Great article from Milan Martin. He speaks of the truth. If cultures don’t mesh well, it’s going to be a challenging creative business relationship. Been there and done that.
By Milan Martin
For the past several months, we’ve been in the throes of a pitch. A big pitch. We really wanted to work with this client, so we threw ourselves into it. Multiple creative teams across several offices, customer focus groups, brand videos — the whole nine yards.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about pitching over the years it’s that you absolutely have to show your true colors. With this pitch, we went to great lengths to give these prospective clients a taste of what life would really be like for them if they chose us.
When they visited our agency, did we take them to Chez Francois for lunch? No. We had Shake Shack brought in. Double cheeseburgers, black-and-white shakes and fries. On paper plates. Because that’s us. We’re burger-eating, jeans-wearing, show-you-an-idea-even-if-it’s-not-completely-baked-yet kind of people. And that doesn’t work for everyone.
Misrepresenting your agency culture or your personality in a pitch would be like convincing a beautiful girl to marry you based on your common love for Michael Bolton. You may have won her hand, but you’ve got a lifetime of Michael Bolton ahead of you. And if you weren’t a Michael Bolton fan to begin with, the thrill of “victory” will soon fade with each rendition of “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
On the same token, we asked as much from them. How do you see agencies in the context of your marketing organization? What would your current agency say about you? Talk to us about how you like to work. SHOW us a day in the life!
So throughout the pitch process, we made several visits to this prospect’s corporate headquarters. It was a nice building in a corporate park in suburban New Jersey. At first glance, nothing out of the ordinary. But each time we drove into the parking lot we noticed something strange: large groups of people in business suits walking in gang-style through the parking lot, some engaged in gregarious conversation with each other, some more stoically focused on some unknown mission.
We never really said anything to each other about it, but each of us, we later found out, was trying to imagine where these people were walking to. To us city folk, we can’t imagine not having at least two Starbucks within a half-block walk, so maybe these poor suburbanites were walking to the closest Starbucks, three miles down the road. Or were they on a “Blues Brothers”-style mission from God?
The big pitch day came and went. Two questions rested heavy on our minds. Did we do everything we could to win? And where the hell were all those people in the parking lot going?
Well, we won the business, and in our first, much more casual, immersion meeting with these great, shiny, new clients, they opened the floor to us for questions. At this point, one of our account guys raised his hand with a furrowed brow. “Here we go,” I’m anticipating, “a smart question, maybe about the detail behind their segmentation or their CRM program.”
“So, uh, yeah. Where are all the people in the parking lot walking to?”
Keep in mind, the contract’s not even signed at this point, so for a brief moment in time I was a little worried our first question of this newly christened relationship wasn’t more … strategic.
“Where do you think they’re going?” the head client responded with a grin.
(“Don’t say mission from God. … Don’t say mission from God.”)
After a minute or two of us awkwardly trying to guess, they finally revealed that it was simply a part of their corporate culture. They drive to and from work, have desk jobs and work long hours — this just gets their heart rates up for a few minutes a day.
As luck would have it, just then our new clients realized that this was their team’s scheduled “walk” time. “You want to see our culture, do you?” the head client offered. So off we went. Walking. Around the parking lot. In 91-degree heat.
And you know what? It was an amazing way to get to know each other, cut through the formality established by the oak in the conference room and have a “date” out of school. One last chance — for both parties — to “speak now or forever hold their peace” (or at least for the length of the contact).
Fortunately, we don’t mind getting a little sweaty. But if we were the type of people that were worried about staining our Louis Vuitton shirts or scuffing our Prada shoes (we’re more Gap kind of people), we wouldn’t exactly fit within their culture.
They invited us into their culture. And we fit into theirs the way they fit into ours (they’re big fans of Shake Shack).
Since then, each time we’ve visited, there’s been time allotted on the agenda for a “walk around the parking lot.”
And so far, it’s a very happy client-agency relationship.
