Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

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Next Level Brand Experiences

In Campaigns,Strategy,Tools on April 2, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

Experiential Marketing is about bringing the brand to life. It can build awareness and induce trial at the same time. Moreover, actual consumer reactions are captured in an instant. There is clutter in traditional media channels and messages are cut to fit into 30 seconds while advertisers are hoping for positive reactions that will be captured and reported a month later by research agencies.

Experiential marketing is a fully customizable medium that brands can take advantage of in talking to the consumers. It is not enough to just go out there and start plastering logos on random available spaces. Or worse, placing annoying mascots or spokespersons in busy places interrupting people with skits and flyers. Brands must create memories with consumers through exciting experiences…experiences they are willing to witness and take part of.

Based on my experience with activation and events marketing, consumers just don’t need to try your products via free tasting or service but they must get the brand message upon leaving the venue. The best experiential campaigns are those that become viral and sustainable.

Next-level experiential marketing makes use of technology and revolutionary techniques in order to strategically enhance consumer impressions. The most common trend lately is linking online interactions with offline experiences. These holistic experiences allow consumers to be excited about brands which is usually not induced by commercials.

Below are some examples that take sampling, events, and retail marketing to the next level.

TARGETED SAMPLING: TEMPTATIONS BY JELL-O

A vending machine that dispenses a free sample accurately detects target consumers via age recognition technology. Much to their dismay, kids were politely refused to be given any. I believe this technology effectively eliminates manpower training and implementation risks. I just wish that aside from dispensing products, the machine could have been more interactive in capturing information about consumers and their reactions which is an advantage of experiential marketing.

ONLINE TO OFFLINE EVENTS: T-MOBILE BARCELONA

Angry Birds has taken over the virtual world by storm such that T-mobile brought the experience in real life for passersby to witness. I like how subtle the company approached the opportunity by placing the game in the forefront rather than the brand. The event achieved 100% excitement but it always boils down to subscriptions.

“SOCIAL RETAILING”: MACY’S FITTING ROOM

Convenience is essential in experiential marketing. If it is such a hassle for consumers to participate, they easily lose interest and they eventually leave. Fitting clothes can be tedious and shoppers remain skeptic in buying clothes that they see on skinny mannequins or models. They can get disappointed once they have gone through the ordeal of fitting only to find out they look worse than usual. The magic fitting room answers convenience and the proverbial question, “Will I look good in this?” I wonder how the technology facilitated “impulse buying”.

Over-all, I think these are just some important points in crafting experiential campaigns for today’s fickle consumers:

1. Excite then inform: Hype is important to scale how much participation is going to be captured before the launch. Buzz can go viral but craft the communication points such that consumers know where to witness the reveal. For campaigns that involve “never-been-done” activities, set the “be-the-first-to-experience” bait.

2. Make the information accessible: People are always inquisitive especially if the information is relevant to them. Make sure that it is your company or agency that provides the know-how to inquirers for accuracy and credibility. It’s good when others are talking about it but messages always evolve through a long chain. Just be present wherever the questions will pop out.

3. Convenience is key: As said in the example above, consumers lose interest when it is such a hassle for them to go through your gimmick. Make the experience simple but impactful. Present incentives right away but never bribe them. It is an automatic turn-off and credibility is flushed down the drain. Present the incentives yet make the consumers earn them conveniently.

4. Strike consumers at the right time and place: This part is always tricky but research provides guide in contact planning. Engage consumers when they want to. It is in the quality of interactions and not in the number of hits that make an event effective.

5. Create a string of experiences: Also as said earlier, successful campaigns are viral and sustainable. One experience can be intense and memorable while there are some that require a holistic approach to reinforce the message. Whichever it is, never stop communicating with the consumer. This doesn’t mean to be intrusive and annoying but be present in the most significant venues and times. What’s good with experiential marketing is that it can connect with other media for it to continue e.g. TV coverage, online presence, radio promo components, etc.

To reiterate, experiential marketing is customizable and adjustable with the needs of the brand and the availability of the consumers. It should be viewed as an independently effective tool and not just a support in extending TV-driven campaigns.

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Smart Brands Make Smart Consumers

In Strategy,Tools on March 27, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , ,

Consumers are no longer oblivious to the truth. They are now more active in seeking benefits beyond the ads. They are willing to pay a few more dollars just to get a genuine advantage inherent to the product. They are willing to buy and talk about the brands that have hidden advantages that they were smart enough to discover. An ordinary mother from the suburbs who blogs about her everyday discoveries is just as credible as the endorser paid to talk about your brand. So instead of counteracting these new consumer tendencies, brands must enable them to be even smarter.

I’ve already talked about consumer education before and how they extend communication beyond the tag lines/copies on ads. Brands should revolutionize not just their communication but their interaction with the consumers. Work with them and recruit them as ambassadors. The recruitment must be based on genuine belief in the brand and not some bogus endeavor. These types of efforts never last anyway and end up hurting the brand in the long run.

