How Finding The Right Marketing Strategy Can Bring You Disproportionate Rewards

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The last 6-months has seen the release of some great books on marketing and advertising but if there’s one that’s been the most revealing it’s a publication from Les Binet and Peter Field; Effectiveness in Context. It identifies some of the biggest challenges brands face in the digital era and some of the considerable opportunities available for brands looking to buck the current trends.

To understand these trends, it’s sometimes best to start with the problems that created them. So, what’s the biggest problem in marketing today? According to Binet and Field, “Short-termism is again, in many ways, the mother of the problem.”

In marketing, short-termism takes the form of sales activation. Today, there’s a heavy bias towards sales activation over brand building, usually under the rationale that it’s a data-driven decision. Specifically, because we’re able to show that we get a better ROI using certain channels and activity as opposed to others where it can be harder to measure. 

However, as Binet notes it’s, “equally important to understand [that] media with smaller budgets [will] always have higher ROIs than media with big budgets. But they also have correspondingly smaller effects.”

So, media such as TV is highly effective, generates large profits and has a good ROI whereas online media has low effectiveness, generates small profits but has a high ROI. With ROI currently being held in higher esteem, the current trend in marketing has therefore been to choose efficiency over effectiveness.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a marketing plan that’s supported by data and looking to get the best value out of the marketing investment. But that data should be used as evidence to have a better understanding of the big picture, not just the smaller ones.

As part of that big picture, Binet and Field look at the two broad ways that marketing works; brand building and sales activation:

“Brand communications create enduring memory structures that increase the base level of demand and reduce price sensitivity. Sales activation triggers these memories and converts them efficiently into immediate sales.”

So, the money is in the memories. With this in mind it’s important to view your brand as a long-term investment and look at how short-term and long-term activity can be optimized to work together.

“Brand building and sales activation are not choices or alternatives – they are mutually interdependent and both are essential to long-term success.”

Binet and Field have developed what they call the 60:40 Rule, as a guide to the ideal brand:activation activity split. This can be further refined and optimized when taking into account specific considerations for the brand, which is where context comes into play.  

The 6 aspects of context that influence effectiveness are:

  1. How people choose brands (e.g. low or high consideration)

  2. How people buy brands (e.g. online or offline, subscription or series-purchase)

  3. Brand Pricing (e.g. relative price position)

  4. Innovation (e.g. no innovation vs any innovation)

  5. Category Development (e.g. new, growth, mature or declining)

  6. Brand Development (e.g. market share = niche, small, strong challenger, brand leader)

Whilst we won’t go into greater detail here, these are the factors that will help you to pinpoint your brand’s ‘sweet spot’ for a brand-building and sales activation mix.

Ultimately, one of the big takeout’s from this study, given the current state of marketing, is that if you include the appropriate level of brand-building activity in your marketing mix it will bring strong growth and often disproportionate rewards for most brands.

If you’d like to discover what your brand’s optimal marketing mix looks like contact matt@sfiction.agency to set up a meeting.

The Subtle Art of Brands Not Giving a F*ck

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Like many new year’s resolutionaries, in January I was looking for something to help kickstart 2019. After dabbling in KonMarie, I also picked up a copy of Mark Manson’s book – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Whilst the book does take a swing at the advertising and media worlds for encouraging the wrong metrics for people to measure their successes by (ie cars will make you happier, this new fragrance will make you sexier), there was also a key takeout that brands could apply to themselves – that you need to stop giving a fuck about a lot of things, and choose to only give a fuck about what really matters.

For brands, this means stop trying to be everything to everyone and focusing on a single message so you can effectively build and refresh stronger brand memories. Rather than saying all the benefits of your product, pick the one that can be distinctive. Rather than re-inventing the wheel with a new campaign every three months, try refreshing the brand messaging you’ve already invested in.

In the age of information overload and shorter attention spans, attempting to create memories that place a cognitive load on the viewer by saying too much can be counterintuitive. Consumers have become very good at switching off - pretty much choosing that complex messages are things that they’re not going to give a fuck about.

New Year, New Brand

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We start the new year launching a new brand in the rental car category. 

