A recent study conducted by the Good Relations, questioning 12,000 consumers on a 120 brands revealed an often forgotten ‘truth’. Brand leadership today is less about rationale benefits and more about how you make customers feel. All of the top performing brands in our study differentiated themselves (in the customer’s minds at least) by the feeling of ‘love’ they created. Think Cadbury, Paypal and Warburtons.
The challenge of course is how you ‘Open Hearts’ in a world of cynicism. A world where nothing a brand says is taken at face-value. Where a customer’s search for the true meaning can so easily give rise to myth or abandonment. Where the words of others have more impact than a brands own.
The study provided some fascinating insights into how brands are tackling this challenge. We have turned these insights into ‘Ten Good ways to Open Hearts’  to create a new agenda for Communicators in 2015.
1. Share the passion – find a bit of culture to own. Think Peroni and Italian style, Airbus and the freedom of flight, Red Bull and adrenaline
2. Be yourself – don’t try and be something you’re not. Find your business/brand truth and link it to your customers passion
3. Align every action – don’t build a façade in front of the real you (your business). Find and enshrine a red thread.
4. Exceed expectations – spice it up. Over deliver with unexpected acts of kindness.
5. Invite them in – open your doors, invite stakeholders in and get them to meet the real you
6. Give them their news – imagine your brand is a political party and the election’s every day. Don’t just communicate….. campaign!
7. Have fun – don’t be boring. Our greatest friends entertain us.
8. Show you care – demonstrate you can be trusted, even when your customers are not in the room
9. Build partnerships – share the stage with other like-minded brands. Their customers could and should be yours too.
10. Activate your following – invest in your advocates (fans). They are your most powerful sales-force

If you would like to find out more about this study please contact Richard Moss at rmoss@goodrelations.co.uk or on 020 7861 3216


The Triple G Rating

In a world where most corporate leaders believe trust is pretty much bust, the question that maybe we should be asking is what is the power of good to business? The Good Relations Group recently launched the new Triple G rating to help answer this question. What was interesting about the research was the discussion it stirred. Do customers value brand philanthropy?

The Triple G rating is designed to look much deeper than simply …does this business do good. It measures perceptions of actions “would the people behind this brand behave how you would want them to, even if you weren’t in the room” and goes further to look at whether a brand engages with their audiences (is this brand on your side) as well as whether the brand has unlocked it’s most effective salespeople, it’s advocates.

We would agrue that top the top performing brands in the next decade will be triple G brands. Fundamentally they will do what’s right, engage in the right way with their stakeholders and activate their army of advocates better than their competitors. The launch of the rating had some pretty powerful advocates as shown by the video below.

Marketing week also published an article on the research which can be found here Marketing Week – Good Relations

More info can be found at http://www.goodrelations.co.uk

ImageAccording to single source studies, 50-70% of advertising effect on propensity to purchase is generated after the first exposure. Each subsequent exposure has a rapidly diminishing return on investment. This is a really scary statistic for any marketer still developing 5-8 plus media plans. So what’s happening?

The answer seems to be that in today’s bite sized, twitter headline world, we’re looking for ‘news’. Once we’ve received it, we are becoming increasingly skilled at shutting out unnecessary repetition.

This insight has potentially a profound impact on how future marketing campaigns should be devised. If news rules and pushing the repeat button on advertising copy is no longer enough, marketers need to start thinking about how they can generate more. How can they build more newsworthiness into the DNA of their products and their communications plans. This will impact NPD processes (think Apple), brand narratives (think Yeo Valley) and brand activities (think Red Bull)

The move to a more news orienatated agenda will also have an impact on the way clients buy services from their agencies. Increasingly, as we do at Good Relations, clients will want Brand Newsrooms set up to support the generation of a constant flow of authentic stories and content, for online and traditional channel consumption.

A ‘Brand News’ strategy requires broad company alignment and support to run effectively. Authenticity is a key component in it’s success. It does however have the potential to enhance the return on investment on traditional marketing plans.

“In a world where all products are increasingly the same, marketers have to appeal not to consumers rational decision making processes, but to their emotional ones. No stronger emotion exists than the need to belong” Douglas Atkin The Culting of Brands

In late 2010 I ranked the UK’s leading brands by how effective they were at marshalling a brand movement. I did this by measuring how active their advocates were – how often their  advocates recommended them to others. We then studied the top performing brands and  found that they displayed four key characteristics that we concluded are necessary to create a vibrant brand movement.

