Author: Dave Mccaughan

LESSON 9: “SECONDARY RESEARCH” IS ACTUALLY THE FIRST AND SHOULD BE THE CONSTANT MEANS OF YOU AND YOUR TEAM REALLY UNDERSTANDING THE MARKETPLACE AND WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE OPEN TO YOU. 

This is not a confusing note about school grades but it is a serious note about doing research. If you have attended our Marketing Research Futures seminar then you will know that I am passionate about the need for any organization to spend time and money on quality research at all stages of your business. After all, marketing is primarily about “knowing what it is that people want, need, fear and how your product or service can help fulfill that need.” And as explained in previous columns if you think you “know” what people want then you are a bit in the dark. Never use your own experience or your friends and family as a stand-in for understanding what real people feel.

Qualitative, quantitative, semiotic, ethnographic, automated research all can play a key part in all stages of your business. They are all generally called “primary research” – research undertaken as an original or primary investigation or substantiation or tracking of what is happening that you commission. My problem is that before you do that primary research you really need to be spending a lot more time on what is, in my opinion, referred to as secondary research. The use of secondary ( as in developed, written, published by others ) research should always be your first priority.

Now I don’t mean doing a Google search. I am guessing that many of you, like me, when confronted with some new subject has the first reaction to Google, Yahoo, Bing it. Fair enough. Except, that is a very “poor man’s” effort. As you surely know the big search engines only cover a part of what we know and also report it by popularity rather than quality. And of course, being universally lazy we all tend to only look at the first 3, maybe 4 pages of results of findings on the big search engines.

When I first entered the world of marketing I had already spent a decade as a trained librarian. I was used to helping people seek out a detailed list of bibliographies by looking thoroughly through library catalogs, specialist journal compilation indices and detailed specialist databases. So imagine my shock when I discovered most clients and most colleagues did almost no background investigation and reading with existing documents before commissioning “research”. Even more so I was amazed at the monetary waste of clients who fail to search their own records and in house document files before starting some new focus groups or ordering a survey. There is no excuse but laziness.

Too often I have seen clients who have no idea of the back data and research in their own files. Once for an office of Coca-Cola I had to point out that they were commissioning a new survey on exactly the same topic that different divisions of their company had also undertaken three times in the last five years. They simply had not kept a good record and a process of insisting that brand managers know about existing primary research before starting anything new.

There are, I recommend three key types of “secondary” research that any company should insist all marketing staff are constantly updating themselves with, investigating and using in-depth before undertaking any new research :
1. Internal records: all that information that has come before. Because all too often they will have more inspiration, learning and new ideas embedded in them than new research can find
2. External Databases: there are many great sources of research, experience, learning and potential learning by simply doing some proper investigation. Never ever start a new project before looking at standards like the WARC database, the ESOMAR Research World database, a proper academic search of key marketing journals through your local university library ( note most of this material is not easily available on Google ).
3. Search engines searched by experts: you might be one but if you think just typing your subject into a search engine will help, you are sadly mistaken. You can also use the new wave of machine learning / AI-driven platforms that will search, read, analyze all content across the internet. Do not list what is popular but do a full analysis of what is really happening and matters. Ask me about the SignificanceSystems platform I use.

Good research is not about finding instant answers. It is about understanding what really matters and to do that you will find there are an awful lot of sources you need to study before maybe wasting time and money on a new survey. 

For more information regarding Marketing Futures please email us at marketingfuturesbd@gmail.com
Follow us at www.facebook.com/marketingfuturesbd
Marketing Futures is an Initiative of Ideamax Creatives Limited

All I wanted was a T-shirt souvenir but alas there was none.
It was the end of another wonderful trip to Dhaka. The meetings had been good, the presentations I had done had gone well, the hospitality as generous as it always is in Bangladesh, I had seen a lot of old friends and made many new ones. As any frequent traveler does I left for the airport with plenty of time to spare, “just in case”, and inevitably ended up getting there early with time to kill. Rather than go to a lounge or café I decided to shop. My son had his birthday coming up and he loves wearing and collecting t-shirts. It sounds like a simple enough thing.

I wandered around all the shops, looked at some cheap shoes, a few decorative pieces, less than spectacular duty-free shops, and various stores selling clothes. All I wanted was an XXL (my son is a big man now) T-shirt with some interesting Bangladesh design or logo on it. NONE!!

A country that makes 80% of its exports from garments, that is the second-largest garment industry in the world. But no good looking, easy- to find, a stylish T-shirt souvenir at the airport. It got me thinking.

