Monthly Archives: July 2009

1 waste in advertising BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog

Garbage In, Garbage Out — How to avoid waste in advertising

BNBranding logoI took a load to the local dump the other day. As I hucked yard debris and unwanted consumer goods out the back of the truck, I got to thinking about waste in advertising…

There are mountains of it.

Despite all the analytics that are available, and the digital targeting, and the plethora of marketing options, waste still happens. And for smaller businesses that are trying to maximize every penny spent, it really stinks.

how to avoid waste in advertising

Often it’s due to a lack of strategy. (Here’s the difference between strategy and tactics)

As an ad agency copywriter I often found myself working on poorly defined assignments. It wasn’t a lack of creative juice… we always had a lot of good ideas. The problem was lack of strategic direction.

More often than not, we simply didn’t have anything insightful to go on, which in turn produced waste in advertising… wasted time, wasted talent and wasted money.

Creativity without strategy is like a Ferrari without a throttle.

Many small ad agencies simply don’t have the personnel to provide insightful strategy. Agency Account Executives who manage clients often don’t have the experience they need to provide true strategic guidance.

Or the client doesn’t want to pay for the research and planning that is really necessary.

So the creative teams have to come up with a strategic nugget of their own, or continue throwing conceptual darts, hoping something sticks. Not a good arrangement for either party.

 

 

 

So here’s some insider’s advice on how to work with your ad agency,  digital marketing firm, or whoever’s handling your marketing communications in order to reduce waste in advertising:

First of all, if you want the creative product to be memorable and effective, you’ll need to do your part as a business owner or Director of Marketing. That means staying involved and providing concise strategic input in the planning phase of the advertising process.

Because it really is a case of garbage in, garbage out. And there’s already too much garbage out there.

Avoid the advertising landfill with a good Creative Brief.

Every ad agency has its own version of the Creative Brief. Creative teams rely almost entirely on this document, so the only way you can be sure your ads will be on target is to agree on the strategy mapped out in the brief. As a client, it’s imperative that you understand that document, and sign off on it!

Jon Steele, the strategy guy on the famous “Got Milk” campaign says a good creative brief should accomplish three things:

“First, it should give the creative team a realistic view of what their advertising needs to, and is likely to, achieve.

Emphasis on realistic. Honest. Authentic.

Second, it should provide a clear understanding of the people who the advertising must address. It should include some real insight on the target audience, not just a one sentence list of the demographic group.

And finally, it needs to give clear direction on the message to which the target audience seems most likely to be susceptible.”

In other words, be clear and be relevant.

waste in advertising - BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog In a nutshell, Steele says the creative brief “is the bridge between smart strategic thinking and great advertising.”  When it’s done well, the strategy and the creative execution are perfectly aligned. When it’s not done well, it produces a lot of waste in advertising.

Unfortunately, smart strategic thinking is often lacking in the small-agency environment. Agencies pay lip service to it, just like they pay lip service to doing “breakthrough creative.” In reality, most small agencies simply don’t think things through very well before the creative teams begin working.

It’s perfectly natural considering the creative product is their only deliverable. Everyone wants to get to the sexy stuff, ASAP.

Sergio Zyman, former CMO with Coke-a-Cola, says “ strategies provide the gravitational pull that keeps you from popping off in all different directions.” Likewise, the creative brief is the strategic roadmap that keeps all your agency people heading in the same direction.

Drafting a truly insightful brief is both a creative and a strategic exercise. Andrew Cracknell, Former Executive Creative Director at Bates UK, says “planners take the first leap in imagination.”

Steele says the brief should not only inform the creative team, but inspire them. Instead of just listing the problems that the creative team will face, a great brief offers solutions.

Brand Insight BlogIn the case of “Got Milk,” the brief said ditch the “good for you” strategy and focus instead on deprivation… what happens when you’re out of milk. That was a HUGE strategic leap. The creative team took it from there.

So if you’re a client, insist on staying involved until the creative brief is absolutely nailed down. Then sign off on it, and set the creative team free in the right direction.

Then, when they present the creative product, you can judge not on subjective terms, but on one simple objective question: Does it follow the brief in a memorable way?

Don’t overwhelm them with data.

Advertising people don’t look at business like MBAs do. And as a general rule, they hate forms. So don’t expect your creative team to glean much inspiration from sales reports and spread sheets. And don’t assume they understand the fundamental metrics of your industry.

You need to have your elevator pitch and your essential marketing challenges nailed down in layman’s terms before you go to an agency or a freelance creative team. As Zyman said, “If you want to establish a clear image in the mind of the consumer, you first have to have a clear image in your own mind.”

