Marketing

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I was going over some notes taken during a recent WARC webinar presented by (my boy) Faris Yakob and came across a slide on the customer journey.  I’m a fan of customer journey having created a facsimile I call Twitch Point Planning.  Twitch Point Planning attempts to “understand, map and manipulate a customer closer to a sale.” In effect, it’s a customer journey, but using media twitches.

The WARC presentation on customer journey had a wonderful slide entitled “Start with what customers are doing rather versus what we want to say.”

I love this advice.  It may be the anthropology major in me, but this is just such a rudimentary planning perspective. Everything needs to start with the consumer. As planners we can decide not to heed consumers’ behavioral advice, but we need to understand it.

Consumers first. Peace.

 

 

 

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Meme Metrics.

I’m a big proponent of something I call Meme Metrics. Wikipedia defines a meme as

A meme (/ˈmiːm/ MEEM) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture — often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.”

As a blogger who tosses crumbs around the web in an effort to draw attention to What’s The Idea? and my marketing consultancy, marketing memes (phrases) are critical.  The metrics referred to in Meme Metrics are straight up Google rankings.  When I’ve done a good job pounding the digital pavement with phrases filled with brand meaning, they propagate.

The more memorable and longer the phrase to more likely it will point back to my website. I’ll show you how it works. My sister’s nickname is EJ.  Google “EJ” and you are likely to get thousands of results. Google the little sing-songy lyric I wrote for my kids to sing to her “EJ the DJ radio personality” and you will find my blog. But not today. Since I’ve never posted this phrase before. All I’ll need to do it post it a few times and it will point directly to my site.

So find a marketing meme, preferably one that is memorable, and put a little digital wood behind it. Meme metrics.

Peace.

 

 

 

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Discovery.  

Radhika Jones was named editor in chief of Vanity Fair magazine yesterday. Vanity Fair is a literary brand with few global peers. Magazine brands like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have a history of long standing editors, people who sit atop the title for decades. Great magazines get branding. When asked about her plans for Vanity Fair she says she will spend her initial time in discovery.  Immersing. Acculturating. Learning the love.

New GE CEO John Flannery, on the other hand, already has a plan.  Cut, cut, pare.  His board, unlike that of Conde Nast or parent Advanced Publications, expect action not discovery.

Brand planning is a business about discovery. Maybe that’s why, as a business, it offers small category revenue. If you were to add up the revenue of all the branding firms in the world, you’d find maybe $95 million per annum. And if you parsed those bills the lion’s share of that money would likely fall to logo design, naming, style guides and advertising grist. The puniest slice of the pie being discovery.

Brand churn is a result of poor discovery. Advertising and marketing directors “come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible.”  It all starts with thoughtful and committed discovery. Anyone can slap paint on a canvas. Planned, extensible relevance takes time.

Peace.   

 

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I just read an interesting study on brand recall. The methodology used saw consumers attempt to draw from memory brand logos.  Starbucks, Target, Apple, Adidas, etc. are apparently hard to recreate when asked to put pen to paper. Much easier I would imagine, would be creating logos when given marks and type from a sort board. Visual memory is better than creative memory.

So think about how hard it must be for consumers to identify a brand strategy – the organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. The best brand strategies are embodied in taglines.  Can you sing “We are Farmers, dum, dah dum, dum, dum, dum, dum.”  Of course you can.  Is that a brand strategy? Nope. It’s advertising.

The hard work of the brand strategist, the brand planner and brand manager is getting the value story right…and hammering it home with each dollar. Creating a focused, repeatable product-based “feeling” that endures and sells is what brand strategy is all about.

If consumers can tell you what the brand claim is and explain how the product achieves that claim, that’s branding. Coke is refreshment. Google is instant answers. BMW is exhilarating driving.

Not easy, but can be done with a plan.

Peace.

 

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Before there was Google Maps, before there was Waze, before Siri, we used to be get into cars and drive to places we had never been before, without software.  Only a couple hundred years ago we navigated by trails, celestial guides and landmarks.

Branding is a little old school like this. We create trails that over time become worn and easy to follow.  We branders provide general direction that with navigational tools-of-the-day help move individuals and masses toward our objective, e.g., sight, sounds, smell and other replicable assists.

When there were fewer products and less media choices branding was easier. Less clutter. Also less people touching and managing the sales channel.

Eight to ten years ago I used to rail against pop marketers who boasted how consumers were in control of brands. Not brand managers. Marketing pundits made millions touting this drivel. But consumers can only plot a map to themselves. “Follow me.” Not toward a brand.

Brand planners study consumers, landscapes, general directions and landmarks, then put on their big boy/girl pants and set the trail. A trail that is easy to follow.

Life and branding ain’t a grid. And in today’s digital world it can be even messier.

Peace.

 

 

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Organizational Design is a shiny new business thing. A number of smart brand planners and digital raconteurs have noticed that many corporations are floundering using old org charts and technology. Old infrastructural assumptions. So these new change agents are hoping to consult their way to new revenue streams as org design consultants.