An example is how Nestlé launched a campaign on checking labels or the nutritional information normally skipped through by moms. How could they not? The back part of the packaging is usually a place of compliance and technicalities. It is full of texts and numbers of very small fonts. That part does not speak to the consumer. Yet, the Check the Label campaign extended consumer interface by facilitating the buyers’ understanding of nutritional content and value for money. The habit of checking the label might have been practiced across different products but pioneering the movement is attributable to the brand (or company).

It is not enough to be transparent with the consumers for it is a commercial and ethical (or legal) imperative nowadays. However, the truth can really be a disadvantage for a brand. For example, McDonald’s cannot deny that they have the healthiest foods but they managed to be transparent and enable consumers to make informed decisions at the same time. By launching a nutrition calculator, the power is given to the consumer to decide how much indulgence they are willing to take. It is not just about telling the truth, it is teaching consumers how to deal with it as well.

Below is a complete chart of everything on the fast food giant’s menu.

To sum up, crucial steps can be taken in making consumers smart with your brand.

1. Be transparent: Tell consumers significant truths about your product. It can be a hidden advantage, a new habit they can start, or a truth that can set rumors straight.

2. Manage how to deal with the truth: Brands must be the first to reveal and first to deal with information. But if consumers have gone astray in dealing with it e.g. switching to another brand, getting out of the category, or speaking ill about the product, then the truth must be set straight, public relations controls dissemination, and campaigns can be formed.

3. Getting smart together: Gather your brand believers and give them a venue to interact together and with your brand. Give a face to credibility by having a real person talk to the ambassadors regularly. Discover new habits and spot the ones that can be turned into campaigns. The key is to discover what works for the brand and initiate a movement.

Of course there are still brands and products we wish to be more transparent to us like insurance companies but then, that’s another discussion.

 

C) Copyright protected| BRANDS AND PITCHES 2012

Articles

Consumer Education: Forming and Adopting Habits

In Tools on March 21, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , ,

Consumer education is one of the most powerful marketing tools. It is not just telling consumers what and why, it’s the HOW. With the advent of innovations making their way into the commercial world, educating prospective markets is a must to increase affinities of purchase. Moreover, century-old brands want to remain relevant among consumers across diversities by updating their products and moving past basic offers.

In the end, all brands desire to be understood and loved. Consumer education has the power to facilitate the formation of relationships past awareness. Based on my experiences and observations, consumer education is vital for the following:

1. Product Introduction: It can make the commercialization of an industrial product smooth. A great example is how Apple launches its new products and revolutionizes consumer imagination. Steve Jobs would sell not the technology or the gadget but the imagination that has come true. The launch captures the basic functions of the product and visually amplifies the features. But what’s great about Apple is that they let techies and the media get educated and excited first so that virally, these converts would spread not just the news of a new product but also educate the rest of the adopters.

2. Brand Relevance: A cookie is a cookie until you twist, lick, and dunk it. Yes, an oreo cookie has managed to sustain its existence by exciting consumers, old and new. Who knew that a father-son/ big brother-little brother/grandma- grand daughter bond could be formed over a cookie ritual? Yet, the simple campaign has managed to penetrate into every market with the same message. The habit has been so strongly linked with Oreo that in other commercials, there is no need to verbalize the message of TWIST.LICK.DUNK.

3. Product Usage: For products that are intrinsically complex, communicating simple instructions can be beneficial. It is not enough to insert manuals in boxes. Consumers need to see and hear how they should interact with your product. That’s why appliance centers bank on massive displays, instructional videos, and sales representatives. However, the message needs to be simplified in the first place so that it does not evolve into complex instructions when passing through several media. Three-point guides are good. Beyond that, the consumer shuts down.

Product usage may also come from consumer research and can be replicated for the rest to adopt. For example, a dishwashing liquid brand, Joy (P&G), found out that frugal mothers dilute a pack into a liter of water to maximize usage and lessen purchase frequency. Instead of antagonizing this seemingly detrimental habit, the brand amplified it into an ad and improved the formulation for a stronger concentrate. This is a good example of the Heath Brother’s point in the book SWITCH of highlighting what works and spreading it among the rest. Solutions need not be formed from scratch. It can be found among marginalized samples that have unknown efficient practices.

I’ve summarized learning points in crafting an effective consumer education campaign.

1. Simplify the product features and brand messages first.

2. Filter the messages and prioritize the hierarchy of communication.

3. Partner words with actions and/or visuals.

4. Plot your contact points and venues of communication.

5. Educate the ambassadors and opinion leaders.

6. Communicate/Educate efficiently and relevantly.

7. Leave room for interpretation, good interpretation for the consumers.

8. Track consumer conversion.

9. Analyze if consumer education campaign has strengthened brand attributes.

10. Determine if the campaign can be sustained and/or replicated.

Whether it’s for a product update or introduction, consumer education links brands with consumers. In forming habits among consumers, brands may play a key role as long as the message is simple, authentic, and touch on familiar thoughts and emotions.

 

(C) Copyright protected| BRANDS AND PITCHES 2012