Knowledge is power. So it’s important to know what it is, how it works, and its effectiveness, whether you’re leading a marketing team or whether you’re simply a consumer of information.
Mike Smith is Senior Vice President of Revenue Platforms and Operations for Hearst Magazines Digital Media and Senior Vice President of Advertising Platforms for Hearst’s Core Audience. (Can you imagine fitting that title on your business card?)
If you are marketing a company, a product, an idea, or even your personal brand, you may feel the pull between the new-media world and the traditional marketing methods you studied in school. When new technologies emerge, it often seems like everything is changing. Whether digital, mobile, or social, we are looking for new ways to connect with our audience.
What if these new ways actually prevented a brand from reaching its potential?
How do you get people to stick around?
How do you engage people in a substantive way, winning them over?
Tom Doctoroff has more than 20 years of experience shaping hundreds of global brands ranging from Microsoft to Ford to Nestle. He’s appeared regularly on NBC, CBS, CNBC and other major media outlets. Tom’s new book Twitter is Not a Strategy: Rediscovering the Art of Brand Marketing is all about engagement. Its wisdom spans the two worlds, combining digital and traditional marketing to win and engage consumers.
The Marketing Identity Crisis
Tom, you’re the CEO of J. Walter Thompson in AsiaPacific and for decades have shaped some of the world’s biggest brands. Your new book title, Twitter is Not a Strategy, seems to imply some level of frustration. Did you write this book with some level of frustration?
I wouldn’t call it frustration exactly. But, yes, I do think the communications industry is going through something of an identity crisis. The fundamentals of advertising and branding are too often forsaken as marketers seek technological and algorithmic salvation. The rise of digital has led to marketer anxiety, consumer confusion and too many transactional brands. But old and new, traditional and digital, broadcast and “lean in” media are complementary.
“Each creative expression of the brand idea should be conceived with a specific behavioral objective in mind.” -Tom Doctoroff
Twitter is Not a Strategy is not meant to be a breakthrough book. Indeed it might even be “anti-breakthrough.” It is a call for the entire industry to stand up and reclaim the conceptual high ground of marketing communications. Carefully crafted strategies and executions—adherence to the ABCs of brand building—will remain our lighthouse. As brand pioneers, we must explore the shoals of a new digital landscape. But let’s not become stranded by anxiety and indecision. Timeless can be new.
Traditional versus New Marketing Tension
Your book explains the traditional top down branding approach (message clarity) with a bottom up (consumer empowerment) approach. How do these two approaches need to work together?
To avoid confusing consumers, engagement needs to be both authentic and constructed. Marketers must forge a paradigm that allows freedom within a framework, pulling off the trick of simultaneously permitting consumers to participate with brands while empowering marketers to manage the message and dialog. Marketers must achieve: harmony between the clarity of top-down positioning and the dynamism of bottom-up consumer engagement; between long-term brand equity and short-term tactical messaging; and between emotional relevance and results driven by data-driven technology.
Different kinds of media reach us for complementary purposes. Analog (traditional) media shape our brand preference while most digital media deepens our engagement and leads to brand loyalty.
The former boast broad reach. They forge perceptions across consumer masses. Film—with its sound, color, movement, and ability to break through clutter—is an indispensable tool to guide consumers amid an explosion of offerings. Even in the United States, despite the proliferation of smartphones and other digital devices, the 30-second broadcast television commercial continues to rule (and increase). Manufacturers spent some $67 billion on network and cable advertising in 2013 – and not for sentimental reasons.
The latter encourage engagement with brands. With more opportunity to trigger behavioral changes – learning more, using more, buying more, advocating more – marketers can increase the probability of purchase and repeat purchase.
Traditional media shape brand preference. Digital leads to loyalty.
As consumers move toward purchase, direct and digital media should dominate. These media provide more opportunity for engagement—that is, direct interaction with a brand idea and its creative expression. Marketers have more opportunity to trigger behavioral change and increase the probability the consumer will buy a product.
