April 17, 2012 by Chuck Kent
In the continuing excitement over all things interactive, it’s easy to overlook one of the most important indications in the latest US Interactive Marketing Forecast, from Forrester Research. Yes, the report clearly indicates that interactive has arrived as a permanent part of the marketing mix– but, just as clearly, it also shows that traditional media isn’t going way.
TV OR NO TV? THERE IS NO QUESTION.
Just look at Forrester’s numbers– a combined 67% of US interactive marketers expect that TV will either increase in importance, or retain its importance. As you can see in this excerpted chart, direct mail, magazines, outdoor and radio are also expected to maintain, or increase, their influence in the overall marketing picture, at similarly high confidence levels.
SO WHY HASN’T NEW MEDIA KILLED OFF THE OLD?
Pundits have been predicting for years that the online world would completely supplant offline – and I’ve long had the impression that many marketing managers feel they’ll be perceived as outdated if they continue to embrace traditional media at all. But as the Forrester report keeps repeating, success isn’t to be found in any one type of media, new or old – the magic is in the mix. And in today’s marketing mix, traditional media offers these three sometimes overlooked advantages
1. Offline media drives people online – fast.
Attention may concentrate around the brushfire-fast nature of videos or tweets going viral, but many bedrock elements for online marketing, such as blogging, or building an email list through content offers, take time to build an organic audience and have an impact. However, a targeted print ad with your white paper as an offer can rapidly build response and an initial following – the old push can help turbocharge the new pull.
2. Traditional media – especially TV – can say “this is important”
Media that was once known to the masses can still convey a largely emotional halo effect of significance – or, as a prospect said to one of our tech clients after seeing the TV spot we’d created for exclusive use around CES (via a targeted cable buy), “I almost cut myself shaving – I didn’t know you were on TV!” If you want to burnish your brand image – or even help establish one as a serious player – traditional media can still provide that big-time glow.
3. Where content is king, storytelling media reigns
As content marketing becomes more pervasive it also needs to become more creative if it is going to continue to be attractive (in every sense of the word). TV, print and radio all offer exceptional opportunities to tap into the combined rational/emotional persuasiveness of well-told stories. This may mean branded content, like webisode series that cross over to cable, or print vehicles such as bylined articles. In fact, it can mean whatever you can dream up. We once created a full length song for a mutual fund that never once mentioned the fund but tapped directly into the lifestyle of its prospective boomer investors – the artist’s major label liked the song, and promotional potential, well enough that they offered to put it on the artist’s next album (sadly, the client did not approve).
What creative combinations of new and traditional media are you mixing up – and to what effect?
Category: B2B advertising, branding, content creation, content marketing, digital marketing, interactive marketing, marketing research, millennials, mobile, social mediaTags: B2B TV, chuck kent, content creation service, content creation services, creative content marketing ideas, forrester research, interactive marketing firms, interactive marketing forecast, marketing mix, new vs. old media, new vs. traditional media, online versus offline media, online vs. offline media, seo content, songs as content marketing, trade show TV, traditional vs. interactive media | Comments (0)
July 18, 2011 by Chuck Kent
I ran across an interesting use of the old phrase “the ugly truth,” in an article counseling financial advisers to always, whether in success or failure, be candid with clients. In fact, the title was “The Benefits of Telling the Ugly Truth.”
So, Your Mother Could Have Been A Brand Consultant
The article is based on a recent study, sponsored by Allianz Global Investors (not at this writing a client of ours). Its author, Professor Shlomo Benartzi of UCLA, is quoted as saying what most parents have been telling their kids for centuries: “From a behavioral standpoint, it’s really better for your credibility if you’re honest.”
The study offers other trust-building tips to financial advisers, such as explaining the potential downside of an investment before touting the upside. Not rocket science for seasoned investment professionals? Perhaps. But it is apparently rare enough that the simple act of telling the truth offers financial advisers a competitive differentiator and, therefore, an advantage.
Brand Truth and (Beneficial) Consequences
I would argue that this applies not only to the financial industry but to any marketer in any category. In fact, at Creative on Call we encourage our clients to not just identify and communicate their core truth, but to assertively encourage comparison with their competitors. This enables prospects to come to their own powerfully self-persuading “Aha!” moment.
For example, when our team was charged with helping the leading independent broker-dealer, LPL Financial Services, recruit more advisers, one of the most effective recruiting tools we created was a workbook that made it easy for them to compare LPL and its competition on all the most important parameters. We identified the simple truth about what the brand delivers and then let it speak for itself within an easy-to-use framework (segmented to both types of adviser prospects, those from independent broker-dealers and those still at wirehouses). It worked wonders.
