Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mindless Branding.

From yesterday's London evening paper.

Small business agony aunt Jo Malone explains how to pick the right place to sell your products.
Dear Jo
I have just started a handbag brand.
I need to decide whether to sell my handbags on my website or through another retailer’s.
Should I sell it online until the brand has gained recognition before approaching buyers?
This is a great question and one that many new businesses struggle with.

No, it's not a great question. The writer has not created a handbag brand. They have decided to make a range of handbags. Nobody knows about them. There is no brand value, there is no brand equity, there is no brand.

This is what happens when the words used by marketers seep into public consciousness. Nonsense ensues. You don't start anything with a brand. You start with a user need and, one hopes, potential customers who might like your stuff enough to buy it.

Pretending you're a corporation with a marketing department that's busy finding clever-sounding work by which to justify its existence really isn't the way to go.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

If Your Marketing Needs An Asterisk Revisited.

The claims looks clear enough, but there's one of those pesky asterisks that always bugs me. Does it reveal a small sample size? No, nothing so mundane. It reveals a new reality where 84 equals 85.

What were they thinking of?

Monday, September 21, 2015

It Ain't What You Do.

Not all products and services are glamourous. Marketing them well says a lot about the quality of the marketers involved. If you can make the unappealing, appealing then you're a good marketer.

Bodily functions and ailments aren't glamourous, but that doesn't mean the marketing has to fall into the trap of withdrawing into the dull or antiseptic.

Don't bore on about how you solve the problem, just demonstrate what hardship you're removing from their life. How you can set them free.

How do you make the unappealing appealing?

By focusing on the indirect effects. By using brief, clear copy and an elegant and witty image. By being bright (in every sense).

Monday, August 31, 2015

Design Misthinking.

It looks like a clever solution. But really the designer has put the walker in a precarious position and made their journey more mind-consuming than the quicker but longer alternative.

The design has been given precedence over the purpose. Like much marketing, it's become a goal unto itself.

Much better to place a complete strip/bridge across the grille. It wouldn't look as obviously clever as the pictured "solution" but that's what makes it really clever.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Observations From The Conference Frontline.

I recently heard the odd claim that people love lots of brands that they don't buy. Predictably, the advertising industry audience nodded and wrote down the wisdom. I'm sorry but that's patent nonsense. It's a truly odd type of love that inspires apathy. No, people largely don't care about (let alone love) brands and the sooner we all acknowledge that the better.

You may think you're "keynoting", I think you're delivering platitudes at a mediocre event.

And, if your marketing communication claim requires an asterisk (be that for regulatory or statistical explanation reasons), it's not really worth making.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unevenly Distributed Futures.

Two sentences from a keynote lecture last week.

 "Almost everyone, almost everywhere, carries with them one of the most profound symbols of digital transformation the world has ever seen."

To me, that was alarming enough coming  as it did from a UK government minister who should be more aware of the issues of the digital divide that such an assertion overlooks.

But, within a couple of minutes, he followed with this bizarre clarification of "almost everyone, almost everywhere":

"Today over a quarter of the world’s population own one. It’s both a symbol and a cause of the change we’re living through."

 To be fair, the rest of the speech was good stuff, but while I'm all for progress and futurism, it's also impoetant to stay grounded in reality.

 Otherwise, you get things like this from Cannes where global chief cretaive officer Tham Kei Meng apparently declared that "many of the ads submitted for awards were conservative and should be making more use of innovations such as Oculus Rift".

Because, of course, so many of his clients' customers are walking around with VR headsets and will benefit from such inventive thinking!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Too Clever By Half.

I've become increasingly annoyed by marketers' desire to overcomplicate everything. A recent case in point occurred after a presentation by an advertising industry veteran to whom I had introduced myself. We were joined by a guy who professed to having a background in neurology and was fascinated by how MRI scans could be utilised to better understand the brain and be used to create better advertising.

Notwithstanding the fact that no decent neuroscientist would make any claim about what an MRI tells us (other than the part of the brain that is active at the time of the scan), I hardly think better advertising should be on the list of things that folllow from any such understanding. To his credit, the veteran made the salient point that the brain and the mind are not the same thing.

Why the aversion to keeping it simple. The first port of call is to place yourself in the customer's position. And that's not so hard because we are all customers - maybe not of the product/service you're selling, but of some thing similar. And let us always remember that customers neither work in agencies nor live the agency lifestyle.

Bottom line - as mentioned in this lovely documentary about two successful lyricists fitting their very different words to the same tune - it's better to be right than clever.