The Rise & Rise of Global Marketing (Part 1)

This post was exclusively written for where I am a pro blogger.  The post was first published on that site.

Global marketing management is all about figuring the sweet spot and the nuances behind what’s global and what’s local. Global marketers want to leverage the global brand at the same time as retaining local market engagement.  How companies provide their consumers with a consistent brand experience across all of the regions in which they operate is a challenge that more and more companies have to address.

Every marketer today either works for a global brand or competes against a global brand, so it is important to understand what’s happening in the market.

This is a global challenge and one that has been responsible for the creation of a new structure within many businesses: the global marketing organization, and a new corporate role: the global marketer.

The number of global marketers increases daily. I checked Linked In researching for this blog. There were 739, 346 people with global marketing in their title. Of these 113,034 have the title Vice President. That’s more than 113,000 people on Linked In alone in leadership roles in global marketing.

One of the objectives of the Global Brand Project is to look at the drivers of change and the responses to those changes within the global business context. In part one of this post, we will look at some of the reasons why global marketing is becoming so important. Part two will look at the organizational changes needed to respond to these changes.

There are very few functions within business that have been forced to completely reinvent and reorganize themselves in the way that marketers have over recent years. Marketers sit right at the core of the modern matrix organization. It is likely marketers will have to continue to change in the coming years as globalization continues.

I am not suggesting that the fundamentals of marketing have changed, they have not. Marketers still need to drive innovation, develop powerful and meaningful positioning and manage their products, portfolios, packaging and communications.

It is the context and environment into which these skills are delivered: It is the Market that is different. Compared to only 20 years ago, the market has changed radically, and it continues so do. Let’s look at product life cycles. Once, it was possible to introduce a new product, gain market leader advantage and allow the competition to catch up after sales had been established over a few years. Apple Launches ipad The Apple iPad was launched 12 months ago (yes, it’s hard to believe it was launched in March 2010). It already has some 100 plus competitive products and launched a revised version this month. iPad #3, #4 and #5 are no doubt planned to ensure that Apple achieves the return on investment required to justify its R&D spend in developing this product.

It is not just in technology that there is this pace of change. Cycle time in (particularly) women’s fashion has shrunk from months to weeks as companies like Mexx, Primark

and H&M bring new collections to market within weeks of designers finding inspiration from a fashion show.  With digital photography and web connections, a designer can be making samples in a factory in China within hours of a trend watcher first identifying new styles.

We are so used to things happening this quickly today that we tend not to think about the implications of this. Humans adapt to changes very quickly, and as the changes are often incremental we fail to see the leaps and bounds that our world moves on.

The pace of change has radically altered the way in which products and brands are marketed. With product life cycles being so short, even the most impressive innovations become commoditized at a much faster rate than ever before; increasing the pressure to introduce new and relevant innovation and differentiation.

Do you agree? Have you experienced the same quickening of pace so that your new innovation failed to deliver competitive advantage in the way you expected or planned?

I got inspiration for this post from a number of sources, but wish to give credit to The Global Brand CEO, by Marc de Swaan Arons & Fran van den Driest.


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Consumers need less, not more choice

This post was first published at where I am one of the CRM thinkers.

It is estimated that the average human being living in the 21st Century is subjected to more visual, oral, visceral and sensual information in a single day than someone living 500 years ago would experience in their whole lifetime. The result: we simplify, exclude and ignore, screening out the details and focusing on what we think is truly relevant. But, we are not actually that good at doing this, which is why we often make bad decisions.

So, obviously, we should give consumers a lot less choice, so that we can get real cut through? Traditional marketing theory suggests otherwise, instead giving consumers more and more choice. We’ve moved from the Henry Ford “you can have it in any color as long as it’s black” model T, to a new BMW with more than 1000 options. Burgers come ‘your way’ supermarket shelves are filled with ever more varieties, options and choices.

Strangely, research shows that when faced with more choice, consumers find it hard to choose. Study after study reveals that when consumers have more choices, they are less likely to stop and shop but become overwhelmed with the options. I’ve seen this with my own children. More than once they have asked for candies, but once we go to the store they are simply overwhelmed with the choice and don’t know what to do.

