The one single question for your advertising agency

This weekend I saw a video shared in Facebook, about young people having a great summer experience and, by the way, eating ice creams. It was very well produced (although it reminded me to other similar ads from the beer category), actors were nice and fresh, it looked fine, the claim copy was creatively very powerful. I would congratulate the agency’s creative director, I’m sure he or she was aiming to win some prize at any creative festival. The problem, I didn’t see how that video would help them selling more ice creams. Yes there was a promo behind so you could go on a trip trip with your friends, but definitely they didn’t need the video for that.

Advertising should aim to change consumers behaviors: consider if they don’t know, try if they haven’t done before, buy more if they are occasionals, advocate if they’re regulars. It’s a quite simple funnel (how to influence consumers is, on the other hand, quite more complex since the path to purchase is anything but linear)

Agencies need to reshape to a new integrated model, but CMOs and their teams do also have to provide the right briefings. The better the briefing is, the better chances are that the creative concept will hit bull’s eye (this isn’t new). Most briefs include information about the product and its value proposition, about the target, about the brand. But many times briefs lack business objectives. What do you want to achieve with the campaign? Is it awareness? is it sales? How much? This is important as creatives tend to justify their work with emotional attributes linked to the brand. But even if the business objective is pure awareness, creating a brand personality or narrowing the gap with the consumer, there is a final business objective that needs to be fulfilled. Let’s assume you created the perfect brief, with your business objectives well defined, and your agency brings back a concept. What would be that one single question to ask?

The one single question is WHY?

Why a consumer, after being impacted by the advertisement should change his behavior in order to meet your business objectives. If the business objective is clearly defined in the brief, the creative agency should be able to answer this very simple question. And that question should be in the heart of every creative as a sanity check, proving himself his/her Consumer Empathy.

This is not against creativity, it’s neither against emotionality. The answer doesn’t have to be rational if the business objective is not rational, but they have to be aligned. We’re not asking to explain a concept (which by the way, should be self explanatory) we’re asking how the creative thinks his/her concept is going to modify the consumer behavior in every single step of his/her decision journey, because that should be the real aim of a campaign. Don’t you think?


7 Reasons Why Shopper Marketing is Not Enough.

“Shopper Marketing is the elephant in the room that nobody sees the same way.”
[Markus Stahlberg]

And what an Elephant! Every single client I’ve been lately working with is renaming their trade marketing departments to Shopper Marketing, which is something much more appealing and finally puts their activities at least at the same level that the “traditional” marketing departments. We can find as many definitions of shopper marketing as gurus trying to sell their Shopper Marketing Books, but one I particularly like is the usage of insights in order to target shoppers for creating experiences focusing on business results.

In the past years I have been analyzing the path to purchase and decision journeys of many clients in a decent number of categories, from cars to beauty or energy drinks, and, although there are differences, we can find common patterns in consumers/shoppers behaviors, because at the end, the same shopper buys beers and deodorant in the same purchase. Before listing them, it’s important to understand that in many categories consumers are the same people than shoppers (some call them Shopsumers), and, when it’s not the case (e.g. pet food) the “traditional” marketing is also impacting them (but probably with different values, e.g. kids stuff).

What behaviors are the most common across categories?

Consumers are distrustful towards the brands. Even if the awareness and consideration levels are high, the impact of massive channels is limited for making them try. They use other inputs for getting informed and check the brand proposition veracity.

The impact of other’s opinions is huge. They know a brand, they consider it, but they will always go online to look for the product and get the right answers to conform their opinion. Most people don’t browse the brand website (except they’re on site with their smartphone), nor their social networks, and if they do, they do not give them much relevance. They mostly go for opinions in trusted sites (from retailers such as Amazon or Tripadvisor), blogs and forums, or YouTube when they want to see the product experience.

Employees matter. In those categories where there is a person in the process, it plays a very influential recommendation role, if he or she is well trained. When comparing different retailers, we do see important differences, that can only be explained by the different levels of training and consumer orientation.

Offers and promotions will affect decision, within a choice set. If the brand is not in the choice set, offers will hardly make it get in the circle. If you’re entering the category, leverage on other values.

Working on occasions is a good way to foster trial. Working from the consumer to the product will show how to tackle this occasions, quantifying and twisting your communication towards them, choosing your channels accordingly.

But focus on very specific consumption occasions in the long run will limit growth. Most consumers see a barrier of purchase the fact that the product is not for the occasion, and sometimes it could be with the appropriate change of perspective.

Mobile is everywhere. When asking friends and relatives for opinions, or checking for prices. In fact, a recent study we ran for Geometry Global says 60% of consumers use their mobile device when visiting a physical store looking for prices or additional information.

Ok, good enough. Let’s go back to Shopper Marketing. Just review the seven behaviors and find where typical Trade Marketing, sorry, Shopper Marketing department will make an impact………. yes you’re right, in the point of sales. And the rest? Most of the influences are occurring outside the store. It’s amazing to see how Shopper Marketing is gathering very powerful consumer/shopper insights (business oriented) covering a myriad of touch points which responsibles are dispersed in different departments. Maybe it’s time of a little bit of consumer centricity, don’t you think?

Shopper marketing is not enough, or then everything should be shopper marketing, an elephant in the room is just an elephant, it’s your consumer, and everybody in the company should see it the same way. Who will bell the cat (or the elephant)?

This post was originally posted here.


The 3 biggest spoilers of your marketing success are in your own company.

About a year ago, I reflected on thequalities of the new CMO, and why CEOs should be worried not finding them. Let’s imagine you are one of those superhero multidisciplinary CMOs, recently hired by a great consumer product company (you can extend the example to almost any category). You have great ideas, you have the knowledge, you have the team, then it’s time to execute.

