Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business? Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.
In this episode we talk: TREES. A single acorn contains the mighty oak, depends on a diverse forest ecosystem for distribution, and if the rate at which trees are planted, is slower than the rate at which you cut them down, then trouble starts.
ONE – Like tiny acorns contain all the information required to grow a forest of full blown oaks, a marketing campaign should 1) seek to condense required brand messaging into small, distinct, easy to ingest packages, that are 2) easily replicable, dropped by the thousands, and spread by a variety of category buyers in the audience, 3) with the knowledge that without broadcast awareness, singular behaviors will never take root.
TWO – Like a tree can become a forest, effective marketing strategy takes a while to grow business into self-sustaining cycles.
And if the rate at which you plant the long term strategy seeds for new business, outpaces the rate at which you seek short term rewards, (i.e. cutting down trees for fire) progress will be unattainable.
THREE – Like an interdependent collection of diverse trees & shrubs, ensures holistic health and progress for an entire forest ecosystem, marketing strategies must be diverse in tactics/methods/applications/settings, because business development that relies on a single cash crop is waiting for famine.
Looking for a better way to describe and define marketing to clients, or for your business?
Well then, step into the Marketing Metaphorest w/ Jake Sanders! The POSMarketer, musician, audio illustrator, and content strategist mixes metaphors & marketing science, to demystify this important business development function.
In this episode we talk: WATER. Water is everywhere, but it’s quality (drinking water vs salt) and conditions it exists in (ice, clouds, liquid), can vary greatly, without ever changing it’s substance.
How else does marketing relate to water?
Marketing is like WATER in a few different ways
Just like rivers and oceans were the connective tissue for thriving port-towns throughout history, developing business effectively through marketing, depends upon understanding and viewing your audience through the natural pathways that brought them to the marketplace, not just as consumers in a decision vacuum.
Too many marketers think about their product only in context of it’s relationship to their buyer, but never consider the things outside of that relationship, behaviors in the buyer’s busy life and brain, which impact a brands chance of sticking out.
When you understand the tides & behaviors of your marketplace, research the rivers your buyer crosses everyday, you create more effective, resonant marketing.
To learn more about taking a behavioral approach to marketing & advertising, I recommend “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton Christensen and CO. and “The Advertised Mind” by the brilliant Erik DuPlessis.
The quality of water in the river, leading up to a spring, isn’t equal to the water you’d drink from it – and yet, both types of water, potable and non-potable, are necessary for survival.
In this metaphor, the spring is a marketing source for clear, quality sales, and the river is a pathway that ensures traffic. Business owners need to cultivate marketing activities which secure traffic as well as leads, and should respect the differences in quality.
Like water, marketing effectiveness fills the strategic vessel you pour it into. You could be under a torrent of leads, but if you only have a teacup commitment to marketing strategy, you’ll be sipping progress, when you could be chugging it.
Like water, effective marketing strategy needs to be able to change and adapt, based on environmental conditions. Marketing should be lithe enough, and supported by a strong enough brand, to shift easily through varying mediums, lengths, and tone.
Like water can become ice, liquid and vapor, while remaining water, marketing must be able to phase shift through mediums and messaging, without sacrificing brand ethos.
From email to billboards, from one-line-copy to 3,000 word white papers, and ranging in tone from boardroom-buzzwords to borderline bawdy, the execution of your marketing strategy needs to contain an element of adaptability to survive, and thrive, as the environment of your marketplace changes.
Interested to learn more about this metaphor, want to pile on your own version, or find ways to apply it all in your business? Hit me up on the POSblog, follow me on social, and until next time – I’ll see you on the internet!
In this episode we talk: NUTRITION. Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of a balance of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands, while also increasing brand longevity.
Marketing is Nutrition – Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands while increasing brand longevity.
It seems like every book available on marketing today promises a bunch, vows to be different & useful, but then delivers little in the way of truly unique & applicable advice.
Most marketing books are tactical in nature, focusing on segments, specific channels, drilling into smaller and smaller arenas of activity, until the expertise acquired from the book is only applicable under the tightest environmental conditions….. I am now an expert in demand generation from specialized microsite SnapChat retargeting campaigns for 30-34 year old art school graduates concerned about credit liquidity, living in/around Baltimore with cat allergies.