How can this be translated into strategies for CRM?

Firstly, knowing that humans fall into an oversimplification mode when faced with too many options is a powerful tool and care needs to be taken not to abuse this power. Many instances of upselling take advantage of our willingness to simplify, especially when the upsell is presented as being much less consequential than it appears. When you are offered additional warranties for your new electronics it is highly unlikely that the offer will include information about a manufacturer’s warranty.

Simplification is also the reason that urgency is so often used in the sales process. People do not think carefully when they are under time pressure. When time pressure is added to scarcity the consumer oversimplifies and thinks that the offer is more valuable, more desirable.

As stated above, the more information offered, the greater the need to simplify. It has long been known by advertisers that long copy sells much better than short copy. What has not been appreciated is that less than 20% of the buyers who are swayed by long copy actually read it! The more authoritative and detailed a report, the higher the believability in the mind of the consumer and the less carefully they actually evaluate its content.

Perhaps, one of the greatest simplifications that humans process is the words used in communications. Including the words ‘new’, ‘quick’, ‘improved’ and ‘amazing’ all increase product sales. One of the most compelling words, surprisingly is ‘because’. We are constantly searching for reasons to believe to support the shortcuts that our brains create. When faced with a ‘because’ we are wired to accept that as the justification supporting our decision and our simplification.

Advertisers and salespeople have been using these techniques for years. It is the reason that successful communications campaigns are filled with slogans, brand names and visual clues that the company wants us to associate with its products.

Many of these have become clichés, like a happy older couple walking hand in hand across a beach/park/city for just about any pharmaceutical communication. We simplify. That’s why the Marlborough man has been such a successful icon for years and we are prepared to believe that a sticky, brown carbonated beverage actually makes the world a better place.

Do you incorporate tactics like this in your CRM scripts and programs? Do you think that there are ethical considerations that restrain how they can be used?


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Unilever’s global social mission

This post was written for and first published by the Consumer Goods Club

When your brands touch more than 2 billion people a day you start to think that maybe you should be doing more at a societal level than just selling products. That’s at least how it appears if you read Unilever 3CEO Paul Polman’s most recent interview. It’s almost as if the Unilever team asked itself the question: We are global market leader, what more can we do, what will our legacy be? Did we leave the world with lots of our product, or did we leave the world a better place?

Is this an unrealistic aspiration, just some PR to deflect attention from business results? Or is this Corporate Social Responsibility described in another way? I don’t think so. Many companies, Unilever included, are now focused on the ‘triple bottom line’ of people-planet-profit, or as Michael Porter and Mark Kramer refer to it in the Harvard Business Review ‘Shared Value’. I believe that there is something quite different and distinct to any CSR or sustainability agenda at play here.

Increasingly, a differentiator for the most successful global brands is that they are eager to translate their commercial success into something of social or societal significance. They have realized that having a global purpose offers competitive advantage over local or smaller, faster-moving competition.

Global brands touch more people than any other media channel; politicians, TV programs and newspapers included – so the shadow that they cast had better be good. This will be the global marketer’s legacy.

Polman has determined that from now, each Unilever brand has to embody some higher purpose: An additional element in the positioning matrix that defines the role that the brand plays in the consumer’s life. “Every brand must have a social mission and the consumer must have an integral part in defining that mission,” said Polman.

This is not a new concept. Purpose led positioning underpinned the Dove ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’.  Other global Unilever brands where purpose led positioning is evident include Omo with the Dirt is Good campaign Lipton’s commitment to sustainable tea production.

Omo Dirt is Good

I’ve long thought that power positioning is the key to successful leading brands – Unilever have prioritized this as well and will be rolling it out across all brands.

It is not just at Unilever where ‘purpose’ is recognized as a signature for success. Patagonia, The Body Shop, P&G and AkzoNobel have all realized that it is simply good business sense to pursue a purpose in their brand positioning strategy. It’s hard to do because it has to become part of the DNA of the brand, not just something rolled out for a campaign this year and set aside when times get tough. But, the number of purposeful brands is growing.