Meanwhile, the same week ICE tells me about their 10th anniversary and asks me to write something for this special edition of the magazine. Congrats on the achievement. And thanks for the opportunity to maybe point out the obvious. T-shirts matter. Not because I am a huge lover of t-shirts. But I am a lover of “the little things”. Because in business, in marketing, in getting people to change opinions the little things matter. T-shirts have since the 70s become a major social medium. All sorts of causes, brands, charities, and movements have and continue to use them. Brands like Nike, LEVIS, A Bathing Ape became in part famous because of their use of t-shirts as billboards for their brand. We wear our loyalty to our favorite football team, or band or political grievance for all to see on our t-shirts. I am sure many a reader here has shared branded t-shirts to staff and or customers. Some of us tone down the branding now. Sometimes we will hire celebrities to sign or give them away to add value. T-shirts have become one of those mediums we all use or at least consider without thinking. Because hundreds, thousands or maybe millions of people are walking around with your message on their chest or back may not get a lot of chatter in the marketing media we all know that t-shirts help brand recognition.

And tourism experts certainly know the power of the t-shirt. Thirty years plus ago some genius created t-shirts for what was one of the world’s most dangerous, dirty, decrepit cities with the logo “I LOVE NYC” ( with a heart-shaped big apple embedded ). Part of a movement within the city to help raise pride and change, part to attract attention. Pretty soon though cities all over the world had their own version at souvenir shops. Have you ever been a tourist to any major destination and not seen T-shirts, and now other garments, with the name, symbol, designer’s interpretation of what that country, city, place represents on sale?

T-SHIRTS HAVE BECOME ONE OF THOSE MEDIUMS WE ALL USE OR AT LEAST CONSIDER WITHOUT THINKING. BECAUSE HUNDREDS, THOUSANDS OR MAYBE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE WALKING AROUND WITH YOUR MESSAGE ON THEIR CHEST OR BACK MAY NOT GET A LOT OF CHATTER IN THE MARKETING MEDIA WE ALL KNOW THAT T-SHIRTS HELP BRAND RECOGNITION.

Now I know some of you will be tearing up this page and yelling “but we have t-shirts in Bangladesh”. And sure you do. But if you are a visitor they are hard to find, and not very attractive and not something memorable. And whoops …. that is also why my t-shirt hunt is also a metaphor for Bangladesh. A booming country, with a lot of great hope and attributes. I know it is a fast-growing economy, that it creates many great new ideas, that it has lovely people and many good things. However, I have had the good fortune to make twenty trips to the country. For most people in the world, it is like a missing t-shirt. A bit of an unknown.

Every occasion to make an impression matters. Every little occasion.

Decades of advising brands of all kinds and sizes across the Asia-Pacific have taught me that it is so true. If you want your brand to get noticed make sure you get noticed. You may not be able to afford to buy the biggest signage at Times Square or run advertising in the Superbowl, but you can make sure your packaging will be noticed, make it creative and worthy of word-of-mouth ( that was what we used to call social or influencer marketing tactics).

So back to the opportunity. Wouldn’t it be great if you were visiting my home city of Bangkok or Sydney or Tokyo where I also spend a lot of time and you saw people in T-shirts not just made in Bangladesh but with really interesting designs that were clearly about Bangladesh? Go further. Wouldn’t it be great if people thought of looking for any T-shirt made for any brand in the world and checked inside to see if it was made in Bangladesh on the tag? Use the countries’ expertise in the medium that is T-shirts to drive a deeper appreciation of the overall country brand. Because that is what great brands do. They use their own media as their primary messenger. Think about Coke. The uniqueness of their bottles and labeling is known everywhere. Think BMW, Apple, Nescafe, etc. Great brands first and foremost use the simplest of mediums: a logo, a badge, their packaging, their product. Intel, of course, most famously used a little sticker to make sure that a product almost no one could explain “had to be inside”. Great brands use little, simple mediums to be recognizable, unique, wanted.

What if “Bangladesh inside” becomes a real thing to drive interest in the country?

Little things. Does a dynamic country use its strength to drive greater interest in itself? A country full of creative thinkers, artists (I proudly have Bangladesh artwork on the walls of my office) and many many bright people. Surely you could use one of the simplest but pervasive mediums to bring the Bangladesh message to the world.

Hey IBT, where is my amazing 10th-anniversary T-Shirt?
Hey Bangladesh, use what you have.
Give me a T-shirt.

THE WRITER
is the Co-Founder, Marketing Futures and Chief Strategy Officer, Ai.agency
davidcmccaughan@gmail.com

 

SECONDARY SHOULD ALWAYS COME BEFORE PRIMARY

No this is not a confusing note about school grades but it is a serious note about doing research. If you have attended our Marketing Research Futures seminar then you will know that I am passionate about the need for any organization to spend time and money on quality research at all stages of your business. After all, marketing is primarily about “knowing what it is people want, need, fear and how your product or service can help fulfill that need”. And as explained in previous columns if you think you “know” what people want then you are a bit of a fool. Never use your own experience or your friends and family as a stand-in for understanding what real people feel.

Qualitative, quantitative, semiotic, ethnographic, automated research all can play a key part in all stages of your business. They are all generally called “primary research” – research undertaken as an original or primary investigation or substantiation or tracking of what is happening that you commission. My problem is that before you do that primary research you really need to be spending a lot more time on what is, in my opinion, referred to as secondary research. The use of secondary (as in developed, written, published by others) research should always be your first priority.

Now I don’t mean doing a google search. I am guessing that many of you, like me, when confronted with some new subject has the first reaction to google, yahoo, bing it. Fair enough. Except that is a very “poor man’s” effort. For as you surely know the big search engines only cover a part of what we know and also report it by popularity rather than quality. And of course, being universally lazy we all tend to only look at the first 3, maybe 4 pages of results of findings on the big search engines.

When I first entered the world of marketing I had already spent a decade as a trained librarian. I was used to helping people seek out a detailed list of bibliographies by looking thoroughly through library catalogs, specialist journal compilation indices and detailed specialist databases. So imagine my shock when I discovered most clients and most colleagues did almost no background investigation and reading with existing documents before commissioning “research”. Even more so I was amazed at the monetary waste of clients who fail to search their own records and in house document files before starting some new focus groups or ordering a survey. There is no excuse but laziness.

Too often I have seen clients who have no idea of the back data and research in their own files. Once for an office of Coca-Cola I had to point out that they were commissioning a new survey on exactly the same topic that different divisions of their company had also undertaken studies three times in the last five years. They simply had not kept a good record and a process of insisting that brand managers know about existing primary research before starting anything new.

There are, I recommend, three key types of “secondary” research that any company should insist all marketing staff are constantly updating themselves with, investigating and using in-depth before undertaking any new research:
1. Internal records: all that information that has come before. Because all too often they will have more inspiration, learning and new ideas embedded in them than new research can find

2. External Data-bases: there are many great sources of research, experience, learning and potential learning by simply doing some proper investigation. Never ever start a new project before looking at standards like the WARC database, the ESOMAR Research World database, a proper academic search of key marketing journals through your local university library ( note most of this material is not easily available on Google ).

3. Search engines searched by experts: you might be one, but if you think just typing your subject in to a search engine will help, you are sadly mistaken. You can also use the new wave of machine learning / AI driven platforms that will search, read, and analyze all content across the internet. Not list what is popular but do a full analysis of what is really happening and matters. Ask me about the significant systems platform I use.

Good research is not about finding instant answers. It is about understanding what really matters and to do that you will find there are an awful lot of sources you need to study before maybe wasting time and money on a new survey.

 

Dave McCaughan
Co-Founder, Marketing Futures

LESSON 8 :

BEING YOUNG IS ALL ABOUT TRYING TO FIT IN. SOMETIMES THAT INVOLVES STANDING OUT AND SEEMING TO BE DIFFERENT. AND PARENTS OFTEN DON’T REALLY MIND FUNDING THAT SHOW OF REBELLION.

Yes, you read that correctly. Any sort of practical marketer who is interested in getting young people to consume their brand is actually a revolutionary. Or rather the trick is to remember you are helping them revolt INTO the middle class.

Go all the way back to 1950’s America, and the decades since the idea of teen rebellion has taken off – movies like “Rebel without a cause”. The boom in wearing what had been blue-collar working clothes like jeans and t-shirts as fashion was because businesses took advantage of the idea of “youth as special and rebellious” and needing their own special brands. Pepsi understood that when they switched the Cola wars around by declaring they were there for “ the Pepsi generation” – young people who would make an exclusive, unique group. Those who got “it”. But Coke of course also recognized it was important to be “it” ( “Coke is it” was maybe there greatest ever tagline).

The point though was that what made so many of these brands and trends and ideas work was because they were really targeting generations of young people who wanted to be cool, to be different, to rebel. What is interesting is that for most rebellion was only possible because their parents were able to afford it. Parents were able to send them to school/university, pay for their new lifestyles, fund their desire to get the right fashion, drink the right drinks, buy the right technology.

When I first started working in Thailand in the late 90s our research very quickly noticed that the youth of the fast developing market wanted to be different, to be recognized as different from their parents. They wanted to be seen as modern and at the same time they aspired to break boundaries. So how did they express that? They wore Calvin Klein knock-off jeans, they owned tamogochi electronic pets, they were seen buying drinks and snacks from the then-new hangout – 7-Eleven stores. Brands that represented things that their parents might not understand, might think extravagant, or ill-disciplined.

But they paid for these things. As parents do when they can. It is a truism that the broad definition of a middle class is not about education, job status, home ownership. One of the most common definitions is that it means having expendable income. And it is also a habit that when parents have a bit more cash they tend to want to spoil their kids. Or at the very least to make sure the world thinks they can afford to spoil their kids.

