By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder of Geoff De Weaver Inc. www.geoffdeweaver.com, Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. http://touchpoint.best/, or connect with me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/geoff_deweaver
I thought I would reflect and share some of my thoughts on some of the global campaigns and brands I have worked with over the last two decades.
As many of you know I have partnered with many Fortune 500 Brands during my career. This is a the rapidly-changing media, digital landscape, including FMCG, automotive, telecommunications, communications, financial services & entertainment industries along with companies like: Coca Cola, IBM, IMG, P&G, Microsoft, Nike, E*Trade, Nestle, Air France, AT&T, VISA, Unilever, EA.com, Ferrari, Acer Computers, BMW, ABC, The Walt Disney Co, Nike, Weight Watchers, Shutterfly.com, TiVo and more. So, I thought you might enjoy some of my tips, experiences and observations.
What I have endeavored to do in this article in to highlight the planning process and break it down into a number of steps which I generally use. I will cover the core areas of thinking required to develop a sound local communication plan.
It isn’t designed to be a formula but rather a “road map” to guide you through the global planning process. The idea is to provide areas of focus while stimulating thinking about your local market at every step of the way. E.g. Japan, Hong Kong, London, Sydney, etc.
Here are the Key Areas to be covered in every plan:
- Understanding your Customer/Client
- Brand Architecture
- The Competition
- The Business Environment
- Developing Branding Objectives and Strategies
- What do you want to communicate
- How and where you want to communicate
- Pulling it all together
Having run multiple global campaigns and clients over the years I have found that Identifying consumers/clients and people who can contribute to the planning process is only the first step.
The key to success here is teamwork. It is up to you to determine what is the best way for you to get the most out of your team. E.g. Sales, Channel, Marketing, R&D, Accounts Dept., etc.
Communicating and working with your team means that your plan will provide the foundation on which all departments can build their specific plans. This is key to having everybody understand what his or her responsibility is.
As with any category there are always multiple groups of target clients and customers that can have interest in your products.
However, each of these groups can have very different reasons for wanting your products and services. With this in mind it is very important that you identify a core group of consumers whose needs and values match those of your own. (Just saying Millennial or Gen Z isn’t good enough) You must truly understand your customers, not just the demographics but what actually motivates their behavior and influences their decisions and ambitions.
Even within an identified SME segment it will be important to evaluate all ‘sub-segment’ needs and values to best match them with what your brand can deliver.
Although IBM, DELL, HP or Acer can identify the SME segment as the core customer group to which they want to establish the new brand positioning globally, this does not mean that they will have the products that appeal to those consumers. What this does mean is that your core communication efforts must be targeted against core groups globally.
Additionally, from a corporate perspective, before you launch or undertake a global campaign, it is imperative you identify the core target audience in all your pilot markets too. E.g. Primary decision makers and key influencers.
By understanding the relevance and meaning of the brand promise locally you are able to clearly articulate what your brand will stand for in each of your target markets. For example one of Marlboro’s core values is ‘Masculinity’. The interpretation of this value differs greatly from the US to Japan and UK to China but it is the cornerstone of the brand’s promise in every country.
Once you know what you want your brand to stand for in each individual local market, you can then define the brand experience that will shape your customer’s perceptions accordingly. You can then break this down to what delivering such an experience will mean for all the different functions in the company. E.g. Sales, services, R&D etc.
Building the Brand Architecture
Basically it’s critical today to have an established a global positioning and set of brand values for your brand. Now it is up to you to specify the local interpretation of the positioning/values and understand how they can be made relevant.
By understanding what values are most relevant to your customers you can articulate how they translate into the ideal brand experience and how that would define your client/customers perception of your brand.
An example of this is how McDonald’s translates the emotive element of their brand experience “ A McDonald’s visit should make you smile”. This idea translates into different executions of that brand experience locally.
In the US it may be the type of friendly service that takes an interest in your day beyond this visit. Service people who ask “how’s your day going” and chats with customers, means customer experience wins the day today!
In Europe this may be seen as too intrusive but there are also variations, such as the restaurant décor, etc. to execute the experience.
