Thursday, 31 July 2014

have you seen the new TfL posters?

Simple message + great execution = effective communication...

do you see advertising as part of marketing?

These days you can get a degree in marketing and one of your modules will be advertising.

You’ll do modules in: pricing & distribution theory, market research, brand planning, category management, ethical marketing, social and mobile media, presentation skills, and advertising.

In other words advertising is seen as part of a marketing person’s job but in reality advertising is actually the voice of marketing.

A gentleman called Adam Morgan talks about ‘in front of the curtain’ and ‘behind the curtain’. In front of the curtain is what we want the audience to see - so advertising is ‘in front of the curtain’. Behind the curtain is what we don’t want the audience to see (most of the list above) - which makes marketing ‘behind the curtain’.

The audience isn’t supposed to notice marketing but is definitely meant to notice the advertising, This really means that advertising is not a sub-set of marketing but a discipline of its own all about amplification.

Of all the advertising that is seen each year it is known that 4% is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively, and 89% isn’t noticed or remembered. So advertising is actually about making sure your message is part of the 4% that gets noticed and remembered.

Because otherwise, however clever all that marketing thinking was, it will all be wasted.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

how do clients influence what we charge?

Like all agencies, we have to price our work to achieve two things - value for money for the client, and profit for us.

It's a good balance that results in a happy client, a thriving agency and a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

The one big thing that can affect price is client incompetence (there's probably a kinder way to say that but it's the probably the most appropriate word). Agencies are often forced to deal with lower level employees who give the agency bad direction, incorrect information, or are guilty of inept decision-making. This leads to endless meetings and limitless rounds of strategic, and creative wheel-spinning.

When the real decision makers finally get a look at the result, the agency often looks like it has spent mountains of time and money foolishly.

One of the biggest problems agencies have when it comes to calculating a fair price is projecting how many people are going to place themselves between them and the real decision makers.

And one of the biggest problems clients have in comprehending why agency costs are so high is understanding how much agency time they waste needlessly.

In the long run, the only unique asset an agency has to sell is creativity. Clients can get everything else elsewhere, usually for less. If the creative contribution is not highly valued by the client, you'll always be struggling for profit.

Agencies should strive to do good creative work for no other reason than it is good for the bottom line.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

no one got their job by being shy

I read a very interesting article this week about preparing for job interviews – not for me, of course (!) but the author made a very interesting comment.

That unlike when sitting an exam or a driving test, giving the correct answer is probably the last thing you want to do when having an interview.

The rationale is that when sitting GCSEs, there is a fair assumption that numerous people will pass the exam on any one day but with a job interview, only one person can get the job, so the last thing you want to do is give the same answer as everyone else. Instead, you want to stand out. I can see the point: the biggest problem I face after a day of interviews is that candidates blend into one another – because most people dress smartly and speak politely for an interview, you need clues to remember which applicant was which.

Your aim at a job interview is to make an impression. Some good advice I was given when meeting MPs at a function is to always go up to them and say “good to see you again”. Politicians meet so many people they could never hope to remember them all, yet worried that you may be someone important, they will always respond with a “yes – how have you been keeping”.

The same is true of brands. With a few exceptions, brands are shouting out to prospective purchasers for a solus purchase. To do this, they need to differentiate, to stand out and not be a ‘me too’. They need to make a statement; they need a memorable proposition; they need to be the ‘tall, dark, sultry one that rides a motorcycle’ of the job interview world.

However, just like so many people at interview, this rarely happens. Too many seek to imitate the market leader; they attempt to justify why their product is cheaper, faster, tastier than the others being considered. While I’m sure brand managers will argue that research proves customers want reassurance that their purchase is the right one, I would contend that this is what got marketing into the mess it is in right now with price being the primary differentiator. So go on, make an impact – no one got their job by being shy.

This article is a repeat of this week's Secret Marketer column in Marketing Week.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

we launch smartcards in Bristol...

Over the last few months we have been working with First in Bristol to develop the branding for their first ever smartcard.

It started with a meeting to understand its benefits. This led to some more meetings and an agreement of a name and the purchase of an associated domain. 'touch' was born. Next stop was agreement of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge imagery and a very 'First' colour scheme.

Follow that through with a website, adshels, a user guide and welcome letter - and you've got a cracking brand and campaign to showcase a real customer benefit.

