeadershipI 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

 

Pick your Social Media vehicle and follow us by clicking on the icon below

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To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@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.