Q&A : Owning Your Brand

with Pete Hayes

 

Why is it important for brands to not use a “follow the leader” strategy?

Some companies may actually find that a “fast-follower” strategy is ideal. Let someone else create the market, and then come behind with a similar value proposition, but perhaps with some important extras. Lower price. Higher quality. Unique features. Or an offering that’s easier to acquire or deploy.

Is owning a market too romantic of an approach?

In some senses, yes. Serving a need that no one else is addressing can be quite difficult or expensive when you’re going for market awareness and momentum. Of course, when you can shape and own a market, you’re the centerpiece, the standard from which your followers will be judged. When managed well, this mindshare can contribute to good things – like brand loyalty, faster growth, better pricing and margins.

Isn’t it better to own your space?

It’s actually not critical to shape and own your market. According to research we did with the McCombs Business School at The University of Texas, many companies thrive by being well run, and then by growing through acquisition. There are fewer companies that are well run and learn how to grow organically by developing skills in capitalizing on market dynamics. The very few define a whole new market or “Blue Ocean.”

When you can shape and own a market, you’re the centerpiece, the standard from which your followers will be judged.

Why is it important to view the marketplace from your customers’ perspective?

It’s actually always important to view things from their perspective. Brands actually have to go out and get their perspectives. There’s a real difference. It’s not the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s more of the Platinum Rule – do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

How and why do brands miss the boat on this?

The challenge with getting and keeping the market’s perspective is that it’s not a “one and done” proposition. Companies have to regularly recalibrate all that they do – their offerings, pricing, positioning, communications, especially social channels now – based on their market’s dynamics.

 
The list of Pete Hayes’ accomplishments is as diverse as it is long. That’s easy to see when you look at the list of companies and marketplaces that he has worked in over the years. Before he founded the Chief Outsiders, Hayes worked on the marketing side of firms with client lists including the likes of Dell, Motorola, 3M and IBM, to name a few. Today, Chief Outsiders is one of the country’s foremost strategic growth implementation firms, which provides outsourced CMO services by fractional or part time CMOs. The firm recently was named one of the 1,000 fastest growing privately held companies in the United Statesby Inc. Magazine. And, along with Chief Outsiders’ CEO, Art Saxby, he co-wrote the bestseller, “The Growth Gears: Using a Market-Based Framework to Drive Business Success.” Here are Hayes’ thoughts on how brands can own their marketplaces.

The list of Pete Hayes’ accomplishments is as diverse as it is long. That’s easy to see when you look at the list of companies and marketplaces that he has worked in over the years. Before he founded the Chief Outsiders, Hayes worked on the marketing side of firms with client lists including the likes of Dell, Motorola, 3M and IBM, to name a few. Today, Chief Outsiders is one of the country’s foremost strategic growth implementation firms, which provides outsourced CMO services by fractional or part time CMOs. The firm recently was named one of the 1,000 fastest growing privately held companies in the United Statesby Inc. Magazine. And, along with Chief Outsiders’ CEO, Art Saxby, he co-wrote the bestseller, “The Growth Gears: Using a Market-Based Framework to Drive Business Success.” Here are Hayes’ thoughts on how brands can own their marketplaces.

Touchy, Feely

Understanding the science that is triggering more emotions

by Charles D. Lunan

Ever notice how people express their experience through touch? They’ll say they’ve had “a rough day” or received “a lukewarm reception” or encountered a “sticky situation.” Or maybe their day went “as smooth as silk.”

What’s that all about? More than meets the eye, says Dr. David Eagleman, whose research on the haptic regions of the brain has drawn the attention of marketers such as Mary Ann Hansan, president of the Paper & Packaging Board, which was formed in 2014 to address the sharp decline in the paper product sales.  

Parents have a lot of apprehension about how much time they and their families spend online, so I do think the pendulum is swinging back to print. 

– Mary Ann Hansan, President, Paper & Packaging Board

Neuromarketing arrives

Eagleman and other researchers are achieving that by studying the haptic brain, which processes signals sent by our tactile sensors. Their findings may help explain why catalog sales are rebounding, children’s e-books have failed to thrive, and why many people still insist on printing out important documents and mailing printed wedding invitations over storing documents on the cloud or sending an email or electronic invitation. 