Do a presentation for the agency… present your version of the facts, and then engage them in dialog. It’ll force you to focus on strategic thinking and it can generate tremendous team energy.

But don’t be surprised if they question your most fundamental assumptions. That’s what they do.

Remember, advertising people are specialists.

Don’t expect your agency team to grasp all the nuances of your business. Even though agencies often claim to immerse themselves in your business, all they really care about are creative forms of communication.

If you want someone who understands balance sheets and stock option restructuring, hire a consulting firm.

And frankly many digital advertising specialists don’t even care about creativity. They just want to put something “out there.” Anything to fill an insertion order.

It’s unfortunate that so many ads are nothing but garbage. But if you have your act together from a strategic branding standpoint, and stick to the process, a good agency can be a tremendous asset.

It’s a two-pronged approach: First, collaborate to answer the question “What are we going to say.” That’s the strategy piece. The let the pros decide “how are we going to say it.” That’s the execution piece.

It’s a classic win-win arrangement: They can win awards, and you can win business.

For more on positioning and how to avoid waste in advertising try this post.

To get some of your own, call us. 541-815-0075

BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog

6 Consumer behavior

Predicting consumer behavior: Or the whacky, random ways people buy.

BNBranding logoCorporations spend billions every year trying to predict consumer behavior.  Market research firms have sophisticated modeling protocols, ivy league PHDs and multivariate analysis to help them make sense of what is, inherently, nonsensical behavior.

Take, for example, the time my dad decided to replace his rusting Ford pick-up truck.

He drove two hours to the Big City so he’d have plenty of truck dealers to choose from. He went online to do some research, then he spent the weekend kicking tires, braving the onslaught of salesmen and test driving every make and model.

He came home in a Toyota Matrix. He was 75 at the time.

 

 

Predicting consumer behavior is like trying to predict the weather in Central Oregon. Things change by the minute.

Consumer behaviorGod only knows what possessed him to switch from a Ford pick-up truck to a little urban pocket-rocket. The Matrix is more suited to base-thumping car stereo blast-a-thons than my dad’s easy-listening coastal lifestyle.

No amount of big data could have could have predicted it.

In hindsight, I suppose you could say it was consistent with his car-buying history, which is even more erratic than his golf game. I challenge anyone to find a pattern in this list:

1968 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe

1970 Chevy Caprice Station Wagon

1972 AMC Hornet (In order to torture his son)

1974 Chevy Vega

1976 Ford LTD 4-door sedan.

1980 Mazada 626 (below)

predicting consumer behavior

1985 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

1991 Ford Taurus

1997 Ford F-150 Pickup

2004 Toyota Matrix

2008 Ford Taurus

2010 Toyota Camry

2017 Toyota Camry.  (Wow, a repeat purchase. He’s getting predictable in his old age.)

I’ve decided he buys cars the same way he buys fruit… Whatever looks good, smells sweet and is on sale at that particular moment.

You might think that’s a little weird, but research published by University of Iowa neurologist Antonio Damasio shows that most purchase decisions are almost as random as my dad’s car buying. Predicting consumer behavior is not easy.

Damasio says marketing messages are processed outside the conscious mind. Emotions push us toward decisions we think are best for us, and we often bypass reason because experience endows us with what he calls “somatic markers in the brain.”

Somatic markers are the most likely biological basis for intuition. These pre-recorded behavior guides are based on inherited behavioral traits and formed by experience. When making decisions, somatic markers are triggered, often making reason irrelevant.

So it’s intuition and emotion that drives real life purchasing decisions. Not logic.

As Dr. Dean Shibata put it, “If you eliminate the emotional guiding factors, it’s impossible for people to make decisions in everyday life.”

On the other hand, when people are asked hypothetical questions about purchases, as in a focus group, the brain works on a much different, analytical level.

predicting consumer behavior“Instead of the real reason for buying, researchers get a rationalization based on the respondent’s idealized self-image. If they don’t account for this bias, researchers are left with a model based on how people think they ought to be motivated, rather than their actual motivations.”

So beware of market research that demands a rational explanation for irrational behavior.

And here’s another thing that makes predicting consumer behavior so difficult… Many times we aren’t “qualitatively conscious” of our motivation.

“Consumers have limited knowledge of their own values, needs and motivations that affect purchase decisions,” says Neurologist Richard Restack.

So my dad probably doesn’t even know why he made that decision to drive home in a Matrix. It wasn’t really because the garbage cans would fit in the hatchback.

The point is, all purchases are emotional purchases.

So the next time you’re throwing together a sales presentation, or putting together a Facebook campaign, you might want to spend more time trying evoke an emotional response, and less time building charts and graphs.

