An entertaining look at why we need to put more emphasis on creativity in education:
Posts Tagged 'fresh perspectives'
Tags: audience participation, brand strategy, branding, connections, crowdsourcing, differentiation, engagement, eskimon, fresh perspectives, innovation, Marketing, strategy
Crowdsourcing continues to be one of the hottest topics in marketing today, but it receives its fair share of skepticism too.
That skepticism may have merit: to some, crowdsourcing seems like a simple case of repackaged logic.
After all, the marketing concept asserts that the best way to build a successful business is to offer people what they really want; because crowd-sourcing helps us understand what people actually want, it seems like a key ingredient of any successful business.
However, there’s a key difference between crowdsourcing and our previous, research-based approach: collaborative engagement.
The more we involve people in every aspect of developing our products, the greater their subsequent level of engagement, and the deeper their relationship with our brand.
This physical contribution and emotional engagement means people have a vested interest in your brand’s success.
In their minds, it becomes their brand too.
The death of brands?
So if people could always join forces to solve their problems, would brands still exist?
In its ideal form, crowdsourcing would mean we would never need to choose between different brands again, because our co-developed solutions would always satisfy our specific needs.
That Utopian vision seems appealing on many fronts.
There’s just one problem.
The main challenge with crowdsourcing is that it rarely delivers radical innovation.
Indeed, two things lead me to believe that crowdsourcing could actually slow our rate of progress.
Firstly, everyday people tend to imagine the future in relation to their present.
“If I had asked people what they wanted,
they would have said faster horses.”
Secondly, the democratic process tends to dilute innovations down to a lowest common denominator.
Most people are fearful of change, and reject things that are far removed from their current sphere of familiarity.
As a result, involving too many people in the process risks death by democracy.
Right tool, right job
So, rather than using crowdsourcing to solve all our business problems, we might be better to use it for a more specific purpose.
Here’s my theory.
When we know what people want, we’re better placed to offer it to them in the most effective and efficient ways.
However, if we’re to succeed in adding value, rather than merely delivering it, we need to go one step further.
We need to show people what they could have; not just a better version of what they already know.
As a consequence, I think crowdsourcing’s real potential lies in helping us to identify the core benefits that people seek.
In other words, we need to get people to explain their ideal end, rather than asking them to design a shinier version of the means they currently use to get there.
It’s then our job to create truly innovative solutions that deliver those benefits better than anyone else.
Tags: advertising, brand strategy, eskimon, fresh perspectives, Marketing, mass media, media, music industry, newspapers, solutions, strategy, thoughts
One of the most enduring themes of the past decade has been the decline of traditional industry models.
Record companies and newspapers have been the biggest losers, yet demand for the ‘products’ these companies deliver has risen dramatically during the same period.
The two trends seem to be in conflict: how can something experiencing increased demand simultaneously lose its value?
Has classical economic theory come totally undone?
Let’s take a closer look.
As recently as the 1990s, a music collection of 100 albums (about 1,500 songs) was something to be admired, taking pride of place across a whole wall of the living room.
Today, even cash-strapped teenagers carry that much music in their pocket everywhere they go.
But still we crave more.
Yet almost none of these seem to be making much money.
It’s the same story for news.
As technology has advanced, instantaneous, ubiquitous news updates have become the norm, and we’ve become so used to these ‘info fixes’ that we even experience symptoms of withdrawal if they’re taken away.
Demand for news hasn’t just grown; it’s exploded.
So why are news agencies disappearing at an inversely proportionate rate?
What’s going on?
From the outside, the reason appears very simple: these industries have become too caught up in what they think people are buying; not what those people actually want.
The music industry is still obsessed with selling albums, because that’s been their core offering for decades.
Of course, at the time of their inception, albums were a highly efficient (and profitable) distribution medium.
The same goes for newspapers.
But, as Dave Trott points out, people don’t buy the media.
They buy the content that those media carry.
And if they can find that content more efficiently (and cheaper) elsewhere…
A false equilibrium?
Despite initial appearances to the contrary, the trend of rising demand and falling profit in these media-based industries is actually in keeping with classical economic theory.
The model suggests that people will tend towards the most efficient satisfaction of their needs: that they try to maximise the benefits they receive, while simultaneously minimising the associated cost (in terms of money, time, effort, etc.)
“…what every thing really costs… is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”
“What every thing is really worth to the man who has acquired it… is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself.”
Let’s look at those two statements in context:
- From the consumer’s perspective, the cost of acquiring music and news content is not a pure price consideration: factors such as the effort needed to acquire and consume the product, as well as opportunity cost, are equally important;
- The worth, or value, these products deliver is hard to measure, because the benefits they deliver are usually intangible (except where unique access to news provides a financial benefit to the consumer).
The key issue in these industries is that people suddenly have access to identical value at a much lower cost.
So what changed?
What are people buying?
People don’t buy media; they pay for access to content.
But if that content is available for free, why would they choose to pay for it?
Free access to music has been around for years via radio; the main issue has been a lack of listener control in the playlist.
