Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

The Difference Between Start-up Event and Marketing Event

Last week I was in Slush Singapore and the event was awesome. It was also breath of fresh air from traditional industry events, where you usually end up when working in marketing. What was also refreshing that I had to really explain what I am doing for work as the majority of people were not familiar with the weird acronyms we have as our “brands”. Can you truly explain what you do?

When I was talking to start-ups, pretty much every single one of them was explaining how their product, innovation or service is making the world a better place. Of course everyone wants to be a unicorn and get big fat investing rounds, but that was not the first thing you heard from them. The sense of purpose was something that came across first. Therefore I had really interesting discussions there and exchanged way more cards than in typical marketing event.

When you go to advertising seminar, the dialogue goes like this:

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$*

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK**

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME “INNOVATION”***

and this continues as long as there is free booze.

We are only talking about ourselves. We preach our clients how they should be consumer-centric and communicate that way, but we are not practicing what we preach. For masters of branding, we truly suck on it. To be able to make your client interesting, you have to be interesting as well.

Talking about the cobbler´s children are the worst shod.

So what is the main difference between start-up event and marketing event?

First ones are interesting and inspiring. Latter ones are just painful waste of time.

I love marketing, but our industry is standing on burning platform. The talk about changing our ways has been mostly just smoke and mirrors for majority of agencies. We have taken some buzzwords from start-up world and put it to our presentations and think that we are innovative.  Current advertising is only relevant to advertisers and agencies. Advertising is not shaping popular culture anymore. Some could almost argue that we are not even part of popular culture.

Marketing is more important than ever. This was also obvious when talking with start-ups. They need help on how to break through clutter: how to be noticed, how to create memorable brand and tell interesting stories. They are in desperate need of agency expertise, but bureaucratic processes and archaic ways of working make collaboration almost impossible. Agencies are slow, the most interesting future clients are not.

Luckily it is not only gloom and doom and there are some awesome initiatives towards right direction (and luckily in firm where I am working for). Evolution does not save us, we need revolution.

* Way less money than any start-up is getting on their financing rounds.

** And that great work is categorized by fellow ad guys not the general public

**** In reality just some scam project

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5 Reasons Why Snapchat Spectacles Will Become a Hit

Google Glass failed because it was used by uncool nerds in shower and maybe due to some other reasons as well. Snapchat recently announced Spectacles, their first hardware offering.

Compared to Google glasses, I see rosier future for the Snapchat spectacles:

1. Hardware supports existing Snapchat product.

You can immediately envision how the new Spectacles actually enhance your Snapchat user experience. Spectacles are slave for overall Snapchat use case and provide natural gateway to deepen your relationship with brand. Google Glass was more branded as a separate product.

2. They are more lifestyle than technology.

spectacles

The glasses look cool. They totally embody Snapchat brand. Spectacles are so LA. They are not looking like bunch of engineers designed it, which has been the Achilles’ heel of many wearables. Wearables should be approached fashion-first, technology-second. Usually it is great if you can create a tribe of followers, unless they are called glassholes.

3. They are meant for only one thing.

You can only record 10s video with it, that´s it. We don´t need swiss army knife wearables, we need wearables that are good at doing on particular thing. The videos are not just replicas of what you would be creating with smartphone. They are circular, which resemble more of human vision. The videos created with Spectacles are unique.

4. They are affordable.

“They’re positioning it as this fun toy for people to engage with, not something that you need to think about as your next big technology investment.”

– Josh Elman, Greylock Partners

They only cost 130 dollars, so teens are more likely to drunk buy them from eCommerce site instead of Apple watch.

5. Spectacles have nothing to lose, but much to gain

“It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.”

– Evan Spiegel (Snapchat CEO)

The CEO of Snapchat calls the spectacles a toy and there will be limited distribution in the beginning. Snapchat will not live or die with Spectacles. However, if Spectacles will become hit, it could have interesting implications for Snapchat. They could free themselves from the confinement of smartphones. Snapchat has already forced brands to create vertical video, maybe this will change on how we approach digital photography in general. Philosophically it is also interesting that Spectacles are meant for the selfie-generation but the focus is outwards. You are filming what happens around you, not yourself.

What starts now as novelty, could become a true game changer.

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Caveman Cleaner and The Art of Standing Out in Gym Shower

There are no low-interest categories, there are just boring run-of-the mill products and more interesting ones.

Despite growth in male grooming sector, men´s beauty products remain still low-interest category. Guys generally could not give a less about what shampoo, body wash or other beauty product they use. Our main heuristics usually are what is cheap, available (hence we use our spouse´s products) and little smell has never hurt anyone, ay?

