The HUB magazine announced the results of its annual contest for the best brand experience of the year. This year, the “best of show” honors went to Kmart for their “Ship My Pants” commercial. The ad was produced to promote Kmart’s program to ship any out-of-stock or wrong-sized item in the store to you for free. It’s a program that deals directly with an ongoing Kmart issue. The 31-second spot had several characters repeat the “ship my pants” or “ship my drawers” line…and it was hard to avoid misinterpreting “ship.”
I recall that when the commercial was first aired, some said it was unwise and off-brand because it would (and did) offend some and ran counter to Kmart’s family-friendly image.
They were wrong. …Continue reading
Neural marketing, which involves techniques such as fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or EEG (electroencephalogram), is a hot topic in marketing. It can purportedly generate insight into consumer response to marketing variables while reducing the biases inherent in asking consumers their opinion, such as when they are not able or willing to give valid answers to questions involving perceptions, attitudes, or behavior. Further, consumers are driven in part by subconscious thoughts and emotions that neural marketing techniques can access. There are estimates that 95% of all thoughts are subconscious.
Neural marketing, in the right context, can measure variables like attention, engagement, emotion, pleasure/liking, and memory. Each of these can be an extremely relevant dependent variable of interest when testing or evaluating many marketing stimuli. …Continue reading
Why do ideas, videos, images and messages go viral? Why do some things get shared and not others? What motivates people to share?
Everyone’s trying to crack the code. Some people think it comes down to luck or the quality of the idea. For others, it’s entertainment–people just like their cat photos.
I recently attended a conference in New York with a group of elite “contagion thinkers” presented by the Marketing Science Institute. Jonah Berger (Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On) was the headliner, and described his six “STEPPS” for making ideas spread. He was joined by several professors and practitioners from organizations such as Harvard, BuzzFeed and Yahoo to discuss what makes ideas viral, both offline and online. …Continue reading
Is your brand-building effort effective? Is the budget spend effective? In my first branding book, Managing Brand Equity, I identified indicators that brand-building was misdirected, mismanaged, or underfunded–problems that are increasingly relevant today. With a few edits, here is the list.
- Managers cannot identify with confidence the existing brand image, its strength, and how it differs across segments and over time.
- Knowledge of levels of brand awareness is lacking or imprecise, and the visibility of the brand among segments is just guesswork.
- There is no in-depth understanding of the basis for customer loyalty or of how it is lost or reduced. A systematic, reliable, sensitive, and valid set of measures of customer satisfaction and loyalty by segment is not available.
- The measures of brand performance and brand-building programs are quarterly and yearly, often based on sales. There are no indicators of the brand tied to long-term business success that are used to evaluate marketing programs. Aspirational brand associations, in particular, are not part of the decision criteria in selecting and managing brand-building programs.
- The reward structure and tenure of brand managers do not motivate them to manage strategically.
- There is no long-term strategy for the brand, no vision as to what brand association is desired and what product classes in which the brand should be competing.
- There is no person or team in charge of the brand. Instead, silo organizational units have independent control of the brand with their product-markets.
Any combination of these is a recipe for strategic problems and lost opportunities.
photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc
There’s an amazing milestone happening this year, which I’m surprised we don’t hear more about: 2013 will be the year that US marketing spend on digital surpasses TV. TV ad spend will be a little under $70bn (including media placement, creative and agency fees), and digital marketing spend will be over $70bn. Finally, 17 years since I set up a digital team at J. Walter Thompson, the future has arrived!
This is an amazing milestone for us data scientists and marketing analytics folk. Old-style TV advertising doesn’t create much data at all, except some Nielsen-based marketing mix modeling. On the other hand, digital marketing throws out an incredibly rich set of data – whether we’re talking about search, display, location-based services, digital TV/multi-screen with return data, or even email. The explosion of Big Data and the application of analytics is transforming marketing. …Continue reading
It’s no secret that brands are constantly in search of ways to build connections and loyalty with their customers. However many brands are tackling this challenge by blasting meaningless messages into the ether, hoping to gain a committed following. It’s a sure-fire way to turn people off and eventually leave your messages falling on deaf ears. Strong brands engage consumers with authentic and consistent material that reflects an understanding of their interests and gets the dialogue going. These days, great content makes for great brands.