Reason certainly does play a vital role in some stages of many buying decisions. But in the end, the actual purchase is entirely emotional. The rationalization for the purchase is what’s rational.

Here’s an example from my own, personal experience…

I recently purchased a new driver, which was said to guarantee at least 20 more yards off the tee. (Don’t even get me started on those tired golf industry promises.)

Predicting consumer behavior

Here are the reasons why I pulled the trigger, now, on a new driver purchase:

  1. It’s been 8 years since I purchased a new club. I was due. I deserved it.
  2. A client of mine in the golf industry couldn’t shut up about this club. And he gave me a deal.
  3. I couldn’t find any consistency with my current driver.
  4. It was market research for this article.

Not exactly a rational decision, when all was said and done.

It had nothing to do with the features they tout in the golf industry magazines. I wasn’t searching for more distance. “Ten more yards” was not a relevant message for me.

The point is, people are unpredictable. Even old people who are brand loyal are unpredictable.

As marketers, the minute you start thinking you really know your audience’s hot buttons and can predict their behavior, forget about it.

Just when you’re sure you’re going to sell another Ford pickup, they throw you a curveball and go for the Matrix.

BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog

 

 

If you’re wondering what your brand story should be, try this post.  If you want my personal advice, click here.   Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. John Furgurson.

 

  • “Brand” Trumps Managerial Incompetence.
  • “High-Quality” Content – Finding or providing something genuinely worthwhile.
  • 1 Tough Mother, 2 marketing objectives: Image advertising AND results
  • 4 common advertising mistakes — Bad puns, bribes and other branding blunders
  • 4 Ingredients of small-business branding – Learning from breakfast cereal and a 4-buck burrito
  • 5 Things All Iconic Brands Have In Common.
  • A new approach to website design – What’s the big idea?
  • Absolutely better brand differentiation.
  • Absolutely Better Branding Strategies (Lessons from a strong shot of vodka.)
  • Advertising in a crisis: Shit happens, but brands endure.
  • Airline Industry marketing (One Canadian brand stands out)
  • As long as first impressions matter, website design will matter.
  • Automotive Advertising: Another ride down that twisting, mountain road of tired clichés.
  • Back to Basics (A working definition of Branding and Brand)
  • Bare breasts mean business at Starbucks.
  • Borrowed interest and other desperate attempts to attract customers
  • Brand authenticity (Keeping it real, honest, genuine and true)
  • Brand credibility killers — 5 things guaranteed to set off my BS detector
  • Brand design with a bang – Visual cues and consistency across platforms
  • Brand experience – How one ski area is trying its best to manage expectations.
  • Brand strategy: Put some meat in your marketing messages.
  • Branding Fundamentals – The ABCs of Branding are RCD
  • Branding the Olympics – leading by example in sports marketing
  • Brands and corporate mergers — F15 Fighter vs. the 787 Dreamliner
  • Brands of Love (How to build a loving relationship with your customers.)
  • Brands that are built to last. (Jim Collins on brand values)
  • Brewpub Branding: Messaging and attitude from Brewpub Beer Snobs.
  • Cammo brand personality (Duck Dynasty goes high fashion.)
  • Catching frogs and campfire songs — Branding lessons from summer camp
  • Class A office space, Class A brand — Brand alignment with your location
  • Comparison ads – From Cola Wars to Computer Wars
  • Craftsmanship in Advertising (God is in the details.)
  • Crowdsourcing logo design (Getting literal for little.)
  • Death in a small business — Brands outlive their founders.
  • Definition of digital marketing — 3 things you HAVE to know
  • Delivering your elevator pitch to potential investors — Gone in 60 seconds
  • Deschutes Brewing Going National (How to grow without selling your soul.)
  • Dual Purpose Websites – How to create branding sites that sell.
  • Ecommerce brands & on-line shopping — The best thing ever for MANkind.
  • Effective Personal Branding — The corporate head shot is not the ticket.
  • Effective TV advertising — How to avoid TV spots that miss the mark.
  • Enough, already, with the exclamation punctuation in advertising.
  • Fake thrills and false advertising — Another automotive marketing misfire.
  • Fear Of Loss in advertising — Another effective angle of attack
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out — How to avoid waste in advertising
  • Getting to the point for better PowerPoint Presentations
  • Golf industry marketing strategy – Parity vs “kickassery”
  • Gratitude in business – 5 things every marketer should be thankful for
  • How stock photos sabotage your brand image – Beware of visual clichés.
  • How to build a brand… First, own an idea.
  • How to build credibility for your brand, one chapter at a time.