I bumped into this product in the shower of our gym and immediately caught my attention:
 cavemancleaner

Caveman Cleaner from Bad Labs is perfectly branded product in low-interest category for two particular reasons:

1. Value proposition is clear
I remember when 2-in-1 shampoos came out and you immediately started to wonder why you still need a separate shower gel? Shower is not about pampering yourself, it is a daily chore, you want it to be over quickly. Why would you not put toothpaste or maybe deodorant on that stuff as well? This is a hectic, fast world, there is no time for separate beauty products.

2. Branding is attention-grabbing and focused
Modern life is already too complicated and brands wants us to use different beauty products for different body parts. That just adds stress for modern man. We want to return back to time, when we were hunter-gatherers and did not need to worry about trimming our eyebrows. Our ancestors did only need water from rain, some leaves and charcoal and they seemed happy (until they became extinct). As paleo diet is becoming increasingly popular, why would not you go caveman on your grooming ritual as well?

Our gym shower has probably 20 different male grooming products, this is the only one I noticed and remember.  Saying that you work in low-interest category is not a reason to not be interesting. It is just easy excuse.

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Marketer Time Gap: Why Singapore Overspends in Print Media?

I was astonished to read the new report from Datalicious and eConsultancy about where the media budgets are generally going in Singapore. Based on the respondents on that survey, they use 42% of their marketing budget to print, although audience uses only 10% of their time there. This feels like a massive overspending in print and total waste of money.

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption (2016)

That people are spending time on some channel does not necessarily mean that you can reach people there effectively. E.g. people spend time on WhatsApp where advertisers are not allowed. Or TV viewership is moving towards Netflix, where you cannot interrupt the audience with TV ads. Impact is not equal to time. Still this statistic gives indication that advertisers are not using their media money as wisely as they could. These results strengthen the five principles I have encountered anecdotally during my time in here:

  1. Stop overspending on print. The time consumers spent on print will not be growing so do not let the affordability fool you.
  2. Keep your TV spend around where it is. It is expensive channel, but still one of the most effective mediums to gain massive reach and also tell emotional story.
  3. Consider the role of digital for your company. Your audience is spending bigger proportion of their time every year in digital. If you are not understanding what your consumers are doing there, you will be marketing in places where your customers aren´t. The question should not be should you invest on digital, but how you will invest on digital.
  4. Reconsider radio. Radio is the unsung hero of the media mix. Cost-effective channel that people still spend surprisingly long time with. During my whole advertising career, radio has always been pariah of different media types but based on these results there is opportunity to improve your media effectiveness by adding it to your media mix. Plus it is opportunity to do some really great ads.
  5. Based on the same research over half of the marketers are not using attribution or don´t even know what it is. If you are not measuring and assessing the effectiveness of your different media channels, start now. Otherwise you keep spending on print, because it doesn´t seem to be completely broken method based on your results (which are not based on attribution). Unfortunately there will be no transition from working ok to not working at all.

Throughout my whole career, I have advocated for digital and it seems that my clients have been waking up to the consumer reality. This study shows that there is a still lot of work to do to make all the marketers realize the current lay of the land.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Blood

nobloodshouldholdusback

This Bodyform ad might be my favorite ad of the year.

Insight: It´s ok to draw some blood when you do sports.

Especially FMCG category is filled with fake images of shiny happy people who are so detached from reality that I wonder how the brand managers and agencies can live with themselves. Our audience is not stupid. Having blue liquid in sanitary pad commercials has been a running joke for as long I remember seeing advertisements.

Many of the brands might have been toying about showing actual blood in the ads; the idea is not that novel. What instead is novel, that Bodyform had the balls (or ovaries in this case) to actually do what none of the other brands had not dared to do before.

Because of popularity of Game of Thrones, Crossfit and MMA, our audience is accustomed to more rough and rugged imaginary. Many of the marketers have not realized this sense of aesthetics and that is why many of the ads nowadays look over-polished and just plain fake.

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Ferment and Distill Your Ideas

“Alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of drunkenness.” 
– Oscar Wilde

I like alcohol in its various forms and like with many things the more you know the background of it, the more you enjoy the experience. Therefore I don´t only consume ethanol, I read a lot literature about it (hence camouflaging it from problem to hobby). Besides Three Martini lunches, the art of making booze and the art of making great marketing have lots of similarities. For example this passage about the difference of fermentation and distillation in the “Proof” by Adam Rogers captures something essential about our field of work as well:

Fermentation is a natural process, as close to a miracle as a science-minded type like me would ever acknowledge. Over human history we have learn to harness and adapt it. We domesticated the micro-organisms that make it possible, designed containers friendlier to it, created business around it. But a winemaker taking credit for fermentation is like beekeeper taking credit for honey. Fermentation would happen whether men and women were here on earth or not. If a fig spontaneously ferments in the forest, a monkey is there to hear it. (And eat the fig. And get drunk.  

