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. 

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. 

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.  

Slide1

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 lead a motivating Year End Review for Brand Leaders

BBI Learning LogoThe better the people, the better the work and in the end the better the results. 

As we come up on the year-end, it’s that time of year when we nervously sit down with our bosses and find out how the year went.  For most of us, it’s one of the most dreaded parts of the job, for both those delivering and receiving the news.  But helping to grow our people is one of the most essential parts of the Leader.  No matter how good your strategy or product is, without the greatness of your people you’ll never achieve the results you want.  We all have gaps and we should all be working on closing those gaps.  Performance Feedback is an essential role in the growth of our people.  But without pointing those gaps out and coming up with a plan, then the person will never really improve.

A challenge to you: if there are any surprises during the meeting, then you as a leader are not doing your job.  As the VP of Marketing at Johnson and Johnson, I had one-on-one quarterly performance check ins with all my direct reports.  And when I realized that my directs weren’t following my lead, I made the Quarterly Review process mandatory for everyone on the marketing team.  It’s my belief that marketers can grow faster than we think–but they can only grow with timely feedback.  Those quarterly meetings were honest and informal discussions–which made the year-end review very easy.  I also emailed out the written review document 48 hours ahead of time, giving people the chance to digest all the thoughts and to come prepared ready to discuss each point.

As a Marketing Leadership Team, we spent our greatest efforts around managing the people. We talked people performance in every one of our weekly meetings.  The directors were encouraged to bring up people examples of those who were shining and those who were struggling.  If one of the other leaders were not familiar with those that were shining, we’d set up a process or special project where they could become more aware.  We ranked everyone on the team once a year plus a mid-year check in on the rankings.  You have to be diligent in managing your team.

Skills, Behaviours and Experiences

Marketing Skills: Brand Leaders should be measured on the Core Marketing Skills.  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 30 Core Skills for a Brand Leader that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 30 core skills fall under the areas of:

  • Analytics
  • Brand Planning
  • Briefs
  • Advertising
  • New Products & Claims
  • Go-To-Market
  • Leadership
  • Management

You can use this checklist in a few different ways:  1) to see if someone is meeting the needs of the current job–it could be used to set someone up for a performance improvement plan or as a motivation to push themselves 2) for someone who is close to ready for promotion, but you want to close on a few specific areas before the promotion or 3) for your personal assessment to see what you want to work on.

The rating should compare against their peers.  It helps to highlight skill gaps where people should focus their attention.  Any scores in the 1 or 2 are concerning and need an action plan.  The gap could arise because it’s outside of their natural skills or it could just be because it’s been outside of their experience they’ve had.  It’s tough to be good at advertising until  you’ve worked on a brand with advertising.

Leadership Skills:  Below, I’ve outlined a Checklist of 12 Leader Behaviours of Brand Leaders that can be used to highlight potential gaps that some of our Brand Leaders may have.  These 12 leader behaviours fall under the areas of:

  • Accountability to Results
  • People Leadership
  • Strategic Thinker
  • Broad Influence
  • Authentic Style

In the Leader Behaviour space, we all have blind sides that we just can’t see.  This is where the 360 degree feedback can help people to see how they are showing up.  I know that as a Director, I was a Driver-Driver that caused me to have behaviour gaps around Influence and Style.  I had the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway” and I wasn’t getting what I needed from the strategy and accountability I was hoping for.  Once I was able to identify it and work on it, I was able to see a big improvement in my performance and the results started to pay off as well.   Without closing that gap when I was a director, I would not have been promoted and would have honestly been unable to lead the entire marketing team.

Experience:  Many of our gaps as Brand Leaders comes from not having the experience.  When managing others, expect quite a few mistakes in the first few and you might not get fully there until your 5th direct report. When sitting in the hot seat of advertising, you’ll start to realize just how complex it can be–you’ve got to stay on brief, keep the creative team motivated, make judgement calls at every stage of the process and keep your own management on side.  And at every level, you’ll start to notice that the pressure gets higher–whether it’s push for results, the ambiguity or meeting deadlines through your team.  Each of these takes experience.

With  your best people, make sure you identify the experience gaps they have and be fair to them with the next assignment.  It’s far too easy to keep relying on a person’s strengths but it’s more important that you round out that person’s experience.  If they advance too far without covering off those gaps, they may find themselves struggling later in the job.  I’ve known newly promoted directors who had very little advertising experience coming up that all of a sudden found themselves on a desk with lots of advertising.  Their team even had more experience than they did.  Regular people reviews can really help identify the experience gaps that people might have. 

 

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 do training on all skill levels of marketing, and we provide coaching for leaders wanting to improve.  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.

Is BBM 2.0 a really smart move or really stupid move by Blackberry?

bbmIf you missed it, the big news in the world of teens is the resurgence of the BBM brand.

And to me as a marketer, it has me baffled.  Back in the day, Yogi Berra was famous for saying things that at first glance were very stupid, but after you thought about them a little longer you started to wonder if they were genius.  (“No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded” or “The future aint what it used to be” or “never answer anonymous letter”)  So I’ve spent 48 hours wracking my brain on this one and I’m still remain highly confused by it.  Mind you, I was confused by BBM the first time.

What is BBM?

BBM stands for BlackBerry Messenger.  Back in 2006-2010, Blackberry was the phone of choice for business people.  Remember the term “crackberry”? One of the small services was BlackBerry Messenger that allowed you to send a direct message to another BlackBerry owner, faster than texting and you wouldn’t be charged by your carrier.   All you need was the other person’s PIN (Personal Identification Number).

It didn’t take long for teenagers to figure this out, and all of a sudden Blackberry quickly became the phone of choice for teenagers.  All of a sudden Blackberry shifted their target from “corporate VPs” to cool teenagers.  I think BBM 1.0 was a mistake for Blackberry as it took their eye off their true focus:  advanced phone and email technology for business leaders.  They lost their B2B stranglehold, they stopped innovating and then all of a sudden they were leapfrogged by both Apple and Android. Maybe in hindsight, it would have been smarter for Blackberry to sell the BBM technology and it’s membership to a brand more focused on the teen market.