While we are awash in advice on tactics, marketers are SUPER THIRSTY for strategic advice on how to properly employ such activities.
That’s why Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” kicks every other marketing book in the shins.
Let’s jump right in with this graphic, I’ll explain Byron’s Old/New World vision as far as I can, but in the end, you have to read this book to feel it’s healing waters quench your parched marketing soul.
The book starts off like a goddamn birthday party for a creative like me – “Marketing is a creative profession and one of the main jobs is to get noticed!” — That sounds like my entire schooling history and explains why I was in trouble a lot as a kid!
Supported by mountains of evidence from the work of Ehrenberg-Bass and the IPA, Sharp details the benefits of marketing from a “new world” perspective, that is juxtaposed against an “old world,” Kotlerian (Philip Kotler) view of the profession.
The “old world” view of marketing, which many hold up as the current paragon of the profession, emphasizes segmentation, brand loyalty, and persuasion as the hallmarks of good marketing & advertising. No qualms there, right?
Zero in on loyal brand audiences who are viewing your ads in a rational capacity, teach them the messages, convince them of the uniqueness, and show them you are different and create conversations and then they will crave your marketing!
Adding technology to this only makes sense; digital ads and the concomitant surveilling opportunities, social ad stacks, A thru G intention testing capabilities, dashboards aplenty – find the exact people, at the exact location, at the exact moment, serve them the quantum slice of advertising that fits their unique persona, funnel them in, measure it all…now we’re marketing!
Sharp sees things a little differently in the “new world”….
You advertise in a crowded world and very few people pay attention to messaging, indeed, the large portion of a consumer’s purchase decision is actively ignoring a vast majority of labels to find a small set of recognizable and salient brands to make a choice from.
So the good news here – no one truly gives a shit about your UVP, USP, merits and benefits – not because these things aren’t there or meaningful to you, but because consumers just don’t even know your brand exists in the first place!
The goal of advertising is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product.
Marketers build brands with advertising by getting noticed, and not just to brand loyalists, but to everyone in the category because, there is no such thing as 100% brand love.
100% loyalty is a dumb thing to quest for in marketing because consumers are brand agnostic, and metrics-wise, focusing on a smaller slice of any market segment, no matter how loyal, caps your potential for actual growth. (This is so painfully eloquent it hurts)
Huge successful brands like Coke & Dove – the majority of their buyers are not Brand Loyalists that hoard these precious brands in their underground bunkers.
No, the goal in big brand ad campaigns is to rope in Ultra-Light buyers, because that is the overwhelming majority of the brand buyers.
Meaning, 50% of all people who buy Coke, in one year, buy it once or twice.
A whopping 87% of all Dove buyers bought the brand only a few times…in five years. Take a look from this chart from “Eat Your Greens” –
That 20+ bump on the far right are the “loyal purchasers,” the Valhalla for most modern marketing strategies. And the huge bars to the left are brand buyers who bought Dove once, and the shaded bar is people who knew the brand, but did not buy it.
Look at the potential for growth here – where could it possibly come from?
Does brand growth mean getting more & more of that small bump on the right, or, does it happen by capturing a few of the category buyers with distinct, branded, salient and broad reaching marketing campaigns?
Pareto’s Law is bullshit, for the most part….
Your customers are not unique, they are your competitor’s customers.
Segmentation isn’t reflected in buyer behavior
Branding lasts – differentiation doesn’t
I could keep going but at some point you’re gonna have to cough up the money and BUY THIS BOOK!
This book is amazing for several reasons, but the most profound to me is this seemingly old school advertising advice somehow feels new.
As marketing interfaces with digital culture, we’ve become so entranced by behaviors, segments, and finding ways to hack into psychological consumer models, that we’ve left the heavy, brand lifting activity behind us in favor of whisper-thin bullshit tech fixes that have zero (or negative) consequences for the companies we work for. And so, the average lifespan for a CMO is dwindling down because from them upwards, no one has a firm grasp on what the marketing department ACTUALLY DOES IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Any other profession would see people up in arms, taking to the streets, demanding that we save our industry and jobs, hitting the books and finding answers – but in marketing & advertising today, the highest-rewarded minds are working on CTRs, crowd-sourcing taglines for personas, making apps that are more addictive than the last; all focused on creating smaller and smaller pools of loyalty in an ever-expanding desert of consumer interest.
