Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I love what I do.

First of all, I work in a profession that sits at the intersection of business and everything – technology, art, pop culture, entertainment, societal trends, media.  How can you not love that?

I get to solve business problems that help companies grow. I try to never forget why we do what we do.

I get to live each week as a commercial anthropologist.  The inspirations I need are constantly swirling around me, whether I'm on Facebook witnessing nascent online memes, seeing a new special effect in a movie, learning about new technologies in Wired, scanning relevant business trends in the Wall Street Journal, or walking through the grocery store and watching how people shop (creepy, I know).

I get to have weeks like the one I just had – one that reminds me that I actually have multiple careers:  I work in fashion (reviewing fashion trends for Charming Charlie); spirits (digging for insights for SKYY on why women love flavored vodkas);  fine jewelry (working with teams to define the true meaning of "love at first sight" for Tacori); travel (discussing positioning for Cunard Cruises); and bottled water (exploring angles on health and wellness for Dasani).

I get to engage in conversations about "what's next" – exploring new ways to link social media to retail; vetting new applications of interactive technologies in retail stores; investigating how Millennials value corporate social responsibility.

I get to inspire the next generation of talent, whether doing one-on-one training or preparing for next week's talk at Chapman University.

Most of all, and this has always been true, I get to work with really interesting, smart, curious and fun professionals.

Thirty years on, I love what I do.  This week was just another one of those weeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What marketers can learn from the election.

There's little doubt that the line separating politics from marketing is fading with each campaign.  The purpose of this post is not to comment on that dynamic, nor to offer commentary on the recent presidential election.  Rather, it is to examine the aftermath of this campaign and see what lessons marketers can learn from these increasingly sophisticated and well-funded political campaigns.

Here are three simple questions a marketer can ask before launching a major new campaign:

Are you aligning your brand with emerging demographic trends?  Chances are your customer base looks nothing like you – it is increasingly multicultural; it must appeal to a new generation of well-educated and empowered women; it is consumed in gay and lesbian homes.  This doesn't suggest that a marketer should abandon its core customer group.  What this means is that we should stop treating "diverse" audiences as secondary or tertiary targets and make sure these customers are well represented in the brand's main campaigns and media strategies.

Are you using analytics to understand the science of persuasion?  Gut feel doesn't cut it nine out of ten times.  We live in a world of facts and analytics.  Use data to understand how consumers behave.  The Obama campaign team built a massive predictive analytics database to guide media selection, direct mail offers and advertising messaging.  Setting aside political leanings, this is precision marketing at its best.

Is the brand idea built on clearly defined brand equity?  Consumers, like voters, seek clarity.  This is not likely to change any time soon.  In fact, given the 24/7 media overload, clarity is more important than ever.  Obama's campaign organized all of its messaging within a simple one-word brand equity:  Forward.  It was clear and positive.