Category Archives: marketing

Global brand in local market

Palermo district, Buenos Aires

Can you see it?

Yes, it’s on the municipal street sign. Click on the photo and enlarge it. There it is! Ah, that’s ubiquitous advertising.

Claro and Nokia. Claro is a telecomm company, while Nokia continues to be the number 1 mobile phone maker in the world.

Does your city use street signs for corporate brand awareness? This was everywhere in BA.

By the way Claro’s tagline is “Es simple. Es claro.” Which is a fun play on words. (“Simple” doesn’t mean exactly the same as “simple” in English, but is used more in the sense of “plain, simple-minded”, even though here I think “simple” does translate well, while “claro” stands for “OK” or “yes” as well as “clear” or “clearly”) Not sure what it does for brand equity that “claro” is one of the words we heard most often when people wanted to express agreement with something – That’s got to be good for this rather large Telecom operating in various countries in South America.

Nokia uses its “Connecting People” tagline in Argentina in English as it does around the world. I guess “pueblo conectando” – or the German translation of “Menschen verbinden” didn’t pass muster with the global brand guardians.

Santa Claus in La Paz

There are many fun parts to travelling. One relevant in this space is how being in a different place changes how we see ads like the one below.

While visiting La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, this past November we came across this Coca-Cola ad using the famous Santa Claus and the wonderful line, “Together we make magic reality.”

There are so many interesting layers to this photo:

  • A Coca-Cola ad featuring Santa on a snowy, starry night backdrop the Southern hemisphere in November (that’s spring heading for summer)
  • Santa as spokesperson for Coca-Cola (who else does pull this off?)
  • That jolly big man drinking his Coca-Cola
  • The Santa image, it is said, has been shaped significantly by Coca-Cola advertising going back to1931
  • A Coca-Cola ad in Bolivia where Coca leaves are a large crop some destined for traditional uses and some for let’s call it “export”and that doesn’t even have anything to do with the Coca-Cola formula
  • The statue in the foreground is of Simon Bolivar, Liberator of Bolivia from colonial (Spanish) rule, August 6, 1825.

What do you want from the web?

I’m preparing training material for a client: “How your Web Presence Can Help You Build a Stronger Profile”.

The point of view I am taking is what it really means when your audience can do everything your organization can do online. Think about it: individuals possess the power of the printing press without the cost of printing and distribution. All they need to figure out is how to create content and attract audiences. That of course, is the hard part.

And yet, much of what goes online leaves me with a back to the future sort of feeling.

  • Facebook: Social (Connecting and sharing with your friends)
  • Youtube: TV (Broadcast yourself)
  • Flickr: Photo journalism (The eyes of the world)
  • Twitter: News (What’s happening?)
  • Podcasting: Radio (video) by everyone

That’s why the training program will focus on providing an understandable thought framework, and then demystify some of the voodoo – like SEO, UXD (yes, that means user experience design) – to empower my client to think smart and make good decisions as they strengthen their web presence, purposefully and without running off in all directions.

My basic message is that online marketing is about connecting with the right people where they are in ways that are meaningful to them. The enabling aspects are tried and true concepts:

Online channels are about dialogue and conversation; they work because of relevance to the audience and timeliness; and, most difficult of all in this engineered world they demand authenticity.

SEO: write for people, code for search engines

One way to get search engine optimization right is to think of SEO from the earliest stage of conception of a web site, or a web page. That means you’ll write the site for people and you’ll construct the code for search engines.

Writing for people includes

  • Starting with your keyword list
  • Using your most important keywords, rather than many variants, in title tags, urls, page’s description tag, headings, and body text
  • Be authentic and trustworthy
Construct code for search engines
  • Heed the power of the url
  • Create the most important Meta tags; title tag, description tag, keyword tag
  • Create image tags for each image on your site (this is also a good accessibility guideline)

You can optimize every page on your web site. If you have 40 pages that’s easier than if you have 40,000 pages. Simply triage the needs for improvement and invest where you’ll see the biggest return on your investment: for instance, home page, secondary landing pages, or key sections. 