Dulux Let’s Color project

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Why? Perhaps it is because over recent years, consumers have lost trust in big business and by attaching themselves to higher ideals the brands developed by these companies can re-create the sort of trust that creates long term and lasting customer loyalty.

Power positioning is the foundation for creating lasting brand loyalty. Purposeful positioning elevates the emotional connection and should be the aspiration of any global brand.  It brings the brand closer to the consumer. With digital convergence companies will use the opportunity of defining their purpose to engage with and involve their consumers in pursuing their higher societal mission.

Imagine how many parents will happily engage with a company with an ultimate purpose of child development – because that’s exactly the purpose behind the whole Dirt is Good campaign – much more compelling than washes your whites whiter!

Purpose will bring with it a burden of responsibility, as it will directly place the truth of the brand’s values in the spotlight. If there is any inconsistency between the societal mission, brand values and performance, it will be picked up and tweeted, facebooked, tumbld and shared like never before.

This week’s presentation by Unilever CMO Keith Weed at the 4A’s Transformation 2011 Conference in Austin Texas – where he shared his vision of Unilever’s brands becoming media properties – might be just that sort of inconsistency. Weed spoke excitedly about an Axe branded mobile phone that has been sold in South America and the possibility of entertainment linkups with the Disney Corporation. He indicated that he sees gaming as fertile territory for development of brand equity.

This is a great example of the potential conflicts inherent in any global brand project. Making sure that everything that is done globally and locally, strategically and at an executional level to build brand equity is consistent is one of the major global brand project challenges: Add to this the requirement to remain consistent to a purpose and we begin to appreciate the complexity involved in successfully unlocking the potential of global marketing. This pressure cooker will definitely expose whether or not the commitment to a purpose takes precedence over building quarterly profits

Purpose has the potential to be an immensely powerful internal and external rallying call to mobilize a global marketing community to achieve amazing results. It is one global brand project that I would always say is worthwhile for any brand looking to move from good to great.

Here’s my question: Do you agree that purpose is an essential element of any global brand?

Can anyone working for a purposeful brand share their positioning?

Best Regards,


Richard Kohn

The Global Brand Project

Written for


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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

This post was first published at

I am listed as one of the Think About CRM Thinkers.

If there is one company that continues to generate exceptional levels of consumer loyalty and long time retention, it’s Apple. This week, they launched the IPAD2 (no doubt to be followed by #3, #4, #5 and so on) and as expected there were lines of eager Apple fans waiting outside the stores waiting to snap up the new version.

Apparently, there are back orders, Apple cannot meet the initial demand and this launch has caught all of the competition off balance by launching the new version before they have the opportunity to get a foothold in the 25% of the tablet market that Apple still does not yet hold.

What’s even more amazing is that while there are some improvements on the IPAD1, IPAD2 is not so much an upgrade as a small tweak (and they have not addressed the single biggest consumer complaint that there is no USB connection). Perhaps the most compelling reason to buy the new version is that it is being retailed at the same price as the previous version.

