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A number of years ago, while with McCann-Erickson, I was on the new business team that pitched and won the worldwide Motorola account – at the time one of the world’s premier technology corporations. Someone smart upstairs decided it would be a good idea to put a global research project in play to tout the scale and utility of McCann’s global network. I wasn’t the developer of the research questionnaire, fielded by 10 plus offices around the globe, but the data was given to me to interpret. A tactic in search of an insight.
My insight, which we embedded into the presentation in an uneven way, was that the world was made up of 3 different segments of wireless adoption. All based on teledensity – the quantification of communications devices per person.
The creative was great, (we used a Rolling Stones song as an idea bed), there was no time left for the media portion of the presentation (common in new business at the time) and the chemistry was lovely. No one ever came out and said the segmentation insight was the deal-breaker, but all creative being equal-ish (and it never is), I’m pretty sure the Moto team from Atlanta felt a marketing depth to our pitch others lacked.
A tactic in search of an insight can work. Can be worth millions.
Tags: Brand Strategy, mccann erickson, motorola, Motorola new business pitch, rolling stones, teledensity, whats the idea, whatstheidea
It has been a while since I watched my technology hero Robert Scoble on a video. He disappeared for a while, doing some Augmented Reality work, writing a book and living his “real world” life. Also he somewhat replaced Scobleizer.com with posts to Facebook. Anyway, I received an email from him today promoting a newsletter that will aggregate his last 5 Facebook posts and he is back on the radar. And it couldn’t be a minute too soon. I’ve felt out of tech touch. When you have more Snap stock than Snaps, something is wrong.
Pixie (getpixie.com) is a new AR tool one can load onto an iPhone to scan a room for your shit. Shit to which you’ve affixed a physical tag. If you put an electronic sticker on your keys and fire up the app, you can locate them. Near field I believe. For peeps of a certain age (me), this will be a fun app, especially when the stickers get smaller.
I just moved to Asheville, NC, having downsized. In other words I got rid of a lot of shit. But I still have a lot of shit. Trend-wise, I think we Americans are reducing our domicile footprints but accumulating more shit. The Pixie is a neat app to help. It’s probably not the killer AR app we will ultimately cultivate but it’s a start. The killer app will likely be in the marketing realm me thinks.
Stay tuned to AR and what it portends.
Tags: ar, ar in marketing, augmented reality, facebook, iphone ar apps, robert scoble, scobleizer, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some time during brand planning career I began looking at assignments with the glass half full. Prior, there were a number of categories I walked into and start to twitch. “How am I going to learn this stuff? It’s too complicated. It’s dense and unappealing. Healthcare was one such category. Financial another. Digital Signal Processors and end-of-life also come to mind.
Maybe I just thought I wasn’t smart enough to learn a new technical language. Or I would be bored to death. I don’t have that problem anymore. I’ve chilled. And I’ve been able to find light in every product or service.
When you read decks and white papers on engineering projects in Africa or river blindness in Asia, it can be daunting. But when you interview the subject matter experts – the owners of the info and insights — it’s a different ballgame. You are in control. You make it interesting. People are people. People innately want to help. So then it’s all about the questions.
As they teach you they get excited. As they see you gain category insight they start to perk up. Then they put some of the marketing pieces together. They become marketers. There is no more exciting human pursuit than learning. Plan to learn, plan to let your SME learn, and the activity rewards.
Love this job. Peace.
Tags: Brand Planning, Brand Strategy, info and insights, SME interview techniques, whats the idea, whatstheidea
I was a judge yesterday in the Griffin Farley Beautiful Minds completion. Mr. Farley was a BBH strategist who succumbed to cancer at way-too-early an age. The competition, and he would, likely, never have used the word competition, is a legacy built upon his nurturing of young planners. Clearly a beloved man.
The showcase reminded me of why brand planning and strategy are so important. And why we create strategy ideas not only with ballast but with singularity.
The judging process allows gives teams of 5 or 6 planners fifteen minutes to present and about the same time for Q&A. The tyros are given a brief, a couple of key objectives and 24 hours to create an insight, an idea, and a consumer connection platform. Judges are then given even less time to evaluate and select 3 or 4 of the 12 teams to put through to the final round. The final round of judging takes place on Tuesday evening with other judges given even less time to pick a winner.