Tripz is dedicated to becoming a better way to rent a car with branches initially in Sydney before expanding to Melbourne and across the country. 

They’ll have an extensive range of vehicles on offer at some very competitive rates.

Our work has included developing the brand identity, website, social and branch collateral. 

You can view the new website here.

Fact or Fiction: Are Sports Consumers That Unique?

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When it comes to sports fans the industry consensus has always been that they are a very unique audience. The belief is that they behave differently to regular consumers due to their incredible loyalty and therefore require a specialised marketing approach. 

It’s why there are entire agencies set up to focus only on sports marketing.  

As Professor Heath McDonald notes in his book Sport Consumer Behaviour:

When we think about the sport fan or participant, the image that comes to mind is often of someone who is highly passionate and committed. It’s the extreme fan with painted face, lots of team merchandise and dedication to seeing every game...The sports consumer is often portrayed as being different from other consumers – more passionate, more commitment and more loyal – especially compared to consumers of typical fast moving consumer goods.

So, is this a fact or fiction? 

According to a new study, “Are Sport Consumers Unique? Consumer Behaviour Within Crowded Sport Markets, (2018)” this is actually a fiction. Sports fans aren’t any more loyal than consumer goods customers.

McDonald finds that code hoppers (or perhaps better phrased as multi-code watchers) are real and prevalent; “Evidently, the vast majority of a sport league’s customers are in fact shared. This conforms to Ehrenberg’s important observation that customers are really other people’s customers who occasionally buy from you.”  

Some codes already recognise this. The AFL introduced teams into Western Sydney and the Gold Coast, as well as mandating that some teams play home games outside of their traditional home ground in places including Hobart, Canberra and Bendigo.

This penetration strategy enables them to reach more potential buyers by improving the physical availability of the league. 

A mass marketing approach is therefore, just as relevant to sports codes who should be looking to reach a diverse range of buyers and ensure that their brands are memorable and recalled at the right times. 

Broad category entry points such as, “what are we doing this weekend” are relevant and important for many different categories including sports leagues.  

Sport it seems, really is more than a (fanatics) game.

Right2Drive Tells Australian Drivers ‘You’ll be Right’

After months of development, this week sees the new brand platform for Right2Drive officially go live. 

‘You’ll be Right’ was developed with long term brand building in mind and the recognition that there is a big job to be done as Right2Drive’s Managing Director, Damian Mullins notes;

“We’re the leader in this category but that doesn’t mean much when most people don’t know their rights. Our mission is to ensure that within a few years every Aussie and Kiwi are telling each other, ‘You’ll be right’ after a not at-fault accident.”

 Marketing Manager Cheyne Oxford believes this isn’t just obtainable but also necessary.

“When I joined Right2Drive over 12 months ago, I was like most Australians who had no idea that you have the right to a loan car after a not at-fault accident. We can’t undo an accident but if we can get people back on the road as soon as possible, it goes some of the way to making things right again.”

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Right2Drive is a business that’s highly regarded once people have experienced the service, but the challenge we’ve identified is to make sure the brand is as memorable as possible so that when that unforeseen moment does occur, they’ll be top of mind.

The new brand platform includes a new song developed by Johnny Green at Rumble Studios, that brings to life the feeling behind, ‘You’ll be Right’. It will be used as part of the campaign activity running across radio, online and branches.

Listen to the new radio spot below:

There’s No Place Like Home Instead

 
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One of the headlines out of this year’s federal budget was funding for home care services for the elderly - helping them to stay in their own home rather than move into an aged care facility.

On the back of this, ScienceFiction has worked with in-home care service Home Instead to stitch together a campaign that highlights how nothing really compares to the comforts of your own home.

5 Ways to Waste Your Marketing Spend

Did you know that 80% of ads aren’t noticed and correctly connected to the brand that produces them[1]? This misattribution means $12 billion[2] of marketing dollars are being spent in Australia each year on ads that aren’t going to be remembered. But how do you create such a monumental waste?
 