Advertising can encourage a limitless range of actions—from clicking through a banner ad and spending more time on a microsite to increasing consumers’ frequency of washing their hair. The arsenal of tools marketers can deploy to encourage certain behavior is broad. Marketers also can use analog media to trigger specific behavior during later phases—for example, by using stunning “product beauty shots” and other point-of-sale material to stimulate trial usage.
We’ve all heard that your brand and your platform are important to your success. But what if, after all of your platform and branding work, you are lost in a sea of competing messages?
That’s where Jonah Sachs enters, arguing that we are in the midst of the Story Wars. The Story Wars are raging around us. With so many messages bombarding us daily, fewer resonate and make it through the cacophony. What cuts through the noise? Stories. And the subtitle of his new book signals the importance of the story teller: Why those who tell—and live—the best stories will rule the future.
Jonah Sachs is the co-founder and CEO of Free Range Studios, helping major brands create unforgettable marketing campaigns. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fast Company Magazine, CNN, and FOX News. He has created numerous viral marketing campaigns.
Stories that empower are better performers. –Jonah Sachs
Jonah, let’s start there. You’ve created viral campaigns. Why is it that some campaigns take off and go viral and others fail to break through?
I’ve been exploring that exact question for 14 years. I couldn’t figure out the pattern at first. No rules seemed to universally apply. At times I thought it had to do with humor, shock value, beauty, good taglines. And then I discovered that one thing viral successes seem to share: They tell compelling stories that appear to give audiences the chance to see themselves as heroes in it. Instead of just talking about how great they are, brand campaigns that break through tend to talk about how great their audiences can be.
Is this where you developed the idea for Winning the Story Wars?
Yes. It was this search to understand what works in viral campaigning that led me to study mythology, neuroscience and psychology in the hopes of understanding what makes stories work. All that thinking eventually became my book.
5 Sins of Marketing
You talk about the five sins of marketing: vanity, authority, insincerity, puffery and gimmickry. Would you touch on just one of them and give an example of how the sin destroys?
This is a guest post by Brian Sheehan. Brian is Associate Professor of Advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University. Previously he was with global creative powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi, with CEO roles at Team One Advertising and at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and Japan. Brian is the author of Loveworks: How the world’s top marketers make emotional connections to win in the marketplace (powerHouse Books).
No matter how much we think we have grasped it, love remains full of surprises. Most of us would say that we know what love feels like, but try to get people to explain what makes love happen (and how to keep it alive!), and you’ll find that that there are no guaranteed solutions. If we take our understanding of interpersonal love and apply it to brand love, the needs of the relationship share some similar characteristics.
So I hear you ask, how do I know if my brand has reached Lovemark status? Here’s a fast way to do it. Though Love tends to dominate conversations about Lovemarks, people forget about its non-negotiable partner, Respect. Without Respect, a brand can never be a Lovemark. It’s impossible to love something that you can’t trust or rely on.
It’s impossible to love something that you can’t trust or rely on. -Brian Sheehan
Does your brand perform best in class each and every time?
Does your brand stand for things your customers believe in and admire?
Is your brand good value for the experience it offers?
If you answer “no” to any one of those questions, you need to focus on building Respect before you get ahead of yourself. If you answered “yes” to all the questions, you can move on to thinking about building Love. Look at the questions below and see where you rate strongly and how your brand may need work. Love can get stronger — and weaker. Your job is to ensure that the hearts of your consumers only get bigger for your brand.
Mystery stimulates excitement, surprise and wonder. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. To have Mystery, a brand needs to take on the role of storyteller: draw on its past, present and future; and also inspire people to dream.
Do people share positive stories about your brand?
Is your brand recognizable through an icon, logo, symbol or mythic character?
Do people feel inspired by your brand?
Sensuality involves interacting with our senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are direct connections to our emotions, and brands that have strong connections with their consumers provide distinct sensory experiences.
Your job is to ensure that the hearts of your consumers only get bigger for your brand. Brian Sheehan