brand activation

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Every business needs a promotion, something to jump start revenue when things are slow. My go-to promotion for the last few years has been a “Free Day of Planning.”   I offer up my services for one day, free of charge.  Try before you buy.

I had an opportunity to do some strategy work on Heineken Light during one of these free days. In ideation, I came up with a very cool “idea” for activation; it was on target, on culture and had mad finesse.

Since moving to Asheville, I’ve been thinking anew about promotions. While the free day of planning tended to target agencies, the new promo will target marketers. I’m thinking of calling the new promo  the “Climb Around,” a reference to climbing all over the product from my B2B days. A 2-dayer, the Climb Around will have me on-premise observing various business practices; understanding the 4 Ps (product, price, promotion and place), while observing organizational structure, management and culture.  

What will make the Climb Around unique will be my quietude. With only 2 days, the time will be best spent watching and listening — much as if undertaken by a cultural anthropologist. Field workers only observe — they never should they insinuate themselves into the cultural tableau. It changes the dynamic.

Using my stock pot/boil down metaphor, the output of the Climb Around will be only three observations. Three for free.

Any Beta testers out there?



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My first real exposure to a marketing segmentation study was with AT&T Business Communications Services back in the 90s.  AT&T created 23 different product offerings, or packages, to meet the specific corporate telecommunications needs of various large customer profiles.  The revenue stream was in the billions.  That’s a lot of segments.

Segmentation is a great marketing undertaking.  It forces sellers of product and services to drill into customer usage and see patterns.  Creating packages of products to meet that usage, surrounded with specially focused levels of care, and pricing tailored to that package is what segmentation is all about. Pay only for what you need — because one price and level of service does not fit all.

A brand plan goes the other way.  It does have to fit all.  So while segmentation people need to see patterns among discrete users groups, brand planners need to see commonalities among all user groups.  When Peter Kim, a chief strategy office at McCann-Erickson in the 90s, talked about brand targeting he used the word “remassify.” His targeting rigor started by understanding all of a brand’s targets, one by one.  Get to know them intimately, he suggested. Understand how they use the product. When? Why?  After amassing all the different targets, he put them back together to see what traits and care-abouts they shared.  Remassifying into a segment of one. From this learning emerged stimulus for the brand brief claim. For brand action or what some today might call brand activation.  So you tell me, what comes first the segments or the brand plan?  Peace!

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