Does Your Brand Know What Its Simple Truth Is?
A core task for any marketer, then, is to drill down past your feature set (and the corporate-speak that usually attends it) to clarify the essential benefits your brand delivers, the ones that make a real-world difference to your prospects. Once you do that, you’ll discover that the truth is never ugly. It may sometimes be unpleasant, inconvenient, uncomfortable and indicative of needed change. But it ultimately sets you free to succeed – and that is a beautiful thing.
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, consumer cynicism, financial services marketing, marketing research, trustTags: B2B advertising, B2B branding, B2B marketing, brand personality, Brand Promise, brand strategy, brand trust, brand truth, branding, chuck kent, consumer cynicism, financial advisers, financial advisors, financial marketing, independent broker-dealers | Comments (0)
July 1, 2011 by Chuck Kent
Building brand trust is widely accepted as key to building a brand’s success – the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, mentioned in a previous post, declares that “Trust is now an essential line of business” – and businesses take great pains to create and nurture that trust at every consumer touch point. But what happens when the brand stewards don’t actually trust, or even much respect, each other?
How can you create brand trust if you don’t trust your brand communicators?
A recent survey out of London notes that 73% of CEOs feel that their own CMOs “lack business credibility,” largely because they feel their marketing leaders focus too much on the latest marketing trends – especially social media – and not enough on the latest company numbers (or at least not enough on the ROI of their various marketing initiatives).
How can brand stewards build trust in each other?
This survey is actually not news; I’ve observed the dynamic for years, in many clients across many categories, and not only between CEOs and CMOs. There’s also a lack of trust between CMOs and their agencies… and anyone who’s worked in an agency probably has a trove of examples of how little trust there can be between account people and creatives.
I believe that Edelman’s conclusion on consumer trust can be applied to internal trust issues as well: “Trust is a protective agent and leads to tangible benefits; lack of trust is barrier to change” In short, when the brand team doesn’t trust itself, it defeats itself.
Of course, there are also many exceptions to the above, and I invite you to share your examples here. Over the years, when I’ve seen things work it’s typically because the majority of brand team members, from the CEO and CMO to the agency’s junior copywriter, at least tacitly agree to:
1. Set expectations
2. Accept mutual accountability for producing positive business results
3. Be not only demanding but also supportive
Out of this can come not only better brand communications but also a better internal brand environment, the kind required to deliver the positive brand experience that builds consumer trust – and better bottom lines.
A question to CMOs and their marketing teams:
What are you doing to build internal trust in your marketing efforts?
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, marketing, social media, trustTags: advertising, advertising credibility, brand managers, brand trust, branding, CEO, CMO, marketing director | Comments (1)
December 24, 2010 by Chuck Kent
Just a short note before heading off to the Christmas pageant, and one of my best presents this year: seeing my real-life fifth grade angel portraying a Biblical version of same…
As a follow-up to yesterday’s commentary on me-centric millennials, I have to come clean and admit that almost none of the potentially negative indicators I’ve uncovered in these various surveys show any correlation to most of the millennials I know in real life – promising, kind, committed and loving young souls, many of whom hold and live out strong beliefs, and are committed to the good of their communities and world.
On the other hand, I may just be fortunate in the young friends I have – at least according to yet another survey, this one on gift-giving. A recent study sponsored by Venables Bell & Partners notes that while 91.4% of the overall population thinks it better to give than to receive, 23.4% of young adults think receiving is better.
I am not sure what that fairly astounding level of “me first” indicates for marketers, or brand loyalty, or the future of the civilized world… I can only hope, as I head out to observe what I believe to be the coming of the Light, that it will dawn on all of us, professionally and personally, that giving is receiving.
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, belief, branding, branding survey, consumer cynicism, religionTags: advertising, belief, brand evangelism, brand evangelist, Brand Promise, brand truth, Christmas, Christmas Eve, CMO, consumer cynicism, giving, marketing to millennials, Millennials, Millennials gift-giving, youth marketing | Comments (3)
December 6, 2010 by Chuck Kent
Recent research makes a strong case that where you encounter a brand online, along with the qualitative context of that encounter, makes a huge difference in brand trust, interaction and purchase. According to one survey, online media sites are seen to offer more trustworthy content – and therefore cast a greater aura of trustworthiness onto their advertisers – than do portals or social media sites.