Today, arguably, Blackberry is near death.  The people who have Blackberry Phones are those at the end of their 3-year plan or working for a company that doesn’t believe in trading up.  Blackberry, which once traded at $130 share price is now down at $8.  They’ve spent years trying to get back in the technology game and their latest launch would best be described as OK.   They are trying to sell the company–whether the brand has equity or just the sum of the Blackberry parts.  In fact, this past month Blackberry had to take out this ad:

bb ad

As the BlackBerry phones died, so did BBM, replaced by iChat, Kik, Snap Chat and any other tool the kids can find.  That is, until this week, when BBM for iPhone and BBM for Android launched, gaining 10 Million immediate customers as well at a pace of 500,000 per hour.  All over social media sites, such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, kids are listing their PIN so they can connect with each other.

BBM is a loved Brand

There’s a lot of pent-up love and Nostalgia for the BBM brand.  When you are 17, trust me, 2010 is the “good ole days”.  They all have such fondness for BBM as where they first became addicted to their phone.  

In reality, kids are turning to any new social media site where they can hide from their parents.  Once they found all their parents on Facebook, they ditched it for Twitter.  Maybe, they have figured out that Mom is now reading all your tweets and figuring out where you were at 3 in the morning.  The good news about BBM is that unless you have my PIN, you won’t be able to see what I’m doing.  As of this week, BBM is the new hang out for kids.

Why BBM makes sense:  BBM is clearly a BlackBerry Asset

Blackberry only really exists for one purpose:  to be sold at a higher asking price than today’s stock market price.  They are so boxed-in, there is really no way out.  So, they either need cash now, or at the least, an added source of revenue streams in the future.  Since they can’t find more cash by selling phones, maybe BBM represents an added source of revenue in the future.

BBM is free to consumers, but will turn a profit through a combination of marketing and advertising through some yet-to-be-launched features, such as BBM Channels which will allow users to amass followers and share content as well as allow BlackBerry to tailor and target ads towards individual users.  (sounds like Facebook)  Video and voice chatting services for BBM, which are currently available to BlackBerry users only, is also coming soon to the Apple and Android platforms “within months”

So now for Blackberry, BBM could quickly become an asset that might attract a new buyer to the company.   You would be buying the latest chat technology rage plus access to a concentrated list of millions of passionate consumers.

Why BBM DOESN’T make sense:  What Business is Blackberry in?

Every great brand understands what business they are in–matching up what they do really well with the consumer demand in the marketplace.  There are so many reasons that would make BBM out of scope.

    • BlackBerry doesn’t really understand teens.  Whether they understand corporate consumers still, is another question.  But that’s where they should be focused.  This fickle teen market will just drive you insane.  
    • BlackBerry is not a software or app company.  They are a device company, and they can’t take their eye off what’s next in the device business.  Even if they don’t get the next big thing to market, at least they can convince a new prospective owner they can.  
    • BlackBerry doesn’t know how to sell advertising space.  Selling advertising is a complete pain in the ass.  Does Blackberry really want to get into that?  Not only have social media sites struggled to sell advertising, mobile apps have struggled even more.  
    • Focus your efforts on finding a new owner. All that seems to be left is find a new owner.  Maybe BBM opens up the door to being bought by big social media players (Google or Facebook) but then they’d be stuck with everything else.  

So what’s next then?   Maybe just wait a few more weeks or months and package up the BBM assets and sell them off.

What is your take on BBM 2.0?  Crazy or Brilliant?

To read more on How to Think Strategically, read the presentation below:

 

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ABOUT 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 create a Brand Strategic Road Map 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.

When it comes to Social Media, here’s why most Brand Leaders still don’t get it

BBI Learning LogoEvery day we read about how Social Media is completely changing the landscape of marketing.  That’s a huge Statement.  Is it changing that much?  Has it changed you?  Or are you one of those Brand Leaders that keeps trying to figure out “HOW THE HELL DO I DO THIS?”  I think the statement really should say “Every day, we see traditional Brand Leaders still confused by Social Media with no clue what to do”.  Thank god we are past the “Like us on Facebook” stage and thank god we have stopped doing websites on how to cleanse a wound.   The next stage is to stop saying your brand is on Twitter when you have 57 followers and you send out a tweet every 3 weeks.

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, 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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The modern Brand Leader gets the power of being a loved brand.  When your brand is loved, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings and thinking is replaced by feeling.  Consumers become outspoken fans ready to speak out and battle competitive users.  Next time you want to leave a cocktail party but can’t convince your spouse to go, find an Apple user and tell them that Android is way better.  It will create such a fight that your spouse will drag your ass out of that party very fast.  Now, that’s brand loyalty.  

This connection between beloved brands and their consumer becomes a source of power for that brand to use.  In today’s world of Brands, the most Loved are the most powerful.  Brands like Starbucks, Google and Whole Foods aren’t using TV advertising, but instead they are taking their brand experience to social media and influencing their most loyal brand lovers to spread the word.  People post a picture of their Pumpkin Latte on Facebook and now 137 people now want one. 

The old school thinking is what gets measured gets done.  Old School media has always been about efficiency and the ROI (Return on Investment).  But New School media is about Impact and ROE (Return on Effort).  The influence of social media is like the new “invisible hand” that you know is there, but can’t always measure.  Yes, TV is and always will be the most efficient medium. It’s easy to stick with what you know and has a whole system of measurements.  But TV is an announcement medium, not an influence medium.  TV is best used for broad awareness and new news.  But it’s not as good at influencing as social media.   There are loved brands who still spend 95% of their ad budget on TV.   Yet, their TV ads tell us nothing new and fail to move the brand forward. The better spend would be take all that stored energy within their most loyal users and get them to influence their network of friends.  Your most loyal consumers become the medium for attracting new users.  