New content should simply be conceived with these simple SEO concepts in mind, rather than be retrofitted later.

Economics of fear and sustainable buying practices

Here’s a hypothesis for consideration:

With news media reporting – in particular headlines – bleakly declaring the end to life as we know it for many months now, it is inevitable that people feel that the global financial crisis is having a major impact on their lives. This feeling is spawned by what we are told day in and day out at least as much as it stems from real losses in employment or investment portfolios.

Sustainable buying practices might well be on the rise. Those are practices not based on personal debt financing and overleveraging to “get things now”. They are built on concepts of need, affordability, prioritization and saving for specific purchases. As this shift occurs it demands equally sustainable pricing practices, elastic enough to be responsive to the market and to ensure the survival of the business beyond this crisis. It means the “traditional” growth model has to be rethought in terms of “sustainable exchanges”.

Any business model but especially those based on debt financing will have to be rethought in the context of needs, wants and sustainable personal – and business – finance.

I imagine it also means customer value propositions will increasingly include price related incentives, meant as short-term fixes to stimulate consumption. But in business only a few can survive on low price positions, the rest need greater differentiation to sustain their business. I imagine the competitive landscape will increasingly be thought to include alternatives across sectors of the economy, not just direct competitors within a specific sector.

If the above is so, what does that mean for how I think about performing arts marketing and sustainably developing audiences?

Thoughts on Making Buying Decisions

Some purchases we make require very little critical thinking – and some that would benefit from weighing options more carefully are made using overrides. (“I want it”, “my neighbour has it already”). Some purchases receive a great amount of attention – often those that cost a lot of money, but not always.

One way to think about performing arts marketing is that we endeavour to recruit buyers who are willing to use convenient overrides so that they subscribe year after year, regardless of the specifics of the programming or other aspects of the overall customer experience.

This is important because arguably purchasing several live performing arts events in a single transaction (subscription) has significant implications for the buyer: time commitments, long terms planning and their financial capacity to pay in advance.

What are the circumstances required for someone to make a complex purchase in a mostly automatic fashion? And is it realistic with emerging audiences or is that a model of a time that is coming to an end?

An Insight Sets the Stage

Here are a couple of quick updates on work I’ve been doing: The Audience Development Strategy’s implementation by the NAC Orchestra continues to deliver excellent business results: In 2007 (year 1 of the strategy), we delivered the best campaign results in 19 years and exceeded several key targets. The 2008 campaign delivered the best results in 20 years.

The true test of a strategy cannot be merely success in its first year, when everyone is engaged, learning and changing. Keeping the momentum up to deliver to the increasingly ambitious targets in year 2 and looking toward the ever higher goals in each of the next 3 years is where the strategy and its implementation are tested. Especially important – as much of the media promotes a foreboding sense of apprehension about the unfolding global and Canadian recession – this strategy is built on the kind of deep audience insights that will help the Orchestra meet the challenges ahead.

On a similar note, I have been working with the NAC team on building a marketing strategy for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards gala. Again, the rigorous, multi-faceted analysis phase which leveraged what we have learned about local audiences and expanded on that knowledge through additional research, is yielding the building blocks for an effective, multi-year, audience-centred strategy.

This latest project has been leading me to deepen the work on an insight about the tension between familiarity and discovery in buying decisions. It says that in order to buy performing arts experiences, the audience looks for things they are familiar with, but these are not necessarily the elements that will make the event memorable -which looks to be important to the repeat purchase decision. To be memorable, it has to deliver enough surprise and discovery. That means, if the marketing (or possibly the art) neglects the need for familiar touchpoints for a local audience, it can become exceedingly difficult to succeed in terms of marketing and sales.

The recent literature on neuroscience research has been interesting and may turn out to be enlightening – possibly helping to resolve this tension. In future posts I intent to explore these concepts further as I believe they are at the core of the marketing challenges faced in a world where the means of production and distribution are not only readily available but also cheap and global for all to use. Competition has to be thought of far more broadly now.