Trust Me, Take Small Steps To Build Brand Trust

I’m currently quite taken with the new Fox TV series The Americans, which features a chameleon-like Matthew Rhys and a kick-ass Keri Russell as deep-undercover KGB spies. They live an apparently normal family life in 1980s suburban cold war America, while unbeknownst to their two American-born children, they conduct brutal covert operations for mother Russia. A recent episode called “Trust Me” exposed the perilous shifting sands of trust in their relationships. It is a world where no one is quite what they seem to be, and every character is constantly reevaluating whom they can trust. It is exhausting. Because without trust, every decision or action is a risk.

This holds true not just for human relationships but also for brand relationships. In both, trust is the cornerstone. Brand trust makes purchasing decisions easier, quicker, and less risky. I choose Amazon because I trust that it will deliver the product I want when I want it. I trust that my Neutrogena sunblock will protect my skin. I trust that my Starbucks coffee will taste good. I recently attended an event hosted by the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) on the topic of “Building Trust In A Digital Age.” MSI seeks to bridge the gap between marketing academic and business worlds, by bringing together marketing thought leaders from both realms to research and discuss big meaty, marketing topics. For the Boston Spring session, attendees debated the nature of brand trust and how it is driven and measured. A couple of highlights:

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Don't Push It; Connect Content And Conversation To Pull Consumers Into Your Brand

The Huffington Post publisher Janet Balis recently shared 10 tips for marketers on how brands can become content kings. Balis commented that “one of the most fundamental dynamics of publishing is to connect content and conversation . . . it’s time to move beyond consumption and engagement and translate [content] into social actions.”  At the heart of marketers' interest in branded content is the realization that old-school push communications have lost impact with consumers. And we’re not just talking TV and print here. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that digital ads such as banner ads, text, and mobile apps are the least trusted form of advertising communications; only 10% of US online adults trust banner ads on websites. With multiple connected devices at their fingertips, today’s perpetually-connected consumers can opt in or out of content on a whim. Branded content offers an opportunity to truly engage with consumers in a way that marketers have never done before. But there’s no shortage of content out there, so where do you start? Apply Forrester’s four C's framework to build your brand with branded content:

  • Capture the brand’s North Star in branded content. Authenticity is critical for branded content. And authentic content begins with knowing who you are. So ask yourself, what’s your brand North Star? 
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Brand as publisher or brand as newsroom? My POV: Brand As Storyteller.

Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:

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Brand As Publisher Or Brand As Newsroom? My POV: Brand As Storyteller.

Oreo’s recent quick-thinking “Dunk In the Dark” response to the power outage at this year’s Super Bowl put the spotlight on real-time branded content and reinvigorated the discussion about how brands need to become not just publishers but newsrooms. What’s driving this need? Today’s perpetually-connected consumers — 42% of US online adults and 37% in Europe — can engage brands at any place, any time, and at any velocity. Because of this, the sheer volume of creative content that brands must now churn out is forcing marketers and agencies to reexamine how they think about — and how they resource for — content. This challenge is not to be underestimated. But before you think about scale and real-time response, think about the story you want to tell to create brand advantage. To do this well, you need to first be true to yourself, second know your audience, and then engage your customers with a good story:

  • Know who you are. There’s a lot of content out there you can develop or share. So where do you start? Start with your brand. Guide your content development by your brand’s North Star, and make sure there is a logical connection between the content and your brand. 
  • Know your consumers. Figure out what your consumers need. What do they care about? What are they passionate about? Scott Monty, global head of digital for Ford, recently commented that Oreo succeeded at the Super Bowl: “Because they related to us, not because they forced us to relate to them.” 
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Who Is Generation Z? What Marketing Leaders Need To Know To Build Their Brand With This New Generation

Like many marketing leaders out there, you are probably still coming to grips with understanding and working with Millennials — the 20-somethings being courted by media and marketing alike. But now there’s a whole new generation to understand: Generation Z. Who are they? Why should you care about them? And how can you build your brand with them? Here’s what we know.

Who is Gen Z?  
 
Gen Z is the first generation born into a digital world. While there’s no one commonly accepted demographic definition, they are generally considered to be born in the mid-1990s through 2010. They are true digital natives who have grown up in the age of technology. The only world they know is a digital one — where they can connect anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. As a result, they are highly promiscuous when it comes to media consumption; they will be the first generation to consume more media online than offline. And Forrester’s Technographics® research shows that today 84% of Gen Zers multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV — using an average of 1.5 other Internet-connected devices.
 
Why should marketers care?
 
The leading edge of this generation is now aged 18 to 23, entering college and the workforce. They are financing more of their own brand and purchasing decisions and experimenting with new products and brands. This makes them a key target for many marketers seeking to forge life-long brand allegiance.
 
How can you build your brand with them?
 
Gen Zers are open to relationships with brands, so long as those brands are authentic and live up to their high expectations. To win the hearts and minds of Gen Zers, marketing leaders must:
 
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What’s Your Brand Building Maturity? Are You An Experimenter Or A Leader?