The word “content” is the catchall term for brand communication, and companies around the world are hopping on “content creation” as the way to capture the hearts and minds of customers. Every day, consumers are inundated with brand generated advertising – around 5000 advertising messages compared to a mere 500 messages forty years ago. Yet, this statistic doesn’t capture the various Tweets, Instagrams and other messages companies push out every day. Content is everywhere, and the impact is real – consumers are conditioned to filter and sort through the junk more quickly and easily than ever. …Continue reading
The last time I visited San Francisco, I was looking for a place to eat and came across a neighborhood with a remarkably high concentration of restaurants. I had plenty of choices, but with so much clutter, nothing really stood out. Some places tried to differentiate with an approach I’d never seen before: They paid people to stand on the sidewalk and stop pedestrians to tell them about a “favorite dish” or something they “had to try.” The strategy didn’t seem to work. It was clear these “advocates” were paid, and as a result everyone tuned them out like verbal spam.
Many attempts to build brand advocacy don’t look much different. Whether it’s an offer of 20% off your next purchase in exchange for a Facebook “like,” or a $50 store credit for referring five friends, many brands try to build advocates through incentives. In the short term this may be effective, but for many potential customers, encounters with this type of advocacy can feel inauthentic and transparent. We move it directly to our mental spam folder, and sometimes create negative associations with the brand as a result. Brands interested in creating lasting, long-term relationships with customers should avoid the temptation to incentivize and focus on building advocates that are authentic and genuine in their recommendations…but how? …Continue reading
I wrote approximately 50 blog posts in 2012, but there are five that stand out in my mind as being especially provocative or informative. Herewith, my top picks from 2012, with a few runners-up thrown into the mix as well:
My post entitled “CEOs Are Born, Not Made” really hit a nerve. It was stimulated by Bob Lutz’s book that blamed GM’s problems on “bean counter” CEOs rather than “car guys.” I argued that unless you have inherent CEO talent, being a “car guy” will not help. You need to be born with CEO talent, and no amount of training or background experience will help. Many disagreed. Three other posts had CEO themes: one explained why Steve Jobs and Bobby Knight (the fabled basketball coach) were so successful despite being jerks, another told about Tom Aaker, who is a successful CEO with an anti-jerk style, and still another discussed how the talent of Muhtar Kent, the CEO at Coca-Cola, has made a difference. …Continue reading
When identifying the top print advertisements and best headlines in the last century of advertising, one written in 1926 by a young copywriter named John Caples, only one year on the job, is always part of the conversation. The ad is known by its headline, “They laughed when I sat down at the piano — but when I started to play!” His assignment was to entice people to buy piano lessons by correspondence from the U.S. School of Music. As inspiration he was given a pile of advertisements that worked, another pile that didn’t, and was left to attempt the task.
Under a picture of a young man at a party sitting down to play the piano, the headline set the stage and indeed summarized the story that was recounted in the body of the ad. The hero was ridiculed by the guests when he sat down, but the ridicule turned to accolades and applause when he begins to play, only a few months after starting the correspondence course. The ad was not only critically acclaimed but, more to the point, brought a lot of customers. …Continue reading
How Altering an Ad Policy Alters a Brand Positioning
There’s a lot to admire about Change.org.
Since its 2007 launch it has served as a “social action” platform to empower and enable everyday people (over 20 million members in 196 countries) to bring attention to and rally support for their causes. TIME magazine named its founder and CEO Ben Rattray as one of this year’s 100 most influential people. And it actually does well with its do-good mission: This year’s revenues reportedly are running at the $16 million mark.
The Change.org brand has become tightly linked – synonymous even – with progressive causes and social activism. Its success stories reinforce its positioning: The woman who gathered 307,000 petition signatures, causing Bank of America to back down from its proposed $5 debit card fee. The 2.2 million signatures resulting in George Zimmerman’s prosecution for the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. A South African victim’s petition against that country’s “corrective rape” practices intended to “cure” lesbianism, leading to a government task force to stop the practice.
That positioning has also been reinforced in its business practices: Its advertising policy has been values-based, and Change.org only accepted advertising from progressive organizations that shared its values. …Continue reading