Marko Knezic

Did You Just Purchase a Product or Buy Into an Idea?

A few days ago I was chatting with a few industry friends about whether the role of marketers was to “tell stories” or to “sell stuff.” I’ll spare you the drawn-out details of this philosophical chess match, mainly because a point-for-point retelling would have the same effect as chugging a large glass of warm milk. But I will discuss the main points, because given the seeming ubiquity of social media and the continued success of content marketing, there is a right answer to this question.

Marketers who believe that the term “storyteller”  fundamentally describes their job have an advantage over those who more closely self-identify with terms like “salesperson.”

Storytellers understand people’s motivations and are able to make emotional connections that are both influential and long-lasting. Salespeople fill an immediate need, provide product information and then are likely forgotten – and we live in a world where success and longevity rule together, hand-in-hand.

(*Note: The point that the best salespeople actually sell relationships – not products – was brought to my attention. Exactly, and I would argue that those relationships were forged by emotional bonding via storytelling, not regurgitating product information.)

Evidence of people’s love for for a good narrative and its effect on their spending decisions can be seen every day. Consider Coca-Cola. Coke is a fixture at or near the top of Forbes list of the world’s most valuable brands, year in, year-out. They didn’t achieve this by simply creating advertisements featuring the product. They arrived and continue to reign over the top spots by emotionally resonating with multiple facets of people’s lives – and using the multiple channels that power our 24/7 connectivity –  via content marketing like AHH.com.

The point is that if you can use intriguing stories (content marketing) to sell people on an idea – why they should invest in your brand – you will have created a more personal, loyalty-generating bond than if you’re simply pushing a product because it’s your job to “sell stuff.”

So, now you’re saying, Philosophy is great but is there any factual evidence to put a definitive end this chess match? I’m glad you asked. A recent Ad Age survey revealed that 71 percent of marketers will increase their content marketing budgets in 2014.

Checkmate.

 

Ilana R. Borzak

Finding the Inner Shopper

Advertising is more than the copy and art on your favorite magazine’s inside cover. That ad is made by an industry that straddles the gap between Art’s and Science’s hands as they approach for a handshake. It’s an industry that uses a scientific approach to human behavior and psychology, in order to create art that effects behavioral change. The websites it develops, the commercials it produces and the press coverage it generates are based on research-heavy understandings of you, the wallet holder. What you see on your screen is often born from behavioral models that bridge the Art and Science gap.

Advertising’s formal advent into human behavioral science is traced back to 1898, when the first known model depicting the theoretical journey a customer takes before purchasing an item was recorded. The AIDA Model, which later evolved into the Purchase Funnel, posits that every customer who wants to buy something starts at the funnel’s wide top with a number of brand options. As need or interest increases, he or she follows the linear path towards the stem, removing brands from the consideration set until a single  brand remains, which is then purchased.

Marketers using this research-supported model followed the image’s suggestion and assumed their customers methodologically made purchasing decisions. They reasoned that awareness’s and interest’s position at the funnel’s top meant they must be achieved in order to survive the customer’s narrowing of the funnel. And their ads reflected this thinking. VW’s “Think Small” ad, considered one of the most memorable ad campaigns of the 20th century (Ad Age), is a prime example. When seen as a whole, the ad’s visual simplicity draws the eye to the advertisement’s only two images — the car and the logo — bringing attention, or awareness, to their existence as independent yet intertwined entities. The “Think Small” copy was meant to spark interest and ensure a position at the beginning of the funnel amongst baby boomers who were buying larger cars than ever before to fit their growing families (Bizjournal). VW’s awareness- and interest- focused ad guaranteed a spot in the funnel’s final stages.

 

The ad was a success and set a new standard for advertising strategies at the time. In the nearly sixty years between its appearance and today, human behavior, analytic understanding of behavior, and advertising’s artistic creations to reach customers have evolved. The internet, arguably a prominent catalyst behind much of the change, created whole new venues for consumers to explore and discover and gave advertisers a completely new environment to communicate both to and with customers. It dated the AIDA Model and spurred McKinsey to create the Consumer Decision Journey, a new model that stands out for its theories as well as its fairly wide acceptance (1).

