15. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Digital · Tags:

According to recent survey on Copyblogger, most marketers don’t budget for native advertising.  However, it can be hypothesized that statistic is in part driven by confusion on what native advertising means.  “Native advertising” may be a buzz word of today, but the concept is old.  Native advertising is nothing more than advertorial.  The only difference is that advertorial typically refers to print media, whereas native advertising is a term typically refer to digital media – in all its forms. 

Native advertising can be a blog post that’s specifically written for that blog’s reader, but branded nevertheless.  Native advertising can be a video filmed just for that website’s audience, but branded nevertheless.

Native advertising is just traditional advertising meets content marketing.  Traditional advertising focuses on delivering your brand message to your target consumer in a medium that can reach your target consumer.  Content marketing is marketing by providing relevant and interesting content to your target consumer.  Native advertising is simply delivering relevant and interesting content to your target consumer in a medium that can reach your target consumer.  The advantage of native advertising is for content marketing to work, you need to have your own base of loyal and engaged followers.  Native advertising gives you a way engage an existing audience base with your content.  For many advertisers, this base of engaged audience is priceless. 


Copyblogger's 2014 State of Native Advertising Report
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Everything marketing or branding starts with the consumer.  Without a clear focus on who he or she is, you lose any chance of having a targeted message.  Without a targeted message, you lose relevance in the marketplace.  If you are not relevant, you just get lost in the clutter, and never be heard.

That’s why the center of every marketing effort starts with the consumer.

Every marketing brief starts with defining who the target consumer is.

Of course, you could define the target consumer via demographic attributes, such as age, gender, location, income, etc.  Really, anything that can be measured, any attribute that may be captured in a census survey, any attribute where someone can check a box (age 25-30 box) can be classified as demographic data.

Deep thoughts at MIX08 in the SandboxHowever, demographic attributes are very limiting.  Two 24 years old unemployed males may look the same on paper at this given point in time.  However, they could be very different people.  One never stuck with a job.  The other just sold his start-up for a fortune.

This is why psychographic information is equally important.  Psychographic information includes things such as personality, values, attitudes, interests, lifestyles, etc.  Psychographic captures any influences on how your target consumer makes decisions.  Is your target consumer a loner or a social butterfly?  Is your target consumer tech savvy? Is your target consumer a big spender or a thrifty cheapskate? All this can affect how you target your message (and in fact product) to him or her.

Who is your target consumer?  And how much do you really know about him or her?

Do you know what he or she is thinking?  If you don’t, how could you possibly influencing it?


Photo credit: D.Begley


Remember this commercial from Kia?  I remembered hating it.  Who wants to see rats on TV?  (Sorry, I mean hamsters.)

Let’s fast forward to today.

I see the hamsters, and I immediately whose commercial it is.  TV commercials are typically no longer than 30 seconds.  So, they need to communicate everything they want to say in that time.  So, if a brand be recognized visually and immediately, it saves time.  That’s branding.

Today, you see the hamsters on TV, you immediately know it’s Kia.  You may ask, so what?  What are hamsters telling me about the car?  It’s not about that.  It’s about keeping Kia on the top of your mind.  It’s about raising brand awareness.  Because, the truth is, more likely than not, you’re not currently in the market for a car.  You probably have a car already, and for the moment happy with it.  Or you’re a teenager and you haven’t taken your first driver’s lesson yet.  So, you’re not in the market.

But, the moment you are.  You know Kia.  That brand is familiar to you.  Then, you’ll go proactively find out everything about Kia all on your own.  You’re going to check out their websites.  You’re going to check out online reports.  You’re going to check out Kelley Blue Book.  You’re going to check out Consumer Reports.  You’re going to visit the dealership.  You are going to do everything to find out information about Kia, information that wouldn’t have fit in a 30 second commercial.

That’s why I now love the hamsters.  You see the hamsters, you think Kia.

As much as I love them now, I really didn’t like them before.  But that’s why the whole campaign idea was so genius!  I had long believe that negative reaction from the public is not always a bad thing.  That’s particularly true for a small brand.  When the hamsters hit the scene, Kia was basically a small brand.  The hamsters generated buzz because it was something different from the norm.  It verged on weird!

But hamsters don’t own weird.  E-trade baby comes to mind… The trick of successfully being weird is to have an evolution plan for moving forward.  You can’t be a one-hit wonder!  You can’t put out a weird concept that you cannot evolve.  Once you have the plan, you have to have the follow through.  It would have been easy for Kia to pull the plug on the hamsters and say it was a stupid idea. But they didn’t. They stayed the course.  Now, they reap the fruit.

You can leverage weird to breakthrough the clutter.  But you have to have a plan.  On top of it, you have to have the discipline to stay on the plan.  A carefully cultivated weird can be a great element to a brand building campaign.