Now, you’ll no doubt ask: “If you had won the business and in that pre-contract meeting found out that you had nothing in common and didn’t really like each other, would your agency have walked away from the deal?”
Maybe, maybe not. I guess it would depend on the severity of the culture riff. But what I will say is that if you’re looking to establish deep, long-standing relationships with your clients, sharing your culture, honestly and openly, in the courting process is critical.
Otherwise, you may be in for a whole lot of Michael Bolton. And nobody wants that.
Nice concept. Excellent execution.
By Stacy L. Wood and C. Page Moreau
New high tech products are a way of life for today’s consumers, but many innovative new products face a special hurdle to marketplace success: their complexity makes them difficult for consumers to learn how to use. While consumers may desire the functionality of a particular new product feature—say, the ability to hot-sync one’s mobile phone’s calendar feature to a desk-top computer’s calendar program—learning how to use such a feature may take some learning effort. How do consumers react to the learning curve? The answer often is, “not well.” Consider your own experience with complex products such as computers, software, mobile phones, mp3 players, TiVo, etc.
Likely, our own experience mirrors what has been shown through marketplace research—consumers’ expectations of usage difficulty have caused a significant number to delay purchases, while actual usage difficulty has caused many to return purchased products.
This research investigates the consumer’s new product learning process. What we find is that learning has an influential emotional component. Specifically, learning to use a new product can evoke an emotional response, (independent of the emotions produced by the attributes or benefits of the product itself), and that learning-based emotional response can influence product evaluations over time.
We used two empirical studies to demonstrate this consumer-centric process of innovation. The first study was a laboratory study examining participants’ reactions as they learn how to use an innovative new PDA.
The second was a longitudinal quasi-experiment examining participants’ reactions to a new web-based course management interface throughout the course of a semester. While the frustrations of wrestling with a new product’s instruction manual are familiar, three surprising findings emerge from these studies.
First, positive or negative emotions that arise from the learning process are not related to the products’ benefits (or lack thereof) but are independent assessments of the process of learning. In other words, difficulty in learning to use a product can create negative emotion even if the product is good (i.e., has strong net benefits). For example, a consumer may find a new product feature is both desirable and works well, but still have a difficult time learning how to use that feature. While the product features themselves might generate positive emotions if they are good, the learning process creates distinct emotions that are independent of the more traditional “consumption emotions.”
Second, although these “learning” emotions are process-oriented, they still have a significant and stable influence on product evaluations. In this way, we evaluate a product more positively when it offers a smooth learning process, independent of our assessment of the product’s net benefits. While it may not seem rational (since the pain of learning is only experienced initially and the product’s use may far outlast this initial learning period), these learning emotions can impact more stable overall evaluations of the product. Perhaps, as consumers, we blame a product when it has made us feel stupid and reward a product when it has made us feel smart.
Third, the emotion experienced by the consumer during this learning process is driven primarily by the consumer’s expectations for learning and early use. Thus, a consumer may experience the same challenging learning experience as positive if she anticipated difficulties prior to use or as negative if she did not. This last finding suggests that consumers’ emotional experiences can be influenced by both managers, via the early formation of expectations, and by the consumer’s own product-related expertise. Consumers with expertise in the product category will be differently impacted than novice consumers.
Marketers or salespeople may be tempted to make unreasonable claims about how easy a new product is to use as such claims are likely to increase a consumer’s likelihood of trial. But this research shows that setting unreasonable expectations for ease of use can cause a backlash of negative learning emotions that will impact the consumer’s evaluation of the new product.
Marketers must take care to encourage trial while setting fair expectations. How might this be done? Best Buy’s new Geek Squad program may be one humorous way to remind consumers that it sometimes takes a “special kind of person” (i.e., a nerdy technophile) to set up complex consumer electronics. The mere presence of the Geek Squad offer may serve to set consumers’ expectations so that, if they set up the product on their own, they are happy, but they are neither surprised nor upset if they find that they need to call in the experts.