In Japan where they value cleanliness and order, it may be the friendly wait staff who clean the tables and clear away the rubbish so every empty table or booth is fresh and spotless. Each of these deliver the McDonald’s experience but in a way that is relevant to this local market.
As marketers we must accurately convey the promise of the brand experience. If this promise is executed and fulfilled at every contact the client/customer has with us, it fosters a deeper belief in the value of the brand. A stronger brand translates into greater customer loyalty, which is ultimately the key to long-term business growth.
Dissecting the Competition
Now that we understand our customer and our brand, we can dissect the competition.
Don’t just measure your competitor’s performance in relation to yourself, using market share or sales volume. You need to understand how their customers think and feel about them. Why customers purchase their brands? Why them and why not ours?
Understanding the competition from the customer’s perspective, coupled with an understanding of the customer’s relationship with you, makes it possible to develop a truly competitive edge.
You will also need to spend time analyzing competitive activity including gathering information from all sources. Try to identify trends in their behavior. If you really understand them you can start to predict them.
Importantly, getting below the surface in this area can be difficult but getting insight into your customers’ perception and the importance they give to your competition can also explain a lot about their attitudes towards your brand.
Frame the Business Environment
There are many factors that can have an impact on your business outside of your immediate competition. When preparing business plans you must also take a step back to review the total business environment as it affects your category. This prevents you from becoming too myopic in how you approach planning.
You need to understand trends — be they technology, social media, mainstream media and legislation — that may have an impact on your customers or how you market your products. These can provide opportunities for how you operate your business, communicate about your brand and provide service to your customers to enhance your overall brand values.
Another area can be to take advantage of topical events to give your brand more local relevance. An example of this used by McDonald’s was when the Labor government announced their annual budget and everybody was focused on money, McDonald’s ran a series of press ads that focused on the good economics of McDonald’s. Such headlines as “Good news for first time buyers” promoting Happy Meals. “No change on eating bills” promoting extra value meals.
Importantly, always remain forward looking and plan and forecast what is on the horizon at least 12-24 months out too.
Developing Objectives and Strategies
It is important to remember that at this stage in developing a marketing plan for the brand that will provide a foundation for all the business functions to build specific plans – for contributing to the delivery of the brand and customer experience. To achieve this it is imperative to have one clear, simply stated overriding objective.
This objective should be business focused. It should also be compatible with the values of the brand. An example of this is McDonald’s key objective in its UK market which is “ To profitably build transaction through increased frequency of business” Profitability and transaction speaks to business and frequency of visits and also considers the brand and it’s desire to be part of the fabric of everyday life.
Once the core objective has been determined, you need to develop a number of business strategies to achieve that objective. Those strategies should cover all areas of the brand experience you outlined earlier. Your agreed strategies will become the filters by which you evaluate all business building ideas. This means if they have been agreed up front it will difficult for any of those involved to argue against a decision.
Your strategies should leverage the branding framework provided by Corporate. This ensures that what you are trying to achieve for the brand is helping to deliver on the local business objective at the same time. The most effective business strategies are those that contribute to building the brand reputation over the long haul while achieving business goals for the immediate future.
You should always use the Global brand positioning as a filter to evaluate whether everything you are doing locally is contributing to what you want your brand to stand for globally. In this way you remain focused in your efforts to build both your brand and your business in every market.
Branding and business goals should always sit hand in hand because over the long term it is a strong brand that will ensure continued business success.
Building a brand in the mind of clients and customers today requires communication on multiple levels.
There are three basic levels that contribute to delivering the overall brand promise.
Firstly, there is communication that builds brand reputation and creates basic motivation towards the brand.
Secondly, there is communication of the specifics of products and services as they contribute to the brand promise. This communication is more informational and creates specific interest in the brand.
The third level is tactical or promotional in nature and is designed to incentivize action towards the brand. All three levels are necessary to build a complete brand. Finally, successfully delivering the brand message involves balancing these three levels – both online and offline.
Win the day! Live with passion.
More about Geoff De Weaver:
Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:
- Personal Website: https://geoffdeweaver.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffdeweaver
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/geoff_deweaver
- Touchpoint Entertainment: http://touchpoint.best/
- Geoff’s Amazon Authors Profile: https://www.amazon.com/Geoff-De-Weaver/e/B007DAEKFG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1