Almost 30 years ago, I built a $60 million computer sales and distribution company as an IBM authorized dealer… entirely based on differentiated marketing. Even though IBM did the PC brand positioning, marketing, and advertising… I did my own brand of marketing with very little advertising.
Years later, at one of the IBM PC Dealer meet-up presentation, the speaker talked about the difference between marketing and advertising. He looked at me and said in a stern voice: “We do the positioning. You do the advertising and selling.”
He was right, of course, and he was wrong. The client [the PC dealer in this case] always bears the responsibility for the success of his marketing campaign. But along with that responsibility is the need to listen to its advertising agency and marketing partner.
In other words, the overall objectivity of the campaign is the key. That’s the reason, in my opinion; the advertising agency is going to be with us for many more years to come. In spite of the fact that clients could do all of their own advertising and marketing programs faster and cheaper.
The client’s marketing people are too close to the company, its products, its brands, its history, its distribution, and its competitors. Most of these things don’t really matter because the essence of marketing is getting inside the mind of consumers. Good agency people look at the brand the way the consumer looks at the brand. Not the way the client company looks at the brand.
Look at the Brand the way Consumer Looks at it…
Recently, Nokia’s chief marketing officer was heard saying the company’s goal “is to reignite the Nokia brand, bringing meaning, relevancy, and emotion to the brand.”
And how do you translate that boardroom talk into a marketing strategy?
Is that what you think the smartphone buyer wants? If so, I would think he or she would get all that meaning, relevancy and emotion by buying an iPhone.If you could put yourself in the mind of a smartphone buyer, I think you would find an attitude expressed by the question: “Why should I buy a Nokia when I could be getting an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy?”
Furthermore, if you really want to get into the prospect’s mind, you should answer that question with a single word. That’s how brands are built.
Power of Your Brand Slogan…
A slogan is an advertising tag-line or phrase that advertisers create to visually express the importance and benefits of their product. By and large, it’s a theme to a campaign that usually has a genuine role in people’s lives. It has the ability to borrow people’s time and attention by putting consumers at the heart of the solution. Fact is, it is so crucial that companies spend billions on advertisements around the world to develop a marketing campaign just to achieve successful brand awareness.
When Boardroom Thinking Creeps into Ads…
What I find astonishing today is how corporate language that sounds great in the boardroom manages to show up in the company’s advertising.
- Ask Chevrolet owners last year why they bought a Chevrolet and are they going to say Because Chevy runs deep?
- Ask Chevrolet owners today why they bought a Chevrolet and are they going to say, Because I wanted to find new roads to drive on? But that doesn’t seem to bother Chevrolet’s chief marketing officer. He calls Find new roads “a platform that has legs and can really stay with us a long time.”
- Is the marketing discipline to create platforms that have legs? I thought marketing was a discipline for putting ideas into prospects’ minds.
- Ask Toyota owners, why they bought a Toyota and are they going to say, I wanted to go places?
- Ask Honda owners why they bought a Honda and are they going to say, I wanted to start something special?
- Ask Bud Light drinkers why they drink Bud Light and are they are going to say, Here we go?
- Ask Coca-Cola drinkers why they drink Coke and are they going to say, I was depressed so I thought I’d open a little happiness?
I don’t blame advertising agencies for creating these “say nothing” slogans and ideas. I blame them for not insisting that the brands/clients involved make product changes in order to provide ideas that resonate with consumers.
That’s what marketing is all about, as differentiated from advertising…
Advertising is taking the client’s marketing strategy and converting it into consumer messages. Marketing is taking the consumer’s point of view and converting it into a marketing strategy.
What’s the Problem with Advertising Today…
It’s not in the advertisements themselves. For the most part, the ads are faithful to the client’s marketing strategy. The problem is in the marketing strategy.
Take Chevrolet. What marketing strategy could you possibly concoct for a brand that sells everything under a single brand name? “If it has four wheels, you can find it at a Chevy dealer.”
That might work well at the Post Office or at some other monopoly, but not when there are 23 separate automotive brands in the U.S. market, each selling more than 100,000 vehicles a year.
Six years ago, an Interbrand survey of senior marketing executives at ANA member companies found that 55% of these executives “Don’t Fully Understand Brand Value”. And 65% said: “Brands do not influence decisions made at their organizations.”
To me, that seems like a major disconnect between the organization’s goals, brand slogan, marketing strategy, and advertising.
In a world that gets increasingly more complex every day, you might expect to find just the opposite. That the brands would be getting more and more important. That’s certainly my take on a cohesive Brand Marketing and Advertising.
It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that the marketing function and its leaders must ensure that their “marketing goals are in alignment with the organization’s goals.”
That sounds so logical you know it must have been created by a left-brain management type.
Does Chevrolet Really Run Deep?…
Well, Chevrolet’s history does. Back in 1962, Chevrolet was the dominant automobile brand in America with a market share of 31 percent. That year, 87 percent of all Chevrolet vehicles sold were “entry-level” cars.
Today, in addition to entry-level cars, Chevrolet also sells cheap cars, luxury cars, sports cars, sport-utility vehicles, and trucks. Chevrolet’s market share today is only: 13 percent.
You might think (sarcasm intended) General Motors’ management would make a connection between the two. Just because you have more types of vehicles to sell doesn’t necessarily mean you sell more vehicles. Even more importantly, the more types of vehicles you sell under a single brand name, the weaker the brand becomes.
There’s another dynamic at work, too. As a general principle, the more competitors in the marketplace, the narrower your product line should be. The fewer the competitors, the broader your product line can be.
Back in 1962, there were only 12 automotive brands that sold more than 100,000 vehicles a year. Today, there are 23. So, Chevrolet, today should have a narrower product line than it had in 1962.
But apparently, the “organization’s goals” are to sell more types of vehicles under the Chevrolet brand name and marketing goals need to be in alignment with the organization’s goals.
So, Chevrolet says to its advertising agency: “We do the positioning. You do advertising.”
Advertising Agency: The eyes and ears of their clients…
Hopefully, more organizations would take advantage of data feedback from their advertising agencies. With no axe to grind, an agency is an ideal organization to serve as the “eyes and ears” of a client. They can help determine “what can be done” given the situation inside consumers’ minds.
Once a brand’s reasonable “marketing goals” can be determined, then the client is in a much better position to establish “management goals”… and let advertising agency go about its business of creating an effective advertising campaign.
I recently soft-launched my new venture www.LeRumba.com and went through the same trials and tribulations a marketing professional would in developing a brand slogan and a cohesive marketing strategy.
Here’s the Brand Slogan for LeRumba.com…
“Global Online Ecosystem for Branding, Promotions, and One-click Search Engine”.
Here’s the marketing strategy…
For Small Businesses: Online Ecosystem for Branding, Advertising, Promotions. and One-click Search Engine that engages 2 million Communities of the World for Business, Services, E-commerce, Community Outreach, and Networking… in and around your town.
For Consumers: One-click Search Engine for Information, local news, deals, discounts, events, alerts, community engagement, and regional/national broadcasts.
Feel free to comment, and tell us what you think!!!
[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]