Ten years ago “Social Business Design” was an inchoate business response to poor organization. It attempted to alter business by using digital social tools.  Those tools turned into software and much of the concept was lost. Sure Slack is a cool social tool. Dashboards and marketing platforms have emerged and evolved – mostly to streamline and cut cost. But organizational design, the recasting of the modern business in a way to make it more responsive, agile and effective, though a fine pursuit has been mostly talk.

My consulting business is a brand consultancy. I make no promised to reorganize your business. But organizational design is a likely and probable outcome. 

Defined as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” brand strategy has the potential to touch everything: supply chain, customer care, manufacturing quality, hiring, and advertising. All are possible levers in brand strategy. 

Brand strategy ain’t what it used to was.

Peace.

 

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While Mark Zuckerberg slept in his Harvard bed dreaming about the future of Facebook, do you think he ever wondered if it might be big enough to impact a national presidential election?  I’m guessing not. But he may have.

I was at a start-up called Zuide.com when Zuck had 18M users. Both web apps allowed users to build their own website, but with Zude you used objects. Facebook was database driven. In my dreams, it was understood that social networks could be used for good and evil.

Social network can and will be abused. Even journalistic instruments are abused. When “the people” are in charge of content you have to know fake and manipulative information will happen. So when Twitter, Google and Facebook went to capital hill yesterday, no one should be been surprised spankings would be meted out. Not yesterday, not 10 years ago.

Mr. Zuckerberg should have known it would happen.  Perhaps not to the extent it did. Not to the point where the world’s leading democracy would be soiled…but he knew. And now we all must fix it. People must be responsible too. Just as we now can detect phishing schemes in our email, we must learn to root out false information.  

Shouldn’t have taken so long. Shame on Silicon Valley.

Peace.            

 

 

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There was a time not long ago when the average job tenure of a CMO (chief marketing officer) was 18 months or so.  That kind of churn was mainly associated with the coming of age of digital marketing. And big data, social media and the underperforming economy. The good CMOs job hop. The bad ones were summarily replaced.

In biz/dev for What’s The Idea? I sometime cruise the job boards looking for companies in search of new senior marketing blood – which often poses an opportunity for brand work. As a matter of course I read a lot of job boards and job specs. One word that has become a pet peeve of mine is “passion.” It’s meaningless.  And gets in the way of a real job spec. We have a local election in town and a newspaper endorsement said this about three candidates. See if you can tell which candidate has the least to offer:

“I’ve been impressed with Kim’s dedication to improving transit, Dee’s passion and Rich’s policy analysis.”

If you need to put the word passion into a job spec, the job must have a history of being held by dolts.  Or it is a sorry-ass, boring product or service.

Passion is better seen not heard.

Peace.

 

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NYC painter Jean-Michel Basquiat once told a friend as they walked home from a gallery one night “I’ll learn to draw later, first I want to get famous.”  Sounds awfully backwards, unless you were a child of the 70-80s in NYC where punk rock and musicians were inventing a new scene.   Lots of people had established personal brands through dress, hang-outs, hair and behavior while working on their art. For instance, on any given night if you saw a black Schwinn with a leather jacket chained to it in front of a rock club (in the winter), I was inside. (Lines for the coat check at 3-4 in the morning were way too long.)   

While these artists-in-waiting fiddled with guitars, paint or prose during the day, between shifts as a waiters or bike messengers, they were focused brand builders. They had a vision, a sense of the time and an organizing principle.

Think if them as startups. I’ve helped build startup brands before and they all tend to over-hang the market — meaning offer promise before availability. And if you think of it, most small companies without brand strategies are startups. Even if fairly established. They are businesses, not brands. No brand plans in place to establish behavioral identity.

It’s always better to be aware of brand while building your art or your business.  It focuses you.   

Peace.

 

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As someone who watches brands and markets I love inflection points. Consumer inflection points are most obvious in the retail landscape. One result of the financial crisis and bail out of Detroit was a reduction in car dealerships. Were you to drive down any long commercial highway 20 years ago and compare it to today you will see brand new banks on the sites once reserved for shiny new cars.  And as we legislate more fuel efficient car standards, those same streets have more eateries where gas stations once stood.

Today in the news, Lord & Taylor in NYC is selling its block long retail space to WeWork. The supply-side driver? eCommernce and Amazon.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  WeWork, most know, started out as a low-cost office space solution — one where infrastructure, e.g., phones, cabling, office maintenance, coffee, is taken care of and asses in seats are rented for the day, week, month or year. They are now growing like wild fire. And the price points are increasing, as the amenities and addresses become more plush. The other inflection point driving WeWork growth is what’s happening on the demand-side: the freelance economy.

The work force is changing. The nature of companies is changing.  Google “logged and tagged workforce.” Or write me (Steve@WhatsTheIdea.com).  Those who are ready for the logged and tagged economy shall winners be.

Peace.

 

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