 

The now-spherical model no longer depicts the customer as a purely rational and methodological purchaser. Rather the changes, as McKinsey argues, incorporates the internet-using customer’s non-linear behavior and expectations. These customers who use sites like Amazon tend to add rather than subtract options as they get closer to purchase, negating the funnel’s linearity as well as distinct stages and a cohesive path to purchase (McKinsey). Behavioral targeting and recommendations, an advertising reaction to – as well as catalyst of – the changes are emblematic of the ad industry’s understanding of the digitally savvy. How many times have you gone to Amazon with a single brand in mind and then found yourself with more than 5 recommendation-fueled tabs on your browser with brands or products you never knew existed?

The parallel evolution from Purchase Funnel and “Think Small” to where we stand today reflects both the change in purchase behavior as well as advertising’s understanding of how people buy. What was once thought to be structured and linear is now circular and vague, a sentiment echoed by today’s most renowned decision-making researchers and advertisers (2). The funnel’s creator could never have conceived an advertiser’s ability to enter a customer’s life with a message that appropriately addresses where he or she is in the purchase process. Nor could he in the late-19th century have guessed that most consumers would willingly add products to their consideration set.

As ideas and technology evolve at an ever-faster pace, advertisers will have brought their version of art-and-science to a new place in the not-so-distant future, where theoretically you and your desire to buy will be. After all, the process that you take before you reach into your pocket for your wallet is our fuel for creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOOTNOTES

(1) Numerous models have been suggested over the years but the Consumer Decision Journey stands out as both a widely accepted and wildly divergent model from the original AIDA model. For a more thorough history of the models, see Thomas E. Barry’s 1987 article “The Development of the Hierarchy of Effects: A Historical Perspective” published in the Current Issues and Research in Advertising journal.

(2) Daniel Kahneman’s dual process theory, for instance, supports the idea that people aren’t always rational consumers. For more information, see his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

 

 

Mark Carlson

Help Me Highlight You

While scanning through a pile of resumes recently, I was surprised to see how few really stood out from the crowd.  How few were formatted in an approachable way.  How few made me want to take the next step to meet the person behind the sheet of paper.

I am not a HR professional; I don’t claim to understand all the nuance of searching and finding great people. And I know that resumes are passé; in today’s world, your website, or your blog, or your book all tell a story about you that is more personal and insightful than words on a piece of paper.  But here’s the catch – for me, your resume is the gatekeeper to all of that rich content.  If you don’t catch me at the resume stage, I may not take the next step to find out more about you in any of those more creative constructs.

So, at the risk of stating the obvious, here are a couple of pointers for helping us (those who are doing the screening) find you (those who want to make it to the “yes” pile.)

  1. Format matters.  Your resume is my first measure of your communication skill.  I assume that how you present yourself to me is the same way that you might craft a presentation to one of our clients.  Take a look at your resume in “whole page” view.  It should be pleasing to the eye – it should invite me in, rather than make me feel I have some work ahead of me.  Is there any breathing room or white space?  Are the sections clearly broken out and easily identifiable?  Think of it as an artful presentation rather than a data sheet, and you’re likely to have more of the content consumed and appreciated.
  2. Edit, then edit some more.  Understand the description of the job that you’re seeking and use that as a guide to make your resume sing.  What are the two or three things that you really want me to take away from your experiences?  Help me find them – don’t make me hunt for the nuggets among the mundane.  Show me that you have the experience to merit consideration, but don’t belabor projects and experiences that blend in at the expense of those that should stand out. I’m going to read your resume with a highlighter in hand.  (That’s right, I’m actually going to print it out.)  Help me quickly find those things that you think I should mark in bright yellow.
  3. Find a way to inject some personality.  There are many ways to do this, and some are better than others – but I need to get a sense of you the person, beyond titles, dates and degrees.  Don’t get too cute here, but once again, give my highlighter something to grab onto.  Give me something to attach to your name – “Oh yeah, she’s the one who ran away with the circus.” (Don’t use that one, unless you know, you actually were a circus runaway…)
  4. Details matter.  It’s really hard to imagine, but I saw typos, grammatical errors, and formatting problems.  Proof your work – there is no excuse for not being meticulous here.  One bad typo, and you could end up in the “maybe” pile.  And do not rely on spell check alone, have a friend read it over with a critical eye.  Save it as a .pdf – you do realize that not all computers have the same font libraries don’t you?  When I open your resume with Word or Pages my computer might just do some auto-formatting, and all of your hard work perfecting the look could be out the window.