The only legal alternative has been to pay for the privilege to listen to what you want, where you want, when you want, by buying albums and singles.
But given the costs involved in this alternative, another popular solution has been to acquire an illegal copy.
Piracy is nothing new; it has affected the music business since it began.
However, until recently, the quality of an ‘original’ was always noticeably better than that of a cost-effective copy.
The advent of digital formats like MP3 changed all that. Today, people can quickly and easily create a copy that is identical to that which they would get if they bought it from the original source.
The problem for the record companies is that there is literally no difference in the quality of pirated content.
Furthermore, the industry’s continued protectionist approach to ‘selling’ music means that it’s often actually easier to find pirated copies than it is to find the original*.
Returning Adam Smith’s concept of ‘real cost’, this means that people have fewer and fewer reasons to pay the cost associated with original content; the only remaining motivator is conscientiousness.
When people have been so used to legal access to free news content, it’s easy to understand their current reluctance to move to services requiring payment – particularly when services like the BBC continue to offer free access.
Bene-fit for purpose
The only sustainable hope for these industries is to rethink what they’re actually offering.
The process is actually very simple:
What do people really want?
Where is it most relevant to them?
How can we deliver it to them and make a profit?
The critical step is to move away from thinking about how to improve the existing product, and to focus instead on identifying and understanding the benefits people seek.
Why do people crave news?
It might be for a variety of reasons:
It provides information that helps us make decisions about our own lives (Will it rain tomorrow? Is there a crazed gunman on the run downtown?);
It offers a common topic we can talk about with others;
It shares opinion and that stimulates our minds and provokes further thought of our own;
It entertains and stirs emotion;
Perversely, it helps us put our lives in perspective, reminding us that “there is always someone worse off than yourself” (this is the only reason I can find for our continued obsession with ‘bad’ news).
However, none of these things belong to conventional news channels.
Indeed, most of those channels exist because they provide an audience for advertisers, and, arguably, they’ve never been truly focused on the audiences themselves.
Where would these benefits be most relevant?
What could we do to deliver it to them then… at a profit?
Change the tune
The task with music is a little more difficult, because it’s intangible and transient.
What exactly is music, and why do we love it so much?
What benefit does it provide?
It’s a question that has many different answers, because music means different things to different people in different contexts:
Sometimes it’s an all-consuming experience, like a concert;
Often, it’s something we use to define our personalities;
Sometimes it’s a means of escapism (like ‘cocooning’ on a crowded subway);
Sometimes it provides a reassuring background distraction;
Like fashion, it’s something that’s constantly evolving and fresh, providing us with something to talk about, and offering us things to look forward to.
I’m sure you can think of many more benefits (why not share them in the comments?).
It’s safe to assume that people’s desire for new music and fresh news will continue to grow.
As such, musicians and journalists are not – contrary to media scaremongering – on the verge of extinction.
The only thing that’s likely to disappear is the existing media model.
So how will we access these benefits in the future?
Much as I hate to inflate an already over-hyped solution, I believe the answer is ‘something social’.
Services where people already go to seek similar benefits – to talk to people, to find out what’s new in their world, to seek emotional stimulation – are the most obvious places for them to seek music and news benefits too.
I believe we’ll see an increasing number of social services combine these offers in their bid to become our ‘one-stop shops’ for all such content.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t include TV and movies too.
Services such as Facebook have a great opportunity to became the de facto source for news and new music, although I suspect it will be a new, as-yet unheard of successor, who’ll bring about this next step in the web’s evolution.
So what’s new?
I suspect that, although you’ve nodded your head a few times during this post, you don’t feel there’s anything revolutionary in its content.
But that’s possibly because, in this simple format, it all seems obvious.
And I think that’s the problem: perhaps it’s so obvious, we’ve been missing the forest for the trees.
But, the good news is, the solution is very simple.
If we focus on the benefits that people seek – the real value that they perceive in the things they consume – then we have a chance of delivering it to them at a profit.
Sadly for some, it may be too late to save the mass media model, but the rest of us have a real opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Tags: audience participation, brand building, brand extension, brand personality, branding, communication, communications proposition, connections, create, engagement, fresh perspectives, get excited and make things, imagination, Marketing, simplicity, strategy
The concept is so simple that I’m sure children all over the world already have their own version.
However, there’s nothing wrong with brands celebrating existing behaviour.
The reason this partnership works so well is that it builds on the essences of both brands: Lego’s boundless creativity, and Muji’s delightful simplicity.
Here are some more images borrowed from the original Yoshikage Kajiwara post (in Japanese):
On a related note, take a look at this glorious anthropological study of Lego ‘nomenclature’, and this inspiring post from Russell Davies on the importance of imagination in play, communications, and the world in general.
Tags: advertising, brand personality, differentiation, fresh perspectives, humour, Marketing, simplicity
Most of the time, success isn’t about how good you are; it’s about how good you are relative to everything else.
The toilet cleaner category is dull, but brands that stress an 0.2% improvement in efficiency just make it worse
So, while these may not be the best adverts of all time, they make me smile.
And voilà: they differentiate Ambi Pur from the rest of the category.
