Ilana R. Borzak

Strategy. Discuss.

I was assigned to a project with people I had never worked with before. We met around a conference table, made some introductions, and began assigning responsibilities. Nothing was out of the ordinary except I started noticing that nearly everyone’s role, no matter the person’s official title, included “strategy.” And it meant something different for each person.  By the end of the meeting, I had heard so many uses of “strategy” that I no longer understood its meaning.

I’ve since had time and space to recognize the thread that everyone’s “strategy” shared. It was the process of taking disparate information and condensing it into a goal. Within this definition, “strategy” adds depth and intelligence to a project, no matter its industry.  A strategic HR Professional uses “strategy”  to understand an existing team’s personalities and recruit employees with skills that will bring the team’s capabilities to the next level. A strategic mother understands the values she wants to instill in her child and plans a life around them to ensure it.

“Strategy,” according to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time.” It is a necessary preparation for success and thus tempting to overuse it. Unfortunately the word loses meaning when overextended, and its value diminishes.

A solution is to strive to define one’s “strategy.”  I challenge myself and others to take a break from the term. Next time I catch myself using the word, I’m going to define it and help others and myself understand the work I do.

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Ilana R. Borzak

A Pitch with a Hitch?

A couple of months ago I wrote about two religions that use marketing (here and here) and I used the de facto terminology for describing religions’ marketing strategies,  “retention” and “recruitment.”  These words reveal an assumption we make when religions use marketing. They are either convincing members to remain connected to and active within their religious communities (retention) or influencing unaffiliated people to join (recruitment).

And we don’t use “retention” and “recruitment” to describe non-religion brands’ marketing efforts.  Traditional brands (1) create ads for “awareness” and “acquisition” goals (2). They inform a person of a product’s existence (awareness) or compel him or her to purchase it (acquisition). From a widely recognized beverage brand like Coca-Cola to an unknown tech startup to a nonprofit with an average level of recognition, these terms are used almost universally. Religion is the exception.

The different words we use reflect a view that religion is authoritarian. Both “retention” and “recruitment” describe a relationship with a clear power dynamic where the religion marketer exerts power over members and non-members to “retain” or “recruit” them. In contrast, the customer is the beneficiary in a non-religion marketing relationship. The customer gains knowledge through “awareness” or product through “acquisition.” Our speech attributes more unscrupulousness to religions than giant corporations with marketing budgets in the billions, even though many reliable surveys reveal that Americans trust clergy more than advertising and marketing professionals (3).  Perhaps the inconsistency between how we talk and what we think is the result of a strategic campaign the industry ran to improve a profit-driven image, whereas the language for religion remains honest and true to marketing’s goals. As a marketing professional, it sounds like the job for a good PR team.

 

 

(1) For lack of a better term, I use “traditional” to describe a brand that is not a religion. Feel free to reach out to me with a better term.

(2) From my research and conversations, albeit limited, I have found the retention/recruitment and awareness/acquisition divide to be somewhat consistently applied in the product and religious marketing spheres.

(3) See, for instance, these Gallup and GFK survey results.

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Abi Naumann

Insight Summit Series: Digital Advertising

We’re excited to bring you the sold-out Insight Summit Series on Digital Advertising on March 20, 2013. We teamed up with Marquette University for the first time to host this one-day conference to a crowd of five hundred digital professionals and students.

The summit will feature thirty of digital advertising’s greatest including Marquette alum and industry experts from renowned companies and organizations throughout the Midwest.

Unable to attend? Follow along below.

http://storify.com/AbiNaumann/stay-connected-insight-summit-series-digital-adver

 

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Heidi Sterricker

Advertising is the greatest industry. Ever.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I can’t tell you how proud I am to say, “I work in advertising.” The outside perception is that all of the people in advertising are fun, creative and outgoing, work in loft-style offices and wear jeans and sneakers. Well, they’re right. We do. However, beyond the stereotype we carry, there is so much more to it than that. You know it, and I know it. We are an interesting mix of people in all areas of expertise, under one roof.

Every day I walk by the strategists and planners who can define everything and anything, down to why you chose to wear Converse on Tuesday.

Every day I talk with the art directors and designers, who translate messages, concepts and ideas into images, pictures and art. Most of them know Lorem Ipsum by heart.

Every day I see the media team who speak a second language of acronyms: CRM, SEM, DMA, CPM, GRP and CTR. OMG.

Every day I run into the producers, who miraculously manage to secure locations, wrangle talent, make sure there is beef jerky at craft service and of course, control the weather, because they, together, are God.