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Don’t say who you are

You’d be surprised at how many brands create beautiful, attention grabbing ads but don’t verbalise their name. This means that many of the people they’re reaching with their TVC, who also happen to be distracted on their phones, won’t ever attribute the ad to the brand. It’s something so simple and perhaps this is why it gets overlooks so often. But it’s just part of a bigger problem which includes things such as not showing the product or only displaying the logo right at the end for two seconds, creating the common phrase, “I saw this great ad but can’t remember who it was for”. In a multi-screen, low attention world, a great ad is one that both gets attention AND creates strong memory structures linking to the brand.
 

Use brand assets that are similar to your competitors

The two key parts of a distinctive brand asset actually being distinctive are how famous it is and how ownable it is. Whilst the best brand assets do both, to do the job of instantly linking a brand to a piece of communication, the latter is vital in making sure your investment isn’t misattributed to your competitor, particularly if your competitor is the category leader.
 

Change your packaging

When shopping, ‘the mind meets the shelf’[3] where customers scan the aisles for products that match the repertoire of brands in their head created by exposure to advertising and use. However, if the packaging suddenly changes, the customer can become blind to the new look as it no longer fits in their mind, and they’ll fall back on other brands they’re familiar with. Although you can advertise to educate about pack changes, it still undoes the years of marketing spend invested in the previous pack design.
 

Don’t get emotional

Although the mere exposure effect means that any advertising can have a small impact, it’s shown that ads that tap into emotion have a much greater impact than those that don’t. Our brains are drawn to information that comes attached to a human emotion, irrespective of whether the emotion is good, bad or funny, making the ad both more noticeable and more memorable.
 

Never do the same thing twice

In the quest to be different, consistency can be forgotten by marketers and agencies. But ideally, brands should be consistent AND fresh to make the most of the investment in their brands. Part of the memory maintenance of a brand is to regularly refresh established memory structures and be consistent in the use of brand assets to overcome memory decay. Ultimately, in the memory game, it’s all about refreshing a brand not reinventing it.

Of course, if it’s wastage that you’re after please ignore this.


[1] How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp

[2] Zenith Advertising Expenditure Forecast 2018 (80% of $16 billion forecast total advertising spend for 2018)

[3] Building Distinctive Assets, Jenni Romaniuk

The Perfect Marketing Plan in a Tweet?

Is it possible to derive the perfect marketing plan in a tweet?

I think Professor Byron Sharp came as close as you could get in this Tweet from a few years back:

 
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For anyone familiar with the evidence-based, mental availability model you’ll understand that this covers off the key elements we should be focussing on. 

It’s also applicable to a very high proportion of businesses and categories. 

Let’s break it down though, in a little more detail.

 

Great creative. 

We need great creative because we’re in the memory-business. However, creating advertising that improves the memorability of a brand is not a simple step-by-step process. Yes, you need to consistently use the brand’s distinctive assets, but you also need to ensure that they firstly get noticed and secondly are unique enough for the brand to be able to own. More often than not this requires great creative. 

With this in mind the worst thing any brand could do is to try and fit in with all of the other ads out there. Unfortunately many brands play the middle of the road, safe route. The one saving grace in this type of landscape is that it gives brands that choose to do otherwise, an unfair advantage.

 

Hit essential memory structures. 

Sharp explains that memory structures are, “the memory links that, if they aren’t in people’s heads, you have [a] tiny chance of being mentally available at times when people might buy.”

This requires that we link the brand to relevant category entry points using the distinctive brand assets. Your category entry points are the most common things that your potential customers will be thinking about prior to making a purchase decision. 

You can also potentially look for CEPs that might be easier for your brand to own over competitors. But as the brand grows you’ll eventually need to try and own some of the bigger ones to increase your share of the market. 

 

Spread out for max reach. 

As you may have read in last month’s feature article, targeting for most categories usually covers a diverse range of people. Even if it’s a product for only men or women.

Because brand growth comes largely from targeting light buyers, you need to try and reach as many people as possible. It’s possible to do this in both digital and traditional media channels.

Many marketers make the mistake of using narrow targeting by looking for channels where relevant buyers may appear to huddle. For the most part though these are usually heavy buyers who were already going to make a purchase, regardless of the exposure they receive.