In Bangkok during 1998-9 an awful lot of parents were allowing their teenage kids to buys brands and services they might not really understand or approve of fully, but if they were persuaded that having them meant their child was “cool” and part of “just being a teenager, a bit rebellious” it was all ok.

And there you have the lesson for today’s marketers in Bangladesh. Are you part of the trend where young people “need to have you” because you make them fit in by being different? Because both that generation of youth and their parents want some help in making sure they are rebelling into middle-classness.

 

MARKETING FUTURES TAKES FUTURE MARKETERS TO IIEX APAC 2018 FOR
UNDERSTANDING INSIGHT AND INNOVATION FOR BETTER BUSINESS

Name a business that has sustained success without leveraging a real insight into the way people think or act or consume? Now name a business that continues to succeed without any innovation? “We do nothing new and have no idea what makes a difference” is not the claim of marketers who succeed. With change being the only constant and technology sweeping the ground beneath our feet every now and then, marketers are bestowed responsibility to drive innovation when it comes to attract new target group and sustain the loyal customer base.

Considering all these and more, it was wonderful for me to be able to chair a conference that focused totally on EXCHANGE of the newest ideas and trends to generate INSIGHT and propel INNOVATION. That was the intent of IIeX Asia Pacific 2018, held in Bangkok on 28-29 November. The latest installment of annual event had nearly 400 attendees from all over Asia listening to two dozen speakers talking about innovations like artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, the latest use of mobile and smartphone capabilities to innovate and gain new insight for better marketing. Fortunately, over 20 of the attendees were from Bangladesh. Our group, Marketing Futures, organized a block of enthusiastic marketers from companies like Mutual Trust Bank Ltd., Square Group, Ispahani and others to attend and gain new learning into the trends, which would be driving market research and how to be more innovative in the overall marketing endeavors. Below is a list of few key insights I would like to share with our readers:

Be people-centered
Adrian Terron, the head of customer centricity projects for TATA group made the point clear in an early keynote address. You can build all kinds of innovation and new products and services but the winners are those that focus on what real people want and how to help them and their communities attain whatever they want from life.

“Thank you, Dave and Faiyaz and the Marketing Futures crew, for organizing the IIeX Asia Pacific 2018 with so much perfection. Knowledgeable speakers, relevant content and good times.”
–  Samia Chowdhury, Senior Assistant Vice President, MTB Communications Department, Mutual Trust Bank

Exploring the way people react
Sometimes great insight only doesn’t suffice to usher in new innovation; one can do so by using old techniques in new ways and markets. Aung Thura from Myanmar shared great examples of using photographs instead of words to get reactions from potential consumers in research. In markets where people are not used to writing or even answering detailed questionnaires and where visual mediums like Facebook are increasingly becoming the most common way people communicate; the use of photos can help understand how people can communicate feelings, attitudes, and answers to question. His session initiated a lot of corridor conversations about the increasing role of photos/pictures/emoji as the primary form of literacy for many and the need to adjust communications and marketing to meet this reality.

“A great session; got to meet a good number of passionate marketers and researchers.”
–  Saimum Jahan Nishita- Sr. Brand Manager Square Foods and Beverages Limited

Craig Griffin shared research for pharmaceutical company Sanofi in China which focused on how to communicate with doctors. What was really interesting was the reminder that findings reminded us of what should be obvious: doctors are really just people. And they use and prefer the mediums that other people use as well. Want to reach doctors? Think about using social media to get their interest and remind them of what they should know.

The shopper experience is more interactive
There was a lot of sessions focused on the dynamic change happening in retail experience and the way we now have more tools than ever to understand how people shop.

The concept of real-time customer focus came up again and again as speakers like Grant Bertoli of Marketbuzzz highlighted how the use of ubiquitous smartphones means that taking photos as part of live feedback on retail or other experiences is increasingly a must for good research. Don’t just ask people what they think or experiences; get them to photograph the experience and report it live. Or make use of all those taps of keys. Greg Lipper of Happi in Singapore has developed a simple app based model that rewards shoppers for sharing information throughout their experience and get reward points for doing so. And in a “Happi” twist all those points can be assigned to your favorite charity, public cause, etc. So research and better understanding that can lead to real insight now also become an innovative means of helping those causes people care about.

“IIEX 2018 APAC brought by Marketing Futures was a great experience for new marketers from Bangladesh as we got to learn how other markets in APAC is applying digital medium and insights for their brands and products, altogether it was great learning for Ispahani Team.”
–  Subrata Deb, Sr Brand Executive – Ispahani Tea Limited

One of Asia’s leading shopping consultants, Mike Anthony of ENGAGE, focused on the simple message that all the new technologies need to be focused on a few simple things like understanding the interaction of on and offline experience. Too often retailers and brands at retail are not providing inter-connecting messaging, equal aesthetic appeal, parallel reactions to potential consumer interest and behavior.