A time-traveling, genre-spanning, thought-leading comedy musical podcast experience about marketing, sales, and ROI, that’s sure to enchant anyone in business that’s ever asked, “RO-Why are we doing this?”
“If you’re living life by the measurements, you’ll never do something for the hell of it!”
A musical audio drama, in which, the leadership staff of a fictitious company, after a journey of transformation, discover that investing in marketing the business isn’t about ROI, it’s about RO-Why.
The question business leaders should ask in regards to marketing & ROI is not “what will we get out of marketing,” but “why are we even doing this?”
Beyond just getting more leads & business, why choose marketing?
The WHAT of marketing, the tactics & measurements of marketing can be mishandled, misinterpreted, crammed into square holes; you want ROI, I can get you ROI.
The WHY of marketing, the strategy, is about more than a return on investments, it’s about the purpose for being in your brand’s marketplace. RO-Why.
With a marketing strategy strongly focused on WHY, the tactics, expectations, and measurements of marketing are aligned, so the way forward becomes clearly defined.
So when it comes to marketing, it’s RO-Why, before ROI. Or else, you endlessly chase more metrics that prove more things that are disconnected from the value you create and offer in your marketplace.
“Time and budget are tight for this project. You’re creative, you’ll think of something. What we’re looking for Jake, is ‘cheap genius.'” – My Life
As a creative person, my ability to think fast and make connections has helped advance my career, propelled me from gig to gig. Along the way I’ve been haunted by the spectre of MacGyver, the resource-strapped (read; alluringly cheap) genius of 90s American TV, because I think he personifies a few things wrong with marketing and business.
Think about this…
Of the first companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 in 1955, only 53 held a place on the list in 2018 (-89.3% success rate)
A business culture obsessed with risk and cost management, rife with rampant short-termism and shortening CMO lifecycles
The ‘gig’ economy filled with entrepreneurial DIY-life-coaches-gurus-hackers
The belief that the next big platform or IPO or genius idea will come like it always does, from a random, scrappy teenager’s garage;
Mix it all together and it’s plain to see, the belief that MacGyver-like-business-saving genius is cheap, widely available, and flourishes during to-the-wire timelines, is a bad brew for marketing and business to be sipping on.
I’ll first explain who MacGyver is, unpack what I’m calling The Cheap Genius Theory, and then we’ll explore ways to define and disrupt this damaging trend.
Who is MacGyver?
A bent paper clip can defuse a ballistic missile. A potato and some cigarettes are all you need to thwart a high-tech prison’s security system. Chewing gum alone can defeat an entire militia.
These aren’t just thought-exercises, these seemingly implausible scenarios all played out during the 80-90’s TV action/drama MacGyver.
There are MacGyver fansites dedicated to celebrating the genius of MacGyver, featuring full breakdowns of all the problems he’s applied his time-strapped, cost-effective, MacGyver-ness to, in all seven seasons on CBS from 85′ – 92′.
While MacGyver seems to portray creativity very favorably, it’s my belief that MacGyver perfectly personifies the perceptual problems around what creativity and “cheap genius” is, where it comes from, what resources it needs, what it’s worth, and how creative ideas can be best applied in business and life.
The Cheap Genius Theory (CGT) explains why business leaders approaches problem solving, creativity, advertising, and marketing the way they do – which is hoping MacGyver shows up, or worse, thinking they’ll pull a MacGyver and cut the right wire once the countdown on the bomb begins.
There are five concepts that add up to The Cheap Genius Theory….
HUMANS ARE CHEAP
Although a premium option exists for almost every good or service, (the best house/car/President, the best advice, the best hummus!) humans will almost always choose the least-crappy, less-likely-to-fail option. Not the worst, but the least worst.