I’ve recently read a lot about the about the importance of engaging consumers to build your brand. And rightly so. Understanding and engaging with your customer is fundamental to brand building success. What gets less digital ink, though, is the equally important task of engaging your employees to build your brand. Not just your marketing department. Not just a few select social bloggers. But every rank-and-file employee, from tech support to customer service. Marketing leaders agree. In fact, in Forrester’s recent survey of marketing leaders, 100% of respondents agreed that “brand building is a company-wide effort that requires employees in all departments to be brand ambassadors.” But this same survey reveals that engaging the enterprise is where marketers struggle most. Marketing leaders are on solid ground when it comes to traditional brand building disciplines such as defining the brand North Star and using that brand promise to guide the brand experience. It is the next stage — creating a consistent brand experience across all functions and touchpoints — that is the chasm that most marketing leaders have yet to bridge. Forrester’s survey reveals that just 9% of respondents are true brand building leaders, who have brand building integrated and embraced across all aspects of the business. Most are still experimenting, but not integrating.

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Building A Successful Brand In The 21st Century

In the age of the customer, digitally empowered consumers are no longer sitting back waiting for brands to talk to them. They are seizing newfound opportunities on digital platforms to voice their wants, needs, and expectations. And data from our Consumer Technographics® panel shows that, in 2012, consumers expect more from brands. For example, they expect brands to create indispensable value and contribute to society. 

But marketers are struggling to keep up with these changing consumer needs and higher expectations. They are disoriented in a world where they are losing influence with their consumers, losing control of their brand messages, and losing trust with consumers. Why? Because they are using old guidebooks and road maps that were designed for a traditional advertising world.  

To guide marketing leaders into this fast-changing brand-building terrain, the CMO & Marketing Leadership research team has created a playbook on how  to successfully build a 21st century brand. The collection of reports in the playbook will help you to:

·       Discover why, as a marketing leader, you must adapt your brand to consumers’ higher standards across this new brand-building landscape and must learn how to make a business case for investing in brand building. 

·       Plan for a new brand experience across all consumer touchpoints, from communications to retail experiences to products; a strategic plan to bring your vision to life and a road map to get you there.

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Consumers Embrace Digital On Their Path To Purchase, But Online Still Trumps Mobile

As consumers continue to embrace all things digital to enhance their shopping experience, Forrester is conducting a series of research studies on the consumer’s new path to purchase. My colleague Cory Madigan introduces the first report in this series, focused on the buy phase of the customer life cycle. Here’s her take on these new behaviors:

Digital channels and devices have enabled today’s consumers to be more discerning about how they buy, from where, and at what prices. This disrupted “path to purchase” has complicated the marketer’s job as she tries to reach her shopper with more timely and relevant offers, both online and off. Particularly at the start of the buying process, consumers are doing more research online than ever. Which sites do they find most helpful when making a purchase decision? Forrester's recent North American Technographics® Consumer Deep Dive survey showed that about 1 in 5 found Google and Amazon most helpful, while half as many found traditional stores or websites most helpful. What other key trends should shopper marketers be aware of in 2012?

  • Today’s shopper is fluent in multiple channels and focused on value. Eighty-two percent of consumers researched a product before buying it, and nearly two-thirds of respondents say they pay more attention to prices and value now than they did a year ago. The savings mentality brought on by the Great Recession hasn’t eroded over time; progressive marketers will adapt to this new reality by shifting their focus away from competing on price and toward delivering superior value to shoppers. Emphasize retention and use smarter targeting to get your product in front of the right person at the right time.
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Benchmarking Marketing Mix Modeling

Marketing mix modeling is no longer just a tool for consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers to measure the effect of traditional marketing on overall sales. Today, marketing mix modeling (MMM) can help all marketers optimize their online and offline marketing budgets through predictive analytics that bring order to the chaos of an increasingly fragmented media landscape. But while the benefits of marketing mix modeling are significant, so too are the resources and planning required to embed it into your organization and marketing process. Forrester’s research shows that marketers are in different stages of maturity for integrating MMM into their organization and getting the most from this powerful tool. We are conducting a survey to better understand the state of MMM deployment within marketing organizations. We’ll use the results to help you and other marketers benchmark your MMM experience. So if you are a marketing mix modeling veteran, a newbie, or somewhere in between, take our 10-minute survey to share your experiences, and we’ll share the results with you.    

Well-Established Digital Channels Should Be Top Priority For Shopper Marketers In 2012

Shopper marketing is going digital, providing shopper marketers with a plethora of new high-buzz technologies, devices, and platforms to communicate messaging, promotions, or content to their shoppers along their path to purchase. But with limited budgets, and such a wealth of options, which ones should they choose? To help shopper marketers prioritize their technology investments in 2012 and beyond, my colleague Cory Madigan and I evaluated 17 digital tools for using Forrester’s TechRadar™ methodology. The highlight trends reveal that:

  • Cool isn’t necessarily critical . . . yet. Social networking pages, interactive displays, and QR codes get a lot of attention in the marketing world, but we found that in terms of shopper marketing utility, real shoppers aren’t quite as smitten. The opportunity is there, but lack of scale, measurement, and clear value for the consumer has limited the traction of many of the more talked-about technologies in the digital shopper marketing arsenal.
  • The digital oldies are still the ROI goodies. When it comes to shopper utility, consumers and marketers still rely most on brand websites, content that brands create for specific retailers, and email to deliver the value they seek. Rather than being replaced by new technology, watch for these platforms to become better optimized for mobile. With mobile optimization, shopper marketers will be able to tie shoppers’ online activities at home — on a PC or tablet — to their smartphone activities while on-the-go.
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