If you've ever had the misfortune to spend much time with CRM gurus or 'data driven marketing specialists' you'll be familiar with the terms 'aquisition' 'conversion' and 'retention'.
It all feels a little uncomfortable doesn't it? In some parts like some sort of aggressive corporate raider from the 1980's bent on acquiring companies and then stripping their assets for a killing.
In others, a little like Scientologists, or other disquieting cults looking to convert and retain acolytes.
It's also anathema for anyone who's spent any time looking at how marketing and brands really work.
No brand 'aquires' 'converts' or 'retains' enough people for sustained sales growth.
Few care about brands nearly enough for that level of cut and dried shifts in a relationship, as of course, it's not really a relationship, more just one a few vague aquaintances.
This is where the 'cult' metaphor is of more use, since the only people that care that much are slightly wierd 'cult like' fans of the brand.
Not only are they a big minority, in terms of numbers and sales value, they would have bought anyway, whatever the clever email marketing campaign and digital measuring doo-dahs. Most CRM stuff simply measures a sale that would, most likely, have happened in any case.
A better use of words to describe interactions with brands would be:
'Get noticed at all'
'Create sort of weak habit'
'Try and stay fresh and interesting to stop that weak habit getting even more weak'.
When any kind marketing guru uses words best kept to cultish charlatans selling you moonshine, you can probably assume that's is exactly what they are really offering.
Blogs may not be that fashionable nowadays, but here's one that's wonderful in any case. It's the blog from my beloved Yorkshire Tea. Somehow a blog feels right for them in the way that noodling around on Facebook feels very wrong
It's unnasuming, chatty, a little down to earth and gives off the kind of 'family' feel that only a proper family company can create. A genuine love of their craft that's so rare these days. That's the thing about channels and stuff, the actual choice of where to do stuff says something about you, not just what you do there.
I'm nearing the end of this, which is making me rather sad, in the way that you want to find out the resolution, but you don't want the experience to end.
I think I liked it more than The Corrections, maybe because there was less weight of expectation around 'The Great American Novel" cliche (despite the fact I think it's a Greater American Novel), beautifully realised characters, relevance in so many ways. Wonderful.
Real books and real writers, as Franzen suggests himself fall into one of two camps. Art for arts sake, you know, difficult books, almost a chore to read, because literature isn't supposed to be ENJOYED, it's supposed to challenge you. Or the other kind that believes you can make a book challenging, make people think AND enjoyable and absorbing.
This book is the latter. It's virtually perfect, and sometimes searing in what it is implying, but immensely compelling and, well, it makes you feel something. It makes you forget you're reading, whicb is a skill very few writers posess.
Don't seem to have blogged much (as if anyone cares). Largely because it's easy to fall into the trap wanting to write long-ish meaty thingumys with something to say, which is sort of wrong since blogs and stuff are really lots of little things sometimes punctuated with bigness.
That's a little what brands that want to get all social and collaborative should be thinking about (starting why doing this adds to the bottom line of course).
By all means, have a big idea, in fact, please have one, but it's worth trying to avoid the 'single-minded' ghetto, you know, lots of big showpieces and 'grand narrative' and think about lots of little bits punctuated by occasional big bits. Some big bits to get people excited, provoke them and pull them in, and little stuff to keep the conversation going.
If we're going to persist with the 'relationship' metaphor, let's be true to it and remember that all relationships start with some spark that make you want to spend time with them. You keep it going from day to day, but every now and then, you need to make the extra effort to make it still feel special.
If every day of marriage was a romantic dinner for two and flowers on the bed, you'd never get the cleaning done and she'd be moaning about never getting the chance to watch Eastenders. But if every day was 20 minute pasta in front of the telly you'd get a bit bored.
When I was growing up, in the days when I experienced advertising and stuff like normal human beings, meaning I didn't think about it that much, it was the longer running campaigns I remembered and still do.
Heineken refreshed the parts other lagers cannot reach.
