Tag Archives: marketing

Guided Tour

Yesterday while walking back from Ruschutters, I passed through the Cross. I moved to Sydney in 1989 and the Cross played quite a prominent role in my early time here. For the first little while it was clubs. Site and Soho Bar and some others whose name I can’t remember. Later when I left my job to go back to school, I worked part time in McDonalds on Darlinghurst Road. Not one of my happier periods, but none-the-less, it paid the bills and I finished my HSC thanks to money from flipping burgers.

So, walking around there again, some twenty years (FARK) later, it was very weird. Some places bought back memories of mad capped nights and laughter. Others were less happy and reminded me of a time when I was actually feeling a bit lost. Shops had changed from dry cleaners to cafes, mixed businesses to florists, and some spaces had just disappeared altogether – the whole streetscape unrecognisable. For the most part the walk was about happy memories. Out enjoying a new city with old and new friends, dancing, drinking and loving life. It’s incredible how something small can jolt something out of you that you had forgotten. I wondered if any of the cool young people sitting in cafes would care for a guided tour of the place – what it was like twenty years ago and how it had changed.

There are some brands that have that “memory-jolt” effect on me. Fanta is one. I chose Fanta as a kid, not coke. I had the Fanta yo-yo. Another  is David Jones. I associate DJs with my great-grandmother, and being a teenager and having ice-chocolates there with friends after school. I used to work on the David Jones account before I had Fin and I always thought Nandie would be pleased about that. Sportsgirl is another that I have a lot of memories for.

Now, all of us have these brand memories, and like my little walking tour, they bring back good and bad memories. Brands with a lot of history sometimes don’t appear to be very interested in what’s happened in the past. Sometimes it’s because there aren’t the resources to revisit the past and document it. Other times there’s not an interest in the past, and it’s about reinventing a brand to suit the current “owners”. Sometimes there’s a gold mine sitting there in the archives waiting to be discovered.

This stuff sits around in corporate memory and it’s either carefully managed, or left neglected. Yet it sits in our brains as real memories and can be activated at any time. This stuff can be powerful. It’s pure emotion. It can be activated by a simple walk around the block, or it can be activated by the brand itself, reminding us of what we loved, when things were sometimes good and happy.

I wonder who the brands are that are doing a good job of this? There must be someone out there using social media to their advantage here – discovering and recording memories that their customers have of them. At the end of the powerhouse museum exhibition about the 80s, there was a little spot so you could record what had been “jolted” in you through the show. It was great to be able to say “Yes! I was at that dance party. I was there!” Do any brands have the same facility to record what you remember about them?


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Crap enough for you may be good enough for others

I’ve been thinking for a while about the “good enough” explosion in tech, and want to write more about this, but for the time being I will just leave you with a little memory that popped into my head.

A client of many years ago was complaining about how crap this promotion was that his activation team had set up. Without giving too much away it was a promo that aimed to drive purchase – you bought product X, got a token, and when you got enough tokens you got a prize. This guy was moaning about how crap this prize was, and how no one would value it (despite the fact redemption of this prize was HUGE.) I’d been dong some work out west that very week and a lot of teenage boys had told me how FANTASTIC the prize was, and how they had saved their tokens for weeks to get this prize.  So, this guy was looking at the prize with his “value-judgement-eyes” and not through the eyes of the target; who thought the promo was awesome and thought the brand was doing a really amazing thing by giving them this prize. The prize was a pretty basic piece of kit, but something the young guys valued. It didn’t have any bells or whistles, it just did the thing they needed it to do, and for that it they were really grateful. It was GOOD ENOUGH, and therefore it was very good.

Maybe this marketing guy’s  mates had been giving him shit at a swanky bar about how crap the prize was. Maybe he didn’t need a prize like this in his own life. But essentially what was crap-tastic for him, rocked the world of who it was supposed to.

(Sorry to be cryptic about what this prize was, but it may give away who the client was and while they aren’t a client anymore, I just don’t want to go there – you know what I mean?)

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Inherent Optimism

Free Stuff by sparkrobot

Free Stuff by sparkrobot

When trying to predicting future behaviour (like purchase intent, or service uptake) it can be a very tricky exercise. You are asking people what they believe will happen in the future. And most people seem to put an accent on the positive.

Science Daily reports on a study that shows that people always put a rosy tint on their predicitons of outcomes that will happen tomorrow, and found “that people were consistently overly optimistic when asked to predict their own future behavior”.

I know myself – when estimating time it takes to complete a project phase when I am working out costings, I think – well, with no interruptions, hiccups or disasters, this  would take about 4 hours.  But in a real day – when the hiccups and disasters are a matter of course it will take 8 hours – at least.

This is really important to think about when using consumer data to predict an outcome. If the news seems too good, then we have to accept that maybe it is too good.  In an ideal world we may steal 50% market share in the first month, but this doesn’t take into account a whole bunch of stuff like product awareness, poor distribution, or intense competitor activity beyond what was assumed in the study.

So what to do?

