Archive for the ‘marketing’ Tag

All Brands Need is Love

The other day a colleague pointed me to BBC’s 1 hour documentary on Steve Jobs called “Billion Dollar Hippie” (I’d send you a link but then the copyright owners might yank it. Google it for now). There’s a line around the 40 minute mark of the video where they’re telling the familiar story about the iMac and how its success was attributed to its unique design and how Apple managed to make a computer fashionable. Then came a line that not only captures the brand essence of Apple, a quote from iMac’s designer, Jonathan Ives, “We have to make this something people will LOVE![emphasis added by me]. “Love” according to my colleague, should be the thing to which every brand aspires.

Every brand? I wasn’t so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘love brands’. I’m typing this post on my beloved MacBook. I have a protective case and an InvisibleShield screen protector for my iPhone. I find Porter Airlines and the Toronto Island Airport (Yes I know it’s officially called Billy Bishop Airport) experience absolutely lovely. I think I’m falling in love with this (new to my neighbourhood) frozen yogurt chain from California called Menchies. As a professional marketer, I love to work on ‘love brands’. And yet, there’s a ton of no-so-loved brands that do perfectly fine if not thrive in the marketplace. Take a look at the top 10 companies in the 2011 Fortune Global 500…only one of them, Toyota, still going strong despite its massive recall in 2009 and the Tsunami, has some ‘love brands’ in its roster.

  1. Wal-Mart Stores
  2. Royal Dutch Shell
  3. Exxon Mobil
  4. BP
  5. Sinopec Group
  6. China National Petroleum
  7. State Grid
  8. Toyota Motor
  9. Japan Post Holdings
  10. Chevron

You see what I mean. While I’m uncomfortable to say it, the evidence suggests that you don’t have to be loved to be successful. So that got me thinking…maybe love and not-so-loved brands can co-exist in the same marketplace. While being loved can be a competitive advantage, there must be other ways to gain competitive advantage and maybe being loved is something a marketer can choose a brand to be or not to be.

Enter Advertising Age’s ad critic Bob Garfield, someone not known for jumping on the latest marketing bandwagons. In what I think will become a landmark cover story, Garfield writes, “Say goodbye to positioning, preemption and unique selling position. This is about turning everything you understood about marketing upside down so that you can land right side up. This is about tapping into the Human Element. [bold face added]”

Notice that branding was not in his goodbye list. That’s because branding and brand building is more important than ever before. “…you are being evaluated 24/7 in countless conversations that have zero to do with your ad slogan. On the contrary, they are about your brand’s essential self–which behooves you to think very hard about your essential self.”

“Your essential self.” In other words, we judge brands pretty much like we judge other people. We dislike insincere brands in the same way we dislike insincere people. We love those that we connect with emotionally and who we trust. Why do we tell brands to be authentic? It’s the same thing we tell people before their date…”Be yourself!”

Authentic, trustworthy, brands with whom we emotionally connect have staying power. The others do too…but they won’t get our love. Imc2’s “Brand Sustainability Map” charts out this brand universe where the love and not-so-loved brands co-exist.

Brand Sustainability Map

At the top-right are the familiar “love” brands but next to them and below them are brands that have enough to keep them going for a while. Emotional relationship brands aren’t maximizing that connection to its full potential or are missing something. In the bottom left are the reluctant relationship brands. These brands have traditional competitive advantages like high switching costs, high barriers to entry from competitors, patents, etc. which might explain why there’s a phone and cable company in that quadrant.

So love brands, not-so-loved brands, and even bland brands can co-exist. It’s the same with other people in your life. You don’t love everyone you know; some people are just friends and some people are that bland acquaintance who’s a friend of a friend who you see at parties but don’t pay much attention to ’cause they’re kind of…meh.  So here’s the thing. No one wants to be that ignored bland guy. Most of us want to be loved…or at least…not be bland. So how we get there? That’s for another post.

The Art of Marketing Recap

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of watching five amazing speakers at the top of their game at The Art of Marketing. Here are some takeaways.