The Man from Del Monte
And so on. Long running campaigns that, like Ariston, went on and on on for years.
More and more, the 'long running campaign' is a thing of the very distant past.
There's stuff like The Power of Dreams, but not much.
One of the most common reasons I hear in meetings is 'wear out'. The concept that people just get bored with the same campaign over time and cut-through gradually decays.
To be honest though, in most cases, that's just marketing bollocks for the fact that there is a new brand manager or CMO who wants to make their mark.
How long is the average marketing exec tenure these days? About two years? That would explain a lot. The new broom comes in looking for problems to solve, naturally finding all sorts wrong with the existing strategy. Not to mention firing the agency for their own pet shop, who naturally want to do their own groundbreaking work and reinvent the brand too.
But marketing people live a total bubble. No one cares about their brand as much as they do and they certainly don't think about their campaigns much, if they notice them at all.
People don' want to think about brands, what these bubble inhabiting marketing hot-shots forget is people use brands NOT to think. Brands exist as signposts for people to buy something familiar and get on with stuff that is, frankly, more important.
As Byron Sharp puts it, the only real role for proper advertising that creates a significant return is building memory structures, making distinctive assets, feelings and associations more famous and familiar over time.
Of course, as culture changes and markets shift, brands and the communications that promotes them need to be refreshed. But that's REFRESHED, not wholesale reinvention. If you find you have a brand idea that isn't fit for purpose anymore, it's more than likely it wasn't a big strategic or creative idea really, it was just a bit of executional fluff.
I would argue that the second of these is really a refresh of the first - that Reassuringly expensive was never the real brand idea, rather it was a dramatising Stella as the epitome of Franco Belgian sophistication by appopriating French cinema.
I'll say it again, truly effective advertising works by building a consistent, distinctive, picture over time.
Because people really don't think about brands that much, especially the light buyers that are essential for long term brand growth. Getting noticed and being remembered (for the right reasons) are all that really matters.
This mad thrust for newness at best reduces effectiveness, at worst it's a waste of money to feed a few egos.
It is imperitive that brand managers and their agencies stop thinking of themselves as trouble-shooters, here to save the future of the brand by turning it upside down, and begin to act as temporary guardians, here to preserve and enrich the story that people created before them and, when they move on, hand over their precious asset, intact, perhaps with a new chapter, but a new episode in an evolving narrative, not a new book.
It's a bit like an old house. Imagine something built 100 years ago. Chances are at least 5 different 'owners' have been and gone. Each will have done something to it - maybe even as drastic as an extension. But essentially it is still the same house, enriched and evolved, no more, no less.
Brand management is a really just like real estate.
Which makes sense since ad folk are even less respected than estate agents, but that's another story.
"What most brands need is careful and effective maintenance"
"I don't revolve, I evolve"
Building distinctive, consistent memories in the mind of people over time is the route to sustained brand growth. People buy the brands they've noticed and have some level of favourable familiarity with.
In other words add to, or re-configure, the story that's people's heads already. Don't try to start a new one.
Continually tring to 'reinvent the brand' is commercial suicide. There simply isn't enough room for ego and the need to 'make your mark' in the commercial real world.
But it struck me how gracious and generous he was in defeat.
That's what often gets missed with coverage of sports and the elite participants at the top. They go out year in, year out, to fight each other tooth and nail for medals, points, trophies and money, but the adversarial nature of the actual battle belies the brotherly/sisterly culture around it.
Performance athletes (with some notable exceptions of course) are bound together by mutual respect and the sheer hard work involved in what they do. That's even truer of those at the very top.
My own experience - of training 5 hours a day, travelling to strange countries without Mum and Dad (chaperoned of course) from the age of 10 and having to deal with the pain of losing, seeing months, years of work and hope going up in smoke and, even tougher, learning to handle winning. Not letting it make you arrogant and be kind to those who lost to you on the day- was that experience this abnormal made you incredibly close to those you went through it with because only they knew could grasp what it was like.