I thought it might be interesting to use this example as a case study for this post with the objective of understanding what we could all learn from Apple about retaining consumer loyalty. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Apple has managed to successfully transition from being a company with great products to an organization that markets great brands: Apple is about an experience; that starts with entering the Apple world (either in a virtual or real store). They offer a differentiated and in most cases unforgettable experience. Whether it is ensuring that the customer’s new product is up and running before they leave the store,  working with the Genius or simply playing with the products instore, Apple delivers something that no other manufacturer has successfully managed to do: Engage the consumer before they buy and then hold on to them after the purchase. I currently do not own any Apple products (my last two IPODs crashed, failed and burned and I was told by the Apple store to buy a new one – note Apple, an unsatisfied consumer), but I can see how this sort of attention is compelling. When I bought my last computer I had to start it up, work out my options and take all the ‘risk’ of opening up the pack by myself. It would have been great to walk out the store with my new computer up and running. Whether it is the iPod, Macbook, iPhone Apple have done a great job of creating a positive consumer experience behind the brand taking the engagement to an emotional level – a much greater driver of loyalty than anything else.
  2. Create and dominate the category: Apple, probably more than any other company since Sony has been successful at creating entirely new categories or totally redefining existing categories. What Apple does is completely change the consumer perception of the marketplace so that Apple’s products are more favorably viewed. Apple did not invent the MP# player, but they sure did capture the imagination by developing a consumer interface that was intuitive and accessible. They did the same with the iPhone and are doing the same with the iPad. A lot of what Apple does is disruptive because they make decisions about where they are not targeted. They think and act differently and do not mind if they are not targeted at all possible consumers. What they are great at is acting as an architect of the category. They are Marchitects.
  3. Innovate, innovate, innovate: Here’s a company that never rests on its laurels. While I may not think that the iPad2 offers a lot more than the iPad1, what Apple has done is re-launch an improved product before most of the competition even had a chance to launch their fast following alternatives. Speed to market is increasing for every company, yet Apple remain ahead of the curve, compelling consumers to upgrade, rethink their functionality and look carefully at why the choice is moving to Apple instead of waiting for a new version of their preferred supplier. They also keep themselves relevant by offering the products that we did not even know we needed. My wife was totally unconvinced by the iPad until someone said to her “it’s just like having a big blackberry”. I am sure the people at RIM are delighted to hear this sort of comment…not. iPad is a business tool, out of home movie theatre, book reader, in fact it is probably a lot of other things as well that we just have not worked out if could be. For that reason alone, customers are flocking to it and all the discussions, blogs and communities building up around the product simply work to increase that buzz and loyalty to the brand.
  4. Never lose sight of the fact that in the end consumers have to dig into their pockets to buy your offering: The iPad2 retails at the same price as the iPad1. Apple in this simple move promises more value, and is perceived to deliver much more value to its customers. We are almost programmed to having annual price increases and price hikes when new versions are released, when in fact, prices should come down as manufacturing becomes more efficient. Apple’s message here – production is at levels where we are making efficiency gains, we will pass on some of that benefit to you.

I think that the Apple case study goes to show that customer relationship management starts with great concern about delivering something meaningful to the consumer at a functional and emotional level and then backing that up with excellent support and follow through – because, let’s also remember, Apple has a world class leading CRM program that maintains all the records of existing customers. Through this they cross sell, up sell and manage the continuing customer relationship at a level that truly represents best in class.

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CRM is dead: popularity and penetration are the keys to marketing success.

This post was first published at where I am a Pro Blogger.

OK so now I have your attention, perhaps a bit of an explanation. I’ve been looking at some thought leaders comments over the last weeks and trying to assess the importance and correctness of their theories and strategies.

One in particular caught my eye because of its connection to the CRM field, Kevin Roberts’ notion that great brands have emotional connections with their buyers and, hence, are ‘Lovemarks’. It seems that there are some commentators out there that think this worldview is wrong because there is simply no empirical studies to support these contentions – everything Roberts claims is anecdotal and so can be explained away by many other factors such as better customer service.

It is argued that many of the axiomatic and popular marketing truisms prevailing today simply fail to properly stack up to careful empirical analysis, because they have not been tested. This has major implications for accepted marketing belief about understanding brand loyalty, the relevance of market segmentation or that advertising works.

These new theorists argue that popularity or penetration is everything. If you have more popularity or penetration, your brand retains more loyalty – a view that is totally contrary to the popular theory that increasing the share of requirements of loyal consumers is the most effective way of building brand success. It they are right, this has serious implications for anyone working in the CRM field. Why, because in this model, CRM is less important: resources will be focused on old fashioned mass media which tells and sells rather than on developing lasting relationships with loyal customers.

As a proponent of purposeful positioning for all brands, I am sometimes challenged to explain how it is possible to expect that consumers will create emotional connections with brands operating ‘low involvement’ categories. If these theories are correct, and what we are talking about here is not just some flash in the pan conceptual study (see below), marketing for all such low involvement categories should be about increasing penetration at all costs.

Behind the scenes, it is beginning to look like some major organizations are beginning to incorporate some of the thinking here. Quietly, an increasingly metrics based study of marketing dynamics is driving decision making in major brand powerhouses. That’s not to say that they are forsaking their current market truisms, but they are adding a new context and gaining competitive advantage from so doing.