1. A Cause.

At the heart of any brand movement is a cause. This is the belief system that an audience buy into and champion. These belief systems tend not to appeal to everyone, but for some they create an intense sense of belonging.

Lifebouy soap is a great example of a brand cause. How do you create a great sense of belonging, amongst mums, around a bar of soap? Unilever’s solution, noting that hygiene standards in the third world was the primary cause of child deaths, was to develop the cause of helping to halve these deaths in the world. What mum wouldn’t want to support a cause like this.

2. Communities

Around the cause, successful brand movements foster, build and support vibrant communities. On and offline they encourage regular contact between members, develop shared experiences, co-create agendas, build their own symbols and most importantly actively encourage peer to peer recruitment. Kelloggs do this well with Special K

There are four different community segments that influence brand movements – Personal (friends,family, work colleagues), Expert (doctors etc.), Social (Mumsnet, Woman Institute), Media (newspapers, magazines etc.). These can be easily measured for impact and influence to identify those who will deliver the greatest return.

3. Contagious Stories

Research has shown that stories stick better than facts and figures. If you were raising money for children in Africa, a real boys story would raise twice as much as the cold facts and figures behind any plight. Leaders of brand movements need to become expert storytellers, sugar coating their messages with stories that will get retold. Great stories have a structure and many blue chip organisations use this as a framework for their external communications.

4. Campaigning

Movements die if they are not constantly fuelled by new thinking and disruptive content. Our 24/7 world has increased the ‘wear out’ of brand ideas ten fold since the dawn of the internet. A great multi million pound advert today, can be viewed a million times on Youtube tomorrow and then forgotten by next week. Unless it starts a conversation,that is further fuelled and re-energised, the movement will wither and die. Brands today need to campaign for their Cause, taking the threads of conversations that appear  each day in Newspapers, on Facebook or around the Coffee machine and inject their point of view. As Seth Godin says, if you stand still you become invisible. It’s why many brands today are setting up campaign teams, editorial teams and newsrooms.

Movements are the future of brands. Bain & Associates have proven this conclusively with their Net promoter Score measure. The challenge for marketing and communication managers today is to mastermind the creation and maintenance of these movements. The 4C’s provides a framework to support this.

4C’s Copyright Richard Moss 2012

Who cares if your customers say they will recommend your brand… if they never get round to doing so. Realising the potential of advocacy requires active advocates, but can you influence this? This was the question we set out to answer in our research project ‘Leading by recommendation’. We studied 120 brands in the UK and 4000 customers. We found significant differences in activation levels between brands in the same sectors. We also found striking similarities in the way these brands approached their marketing. We distilled these findings into a model, the 4C’s of advocacy activation. A model which can be applied to build advocacy, build activation and build the momentum of brands.
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If you don’t represent me and what I care about, then get lost! In the world where executive power has moved out of the boardroom and onto the street, where there are a 1000 choices in life when one will do, where the values and behaviours of a brand have become as important as their benefits -brands have a simple choice. Become an extension of their consumers lives – thinking and acting as they would, or die.

Research conducted by BritainThinks this month should therefore be especially interesting to brand marketeers. They asked consumers to think about which brands best represented them and their lives today. The top three answers – Apple, Sony and M&S.

The research is interesting, but the insight behind it is key. In marketing today, in my opinion, three questions rule.

1. Do I represent my  consumers – fight their cause?

2. Do I behave as they would wish?

3. Do they recommend my brand?

The research can be accessed by clicking on the link below:-

TimeCapsule Research – Most Defining Brands 2011

Research by Harris recently showed that 45% of people claimed they are influenced by who they follow online, with almost a fifth saying they are more likely to buy products from companies they have “liked” on Facebook. Indeed Facebook itself demonstrated that the number of Facebook fans a candidate had in the US mid term elections was a good predictor of election night results.
Tweets have also been shown to correlate neatly to sales. Research by Hewlett Packard showed that tweet volume was a very good predicter of box office success in the film industry. Indiana University demonstrated that tweet sentiment on a given day could predict the direction of changes on the Dow Jones three days later with an accuracy of 86.7%.
Recent TNS data shows that 30% of peoples leisure time is now spent online. In volume terms it overtook email in 2009! 90% of mobile traffic is still however just voice….yet those who access social networks via mobile do so at twice the rate as their non mobile counterparts.
Who isn’t going to own a Smartphone or device in the next few years? Who isn’t going to put Facebook and Twitter at the centre of their marketing?

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