Friday, May 4, 2012

Marketing has its benefits

30 years ago when I started in advertising at D'Arcy MacManus & Masius, one of the first notes I ever took in a meeting was this:

"Translate features into benefits"

I didn't know it at the time, but this is the foundation to all good marketing communications.

Don't just tell me what the product has or how it works. Tell me what it will do for me.

Those benefits can be functional – Faster WiFi connection will make me more productive.

Those benefits can be emotional – Serving whole grain cereal to my kids makes me feel like a better parent.

Those benefits can be social – Using a Mac signals to people that I'm "creative".

Functional benefits are the easiest to copy. Social benefits are the hardest to own. But brands like Nike, Apple, BMW and Harvard are much more valuable than their competitors because of what they say about the people who use them than what they actually do for the people who use them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The secret to building loyalty

Thank you.

Two simple words that aren't used enough in marketing.

We're so busy looking for our next customer rarely do we reward our best customers. It doesn't have to be big. You don't have to create complex loyalty programs. Just give them the same deals you're giving those new customers you're trying to attract and then say this...

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dyson disses branding

James Dyson is a contrarian.

The latest evidence of this came in a statement he made at a design conference on Tuesday.

"There's only one word that's banned in our company: brand. We're only as good as our latest product. I don't believe in brand at all."

That's the beauty of being the founder. You don't have to believe in brand because you are the brand.

As long as Dyson is head of his own company, it will be about solving real problems with superior engineering and iconic design.

The challenge will come when he's no longer around to provide guidance and exert control. When the things he "knows" aren't codified in a way that allows his successors to pick up the baton and lead the company in his absence, the company can fall apart quickly.

It happened to Wendy's after Dave Thomas passed away.

It happened to Apple when Steve Jobs was fired in 1985.

You don't have to call it a brand – in fact, I'm becoming less and less a fan of that word due to its over- and mis-use in the past decade – but you have to establish and communicate your company's bedrock principles to ensure it will live well beyond your mortal years.

It may be morbid, but there's truth in the saying, "you don't have a brand until the founder dies."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bringing the message to life

On the heels of yesterday's post, comes this interesting video from Ogilvy/Paris about an experiential ad they created for Ford's Park Assist feature.

This idea brings a real world problem to life in a way that everyone can relate to. Who hasn't tapped a bumper or two when trying to parallel park into a tight spot?

The only challenge with this is getting a lot of people to join the experience. Hopefully, Ford has plans for this in more cities soon.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Marketing's two objectives

There is a lot of advertising out there: on television, in print, on the web, embedded in games, billboards, sponsored tweets, direct mail, vehicle wraps, tattoos, sweepstakes and believe it or not, people are still producing radio ads.

While the ultimate goal of all marketing communications is to drive sales, each piece of communication has – or should have – one objective, one reason for being, one goal it's trying to achieve. This singular focus is what makes an ad powerful. It also makes life easier for the agency team and the client.

The challenge often becomes agreeing on one objective.

Along with the proliferation of media it seems there has also been a proliferation of objectives. Phrases like, "create buzz" "spark engagement," "leverage our network," "enhance our pop culture cred," and a lot of other nonsense appear all the time in Ad Age and Adweek.

Essentially, though, there are really only two objectives for commercial communication:
  1. Generate trial for your product or service
  2. Convince those who've tried your product to continue to buy it
Too many campaigns seem to lack a clear idea of what they want the viewer to actually do. Awareness is great. Affinity is great. Facebook "likes" are great. Twitter followers are great. Brand esteem is great.

Ultimately, however, it's all about action that generates revenue. 

If your 'buzz' isn't connected to an objective that makes the cash register ring, it's worthless.