Understand whom you are dealing with
Much of the content was focused on better understanding potential consumers and customers. My co-chairperson, Priscilla McKinney, came from the USA conducted great sessions and workshops on user persona profiling for better understand individual business partners, investors, and customers. Deeper approaches to understanding what drives their behavior and real insight into how to develop more rewarding relationships are extremely important for marketers of tomorrow.

“I learned how insight is helpful in context to social/cultural aspect to develop the design and creative piece, IIEX Apac 2018 brought to us by Marketing Futures had great speakers who carried vast experience in their respective areas, the sessions were very inspiring.”
–  Kawser Mahmud, CEO Karuj Communications.

Dangjaithawin Anantachi from Intage provided a wonderful session re-looking at the need to understand how what we do as professionals and companies are doing to really understand and contribute to social understanding. A great reminder that companies that succeed and people who are happy in their work have a common trait: a sense that they are doing something that is helping people.

“The Nestle case study was interesting and relevant for us.”
–  Head of Marketing Square Toiletries Limited

Fortunately the delegation from Bangladesh all seem to feel that attending IIeX Asia gave them valuable new ideas. And perhaps, more importantly, they agree that attending and understanding what is happening in markets across the region provides real value in finding growth for their own business. Thanks then to Marketing Futures partners like ICE Business Times, Digital Express, Karuj Communications for their support in putting together the opportunity to share the learning with interested companies.

Now let’s make sure that all future thinking marketers continue to learn and share best practice.

 

Dave McCaughan
Chief Strategy Officer, Ai.agency
Co-Founder, Marketing Futures

MARKETING IS ABOUT GROWTH, NOT MESSAGING

Did I grab your attention? Then thanks for taking the next few moments to understand my thoughts on what will matter in marketing. Whether you do read the rest of this article or not, please go on to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. and “Like” my page so you can feed my ego, and I can use that as proof of my brand value. See my links below for easy access to my brand. Of course my brand is me.

Facetious??!! NO. Just a reflection of what I see too often disguised as “effective marketing tips for the future”.

DO NOT get carried away with terms like “social”, “influencer”, “digital”, “cause”, “mobile” …… (the list is endless) when these are prefixes to “marketing”. That is exactly NOT the way to look at these tools. Because they are only tools. Part of a wide range that you may choose to use to communicate and all are really just the current faddish way to express marketing basics that have always been true. Yes, marketers were using social media and mobile strategies long before smart phones were invented.

The role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will not change. If they are doing their job. Please remember that they are not communications managers. They should have someone in charge of communication. And they and their staff should have opinions about the tools that are available in messaging and which are important whether they deciding on influencers or celebrity endorsement, using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics or outdoor signage, changing packs or moving to on-line platforms for sales. What marketers WILL have to continue to do is focus on their key role as growth managers. Finding out what is important in people’s lives and then positioning their products and services in such a way that they answer those needs and create a bond that goes beyond functionality so that people want to continue to consume. That is called brand building and business growth.

So now you are asking “what should I be doing then?”. Here are THREE things that will make a difference to marketers:

Tip No.1
CLEVER COPYING: read “Copy, Copy, Copy” by Mark Earls. It and similar books and articles make it clear that smart marketers are not going to struggle to be totally original because they realize that is nearly impossible. Instead constantly stay up to date with what is happening in yours and similar markets, borrow ideas and adapt them to your own situation. Spend more time studying the history of your own and similar categories for ideas, look at what is happening in similar markets and see what you can adapt or adopt. New tools like blockchain will become important quickly. Nobody will own them just as no one brand “owns” how best to use Facebook. Look widely, learn deeply and adapt cleverly should be your marketing mantra.

Tip No.2
GETTING THE NARRATIVE RIGHT: prioritize research into the narrative that will make a difference. Don’t spend so much time looking for what is trending, the supposed differences between young people today, or the what is the hottest tactic on social media. Instead spend your time and money doing research in to understanding which narratives really matter to people and why and attach your brand to the one that is likely timeless. Look for research techniques that will look across all the available information people are faced with and are able to look for the trends you may not recognize. Automated tools like Significancesystems.com, that I work with, offer the ability to re-think and re-organize everything on the internet to understand what matters. The strongest brands are those that stick to a clear narrative that they have found focuses on a real connection. New research technologies are allowing us to plot which narratives matter, the emotions they are driving, the types of content and media used to project them. Then more traditional research can be better used to fine tune how you tell the right narrative to the right audience.