For Brand Leaders to get it, they should be living in the space of social media.  It’s a great chance for Brand Leaders to get in the shoes of your consumer, see how they live, hear what’s important to them, use their rich language and feel what they think about your brand.  Be active and be engaged.  You’d better hurry up though, because pretty soon what we see in front of us as new school media will be old pretty soon.  And then you’ll be completely out of it.

Take a Walk in their shoes of your consumers

 

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 media plan 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.

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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.

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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.

Building from Porter’s 5 Forces, up to 13 Sources of Brand Power

I remember 20 years ago when I was in business school and I learned Michael Porter’s 5 forces model as a way to understand the industry attractiveness and competitive intensity. It’s a great starting point for thinking strategically.  But, by any means, I’m not an economist, academic or even analytics junkie. I’m just a simple brand guy, who sees Porter’s Model as a great starting point to assess the power of your brand.  I’m not here to debate the model, just use it.

Using Porter’s Model for Brands

First of all, Brands can be anywhere from Indifferent to Like It to Love It all the way to being a Beloved Brand.  They sit somewhere on a made up mythical Brand Love curve. At Indifferent, you’re basically a commodity and you are only picked when your “product” is in front of the consumer.  Margins are low, price goes with the market and all off your marketing effort is around distribution and price.  As you move to Like It, you become competitive but the consumer only usually picks you if they see something logical in your offering that makes you appear to fit their needs.  At this point, brands should be trying to figure out:  are you better, different or cheaper?  Because while you might be playing in the mix of the other brands, if you’re not one of those three, then you might not be around for very long.  As you get more into the Loved and Beloved stages, the consumer starts to feel more and possibly think less.  You have a connection and bond with your consumer.  They are a fan, your brand is becoming a favourite part of their life and they build you into their normal routines.  They defend you, sell you and crave you at times.

The challenge for Brand Leaders is to start seeing that love as a source of power.  And that source of power as a means to making more money than if you had no love.  Marketers that “get it” see the connection between Love and Power and Profits.

Looking at Porter’s Model of the 5 Forces, we can see that a Beloved Brand can leverage all 5 forces as a competitive strategy to beat down on the less loved brands.  McDonald’s beats down on Burger King, Wendy’s and Hardee’s with such a force those brands now find themselves confused and suffering.

A Beloved Brand starts with a certain power over the buyer–whether that’s consumers or the channel.  In terms of CONSUMERS, they feel more and think less. It’s a part of them. They are fans, craving the brand and build it into their life. They can’t live without the brand.  And the CHANNEL needs the brand, caters to them, cannot stand up to them.  People would switch customers before switching brands.  The channel finds themselves Powerless in negotiations. They need the brand.  Slide1

Once the Beloved Brand has a power over the two main buyers–consumers and channel, they can use it over the other forces.  No real SUBSTITUTES can match the Beloved Brand.   It becomes less about product and more about connection and how consumer feels though the brand.  You end up with a Monopoly on feelings which then takes away ability to substitute.  Unless it is “better” what really can the substitute do.  It is Hard for NEW BRANDS to break through.  New brand starts in the rational position difficult to break the emotional bond.  And SUPPLIERS are at the mercy of the brand.  High volumes drive down costs and margins.  Suppliers build completely around brand. Can’t get out.

The Beloved Brand commands a power over their competitors in relative terms to their competitors whether it is Buyers, Substitutes Suppliers or New Entrants.  If you look at the love consumers have for a brand like Apple, you can start to see how it becomes a power. Apple uses the love to replicate the power of a monopoly.

Going Beyond Porter

Porter is a great starting point for assessing brand power.  But Brands are in the midst of a huge change on a few fronts. The obvious one people can see and touch is Media.  But don’t forget to look beneath the surface and you’ll start to see a bigger change in brands than media and that’s the Brand Culture and the Conversations.

Slide1There are now 5 types of media:  paid, earned, social, search and home media. Back in the 1970s, it was all about advertising through PAID MEDIA, with 30 second TV, print and out of home ads.  Even with Paid media, the Beloved Brand can get Better slots, lower rates and more integrations.  The first social media I would argue is PR, capturing EARNED MEDIA and becoming part of the conversation at home or at the lunch table at work.  A Beloved Brand is more newsworthy and their New Products are lead story. Look at the amount of positive press Apple gets from the news media.  HOME MEDIA would be how you use your home page–whether to influence or sell.  For a Beloved Brand, the website can  engage inform, design and sell.  As part of the SEARCH process it can be the destination.  For a Beloved Brand, search is a winner, because Being a famous brand beats paid SEO.  For SOCIAL MEDIA, a Beloved Brand has an easier time generating social spins, where advocates follow, share and spread the news.

As we take all that influence of media, we can start to see the influence of others can have on brand choices.  KEY INFLUENCERS are more likely to actively recommend a Beloved Brand they feel emotionally connected. Look how Apple uses key influencers.   And what is a growing area for Brand is CONVERSATIONS and the influence of popularity on our decisions.  Beloved Brands know that a line up attracts a line.

Brand = Culture.  Brand and Culture are one.  Advocates want to work there. Fully Engaged on Day 1. The area many brand leaders are missing is the influence of CULTURE as a source of brand power.  Brand Leaders should look to Culture as an Asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  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. Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right  people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences.  Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values.  Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall.  Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results.  Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training.   Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your R&D.

So with these 13 sources of Power, the Beloved Brand can leverage this power to drive higher growth and deeper profits.  The Beloved Brand commands a premium price, lower costs, better shares and the ability to move into new categories.  Each of these drives profit for the brand.

The more LOVED the brand, the more POWERFUL the brand.  