I’m pretty sure you will be undermined by at least two of these three:

 

The Legal department. You start some project, it involves digital, mobile, point of sales… it’s perfect, it must increase the numbers, definitely. And then, in the last minute, when you’re ready to launch it, someone asks the ugliest question can be asked in such moment: “Has Legal seen this?”. Oops. You go back to the legal department, tell them what’s the project about (unable to hide your excitement about it). You lost two precious weeks in the process and they come back with quite a lot of things. Most of them, dismantling the so long optimized consumer experience. Now consumers need to accept an endless terms and conditions before even continue, where they accept basically everything to be accepted “just in case”. Don’t get me wrong, legals are necessary, not only to comply with the law, also to be protected from your own consumers, not all of them are friendly and love your brand. Legal is one of the most powerful department in the companies, since they can completely stop and throw your work, your budget and your passion in the trash. How to deal with them? well, first of all the obvious one, involving them in the project from the very beginning. But also requiring them to work as what they are, a support area: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, tell me how can I do what I want and let’s discuss the trade offs”. Legal needs to work in a consultant mode, and that requires time and a bit of knowledge. But I’m sure your project is worth it.

The IT department. Nowadays, your marketing projects are likely using technology at some point, could be a web, could be a database for CRM, could be a mobile app or an NFC loyalty card or any combination of them. In fact, soon . Some companies don’t have any CIO, since they consider IT as a support area, keeping the laptops and the office networks in shape. That is a big mistake, since companies servicing the marketing area (typically agencies) are neither technology savvy. But since you are a superhero CMO you know what to do. The problem is you need servers, you need security policies, and a lot of things that, well, are not your business. Again, the IT department should help you reach your objectives, not putting obstacles up. When it comes to IT everything can be done, it’s just a question of time and money. If somebody says your project can’t be done, fire him. He or she should tell you what is the cost and times, and then you will decide if you want to spend that money. Well, you and your boss…

The CEO. Oh yes, you have a boss. And probably without the knowledge, nor the time, to understand the fancy things you are doing in Marketing. But you need the budget to do these fancy things, so you need to knock on his/her door at some point in the year. Not only you need to have your elevator pitch ready, but having your boss asking for numbers is actually good for you. Whatever new project you are starting, be sure it has a solid business case behind. Understand all the costs (that you will know because you’re asking for money), the consequences for every stakeholder (consumers, customers, employees), and the return. You need to know how you are going to measure success and what will be the return of that success. Return will not always be money (could be awareness if you are launching a product), but should lately transform into it (if you don’t sell more after an awareness campaign, something is definitely wrong). This measure oriented philosophy, should reach your team, but also your providers. Making your agency win a Cannes Lion doesn’t make you sell more. The scary question you have to always ask is “how much this good idea will contribute to my business?”. If you support your projects with a business case, built with the help of your team and your agencies (Media, Creative, PR), your boss will likely say yes, and you finally will help your company to grow. Wasn’t it your dream after all?

Do you think other internal areas can undermine you marketing activities? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


Omnichannel Retargeting, the scary future is near.

If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t read this post. Even if you’re not familiar with the wordretargeting, you have suffered it for sure. Let’s say you are looking for a nice hotel to spend your Christmas in Bahamas. You visit your favorite online travel agency and start narrowing your choice set, based on others’ opinions, availability and price. You finally see one you like, you check the pictures, room types and so on. You stop it there, maybe you bookmark the page, and you close your browser since probably you want to share it with your relative at home. A couple of hours later you check another page, maybe an online newspaper. Suddenly, every ad you see is related with Bahamas and the hotels you have been looking at. You wonder how does the newspaper website know you’re going to Bahamas on vacation.

What you probably didn’t know is at somewhere, both in the Newspaper and the Travel agency websites, you accepted a cookie policy that allow them to share information through third parties. This cookie is the bit of information stored in your computer that is linking your profile between a bunch of websites out there under the same advertising network. And as of today, this is only available at websites (maybe some apps too).

The good thing about apps is they not only can keep track of what you do in the app (the same you could get from a website), but they know a lot more of things that can be used for retargeting.

For instance, imagine you stop by your favorite clothes shop. You use their app to scan the NFC tag on a pair of jeans and share it with your friends. You get home, open your Facebook and see an offer to buy those jeans online.

But you don’t even have to do anything. You are looking for a new car, you get to the nearest Volkswagen dealer, there is an iBeacon in each car that knows you have been sitting in the New Beetle. You leave… and that evening, when you’re visiting your favorite online car blog, it’s crowded with New Beetle banners offering a test drive.

¿What about TV? Imagine you’re watching your favorite TV show. You have a second screen App that knows what are you watching… including the commercials, where there is a great ad about tourism in Japan. Next time you visit one of your freemium apps, they will show you banners about Japan… And when the TV will not be broadcasted anymore, but on demand, ads will be pushed in the same way banners are. More personalization, more retrargeting.

So all this is very promising, but also very scary. Some consequences of this near future:

  1. Lawyers will have to work harder, in order to structure term conditions and privacy options, basically to allow companies to do what they want with your data. And technology has to follow, privacy settings control should include multi device, multi position, multi brand options.
  2. Media agencies will have to work harder, in order to structure a real strategy based on consumer profiles. Is not anymore about where the target is and pushing some GRPs or banners to mass media, is about understanding the consumer journey and defining rules that cover different behaviors. Needless to say that CMOs and their teams need also to understand this new paradigm.
  3. Communication opportunities will arise between brands sharing the consumer’s basket. Cross selling will not happen in the supermarket, it will happen anywhere. These agreements will allow to share data, with more legal implications.

How all this will change the relationship between consumers and brands? I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic.