10 May 2014

Tanzania: The Year of Fearlessness

SANDY from Y&R Group introduced us to the concept of 'tensity' in brands and why that is the most exciting new concept in what separates the great brands from the average. We continue her article from last week.

THESE days the ways a brand can connect with the consumer are just incredible. It's exciting! It makes us work harder and faster as marketers to ensure that we're available to people on the appropriate channels during those crucial, fleeting moments when they're willing to engage. Consumers can choose to engage or not - a decision they make in a heartbeat.

Years ago, if someone wanted to buy a car, they'd take six months to decide, visiting five different dealerships, test-driving several vehicles and talking to friends and parents. Today, people bypass a lot of that because they can do their research online at home and make a decision much more quickly.

They peruse automakers' websites, read reviews on car blogs and play with car customization tools to find the perfect paint colour. They learn everything they need and often even make a purchase decision before setting foot in a dealership.

The scary part for marketers is that consumers can also make a decision not to buy a car just as quickly. As a marketer, you have to be working at the same pace as your potential customers, constantly getting fresh, relevant information in front of them.

You also have to be fearless about your media mix. It's no longer just about traditional versus digital advertising. To me, that's ridiculous.

Brands need to be daring and experimental in their approach. And if they want to respond to the faster pace of decision making with faster information delivery, they need to be fearless in digital channels, even if they don't have as much experience there.

Incorporate the audience We work so hard to ensure that clients' brands are manicured, perfectly presented and shiny, but that doesn't really work, does it? We push our idealized version of the brand, but our opinion doesn't matter as much as the consumers' opinions, which can be developed in a thousand ways.

They'll share them with their network, and that impacts brand perceptions more than anything you or I could say. One of my clients, Crystal Cruise, is doing some really neat stuff with user-generated marketing. It's fearless enough to give passengers the ability to comment on the brand and really build it.

After all, people trust their friends' experiences more than they trust advertisements. Letting customers comment and post videos, reviews and photos requires fearlessness, especially when allowing the negative reviews to co-exist alongside the positive ones.

More and more travel brands are taking this step, but are they doing it enough? I don't think so. I think marketers are still afraid to have a bit of tension in their brands and to have a bit of stretch in terms of the depth of character and personality.

Bring data into the game... earlier When we think of fearless advertisers, it's easy to imagine archetypal creative directors who boldly throw out the data and trust their gut. But I think it's much more fearless to gather as much data as possible to inform and inspire strategy and creative earlier on.

Many clients pour money into measuring how their work performs, but they're using the metrics too late. It's incredibly helpful to use that information sooner in the process, to inform the business objectives and challenges.

If you put some of that money into the front end of the campaign, you can use that data differently to figure out where you're going instead of where you've been.

And then, once a campaign is live, continue gathering as much data as possible to figure out how to fix what's broken, and emphasize the campaign elements that are clicking with people. As I said before, adopting an attitude of fearlessness isn't easy.

We're afraid of making mistakes because there is so much at stake, like our client relationships, the brand's perception and even our own jobs. And we will inevitably make mistakes - but when a fearless brand does, it will go back, retest and try new things.

Our lives are messy, and how we form our perceptions of brands is also messy. The sheer number of available options for brands - digital, social, content and search, along with all the more traditional brand channels - can be daunting.

As marketers, we can respond to the messiness and complexity by getting defensive and picking a few safe-andsimple marketing channels and talking points. Or we can go the other way and develop the depth of character, tensity and quick pace that will keep people interested.

After all, some consumers might just fall in love with that fascinating dinner companion on the right.

Sandy Thompson is the global planning director at Young&Rubicam Group r thoughts with us: #HotwireOnBrands, #BinnsOnBrands, @kabelobinns, www.hotwireprc. com, FB HotwirePRC,

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