Avinash Kaushik

We don’t like throwing around the G-word that often but Avinash is a true guru when it comes to web and social analytics. His blog Occam’s Razor, is a staple on many an analyst’s RSS reading list and he is an impassioned speaker that didn’t pull any punches. Fortunately, none of the companies that he pointed out needing improvements were Edelman clients J. Here were some key points from his talk:

  • The greatest thing about digital is that so much of it is measurable. The problem with digital is that a lot of the metrics we use are “glorious data puke”
  • We focus too much on the “what” of metrics (visitors, visits) and not enough on the “how” and “why” and “what else”
  • Separate the quality visits from the fly-by-night visits so separate out the behaviour of people who see 3 pages or more from the people who see
    less. Now among the quality visitors, how did they get to your site (top referring sites, top referring keywords by number of quality visits).
  • For the “why” look for mismatches between what people are visiting (why they’re there) and what you’re offering them.
  • For the “what else”, of course, look at conversions but look also at the visits that didn’t convert. What did they do? What were they interested in. This gives you an indication of what else you can offer.
  • On social analytics: Who cares how many followers you have, how many times were you listed since that means someone is sectioning you off for special attention (though there are a fair number of people who create lists and ignore them). Or number of retweets per 1,000 followers since that shows how engaged your twitter audience is.
  • At the end of the day it comes down to what interactions adds economic value…those interactions that have a clear line of site to net income. And what variables are those? Avinash then pointed to a slide by Queen’s University Professor Ken Wong.
  • There are four things every analyst should have in their heads at all times: Price, Cost, Market Share, and Market Size. Now map each metric you report to these four variables

Favourite Lines

“Why do I blog? Because I like irrational adoration.”

“To bloggers, RSS readers are relationships. Visitors are one-night stands.”

“Most web sites suck because Hippos created them.” (HIPPOS = Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)

“HITS: How Idiots Track Success”

“Bounce rate = “I came, I puked, I left”

Gary Vaynerchuk

  • Gary Vee is the Tony Robbins of business speakers; a high energy, mile a minute, tour-de-force presence who isn’t afraid to drop an f-bomb to accentuate his point. And here were some of his stronger points:
  • The future of business is that what was old is now new again. The small-town store where the owner knew your name and knew about your life, and might have started making your regular order just as you walked in? Social media allows that caring to scale
  • The technology is such that big marketers can do 1 to 1 marketing.
  • More content is created in 48 hours than in the entire human history from cave paintings to 2003 and you can tell a lot about a person’s preferences from that content. So imagine you were a chain of eateries and you got to know your loyal customers based on their loyalty card information. And you scanned their Amazon wish lists and bought them their favourite book on their birthday and shipped it to them. Wouldn’t that surprise and delight those customers? Wouldn’t they be praising you on every social channel they have? In Vaynerchuk’s vision of the future brands are going to have to act like sports teams and cultivate raving fans…and they’ll be doing it one customer at a time.

Favourite Lines

“Everyone in social acts like a 19 year old dude. They try to close to early”

“People who win in business are the ones that see what’s coming…More horses were bought before the car was invented. Guess who won?”

“Social media is scaled caring.”

“What is the ROI of your mother?”

Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeff Hayzlett dropped almost as many f-bombs as Gary Vee. I think he was trying to one-up him on the volume. Hayzlett was hired as the CMO of Kodak to turn around the company whose bread and butter product had been rendered virtually obsolete by digital technology. He ended up turning the company from a B2C, to a B2B company. Kodak technology is still a big part of the captured images we see today. A passionate speaker Hayzlett had these thoughts centered on how to bring an “old school” organization into a “new school” way of thinking about marketing. Some talking points:

  • Kodak thought its main product was film and that their customers were interested in taking pictures. It wasn’t. People didn’t take pictures, they capture moments.
  • What Kodak needed to do was go back to its core. Kodak wasn’t a film company. It was a company that made emotional technology.
  • Tell your brand’s story. The first thing that people would take when they ran into their burning house…they’re pictures. They don’t want to lose their memories. That’s a powerful story about a powerful product.
  • Marketing used to be about eyeballs and ears. Get your message seen and heard by as many people as possible. Now it’s about hearts and minds. See above point.