Their work with brain imaging and mapping is providing insight into how humans engage with different marketing channels. Proponents of this approach, which has spawned the term “neuromarketing,” argue it will help marketers fine-tune sequencing of multi-media campaigns to better align with consumers’ seemingly fragmented path to purchase.  

Consider John Bargh’s research on why people tend to classify fellow human beings as being either “warm” or “cool,” depending on certain personality traits. Bargh wondered if the tendency reflected some subconscious influence from the haptic brain, so he concocted an experiment in which interviewers asked subjects to hold a beverage container while they rebalanced an armload of books, folders or papers. 

When subsequently asked to rate a fictitious person as either warm or cool, test subjects who had held a warm cup of coffee consistently described them as warm, while those who had held an iced coffee described them as cold. In subsequent experiments, Bargh found that test subjects given heavier clipboards tended to rate job candidates as being “more solid.” 

The takeaway from more than 100 academic papers published since the 1990s is that reading on paper uses fewer cognitive resources than reading on a screen, which improves retention, deepens engagement and enhances understanding. 

The paper products industry has zeroed in on these findings in a bid to halt a 50 percent decline in paper consumption since the turn of the century. One manufacturer even hired Eagleman to conduct research and produce a report that – among other things – found printing on high quality coated stock improved recall over time. 

The Haptic Brain Rebels

“We know we are not going to reverse the decline in paper consumption, which is almost half of what it was in 2000,” Hansan says. “But we are trying to make sure paper remains something people see as modern, particularly as the digital natives – the kids who grow up with all this technology – are completing high school and going to college.”

A recent rebound in sales of some paper products may signal that the haptic brain is reasserting itself even as the amount of time Americans spend looking at screens grows. American adults surveyed by Nielsen last summer reported spending more than 10 hours a day staring at a screen. 

“We are definitely seeing data that book sales that flattened are increasing again,” Hansan says. “Companies who said they were going to get rid of catalogs have come back and said we realized we made a mistake; consumers shop with catalogs but order online. Parents have a lot of apprehension about how much time they and their families spend online, so I do think the pendulum is swinging back to print.”

Paper represents a means of tangible proof and security that I can always have with me. It creates a greater sense of security, less worry and less stress.

– Dee Allsop, CEO, Heart+Mind Strategies

Another bright spot is paper boxes, which are becoming a key marketing channel for online retailers. Online subscription shopping services are adding handles and other features to extend the life of their delivery boxes, which provide their only tangible bond with customers.

Lootcrate, which caters to video gamers and comic book fans, has designed delivery boxes that transform into keepsakes, including Captain America’s shield.  “That box is a billboard,” Allsop says. “This is just going to be an explosive area for printing.”

Given the human brain’s remarkable plasticity, it’s hard to define the future. After all, as Eagleman points out, reading and writing on paper are not innate skills. Every individual has to learn those skills from scratch and in the process they are rewiring their brains. That means that touch may slip in the hierarchy of senses that influence future generations’ perception of reality. 

In other words, media not only shape the message, as Marshall McLuhan famously wrote in 1964, but actually shape the brain itself. The implications for marketing are profound.

In 2016, the Paper & Packaging Board hired Heart+Mind Strategies to study the emotional connection people have with paper. Researchers asked subjects to touch different types of paper and choose their favorite based on its tangible qualities.

Subjects then were asked a series of questions designed to regress their decision-making process and reveal the emotions that triggered their selection. Seven triggers emerged, but security and confidence rose to the top.

“Paper represents a means of tangible proof and security that I can always have with me,” says Dee Allsop, CEO of Heart+Mind Strategies. “It creates a greater sense of security, less worry and less stress.”

Test subjects said putting pen to paper enabled them to document their progress, achievement and mastery of a subject and approach tasks with confidence. They also preferred using paper over electronic media when it came to imparting gravitas and nurturing relationships with loved ones. 

“If sending wedding invitations, a digital Evite just does not cut it,” Allsop says. “There was a real sense of, ‘I’ve got to print it because I want to do it right.’ There was also this idea of paper helps me connect on a personal level with people I care about.”