 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

To read more on this subject, read the following presentation:

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

 

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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 best Execute your Brand Execution Plan

Brand LeadershipIf you are getting tired of me saying “FOCUS” then you might want to stop reading.  I’m not quite getting tired of saying it just yet.  I’ve talked about focusing on a target, a single benefit when we went through brand positioning and creative briefs. I’ve talked about ONE big idea that the brand can stand for. I’ve talked about focused strategies when it comes time to annual brand plans and brand strategy road maps.  I’ve even talked about focused media when it comes time to communication plans.  

FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS!!!

So now as we move on to the execution plan, should we still focus?   Of course.  As you execute, you are constrained by 3 things, time: people and money.  

My challenge to all brand leaders looking at an Annual Brand Plan is to pick 3 strategies and 3 tactics per strategy.   That means 9 things to do really well.  Sounds kind of crazy right?  It gets crazier when I tell you to put 50 to 75% of your resources to the 3 most important tactics overall.  If you have 7 strategies and 7 tactics per strategy, then you’re now doing 49 things compared to my 9 things.  If I asked you to pick your most important 9, and we compared how good of a job we both did on executing, then I believe my 9 would kick your 9’s ass.  In fact, there’s a good chance your team hasn’t gotten to 1 or 2 of your most important 9. When it comes time to execution, focus means I can do a better job, bring some passion and magic to each tactic.  Focus means impact, because I am able to put enough resources against it to be noticed and that impact might be the start of me driving a return on investment.

I once had a Director working for me that kept generating so many ideas that none of them ever got executed.  Every day, 5 new ideas for his team to look into.  The team was in chaos and ready for revolt.  So I asked to see his quarterly project list and he came in proudly showing me 81 projects they had to do in the next 12 weeks.  I was dumbfounded and said “narrow it down to the top 5 most important projects”.  He said “they are all important”.  About an hour later I had his finance director in my office telling me that he was overspent by 20%.  While I couldn’t convince him to focus, he didn’t survive the quarter.

Every day I must tell at least 5 people they need to focus more.

Beloved Brands Start with a Big Idea

The most beloved brands are based on an idea that is worth loving. It is the idea that connects the Brand with consumers.  And 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.  Everyone wants to debate what makes a great brand–whether it’s the product, the advertising, the experience or through consumers.  It is not just one or the other–it’s the collective connection of all these things that make a brand beloved Look at a brand like Special K who for years was offering a low fat low calorie cereal with modest success.  Only when they came up the Big Idea of “empowering women to take control and maintain their healthy weight” were they able to align their brand to connect with consumers and drive success. Slide1 Special K created the powerful Brand Promise that with Special K, just twice a day for 2 weeks, you can lose 6 pounds or better yet, drop a jean size.  The brilliant strategy is around the usage occasion of the second meal each day.  Cereal had been a category that grew +3% for years, steady only with population growth and some demographics around boomers and echo generations.  But now, there was finally a reason to eat cereal twice in one day.  The communication of the Brand Story become about empowering women to take control using the Two Week Challenge.  With a Brand Idea bigger than just a cereal, Special K’s innovation rivalled that of Apple.  It started with the launch of Berry Special K that thrust the brand into a good tasting cereal, and has since added bars, shakes and water.  Most recently, they’ve now launched potato chips (only 80 calories for 20 chips) and a Breakfast Sandwich option.

What is your big idea?  And how will you align your promise, strategy, story, innovation and culture around that big idea?

The 3 Step Process

When I was at the Brand Manager stage of my career I remember being frustrated when I had to take my plan to the agencies.  We spent so much effort trying to get everyone on the same page, aligning the tactics behind the plan, doling out the money and then waiting to see the execution ideas coming back from the ad agency, the in-store agency, our professional agency, PR agency etc etc.  We’d see each idea and we’d try to piece them all together into a cohesive plan.  Then I came to the point where I had finally had it with playing traffic cop.   And came up with a simple “3 Step”:  

  • Step 1: Briefing
  • Step 2:  Ideas
  • Step 3: Tactical Plan.

Slide1

Once you get your Brand Plan approved, you now start in on the execution Here’s the trick of how this works best.

For Stage 1, you get every agency in the room and you give them a 2 hour briefing so that everyone hears the same message.  At this stage, I like to give agencies a high, medium and low-budget level, which gives me the control and flexibility to move dollars around to the best ideas.  Yes, it creates some competition but that just makes my plan better.

At stage 2, we do an entire day where the agencies present their best ideas with everyone in the room at the same time.  Everyone hears the best ideas and hears why I’m excited about those ideas.  They might also hear what I don’t like or what I think might be missing.  The agencies present big ideas hoping to get to the higher dollar figure.  And we start moving money right in the room.  The feedback is direct, tough and yet challenging.  I love ideas that are aligned to the strategy and big idea and reject those that aren’t. Between stage 2 and 3 is usually where the magic happens. The agencies actually decide to meet and start acting like one agency.  They get the feedback and start aligning their ideas together.  They come up with new tactics to re-earn any lost dollars.  

And by the time they come back to Stage 3, I’m now seeing a fully aligned and enhanced Tactical Plan  The process did the work for me.  All that frustration of me being traffic cop was replaced by the process. In year 2, this works even better.  And when you put it across all your brands like we did at Johnson and Johnson, it works even better.

Filtering the Best Ideas with THE BIG EASY

For Tactics to an annual plan, you can use a very simple grid of Big vs Small and Easy vs Difficult.  You can decide on criteria for Big and Easy, or you can use judgement.  Create the grid and put the ideas on post it notes you can then plot.  You’ll see the best of ideas rise to the BIG-EASY zone. The reason you want BIG is impact, to drive share and revenue growth.  The reason you want easy is to efficiently ensure it has a good return on effort, believing effort and investment have a direct link. Slide1

If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?

 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

To read more about creating Beloved Brands:

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:

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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.