  • How to compete in the booming Kombucha Market
  • How to differentiate your company (Disruption as a branding discipline)
  • How to do great branding ads — Subaru scores with skier-focused print.
  • How to do more effective advertising (Just the facts won’t do it)
  • How to hire the right marketing person — the first time.
  • How to make your copy more compelling: Mix up the words for better results.
  • How to survive when the economy tanks.
  • Is “Inspiring Bank” an Oxymoron? The Branding of Umpqua Bank
  • Is it car sickness, or just nauseating radio ads?
  • Judge Not. (And make good marketing decisions.)
  • Just a little trim around the ears — How to cut your marketing budget without hurting your brand image.
  • Just say NO. Sage advice for small business
  • Keen Footwear is a great branding case study. If the shoe fits.
  • Lessons learned from 30 years in a professional services business
  • Living The Brand, Scott Bedbury Style.
  • Logo contests: A bad idea for any good brand
  • Marketing for financial advisors – beyond gift baskets
  • Marketing lessons from all that annoying political advertising of 2020
  • Marketing lessons from GM — Will a $30 billion bailout buy them some focus?
  • Marketing lessons from the not-so-surprising failure of Sears
  • Marketing Management & Leadership – Who’s really running the show?
  • Marketing Resolutions (3 easy paths to better branding)
  • Masterful Brand Management – Golf industry marketing & Tiger Woods
  • Naming — Age-old advice on how to name a new business.
  • Naming a baby vs. naming a business
  • Naming, rebranding, and the role of your brand origin story.
  • Need a new logo? (5 things to know before you hire professional help)
  • New word, old idea — The definition of content marketing
  • Non-profit branding (A story of start-up success and failure)
  • Old-school advice from Mad Men: Improve response by using the USP in Advertising.
  • Packaging design — unwrapping a critical element of your brand
  • Paralysis by Analysis (How fear and big data can kill great marketing)
  • Pepsi logo redesign – A new spin on the Pepsi logo.
  • Personal branding strategy – Get to the heart of it.
  • Positioning — It’s not what you SAY. It’s what they THINK.
  • Predicting consumer behavior: Or the whacky, random ways people buy.
  • Restaurant Branding — Recipes for failure and success
  • Retail Marketing Strategy — Super Sales vs. Super Brands.
  • Secondary Reality (Alternative facts in natural foods marketing)
  • Ski Industry Marketing — New product launch vs. the birth of a brand
  • Small brands, big attitudes. How to create an XXL brand personality
  • Small-Business Management 2020 — Unusual times require an unreasonable approach.
  • Sorting through the endless “marketing opportunities”
  • State Farm is Where??? Insurance industry marketing
  • Storytelling in business — a good story equals strong leadership.
  • Strategic listening and consumer insight – Small business market research
  • Strategic Thinking vs. Tactical Acting – Your marketing needs both.
  • Successful branding – 3 logical reasons why brands need more emotional thinking
  • Successful Branding — Zero-in on the main thing for brand loyalty.
  • Successful brands are built on beliefs. (Not products)
  • The 4 Ps of Marketing – Plus one for Ecommerce
  • The Allure of Ecommerce (4 reasons why small retail brands often fail at online sales)
  • The ancient, proven path to marketing success – Credible, Emotional, Rational
  • The difference between marketing strategy and tactics.
  • The DIY mentality and small business marketing (2 clearly different paths)
  • The Inside-Out Approach To Building A Brand — Start with your people
  • The new normal for Ecommerce — How to sell more stuff online.
  • The new normal in e-commerce — How to sell more stuff online.
  • The rise of “Digital Marketing” — The death of advertising?
  • The secret to success: Clarity in business communications.
  • The secret, missing ingredient of content marketing.
  • The ultimate franchise retail branding experience – like a kid in a candy store
  • The Yin & Yang of Marketing – Are your efforts in balance?
  • These two words are NOT synonymous: Logo. Brand.
  • TMI – How information is killing your advertising
  • To Blog, or not to Blog.
  • Travel industry advertising – Wales misses the fairway by a mile.
  • Truth and clarity about Guerrilla Marketing
  • Truth, Lies, and Advertising Honesty.
  • Under Armour marketing — Sailing into a big, blue ocean of opportunity.
  • Wait, what??? The 5 worst words in marketing
  • Website Design — How to hone-in on a better homepage
  • Website Design & Development – How to make websites work on many levels.
  • What do great brands have in common?
  • What marketers can learn from the Olympics — Branding and the Olympic Rings.
  • When Branding outpaces the brand. And vice versa.
  • Who reads long copy these days? The hungry ones.
  • Why most marketing videos fail. (Unscripted advice on the missing ingredient)
  • Working together for more effective advertising. (11 helpful tips)
  • Writing better web copy — How long should that copy be? Really.