A Daily Marketing Experience

January 7, 2010

I’m a professional, I know more than you

Filed under: Marketing — Ricardo @ 4:46 pm
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When you decide to employ a focus group to explore customer’s attitude towards a new development (advertising, packaging, name, good/service, etc), you do so to truly see if there is potential for it and, if, changes need to be made.

As not every new idea will work, you are bound to find circumstances where the customers will disagree with the proposition at hand. The brand owners, the creative team, the design crew, or in general terms the development coalition will face a difficult situation: “a clash of perspectives”.

How to clearly understand and interpret that the customers’ perspective has nothing to do with your ability to predict, apply and execute new advancements?

Well, Focus groups are a part of market research, and as such, it gives great qualitative feedback that can be used to explore the feelings and thoughts of customers in a precise manner. In addition to other market research data, experience, and/or intuition, it can become a powerful tool for decision making.

However, don’t fall in the trap of disregarding negative feedback to your “project” just because you are trying very hard to make it work. Do not force it. And most of all, avoid ignoring the negative feedback on the basis that you are an expert and knowledgeable in your field (marketing, advertising, design, etc), and they (people in the focus groups) are not!

Refrain from thinking that because you are a professional you know more. That will only skew your final decision towards something you want and not towards something your target market wants.


October 1, 2009

Marketing Lessons In A Supermarket!

This is a marketing perspective that I have been interiorizing  for a while and it all happened a couple of months ago while I was in the supermarket with my wife.

We as men, if we “ever” stop by it, go straight for what we need and if told to buy something we carefully plan our corridor route and get it over with. However, for women, the supermarket is a different place: they take their time, compare prices, ingredidients, calories, they check expiration dates and carefully calculate storage capacities in the house versus goods bought; for me all this consideration is a magical event and a pristine ability that women have.

Taking all this elaborate procedure to go supermarket shopping, I’ve always tried to avoid being sucked into this never ending experience. Nonetheless, my approach is different now a days. As a marketing professional I know that a high percentaje of purchase decisions are made at the Point Of Purcahse (POP), but what I did not notice is how swiftly does a state of mind or a thinking process change, in this case, in the supermarket.

To explain it, I will take the trip to the supermarket with my wife. We have recently acquired a cat, so it could be said that there are three of us in the family. As soon as we go in, her state of mind is that of a house wife, thinking about the overall necessities of the household. So you can call this State 1 – The Wife.

After checking her shopping list, she goes directly to the vegetables (produce) section. She is still in State 1, thinking about what benefits our health and making comparisons on expiration dates and freshness. Suddenly, she arrives to the Pet section and her mind changes to what I am going to call State 2 – The Feeding Mother.

In this State 2, she is now preoccupied by the price of each “buyable” product. She is no longer checking ingredients, brands or recommendations; price and quantity is all she is reviewing.

The next corridor takes us to the female section. She now changes to State 3 – The Women. In this corridor prices and quantity are no longer a factor. Buying intentions are made on brand reputation, trend and performance.

Just by going into 3 different corridors, she changed the way she approaches buying a product, from State 1 to 2, to 3 and switching somewhere during the rest of our Supermarket trip.

So what is the lesson learned? if we know that almost 70% of people’s buying decisions are made right before picking the product at the store, then it becomes relevant to understand in what state of mind is the person at that precise time. It would be risky to assume that people will only buy based on a single variable in a single period of time (in this case in the Supermarket).

As I learned, my wife went from being a wife, to a mother, to a women and in each state changing her buying pattern.