Some final points:

  • One page is an ideal length, but two pages are acceptable if your work history merits the second page.  Once again, this should be an exercise in sacrifice and editing, but if you’ve been in the workforce for 15 years, then a second page is understandable.  Do not include a second page to tell me about your paper route, or your role as social chairman of the fraternity.
  • And finally, please realize that cover letters are most often used when a resume is physically mailed to a HR department.  In most cases these days, a resume is attached to an email.  Therefore, your email IS your cover letter – treat it accordingly.

I wish you all the best in your search and career.  I know that there is a fascinating person behind this piece of paper.  So please make it easy for me to place your resume in the “yes” pile.

Anna Curtis

The Top Ten Moments Of #MUISS

Laughlin Constable was proud to sponsor the 2014 Insight Summit Series Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, held at Marquette University on 3.19.14. There were many moments that made this year’s event special, but here are our top ten favorites:

  1. LC Shines – Who can resist an opening keynote that includes Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Flappy Bird? Or a UX presentation from a former punk rocker. Or workshops that unlock the secret to SEO success and how to get the most out of Google Analytics? Many thanks to Paul Brienza, Sean Barry, Trisha Krautkramer, Erin Ebert, and the rest of the LC team who made this year’s Digital Summit a success.
  2. Tweeting Up A Storm – The Digital Summit was a success, and attendees let everyone know via Twitter. Within hours, #MUISS was a trending topic in Milwaukee, generating 1.5 million potential impressions and @LaughlinOutLoud was mentioned hundreds of times – a  perfect representation of the digital world we live in.
  3. AOL Gets Programmatic – Michael Treon, VP Platform Solutions at AOL, discussed programmatic advertising and how it will shape the future of marketing, merging creatives and engineers to come up with time-saving solutions.
  4. Google Rewind – With the massive search engine changing almost every day, it was entertaining to walk down memory lane with Jen Keller, SEO Specialist, and see what Google looked like in the late 1990s, mid 2000s, and just last week.
  5.  #SketchNotes – Jennifer Torres (@jentorres) stole the #MUISS Twitter show with her creative and visually engaging SketchNotes
  6.  UX Drunk Test – Laughlin Constable’s User Experience Strategist, Brady Pierzchalski, highlighted how UX shouldn’t make users feel stupid by showing this video of a person using Windows 8 for the first time.
  7. Tell a Story – Closing speaker Susan Sachatello, from CUNA Mutual Group, encouraged brands to focus on what they stand for, and tell that story to your audience well. She also urged marketers to recognize who your audience is, but who they aspire to be and meet them there with your brand story.
  8. Embrace the Chaos – Taulbee Jackson from Raidious talked about real-time marketing and how advertisers must embrace the chaos. “You have a real time focus group happening all the time, whether you know it or not.”
  9. #SwipeRightForFun – Did you know? The dating app Tinder was originally going to be called Matchbox. And co-founder Jonathan Badeen has indeed been on a Tinder date.
  10. Sell out! – The Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, including pre-summit workshops, sold out for the second year in a row. Don’t miss the next Insight Summit Series event.
Lydia Eichner

240 Films from 44 Countries in 15 Days: Milwaukee Film Festival 2013

Here at Laughlin Constable, our passion for innovative ideas and outstanding creative extends far beyond our doors. As sponsors and champions of the Milwaukee Film Festival, we are proud to support one of the most important cultural events in Milwaukee – no other occasion celebrates creativity, imagination, and art with such enthusiasm. Alongside other Milwaukee advertising agencies like Bader Rutter and BVK, specifically Sara Meaney, Development Co-Chair for the Milwaukee Film Festival, we’ll be jumping in with both feet and exploring the diverse range of experiences this year’s festivities have to offer.