Distillation, though, is technology. Human being invented it; we came up with the process and developed the equipment. It requires the ability to boil a liquid and reliably collect the resulting vapors, which sounds simple. But to do it you have to learn a lot of other skills first. You have to be able to control fire, work metal, heat things and cool them, make airtight, pressurized vessels. You need a big brain with wrinkled cortex, maybe some opposable thumbs. But most of all you need a desire to change your environment instead of just live with what you have. Distillation takes intelligence and will. To distill, literally or metaphorically, requires the hubris to believe you can change the world.
 

The great marketers understand the difference of fermentation and distillation and when to utilize both of the methods to come up with ideas.

“Fermentation may have been a greater discovery than fire”
– David Wallace

Ferment: There is time and place to rely on your emotions and gut feeling. Fermentation is a skill that you either have or not. Let it flow and don´t try to control things. Use just pad and pen, technology does not make fermenting better. Usually when fermenting, the quantity is better than quality. Third beer tastes better than the first one. There is time to distill later on.

“Civilization begins with distillation”
-William Faulkner

Distill: After you had your ideas ferment freely it is time to distill your ideas to purest form. You have to try to control your ideas, make sense out of them. Use technology to find the essence of your idea. Distillation you can learn when you have the discipline. The less is more. If you have truly potent idea, one shot is enough and you don´t need to mix it with anything.

The best marketers are the masters of in balancing between chaos and discipline.

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7 Golden Eggs of Management Wisdom from Angry Birds

Being a patriotic Finn, I naturally went to see Angry Birds –movie immediately it premiered in Singapore. It was positive surprise and I am happy that it has done well in box office. What I liked about the film that it wasn´t as sugarcoated animation as the other mainstream Disney productions. Although it is an international production, there was a nice Finnish undertone to it.

Although it is mainly slapstick comedy in the vain of old-school Warner Bros –movies, I would actually recommend every leader to see it. Angry Birds movie has quite a lot of management wisdom

1. Hire misfits

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together”
-Malcolm Forbes

misfits

The unlikely heroes of Angry Birds –movie are getting together because they are forced to. They have been put to anger management class because they don´t fit the mold of happy-go-lucky birds. Red has true anger management issues. Bomb literally has tendency to explode. Chuck is delinquent with ADHD and Terrence, well… We don´t really know Terrence, but he has a dark secret. Not to mention his grunts are done by Sean Penn. Bunch of weirdos is a fair assessment.

Many leaders do the mistake of hiring only people who are similar as they are. Successful organizations embrace diversity and people who are not afraid to go against the grain. The truly great individuals are not socializing cheerleaders, but can be quite difficult to work with. They are driven by good results and not by politics. If you have surrounded yourself with Yes-men, no one will say that you are heading towards wrong direction.

2.True leaders emerge when there is downturn

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”
Mike Tyson

Anyone can lead a company when it is going well. When going gets tough, only the tough gets going. Red is the hero of the film although in the beginning he is frowned upon by gullible naïve positive-thinking birds. He knew that visiting pigs were up to something and that something is not anything good. Not surprisingly pigs stole their eggs. At those tough moments leaders rise from the managers and you want someone who is able to do hard decisions. Red rises through the occasion and knows it is time for action.

3.Business is war

“Whoever said, It´s not whether you win or lose that counts, probably lost”
-Martina Navratilova

Having a corporate retreat is a nice add-on, but the main thing why people would stay on your organization is that your company is growing. Best incentive to stay in company is success. That growth comes from beating your opponents, simple as that. You have to recognize who are the birds (especially angry ones) and pigs in your circles. Angry Birds you should promote and pigs you should try to explode.

4.Positive thinking does not take you anywhere

“I may not have positive attitude, but I am positive that I have attitude”
-Unknown

When the true nature of pigs has been revealed, guess what kinds of birds are needed? Positive nice team players? Nah, they want truly angry birds ready to cause some wreck.

Working in US-based organizations pretty much all my working life I am still astonished by all the cheerleading bullshit that goes around (mainly via e-mail). You win some new business and suddenly you get some random congratulatory messages from people you have not ever heard of and probably never will afterwards. Sending cheerleading e-mails is easy; putting your skin truly in the game is difficult. Reply to all is a nice substitute to really doing some work. That´s why I don´t celebrate good presentations, NB wins or other achievements at work. Nailing those moments constantly should be your de facto mode. I nail my presentations always. If Damien Lillard does not celebrate after winning a game winner you should not either:

 5. Management by Perkele

“If something isn’t happening quickly enough, it is necessary for the top managers to slam their fists on the table and yell, ‘Perkele!’ Repeatedly, if necessary.”
Tarja Moles (Xenophobe´s Guide to the Finns)

You should always prefer swift decision making to prolonged pondering and involving all participants before making decision. Action trumps intellectualizing.