Thanks to Inspire me, now! for sharing.
Tags: advertising, brand building, brand strategy, branding, connections, eskimon, fresh perspectives, Marketing, marketing strategy, planning, planning for the future, strategy
We all know that actions speak louder than words.
But many brands still focus the majority of their marketing spend on talking.
It’s time to redress the balance.
Advertising does a good job of telling people things.
That’s fine if we want to raise a bit of awareness.
However, advertising frequently behaves like the pseudo-tailors in ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘.
This clip sums up the reality of far too much marketing:
But in today’s hyperconnected communities, this ‘massive hyperbole’ approach no longer works.
No amount of advertising will make a bad product good.
It’s just too easy for people to spot a ‘naked’ brand, and to tell everyone else about it too.
More often than not, advertising isn’t the answer.
People want proof; not just claims.
So how can planning help?
We need to broaden our perspective.
We need to help brands understand what people really want, and then to identify the most profitable ways of delivering it to them.
We need to add value, from end to end: from informing R&D to inspiring customer service.
If we give people what they really want, we won’t need to persuade them of anything; they’ll experience it for themselves.
Allocate a minimum of 90% of your brand’s resource to identifying what people really want, and creating a solution that delivers it.
Use the remainder to demonstrate your brand experience to the people who are most passionate about its benefit.
If you’ve done the first bit right, they’ll do the rest for you.
Shaping the Future
Throughout this series on planning for the future, there’s been a recurring theme: how we can add real value.
If planning is to remain relevant, its role must evolve from promoting brands to actually delivering their benefits.
The new planning manifesto is simple:
The Rest of the ‘Planning for the Future’ Series
Introduction: a new planning manifesto
Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value
It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad
Add CSR to everything you do: how contributing to the greater good can help your brand too
Blend the mix: towards more strategic distribution
Want to know more about planning for the future? Get in touch here.
Tags: advertising, brand building, brand strategy, branding, classics, communications proposition, connections, engagement, eskimon, fresh perspectives, Marketing, media, planning, planning for the future, strategy
The process of identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.
The first step in this evolution involves a fundamental shift in how we view brand communications.
Rather than merely promoting other forms of value delivery like products, brand communications can become a viable means to deliver benefits of their own.
People don’t actually buy products or brands; they buy things that enable them to achieve specific aims.
As a consequence, brands that help people to achieve their aims more comprehensively are more attractive, and therefore more valuable.
Planning can help add to this value by enabling brands to create more opportunities to satisfy.
Our challenge is to turn every single interaction – including communications – into an opportunity to help people achieve their aims.
Nike already champions this approach.
It understands that people don’t buy ‘sportswear’; they buy things that enable them to participate in sporting activities.
So the brand focuses on creating more opportunities for people to enjoy those activities.
Run London is a great example, creating deeper engagement not just with the brand, but also with running:
Run London doesn’t just build engagement either: over 30,000 participants pay to take part, and the event generates more than £1million in revenue.
When everything a brand does helps people to satisfy their wants, needs, and desires, it becomes a much more valuable part of their lives.
Identify the core benefit that your brand offers, and then identify ways to deliver it through every interaction – including communications.
Tags: advertising, brand building, brand strategy, branding, communication, communications proposition, connections, engagement, eskimon, fresh perspectives, Marketing, media, planning, planning for the future, strategy
Planning is the process of identifying the most efficient and effective ways for brands to share the things they want with the people that matter to them most.
However, this approach no longer delivers the results we need.
Contrary to the laments of the media industry, this is not because attention has become more scarce; indeed, people actually have more free time now than they used to.
The real issue is that people have more opportunities to participate in a wider variety of activities, and unsurprisingly, they are choosing to focus their attention on those activities which offer them the greatest rewards.
In place of some of the time they used to spend ‘fire gazing’ – escaping the boredom and drudgery of everyday life – people are increasingly harnessing their cognitive surplus to learn and grow.
This more varied behaviour means that ‘audiences’ are increasingly dispersed: fewer people are doing the same thing at the same time, and mass-media are increasingly less ‘mass’ as a result.
However, this actually presents more opportunities than it does problems.
Rather than simply interrupting people’s escapism, we now have greater scope to get involved and make their lives better.
But, in order to achieve this, we need to rethink our approach to brand communications.
We need to move away from planning that centres on people’s ‘media habits’, and focus instead on the things that people are trying to achieve through those habits.
In other words, we need to ask why people do what they do, not just what they do.
Once we understand people’s motivations, we’ll find it much easier to find more relevant roles for our brands:
If people want passive entertainment, how can we help with that?
If they want to learn something new, what role can we play?
If they have a challenge, how can we help them solve it?
Brand communications can evolve into a means to deliver actual value, rather than simply a means to promote other forms of value delivery.
The benefit offered can be as simple as passive entertainment, but interactive experiences, education, and even corporate social responsibility (CSR) hold even greater potential.
In line with this evolving quest for people’s hearts and minds, planning’s role needs to evolve too, becoming
The process of identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.
Over the next few days, I’ll share some ideas that can help make that future a reality.