This was particularly true when it came to nurturing children, where people expressed a strong preference for reading printed books, letter writing and post cards. 

The Paper & Packaging Board plan to incorporate its findings into a future marketing campaign.

Orchestrating Business

An inside look at creating new business development processes

by Michael J. Pallerino

Depending on where – and how deep –you look, the information is right in front of you. Consumers are exposed to ad messages every 2.7 seconds. They are hit with up to 10,000 brand messages a day and switch between screens at least 21 times an hour. Not frightened yet? Microsoft research shows that the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds.

This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.

– Jerry Seinfeld

And, as brands find more and more channels to reach their customers, those numbers are only going to grow (or shrink, if we’re talking about attention spans).

To say that how we do business today has changed may be the mother of all understatements. The switch has unequivocally flipped to the buyers’ side, not only giving them all the control, but also forcing brands to review everything and anything they ever knew about getting their message in front of their customers.

It’s a conversation Jeff Rosenblum loves to have. In his book, “Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption,” which he co-wrote with Jordan Berg, Rosenblum explains how some iconic brands are losing marketshare to up-and-coming companies that have found how to creatively capture – and hold – our collective consciousness.

Great brands, Rosenblum and Berg argue, are no longer built through interruptive advertisements. Today, success is more than just clever messaging or shiny technologies drilled into our subconscious via traditional advertising methods. Today, success comes from refining your business strategy to fit the new narrative.

The playbook involves employing simpler messages that can be communicated in more visual, emotional and engaging ways. “Your customers must go on a lengthy journey with many critical touch points,” says Rosenblum, who also is founding partner of the market research and strategic planning firm, Questus. “Successful companies provide the critical emotional and rational information that prospects need at each step of the journey. The brand story grows and is optimized for each channel. It’s not the same message repeated over and over.”

Brands keep investing in interruptions and the audience keeps running away. Consumers want immersive content and tools that fight friction.

– Jeff Rosenblum, Founding Partner, Questus

quote_marks.jpg

If Rosenblum could emphasize the criticalness of one strategic element from this playbook, it would be empowerment. When brands empower prospects to make smarter purchases, and empower customers to get more value out of the products they purchase, it creates meaningful conversations. “People don’t simply want to be interrupted with slick ad campaigns,” he says. “They want brands to help them remove friction and solve problems. That’s what leads to engagement and conversations.”

Winning on this new playing field means your consumers are interacting with every touch point along the way, producing behavioral data that enables brands to optimize their sales and marketing efforts. They do this by understanding the psychographic profile of each prospect and identifying their unmet needs.

“It’s all about providing value through their journey,” Rosenblum says.

Getting Personal

When done correctly, the sales and marketing landscape is completely integrated. Unfortunately, as Rosenblum and Berg discovered, few companies are doing this successfully today. Hamstrung by legacy marketing models, too many sales and marketing departments sit in silos, causing valuable data and information to go unshared. 

“When each step of your customers’ journey is not integrated or optimized, it creates a precarious situation that opens the door for disruptive companies to leverage new, integrated strategies,” Rosenblum says.

So, How do you Fight the Fight? 

The answers can be found in the playbook of brands doing it right. Patagonia, for example, fights friction by defending the environment. It builds immersive experiences – website, documentaries, retail events – that educate its audience about how to take small actions that can make a big difference. Yeti is another example. The highly innovative cooler and accessory manufacturer has created a series of seven- to 10-minute inspirational videos celebrating the lengths that people push themselves in the great outdoors.

“Successful brands are simply taking a portion of their paid media budget and applying it to owned and earned media,” Rosenblum says. “Rather than buying ads, they’re building content and tools that empower the audience. Great brands are built, not bought.  Advertising still provides a critical role in the process, but most brands are asking it to do too much. First, brands need to build great experiences. Once they do that successfully, they’ll still have money for traditional marketing to build awareness and traffic.”

The Answer is in the (Small) Data 

Big data. There aren’t many marketing conversations happening today without that term working itself into the mix. But what about small data? Whereas big data is all about seeking correlation, small data is about seeking causation. Why did something happen?