16. October 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Books · Tags: ,

My colleague recommended a book to me, and I’m so glad she did.  It’s a fable – about a farm ran by animals, about to go bankrupt and get bought by a human.  Something drastic needed to happen, and this story quickly and succinctly captured how to make that something happen.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who may need to go against status quo, yet at the same time, the status quo cannot be completely abandoned because it is still providing that much needed lifeline.

The book is How Stella Saved the Farm: A Tale About Making Innovation Happen by Vijay Govindarajan, a leading expert on strategy and innovation.

Here are the key lessons from the book direct from the study guide that accompany the book.

Getting Started

  • In any great innovation story, the idea is only the beginning.
  • Asking one leader to “just go make it happen” is a woefully inadequate approach to moving an innovative idea forward

Building a Team

  1. Assign a dedicated team any activities that are beyond the narrow, specialized capabilities of the existing organization
  2. Build the dedicated team as though you are building a new and different organization from the ground up
  3. Conflicts between the dedicated team and the existing organization are inevitable.  Nonetheless, you must nurture a healthy partnership between the two.

Planning and Assessing Progress

  1. Put learning first – learning through disciplined experimentation. If you do, you’ll make better decisions and you’ll get to profitability sooner.
  2. Gather evidence to validate each major expenditure.
  3. Evaluate the innovation leader based on whether he or she executed a disciplined experiment.

While the lessons here may seem obvious, they are actually really insightful.  The fable really bring these lessons to life, and showcases the nuances of managing your everyday business while challenging the status quo.  Because the story is so well-crafted, the book can easily be finished in one sitting (I did!).  While the book is an easy read, it is built upon years of research.  The lessons have wide implications in a variety of settings.  This book belongs on the bookshelves along with Who Moved My Cheese? and Our Iceberg Is Melting.

Okay, one of my guilty pleasures is watching tv.  And, if I were to tell the truth, I am kind of a reality television junkie.  One of the new shows that I have a secret love for is Lifetime’s Supermarket Superstar.  I will be the first to say that the show is only mildly interesting as far as production value.  But I enjoy the show because it talks a lot about what goes on behind the scene in marketing a food product.

The aisle of everything

Let me give you an overview of the show.  Each week, the show focuses on a single food category (e.g. snacks, dips, etc.)  Three home cooks are selected as finalist for each episode.  The show kicks off with introduction of these three home cooks and their products.  Then, the contestants take the first steps toward preparing their products for mass production.  The first step is to revamp the recipe, taking into account nutritional value, shelf life, and price.  I enjoy watching this section because it highlights the business behind the creativity of birthing a new product that is commercially viable.  The best product won’t get bought if it’s at a ridiculous retail price.  And the price needs to capture raw materials, labor, transportation, margins, etc.  Another topics that is often discussed is uniformity.  Consumers need to know what they are getting from one purchase to another.  All the products need to uniform.  They all need to meet the same expectations.

After revamping the recipe for commercial reality, the products are taste tested by a focus group.  This section highlights the market research behind each new product launch.  This section highlights the importance of making sure you’re appealing to your core consumers.  This section highlights that during the new product development process, it’s important to continue to get consumer feedback every step of the way.  Of course, the show only features a single focus group of six consumers.  In the real world, there is probably a lot more research involving a lot more consumers.

The next step toward making a commercial product is branding.  This section showcases the importance of a well designed logo and packaging.  The packaging is a product’s final chance to close the deal.  This section is filled with sound bites of wisdoms.  For example, apparently, there are over 48,000 products on the shelves at an average grocery store.  So, it’s a very clutter environment for any single product to stand out.  That’s why a lot of thoughts is behind a well-designed packaging.  This section highlights the principal of shelf-evident positioning.  The product needs to sell itself on a grocery shelf.  At that moment, on shelf, the packaging is your only mean of communication.  The idea behind shelf-evident proposition is that the packaging should speak for itself on shelf.  The selling proposition should be evident at shelf, without additional education.  A consumer walks by the shelf, walks by your product, and gets it.  A consumer, just by what you communicate on your packaging, understands why he or she would want to buy this product.  To this point, the packaging needs to clearly communicate your single point of difference.  For example, Reddi-Whip is “made with real cream” and the packaging is designed to draw your eyes to that point of difference.  This is when less is more.  your packaging should communicate a single message.  Otherwise, the packaging gets too busy and confusing.  When the packaging gets confusing, a consumer would just walk right by.  



The final step toward commercializing the product is to pitch it to a buyer.  This shows how hard it is to be a brand manager.  All the hard work toward getting a new product development hinges on the balance based on a buyer’s decision.  All the hard work may never see the light of day if it can’t get past the gatekeeper and get on shelf.  The buyer often asks good questions.  Where do you expect the product to be shelved?  Why do you think you’re different from what’s already on shelf?  Is there growth potential, or is this a one-hit wonder that will get lost in the clutter?  This part of the show really highlight that there are always multiple stakeholders.  We need to design a product for the consumer.  However, we need to also design a product for the retailer. 

It’s an interesting show.  I enjoy it. 


Photo credit: Jessica W, Jennifer Snyder