I must admit that in this case the source almost inadvertently proves the premise to me: the survey was sponsored by the Online Publishers Association, not an online news site, and my cynical side automatically says that the OPA got only the answers they were looking for (or only shared the answers they liked). Notwithstanding my kneejerk response to distrust a self-serving survey, the findings do pass one critical smell test: they make sense.
CONTENT BELIEVABILITY = A CONTEXT OF BUY-ABILITY
A key survey finding is that relevant, quality content matters to consumer involvement with and response to brands advertising online. To quote a summation of the survey from imediaconnection.com:
• Consumers are more likely to trust content on media sites (72 percent) than portal channels (60
percent) and social media (23 percent)
• Audiences on media sites are significantly more likely to believe these sites’ advertisers
are reputable and offer high quality products (24 percent), compared to portal channels
(20 percent) and social media (8 percent)
• People who recall purchasing from a site’s advertisers are significantly more
likely to do so from media sites (8 percent) than portal channels (5 percent)
or social media (2 percent)
• Those loyal to media sites are more likely to purchase from advertisers on these sites
(15 percent) than portal loyalists or social media loyalists (8 percent and 4 percent respectively)
Of course, I quote the above media site not (only) because I’m too lazy to make an independent assessment of the facts offered, but more so to make a point: how easy it is to convert marketing information (research or otherwise) into what passes for media information. This is true of traditional media, but, as on so many other fronts, the impact is magnified online. A simple Google search for the title of this survey, “A Sense of Place: Why Environments Matter,” yields 10,100 results, many of which are on online media sites like the one I quote above.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, and in fact I encourage clients to offer surveys and other information or tools of value, promoting them if only by electronic press release. One of the most immediate benefits is in search: a recent release we sent out catapulted the client to page one of Google for the most important keyword, and has kept them on page one or two as it continues to insinuate itself across the Internet.
QUALITY CONTENT CREATES A TRUSTWORTHY CONTEXT
But the most important consideration here is value: are you providing information that merely grabs a search engine’s attention, or are you delivering content that creates a context of trust by delivering meaningful, useful input and insight? If you’re only doing the former, you are merely creating an counterproductive “opportunity” for disappointment, disbelief and mistrust. Apparently, online media sites are doing the latter, providing substance and value to build trust for themselves and the advertisers who sponsor them.
If you advertise online where are you finding your greatest success: media sites, portals or on
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, marketing, marketing research, PR, social mediaTags: advertising, advertising credibility, brand bonding, brand distraction, brand trust, brand truth, CMO, facebook, marketing to millennials, online advertising, online marketing, social media, Twitter | Comments (0)
November 22, 2010 by Chuck Kent
As we in the business of brand communications go increasingly gaga over the multitude of new media options for engaging consumers – particularly millennials – we might want to quit our marketing multi-tasking long enough to really concentrate on new research that points out a growing societal (and therefore business) concern: namely, that fundamental changes wrought by our digital lifestyle and exploding new media marketplace may just blow up any chance we have in the future of creating brand trust and maintaining brand loyalty.
ARE WE ENCOURAGING CONSUMERS TO JUMP SHIP?
The latest evidence: research referenced in the New York Times article aptly titled “Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” As the article notes, “The risk [researchers] say is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks – and less able to sustain attention.” Or, as the lead researcher is quoted, “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.”
Now, am I the only one who sees not simply an implication for issues of learning, where we seek to instill and maintain knowledge, but also for those of branding, where we seek to instill trust and maintain loyalty? Just replace the words “task” and “things” in that sentence with the word brand and you’ll see what I mean: “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on brand but for jumping to the next brand.”
TOO MUCH OF NOTHING
It raises the question of whether or not we’re really “engaging” our prospects via social media, and capturing their long-term attention… or even creating short-term interactions of value. As one teen quoted in the NYT article says, “Facebook is amazing because it feels like your doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”
That’s worth repeating, in its own chilling way: It feels like you’re doing something, and you’re not doing anything. Is that meaningful engagement, or just sponsored distraction?
A REAL NEED FOR REAL-WORLD INTERACTIONS
My point is not that we are wasting our time on Facebook et al, but rather that, given the possible “re-wiring” of young consumer brains we need to be circumspect about how we use digital interactions, and cognizant of their depth and quality. It also suggests to me that rather than giving short-shrift to traditional communications we need to up the ante in terms of offline contact and real-world interactions… or, as that same teen might say after attending a sponsored live event, or even just reading a billboard or print ad, “That was amazing, because it felt like I was doing something… and I was actually doing something!”
