Tuesday 27 October 2015

The force is strong in this placement

On Monday night last week it was as if millions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced, in delight. Like the Millennium Falcon out of hyperspace The Force Awakens trailer finally dropped. 

To an audience that, if hundreds of American high school flicks about jocks and nerds have been correct, are generally not science fiction fans. And contrary to received Kotlerian wisdom, this was a masterstroke. 

For brand growth - increased market share; sales - it's imperative to reach non and light buyers. Precisely what Disney did by showing the trailer during ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Where unthinking marketers would've intuitively played it during DC's Arrow or Flash tv shows, or at the start of a Marvel film as Disney did with the teaser - fishing where the fish are - Disney did not.

Fish where the fish are OR cast a wide net? 

Because, they know their heavy buyers don't need any extra motivation to see the movie (or trailer). If the census counted it, Jedi is a religion, and they certainly didn't need to preach to that choir.

And by reaching light buyers who may otherwise see another movie, and lapsed buyers - fans of the originals but disillusioned by JarJar - they increased the likelihood of more people seeing Star Wars. 

Marketing's job.

The only question is: who reached more light buyers and benefitted the most? Was the Star Wars trailer an ad in between the football, or was the football actually an ad around the Star Wars trailer?

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 13 October 2015

The only reason to ever rebrand

Brands are no more or less than memory-constructs in people's minds. When you rebrand you choose to shatter these memories. In other words, start again. So, why do it?

The Tropicana rebrand is a text book example, literally. From the familiar orange-with-a-straw image to a plain glass of juice, along with a logo change, Unilever rebranded their orange juice wholesale. 

And the result: It became unrecognisable. Its repeat buyers (or loyalists), as well as light and non-buyers couldn't find the brand they, at different levels, all knew. And, within 6 weeks, sales dropped 20%, or roughly $33 million. 

More than we'd like to admit (in focus groups), why we buy is intuitive over rational. We shop on autopilot with an inherent draw to the familiar, or memorable (Buyhaviour 1: Availability Bias). 

Which makes the role of advertising, including branding: to lodge your brand's distinctive assets - logos, colours, design, fonts, tone - into the mind and memory of your audience. 

Which can only happen if your brand has a consistent, unique identity. Of which, rebranding is the antithesis. So, save yourself mega-bucks. Refresh, reframe; just don't rebrand. 

Unless, of course your brand's been hijacked by an international terrorist group. Then, you should probably rebrand.

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Jason Derulo is a better marketer than you

What's the point of advertising if your audience doesn't know it's your brand doing it?

If you're like me, you've never heard a single Jason Derulo song (except that one about trumpets). But, also if you're like me, you sure as hell have heard of him. His brand is salient. 

And it's salient because - unlike what the majority of content-marketers would have you believe about your own brand - he isn't ashamed or embarrassed to put his name on his work. 

In an era where pop music is an homogenous sea of sameness - like the established market categories we work on - this goes a long way in keeping his brand (Jason Derulo) mentally available. 

How advertising works (including content marketing) is pretty simple: Get your brand noticed, remembered and, as a bonus, liked. 

The only real variable is immediacy - time and ability. But, whether one click to purchase, or years later in the case of cars, your advertising has to, at a bare minimum, achieve some familiarity. 

If your brand wants to acquire new customers, the very first thing you have to do, before anything else, is get said non-users to know it exists.

If your brand wants to get lapsed or existing users to buy you more frequently, the first thing you need to do, before anything else, is refresh their awareness of it. 

Especially when you're spending your finite budget on reach; not to mention production. It's common sense. And here's the evidence from Karen Nelson-Field's book, Viral Marketing:

“We found no evidence that an obvious brand presence hampers sharing, nor that it restricts your ability to achieve high arousal positive emotional responses. The popular notion of the need for a low-profile approach is a myth.” 

So when marketers and populist adpeople tell you: "Don't brand because it puts people off watching your content", simply say: Jason Derulo (see video above for appropriate intonation). 

Because if he can do it and enjoy more number-ones than any of us would be comfortable knowing, It's probably good enough for your brand, too. 

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 28 April 2015

What does Frank Underwood know about advertising?

Says Frank Underwood, "You can't turn a 'no' into a 'yes' without a 'maybe' first". When your strategy is aiming to turn a non-buyer into a buyer; advertising is the 'maybe'. 