However, if you’re a new brand it makes complete sense to target heavy buyers at first. Just keep in mind that at some point, if you want to continue growing, you’ll need to branch out to reach light buyers. 

 

Avoid temptation to burst. 

The big media buy always looks good on paper. You’re reaching a tonne of potential customers and you’re in their face repeatedly thanks to a high frequency. The truth is that, “bursts waste money”.

When the same people get exposed to your advertising repeatedly it essentially creates a lot of wastage. After even a single exposure the effectiveness starts to decrease. 

For some brands, it’s possible that there will be some key periods where a larger spend is required. For the most part however, you’re best to spread your media buy evenly across 12 months to ensure you’re consistently reaching all potential buyers. 

 

Each quarter spend more. 

As the brand grows, continue to reinvest part of this back into your marketing activity. 

Why? Well, historically share of voice has driven share of market. The bigger brands invest more into marketing. We’re in the memory business and these memories don’t last forever. 

Great creative is great because it creates memories for your brand that last a little longer. But otherwise, it’s very rare for a brand that spends less to create any major changes in their share of the market.

The New, New Car Feeling

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Our latest work is for a new client, car buying specialist, Georgie. 

With a new car purchase being the second largest investment most people will ever make, it’s no surprise that what should be an enjoyable experience often ends up being stressful and time consuming.

Georgie offers a personalised car buying experience that saves you time, money and the hassle of having to visit dealerships. And with their average customer saving thousands of dollars it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase; that new car feeling. 

The video brings this idea to life, highlighting the benefits of having a personal car buyer and showing just how easy it is, ultimately allowing people to enjoy the best parts of buying a new car.

The video will be shown online including their new website.

The Library: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

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This week Matt reviews Eaon Pritchard’s new book, Where Did It All Go Wrong? Adventures At The Dunning-Kruger Peak Of Advertising.

In Eaon Pritchard’s new book on the state of advertising, he’s not afraid to pull any punches when he proclaims that:  

“We’ve now ‘successfully’ produced a generation of advertising professionals who have never even known what advertising is for and how it works.”

As Pritchard notes, it’s an industry where most people who work in it, “seem to hate their jobs and hate the idea that they are selling brands, products and services rather than the more noble aim of solving society’s problems.”

A quick look at some of the finalists at Cannes Lions this year and it’s hard to disagree. 

In some ways Where Did It All Go Wrong? is all over the place. That’s less of a reflection on Pritchard’s writing and more an accurate depiction of the advertising world today; an industry that loves to jump onto the latest trends and technology aka ‘game-changing revolutions’. 

This obsession with the new creates a honeymoon-period where a different lens is applied. And, whilst the industry is often incredibly fast at adopting change, it can be incredibly slow at reacting as the evidence of their ineffectiveness is revealed. Adtech and influencers being two current examples. 

Whilst it would be understandable if Pritchard spent the entire book tearing apart the industry he instead covers a broad range of areas to build a better understanding of how advertising really works. The book is full of fascinating insights such as the idea that, to be more effective, brand objectives should be closely aligned to evolutionary biology:

“In 1973 the Russian biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote ‘Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution’. It could also be noted that nothing in brand behaviour makes sense except in the light of evolution. Brands’ like organisms, have two principle concerns. Survival and reproduction. Survival should be a self-evident notion, just staying in business. For reproduction we could think about the number of category entry points in which the brand is salient and perhaps breadth of distribution as measures of fitness.”

When it comes to the evolution of the advertising industry Pritchard provides another pragmatic solution:

“What if the change the industry really needs is to refocus itself towards producing the kind of brilliant, insightful, creative advertising that will get noticed and remembered by consumers. We’ve more ability to screen out crap than ever before, so should the solution be better ways to do advertising not worse?”

After finishing the book I attended Pritchard’s talk at the Mumbrella360 conference last week.

Reflecting on the industry he said, “The problem with advertising is we’ve forgotten why we’re here.’ 

Afterwards, as I walked through the foyer and past the room named ‘Data Stage’ I nodded my head and thought to myself, “Yep, he sure got that right.”