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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 give Feedback to an Agency so the work gets Better

As our Ad Agency friends are partying it up in Cannes, I figured its perfect timing to talk about How to give Feedback to an Agency so the work gets better.   It’s funny how bad clients under-estimate the impact they have on the advertising work and yet good clients get it.  There’s this weird contradictory circle:  a) clients hire agencies based on work they do for other clients–many times better clients b) great agencies still make bad work–which highlights that good clients help make good work and c) the client is ALWAYS right, which means if you tell an agency to do something, they will.  If we put all three of those together.  

How they show up does more to make or break an ad than even how the agency shows up.   After all, the Brand Leader gets the “final say” on every aspect of the ad–brief, script, director, casting, music, budget and final edit.  The agency can only recommend.  What the Brand Leader does with that “final say” can make or break the ad.  

If you knew that how you show up to your agency got better work for you, do you think you would show up differently?

In terms of giving feedback at that first creative meeting, a Brand Leader can really only do three things.

    1. Approve an ad
    2. Reject an Ad
    3. Give direction on how to make the Ad better 

 If you’re sitting in the hot seat, how will you know?  It’s not easy to sit in the hot seat as the decision maker.  I’ve seen some Brand Leaders use all instinct, and no fundamentals.  They miss the most basic of things.  While other Brand Leaders strictly use fundamentals and forget to use their instincts.  They miss the magic or are the first to put together a Frankenstein from various things on the brief.

Before You Get Started:  How will you Judge the Ad?  Here are the ABC’S of Advertising 

Here’s a potential tool you can take into the room that is very easy to follow along.  You want to make sure that your ad delivers on the ABC’S which means it attracts  Attention, it’s about the Brand, it Communicates the brand story and Sticks in the consumers mind.  

  • 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. Slide1
How to use Feedback to make the Work Better

I’ve seen guys go in with pure instincts and spin around in circles.   My suggestion would be to use your instincts but be guided by a process that can help you judge the work.  Look at sports as a metaphor, there’s instinct used in every sport, but the superstars of any sport (Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps) are disciplined in their approach and then let instincts go on top of the fundamentals.   So use the ABC’S above, and then let your instincts take over.

The Creative Meeting is not Easy.  You’ve got to balance, the head, the heart and the gut against the good of the brand.  Take your time and sort it through asking the following questions:

  1. Do you love what it can do for your brand?  If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it?  A great ad has to have everyone’s heart and soul put into it.  If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta ok” in the end.  If you love it, you will fight for it.  (The Heart) 
  2. Is it on strategy?  Is the Advertisement an expression of what you have been writing in your strategy documents?   Is it doing what we hoped it would do?  I love the ABCS technique (outlined below) because it helps me to frame things in my mind, so I can evaluate it past how I feel.  I think you need something to ground yourself.  (The Head)  If  there is something in your gut says it’s off, it likely is.  (The Gut)
  3. Is it long-term Idea?  Is a big enough idea that fits with the brand, does the hard work you want to do for the brand and can last 5 years.  Think about leaving a legacy—which forces you to think of campaign-ability.  (The Brand)  Look at the Creative Brief and if the ad is not on strategy, then it has to be rejected   Advertising is an expression of strategy.  If it’s not on strategy, it has no value.  

slide15

Tips on Giving Feedback
  •  Remember to Relax and Smile:  I always find that the room gets so tense, stiff and serious: we forget to laugh, smile and be real. Imagine trying to present something funny to a room of deadly serious brand managers.  It helps motivate a nervous creative team. 
  • Give  the feedback in three ways:  a) First Impressions: during the presentation, it’s great to be engaged enough to say “I like that” or ask a question. b) Giving Direction: focus on what‘s working and how to make it better. Focus more on the board you like first, and then move to the ones you don’t like with less detailed feedback.   c) Leave the Detailed Direction on how to make it better for the day after.  Moving the details (copy points, placement, colours) to the next day, helps focus the immediate comments on big picture items.  Take 24 hours to digest all the little details
  • Focus on Direction, not feedback:  Feedback is static, direction has action and decision-making.  Speak on behalf of your consumer & your brand. 

You should agree upon a Feedback process with the Agency ahead of time and then use that consistently.  There are two main ways you could do it. Either give the feedback live where everyone talks or take a break and consolidate your thinking first..  I’ve done both, trained on giving feedback live, but have changed my opinion over the years and now I’m a fan of taking the break.   

Here’s the old tired Archaic 1950s style processes:
  1. Account Team re-reads the brief then they do a set up of each board, explaining the technique/process (e.g. this is funny)  Set ups can taint the client’s view of a spot. 
  2. Agency presents 3 scripts, and says which one is their favourite.  Potentially de-motivator if you ask for their favourite and then dismiss it.  A better question is “which spot did you find you kept coming back to, as you worked the process”.
  3. Client Feedback is given with the most junior person goes first, all the way up to the senior person in the room.  This feels very 1950s humiliation and de-motivating to the junior people on the team. 
I’d suggest you Take A 30-Minute client huddle helps because:
  1. Agency gets one piece of feedback.  Time allows client to get the story straight. The break helps to slow down process so the client can think things through.  
  2. Gives Ownership to the Brand Manager, who should do all the speaking on behalf of the team, not the most senior person in the room that over-rules them.
  3. Client Team has a very open discussion, freely hearing out everyone’s thoughts, giving the junior people easier input the final opinion.  Brand Manager hears everyone then consolidates it to one message.
Tips to help Clients provide Clear Decision Making Process in place
  • Decision Making: Team leader in the creative meeting room gives direction to make the work as good as it can be before selling it in.   This gives them ownership over the project. maximum to get it right.  When the VP or President attend the early creative meetings, the work doesn’t get better, it gets more complicated. 
  • Pre Testing Does Help:  Narrow the creative concepts down to 1-3, put into animatic format and test to determine success potential in the market.  Instincts are great, but having them confirmed by consumer feedback is even better.   
  • Selling the work in to the Organization.   The team leader accompanied by the senior account person (plus Creative Director if needed) should jointly sell it in the organization. 
  • Make sure you leave Enough Time:  While everything is a rush these days, a well run project, with adequate breathing space for creative ideas, 2-3 rounds of creative, potential testing and adequate time for development
  • Communication Goes Both Ways:  Exhibit the leadership style that welcomes feedback, and gives it.  Each side brings an expertise, the agency has advertising and communication expertise and the client brings consumer/brand expertise.
  • Seek Advice Beyond Advertising:   Good account people know what it takes to be a good marketer.   They can help you on the side.  And many times, their superior people skills can help a client that might be lacking in that area.   They also likely know how to sell to your boss, which can help you when you need to sell to your boss. 
  • Build a relationship with the Creative Team:  The creative teams want to engage with the client and will respect your attempts to get closer to them.   Like anyone, they will do a better job for those they know, respect and even admire.  Being the best client, will attract the best creative people on a given team.  They’ll want to work on your brand. 
  • Performance Improvements: Annual agency performance review, quarterly senior leadership discussion on what’s working/what’s not.  Ask “how can we get better?”, “how are my people doing?” and “how is the work?”. You can talk about the gaps you or your team might have, and ask for advice how to close those.
  • Let the Agency Make a Profit:  You can’t “nickel and dime” your agency.   Be open about your budget, but once set, let the agency work to that budget. 
If how you show up to the agency will produce better advertising work.  Then show up right. 