There's an endemic belief that, as Ogilvy said, "advertising is selling". Even our vernacular - USP, reason-why - stems from the idea that "advertising is salesmanship in print". But it's (largely) not. 

Arguably advertising's role is to make brands mentally available. For this, our ads need to get noticed; then become salient in our audience's minds so they're remembered when it counts - in a buying situation. 

Irrespective of the lag between ad and checkout. Whether it be a few clicks and a couple seconds, or a whole week when you next pay a visit to the shops, advertising is the seduction not the selling. The taste, not the transaction. It's the 'maybe', not the 'yes'. 

The immortal Stephen King even knew the importance of Frank's 'maybe', when he stated: "advertising isn't about sales, as much as saleability". 

In other words, advertising works best as a nudge (a maybe), not a shove (a yes). 

Christopher Ott.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Buyhaviour 6: The Matthew Effect

Originally published in Mumbrella 31 March 2015.  

Why is it that agencies or brands with momentum seem to be more successful? Christopher Ott explains the Matthew Effect.

When an ad achieves success at one award show it generally goes on to receive more success at other shows. As though its fame feeds its future success, ad infinitum. There’s an unfair advantage, right? The same unfair advantage big brands enjoy over small ones.

It’s called the Mathew Effect – named after a verse in the Matthew Gospel, which goes: “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance”.

And, because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the inverse is also true. In other words, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

The Effect was first observed within the scientific community. They noticed that the more famous a scientist was, based on past success, the more credit they’d receive for other work, even when that other work was the same as an unknown scientist.

Andrew Ehrenberg, the Don of evidence-based marketing discovered an uncannily similar finding in marketing, too. He coined it The Double Jeopardy Law, and found: Brands with a larger market share benefit twice. They have more buyers, and those buyers are more loyal. Conversely, brands with smaller market shares suffer doubly. They have fewer buyers, and these fewer buyers are also less loyal.”

It only takes a moment’s thought to get why. Buyers of small brands will also buy big brands as they’re mentally and physically available to them (they do more advertising and can be purchased in more places). But buyers of big brands, conversely, may not even know the small brands exist.

The implications are groundbreaking. The Matthew Effect or Double Jeopardy Law (whatever you call it) means: The size of your brand can only ever be proportionate to its market share. Wholly bankrupting the concept of niche marketing.

If you want your brand to be big, you need lots of customers. Not a few heavy loyal ones. You simply can’t have a small brand that’s big through its buyers being more loyal if its buyers are inherently less loyal because the brand is small.

Which means the popular practice of growing a brand through loyalty is utterly fictitious. Yet, how many agencies and marketers create campaigns that try and do just that?

If this is hard for you to digest, take heart knowing that Columbus’ peers would have felt a similar indignation finding out the world was round. Science has a way of doing that.

The good news is if you’re quick to understand it, you have an extraordinarily rare opportunity.

While your competitors remain spellbound by the over-promise of loyalty programs and over-invested in targeting a niche few, you can focus on getting more customers by talking to your whole category, getting famous, and increasing your market share to grow your brand.

And then get richer.

More from the Buyhaviour Series:

Buyhaviour Series: An Introduction 
Buyhaviour 1: Availability Bias 
Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias 
Buyhaviour 3: Confirmation Bias 
Buyhaviour 4: Conjunction Fallacy 
Buyhaviour 5: The Spotlight Effect
Buyhaviour 6: The Matthew Effect  
Buyhaviour 7: Fight or Flight Heuristic
Buyhaviour 8: Imposter Phenomenon 
Buyhaviour 9: Red Queen Hypothesis 

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Advertising should be a knock out punch

Advertising should be a knock out blow. It has to shake you up like an Ali uppercut - not exhaust you into submission with a points decision. 

Over the last few years, I've noticed loads of ideas being pitched and executed with simply too many moving parts. 

You know the ones. The multi-platformed, omni-channeled ideas that take the audience on an interactive journey of brand discovery with a proverbial game of dominoes. 

First they go on to facebook, where they click through to a landing page, scan in their QR code, fill out a form then watch a video where they can choose their own adventure.

These kind of ideas are making one very large and erroneous assumption: it assumes people give a shit about your brand and its advertising. 

It's based on the anachronistic notion that your audience is waiting with a mental balance sheet to make their buying-decision in a hyper-rational way - a points decision. 

There's volumes of work extolling the benefits of engagement. But you're mistaken if you think people will interact with your ad for the ad's sake. 