Tip No.3
PEOPLE FOCUS: think about individuals not cohorts. The golden hope of marketers has always been one-to-one marketing. That is still a long way off. However, we should also now be well ahead of talking such silliness as “millennials are like this ….” Or “the younger generation is very different”. The idea of generational cohort sameness was a bad product of the 1980s (the launch of a the novel “Generation X”) that has just stuck around because it is lazy thinking. In truth young people today as a whole have much in common with young people of 20, 40, 60 years ago. They are young, discovering new fads and technologies but still wanting the same old things like being cool, on-trend, being taken seriously, wanting to be happy. The difference is that with today’s technologies we can understand better that there are never “big block” targets like “millennials” but myriad smaller groups and segments that allow us to appeal to people more personally.

HOW DO I GET TO UNDERSTAND THE OBVIOUS QUESTION? Of course a good marketer will have to spend more time than ever “in the marketplace”. Doing more visits to homes, retailers places where people live and breath including more time visiting where people spend time on screens. But individual marketers can not be everywhere so they need to be doing more research. The trends here are clear:

More time getting well trained ethnographers to look at all aspects of your targets lives and interactions with your category
Take the time to explore the use of machine learning tools: tools that just give you a better understanding of how particular platforms and mediums are used (e.g. make sure you are trained to use Google analytics) and also tools like Significancesystems.com that go much further in understanding the context and connection between everything on the internet.

Get yourself and/or your team to leading edge events that will inform you what is making a difference. For example join me at IIeX Asia (Insights and Innovation Exchange) in Bangkok on November 28-29 to hear from experts across the region on what they are learning that can change your future marketing practice www://iiex-ap.insightinnovation.org/home

Think about marketing as “how can I find the best positioning for what I have to sell” and you will be fine.

Oh and as I said “like” me on FB, Linkedin etc … it will do nothing really for sales but will make me feel good.

 

“Free” is a death sentence, the discount is the move of a dying brand.

Ever heard the phrase “discounted to death”? If not type it in BIG letters, print and post above your desk. It is the single scariest thing in advertising/marketing/promotion. The easiest tactic when you have a sales shortfall, market share is dropping, retailers are giving you a hard time is to jump to the conclusion that you must move stock faster and do that you had better cut the price.

If you are a marketer then that is the obvious reaction of someone not good at their job. Pricing strategy is after all the first and most important role of the marketer. That is right. Not briefing social media activity or reviewing advertising. First comes pricing. A marketer’s role is driven by the thought that they are here to “understand what the potential consumer wants, fears, needs, desires most and how our brand can help them achieve what they want” then making it available at the right price is the summary and first step of all other activities.

Drop the price, discount it, or worse still give something for free and you are basically saying “ I suck at my job … please fire me for incompetence”.

I was reminded of the perils of “free” in a great story that ethnographer par excellence Siamack Salari shared recently on a Linkedin post.

I had been at JWT for three weeks when a senior planner caught me in the corridor. “Do you think we’d learn anything from watching people buying newspapers next Monday morning?” “Why?” “Microsoft is paying for 1.5 million issues of the Times – double the usual daily circulation. So they can give it away for free. And the Telegraph (our client) is a little concerned”. On Monday morning I was standing in a newsagent. The first person who picked up the Times walked to the counter to pay. Newsagent: “It’s free today!” Customer: “Oh! I’ll buy another paper then. And so he did. With the coins, he still had in his hand. The second, third and fourth customer did the same. In twenty minutes I could see the Times had shot themselves in the foot. Because people were sampling other papers. Because the Times was unexpectedly free. Because the Times had not thought their promotion through. At 9 am I called the office and a loud cheer erupted when I told them what I had seen. “But wait, this is just one newsagent…” “Siamack, your job is done. Come in please.” The Telegraph published a headline gloating about the Times’ big boo-boo. A month later circulation figures vindicated me.

“Free” after all really means “worthless” to most of us today. We pay a “premium” because something seems worth more than we first thought or because we understand it to have an advantage hidden to those who “don’t really understand”. A brand suddenly reduced in price ( 2 for 1, buy now and get a big discount, short time only sales etc) may make us react but never build real interest, desire or loyalty.

Instead of “free” or “cheap” always think VALUE. What can you do, show, share, offer for the same price that will add more value to your brand? Maybe explain extra features, combine it with added experiences through partner promotions, added apps available only to buyers, more service. These are the things that make a brand “worth” more at your desired price and at the same time build value and gain interest that lasts.

For more information regarding Marketing Futures please email us at marketingfuturesbd@gmail.com 
Follow us at www.facebook.com/marketingfuturesbd

LESSON 6: PICK TACTICS THAT WILL BRING ALIVE YOUR STRATEGY, DON’T PICK TACTICS BECAUSE MAGAZINES LIKE THIS ONE ARE TALKING ABOUT THEM A LOT.