It’s called ‘satisficing’ and it’s an irrefutable part of human behavior, it’s based on strong empirical data, and it’s the best explanation around for why people make decisions that don’t make sense in the long run.
Sure we could defuse the bomb a traditional way, but let’s try this paperclip first.
GIVEN RESOURCES, “EVERYONE IS CREATIVE”
With so many brainstorms and Post-It Notes and examples of startups with humble-and-hooded-sweatshirted beginnings, genius ideas spawned from simple creative thinking are seemingly everywhere.
That creativity is widely available changes the way creativity is incentivized or incorporated into strategic thinking.
If we solved the last emergent problem cheaply, in a tight timeline, with a potato, then why budget in experts, time, or resources this bomb around?
If MacGyver can’t disarm the bomb in time, after this next brainstorm, I bet Glen from Accounting might be able to pull it off.
CREATIVITY LOVES SPONTANEITY
The myth that creativity is bolt out of the blue stuff and must always arise spontaneously is pernicious outside of the creative community.
There’s a belief out there, no thanks to MacGyver and college term paper deadlines, that creativity is best catalyzed by time and resource constraints, and it’s usually only when your cognition is pushed to the wire do the explosively successful results take place.
The true skill to develop in creativity is not time-constrained improv, but strengthening the mental muscles that connect threads between disparate channels of thought.
The results of creativity may be experienced and sharpened most thrillingly at the drop of a hat, but the skill that connects creative conclusions takes a long time to strengthen for ideation at a rapid pace to take place.
So in training for creativity it isn’t about developing quicker reaction times, but rather increasing mental flexibility in making farflung connections between wide swaths of human experience, accrued knowledge, cultural/social consciousness, and expressing it all through the chosen medium.
Just because someone HAS defused a bomb with a shoe in under 30 seconds, doesn’t mean that’s the most effective way to train for defusing a bomb.
CREATIVITY ISN’T ACTION OR OUTPUT – ITS CONNECTION
Creativity is an observation made in the minds of those that connect a creative action to genius, not in the action itself.
Creativity is judged not by the act, but by the audience, the norms it upsets, the expectations it disrupts – cheap genius is only good when someone is there to see it as genius, otherwise it’s just cheap.
CGT enthusiasts wrongly think the purpose of creativity is to solely manifest actionable ideas, missing the point that the true measure of a creative idea is the interpretation and accepting ingestion of it by the target audience, not just in the idea itself.
REAL CREATIVITY IS SOMETHING WE’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE
Creativity is not a groundbreaking shattering of molds, but the art of combining recognizable molds in unexpected ways.
Something that had never been seen or experienced before would not strike a familiar chord in our souls, and so, it would just seem chaotic or out-there. You’ve heard Coltrane’s SunShip, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not down, it’s a tough hang.
The Cheap Genius Theory highlights the skillful usage of a paper clip to defuse a missile, overshadowing the true skill/ability in need of nurturing praise in creativity, which is a deep understanding of pre-existing concepts, in this case metallurgy and electricity, and how to quickly combine and apply them in novel ways/situations.
Ingenuity and spontaneous invention is only possible on the shoulders, brains, backs, thoughts, legends, laws, and expectation of the rules that have come before.
You can only cleverly manipulate the law of gravity once you understand the underlying concepts and expectations, concepts that Newton teased around hundreds of years before your trick of cheap ingenuity came to be.
You can defuse the bomb with gum and its wrapper because you know about microchips, friction, the chemical properties of saliva, and the electrical conductivity of metallic substances. Without Galvani, Lavoisier, Curie, Jack Kilby, Wrigley, the ancient Aztecs that found chicle – all of that cheap genius wouldn’t be accessible.
Why this is bad, and what to do about it
Since creative thought is widely available, potentially cheap, and the product of chaotic spontaneity, businesses don’t plan, budget, or schedule for it, let alone reserve creativity a seat at the strategic table.
Along with cheapening the importance of creativity and devaluing it’s place in business development plans, The Cheap Genius Theory’s most destructive influence is on strategy.
