Brand Managers (BM) continue to be the key engines of the marketing world. However, are these single-brand focused, TV and print advertising driven, one sided communication masters, ready to face the digital earthquake happening today?
Neil McElroy (26), the bright marketer working in Procter & Gamble, probably did not know that he would change the marketing world in the following 80 years when he was proposing the establishment of the BM in 1931. Until recent history, BM’s demonstrated to be active, dynamic, passionate young people who fell in love with their brand even if it was soap, knew every number of their brand by heart, tested the patience of their advertising agency by commenting on every single word of the TV advertising and displayed obsessive behaviors checking their friends’ bathroom only to understand which brands they use. Jokes aside, these BM’s, who were passionate brand lovers, proved to be the best candidates for top management positions in “up or out” career systems. However, today, BM’s who spend most of their time and marketing budgets on TV and print because of the marketing school they graduated from, are losing ground due to digital earthquake. While TV advertising effectiveness continues to decline, the brand-consumer hierarchy is being replaced with brand-consumer dialog. BM’s, who lack the “holy data” on digital and the missing infrastructure of Brand Teams to interact with consumers in real-time, are struggling to adapt to the obvious change. Here are some practical tips for BM’s who want to prepare themselves for future:
Place digital at the heart of marketing: Even if you are marketing detergents, forget the “digital equals Facebook page” mentality. If you do not allow consumers to participate, they will leave your brand. Go beyond the generic, overused benefits and provide services which cannot be delivered through TV. How? Simple: While you communicate “stain removal superiority on TV”, share videos of “how to remove tough stains” in your Facebook page. Link them to search engines by using smart search words and make it easy for your consumers to reach these solutions. Create “Activity Calendars” around the equity and the purpose of your brands and create opportunities for your consumers to participate. Encourage consumers to share and participate, reward dialog.
Develop multiple and cost effective content instead of single piece of expensive advertising. Internet allows you to broadcast provocative, funny, emotional, extraordinary content that you normally cannot broadcast on TV. Yet, that is not enough alone. Even if you shower your media planning agency with budget, nothing replaces the voluntary viral effect of authentic, interesting and socially valuable stuff. But how can you create such stuff? Simple. Give your agency freedom by applying “low budget, interesting story” formula. Shoot many films cheaply instead of one. Seed all of them in the internet, treat it like a lottery. Celebrate if even one gets wide awareness, otherwise simply move on to the next thing in case none makes it, since the budget was low anyhow…
Redefine consumer research. Instead of the lengthy process of concept-product-advertising qualification which takes for months, establish fast response consumer panels using social media. Listen to your consumers in these social panels to test concept, advertising, promotions fast and for free. This will also relieve your brand team from the hegemony of the expensive research firms.
Move to real time marketing. Once, your vacation would have started at the minute the advertising was on air. The sales would be checked upon return. In the new world, establish a flexible brand team that has
the ability to monitor consumer response real time and if necessary, change TV advertising, print message or field execution. Go beyond hiring a Facebook moderator for your brand page. Create different scenarios for your TV advertising adjusted to the results of the athlete that your brand is sponsoring.
Guide your managers. Most of today’s marketing directors are late Gen X’ers, who were born before 1980’s and met with internet at the college. In other words, do not expect them to teach you digital marketing, on the contrary guide them in this new medium. In order to stay close to the popular internet culture, your newbie assistants are your best friends.
TV will not disappear but will take its place against digital, just like radio did against TV years ago. The BM’s who are slow to adapt will take their place in history, while the BM’s who will lead this change will last another 80 years.
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