As a modern day Sherlock Holmes, as he has been called, Martin Lindstrom often is hired by the world’s leading brands to find out what makes their customers tick. For his most recent book, “Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends,” the best-selling author spent up to 300 nights a year in strangers’ homes carefully observing every little detail of their hidden desires to uncover the next multimillion-dollar product.

The truth, as Lindstrom freely admits, is that brands need to know the hypothesis before beginning the search for correlations. As the business landscape continues to shift, big and small data are becoming equally as important in the race to uncover consumer desires.

The reality is that we’ve migrated our social interactions online, and thus rarely meet people in our day-to-day life. This is increasingly creating an out of balance in our lives, and thus, a gap for a new brand
or need.

– Martin Lindstrom, Author, Small Data

For example, just recently, a major American bank’s big data research concluded that its churn (people leaving the bank with their bank accounts) was due to high fees and interest rates. Just before adjusting their rates, an internal research team spent time with their customers to try and identify the small data.

To its surprise, the research team found that a large portion of its customers was leaving in the middle of, or just after, a divorce. They either opened separate bank accounts or moved to another bank. Spending some time with these couples to help navigate this unfortunate situation not only helped retain fleeing customers, but also saved the bank millions of dollars in interest rates and fees.

“What you have to remember is that as robots and technology take over, we humans will become and will have to become smarter,” Lindstrom says. “Small data is just as important as big data, because 85 percent of what we do is irrational – like pressing harder on your remote when you think the batteries are flat. Big data struggles to understand that human dimension. It’s hard to evaluate love using a spreadsheet. This is where small data comes into play. By first understanding the human dimension – we’re able to understand the reason why we behave a certain way. Big data then can help to verify this observation – creating a complete picture.”

Lindstrom says that by embracing the importance of small data, brands can refine their business strategies. Everything a brand can pick up via emotional data – the chemistry, aspirations, desires and out of balances – will help form the foundation for success.

“The reality is that we’ve migrated our social interactions online, and thus rarely meet people in our day-to-day life,” Lindstrom says. “This is increasingly creating an out of balance in our lives, and thus, a gap for a new brand or need. Most consumers are still not aware of this. They somehow feel they’re missing something, that tactical interaction. That trend – more than anything – will turn into something major very soon.”

It all circles back to buyers having all the power. “This has happened because brands are completely transparent,” Rosenblum says. “Thanks to the infinite amount of information available through search, social and mobile technology, consumers can see through exaggerated brand messages and ignore clever jingles. Brands keep investing in interruptions and the audience keeps running away. Consumers want immersive content and tools that fight friction. They have the power to ignore traditional messages. Brands have to get that back.”

Q&A : What to Expect in 2017

Chad Pollitt’s name seems to be everywhere these days. As one of the country’s foremost content marketing thought leaders, Pollitt’s insights are regularly tracked by the likes of Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Inc., Ad Age, and many others. A decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army commander, these days, Pollitt serves as the VP of Audience and co-founder of Relevance, an agency, events company and digital magazine dedicated to content strategy, promotion and marketing.

Hanging in the Balance

Last May, as sales were taking off at his company in Salt Lake City, Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith was milling about a train station on the border of Slovenia and Croatia awaiting a train jammed with refugees from Syria. His mission was to learn what he could about their needs before traveling on to Istanbul to join 5,000 other people attending the World Humanitarian Summit. 

2020 Vision

2020 Vision

By Michael J. Pallerino

You might want to sit down for this. In its “Future of Jobs” report, the World Economic Forum predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020, as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers. Employers facing a talent shortage need to develop new recruiting methods and be willing to provide necessary additional training to new hires.

Q&A : The Emotional Side of Customer Engagement

with Tom Dougherty

Branding thought leader Tom Dougherty on the emotional side of customer engagement. Today, as the president and CEO of Stealing Share (www.stealingshare.com), he arms his clients with the tools they need to win.

In Perfect Harmony

by Charles Lunan

A few years ago, it was common for the retail sales force at MillerCoors to spend their Sundays pulling data from up to eight different Excel spreadsheets to build reports for their weekly sales visits. 

Convinced it could boost sales if it could find a better way of sharing its insights with retailers, MillerCoors partnered with Tableau Software to roll out cloud-based analytics tools to its sales force.