6.Life is just a series of failures

“Persistance can change failure into extraordinary achievement”
-Matt Biondi

 

The first hour of Angry Birds movie is just a series of failures. Our anger management class led by Red just have cock-up after another. To succeed in life, you have to be stubborn to forget all your failures and just keep on going.

7. It does not matter to what you believe as you believe in something

““No, what he didn’t like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.”
-Terry Pratchett (The Color of Magic)

The birds are searching for the mythical Mighty Eagle to save their island. When they finally meet their hero, it is a let down (especially as they see him peeing to the lake). The point of Mighty Eagle is not so much is it true or true, but that it gives hope in any case. We Finns hope for World championship in ice hockey every year and that hope keep us going. Sometimes (not too often) that hope has come true. In this cold world, we need heroes. It is unlikely that you have any hero to look up to in real life so then you have to turn into sports and culture to be motivated.

And lastly, the most important lesson of them all, whenever it is possible listen to KRS-One:

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God´s Hand and The Art of Differentiation

On recent work trip to Tokyo, I stumbled upon these products in Don Quijote:

godshand

Guess which one I bought?

The role of marketing is to make the product/brand desirable. That is something that quite often is forgotten while marketers spend their efforts on creating the first ever “smart shoes” and other “innovation” projects. More often than not, brands should go back to the basics to make their products truly desirable:

Have memorable name: When I start working with the brand, I always try to find ways to differentiate. Other handgrips don´t even have name, but the hardest (70 kg) is called God´s hand. That already sets the tone that this product is not for the faint-hearted or the weak.

Catch the attention with striking visual: Other handgrips have normal people showing the product, the hardest of the handgrips has the gorilla. You should always separate your spearhead product from the others (with the name and the visuals).

Fulfill emotional not rational needs: Before entering the store I didn´t know I wanted handgrips. There is no rational reason for me to even improve my grip. Although I play basketball and do CrossFit, the grip has never been a concern for me. However, because I am vain guy (usually women don´t have this problem), I am sucker for things that tests your strength. After seeing this video, I had to immediately test one-finger dead lift. 70kg is totally arbitrary limit to handgrip because you don´t have baseline to compare. They could have named the 40kg product as the God´s hand and I would still be happy with the purchase. If you target people with competitive nature, there are no limits on how far they will go to win.

Double the price: You should try to get customers who want the best. God´s hand costs the double of the normal handgrip. I don´t know how much handgrips should cost but when I saw the product I just had to get it. The price didn´t play any role in buying the product. The initial price was something like 10 SGD, which is actually really cheap. They should have asked even more, I would have happily paid it.

I have been really happy with the product as well. I use it almost daily during my workday, especially if I am feeling pissed off about something (usually daily affair). The biggest enjoyment is when people visiting my desk try to grip the God´s hand and cannot. God´s hand is 10 SGD, but feeling stronger than your friends is priceless.

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Advertising Can Make Even Baby Carrots Desirable

babycarrots

The fact is that majority of brands and products are boring. Being boring is a challenge, because your brand will not be noticed. You are not competing against the other products and brands in category, you are competing of mindspace of your consumer which is increasingly filled with Netflix, Snapchat and other way more interesting things than you brand.

The main role for advertising is to sell more products and how you do it is by making your product more interesting, desirable and thus noticed. Rational arguments don´t really work. Every smoker knows that he would need to quit. You know that you should hit the gym. And you know that carrots are healthy, but you still choose to munch on chips because they just taste good.

This campaign from few years back is a brilliant example of the true power of advertising. You have a great product, but it has an image problem. You fix it by going totally overboard. You appeal to heart. You beg, borrow and steal from other categories. You are bold. You make that product differentiated and interesting. If your category is boring, you reframe your whole category. You do what you are supposed to do:

If advertising industry has identity problem right now, it is because we have lost our focus on making the brands we work with desirable. We have gone too deep in rabbit hole of championing social causes or doing unnecessary technological innovations, that we have forgotten why we exist in the first place.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese It´s Changed But It Hasn´t

macandcheese

“This is like the largest blind tasting ever”

Insight: Brand is all about perception. When you are changing the recipe of an iconic food item, you have to be careful. Expectations play important role on what we taste and how we experience it. Taste is shaped by our past experiences, our current mood, our expectations, and any number of incidental details.

“What we think is going into our mouth actually changes what we taste, down to the level of the taste buds themselves.”

Michael Norton, assistant professor of business administration in the marketing department of the Harvard Business School

So instead of doing big bang like New Coke and failing miserably, Mac & Cheese starts sneakily by just testing it out. Not surprisingly people didn´t notice any difference and generally having no artificial ingredients should be good thing. macandcheese2

I also recommend watching this longer story about the project and to visit the website.

Powerful, simple, big and real (not scam or some crappy innovation) campaigns are not that common nowadays, so this definitely deserves some praise.

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