But rather than strategically approaching changes to their business model, or solving business problems with creativity in the front end, CEOs are relying on MacGyver’s to save the business as is, they’re cutting costs where they can, and focusing their marketing campaigns on higher conversions with shorter observational windows.
Whether it’s Byron Sharp, Binet & Field, Mark Ritson, Rory Sutherland, or any of the other great minds in marketing today, the smartest people in the room agree, there is a rampant disease of short-termism with drastic side-effects on strategic, creative, long-term thinking in businesses today.
I think there needs to be a perceptual shift in the way we view creativity, and it starts by admitting the truth of The Cheap Genius Theory, and realizing our business development strategies are not strategies at all, but rather a string of implausible MacGyver-like fixes.
We have to admit CGT throws off our sense of how creative thought is best curated, generated, and applied to researching business problems. And we have to change the way we apply creative thinking to the research and diagnosis of solutions that aim to fix the business problems our companies face over time in a competitive marketplace.
Oh, hi marketing.
And then, once we understand creativity, I think we need to dial it up!
Rather than relying on more MacGyvers to show up, I’d like to see creativity given it’s proper respect, timeframe, and proving grounds to demonstrate it’s ability to guide business development strategy. Businesses should curate a place of deep thought and research, develop the atmosphere of a mental gym that strengthens the connective and creative muscles in your team to saturate themselves in your most pressing problems to come up with slow-cooked, ingeniously-marinated marketing solutions that fall off the bone. (…who’s hungry?)
Without exercising both the fast and slow twitch muscles of creativity, research and execution, the impact of continual cheap genius fixes, no matter how ingenious, will yield ever-diminishing returns.
No one is arguing that resourceful creativity isn’t important to business development, but rather than utilizing creativity to strategically adapt our business models and marketing plans, we’re praising/seeking/utilizing versions of ‘genius’ that imprison us, and keep us mucking about with the same type of short-term fixes and cost-effective disarming methods, for a bomb that’s killed 89% of the last MacGyver-dependent businesses.
Here’s to all my cheap geniuses and business owners the world over;
In marketing and advertising the main question for business owners is always – will any of this stuff lead to sales or grow the brand?
It’s a fantastically mysterious question that still stalks the woodlands of business development today.
Many report that advertising is working really well, while at the same time, even more report that they’ve wasted thousands of dollars on ad campaigns that never moved the needle.
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest brands still run too-huge campaigns, and run the same ad campaigns and brand assets for decades, and invest in new mediums with seeming success; why would they continue to advertise and invest in marketing, if it doesn’t work?
And so we arrive at our departure point for this book report, Les Binet & Peter Field’s
“The Long and Short Of It; Building Short & Long-Term Marketing Strategies”
Published in 2013 by the IPA, The Long and Short Of It takes research and analysis of 996 marketing case studies from over 700 brands in 83 different categories, and looks at actual business outcomes based on short-term and long-term performance metrics, all pointing to one conclusion – brands that balance and harmonize short term sales activation with long term brand growth are better positioned for marketplace dominance.
The report is cut into three sections that demonstrate how balancing the long and short term in three key areas; Strategy, Channels, and Metrics, is essential to creating lasting brands and maximizing profits. I’ll provide a brief overview and thoughts on these sections, but really – you need to go pick this report up.
Balancing the Strategy
The most striking and simple conclusion that best encapsulates the whole vibe of this report is this short sentence – “Short-term metrics will not create long term brands.”
“The way in which long-term effects sales is different than short. Although long-term brand branding produces some short-term sales activation, short-term sales will never produce long-term success. Long-term growth is not a compounding collection of small, short-term effects.”
Sales increasing is obviously the main lifesource metric for marketing departments. But as you can see in the graph above, without a strong Brand Building aspect to your marketing strategy, overtime, Sales Activation campaigns will have a limited impact on Sales Uplift.
Binet & Field have also discovered that other measurements (Profit, Market Share, Penetration, Loyalty, Price Sensitivity) can be deeply influenced and impacted by strong Brand Building campaigns that are paired with a Sales Activation component.
Based on their data, Binet & Field believe that a marketing strategy that mixes 60% Brand & 40% Sales is a good place to start from.
