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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Brand Audience

This is a topline introduction to some of the concepts and tools I have developed or have in progress on the brand as medium or as an aggregate of audiences. If you don’t understand what the Brand as Medium means then I suggest you click through to the New Playing Field for Planners page and it will explain what I mean by it and how this facet of the brand fits with the others.

In advertising, account planners rarely have more than a passing acquaintance with the audience as medium because advertisers never use their own media, they rent other people’s.  And that is what the media planner is there for.  In direct marketing, CRM and database marketing planners get involved in developing the customer and prospect base as a medium in its own right. And on this page I want to provide some tools and ideas for you to start to think about the audience as a medium.

You may also find the page on Changing Audiences useful. There I introduce some of the core concepts of customer value, lumpy audiences (what?) and the 80/20 rule.


 On the back of an envelope

Calcuting customer value

 Competitive trade balances

Hothousing and cold storage

Brands as media owners

On the back of an envelope

Idea no 1. All I mean by this is that you need to develop the habit of quantifying your audiences and their value. Starting out as an advertising planner I didn’t do this but planning on direct marketing forced me to. And often you don’t have to get the numbers right – just get used to doing some rough calculations. John Webster of Sutch Webster once made me justify the size of a RAC direct response ad with a ruler and a copy of BRAD! The issue was did we have enough room to frame the offer within the space for the cost of that space relative to the probable response. Sounds hairy but it wasn’t that difficult. And once you can do it you will be able to business case in your head! But it’s unbelievable how many know-it-alls don’t know how big the audience is, how much they’re expected to buy so whether the communications activity is profitable or not!

Calculating customer value

This is a schematic I developed to be able to visualise the relationship between customers, their historic value, the amount of income you plan to generate off them and how you’re using different comms channels against those audiences. As with the back of an evenlope stuff it’s amazing how little people think in these terms. And how much waste there is as promotions, DM and advertising are all delivered against the same segment undermining their profitability.




Competitive Trade Balances

I developed this schematic working on the Honda Accord launch. It is a reminder that some of your considerers trade down, some up and some across. You ought to have a view as to who your primary considerers are and your likely trade balance. Peugeot have an illustrious tradition of getting loads of considerers who they then fail to convert to purchase. Which becomes very expensive when you think of all those brochures and test drive incentives. What are the main competitors? And for those trading down and up can you identify them? How do you incentivise them? They will want very different things from each other.





Hothousing and cold storage

If you’ve had a look at the Medium Planning page you will have come across the 80/20 rule and my key questions. Which I will start to answer. Well 2 and 3 anyway. If 20% of your customers account for 80% of your profits then you should treat them differently – with respect for a start. You should almost certainly give them opportunities to talk to you if they want to and you ought to start to talk to them. DON’T overdo it though – you need to develop an appropriate level of relationship – see the emotional distance focal length point within Brand Promise. I suggest you hothouse these people – that is so say pamper them and protect them. It will be in your interest to educate them because if they see the market the same way you do then they are more likely to keep coming back to you.

As for the rest? Dump em? Well that’s what Direct Line would do having extracted all the low risk people out of the market! No. But you shold treat them differently. Firstly they are unprofitable so you have to watch communications costs like a hawk. But don’t cut them out because your next top 20% of customers are lurking in their somewhere. What you need to do is to find the most economical way to brand build with these people and this is where the theory of low involvement processing comes in. The theory says that most marketing learning happens when people are paying little or no attention. Therefore you need to ensure that your communications is simple clear and very consistent. There may not need to be very much of it. Keep them ticking over. Use the cheapest comms channels you can afford. If you have a complicated product story use expensive channels to establish the idea then use cheaper channels with visual and audio idents to preserve it. If you want to know more about Low Involvement processing then check out my interview with the current leading proponent Robert Heath.

Brand as media owners

Now Griffo’s really gone off the deep end. Not really. Media are a historical accident. Whoever thought of getting advertisers to pay the cost of the whole medium never made a fraction of the moulah they deserved. EVery brand has a medium. Customers pay their way – they buy the products, they pay for the advertising and the customer communications. Now with relationship marketing coming into its own – you can communicate with these people. If you’re very silly you’ll sell their names and addresses to the highest bidder. Or you can protect them and become a gatekeeper for them. They respect your brand, love it even otherwise they wouldn’t have bought the product. Which means you can sell them other products in the range, cross promote with other brands. The more money these people spend as a result of your marketing (and remember they’re paying for it all anyway) the more valuable your brand becomes. Brands don’t sit in client offices. Nor do they sit on balance sheets actually. Customes interact in creating the brand because they underwrite it and because the brand values sit in their heads co created by them. Marketers who chop and change products, packaging, and communications are confusing and undermining the value of their brand as medium. One of the most useful things an agency can do is to help their clients start to behave like media owners.




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