Every day I work with account service teams who are truly the hub of all communication in the agency. Putting client needs first, they usually forget to eat lunch. And sleep. Wait, they don’t sleep.

Every day I see the PR folks who know way more about AP style than Microsoft Office.

Every day I walk by the studio production artists who are always ready to lend a hand with a smile, even though it’s the client’s 26th revision.

Every day I pass programmers who design code, write new code, understand existing code, modify existing code and verify that existing code still works. All under the influence of Mountain Dew.

Every day I work with magical retouchers who can transform a Pontiac into a unicorn—because they can.

Every day I see the highly caffeinated social media crew, who run around with laptops in hand all day, thinking 20 tweets ahead of you.

Every day I work with the ladies of accounting who help organize the potlucks and tirelessly remind us about our timesheets, while proudly sporting Packers sweatshirts.

And, every day I see my favorite, the writers. They get people to act using only words. They come from all walks of life and always find a way to make me laugh. Hell, I like them so much I married one.

Like I said, the outside world thinks we’re fun and creative. In fact, according to a recent study (to be unveiled next week) in Ad Age, 69% of consumers do think that advertising has the power to make our world a better place. Some said that it would be a fun job to have. They are correct (again). We do have fun.

So there you have it. We are surrounded by the most amazing group of people on the planet and the fact that I realize that makes me feel pretty good. How do we ever get bored in this business? The answer is, we don’t. We wear jeans, we swear and we’re paid for our unique thoughts, squeezed fresh from our brains. We’re in advertising, and it is good.

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Ilana R. Borzak

Like Ripples in a Pond: Driving Brands with “Why”

 

 

The Golden Circle. It’s how author Simon Sinek visualizes a person’s decision making process. The “why,” representing a higher cause, directs the outer circles. The “how” ring, or value proposition, and the “what” ring, the process that realizes the “how,” are intuitively guided by the Circle’s core, the “why.”

Successful businesses and leaders, Sinek says, follow this pattern. They start by giving people a reason to believe in them before offering practical details.  As a brand, Apple started with a purpose: to challenge the status quo. This “why” drove the design and innovative technology found in all Apple products — the “what” and “how.” In turn, people believe in the company’s cause and allow their actions to follow. They overlook Apple’s executional blunders (ex: the antenna on the iPhone 4 and Maps in iOS6) and continue to believe in its cause and show religious-like devotion. The pattern can even be seen in historical events. As a civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gained prominence for his beliefs and convictions, not the specific plans he laid out for achieving civil rights. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (not “I Have a Plan,” as Sinek jokes) attracted over two hundred thousand supporters who believed in his purpose and allowed it to guide them to DC. His legacy lives on well after the passing of Civil Rights Act just as Apple’s will even after their market share wanes. Sinek concludes, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.”  Communicating from the inside out drives behavior and creates long lasting relationships.

Recent studies in psychology and biology reveal the distinction between meaning, the “why,” and happiness, the outer two rings. Achieving meaning is allowing the “why” to drive the “how” and “what” and often necessitates a person to sacrifice along the way.  On the other hand, happiness is an emotion for the present. It is achieved by fulfilling fleeting needs and desires and then it fades as a person’s needs change, much like how a business’ “what” and “how” must evolve as the culture and technology around it change. The pursuit of meaning, researchers find, often counteracts “happiness” but ultimately leads to increases in overall well-being, life-satisfaction, and self-esteem.

We as marketers often speak about creating long-lasting and meaningful relationships with our customers. Advances in our understanding of the human mind point to the necessity of a brand or company standing for something people can relate to, believe in, and trust. This purpose, the “why,” should be the starting point for a brand. The details will follow.

 Sources:

  1. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/
  2. http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

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Joyce O'Brien

In Our Hearts

Some of you may know or remember Jim and Tracy Xavier. While working at Laughlin Constable, they met and fell in love. Now married with two lovely daughters, they continue to grow within their Christian ministry. After spending many years serving the Lord within the United States, they recently relocated their family to Japan to continue their work.

As you can imagine, the recent quake and tsunami shook their world. They report that they are safe, but heart-broken for the loss that is felt all across Japan. Their work in Munakata-shi, Fukuoka continues although “the event stirred Japan to its core. Recovery will continue for years to come.”

They covet your prayers for their family and the people of Japan. Watch video

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Casey Flanagan

Satisfaction May Be Satisfying. But Excitement? That’s Exciting.

I had the pleasure of being in a meeting this week with two co-workers who had recently bought the iPhone 4 and were using the time before the meeting started to get some questions answered. The looks on their faces as they discovered new features was priceless. Big smiles – bordering on giggling.

