How Can You Make Your CFO Happy?

An unspoken rule of many corporations is that the CFO doesn’t get along with the CMO. The Finance and Marketing functions, while working for the same common corporate growth goal, are staffed with different personality types that inevitably get to clash. A well-oiled corporation is one in which marketers and finance people slowly get in sync. But how can a marketer make a CFO happy? Here are three ways of answering that puzzle. I recently discovered at Mars the machine is oiled precisely.

Show them the numbers in a new light. Finance people are in love with their numbers. They collect them, control them and know them by heart. But for Finance, in general, a number is just a way to check progress against a target. First, show them you master your ROI numbers and then you have the permission for more. Show them how, for marketers, a number could be a recognition of a real advantage in the marketplace, a deeper connection with a large number of consumers or permission to be bolder in your future communication strategy. Tell a story! Do your job!

Show them the fantastic progress in how we decide. Don’t underestimate the level of awareness someone from Finance has on what advertising looks like in 2020. Yes, their kids might be playing with TikTok, or themselves they might use Instagram, but you need to remind them what marketing looks like today. We focus away from good old TV and Print magazines into a multi-media world that is consumer-relevant and incredibly diverse. Illustrate the transformations: show them how you understand deep consumer behaviors better by using innovative technology, show them how people consume media today and demonstrate your expertise in the advertising ecosystem. 

Focus on their feelings. At the end of the day, we are all emotional beings. Take them on a journey away from the numbers, into a world of experience. Play a song, show an emotional ad, what moves consumers – should move a colleague too. Make them experience your brands in a similar way your consumers are, bring that experience to the room. Don’t be surprised when they’ll look differently at the numbers going forward.

Photo by Chronis Yan on Unsplash

In the World of Brands, David Rarely Beats Goliath.

This week I joined a Mark Ritson webinar to hear his words of wisdom punctuated at every second sentence by obscenities. Popcorn time! You always learn something new from Mark, and my highlight this time was his point on the unfair advantage brand size offers to win the game of marketing. Music to my ears.

We read a lot how new entrants in a category are continually disrupting the old guys; they are stealing market share and are the talk of the “marketing press”. But how many small players manage to grow big? What if there is a survivorship bias here? What if for every small brand that makes it, 29 brands fail to become big? What if, similar to Venture Capital investments, bidding on small brands is a high return low probability event. We often think of media investment as a fixed percentage of brand sales. And this is where we might be wrong.

The less you spend, the less people you will reach, the less sales you will drive, and the less your brand will grow. Why do we think that magically small brands have a more natural path to growth? They don’t; there is one single specific path to build brands: invest in them. I often see huge expectations and tiny budgets. In Mark’s words, identifying when we mismatch our growth ambitions with our budget allocation, should be a checkpoint for every marketer. And yes, a big brand will always have a more comfortable ride, it will have the scale to generate the return you want, it will have the size to invest in mass media and will most likely, win.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Attention Is the Hottest Trend in Marketinglandia

Attention is the hottest Marketing topic in 2020, and it symbolises a return to focusing on people. From virtual Cannes fireside-chats to Zoom conferences and white papers, everybody talks about the Attention Economy. How Attention will save the murky digital ecosystem or how much better our marketer lives will be when we will focus on Attention as a trading KPI. I am guilty of preaching this too. Yet, in hindsight, there is little new about the concept of Attention. It has always been the first response every marketer desired, ever since Don Draper worked on Lucky Strike. The only novel insight is that Attention to advertising is seriously fading, and that’s bad. And we love talking about future apocalyptic crises (climate change anyone?).

I am aware your Attention to reading this post is fading word by word. We no longer focus on anything and skip from one thing to another. Some estimates put between 4.000 and 5.000 the number of brand messages an average American sees in a single day. Hard to believe, but just while I am writing this sentence, I can see the following brand logos: Logi, Dell, Apple, Sonos and Philips and that’s without even changing my field of vision. But how many brands or messages get noticed? We successfully trained ourselves to ignore, most of what we read or see. How can we expect someone to pay Attention to our advertising? We know Attention is scarce, and that’s why it becomes fascinating to explore – sort of like climate change. We have very few clues about why some ideas or messages spark Attention; we are masters at losing Attention.

I believe in focusing on Attention because, for the first time in years, we enjoy talking about consumers behaviour. The hot topic is not technology (like Voice or AR), a platform (like TikTok or Snap) or a format (Stories or Lenses). We are debating about People behaviours, listening to how they react and how can we adapt our media and content strategies to their needs. That’s fresh, and that’s why I am bullish on Attention.

Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Halo Effects the Holy Grail of Marketing

One of the holy grails of marketing is our desire to manipulate halo effects for advantage. But what is a halo effect? Like Wikipedia, the source of all truths in the 21st century, says, it is the tendency for positive impressions of a person, company, brand or product in one area to influence one’s opinion or feelings in other areas positively. It stretches beyond marketing, in the field of psychology and religion, where apparently the term has its roots.

In advertising, the halo effect is the expectation of an set of attributes known in one field to influence consumer opinion and behavior in another area. Halo effects are the reason why we invest our budgets in celebrities advertising and famous songs soundtracks, or even why we decide to sponsor sporting events despite a consistent negative return on our investment (more on that in a future post).

One of the advantages of having precise measurements of advertising sales impact at Mars is our ability to prove that halo effects exist and have an impact at the point of purchase. Your most recognized product in the brand range will, in case of a great advertising campaign, halo into the less known products – i.e. drive more sales of the products you don’t explicitly advertise. The summit of halo effects is total category halo. Incredibly challenging to execute and plan for, but delivering an excellent kick for multiple brands in the category. The more your brand commands the category, the larger the benefit you are reaping.

As with every other advertising trick, there is no magic bullet. Advertising is a mix of art and science. However, a good recipe of potential success when desiring halo impact is to develop a highly effective advertising campaign. I’ve never seen an ineffective ad create a halo.

When I say George Clooney, which brand comes to mind first?

Augmented Reality – How Brands Move Past the Gimmick Element?

Show me marketer that wasn’t marketed VR and AR as the next best thing since bread came sliced. Seeing new technologies before they are mainstream is one of the many reasons I love my job. AR was one of those technologies 5 years ago, but we had little knowledge of what to do with it. The world has changed, thanks to Snap or Instagram. But do marketers see AR as more than just a gimmick? What do you think?

I was a non-believer in the power of AR or VR until one of our brands built a campaign that answered a current consumer insight: Dogs don’t enjoy selfies, as much as humans are obsessed with front-facing camera techniques. How can you solve this with technology? Pedigree did it nicely, creating a leave-behind item that functions as an enabler for technology to do its magic better.

But we are not alone, this month Gucci showed us that AR can be used on other body parts than just your face. All this to sell 500$ sneakers. Will it work?

Jewelry is another category where AR can do magic. In our social distancing times, AR helps by replacing the awkward masked in-store interactions or the never-ending trials with an experience that you can have at home. I assume the technology works even better on fingers compared to faces.

And last but not least, IKEA shows us how to model our homes, using AR. Their branded app allows anyone to browse unlimited color options and placements for that sofa or chair you always wanted next to your plant.

All those ideas have 3 big benefits:

  • minimize the path to purchase,
  • solve a real problem (trial).
  • create a “coolness” factor for your brand

What’s not to like?

How can you use AR to enhance your brand experience this year?