Upfronts

Let the schmoozing begin!

The drop in TV upfront spending is another sure sign that the traditional mass model is in trouble.

A Dangerous Analysis

Return on Investment: the ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. Pretty easy to measure in a controlled financial environment. Impossible – and potentially dangerous – to measure in a marketing environment.
The long-standing quote from Wanamaker – “I know that half of my marketing is wasted, I just don’t know which half” – is really a brilliant insight.

Issue #1: The core of the problem is that numerous variables that impact the marketing success of an organization cannot be directly measured. Therefore, if you develop a marketing plan based on the concept of ROI, it forces you to focus on measurable tactics like direct response, couponing, and sales promotions. In the meantime, key factors that most strongly influence the brand are ignored. For instance, how do you measure word-of-mouth and buzz, associate behaviors, consumer-generated marketing initiatives, PR, store or product design, product quality, location, cultural differences, innovation, and customer service? In the new age of consumerism, the ROI approach is the wrong approach.

Issue #2: Advertising agencies and most marketing departments don’t really get involved with all this stuff anyway. Agencies can’t make any money on most of this stuff. Marketing departments are too “siloed” to look at the big picture. They get involved with how to spend (waste) money on expensive initiatives like TV advertising. A recent visit to a prestigious European car maker was typical. The head of customer and loyalty marketing has no influence over the service department. Yet, after purchase, the service department is the main point of contact for the car customer. Is this crazy or what??

Solution: Call Cult Marketing and we’ll explain how our approach breaks down the corporate silos and helps you understand and create a holistic brand experience that enhances the entire customer brand experience.

Cult Marketing and Strategy

The word “Strategy” has been causing problems in the world of marketing for years. Strategy is about planning or carrying out something to achieve a goal, originally from the military term for conducting a battle or war. So, marketing strategy is really about a plan or implementation. The problem with strategy is it is used too often in the creative context. In many cases, so-called strategy people within companies or agencies are the first people to work on what is called “Brand Strategy.” Unfortunately, this is putting the cart before the horse.

Before you have a strategy, you need an idea, hopefully a creative one. And, unfortunately for most strategy people, creativity is not rational, and not cognitive. Strategists are almost always cognitive/rational types. You see the problem.

Here is how it really works in ad agencies, and in most creative service organizations. The strategy group is assigned the task of coming up with a “strategy.” This so-called strategy usually involves things like brand positioning, USPs, points of differentiation, and other lame things designed to kill or limit good ideas. Then they meet with the “creatives” who comes up with an idea based on the strategy, or at least they are supposed to. In many cases, what they come up with is a cool idea that is just a cool idea. Then some strategist has to go back and re-write the strategy to reflect the cool idea. Happens every day, and don’t tell me it doesn’t.

I’d like to know the brand strategy for some campaigns that have been running like the Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” commercials or “The Burger King.” Is “Be funny” or “Create a weird, freaky dude” a strategy?

Cult Marketing and movies

First there was the Blair Witch project. Then Napolean Dynamite. Now Borat.

The one thing they all have in common is a non-traditional marketing approach. All three have created a significant amount of buzz and hype.

The Changing Landscape

Pontiac announced recently that they were launching a car only via the internet. No TV, print or anything else. Pretty big news if you’re an ad agency. Every day you can read about the changing landscape of marketing. TV ad viewership is way down, media is fragmenting, new media channels are popping up, advertising clutter is at an all-time high, experiential marketing departments have formed, there is buzz and guerilla marketing, direct, etc.

What’s a company to do?

In regards to his forthcoming book, Pat Fallon made the statement, “The future of advertising,” Mr. Fallon said, “is to become experts on how media is consumed, and by whom.”

Sounds like a good idea, but it demonstrates the limited perspective we’ve come to expect from ad agencies. They still only think about the world in terms of media because that is how they get paid. The real marketing story of the next decade will revolve around the individual consumer experience. Factors like customer service, associate behaviors, the retail experience, packaging, customer intimacy, PR, internal branding, and other non-mass factors will be the hot topics of discussion.

The issues around the non-mass marketing variables are numerous. One biggie is the marketing organizations within companies. Departments are too siloed, usually by function. The CRM person has a budget and an agenda, and so does the web person, the advertising/media group, product development and training departments.

Customers, on the other hand, see a company holistically. Every facet of the operations is in play. So who is responsible for pulling all of it together?

The CEO has to have a role in the entire customer experience. Companies that have done it well include Abercrombie & Fitch, where Michael Jeffries controls virtually every aspect of the brand personally. Even their corporate campus is a living testament to the brand lifestyle. The reason the CEO must be involved is that no one else has the clout to drive it through the organization. Too many chiefs in most companies. So, if you’re a marketing guy, now’s the time to get the big boss involved.