We’ve all seen this iPhenomena in action. And there are many real world – non Apple – examples, from Netflix streaming to OnStar. Excitement is going mainstream. McKinsey & Company released a report last month titled Wow! Exciting Customers, Creating Value. It’s central premise: Satisfaction may retain customers, but it doesn’t attract them.

If your brand is looking to grow, you need to stop thinking in terms of good and start thinking in terms of great.

Technology is a double-edged sword. The same force that is making it easier for competitors and categories to settle into a pattern of symbiotic parity is also making it easier for that environment to be recognized as such. In many ways, technology facilitates more ennui than energy. And that should be a wake-up call for brands.

While we can all agree that a brand is a valuable asset, The Trouble With Brands reports that most consumer brands are not creating value. And a brand is a terrible thing to waste.

The brands that do create value? They have energy – defined as vision, invention and dynamism. That dynamism “creates excitement in the marketplace.” And, according to the authors of the study, it’s the most immediately visible of the three components. Excitement wins again. Three important reminders about this increasingly important brand equity:

  • Exciting is not extreme satisfaction. Satisfaction is a hybrid of rational and emotional factors. It is a need. Excitement is emotional. It’s a motivation. Don’t try to satisfy your way to excitement.
  • Excitement gets people to talk. Another McKinsey gem: Word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. So surprise, fascinate and delight. If you’re about to invest in something that won’t incite sharing, it’s time to at least press pause to consider if that investment can be better spent.
  • Excitement does not have to be dramatic. It can live in the little things. Intuitive functionality. Elegant solutions. A cookie on your milkshake’s straw.

The trick for brand managers? Make the journey to Wow! shorter. Because in this case, it’s the destination that matters.

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

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Rick Daggett

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Casey Flanagan

The Revolution Is Televised. Just Not Always On TV.

A very important anniversary passed last year. And as far as I’m aware, it passed with minimal fanfare. We were all too engrossed in Mad Men. TiVo turned ten.

I bring this up for a few reasons. First, it seems like a anniversary worth recognizing. (TiVo ranks right up there with the iPod, iPhone and Twitter for changing my life for the better.) Second, despite the drum beating by the doomsayers, the thirty-second commercial is not dead. (It’s changed. For the better.) Third, it’s worth acknowledging we were all – or at least I was – too busy to notice.

Habits are changing dramatically. Strategies, too. That’s not news. So it should come as no surprise that it seems we may be at the beginning of another revolution. By the end of next year, eMarketer projects 86.6% of US Internet Users to be Online Video Users. That would account for an almost 40% increase in five years. But the under 25 set is already blazing a farther-reaching path.

According to new report from Retrevo, 29% of the Under 25 set reports watching TV online “all” or “most” of the time. Include “some” in the equation and the number shoots up to a whopping 83%. This next – trend-setting – generation continues to watch TV. Four out of five of them just might not be using a TV to do so.

The revolution is being televised – in new and exciting ways.

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Casey Flanagan

We Need To Stop Presenting.

PowerPoint is a common enemy. And it’s a pretty easy target. Books have been dedicated to the subject. We’ve all seen many a good idea die at the hands of a poorly-structured PowerPoint presentation.

But I don’t think that we need to get rid of PowerPoint. I think we need to get rid of presentations.
We advise our clients on a daily basis that media consumption (and expectations) are changing. Yet hours and hours (and hours) are wasted on the same old presentations that are emotionless, bullet-pointed monologues. That’s not how to communicate an idea.

I offer two alternative solutions: performances and conversations. Together, they eliminate the need for presenting.

Performances. Performances have no droning or meandering. They have a point. They are engaging. They require little work to follow. And, at the end, they may even leave the audience wanting more. When was the last time you attended a performance? When was the last time you gave one?

Conversations. Not every gathering can (or should) be a performance. But, if we are unable to deliver one, let’s not fall back on a presentation. Instead, turn the event into a conversation. While conversations are still “led,” they are two-way. They still require planning, focus and takeaways. But they encourage listening, sharing and participating. The outcome of which tends to be more people operating from the same playbook. Wouldn’t you (always) rather take part in a conversation than a presentation?

Now, here’s the thing. PowerPoint (or, for the lucky among us, Keynote) are perfectly good tools for developing a performance or a conversation. They aren’t the only tools. But, reframed, it’s clear that each can be used for good, in addition to the unfortunate evil.

We just need to be clear. Is this meeting a performance or a conversation?

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