For example, using a celebrity, or influencers, or KOLs (key opinion leaders) are all tactics. Variations of the same idea. You want to use the importance of individuals to bring attention to your offer. Regardless of strategy one of these tactics may play a role :

Celebrity … using really famous faces and names gets quick awareness. It’s the tactic of “attraction”. It can be used to help bring all kinds of strategies alive. It can be used in all kinds of mediums. Often you hear criticism like “yeah, but it is lazy thinking and uncreative”. Often true. Using the most famous celebrity you can afford is just dumb. Finding a celebrity that reflects what your brand stands for and can add understanding of brand values while getting attention is great. Go look at Nespresso and George Clooney, a beautiful example of a brand character being projected through a globally recognized face. Most commonly and effectively used in strategies like “Look at me” or “We have a distinct style”.

Influencers … using people who have gained influence with your key audience. We get confused by thinking “influencer” is a product of the “social media” age. Not true. Using influencers is as old as marketing ( 1,000 of years ). But what is easier now is tactically finding different influencers for each of your current and potential audiences. Again don’t think “let’s pay this one influencer a lot and we can get her half million followers”. Think “who are our different audiences, which influencers are right to talk to each audience, how can that influencer add value to our strategy?”. It is a niche tactic or series of niche tactics best used when you want to bring alive a strategy like “we get you and your interests”.

KOLs … different again. People with real expertise. Your audience may not have heard of them but their qualifications make them impressive and their view important. Usually, though they are going to be people with high recognition to people involved in a specific field. We have seen a lot of this with food brands in recent years with the use of chiefs of high repute ( think about those judges on MasterChef ). Qualification matters and helps bring alive a strategy that is about “expertise”.

Now all of the above can be applied to Facebook, or television or and email media choice. How you select which medium is again a tactical decision to bring alive your strategy. But you also never have a single tactic in your marketing strategy. Using influencers on Facebook and other social media is an ok mix depending on: who are you trying to reach, will they see your messages, what else are they seeing, where are they seeing it, how much stronger is the message? And a lot more factors.

So think about what social media tactics will you use? Do you have tactics to attract people to the place of sale? The place of consideration?

Finally, a tactical consideration often was forgotten. For decades academics have discussed if advertising is primarily about awareness or reinforcement. The latter is the tactical idea that you communicate primarily not to get attention or conversion ( again different tactics ) but to satisfy people who have purchased your brand/product that they made a great decision. Think about that. What tactics are you using to make sure the people who have consumed what you have to offer are feeling they made a great choice. Do tactics like having a celebrity saying how much she liked the experience, influencers telling distinct audiences that if they had used your brand they were really smart?

Tactics are the detailed ways you bring your strategy to life. The above are just a sample of tactical decisions to be made. Most important is to remember that tactics need to be integrated into a single strategy.

NO.6 THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT TACTICS

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LESSON 5: STUDY, THINK, EVALUATE AND DECIDE ON A STRATEGY THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO WIN: THEN PICK TACTICS THAT WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE THAT STRATEGY. NEW TACTICS SHOULD BE EVALUATED AND USED AS A MEANS OF EXPRESSING YOUR STRATEGY.

Nothing seems to confuse marketers today as much as an understanding strategy versus tactics. We get confused by terms like “digital marketing strategy,” “content marketing strategy,” “social marketing strategy.” Well of course none of these are a marketing strategy. At best they are tactics as a part of a strategy.

Strictly speaking, these topical terms are of course terrible English and not really about strategy. For example “digital marketing strategy” would mean the strategy of marketing digital; which is not what most marketers want to do. They want a plan to market their brand/product/service. Using digital for sales, distribution, messaging or anything else is a tactic to bring your strategy alive. In a modern world, they will probably have to use digital, content, social tactics, all of them, to make their strategy come alive.

The strategy is the big integrated picture. As a marketer, you are measured and focused on getting desired results: producing a brand that answers the needs or carefully considers the audience by ensuring the product caters to the need. Furthermore, it has to be available at a price and a place that make it accessible and communicate the brand’s story including its features, advantages, mythology, desirability.

Strategies are about the overall plan to tackle a situation. Historically they were based on careful analysis to understand your own advantages within the overall situation and deciding on how best to win your objectives. For today’s marketers that means good market research and analysis and the application of the learning to build a complete strategy, often explained in simple terms, but applying to all aspects of marketing :
– “encirclement” is a strategy … making sure that wherever you target potential consumer is they will find the brand talking to them, available to them. Famously Coke’s “always within arms reach” acted as a strategy that defined everything from distribution to pricing to manufacturing and of course has added possibilities in a digital age.
– “change the debate” is a strategy … taking a category and changing the way people will think about it. When MasterCard developed the “Priceless” campaign, it was more than an advertising tactic, it was a strategy to change the way the brand was marketed.
– “ubiquity” is a common strategy. Think about Facebook. Almost from it’s beginning the premise has been that it allows you to link up and share with your “friends” and that your “friends” are all there. Brilliant. And applicable to all aspects of their marketing.