This is not an either-or scenario, and this ‘balance’ is not a hard and fast rule.
Depending on competition and other factors, the blend may have to be aggressive on sales to quench overhead demands, but then again the brands that are favoring short over long have to realize at some point, that ain’t gonna get you to where you need to go.
Direct Response or Sales Activation advertising, no matter how great, will not build brand salience in the minds of consumers.
So what type of marketing activity qualifies as short-term Sales Activation or long-term Brand Building?
The main point of this section is to outline the differences between short and long, and how the true path forward is creating more marketing strategies and campaigns that consider a healthy balance between Sales Activation and Brand Building.
Balancing the Channels
Now that we appreciate the necessity of a marketing strategy that balances Sales and Brand; what do we do with all this?
The authors have given us a quick guide on choosing distribution channels for the messaging, based on the objective.
Activation Channels – Online, Search, Classifieds, Direct Marketing
Once again, these are not prescriptive, just suggestions from people who have been providing the best research and analytical thought in advertising since 1917.
Formed from a well-balanced marketing strategy, the most successful advertising campaigns in the study mix the distinct advantages of each of Brand and Activation channels to reach their audience for the greatest impact.
The example provided in the study of a McDonald’s ad campaign in the UK is a great example of blending the short term and long term metrics and tactics;
This was a massively successful campaign because it blends Sales Activation and Brand Growth.
McDonald’s is focused on Sales by enticing customers to visit the store with a giveaway, (not a price reduction which is harmful) and to try new recipes for sandwiches.
And on the Brand Growth front, McDonald’s chose to focus the media buys on highlighting its ethical sourcing of it’s ingredients, and the dependability of its classic menu options.
This campaign works because it’s focused on broader and bigger effects, and thusly, aimed at a larger addressable audience. You’re not just speaking to loyalists in advertising, you’re trying to get everyone in the category to notice you.
Indeed, this is a massively important finding from this report; sales activation activities like advertising campaigns SHOULD NOT be targeted solely to existing customers. To grow your brand and find new customers, you have to target all buyers in the category with your messaging.
So the real genius is creating campaigns that speak to both existing customers and long-term prospects that may not be familiar with your brand.
The effectiveness of broad-reaching campaigns aimed at both new & existing customers is dramatically greater than those targeting either type of customer alone.
Balancing the Metrics
So the win-win situation according to this report are strategies that balance long and short term, but how does one measure long term performance metrics?
Binet & Field do not disappoint in this department. Along with Share Of Voice (market share plus industry benchmarks) and other insightful measurements like Price Elasticity (the ability to raise prices without losing customers) there are several ways to measure marketing performance other than just straight Sales and Profit.
And even more, there are the ways these metrics can play out over time, and how effective they can be in growing a brand. This scorecard for short term and long term effectiveness from the report has a collection of various data points that can guide strategy and planning and business development initiatives.
Get the report. Dig into marketing strategies and ad campaigns that build brands AND activate sales, and know that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all world. Marketers need to build interesting brands with creative and awesome ads based on an awesomer understanding of the business problems we need to solve.
As marketers focus on making money, there should be a momentary pause to realize that we can and do make so much more than money.
So let’s make marketing strategies that kick ass, get noticed, and achieve business goals and build legacy brands. If not now, when?
Once in a while, you read a book that forces you to question your existence.
Well, for anyone who has struggled marketing or advertising a company/product/service, the overflowing bounty of brilliant, evidence-based marketing essays in “Eat Your Greens” by APG London, edited by Wiemer Snijders, is such a book.
First, let’s talk about the problems marketing & advertising are facing….
Marketing and advertising are trapped in a paradox. Wanting to outpace competitors while growing a brand, but needing to keep the lights on, companies typically divert marketing resources away from long-term strategies, in favor of short-term results.
Also, from tactics to communication channels to tech-laden dashboards, there seems to be a million ways to employ, and seemingly measure, marketing & advertising for companies these days.
So, unattached to any actual strategy, complication, quick-hits, and ceaseless action are the guiding forces in advertising & marketing today.
