The 3 Things a Marketer Has to Be Passionate About

What does it take to be a successful marketer? A loud voice? An extravagant character? An immense passion for jumping on every stage and shine? When I applied to my first brand manager role for Coca Cola, in Belgium, this was mostly the core of the feedback received from the HR recruiter. I was on the wrong side of all these personality traits, so my career with Coca Cola ended before it started. I believed then and still do now that a successful marketer is passionate about 3 things design, consumers, and change.

Ordinary people don’t want ads; they ignore them, block them, and pay as little attention as possible to them. We know that. Beautiful design can draw attention, artistic design can unlock emotions, and functional design can solve problems. Design is vital for marketers.

Consumers are people, do you understand them well? Do you know their behaviors beyond the attitudes the expose? Do you oversimplify their natural complexities to segment them for your easy thinking process? The consumer is your wife, your distant cousin, your billionaire, or the person who irons your shirt. Please get to know them better and get to know their needs, but do so in a non-intrusive way.

Change is inevitable in the business world. Get ready to make plans and change plans every single day. Your market is shifting, your stakeholders are changing their minds, your consumers evolve, and you have to know how to pivot. Elegantly adapting your execution to better deliver on the strategy is a requirement for marketers.

If you are passionate about design, consumers, and change, the rest will come in easy. You will shine on stages because your messages will be crisp, consumer-centric, and relevant with the times. You will start talking about what you do with passion and expose your fascinating character. You need to find that voice to accompany all that.

Good luck, introverted marketer.

Music + Advertising = Love

It is true: Attention is the buzzword in my advertising bubble in 2020. Fueled by a great book Dr. Karen Nelson-Field published this year, it is now trendy to talk about the Attention Economy. Myself, I wrote two articles on the topic, while conducting more research than ever on Attention for Mars. Attention is something every marketer agrees we ignored in recent years, but no one knows how to operationalize it. Attention helps in understanding people’s behaviors; it is personal and potentially significantly transformative for the media industry. But how can you grab Attention?

Out of the many ways you can harvest Attention, mastering the use of music, sounds, or sonic branding is one proven way of grabbing the much-needed Attention. Music and advertising go back a long way, Coke used “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” Cadbury used “In The Air Tonight” from Phil Collins and our very own Sheba took “Fever“ by Peggy Lee to a new level. In the era of TV advertising, music was complementing long forms of advertising, adding entertainment value to advertising. 

In today’s cluttered advertising world (with secondary screen usage increasing and Attention to advertising fading), audio signaling is an important lever a marketer can pull to regain of the lost Attention. Research from TVision in the US found that changes in tonality, jingles, famous songs make people “watch the TV screen again” during ad-breaks. On mobile, depending on the advertising platform activated, sound can be less important (Facebook), rarely required (Twitter), or at the center of your execution (Tik Tok or YouTube). Audio has to be part of your communication strategy. We also hear lots of buzz about the growth of Voice technologies (aka Alexa) with potential future Audio-only social media platform, we live in the era of Podcasting expansion, and even Radio has a fresh revival. It’s timely to start thinking about building audio distinctive assets for your brand – sonic branding. Go beyond a famous song that generates short term buzz and reach, be consistent, aim to replicate what more successful pioneers did: IntelNokiaSchmackosPedigree, or Mastercard.

Sound will always be present in advertising in one shape or form, ensure you find your unique brand voice with sound. 

Fight Politely for Their Attention

If the Advertising digital transformation taught us one single important thing, it is that most people would do anything to ignore, block, or look away from advertising and our brand messages. Yet, brands are still sold and talked about at office watercoolers (or virtual coffee chats). The exponential rise of ad-blockers killed display advertising; the growth of skippable online video killed the 30-second commercial, the rise of multi-tasking, and 2nd screen viewing killed whatever direct attention we still try to earn before.

Is this over? I doubt it! The game became a bit more difficult but not impossible to win; we are in an “expert” difficulty mode at the game of persuading consumers with our messages. Great visual content, fantastic music, and relevancy will still attract people’s attention. Learning how to attract attention politely is the task of a marketeer in 2020. Gone are the days when we could force non-skippable videos and hope for the best; it is time to put a bit more effort in the content we create and the context in which we activate.

To not just highlight a problem, here are three solutions you could start with today:

  1. WARC, we just published a comprehensive guide on the Attention Economy – ask me for a copy (or subscribe to their service).
  2. Dr. Karen Nelson Field just launched one of the best Marketing books of recent years; it only takes 5 minutes to download it on your Kindle.
  3. Ask your Media and Creative agencies how optimizing for attention can potentially generate better results.

In the end, it is just about playing the respect game with the consumer, for a true exchange of value.

Spend More Time on Your Consumers, Not Your Marketing Bubble

Last week I was writing about the place brands have in people’s minds and hearts (here) (disclaimer – not a front seat by any means). How is it then we came to believe the opposite? Could it be because we live in our comfortable marketing bubble? This blog is written for the bubble but tries hard to make sure it does not aim to reach outside the bubble. Outside the bubble are normal people; outside the bubble are your consumers, the audience you want to pay attention to your messages, engage emotionally, and purchase your products.

Normal people do not read AdAge or MarketingWeek; normal people do not go to Cannes, nor listen to Scott Galloway’s latest Marketing Podcasts. For sure normal people do not read my blog. Normal people do not talk about the virality effect of the Burger King mold ads, as they might not even see it. Normal people might be aware of the Kaepernick Nike’s work, but do not discuss it endlessly as an act of courage from the company. They just see it as another message from the brand they sometimes or more often decide to purchase. We spend our energy to build our brands and our careers at the same time. We want to seduce more people with our messages as well as show our worth to the marketing tribe, and land that new role or promotion. Time is a finite resource, and the more we spend chasing tribe fame, the less we have to focus on those we need to seduce more: our future brand users. Just be aware of that trade-off.

Towards whom are you directing your energy today? The normal people or your bubble?