In the 1970s Pepsi was losing ground to Coke in the USA. They introduced a new strategy built on “exclusivity.” All Cola’s positioned themselves on their physical and mental refreshment. Pepsi now talked about the idea that its brand was for a new generation. A brand for a generation that was young and rejected the ways of its parents. A generation that self-defined itself as cool. The Pepsi Generation. By saying the brand was “for you” too young people it was saying it was not for everyone or only those that thought of themselves of that new generation. A strategy that said, “let everyone else drink that other stuff, we are just for you”; a great strategy that could be applied to all aspects of marketing.

Now here is the critical thing: strategies do not change because it is January 1st. Or because the season has changed, or the competitors, or because the new marketing director, brand manager or advertising agency has been appointed. To think they do or should is wasteful and bad management. Nor should strategy change because mediums do. Strategies are the backbone of decision making. Remember that adage “strategy is the elimination of what is not important.” And then build a strategy for continued growth. Then work out the tactics.

TACTICS ARE THOSE THINGS YOU USE TO ACHIEVE YOUR STRATEGY. MORE ON THAT NEXT MONTH.

NO.5 STRATEGY DOES NOT STOP, TACTICS BRING IT TO LIFE

Marketing Futures is an Initiative of Ideamax Creatives Limited

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LESSON 4: 4,000% ROI. YOU ARE JUST A BAD MANAGER IF YOU ARE NOT SPENDING MORE ON RESEARCH.

First, let’s be clear: you should NOT do the market research yourself and rewind to lesson no 1 in this series (the September issue) “You are NOT normal.” Most marketers often come with the preconceived notion of “well I know” based on their experience, which is the worst kind of mistake on their part. In due course of time I have worked and engaged with hundreds of senior marketers, business people and agency executives from some of the world’s best companies and the only consistency I learned about them was that they all knew less than they thought about the people they wanted as their consumers.

Another consistency was that the successful ones loved and spent a lot of time understanding market research.

And while I applaud managers who go out and spend time personally interviewing, discussing things and observing their potential consumer, they have a natural bias to read into every encounter only noticing what they think is right.

It is excellent to observe “normal” people in their real-world environment. So, you should go around and watch focus groups, linger around and spend time with your potential customers. However, you must also make sure, that real decisions are based on proper, professionally managed, neutral market research.

Market research is NOT expensive. In fact, probably no other investment in your business can be equivalent to the returns of proper market research. Recently I had the chance to interview Simon Chadwick for my podcast series MR Realities where I talk to the world’s leading market research authorities about what makes a good research (Check out the link to listen to all the other podcasts in the series, https://bibliosexual.weebly.com/ mr-realities.html).

Simon is the editor of one of the leading industry magazine, Research World, and a leading authority on the value of proper research. His explanation of how recent studies in the USA showed that incorporating adequately managed market research had an average return on investment of nearly 4,000%, inevitably blew me away. Can you risk NOT doing independent, quality research of that magnitude?

I’ve been quite lucky over the years. A long time ago when I first joined the advertising world in my home city of Sydney, I was lucky to meet and spend time talking to Australia’s “father of social research,” a fellow named Hugh Mackay. Hugh was a master at breaking down what were the key issues in life for all sorts of people and what that meant to brands. I was privileged to work with research agencies hired by my clients, which were leading the way as to how modern market research impacted decision making. Later again being lucky I have been asked to join and lead many marketing research conferences around the world. The most important learning from all that luck was ‘the better the quality of the research done, the more chance a marketer has of success.’
When I first moved to Asia in 1996, part of my role was to launch the first ongoing qualitative market research program in the region. Ten countries, fifteen cities, qualitative discussions with “normal people” about their lives at least once a month, which later expanded to other regions. The core markets in Southeast Asia, India and yes Bangladesh kept up versions of the program for nearly seventeen years. The program soon became a sounding board and learning tool for many marketing campaigns as we developed for companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle, L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, and MasterCard. We were able to make sure that by using professional standards and constant independent analysis clients were told what mattered to people. And that, as we said in Lesson 2, is all that matters. 

The types of research you do can vary greatly depending on what you need to know, check, discover like the one I have been doing in the last two years. I have been re-educating myself to learn to use machine learning platforms that do market research across the internet by neutral analysis of linguistics. More on that later.

For now though what brings us to this lesson is: A lot of marketers and business people in Bangladesh are thinking too little, or overlooking the fact of what matters. They are just robbing themselves, and their investors by not paying for quality learning and analyzing the traits of the people who you want should buy your product or service constantly.

NO.4 DON’T ASSUME, GET A PROFESSIONAL TO ASK

Marketing Futures is an Initiative of Ideamax Creatives Limited

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