Where did all this begin? It is founded in the increasingly exposed and discussed work of Andrew Ehrenberg an academic and statistician who died mid 2010. His works are not widely read because of their complexity – who among us has heard of his concept of negative binomial distribution? They are, however, increasingly being explored and integrated into forecasting models and metrics analyses used by some of the world’s most prolific marketers.

Empirical statistical analysis of this type has been subject to some antipathy with marketers and their agencies because it goes contrary to the business model that they have established to keep the industry alive and kicking, but it has not been ignored. From Australia to Europe Ehrenbergian concepts now underpin analytics used by Nielsen, Unilever and P&G.

So shouldn’t the rest of us be looking at this as well? Well, this empirical analytical approach appeals to any business leader who wants to understand the direct financial implications of a specific marketing activity – something we all know is extremely difficult to pinpoint because of the wide range of variables that need to be considered – and also anyone, like me, who is increasingly agitated by the specious content-driven nature of marketing today.

I have already suggested that in “low involvement” categories it is possible to have sympathy for the view that penetration trumps loyalty. Proponents of this approach now think that it can, and has already, extend into much higher involvement categories.

Here’s the argument: Once upon a time, when it was a small side player in the business, Apple was all about customer loyalty. Steve Jobs’ aspiration, however, was to rival Microsoft and the company had to grow. Apple’s growth was not about getting more and more product into the hands of its small loyal customer base, no, it was all about getting more and more penetration through mass media advertising and exposure. Penetration trumps loyalty.

This sort of throws the world on its head. Sophisticated CRM applications are redundant because mass media is the vehicle for profitable growth. Brand loyalty is just a figment of marketers’ imagination, designed to justify their ever increasing spend. Consumers are not really interested in talking to brands on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, but to their friends and acquaintances.

Actually I think that there is some truth in the metrics based approach and it should be incorporated in a lot more analyses. I think that standard scan and panel data analyses are inadequate because they fail to offer a deep enough understanding of the dynamics that drive the metrics. Similarly, I have seen too much market research that is meaningless because the agency was briefed to ask the same questions that everyone else asks, but don’t get to the kernel of how we will be able to alter consumers’ behavior.

Notwithstanding, I remain a believer in developing purposeful positioning for brands because I do believe that is the key to retaining consumers over the long term, because a brand needs to mean more to them than just the functional benefits that are delivered. Is this true for all categories? Even those with low involvement? – Yes. Perhaps we did not have a detailed empirical explanation for every factor, but I can confirm (albeit anecdotally) that purposeful positioning works as well in the consumer tissue category as any other.

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Understanding Customer Loyalty

This post was first published on where I am a contributing author.

Any good product manager will tell you that every product goes through a predictable life cycle following launch. Marketers make plans for their products to take them from early adoption through to maturity and decline or renewal – usually in the form of line extensions or product re-launches. The skills involved in managing this life cycle are often want makes some products a flash in the pan: think Beanie Babies or Neopets – or an established and loved part of the scenery: think Kelloggs cornflakes, Folgers coffee.

Understanding where a business sits on the life cycle is imperative to develop strategies for growth and is taught in every business school and marketing 101 course. Increasingly, companies that are growing at rates higher than the market or their category have added another important layer of complexity to their analysis and started looking ‘outside in’ to understand how to grow their businesses. These companies appreciate that consumers also undergo a life cycle in their relationship with brands and take more deliberate steps to manage the loyalty process with these consumers so that they can capture the greatest possible share of wallet from them during the lifetime of their relationship with the brand or product.

By approaching their consumers in a different way, because these companies understand that the context within which their consumers might be interacting with the brand is not the same for all consumers, they develop more targeted and as a result, more effective campaigns to retain customer loyalty and grow sales.

Let’s look at this at the most basic level: How I feel about drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning will be very different to how I feel about drinking the same cup of coffee after my evening meal. If that basic premise is accepted, it leads to questions as to why an advertiser might run the same ads for its products throughout the day.