Failure to engage consumers beyond the digital realm will leave brands to fight an increasingly futile battle for the fractured, and fickle, attentions of consumers who live in “the state of permanent distractedness that defines online life” (Nicolas Carr, in his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains).
In the future – which of course starts now – our communications can be something or nothing. Our brands can build trust and loyalty (and shareholder value)… or build nothing. It’s our choice as CMOs, brand strategists, creative directors, copywriters, designers. We just have to keep from getting too distracted.
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, marketing, marketing research, social mediaTags: advertising, attention-deficit, brand evangelism, brand evangelist, brand loyalty, brand managers, brand personality, Brand Promise, brand trust, brand truth, cognitive research, facebook, marketing to millennials, Michael Rich, Nicholas Carr, online advertising, social media, youth marketing | Comments (0)
November 19, 2010 by Chuck Kent
My creative marketing agency is currently bidding for a significant project involving brand re-positioning, a new brand identity, development of a professional-community website concept and website design, plus all the attendant online content creation – not to mention an overall B2B marketing plan (which will include trade show tactics such as my all time business-to-business favorite, trade show TV). Although we are based in the Chicago area, the RFP came from a fairly large, sophisticated technology company based in India.
An Emerging Issue in Brand Trust
I mention this not merely as a chance to include that string of keywords in the opening paragraph, nor to make you think we’ve moved away from our core business as a project-based branding and marketing agency for à la carte creative services in advertising, sales collateral, direct marketing and the like (ah, sorry… can’t kick the keyword habit). It also represents an emerging issue in terms of brand trust, namely: Does brand trust travel across borders and, if so, how?
Global brands have been trying to figure this out for years, slowly, often painfully learning to brand globally but speak locally. Now, in a world where any and every company can have international reach via the Internet, we all have to figure out how to not only create trust in our brands, but also make that sense of trust travel across borders and cultures (especially when branding services, which may not physically manifest themselves anywhere, domestic or international).
New Resources, Old Recommendations
Much like consumers, business-to-business prospects are using the Internet to look for resources and recommendations. Our prospective client from India found us listed as one of the top content creation companies on topseos.com. But how can they be confident of what they read? To be sure, the question of brand trust travels across borders – but how do we help international prospects answer that question?
“Old” offline techniques are still operative. Yes, the more distant our prospects, the more pervasive and persuasive our online presence needs to be, via our own websites, social media, online PR and press, advertising… the works. But in our particular example, and I am sure most others, it will come down to a very old-fashioned form of reassurance: the professional peer recommendation. In this case, we can offer our far-flung prospect Fortune 500 references in and out of his field. He may never call them – but just having their names, numbers and the reassurance of the big brand name behind them may still be the best-of-all permission to believe. It’s hardly new media rocket science – just another example of how business basics still matter.
As a slight aside, it is interesting to me that this may represent a B2B reversal of emerging online consumer behavior. That is, one recent study shows how consumers are increasingly vetting the much-vaunted and cultivated recommendations of friends with follow-up online search.
But back to our original subject, and one more question… What are you doing to make build trust in your brand across borders?
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, international business, marketing, marketing research, PR, social mediaTags: advertising, brand evangelism, brand managers, brand personality, Brand Promise, brand trust, branding, CMO, direct response, global branding, international branding, keywords, marketing director, online advertising, online marketing, social media | Comments (0)
November 10, 2010 by Chuck Kent
I am not sure why a recent Adweek report was relatively sanguine about the results of their survey on advertising believability. It seems to take comfort in the fact that 65% of consumers “sometimes” believe advertising. Whoop-dee-do (Twitter translation: BFD).
That means that nearly two-thirds of the time, the people whom we as brand communicators are trying to reach have an opening attitude of “oh yeah? Prove it.” And it only gets worse from there… 13% of consumers NEVER trust advertising to be truthful, only 18% believe ads most of the time and a pitiful 1% always trust ad claims.
Feels good to be the big, fat liars on the block, doesn’t it? The same survey also noted that consumers trust advertising even less than they trust the government, a pretty strong vote of “no confidence.”
The solution is “simple” enough: learn how to find and tell the simple truth about brands.
I pre-emptively accept your derision of me as a Pollyanna-ish simpleton of the first order. But there is no trust without truth – and we erode the one when we fail to cultivate the other. Our business suffers. Our culture corrodes. But hey, it’s only a real problem when we take the long view, right? And we’ve all got to get back to making this quarter’s numbers….