“Eat Your Greens” explains that the quest for short-term gains through tactics, knee-caps any potential to grow and establish a brand. While smaller advertising campaigns create spikes in revenue, indeed they appear successful at the moment, brand building marketing activities, which can ensure the long term sales growth of the company, are completely ignored.
This ‘short-termism,’ which happens to be rampant across all industries, has been studied at length by the foremost minds in marketing. In their book “The Long & Short of It,” Binet & Field illustrate this concept, very simply, in the graph below…
So what’s the answer?
How do we get back to building brands through marketing? How do we get off our addiction to sugary short-termism? The answer is; EAT YOUR GREENS!
With the caveat that all essays in the book needed to be supported by evidence, editor Wiemer Snijders has cobbled together an amazing and inspirational chorus of voices, all dedicated to bringing healthful, brand-growing marketing advice to an industry that’s made itself sick from chasing clicks.
I’ll briefly share a few of my favorite moments from the book below, but suffice it to say, if you’ve been feeling like your marketing and advertising need to make a change, go on a diet, work out, get stronger – you owe it to yourself to “Eat Your Greens”
This concept blew my wig off, right at the beginning of the book.
According to research from Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, of the thousands of variables that might affect buyer behavior, the two most importantfactors are 1) market penetration, and 2) average purchase frequency.
You might think that the key to owning a market on behalf of a brand is to focus on the heavy users, the loyalists, the fanatics. That must be the way to penetrate the market; get folks to buy in bulk, walk out with carts FULL of your stuff.
But, the real relationship between market penetration and heavy/light buyers, paints a far more interesting picture.
The above graphic depicts the purchase frequency of Dove Soap over a period of 1-5 years. The shaded “0” on the far-left states the number of people who buy soap, knew about the brand, but did not purchase Dove.
Next to that, we see that 87% of all Dove buyers only bought 1 bar of soap within that 1-5 year period.
That 20+ on the right, the “brand loyalist,” accounts for an extremely small percentage of overall buyers of Dove brand soap.
So, Dove continues to grow it’s brand through advertising, not to secure the fanatics, but to nudge as many category buyers into an Ultra-Light purchase relationship as possible.
People don’t trust a brand because a few people buy a bunch of their stuff – it’s because a steady stream of people buy it once in a while.
This finding is interesting to me, because it’s directly at odds with the “sticky” marketing mentality of apps and attention brokerages online, where creating addicts and fanatics is the main goal. That should raise a few flags….
Want to discover more?
I could tell you about Mark Ritson’s chapter laying into marketing conferences, Tess Alps advice on marketing in a “post-truth” world, or Faris Yakov’s inspirational side-by-side comparison of advertising and art.
I could walk you through Kate Richardson’s masterful destruction of “brand purpose.”
We could both laugh until the tears came, at my witty retelling of Ryan Wallman’s dress-down of the latest marketing fads and trends.
But really – if you are in marketing or advertising or run a business — you absolutely have to read this book. It’s the inspiring, healthful, beneficial, no bullshit marketing & advertising advice you’ve been looking for.
I’ll end with a quote from Wiemer Snijders that to me, best sums up the mission for marketers walking away from this book….
“If you’re a great brand, attracting the majority of buyers into your customer base requires a creative, single-minded approach to the task of maintaining your rightful place in their minds and on the shelf.”
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is a book that cannot be oversold on it’s benefits to anyone running, or thinking of running, a business. While American business culture is awash with gurupreneurs advocating for people to launch their own companies at hyperspeed, Gerber takes an honest, methodical, and forthright approach to advising business owners in E-Myth – most businesses fail because they end up subsuming their owners, rather than serving them.
“I think that maybe inside any business, there is someone slowly going crazy.” – Joseph Heller
What’s the E-Myth?
The E-myth is that small businesses are chiefly started by entrepreneurs risking capital to make profit. That’s simply not true. Most businesses are founded by experts of technical skills, not experts of running businesses. This is what Gerber calls The Fatal Assumption – if you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does that technical work.
The Fatal Assumption is the root cause of why most businesses fail.
The technical work of a business and a business that does that technical work are two totally different things! But the technician who starts a business fails to see this. Seized by a temporary bout of entrepreneurial blindness, the technician launches a business that is integrally dependent upon them.