Follow me on Twitter @grayrobertson1

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising: 

 

If you are in the mood to see stories on great advertising, here’s a few other stories:

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. Good Advertising:  Here’s a list of 10 things that good advertising should do, whether that’s separating your brand, telling a story or being focused.  To read more click on:   10 Things Good Advertising Should Do
  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.

What’s your view on Tiger Woods as a brand? #1 in golf, #1 in endorsements (again)

As they are about to tee off at this year’s US Open, the question remains simply:  Will Tiger Win?   Even if you hate Tiger, you’re probably asking that.  Tiger has had 4 years of no majors.  He’s been a complete collapse in front of our eyes.  He’s been a complete idiot, his wife left him, sponsors fired him.  And yet, now he’s back to #1 in golf and incredibly back to #1 in endorsements.  He’s certainly not as popular as he was before the incident, at least among the masses.  But while there are less Tiger Fans, the depth of love the fans that remain is even more intense.   And for any brand, you’d rather be loved by a few than tolerated by everyone.  

From 1997, Tiger Woods was the media darling.  What a great story.  
  • His dad was a green beret and taught Tiger all the discipline of the green berets, which Tiger then transferred into the world of golf.  
  • The video clips of him as a 3-year-old hitting the driver on the Mike Douglas show.  Cute kid, who knew he’d one day wind up being TIGER WOODS.
  • He was a 3-time US Amateur Champion, a teenager, wearing shorts, skinny, hitting it longer than anyone else.  
  • Run-away winner of the Masters at 21-years old.  With that win, golf got younger, cooler and more urban.  
  • Tiger signed with Nike of all companies.  A cool new line of clothing, cool golf balls and  amazing TV ads.  
  • Every time Tiger was playing in a golf tournament, the TV ratings went through the roof.  tiger-woods-excitementWhat you may not realize is the TV network will show every shot that Tiger takes–and likely even cutaway to him arriving and hitting on the range about 3-4 times.  
  • He was the #1 golfer, indisputably the best ever.  Other superstars (Ernie, Phil, David, Sergio) were intimidated and would collapse in fear.  By 33, Tiger had 14 Majors, and destined to easily destroy Jack’s record of 18.  
  • He had an impeccably clean image.  He was completely wholesome all-american.  He was married to a Swedish Model who was a nanny, he had two darling kids.  He was nearly flawless.   Yes, he was intense on the golf course, but all was forgiven.  

This was a bit like Jack Kennedy, where the writers had suspicions, yet no one knew.  

The Comeback Story

America loves a comeback story.  Tiger’s Comeback wasn’t exactly smooth.  Following his indiscretions that led to the divorce and the sex addiction clinic, Tiger would get far worse before he’d get better.  On the course, he was a disaster, duck-hooking, missing short putts, missing cuts and collapsing when he looked like he might win.  Off the course, Tiger was a first class JERK.  He was rude to fans and reporters.  Temper tantrums.   He fired his long time Caddy.   He fired his swing coach.  The wholesome Tiger, who was the face of golf, was now the rude Tiger.  tiger2

Tiger was a lousy golfer in 2010 and was just OK in 2011.  He kept changing his swing.  Even the naked eye could see what was wrong with it.  At times, it looked like Tiger was done.  Late 30s now, might never catch Jack and looking like he was struggling.  By 2012, there were signs of Tiger was returning to form.  He won a few tournaments, was in contention in the majors. And by 2013, Tiger is back to being Tiger.  He’s won more than anyone this year, looks back to his dominant self.   Yet he still hasn’t won a major.  

Do you think Tiger will win 5 more majors and beat Jack?  Time is ticking.  

And as of 2013, Forbes has just announced that Tiger is now the #1 on Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes.  Forbes estimates that Woods pulled in $78.1 million over the last year from prize money, endorsements, appearance fees and golf course design work.   After the incidents of 2009, he lost five sponsors, $50 million in annual income, his place atop the world golf rankings and his marriage.  His resurgence on the links boosted his prize money over the last 12 months to $13.1 million, double his total from the prior year.  His endorsements include EA sports, Nike, Rolex, Upper Deck, TLC Eye Centers, NetJets, Japan’s Kowa and sports nutrition firm Fuse Science.

Nike was heavily criticized this spring for an ad they took out:  

woods1

What’s the Brand Lesson Here?

From 1997 to 2009, Tiger was popular among the masses.  When he was on TV, non-golf fans would grab a beer and watch.  He was liked by nearly everyone.  After 2009, he was an embarrassment and sponsors ran.  No one seemed to like him.  Those that loved Tiger loved him quietly, and were frustrated by his poor on course performance.  