If you're in and around Bristol 'touch' is coming to a bus near you really soon.

If not, visit the website and have a look around

the smartcard

our work wins Marketing Campaign of the Year...

Last week we were lucky enough to attend the Bristol Evening Post Business Awards with one of our clients who had been nominated in the 'Marketing Campaign of the Year' category.

The work was the result of a lengthy consultation period on on restructuring First bus fares and tickets in the city and we are proud to say they won the top prize!

The extensive communications campaign covered most things online and offline - they had a great message to tell and wanted as many people as possible to hear it.

Why did it win? Well, passenger journeys in the city jumped by 15% after the campaign. Results that are pretty much unheard of in the public transport industry.

It's testimony to what a simplified fare structure coupled with a well planned, well executed creative campaign can achieve.

Well done them, and well done us!

Town centre and station 6 sheets

Monday, 7 July 2014

great quotes from Bill Bernbach

When you see quotes from the guy who did the legendary 60s VW ads, it's nice to share them.

This is what Bill had to say on change -

"It took millions of years for man instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about the changing man. A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own."

On ads that need to do more than just look good -

"Just because your ad looks good is no insurance that it will get looked at. How many people do you know who are impeccably groomed... but dull?"

And on being creative - 

"Properly practiced creativity must result in greater sales more economically achieved. Properly practiced creativity can lift your claims out of the swamp of sameness and make them accepted, believed, persuasive, urgent."

Would love to have said things better myself but I couldn't. Not in a million years.

have you seen that commercial for…?

A hot topic in the media at the moment is a commercial that questions the phrase ‘like a girl’ and has sparked a debate of global interest. 
The feminine hygiene company makes a point of exploring why this phrase has become an insult and how it affects the self-confidence of girls, particularly at puberty when they are most vulnerable. You may be wondering what this has to do with our industry...

Whilst producing a commercial that has gone viral to the tune of almost 28 million views, provoked a social debate and possibly helped to empower women all over the world, I would still question whether it will successfully fulfil its primary purpose: to sell more of a particular product.

At the end of the day, companies pay ad agencies loads of money to sell more of their stuff. Since we’re in the business of advertising, whenever a new exciting ad pops up, we inevitably end up talking about it. Among all of us here who saw the ad, only one of us correctly named the company who it was for - and that was a guess at best. How many people who have watched and been touched by the commercial are failing to remember the brand of towel it was actually for?

I’m a woman, I’m on Facebook, and I’ve seen the reaction to this video. It’s obviously thought provoking, beautifully executed and has everyone talking but will it make people buy this brand’s tampons next time they’re in the supermarket? If they are anything like me they’ll buy whatever brand has the best deal at the time. 

Whatever business you’re in, your ads should give people a reason to buy your products instead of your competitors. It could be quality, performance or price… but it needs to be something. But first of all, the customer needs to remember who you are.

There is the argument that massive exposure (likes, views, shares etc) will automatically lead to an uplift in sales. Despite me watching it, this commercial did not change my opinion of the tampons or towels they’re peddling. There were no product benefits; there was no unique selling point to put this brand before competitor brands. So will it make me buy their product over another brand? Nope.

But hey, it was a nice commercial.

Friday, 4 July 2014

translating client speak into customer speak

Most projects we undertake require us to write copy from scratch or re-write copy supplied by clients.

And what we have the end user of your/our work is your average person on the street. Someone who is not au fait with the inner workings of a bus depot, or the logistics of running trains on time, but someone who wants easy-to-read communication that makes the process of getting to they are going simpler. 

This often involves some tinkering and even more persuasion because let’s face it, you talk your own transport language and expect the customer to understand it. I’m sure it makes perfect sense in the office, but asking your average passenger to 'alight the train' or 'be aware of the timing points on this service' will be met with bewilderment.

In the past few years our clients have made some really positive steps in take a more conversational, ye on brand, style with their customers. They are losing the technical jargon and communicating in simple, easily understandable English. And by doing this, they appear as more friendly and personable, and less like the corporate monsters their customers love to pick holes in at every opportunity. 

For the majority of public transport users the bus or train is a part of their routine, so let’s make it warm and familiar, just like putting on your slippers or waving hello to a neighbour. 

It’s always nice to leave people with a smile on their face rather than confusion in their mind.