The tragedy deepens as the technician realizes the business that was supposed to free them from the limitations of working for others has enslaved them.
They end up working in the business, and never ON the business.
Suddenly the job they knew how to do so well becomes one job they know how to do, plus a dozen others they don’t know how to do at all. The work that was once so special, is now just another task to get through so the overwhelmed business owner can handle the rest of the headaches. It’s an endless cycle that usually ends businesses.
Gerber believes that the key to overturning the Fatal Assumption and the E-Myth is to recognize the differing personality types within every business owner.
The Three Personalities in Every Business Owner
Gerbers most brilliant insight of the book comes in the recognition of three competing personalities inside every business owner – The Entrepreneur, The Technician, and The Manager. The successful management of a business depends on the balance and curation of these personality types within the owner – without recognizing this key component, failure is inevitable.
The Entrepreneur – Focused on the bleeding edge and dreams, The Entrepreneur personality within business owners drives innovation and risk, asks what’s possible, and is obsessed with the future.
The Technician – The Technician knows the nitty gritty of the tradecraft of the business. The Technician is focused on the work, is obsessed with the present, finding solutions to enhance the technical work of the business one step at time.
The Manager – The Manager is caught between the Technician and the Entrepreneur. Obsessed with pragmatism and predictability, The Manager is obsessed with the past, wishing for models and templates to guide the development of the business.
Gerber believes that every business owner is a blend of the Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician personality types, but the balance is out of whack.
If the personalities were equally balanced, we’d be describing an incredibly competent individual. The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead in new areas of interest; The Manager would be solidifying the base of operations; and The Technician would be doing what they do best.
Unfortunately, experience shows that few people who go into business are blessed with the proper balance. Instead, the typical small business owner is only 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager, and 70% Technician.
Every business wants to grow past the Technician Phase. In order to grow, you have to change. To change you have to develop and Gerber lays out a development cycle for business owners that ultimately leads to a mature and successful business.
The Business Maturity Cycle
Infancy/Technician Stage – This is where the business and the owner are indistinguishable from one another. The business is the owner – if the owner wasn’t there, the business would disappear. You reach adolescence by realizing you need help to grow your business past the Technician Stage.
Adolescent Stage – You realize you need help. You reluctantly hire help but instead of delegating work, you abdicate responsibility. So, your business becomes a collection of processes you only half understand because you’re a Technician trying to run things from the inside.
Beyond the Comfort Zone – This is the painful part. If you’re a Technician running a business, you are actually running a job. To grow beyond the Technician Stage, you have to develop a business that can run without you. A Mature Business Model is one that can be worked on from the outside.
Maturity Stage – Successful businesses usually start from this phase. They know where they’ve come from and they know where they are headed. Mature Businesses mix two perspectives, the Entrepreneurial and the Technical, into what Gerber calls The Entrepreneurial Model.
Turn-Key Model – Thinking like a Franchise
Gerber believes that businesses need to operate more like franchises; turn-key business models with operational processes that can be easily learned by unsophisticated users, workflows that don’t rely on technical expertise to run properly. McDonald’s, basically.
McDonald’s delivers exactly what we expect, every single time. That’s what integrity is.
By developing a Franchise Prototype you can test assumptions, build experiments and optimize your business so that it is “systems-dependent,” not a “people-dependent business.”
Creating an Expert System
Most business owners hinge their success, or failure, on the quality of workers they get. Good help is hard to find, they say.
Gerber believes that if you own a business, you can’t depend on hiring brilliant workers. If you need ‘the best,’ you will continually be disappointed. Rather than pine for better quality workers, you need to create the very best system through which good, decent workers can be leveraged to produce exquisite results.
McDonald’s doesn’t look to hire French Fry Wizards, or only those with an MBA in Hamburger Development. Anyone can walk into a McDonald’s and follow the manual on how to create a burger, and produce the same exact results whether they are in Tulsa or Tibet.
That’s the extraordinary power of a Turn-Key Business Model. Once you fully understand and create systems that result in predictable service, you’re doing the extraordinary.