If you want to achieve interaction there has to be something in it for the user. And discovering the brand isn't it.  

Ideas have always had to work across channels. That's why we called it the 'big idea'. But, as the industry becomes more and more execution focussed - seeing how many touchpoints we can hit - there's no doubt the 'big idea' is on the ropes. 

Knock-outs are memorable. In seconds they create a moment that sticks with you long after the fact. This is how you want your advertising to be - powerful, lasting and have you gasping for air. 

Plus, who ever saw awarded advertising that involved a tedium of steps? Not me. Awarded ads, which are also effective ads, have one thing in common. They're a knock out blow. 

Christopher Ott

Fish where the fish are OR cast a wide net?

To target market or not to target market? Both the 'pearls of wisdom' in the headline echo through the hallways of agencies and offices everywhere. But is one right and one wrong? Let's find out. 

According to Philip Kotler - the marketing doyen who writes the textbooks - to target market: first you find a segment with the most potential for your brand, then you talk exclusively to said segment.

This is done through the evergreen concepts of differentiating and positioning - essentially carving out your own niche. In other words, fishing where the fish are - with the right bait. 

While this feels hyper-rational, it only takes a moment's pause to uncover some broken logic. 

If you only target a choice niche, aren't you ostracising other potential customers? If you want more customers (to grow your brand) doesn't it make more sense to talk to more people? To try and catch more fish?

But, perhaps the even bigger flaw with fishing where the fish are is: if you keep doing it, you'll eventually run out of fish. You can't catch the same fish twice (within a buying cycle). (Yes, there's frequency strategies, but that's for another post)

On the other hand, if you don't target market, then you're looking at mass marketing - targeting your entire category. Or, casting a wide net. 

To grow your brand you need to reach as many category buyers as possible, get them to notice you and then have them remember you in a buying situation. 

Marketing is like a treadmill. You have to exert a lot of energy just to stay in the same place.

Because brands naturally lose their customers regularly - like a leaky bucket. You always need to get new ones to cover. To get them, you have to reach new people. 

So if you have a product and your audience is Murray Carp, then cast a net in the whole of the Murray. Not just a convenient fishing spot. Because, don't forget, the 'wide net' also covers the fishing spot. 

When I see creative advertising for car ads that target women and ostracise men, I find it beguiling. Everyone drives cars! Car brands should cast a wide net and aim to get as many buyers as possible - not just women. 

That's why reach reigns and targeting's time is up. In other words, fish where the fish are if you don't want to grow your brand. Cast a wide net if you do. 

NB: No doubt some of you are thinking some brands simply don't have the capital to mass market. I would hazard a guess that any brand using an agency means it's a strategic choice rather than a financial one. 

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Storytelling is not a strategy

Originally published in marketingmag.com.au 15 January 2014.

"Chris Ott reflects on the history of storytelling, and what the buzzword of 2014 really means for marketers."

There’re only two types of ad-people: You’re either critical of the storytelling phenomenon, or you’re gullible.

To the latter: Storytelling is not a strategy, or a business model, or manifesto, or corporate vision. What storytelling is: is a creative tactic. That’s all.

Thanks to American writer Joseph Campbell, we’re all comfortable in the knowledge that, for time immemorial, humans have used stories as a tactic to keep the tribe alive.

The tribe chief quickly learned that ‘telling’ his people to not go wandering off at night, or to steer clear of strangers, was simply not powerful enough to influence their behaviour.

The chief had a dilemma – the same met by ad-agencies and marketers everyday: “How do I get my messages to stick?”

Enter storytelling.

Storytelling made the tribe stop and notice, become emotionally wired to a moral, and then, next time they were in a decision-making situation, make the decision that would save their life.

Advertising aims for the same things. Similarly, to work, it has to firstly get noticed and then it has to make sure the branded message is remembered when it counts, in a buying situation.

So, as you can see, the reason stories were told is the same reason ads are made – to be noticed and remembered and ultimately effect behaviour.

(That’s why creatives have added this time-tested tactic to their creative tool-kits.)

What happens when the word ‘storytelling’ is in a headline? Like agency juniors to the catering leftovers, people can’t help but eat it up. It’s been the buzzword of 2014.

But let’s leave it here. Storytelling is only a means to and end, not an end unto itself. It’s just another creative tactic; not an all-encompassing strategy.

The End.