If contextual relevance can influence consumer behavior simply by looking at different use occasions, think how powerful a model would be for determining strategies where a company understands and then targets the loyalty cycle stage for a segmented group of consumers.

This model exists and can be applied to every brand through developing a better understanding of the benefits ladder for each brand or product. When I work with clients, one of the most challenging exercises we carry out is the creation of the benefits ladder. The benefit is the principal driver in any consumer’s purchase decision and it is the consumer’s payoff for using the brand. It is imperative to build better benefits so that the consumer gets a compelling payoff.

As the benefit provides the consumer with the basis for choosing the products or services it needs to be competitive and should be the most meaningful consumer benefit that the brand wants to and can own in the hearts and minds of the consumer. We ladder up from product or functional benefits to consumer or rational and then emotional benefits.

Product benefits get at what the product does and are the lowest order benefits. It usually fails to evoke any brand loyalty, particularly with parity products. A consumer benefit addresses the inherent reward to the consumer from the product benefit, building a bridge for consumers in translating the product benefit into something more meaningful to them. The highest level benefits are emotional, because these create feelings and beliefs around the brand or product that transcend the functional results that a product might deliver.

When customer loyalty is approached in the same way as the product life cycle it becomes a very powerful tool for the marketer – why? Because emotionally loyal consumers are more valuable in terms of length of relationship with a brand and the level of profitability these consumers deliver to the business.

Consumers who understand and receive only functional benefits will remain loyal to that product for much less time and will be much less profitable than those who develop an emotional attachment.

Over many years of working with global brands I have seen time and time again, that the leading brands are those that successfully give their consumers a compelling reason for choosing their brand in preference to a competitive product, which immunizes the consumer against the lure of equivalent products. When a functional benefit is shared by a competitor, regardless of whether it is a product feature, benefit or consumer benefit, the brand’s emotional benefit might be the compelling point of difference that wins the consumer and creates brand loyalty.

The thing is that all consumers new to a brand start from the same place, but more often than not the advertising or communications that they see fail to give any support to developing the relationship with the consumer from functional to rational and then emotional bonding.

Reaching higher levels of loyalty requires brand and product teams to work together to position their brands and products more effectively and then develop and implement objective driven marketing plans to move these consumers through a loyalty life cycle.

How does CRM impact on this? To be effective in developing relationships with consumers, relationship development needs to be sensitive to where they consumers currently sit on the loyalty spectrum and have the tools available to help elevate the relationship with the consumers to the next level.

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Superbowl: Social Media’s Damp Squib

This was going to be the year that the SuperBowl advertisers presented flly integrated social media campaigns into their commercials, bringing a modernity and connectivity to the whole event that had never been seen before.

Except it didn’t.

Placing #tags and urls into the ads hardly counts as a social media revolution. Where was the interaction, where indeed, was the behavior change that they were driving for in the ads? Where was the acknowledgement that there are many new and exciting media that the consumer already interfaces with to connect with their brands?

I have already posted on the futility of the Super Bowl ads. What has been revealing this year is that so many other people in the industry have commented on the same issue. This is new. This is different, but it is not going to have any impact. I have no doubt that next year we will read PR release after PR release about who is buying air time at the Super Bowl and we will get all the hype again about the spots we are going to see.

The problem is that there are simply too many vested interests in continuing this facade. The agencies want the profile, the TV company wants the revenue and the company executives who approve the spend no doubt suffer from the hubris of thinking that this spend is actually going to generate sales.

Sadly, the self same companies that have made such a hash (no pun intended) of integrating social media into their mainstream advertising, missing the key opportunity of the year, will none the less look to social media to measure audience reaction. There are probably there now in their meeting rooms exchanging power points on how many YouTube views their ad has received. They will be trawling twitter for mentions and their PR firms will pat themselves on the back because they got such valuable coverage that is worth millions.

Excuse me if I don’t jump for joy. You missed an opportunity (again) to connect with your customers in a meaningful way. There was not one of the ads that invited the customers to develop their connection with their brand. Where were the invitations that the consumer do anything? It is mindblowing.  A majority of people who watched the Superbowl have a smartphone and will have texted os sms’d during the match – but none of the ads engaged these people to do anything.

