Tuesday 25 November 2014

Why it pays to be a cheating jerk

Originally published in marketingmag.com.au 14 November 2014

"Increasing your brand’s penetration is all about being a cheating jerk, writes Chris Ott. His furious encouragement of this may sound like a crazy new idea, but read on to find he’s actually advocating for a return to some traditional ways."

Screw loyalty. Don’t waste your time on the one you’re with. Target every woman and man you see. Penetrate as much as possible. Cheat.
On your customers, I mean.
Growing a brand is pretty simple. Either, get the people who already buy you to buy you more, or get the people who don’t buy you to buy you.
It’s the second one, increasing penetration, that has the greatest potential to boost sales – because from nothing to something is a massive jump.
Yet all new age media, digital marketing, social media, data driven loyalty programs, which promise the world, are all inherently built to engage your current customers and go after repeat-purchase – not really good at reaching new customers and growing your brand.
Why is chasing customers you already have, over going after new customers, an inefficient way to spend your marketing budget?
Well, unless people are stocking up for a zombie apocalypse they only really need to buy your brand once in any given cycle. Trying to sell them a new car when they just bought one, or a bottle of shampoo when they have a full bottle of your brand at home is a waste of your time and money.
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
Plus, simply by owning your product already, they are being exposed to your brand more frequently than any advertising could ever achieve.
So, how do you pick up a customer you don’t have, then? How do you reach someone that doesn’t have your brand in their repertoire already? In other words, How do you sleep around?
Simple! You interrupt people with a tried and tested thing called, wait for it… mass media.
Mass media can reach people who otherwise don’t even know you exist, plant a seed in their mind and increase the likelihood of them, next time they’re shopping in your category, buying you.
This is why TV will never die and why digital is too limiting to live up to its promise. TV and other traditional mass media is made to reach non-buyers.
Marketers’ love affair with hyper-loyalty is illogical. You need to get light and non-buyers to buy your brand if you want to grow. Anything else, or focussing on loyalists, only works as a defensive strategy and is a far more expensive way to increase sales.
So, sleep around. Don’t waste your time on the one you’re with. Target every woman and man you see, penetrate as much as possible, cheat, and grow your brand like never before.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

What fires together wires together OR how advertising actually works (repost)

We've finally emerged from the dark ages of advertising. A few stragglers (Seth Godin, Kevin Roberts et al.) aside, we're all now fairly comfortable in our understanding that advertising is principally the art of memory building.

This post is going to explore how it works. 

Mr Donald O. Hebb, an influential neuropsychologist, sums it up with his namesake associative learning adage named Hebb's rule: 

Neurons that fire together, wire together

You know Pavlov's dog? Or in Zoolander, when Derek hears the song 'Relax' how it triggers an involuntary reflex to murder the President of Micronesia? Hebb's rule is that, and despite being a much weaker force, it's basically how advertising works.

But instead of creating cues that result in your audience wanting to assassinate an imaginary leader, you simply want to develop clusters of memory structures that trigger memories of your brand in a buying situation. 

Here's an example.

So, when I see the Carlton Draught ad it connects and nurtures two memory nodes in my brain - Carlton Draught and pub. 

So next time I'm out for a beer, and I'm standing in front of the beer taps at my local pub, I will be able to recall Carlton Draught easily and probably order it - Thanks to the advertising.

This is why award-winning ads invariably happen in the "closed world" (Goldenberg et al., 2009) of the brand. Because the "closed world" provides the most relevant links with the brand and its associations (Eg. The closed world of Carlton Draught includes: Pub, pint glass, beer taps, bar top, bartender etc).

Here's a new ad done by the same agency for the same client that doesn't take into account Hebb's rule (And consequently won't achieve much).

Instead of aiming to develop or refresh any memory structures, the advertisement mistakenly attempts to sell the audience on a rational message. 

In advertising, you get a fleeting moment to get your brand into your audience's heads in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them to remember when it counts - in a buying situation.

Understanding how it works will be invaluable in helping you create better ads that have a higher likelihood of working (And winning awards).

"Educating is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a FIRE." 

Williams Butler Yeats said that, but I bet he never realised just how close to the truth he was. Because, as we now know...

What FIRES together, wires together. 

Christopher Ott

Goldenberg J, Levav A, Mazursky D, Solomon S. 2009. Cracking the Ad Code. Cambridge University Press.