  • be realisticif a result comes back that people prefer your product than the market leader, do not assume you will be in their position in 12 months time. Plan for a year or more of getting your message out there, cracking distribution, stealing share, but don’t expect to rule the world on launch. 
  • don’t oversell it, be truthful – Building in realistic expectations will also help your case internally. If you sell in a product in that it will take X% share in X months, and it doesn’t, chances are there will be calls for it to be deleted. You may actually have a pretty cool product or serve that needs more nurturing, so don’t build such high expectations that you may never be able to deliver to
  • use the right measurement tools – increased accuracy in results means using more sophisticated tools (and unfortunately increased cost). Using a choice modelling approach will increase your chances of getting a better picture of what may happen as you an include potential competitor activity in your market simulations. Asking straight up purchase intent will give you that overly optimistic response –  “Will I buy it? I’ll buy 10!”. And no – four focus groups will not give you the answer on the success of a launch.  If you use the wrong tools you have no right to “blame” research…especially the focus group!
  • build in realistic distribution and awareness estimates – I’ve seen some rocking concepts fail at launch as the marketing guys haven’t involved the sales guys enough, so while people may have heard about the product, no one can find in anywhere to actually buy it. Or a great product being marketed on a nearly non-existent budget so no one actually has heard about it. So, if you know either of these are likely to be low (no or low sales or marketing support post launch) make sure you build this into your predictions.  It will also sound like an excuse at the end of the day if you say you haven;t reached your target because you didn’t have  enough support – this should have been known beforehand.  

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Dammit, you mean I have to move on from telex?


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What the world needs now…

…is another post about Heidi and Naked and Witchery menswear.

But what the hell. Here is another one.

A new sport appears to have emerged in outing some new media campaigns as puffery. (here is one example and I bet the smh is livid that they did this)

Now, I am not sure what people are upset about. That consumers are being “fooled” by ads?

Sometimes the naivete of “social media experts” is exacerbating. It is like they have never seen the underskirts  of business.  There are practices I have seen that would make you blush – and this is the type of deception that I am really against.

 – Sub-contracting out parts of your supply chain or process to save costs, that may present a danger to your consumers

– putting “fresh” products in a fridge and charging a price-premium even though it is actually a shelf-stable product

– introducing a new weaker formulation as the standard product, and using the old formula in a “uber” range extension and charge people more for it

– putting products into smaller packaging and charging you the same as the old (and bigger) size

– and one that is my absolute BUGBEAR – charging you import prices for import brand beer that is brewed locally or not from the original country (my favourite recently was “import” Saporro that was brewed in Canada

Stuff like that is the deception that shits me – where consumers are blatantly ripped off, or their health and safety is put at risk.

Now – putting a video up on youtube where the ultimate consumer response when they find out the truth is either “Wow, they got me there!” or “Assholes – they tricked me; I’ll never buy that!” to me is not something that as marketers we should be screaming loudly  about. 

We should be standing up for consumers, not our own little patch of self-interest on the right and wrong way to do things.

More on this later…promise

(and just as a disclaimer the company I work for is owned by the same people who own Naked. I’ve never cared much for Naked, but I think Adam Ferrier sums it up quite well here.)


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The Freedom of Constraint


Photo by Eni Turkeshi

Photo by Eni Turkeshi

I’m baaaackkkkk, and going through my google reader have come across several interesting and provocative posts – some of which I want to talk about next time.

But I just came across an excellent post by Ellen at Foresight 20/20 that I’d like to share.  It’s all about how understanding constraints helps deliver a sharper outcome – which should be the ultimate business aim.  

I remember really early on in my career where an advertising creative said to one of our mutual clients “Just give me the freedom of a tight brief”.  Wow, I thought.  How profound.  But hadn’t really thought how it impacted me.  So many times I have thought of this sentence though in the past few years as the role of research evolves to be more insight focused, than information focused…

– So when a client calls and asks for a quick turn around job with a “verbal” brief I freak out a little…and because they are in a rush they may forget to pass on a few things they really need to know 

– at the start of an ideation workshop where a facilitator says “today we have nothing that should hold us back and we are just going to come up with ideas” I have an intense fear the next 8 hours will waste a lot of everyone’s time. Sure it’ll be fun!…but not when all the ideas are created around a production process the company has no capex to develop.

…etc etc

It’d be like if I walked in to moderate a focus group without a discussion guide, or if I asked someone to go to the shops for me and buy some “stuff” without giving them a list.

When clients can’t give us a brief, we always write one for them, to make sure this is what they want. It is often a straight forward process (esp. if for a concept test, a volumetric study, brand positioning piece). But often this is harder to get to when starting off an innovation process.  Production process limitations, profit expectations, supply chain constraints; not many of these have been thought through. 

Ellen pretty much sums it up when she says;

“Design is about problem solving.  Problem solving needs constraints.  Otherwise it’s just decoration, and that’s a different task altogether.”


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Assuming makes an ass out of you and me

Often when testing concepts or communications with consumers, you have several derrrr moments – steps you have forgotten to mention or no clear call to action.  Once while conducting research for a web based service it was clear their comms didn’t tell people they were web based – so when people looked at the print ads they kept asking what was their phone number, or how they connected with the service. 

Ben Kunz at Thought Gadgets brings attention to this post from a million monkeys typing about how people will fill in the blanks based on past experience or beliefs.  This example is hilarious (I will never see the count in the same way again), but not so hilarious if your target is replacing your message with something they assume you mean.  Sometimes you just have to be bleedingly obvious, especially when people are trying to process a million other messages in their average day. ‘Clever’ may work in more high involvement categories or media, but often in low involvement, commodity categories placed through blink and you miss media channels you have to step it out for people, or you become too much hard work and people will walk away from you.

But I’m going back to that youtube clip…the thing that Count does with candles makes me blush…

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