What I love about the process is that judges have about as much time as consumers to make a buy decision. We saw some amazing work from all the showcase teams. Kernels of brilliance in many places. But what helped teams make the cut was clarity. Of idea. Of serial logic. It’s hard to shine one idea when so many good ones are on the table. But that’s the hard work. Mark Twain once said “I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time.”
I just love this business. Congratulations to Sarah Watson and BBH. Congratulations participants. Beautiful minds indeed.
Tags: account planning competition for young planners, bbh, Griffin Farley beautiful minds, mark twain I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time, sarah Watson, whats the idea
In 1974 JWT London’s Stephen King wrote a Planning Guide. Thanks to Julian Cole of Bee Bee Do (BBDO) for sharing it today. The JPEG below summarizes nicely how a brand works, based upon Mr. King’s constellation of “appeals.”
This is a smart boil-down of what a brand is, why it works, and what it needs to do to connect with consumers.
I’m a simple man. One of the reason for my success in brand planning is my simpler view of branding. It is easier to articulate than that of many others. Verbose planners get you nodding. Then nodding. And more nodding until you can’t actually play back what they said. My meme-able word bites on branding stick.
In Mr. King’s case, I take into consideration all of his brand appeals but boil them down further. Into two variables in fact. I call it the Is-Does. What brand IS and what a brand DOES. The Does prioritizes the appeals and picks one. Ish. But don’t underestimate the Is. The iPhone, for instance, was introduced as a phone, not a hybrid device. Smart.
Selling with simple language works. Consumers respond well. Even when those consumers are marketers.
Tags: boil down, boil down in brand planning, boil down in branding, iphone brand, Is-Does, Julian cole, Jwt london, Meme-able word bites, Stephen king, whats the idea, whatstheidea
If you read the previous What’s The Idea? post you’ll know I’m thinking about building an implementation phase into my brand planning engagement process. The idea is to become a brand supervisor at the client company for a couple of months to manage adherence. This, I know, is likely to go poorly unless handled with care.
Some people see strategy as constricting. Others see it as freeing. I sit in the middle. I certainly don’t want marketers to spend effort and money on “off message” activity. Bad for the brand and not great at building muscle. But I do want them to be as creative and exhilarated as possible when it comes to ideation. Not looking at a blank sheet of paper saves time. Having a jump start on marketing efforts is also an energy saver. And it creates focused, fertile ground for the work.
In the middle is where the on-prem brand supervisor will sit. Coaxing and charming good ideas and work that toes the strategy line. But also creating a new lens through which to see marketing that adds value to the brand, company and one’s carrer.
Ima need a syllabus.
Tags: brand adherence, Brand Strategy, whats the idea, whatstheidea
One the fallacies of the brand planning business is that everything will change when the engagement is over. I’ve presented and sold brand strategy (an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging) to numerous clients, only to see it used to launch a tagline, logo, new website or ad campaign. And then little else.
In those cases it simply became stim for a top drawer tactic, not a strategy to work by. Not a strategy to build a brand.
I’m beginning to rethink my offering. I’m beginning to see the value of packaging a 3-month on-prem implementation phase. One whereby I supervise the marketing department and help to fit any and all marketing activities and outputs to the newly purchased brand strategy. It’s only when marketing stuff is made that the strategy takes hold. Brand strategy is not some ephemeral, cultural construct of the marketing department. It’s an activity guide.
When you have a brand claim and three proof planks to guide the work, everything has a purpose. Everything is either on or off.
(By the end of the day, I expect to be the owner of a little red house in Asheville, NC.)
Tags: asheville NC, Brand claim and proof planks, brand claim and three proof planks, Brand Strategy, marketing activity guide, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Just reading an article suggesting that nearly everyone in China uses mobile devices to pay at retail. If it’s in China, it’s going to be in the US and Europe soon-ish. Marketers in R&D mode may want to start planning and productizing around ways to keep lost and stolen phones from becoming debit tsunamis. When a phone is cash, the bad guys are going to figure out how to take advantage.
Clothing companies will need to make more secure and better fitting pockets. Software cos. will need better sign-on security and/or visual ID programs. Luggage and/or millinery manufacturers will want to think about phone holsters and such — ways to secure our devices that are fashionable.
Whatever the winning solution looks like, it will be a bah-billion dollar business. Initially at least.
Beyond the dashboard planners reap higher rewards.
Tags: beyond the dashboard planners, beyond the dashboard planning, debit tsunami, debit tsunamis, Mobile payment ideas, whats the idea, whatstheidea