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What can Marketers learn from The Boss?

ImageFor the first time I witnessed the sensational Bruce Springsteen (The Boss) in Sydney this week. To say that he left the audience in thunderous raptures is an understatement. His Wrecking Ball tour performance in Sydney was an absolute cracker. I have not been a big fan of The Boss but what I witnessed was good enough to convert even the greatest sceptic. As much as I know this was an extraordinary display of musical talent, it was also about marketing and delivering the Springsteen brand.

So, let me draw some parallels between Brand Marketing and Bruce Springsteen. Firstly The Boss delivered way beyond any expectation (I can testify to this as I was there). He delivered more entertainment than what he charged for (by many other concert standards). He went far beyond the notion of value for money. He had the most astounding emotional connection with his audience (his on stage persona had to be seen to be believed). And last but not least, he had oodles of passion for what he did and he demonstrated that in no small measure.

Bruce Springsteen transcended the boundaries of age, race, gender, and culture. And he knew his audience intimately. He demonstrated the principles of Brand Marketing very well. Firstly, He packaged the Marketing mix elements of this experience brilliantly. In connecting with the audience in a very intimate manner, he displayed emotive Branding at work. Consumers connect with brands at both a rational and an emotional level. While rational aspects of a brand are largely tied to tangible benefits of the brand, emotional aspects are tied to the non-tangible benefits. In forming Brand Attitudes, consumers are sub-consciously drawn to these emotional aspects of a brand. These emotive aspects form the backbone of the brand (attitude) and are largely influenced by 2 main pillars of branding.

1)      Brand Platform – This incorporates the Brand Values (Innovation that matters, Dedication to every clients success, Trust & responsibility – IBM), Brand Promise (The ultimate driving machine – BMW), Brand ambition (We will be recognized as the brand that makes personal contact the most important element in mobile communications – Ericsson), and Brand Personality (Creative, Innovative – Apple, Outlaw – Harley Davidson). A clear single minded articulation and delivery of these brand platform elements are quintessential to brand success.

2)      Brand Beliefs – Brand beliefs are shaped by positive Brand Attributes. For those who are academically inclined this can be expressed as a formulae (Ao=∑biei). The theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen) suggests that beliefs are combined additively to form attitudes. The greater the number of favourable beliefs one holds, the more favourable ones attitude towards the brand. As organizations seek to exceed in their delivery of product/service attributes so can they expect an increase in the brand beliefs.

In keeping with good branding principles as mentioned above, over the past 40 years Bruce Springsteen has endured time, remained vibrant, energetic, and relevant, and re-launched himself in order to keep his personal brand on top of his fans hearts and minds worldwide.

The 4 most important trends affecting CMO’s.

CMO 4 The advent and proliferation of Social Media and other Web 2.0 tools have changed the Marketing landscape forever. In this context, I like to present some facts and observations on this fascinating shift that is making Marketing headlines these days.

According to the largest CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) study done in the world, here are the 4 trends that are most pervasive and game changing for most CMO’s.

  1. Data explosion
  2. Social media
  3. Growth of channels and devices choices
  4. Shifting consumer demographics

At the same time the digital revolution is providing unprecedented opportunities to engage with customers, business also face the daunting tasks of staying afloat in the digital ocean. The world now creates as much information every 2 days as we did from the dawn of civilization*. Therefore todays CMO’s have to do much more data crunching than their predecessors.

Everybody is aware of the power of Social media which has lead to the “5th wave” in Information Technology. Its impact on global businesses is indisputably phenomenal.

There is also a proliferation of intelligent devices such as smart phones, tablets, game consoles, and e-readers. These smart devices are part of consumers everyday trimmings and is also increasingly used as BYOD (bring your own) devices within the enterprise.

The explosion of data, social media, growth of channels & devices, and shifting consumer demographics, have brought about massive challenges to CMO’s. None the least, a game changing shift in mind set from traditional to new age Marketing.  But alas, according to this study more than 50% of CMO’s feel they are under prepared  to manage these new challenges.

I remember an old saying if you can’t change something, change your attitude.  And so with every challenge arrives and opportunity. All of the above trends provide Marketers an enormously fertile ground to engage with new customer segments, and also analyse/predict information like never before.

So what are the technologies available to address these growing issues? According to key research findings, here are some of the technology recommendations most CMO’s plan to deploy:

Social media and enterprise-wide collaboration, Customer analytics, CRM, Mobile applications, Content management, Tablet applications, Single view of customer, Predictive analytics, Reputation management, SEO, and Marketing campaign management.  

* IBM market research.

Social Media – hype or value add to Marketing?

At an ANZ Marketing Forum recently, A renowned Marketing academic who delivered the key note address questioned the wisdom of Marketers being over zealous about Social media 1 He went on to warn about the dangers of blindly jumping on the Social Media band wagon.  As much as this came as a shock wave to some, to others in that audience it was a not so radical statement.

Allow me to remind that Marketing academics such as Philip Kotler propagated “Social Marketing” back in the 1970’s long before the Internet as we know of today was even invented.  (Kotler & Zoltman 1971). Kotler wrote about galvanizing “social” communities back then.

However, here lies some key differences. The “Social” medium as we refer to it today has far more greater audience reach, is more instantaneous, and popular than it ever has been. The technology available to both Marketers and consumers to engage dynamically is vastly different from any other era known to us. Tuning into the radio just this morning, I heard that with new real time bus apps bus users in Sydney will be able to use their smart phones to track how far away their next bus is. Amazing!

From a Marketers standpoint, the technology available to engage in “push” Marketing as well as to track consumer sentiment, and measure Marketing $$$ spent on “on line” has never been available like this in the past.