Advertising at the super bowl is real spray and pray advertising. Narrowing down the target and getting a response from as many people in the audience as possible should have been a key objective set for the marketers approving the spend here. The Superbowl offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with people. They are in a good meed, they are receptive, they are waiting for the ads (not something that you can say during most TV shows), and then…nothing.

What could these advertisers have done?

Groupon could have signed up all the Tibetan restaurants it could find nationally and sent out a coupon for each city possible (for sure they should have found them in Texas).

Chrysler could have asked anyone touched by the Detroit Epic to contribute to a charity supporting a city that they themselves acknowledge is in need.

Doritos could have … well actually I am bit stuck as I was totally grossed out by the Doritos best bit pervert.

But you get the idea. I wanted these ads to develop connections between the advertisers and their community. It didn’t happen. What we got instead is a bunch of ads that allow and enable the marketing community to get together and propagate backslapping and congratulations about what a good Superbowl it was.

Maybe next year things will be different…


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Digital outperforms TVC for DTC

All the most recent research shows that consumers are increasingly tuning out TV commercials. This includes Pharma offerings. Other industries have reacted to this much more quickly and are now adopting holistic, interactive, digital strategies and are getting the sort of cut through and (more importantly) sales results that TVC offered when it was the only medium in the game.

The activities of the FDA should not deter marketers from venturing into the digital age and increasing their focus and spending online – OK we all know that Novartis got its wrists slapped for the Tasigna facebook widget – because this is where the customers are at the moment. More and more of the people with whom Pharma marketers want to interact are online, and using online as their conduit to all media. How many people watch TV these days? The majority of us either have TIVO system where we record what we want, or subscribe to Vuze or TV duck . I cannot remember the last time I actually sat down in front of the TV and suffered an episode of House interrupted by commercials: but I am looking at ads online ALL the time. So are the majority of your customers.

The FDA is not the problem here, it is the fact that Pharma marketing departments have not invested in digital knowhow and the big agencies that they work with either do not have specialist digital agency teams (so don’t promote this as the way forward), or once they get the team they are so emasculated and underfunded that you might as well not have bothered.

And that’s the crazy thing. Digital costs so much less than other channels to develop, and test – yet it is now proving to have the best ROI of all. Why? Because your prospects is pre qualified before you get to them. Instead of pay and spray advertising (do you really know how many of the target audience suffer from the condition targeted with your sponsorship or TVC?) you can be more targeted, more specific and much more likely to make a sale. Having a website is simply not enough any more. Consumers want dynamic content, news, interaction a conversation. While it might not be true, it looks like Pharma marketers simply do not understand this channel.

Part of the reason is that Pharma marketers like to work with one agency ‘that understands the industry’. And that’s why all the advertising looks and feels the same and why the consumer is increasingly disengaged. As I said above, the big agencies have developed a digital service, but what happens is that the cutting edge marketers from these smaller agencies leave once the big boys come to town. It’s just not fun for them any more. They went into digital because they saw the difference it could make and the fact that they were not institutionalized is what made them great. Industry knowledge is too inward looking, too self contemplative. Digital agencies are about fresh blood and ideas. OK, you might make some small mistakes to being with, but these guys learn really quick.

And talking of the inside out view providing analyses that TVC works on an ROI basis is frankly self serving. Have you ever looking into the potential conflicts of interest from the market researchers, agencies, media buyers and all the other professionals working in the industry who would have so much to lose if Pharma decided that the ROI from this channel did not deliver? Sadly a great deal of the marketing industry is beset with organizations that feed on each other, none of which wants to upset the gravy train they are all on because they have too much to lose.

Look what just happened with the Super Bowl. Millions of dollars spent on providing advertainment for the audience. We saw lots of reports on which as was the most popular, which had the best recollection, which was funniest and which agency had egg on its face for screwing up the execution. What we did not see is any of the agencies suggesting which might actually change consumer behavior and increase sales.

With digital media measurement can be more precise, direct: effective.