I’m not in the Tiger club.  But i can feel those around me that are.  I can hear and feel the intensity.  And the intensity of those hoping he loses is fading.  

As we’re now in 2013, Tiger is back.  While not everyone likes him now, we can certainly see he has a core base of fans who LOVE him.  Tiger’s brand promise has been simplified to winning golf.  He’s not trying to be a great guy.  He’s trying to be an OK guy.  But the fans of Tiger just want to see him win.  They know he’s personally flawed and they really don’t care.  They are inspired to see the best golfer of all time.  It is always far better as a brand to be loved by a few than liked by everyone.  That love becomes a source of connection with core fans and a source of power for the Tiger brand.   With brand power, Tiger has been able to drive added revenue for himself off the course.  More shirts, more video games and more watches.  If Tiger wins a major and continues to be “an OK guy”, I suspect we’ll see a few main stream endorsement deals for Tiger.  

Tiger 2.0 is Loved by a few not liked by everyone.  

 

Follow me on twitter @grayrobertson1

 

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.

 

 

Is Social Media is the new “Invisible Hand”?

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

The Original “Invisible Hand”

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

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

Is Social Media the new “Invisible Hand”?

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

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

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

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

Brand Leaders View of Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

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 Powerful Vision Story: Dan O’Brien, US Olympian

dan-obrien-javelinAs a brand consultant, the biggest area where I see brands struggling is on the crafting a Vision Statement.  Most don’t have one, and those that do have these long convoluted statements that don’t really say anything.  Everyone adds their own two cents and it’s no longer a vision.  Pretty soon, your attempt at a vision looks more like a local bi-law explaining where you can fish, land your airplane and display real estate signs all in one statement.  

Let’s look at the story of Dan O’Brien:  He was a U.S. track and field super star back in the 1990s.  He competed in the Decathlon and won pretty much everything: World Champion, Olympic Champion, US Champion and World Record Holder that would stand for 10 years–a life time in the track and field world.  

Dan O’Brien

Even though he met tremendous success in his track career, it didn’t really get off to a great start.  O’Brien went to the University of Idaho on a track scholarship. He struggled with classes, excelled at partying, lost the scholarship and flunked out.  “I was just not prepared for what it took academically,” he recalls. “I’d get so far behind, I’d just give up.”  O’Brien went to work as a cabinetmaker in Moscow, Idaho. He fell into debt, kited checks and wound up in jail wearing a blue jumpsuit and flip-flops. Later, there was a DUI arrest.  He was clearly at rock bottom, and needed some inspiration to get himself out.  

At his lowest point, O’Brien  attended a decathlon clinic run by MILT CAMPBELL, the 1956 Olympic gold medalist, who asked each decathlete whether he had written his goals on a piece of paper and placed it his wallets. O’Brien said he immediately went to his room and wrote “9,000 points” on one side of a small piece of paper and “world’s greatest athlete” on the other.  “I wouldn’t have achieved what I have if I hadn’t set those goals,” he said. “I was a floater and as soon as I set solid goals, I could achieve what I wanted.”  With 9,000 points that would be the clear world record holder for decades to come.  World’s Greatest Athlete was always given to the reigning world champion of the Decathlon.  He kept that paper with him as inspiration and direction.  He didn’t know, but he had written a Vision Statement.  As he climbed out of his struggles, he went to a Junior College, starting to compete again.  He then started to compete on the world stage, keeping that note in his pocket.  By 1991, he won the World Championships Decathlon completing half of his Vision Statement.  His career was moving full steam ahead.  

In 1992, he was now at the US Qualifying event to get into the Barcelona Olympics.  As the current reigning world champion, it was natural that the US Olympic team was relying on O’Brien to make the team and bring home Gold for the Americans.  Same with TV networks, sponsors and event organizers.  Everyone had created all this hype of Dan vs Dave, in reference to the growing rivalry with Dave Johnson who was also a world-class Decathlete.  

eVCXAt the Qualifying meet for the US Team, O’Brien was in first place after 7 of the 10 events, looking as a shoe-in for the team.  But then came the high jump.  O’Brien made what seemed like an odd choice of going for a higher height than he needed to and he never cleared the bar after the required number of attempts.  He went from 1st place to 15th and missed qualifying for the Games.  People were stunned and confused.  Why would he go for the higher height, instead of settling for something that would keep him in contention to qualify.   Well, it comes back to the second part of his vision statement: 9,000 points.    Based on where he stood after 7 events, Dan’s calculations showed that he could only get to 9,000 points if he made the higher jump.  Yes, high risk, high reward but it was in line with his Vision.  Dan didn’t have “Olympic Champion” on his little piece of paper.  

Not qualifying for the games was a bit of a disaster for Reebok who had put all their money into O’Brien.  The US Olympic team was mad, fans were upset and NBC was furious.  But Dan kept pushing towards that dream of 9,000 points.  Only 3 months after the Barcelona Olympics, O’Brien set a world record of 8,860 points, a record that would stand for a decade.  And in 1996, he would go on and win Olympic Gold for his country.  

Why I love this story so much?   First, if you put everything in your vision statement it gets so watered down.  He could have put a laundry list, including Olympic Champion, Millions in endorsements, make tons of money and win every event.  But then it would just be he achieved 3 out of 5 things on his list.  But he decided to focus on what motivated him.  While you might wish he won the 1992 Olympic Gold, it wasn’t on his piece of paper.  He left off what wasn’t important and stuck to it.  You should do the same and you’ll find your vision statement offers you both focus and inspiration.  

A good vision should scare you a little bit and it should excite you a lot.  

A vision should open your mind up.  It should challenge your thinking.  Stretch you to think of things not immediately within reach.  

When Dan O’Brien looks back on his career, we can see how that little piece of paper drove him.  The fact that he’ll never reach his dream score of 9,000 points in decathlon rubs like a blister: “I came up short because I set the goal too low,” O’Brien says, grinning. “If I had tried to make 9,200, I might have got the 9,000.”