Opening Night Party + Red Carpet Experience: The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 26th with Break Up Man (Schlussmacher), a comedy blockbuster named best German film of the year. Catch the film at the Oriental Theatre, and then head to Discovery World to get down with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and local DJs. Also enjoy drinks, food, and lots of prizes. Not swanky enough for your taste? LC is also sponsoring the exclusive Red Carpet Experience, featuring star treatment, VIP access to a private area of the museum, an open bar, and silent auction benefitting Milwaukee Film.

Cream City Cinema: This showcase of local filmmakers’ work culminates in a yearlong Filmmaker-In-Residence prize awarded to the jury winner. Say you saw them before they blew up – our city’s concentration of filmmaking talent is going places.

Milwaukee Music + Music Documentaries: To contribute to an even lusher multi-sensory experience, musical documentaries are now their own film category – Sound Vision. Plus, the festival’s official live music series, Soundtrack at The Hotel Foster, features live local music every night of the festival – free with a festival pass or ticket stub from the night’s screenings.

For a full list of program categories, click here >> http://bit.ly/180JjbW

For a complete festival lineup, click here >> http://bit.ly/18rJWNP

We’ll be tweeting throughout the festival and live-tweeting the Opening Night events. Join the conversation by tweeting #MFF2013 and share your thoughts on what you see (but wait until the show is over to break out your cell phone).

Why film? Like advertising, cinema is an art form that has the unique ability to impact audiences in almost unlimited ways. Both mediums employ boundless creativity in order to provide entertainment, spark conversations, inspire ideas, and communicate emotions.

The experience of film is at once collective and personal, communal and introspective, social and private. Before the invention of Netflix and before Blu-ray players were even a twinkle in the home entertainment industry’s eye, going to the movies was a necessarily shared experience. Today, we’re seeing cinema come full-circle – it’s never been easier to enjoy, share, experience and discuss films with communities near and far than it is right now. You can see this happening with your own eyes at the Milwaukee Film Festival – a community of film-lovers coming together to experience something great.

Join us for over two weeks of film – we’ll be sure to save you a good seat.

Casey Flanagan

Benjamin Franklin, Project Manager

Charles Darwin, business consultant. Albert Einstein, account planner. Pablo Picasso, creative director. Benjamin Franklin… project manager.

ON MINDSET
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

ON SCHEDULES
“You may delay, but time will not.”

ON 99% BEING PERSPIRATION
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

ON THE DELIVERABLE
“Well done is better than well said.”

ON THE END OF THE DAY
“Lost time is never found again.”

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Kelly Christiansen

Beware people who tell you what they think. Trust people who tell you what they know.

In a previous post about personal growth for brands, I referenced the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. We can investigate the third agreement, “don’t make assumptions” by answering the following question: Why do we make assumptions in the first place? 

 

A1: False Confidence.

Assumptions are often made on the foundation of a false confidence. We may have a false confidence if we previously worked on a similar brand, client, or project. Yes, we may know some truths about the audience, product, brand, or culture – which can help us relate – but we cannot make assumptions about the business, marketing, or communication objectives, until we have accurate, current information about this brand, client, or project.

Solution: Put previous knowledge and experience on the back burner and get current and accurate info.

 

A2: Misperception.

Missing details can cause misperception. That’s the danger of assumptions.  When we are confused sometimes we just fill in the blanks ourselves. We need to fill in the blanks by asking questions.  We need to get the details and information. Then we can fill in the blanks with the correct answers. We get rid of confusion.

Solution: Fill in the blanks by asking questions.

 

A3: Changing variables.

Assumptions work when the variables are consistent. We live in an age where variables that change daily are changing slowly.  Double-check the realities each time. Objectives may have changed. Market dynamics may have shifted. New trends have an impact.

Solution: Verify the factors that could impact your objective first.

 

When we don’t make assumptions, it means we are asking questions and listening.

When we are asking questions and listening, it means we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers.

When we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers, we set ourselves up to achieve our objective.