I do not propose that all your budget is immediately switched into the digital area, but please, please start the shift in this direction now. The Pharma companies that will win in the future already have sell designed digital strategies as a part of an holistic 360 approach. In this instance, there is no doubt that speed of getting into this channel will deliver significant competitive advantage.

Posted in Campaign strategies, Communications strategy, Marketing communications, Pharma Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who is your marketing guru?

I thought it would be interesting to know  who your marketing gurus are.

Follow the link to blogstampede. Let’s see who the real marketing gurus are, and why.

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Should you proactively reposition your brand?

Brands develop over time and one of the most over looked branding exercises required by any company is to pro-position. By this, I mean that leading brands remain leading brands because they do not rest on their positioning laurels and take proactive steps to review their core positioning every few years. Avoiding change has been proven time and time again to be counterproductive. Once a brand gets too comfortable that’s when you have to start to act. Any business that is standing still is actually going backwards because the competition is doing anything but standing still.

Sometimes, however, it’s just too late: Repositioning is required and the whole brand requires an overhaul to put it back on a growth trajectory. Repositioning is indicative of a brand that it no longer healthy and in a state of business decline. Repositioning is reactive and MArchitects should not be reacting. That’s like trying to repair your house after something has decayed and broken instead of maintaining the property in tip top shape all the time.

There are always risks involved as the rebranding of Gap in 2010 demonstrated, but in most cases, consumer reaction is not so extreme and the reshaping of the brand transforms the fortunes of the company.

My opinion is that ALL brands should carry out some sort of brand review or proactive positioning every three years. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Change is good. Change is essential, provided that the objective of the change is to exploit the full potential of the brand or to respond against major marketplace shifts.
  • You don’t need to change the brand essence. I am a believer in purposeful positioning for brands. This means that the brand should stand for something at a societal level. It is unlikely that that this would change over a three year period (in fact it should not), but there will be other drivers for change that need to be considered within the context of brand positioning. Adaptive, iterative and proactive recreation of the brand over time is a good thing.
  • Start while the brand is still healthy. If you start the process of reviewing the positioning while the brand is still healthy and growing, you are much more likely to increase the rate of growth. Stagnant brands stay just that. Stagnant.
  • Demographics/psychographics and technologies do change over time. Competition and the external environment do not sit still. These days, so much changes over a very short period of time (where was facebook 10 years ago?) that you simply cannot sit still.
  • Proactive positioning has many advantages: If you actively look at your positioning it is likely you will extend the life cycle of that brand, improve the brand’s strategic health and customer relationships – because you will be getting back to the basics of what makes the brand attractive to the target market. It also helps to protect the brand against competitive attacks because they can be understood more quickly.

There are some stellar examples of companies that have successfully reinvented themselves following a proactive positioning exercise. IBM, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and most recently Starbucks. Others who constantly work on the positioning of their brands are not quite so noticeable – except in their financial results. Nike, the Dirt Is Good team from Unilever, Akzo Nobels Dulux are great examples of brands that continually manage their positioning for growth.

Part of their success comes for their purposeful positioning (they all have greater societal aims than simply being a brand leader) which vision, going beyond the conventional category boundaries offers a much higher level emotional connection with consumers. It is also driven by their willingness to continually question the conceptual framework of the competitive framework within which they operate. Companies that are always looking at their positioning are very sensitive to future development in consumer attitudes, behaviors, market place dynamics and many other factors.

It does lead to the question why more companies do not engage in proactive positioning and take the risk of engaging in repositioning. I think that the answer is that it does not sit well within the current corporate environment that is focused on the next quarter’s results. Additionally:

  • There are few early warning signs for diminishing brand health. Increasing sales can often be a mask for poor brand performance.
  • If the company is making the numbers, why change anything – it’s working.
  • The average lifetime in a company of a Chief Marketing Officer is 18 months – there’s simply not enough time to deal with the major strategic issues.
  • It’s dangerous politically – who wants to tell senior management that they want to invest in ‘changing’ the flagship brand.
  • Many people do not know how to go about achieving a new positioning.
  • It requires change – and as we all know, people resist change.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make your brand stronger while it is still strong.

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