April 15, 2009

Working with an Interactive Agency

One of the biggest issues in creating a successful Internet Marketing Campaign is establishing a sound alliance with the corresponding agencies. After hearing Allison Lohse of Razorfish speak on how her agency has come to this integration and after getting a hand on an article from Carat Fusion, I’d like to share this best practice:

1. Make it Mandate

  • Define what you mean by integration (Strategic? Execution? Both?)
  • If you are a client, mandate integration among partners
  • If you lead an agency team, work closely with client to get them to mandate it

2. Make it Easy

  • Develop processes and “ways of thinking” that will enable it
  • Eliminate silos in your own organization
  • Be open, forget traditional conventions

3. Develop a Process

  • Work with your various partners to develop one communications briefing document. 
  • Brief all partners at the same time
  • Make the desired outcome clear

4. Don’t stereotype each medium

  • Need to show how online can present the emotional side of a brand (flash, video, podcasts, blogs)
  • Use your rich media partners to put this together, they have a vested interest as well

5. It’s not just about offline and online media. Consider:

  • Web development
  • Promotions
  • Events/ Experience Marketing
  • Multicultural
  • Public relations
  • Alternate Channels

6. When you or your team have done a well-integrated job, celebrate it

  • Capture it and share it
  • Draw conclusions an implications for future programs

No doubt that the weakest link in this integration is the desire to not integrate.

March 23, 2009

Microsoft’s AdWeek

I just got back from a great invitation to the Microsoft headquarters in Redmont, Washington by the people of Microsoft Advertising LATAM and iNetwork. I was there with brand managers and media coordinators of worldwide brands that operate in Latinamerica.


Everyone waiting to go into the House and Office of the Future

Everyone waiting to go into the House and Office of the Future



The main idea was to show everyone the different options and tools that Microsoft Advertising has. Nonetheless, we also got to see “the house and office of the future”.

At the end of the week it was clear that there is a huge gap in terms of knowledge about Online Advertising and the opportunities it brings to brands across the market from the vast majority of people. Hence, a great deal of the time was spent on defining terms, comparing KPIs to those of traditional media and showing Success Stories.

Questions varied: from very basic Online Marketing 101 stuff (here is a link of Interactive Advertising terms), to some complex and strategic analysis and perspectives. The people of Microsoft and iNetwork did try to level the knowledge field to then introduce all their Online artillery.

Some very interesting facts and options were shown. 

– Xbox Live has more users online at any given time during the day than the top TV show in the USA. This becomes a great opportunity to integrate products with the video game experience. Another variation of product placement.

– Advertisements in Online Videos get 53% more attention than those of TV. Another great opportunity to re-engineer traditional messages to fit online formats.

– The first ever ad banner to run on the Internet was placed by Hotwire (here) and received an approximate 42% Click Through Rate (CTR). An average banner ad in the present day, receives 0.5% CTR.

– Online advertising in Latinamerica accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall advertising budget. Companies like Microsoft spend around 19% of their advertising budget on Digital initiatives. 

In terms of Online advertising tools, Microsoft is doing a great job. Even though Search is dominated by Google, in all other areas Microsoft is giving brands some very interesting alternatives, specially in Latin America where its MSN portal and Messenger service rank very high. 

For me, of the new options showcased, the best one was the opportunity to create a “Brand Robot” in the Messenger service. This gives brands an opportunity to establish a day to day conversation with customers. The basic idea is that people chat with the brand about different issues: it can be non-related brand aspects like entertainment, it can be FAQ, it can be customer service, etc. All in all this alternative imprints the brand’s name in the “chatters” mind. Very effective way to increase TOM and overall recognition.

On a second note, and as I noted above, Advergaming is another excellent chance to incorporate a brand to the target’s everyday life. Microsoft showed two very good examples from the Obama campaign and from Coke on how to make this a successful investment.

Resuming the vast majority of presentations and discussions, it is clear that Internet, Online Advertising and Digital media are shaping the future. Although this is extremely clear in countries like England (where it is said that Online advertising investments are catching up with those of TV) and the United States, it seems that in Latin America this notion is only arriving. This could be a result from the lack of bandwidth or the low penetration of Internet (this figure is dynamically changing and improving). All in all, and the success stories back it up, there is great potencial in this area for brands to acquire new costumers, to increase awareness, to portray product benefits, to execute launches, to gain market share, and to increase sales and profits.

Incorporating the Internet and the available Digital media options as an integral part of the brand strategy can be understood as a first mover advantage; specially in Latin American markets where there is only a “handfull” of brands leveraging on this new way of communicating.


Microsoft's entrance

Microsoft's entrance

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