Woody Allen once said that he would not want to be a part of any club that would have him as a member — actually he was channeling Groucho Marx — and I am beginning to think some of our clients hail from the same school of thought.
More frequently we are encountering marketers who are almost embarrassed about the condition of the brands on which they work. They appear to have been — and there seems no other way to put it — beaten into acceptance of the status quo. In the worst cases, we have seen this brand shame become a corporate culture that makes it even more difficult to drive big thinking and bold actions.
Bear in mind that we are talking about great brands boasting strong sales and long histories of success. The issue with these brands is not whether they are perfect — they aren’t — or whether there is room for improvement — there is. We find ourselves working on a variety of strategic and creative solutions to address these brands’ marketing challenges that involve promotions, shopper marketing, digital, and the like.
What strikes me as odd, however, is that rather than being a motivator for exciting change, these challenges have created a sense of “shame” and this shame is what’s holding the brands back.
What’s required to move a brand ahead — especially an established brand — is courage, passion, conviction, persistence, creativity, and yes, enough money to do it right. But if you have all the other elements, then you can often do it with less money than required by some larger brands or bigger companies.
As marketing professionals we have to be passionate about our ideas and the brands we are working on. Without that passion we will easily fail. Without passion, we will discover there are just too many roadblocks to getting a big or new idea sold in. Passion is what combats corporate critics, faces down the naysayers, and overcomes the roadblocks any marketer is certain to come across.
“The way we have always done things” — the inertia hurdle — can only be beaten back through the courage of your convictions. You’ve got to be more than a little brave to bring forward truly new ideas. You see the grand potential; the client sees the risk. Only courage will mitigate the fear of failing.
To fundamentally change the way consumers perceive a brand takes persistence. Perceptions do not get formed overnight, and it invariably takes more than overnight to persuade a brand’s managers to embrace a new strategy. Be prepared to push for a while. Think twice before calling it quits. Creativity is key, in how you talk to consumers, retailers, and the trade, as well as in how you sell your ideas internally to the “C” suite. When it comes to selling in your idea, never overlook the importance of good presentation.
As far as the money goes, sure, big budgets are nice; but I’ve learned that no matter how big the brand there is never enough money to do everything you think needs doing — even if it looks that way from the outside. Money counts for a lot, but ideas count for more. Often it is the smaller programs that can really drive the most significant ROI. Besides, the best way I know to secure better program funding is to start with a really great idea that gets people excited.
Now I may address a future discussion about brand arrogance, which can be equally as harmful as brand shame. But for here and now, let’s look at where you and each brand that you work on stand. Are you proud of your current consumers? Your brand plans? Returns? Programs? Can you present them to the company’s board with excitement, enthusiasm, and, most of all, passion? Can you enroll agencies, internal groups, and customers in your brand vision and the success that it will achieve? If you answered no to any of these, you might want to contact me. My rate is a lot less than a psychiatrist and your brand will thank you for it.
The Game Changer • Los Angeles • www.catapultmarketing.com