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, consumer cynicism, marketing, PR, social media, UncategorizedTags: ad industry, advertising, advertising credibility, belief, brand evangelism, brand managers, brand strategy, brand trust, brand truth, branding, CMO, consumer cynicism, copywriting, graphic design, marketing director, online advertising, online marketing | Comments (0)
November 4, 2010 by Chuck Kent
Perhaps it is just my writer’s fondness for the power of words, but I believe that a brand can’t be well-trusted if it isn’t well-spoken.
This poses a problem for the Brave New World of Branding, in which marketers seems intent on sacrificing consistent, compelling brand voices on the altar of the new brand spokespeople: online consumer reviewers, Facebook friends and assorted Twitterati. Their burgeoning power is noted in survey after survey attesting to how thoroughly this new bred of spokespeople have grasped the Consumer Ear. There is little attention paid, however, to how well they are whispering into said ear.
I have no new data to offer about the communication quality of consumer-generated brandspeak, but one assumes it correlates to the quality of overall speech (perhaps even down a notch or two).
With that in mind I refer you to the linguistic musings of America’s poetry slam laureate Taylor Mali , who in one poem refers to this as “The most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since, you know, a long time ago…” Here’s that entire poem, rendered amazingly well in video by a then-student, Ronnie Bruce:
I don’t mean to say that a brand’s voice should come across as the King’s English, but it should at least be coherent English … or Spanish… or Chinese, etcetera. That voice must, of course, match a brand’s personality, and some may indeed want to cultivate a not-too-smart, don’t-care-much persona. But as brands increasingly encourage users to help shape brand voices , they will need to work ever harder at maintaining ownership. Otherwise they will no longer possess an authentic voice at all when they want to speak directly to customers, each of whom will instead be allowed to muddy the brand waters by (to borrow Mali’s words once more) “inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty.”
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, consumer cynicism, creativity, marketing, social mediaTags: advertising, advertising credibility, brand evangelism, brand evangelist, brand managers, brand personality, brand trust, brand truth, branding, consumer cynicism, consumer-generated content, millenials, online marketing, social media, youth marketing | Comments (2)
October 28, 2010 by Chuck Kent
A recent study by Northwestern University professor Frank Mulhern finds – perhaps not surprisingly to anyone in the insurance industry – that insurance customers trust the insurance agent more than they trust the brand. The study was conducted with access to the data of a large, multi-line insurance provider with a captive agent force, presumably with a brand already firmly established in the consumer consciousness.
Customers Need Agents, Agents Need Branding
I wish they had also studied the relative effects of agent versus brand in the independent agent channel. While it’s hard to argue that a trusted, personal, often long-term relationship with one’s agent is more essential to retaining business than is the more distant brand and it’s various communications, it’s also hard to believe that agents could easily initiate that client relationship, or even effectively convert referrals, without the benefits of established brand reassurances going in.* I have worked extensively in the creation of marketing to and for the independent insurance agent channel, and have seen first hand the distress of agents during mergers and the resulting change of brand names (and values)… but also the positive impact that creative, aggressive and on-going agent and employee brand engagement efforts can have.
In short, the agent may be more important to your customer than your brand is, and therefore must be cultivated and incentivized, but insurance companies still need to activate and support that crucial agent-customer relationship with strong branding, effectively communicated to – and lived out day-to-day – with both groups.
And How About Investors? Do They Trust the Financial Advisor or the Financial Brand?
A note to Professor Mulhern and colleagues: I know you want to extrapolate this data to all agent-driven service businesses, but I encourage you to make your next study about the effects of branding (both B2C and B2B) on the relationship of financial advisors and investors, both independent and wirehouse. Judging not only from my experience creating campaigns to reach both investors and advisors, but also from our collective financial trauma of the last few years, I believe it would make for very interesting reading.
Any thoughts from the rest of you?
* I always encourage clients to observe this in the direct selling of insurance, too, noting that while the best data-driven program may get you directly to the door of exactly the right prospects, if you’re standing at the door as a stranger, it’s not likely to open. Branding can be your introduction, your deliverer of trust, and it not only can but should go along with all the best techniques at a direct marketer’s disposal.
Category: "brand trust", advertising, B2B advertising, branding, branding survey, consumer cynicism, creativity, marketing, UncategorizedTags: advertising, advertising credibility, brand evangelism, brand managers, brand trust, brand truth, CMO, consumer cynicism, corporate communicaitons, direct response, financial services marketing, insurance marketing | Comments (2)