Consumer care-abouts

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Here’s an exercise for brand planners.

I read this morning that when president Richard Nixon prepared for a summit in China to meet Mao Zedong, he created a checklist. What do we want?  What does China want? And what do we both want? Each question had three answers.

Brand planners should ask themselves the same questions only with a slight modification at the end.  What does the company want? What do the consumers want? And what does the brand want?  The brand’s desires may not align with that of the company and could be a healthy source of exploratory tension.

The What’s The Idea? the brand strategy process plumbs consumer “care-abouts” and brand “good-ats.”  The nexus of these qualities decides the brand claim and proof planks. But with the tripartite “What want?” approach, it may make the planner look at a new dimension.  May.

Might be worth a try.

Peace.

 

 

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The problem with most brands is that they are skin deep. Products and services with derma measured only in millimeters. No  depth. No real rational and emotional meaning. Why is that?  Because brand building today is too randomized. No real brand plan.  No organizing principle driving long term, meaningful KPIs.

Sales and revenue are all that matters. Sales teams are motivated by commissions. Retail buyers are motivated by bonuses. Ad agents make money off of fee hours and volume.  And media is paid by the media transaction, not the result.

It makes me think of healthcare – where docs and hospitals are compensated for helping the sick, not preserving the healthy.

Brand planners dig beneath the skin. We get down to the organs. When we organize the selling principles, it’s not a Colorforms project, based on cut-and-paste tactics and theatrics. It’s a plan to build value leveraging what a brand is good-at and what consumers care-about. A plan driven by a deeply seeded claim, one that warms the hearts of brand employees and customers.

Salespeople can “sell anything,” they will tell you. Brand planners only want to sell one thing. Tink about it, as my Norwegian Aunt would say.

Peace.

 

 

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I read something smart in an account planners group on Facebook yesterday about targeting. It suggested you have to refine the brand target so as to make a more compelling message. When creating your brand claim, you don’t want to address the entire consuming pop. Not everyone will like you. You have to find the largest grouping of people who share a proclivity for your product, service and brand claim — and focus the strategy on them. 

It’s so smart.  I had the same targeting discussion with a client yesterday.

When you do enough research on brand good-ats and consumer care-abouts, you’ll find that you can’t please everybody. It is at this point that the rubber meets the road. Do we change who we are? Do we try to change the attitudes and beliefs of what consumers think and know? Or do we simply speak to the low and “reach for” fruit that will most likely be motivated to buy our product?

This is how we do-oo it!  Peace.

 

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I was reading a recipe this weekend for chick pea chili (don’t judge) and decided right off the bat I’d never make it. Not for the chick peas, not for the drive to the grocery store(s), but for the over complication of ingredients.  I favor minimalism in my cooking. It’s easier to taste a few ingredients. (Google “Fruit Cocktail Effect.”)

My framework for brand strategy reflects this sensibility: One claim, three proof planks.  That’s how you build a brand. One and three.

Getting to one and three isn’t easy though. Trust me. You have to go through hundreds of ingredients to get to the one claim and three planks. When looking for brand good-ats and customer care-abouts, you’ll find many. But when forming brand strategy, don’t just look at the most common ingredients or the most abundant; this job is all about finesse.

For you tyro brand planners out there, use your palette when considering all the ingredients, but use your heart and brain when selecting the true flavors.

Peace.   

 

 

 

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In my lifetime and the lifetime of What’s The Idea?, I’ve probably written 50 marketing plans.  Their formats are all pretty much the same: market situation, key issues, objectives, strategies, targets and messages, tactics, budget and timeline.  To the uninitiated who might read one of these plans, once past the up-front market review and obs and strats, the tactics of one plan might look like the others. Interchangeable almost. probably containing ads, PR, direct, web, promotion and social. Simple, undifferentiated line items on an excel chart.

The fact is, it’s the brand strategy that really sets one plan apart from the next. Every dollar spent is guided by a brand claim and three proof planks – or supports.  The tactics aren’t just random copy with fill in the blank marketing claims. Every piece of external and internal communications, meant to position and sell, is scripted. Well not scripted, but guided.

Branding strategy is an organized principle for building brand value and sales, based on consumer care-abouts and brand good-ats.

Brand strategy is the secret sauce to every marketing plan.

Peace.

 

 

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The What’s The Idea? brand strategy framework is simple, 1 claim and 3 proof planks. To get there, the discovery process searches out consumer “care-abouts” and brand “good-ats.”  While exploring these things I’m always looking for positive ways to build strategic values.  For instance, a client launching a healthier-for-you cookie made with all natural ingredients, faced a category perception that products of this nature are often dry with harsh mouth feel. A negative. The brand plan made “moisture” a plank. A positive.

Leveraging negatives is a common marketing practice. But in branding, it’s all about the positives.

On the negative side of the ledger there is actually a continuum.  From most to least strenuous it includes: hatred, anger, annoyance, nuisance, irritation, and dissatisfaction.

When going positive, it’s important to have a sense of where on the continuum consumers lie when evaluating competitor or category negatives. Are dry natural cookies an annoyance or a nuisance? Then when promoting the moist nature of your cookie, you mete your response proportionately.

Today’s newspaper says the negative ads against Donald Trump are in record breaking territory, with $70M spent by fellow republicans alone. I wonder if they are using the negative continuum?

Peace?

 

 

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