Favourite Lines

“If legal says no, ask, ‘What’s the fine?’”

“HR and Legal’s job isn’t to drag you back. They’re job is to keep you from falling down”

“What’s ROI on social? I don’t know tell me what ROI is on IGNORING”

Sheena Iyengar

Dr. Sheena Iyengar has been devoting a good part of her academic career to studying how we make choices. It was a dense and fascinating talk and the following bullet points probably won’t do it justice. After reading this post, click here to see her talk at TED Global.

  • North Americans are acculturated to having lots of choices and are drawn to more choices. Paradoxically, the more choices we have the harder it is to make a choice. This results in less commitment, poorer decision quality, and lower satisfaction with our choice.
  • The exception to the above rule is experts. Experts have no problem with lots choice because they have the knowledge to understand and  spot the differences between choices. They set their criteria, categorize options, cut the categories that don’t apply to them and end up choosing among fewer options than given.
  • In North America, we often choose based on what we think that choice says about ourselves. And what we usually want to say is, “I’m unique, but relatable. I’m pretty much the same as you…just a little different.”
  • There are three ways for individuals to choose better. Marketers take note because you can use this to help your customers and consumers:
    • Cut the number of choices. Eliminate the options, flavours, models, that aren’t that different from the rest
    • Categorize the choices. Our brains can process more categories than choice
    • Condition your customers for complexity. For example, one of her experiments found that when car company that offered fewer choices per option category at the start and more choices per option category at the end (e.g. pick among 3 interior colours, now pick among 10 exterior colours) people would make more conscious choices. If given the more complex decisions first, they reverted to the default option more often.

Favourite Lines
“We’re born with an desire to choose but without the knowledge of how to choose”

“Despite the flavor explosion in ice cream, 50% of sales is still chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry”

“People may say what they want is more choices but what they really want is more control”

Guy Kawasaki

Guy’s new book is called Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Enchantment goes beyond persuasion. is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes the skeptics and cynics into the believers and the undecided into the loyal. Enchantment can happen during a retail transaction, a high-level corporate negotiation, or a Facebook update. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques. Some highlights:

3 steps to being likeable

Step 1: Smile. Genuine smiles can be seen in the eyes and the mouth.

Step 2: Dress for a ‘tie’…not so down (lack of respect), not so up (too intimidating, says, “I’m better than you.”)

Step 3: Have a perfect handshake

  • Trust is a two-way street but the order goes one way. Trust others first. How? Be a baker, not an eater. An eater figures there’s only one pie and takes as much as possible. A baker knows he/she can bake another pie.
  • Great products are deep, intelligent, complete, empowering, and elegant.
  • Tell a story, the best stories are short, sweet, and swallowable
  • “The best answer to ‘Thank you’ isn’t ‘You’re welcome’. It’s ‘I know you’d do the same’” it accomplishes two things. It says, “I trust that you’re a good person who does good deeds” and it also seeds the idea of, “And I might need that favour reciprocated sometime in the future”
  • Presentation tips: Customize the introduction, aim for 10 slides in 20 minutes, and use at least 30 point font.

Favorite Lines

“A good speaker never goes off track. A great speaker goes off track and later shows you why the off-track part was relevant”

“Apple Computers were originally designed to do spreadsheets and word processing. It turned out that they were great at desktop publishing. What made Apple was…Aldus Pagemaker”

“The best answer to ‘Thank you’ isn’t ‘You’re welcome’. It’s ‘I know you’d do the same’”

The 70-20-10 rule of marketing

For years, there was always a line in advertising (apart from the tagline) that separated mass media from everywhere else. Mass was above the line, everywhere else was below. Enough pundits have spent enough screen real-estate (ok I’m trying to come up with a more internet appropriate term to “spilled enough ink”) talking about the death of the line or the death of mass media and I don’t have much more to add to that subject here.

I would like to suggest an alternative for marketers as discussed with me by a former colleague:

70% of your budget should go to efforts with a fairly known ROI

20% of your budget should go to efforts that push the creative boundaries and have a lesser known or harder to callculate ROI

10% of your budget should go to purely experimental efforts

What do you think?