Given the growing problem of innovation discontinuance (i.e., when consumers reject a new product after purchase or trial), understanding how marketing communications (e.g., product demonstrations, advertising, programs) and consumers’ own expertise interact to influence expectations is important. Especially for quickly evolving electronic and high tech products, product returns are costly both in terms of retail logistics (e.g., lost sales, restocking costs, repackaging and selling used products) and lost opportunities.
If a consumer has successfully made it through the early steps of the innovation adoption process—awareness, evaluation, and purchase—and then rejects the innovation post-trial, he or she may be unlikely to consider other alternative choices or related innovations in the future or, even worse, may be a source of negative word-of-mouth.
Miller Russia has announced the winners of contest called “Create Your Future”. The aim was to choose the best design from 500 submitted works which will be printed on the new collectible cans series this year. From 30 short-listed works just 3 were chosen by online voting.
The authors of the best projects will get $5000, $3000 and $1000 accordingly.
Unfortunately, the design that took the most number of votes is too similar to the first collectible Miller can, that’s why the jury will choose a new design concept from the 30 final designs. And author of that design will also get a cash prize $5000.
We’ve posted about this before, but this strong article by Anne Mai Bertelsen really drives home the the point that it is short-sighted to shift too much of your ad budget to the web if you are looking to reach baby boomers. They just have not adopted these mediums as quickly as younger audiences have.
By Anne Mai Bertelsen.
Earlier this year, Forrester Research released its five year advertising forecast which found that marketers were shifting substantial advertising dollars out of traditional media and into interactive channels such as mobile marketing, display ads, search, social media and email.
Yet, marketers who rely too heavily on interactive channels, at the expense of traditional channels, risk losing out on the lucrative Boomer segment that are avid multi-media consumers. In fact, unlike other age groups, Boomers consume a daily, balanced diet of media from multiple traditional and interactive sources with traditional media — television, radio, and newspapers — providing their daily “squares.”
While the media has been focused on reporting the demise of traditional media, Boomers have largely been ignoring their prognosticators and continue to use these mediums as their “go to” sources for entertainment, news and exposure to brands.
Consider these statistics:
* Boomers spend, on average, 9.5 hours a day on “screen” time activities — e.g., television, computer, mobile phones, video games — with the largest percentage of time spent on television.
* 77% of Boomer’s daily viewing occurs between 7:30 pm and 11 pm, when they are most likely to watch The Discovery Channel, A&E, the Food Network, ESPN and Fox News.
* 76% listen to the radio — more than any other demographic — with half listening during morning drive-time and their programming preferences vary from oldies to country to talk shows.
* Time spent on print (e.g., newspapers, magazines, books) is highest among Boomers, with younger Boomers (45-54) spending on average 30 minutes a day and older Boomers (55-65) spending up to 100 minutes a day.
* In addition to national papers, 57% read their local daily newspaper regularly and 68% read their weekly community paper.
These traditional sources provide the foundation of Boomers’ awareness and knowledge of brands. They augment their daily traditional media consumption with time online, spending on average two hours a day.
But unlike other age groups, Boomers — who according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project now account for 35% of all Americans online — use the Internet much more heavily to research and purchase products and connect with friends and family than their younger peers. Typically, traditional advertising triggered their online search.
And, Boomers are researching products and services online because their brand loyalty is up for grabs; they are not brand loyal. Refuting a popular marketing truism that older consumers become more brand loyal, a 2008 AARP/Focalyst study found that 61% of Boomers felt “it didn’t pay to be brand loyal.”
A more recent Nielsen analysis of brand spending corroborated that finding: in March 2009, Nielsen reported that only a fifth of Boomers were more brand loyal than their younger cohorts.
As those who target Boomers well know, this segment offers an incredibly wealthy opportunity for marketers:
* 78 million+ members
* Estimated $10 trillion in discretionary assets – transferred to them by their dying parents and grandparents
* $2.3 trillion annual average spend on consumer goods and services
But, only if marketers shift some of their advertising dollars back to traditional media, creating an integrated media plan, to engage Boomers.