So how can you use this story to challenge yourself and your team to ask:  what’s would be on your piece of paper?

Does a Vision Statement Pay Out?

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

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

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

When I’m consulting, I pick a day 10 years from now and “so you wake up that morning and tell me what your brand is like for you to be happy”.  I normally ask this 5-10 times so that we start to get really rich answers.  This stretches the mind a bit.  The first 5 answers tend to be corporate BS that people thing they should say.  The problem with the corporate line is it won’t inspire you, it won’t challenge you and it won’t push you to exceeding it.  Case in point, my son was in grade 9, and his teacher asked everyone to write down what they hoped to get in the class.  He put 55%.  I asked why and he said “because I like to over-achieve”.  All laughing aside, you need goals that will push you just a little harder.   

Things that Make a Good vision: 
  1. Easy for employees and partners to understand and rally around
  2. Think about something that can last 5-10 years or more
  3. Balance between aspiration (stretch) and reality (achievement)
  4. It’s ok to embed a financial ($x) or share position (#1) element into it as long as it’s important for framing the vision.
The watch outs for vision statements:
  1. It’s not a positioning statement.  Almost positioning neutral  Let the positioning come out in the strategy.
  2. Make sure we haven’t achieved it already.  If you are #1, then don’t put “be #1”.
  3. Don’t put strategic statements.  Vision answers “where could we be” rather than “how can we get there”
  4. Try to be single-minded:  Tighten it up and don’t include everything!!   Can you say it in an elevator.  Can you actually remember it?  Can you yell it at a Sales meeting?
Ask yourself “Where Do you Want to be in 10 Years?” over and over until you see an inspiration.  

 

Follow me on Twitter at @grayrobertson1

 

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

 
  
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. 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

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.

Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad?

I have to confess, it’s a very cute ad.  It makes me giggle every time.  I’ve shown it to my teenage kids, I’ve posted it on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’ve watched it again and giggled more.  But is it a good ad?   And I guess the bigger question might be is it the right ad for K-Mart?

Here’s the ad:

Is it a Good Ad?

The test of a good ad that I use is the ABC’S of Advertising which is Attention, Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention:  A+  This ad definitely captures attention with a high degree of humor.  It’s as funny as a Seinfeld episode.  And for those of us, like me, it has that sharing power set up perfectly for social media.
  • Branding:  C+  The ad doesn’t do that great of a job with the brand.  And right now, K-Mart is definitely at the Indifferent stage of the Brand Love Curve, so what it really needs is to help separate the brand from the pack.  Other than scoring for “this brand is funny”, this doesn’t really separate K-Mart out from the pack?   I’d likely give this a higher score if the brand was targeted to a younger audience or if it was in an edgier category, the joke would have been a perfect fit for (e.g.  EB Games or West 49)
  • Communication:  B+   If K-Mart’s only objective is to establish that it does shipping, then it would be A+, but because of the vast needs for the brand, I’m a bit surprised they can turn K-Mart around by offering free shipping.  This does nothing to separate the brand:  LL Bean can ship pants, but LL Bean has pants I want shipped.   The other weird part of the communication is that 90% of the visuals are IN the store yet the real big win is there’s an on-line play.  If it’s IN the store, most items in a mass merchandiser store are so small that you don’t need them shipped.   So I’m saying mixed.
  • Stickiness:  A  It certainly sticks and the amount of sharing and talk value it has generate helps. It may be polarizing to certain segments of the mass audience–some may be offended–so it may stick for the wrong reason with the wrong circumstances.

So overall, I’d rate the ad a solid B+ to A=.  Very funny Ad.  

But, is it the right Ad for K-Mart?

Let’s look at the K-Mart strategy through the lens of the 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.

Slide1

Brand Promise: The promise as stated is you can now get all the great stuff at K-Mart shipped right to your house.  Who is the target?   Based on the tone of the ad, you would think it’s such a younger audience, but does a younger audience shop at K-Mart.  I know there will be people say “well with this funny ad, maybe now kids will shop there?”   Really?   Is that how you think advertising works?  

Strategy:  I’m not quite getting the strategy here.  K-Mart is nearly bankrupt and has not had a true reason for being for  the last 40 years.  Brands are either different, better or cheaper.   Wal-Mart beats it on price, Target beats it on style.  

Story:  The is trying to deliver the brand promise, but the tone feels wrong.  As Ted Mathews, author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo* (*It’s what people think of you.) said “The K-Mart ad is completely off-brand character.  It will alienate the last remaining 50+ customers they have.  This is what happens without a Brand Foundation.  

Innovation:  This is 2013.  E-Commerce isn’t really innovative is it?  The idea that I can order pants on-line and have them shipped to my house might have been innovative around 1997.   But nowadays, buying pants on-line doesn’t exactly say “Hey Everyone K-Mart is really innovative”.  

Experience:  If there was a brand death pool, K-Mart would be near the top of the list.  Every time I drive by one, only then am I reminded that they still exist.  And then I say “why?”.  As I watched this ad, my first reaction was “yeah, but they are still crappy pants that no one wants”.  It reminds me of the Woody Allen joke:  “this steak is awful and the portions are so small”.  Yes I can ship the pants, but quite frankly, I don’t want the pants.  

Using these 5 Connections, I would say that, other than a funny gag, the ad does nothing to connect consumers with the K-Mart Brand. 

Ship My Pants: Good Ad, Wrong Brand

 

Follow me on Twitter @GrayRobertson1 

Follow Ted Mathews on Twitter @WeWantTed

 

To read more about getting Better Advertising, follow this presentation:

 

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.

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:

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 will Brand Leaders Win with Media in the Future?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Can Newspapers even Survive? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.  Are there too many Social Media Options?

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

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

6.  Will New Media people ever be able to Convince Brand Leaders of what they Should do?

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

When It Comes to New Media, Brand Leaders still need to be Fundamentally Sound

 

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

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.

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:

 
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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.