Casey Flanagan

The Brand Ad Is Dead. Long Live The Brand Ad.

The brand ad is dead. But it’s not because there are no more brand ads. In fact, the opposite is true.

Because every ad is a brand ad. Further, everything a brand does is an ad.

Product ad? It’s the brand’s product. Sale ad? It’s the brand’s sale. Strong call-to-action? It’s the brand doing the calling.

So rather than deciding whether we’re doing a brand ad, let’s decide what kind of brand ad we want it to be.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Casey Flanagan

New Media. Same Truth.

Research shows 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal. As people spend more time on their mobile phones, reaching them “on-the-go” will continue to increase in importance.

Yet the small screen, like all media, provides its own set of challenges and opportunities. Some to-remain-unnamed brands, as seen in Example A focus on the challenges.

Their strategy appears to go along the lines of:

Marketing Manager One: “We have a small space. What do we do?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Boy, I don’t know. That is a small space.”
Marketing Manager One: “Could we trick someone into clicking on our link?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Interesting. But how?”
Marketing Manager One: “Let’s make it look like they have a friend request on Facebook. Even though they’re in The Weather Channel app. That could work”
Marketing Manager Two: “Who cares if they’re annoyed when they get there. They’ll be there. We’ve accomplished our task. We’ve overcome the challenge.”

It’s amazing that this kind of work is considered, much less approved. On the other hand, there are brands that focus on the opportunities, as seen in my favorite-mobile-ad-yet in Example B.

Lowe’s looked at the small space and (a) thought about what the consumer was interested in getting – the weather (b) tied themselves to the context – a nice spring day (c) didn’t get in the way – fit within the established graphic approach and (d) thought differently – staying away from the standard solution.

It’s expectedly unexpected. It’s well played all around. And it almost makes me want to garden.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

 

Katie Mullen

Reaching “Peak Bullshit” and Where We Go From Here

I’m a college graduation speech junkie. When you ask interesting people to share life lessons, not surprisingly, it can make for some pretty great stuff.

My favorite of 2013 was Jon Lovett’s address to the graduates of Pitzer College, which the 30-year-old former Obama speechwriter later excerpted in a piece for The Atlantic called “Life Lessons on Fighting a Culture of Bullshit.”

You had me at “bullshit,” Jon. Being that the recession created skeptics out of even the most trusting among us, I’m willing to bet his point of view will strike a cord with you too. It’s kind of hard not to agree with statements like this:

“One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning in it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media’s imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything.”

You can see where I’m taking this as it relates to brands. Phoniness is becoming a liability and, conversely, there’s more opportunity than ever for brands that are honest. In a McKinsey & Company article about the rise of socially conscious consumers, the growing importance of brand integrity is spelled out in the stats:

“At the same time, consumer trust in corporations has declined by 50 percent since the crisis. Consumers now trust only one in four companies on average. The dearth of trust in the marketplace makes it an agent of differentiation. As a result, the correlation of trust to brand equity has increased by 35 percent in the past three years. Trust, once an afterthought, can even help companies enter new market categories.”

Jon Lovett not only recognized a similar demand for sincerity in his commencement speech, he argued that it’s led us to an important cultural tipping point:

“I believe we may have reached ‘peak bullshit.’ And that increasingly, those who push back against the noise and nonsense; those who refuse to accept the untruths of politics and commerce and entertainment and government will be rewarded. That we are at the beginning of something important. We see it across our culture, with not only popularity but hunger for the intellectual honesty of Jon Stewart or the raw sincerity of performers like Louis CK and Lena Dunham. You see it across the political spectrum, from Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts to Chris Christie in New Jersey to Rand Paul in Kentucky.”

Marketing can’t create trust in this environment, it can only magnify it. More and more, people are looking into the practices and policies of the companies they choose to hand their money over to. Do they treat their employees fairly? What are their environmental policies? Where/how are their products made?

That’s why I think Jon’s parting advice to the Pitzer graduates is as relevant to brands as it is to individuals:

“All you have to do is avoid BSing yourself — in whatever you choose to do…be honest with yourselves, and others…reject a culture of insincerity by virtue of the example you set.”