However, the main thrust of this blog is this:

For practicing Marketers, Social Media should not be confused with Strategy. Building Marketing Strategy involves staying true to a rigorous set of Strategic planning principles and modelling.  Social Media therefore is the tactical outcome of that strategy. Social Media is today’s new “above the line”. It is a pervasive medium used to reach the target market. In using Social Media Marketers still need to exercise good Marketing rigor of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning as well as selecting the right Social Media “mix” to achieve maximum target audience reach.  Whilst Social Media has captured the global attention and has indeed come to the forefront of Marketing communication, it is also an unknown maze where you can squander a lot of un-accounted for Marketing $$$. So, just as much you would apply ROMI on traditional media spend (IE. TARPS, Cost Per Thousand etc.), it is imperative similar analysis like Click Through Rates (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), and Real Time Engagement be used in order to ensure the right social media “mix”  is selected.

Why Good Ads “Click”.

Axe Fireworks

Here are 2 of my favourite new print ads. Needless to say they featured as winners of the prestigious Caanes Lions Advertising Awards for 2012. The 2 ads are for Axe fragrance and Maxam toothpaste.

I despise adverts (Brand Managers, and Creative Directors) who do not generate a measurable ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment), by not adhering to what Marketers are taught as good Marcomms strategy and execution. I have had the good fortune of being in the company of renown Marketing academics and practitioners during my time as a Marketing student and professional. So in my opinion here’s what make these ads “click”.

Great advertising is aimed at captivating the target audience, and compelling the viewer to respond (favourably) to given stimuli. If this sounds like some deep theorem, it is exactly that. Markcomms follow the basic premise that attitudes towards Brands / Products are formed in the sub-conscious. Hence, why at a deeper level Marketers/Advertisers are compelled to study the brain and consumer psychology.

The ads discussed here constitute these essential properties in advertising:- EMOTION, a PROMISE, appeals to the TARGET CUSTOMER, states a KEY BENEFIT and/or a KEY ATTRIBUTE and highlights the product CATEGORY NEED. Effective advertising is clean, un-cluttered and delivers a “single minded” message to the intended audience, whilst creatively applying the above factors to an advert. If you cannot address the above criteria, it is prudent not to waste ad Dollars.

Maxam Civilization Rome

Poor mediocre advertising seems like more common place in the Australian ad landscape, and Management (and consumers) are entitled to demand better innovation and creativity from advertisers. The ads described here were the creative works of BBH London (Axe) and JWT China (Maxam). Other notable brands that won were – Benetton, Rayban, Amnesty International as well as Carlton beer and Volkeswagen both created in Australia.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media and Enterprise wide Collaboration has changed the Marketing landscape for good. The advent of Web 2.0 and the explosion of Social Networking has given rise to new Brand Touch Points, Idea Incubators, Social Networking, and Crowd Sourcing. Here are some mind numbing facts:-

  •   40% of social media users access social media from their mobile phones
  • 53% of active social networkers follow a brand
  • 70% of active social networkers shop online
  • Every 4 in 5 active internet user visits social networks and blogs
  • Over twice as many people aged 55+ visit social networking sites on their mobile phone than last year
  • More women view video on social networks but men watch longer
  • When compared to average internet users, active adult social networkers are 75% likely to be heavy spenders on music, 45% more likely to go on a date, 47% more likely to spend more on clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Among Nielsen’s 10 metered markets, Australians spend most amount of time visiting social networks and blogs.

Although Social networking is not a new Mantra anymore, it is indeed a potent and effective Marketing medium that should be embraced and implemented within the B2C and Enterprise Marketing space. Social networking offers significant benefits when adopted for internal and external Marketing.

*Source: Nielsen and NM Incite.

Business goes mobile – 170 of the top 198 communication service providers world wide have selected IBM

By the end of next year (2013), the number of mobile internet users will exceed desk top internet users. When I was attached to the mobile telephony team at Ericsson some years ago, we all dreamed of this milestone happening one day, and indeed the time is nigh. IBM is in the forefront of many technologies and not surprisingly “More than 100m hand sets shipped this year contained IBM technology”. The power of mobile telephony is simply amazing. Varying industries from Retail, Health care, Banking, Insurance, and even Government is now deploying (killer apps) for Mobile Commerce, Customer Interaction, Location Based Services, Asset Management, and not the least Collaboration & Social Networking.

Dare to be different

A couple of months ago, I earned myself a well deserved break. And in my various escapades, I stumbled across some very interesting places, people, and new products. There was a lone Flautist perched on a tree playing for tourists at a remote village restaurant in Sri Lanka. We stayed at a very unique hotel called Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana Sri Lanka, which is built smack dab in the middle of a forest and is positioned as the ultimate Eco-tourist destination. I also visited some beautiful touristy places in Singapore, including the risque and upmarket Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store.

All of the above stories including A&F’s “Shirtless greeters” are brilliant examples of product differentiation. These are products that succeeded in creating a favourable Brand Attitude in my select list. In the modern break neck world of Social Media and mass proliferation, the one thing Marketers would be smart in doing is to create a solid product/brand differentiation. Product/brand differentiation is a key element in building the brand strategy, and makes a brand stand out from its competitors. Essentially, what this means is to create a unique set of product or brand attributes that positions a company’s product or service in a uniquely different manner in the consumers mind. This is compared against the competitors product attributes. This can be measurements through Brand Attribute tests. By creating unique attributes products/brands will lend towards a more favourable position during the consumers decision making process. Product / Brand differentiation can be a direct tangible benefit such as Product innovation – Patek Phillipe, Toyota Prius Hybrid, Apple ipad, Price – Bunnings hardware or more sublime as in a Marcomms campaign – IBM “Smarter Planet”, Nike “Just do it”.