Brett King

Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

The Mad Men are Dead – Long Live Engagement

In Engagement Banking, Media on September 7, 2010 at 02:46

The perfect Ad is something advertisers dream about. Some “mAd” men, go their entire career searching for it, others who are creatively gifted, come up with home runs, Gold Lions and accolades time and time again. Mad men have come to believe that if you can get the perfect mix of emotion, message, imagery, nuance and impact – that you can practically sell anything. There are Ad’s that make us laugh, make us cry, sit in awe, or clutch our hand to our mouth in disbelief. Messages that have the ability to inspire, change our opinions and most importantly get us to part with our hard earned cash in exchange for a little piece of that same magic that was embodied in that message.

There’s only one problem – those messages … aren’t getting through any more.

The problem

The digital world has been upon us for close to two decades, starting with the emergence of the commercial internet back in 1994. In October 1994, HotWired (Wired Magazine’s former online brand) made history by placing on their website the very first banner ad for none other than AT&T.

Figure 1 - The first ever banner Ad (Credit: Hotwired and AT&T)

That may not have seemed significant at the time, but it represented a very significant shift in advertising modality – a move from static messages, to interactions in response to a message. The difference with this Ad was that you could ‘talk back’. It allowed you to have a dialog of sorts, to be part of the experience, rather than just passively watching, listening or reading the Ad. Why is this important?

Marketing 101 states that consumer behavior is defined by things such as stimulus response, cultural and core values, social influences, personal determinants, and psychology. Marketing (and Advertising) has been mostly designed to influence behavior – the accepted mantra being that if those messages work, then the ‘brand’ or product becomes embedded in a ‘choice-set’ of filtered options. The premise is that if the message works, then you will recall the product or brand at the critical time. We’ve been delivering those messages by broadcasting to audiences through mediums such as our TVs, newspapers, radio, direct mail catalogues or offers, and billboards.

Over time, however, as consumers have been bombarded with more and more messages in greater frequency and breadth, it’s become more difficult for advertisers to get ‘their’ message to dominate and influence your behavior. This has lead to increasingly brash TV Commercials (i.e. think Superbowl) and other such Ads driving the psychology of advertising into a superfine art and science. The problem is that these broadcast methods are largely failing today. Why? Simply put, the message is no longer enough, as consumers we have to be engaged.

The death of the campaign

In 2008, the Internet surpassed all media except television as the primary source for national and international news. In March 2009, the 146-year-old newspaper Seattle Post-Intelligencer went completely virtual. Since January 2008, at last count, 58 regional newspapers in Britain have “folded”. New York Times reported a $35.6 million loss for the 2009 third quarter alone due to falling Ad revenues. In 2009 TV Ad spend declined by as much as 22% in the US, declines of 27% and more were recorded in radio too. In the UK, TV Ad revenues were down 12–14% in 2009, but OFCOM has forecast the total TV Ad spend in the UK could fall from £3.16 billion in 2007 to £520 million in 2020 – an 83% decline. This is a trend that we’ve been seeing for more than a decade. In fact, the only forms of Ad spend that have consistently increased in the last 10 years are web, mobile and most recently social media based advertising.

This is more than a shift in modality, it is a change in the way we process marketing messages. Those that have the highest impact are contextual, based on our own searches, criteria, classifications or psychology. Increasingly, they are time sensitive and are in response to a behavioral trigger, event or a location. Because of increasing use of digital interactions, the messages have had to become experiences with the intent to engage us and produce a response in real-time. It is no longer sufficient to deliver a static message and hope for a latent stimuli response…

This is why the campaign itself is failing. Campaigns rely on the assumption that if I choose the right segment, and marry the right message – I can get a latent stimulus response that will result in a change in buyer behavior at a future date. But the digital space is teaching us that latent response based on broadcast messages are simply not for us – they aren’t targeted, we can’t respond in real-time, and more often than not, they are delivered when we don’t have a need; so we filter them out, ignoring them – thus they just aren’t effective. In fact, we even have technology now such as TiVo to automatically block them. While brand will still be able to be reinforced through broadcast (if you can afford it,) campaigns cannot possibly survive because the ROI is not sustainable with decreasing effectiveness.

As modality shifts, "Messages" like this are untenable thru traditional broadcast media

Engage me – don’t tell me

So that’s why advertisers need to think differently about the journey or behavior of the consumer. We have to forget the concept of producing a latent response through the impact of telling consumers a message, we have to aim to deliver a message that elicits a response in real-time. In that respect, the more poorly targeted the message is, the greater the likelihood is that the engagement will fail – so broadcast campaigns designed to be one-size-fits-all need to be exorcised from our marketing departments today. We need to be thinking beyond the message – we need to create an engagement experience.

Engagement Banking

For bankers, it’s going to be even worse. Banker’s are relying not only on a latent response to a campaign message, but they’re also relying on you to physically walk into a branch to demonstrate your response to that message. Increasingly this is just not going to happen. The engagement has to be brought to the customer! Think blockbuster, no amount of advertising is going to change my behavior when it comes to downloading movies and getting me back in the store…

Last week Sapient, Geezeo and BANK 2.0 launched what is the first ever digital whitepaper based on this concept of engagement banking. Check out the engagement and tell me how you are planning on reaching your customers and getting rid of the campaign – ping me on Twitter (@brettking) with the hashtag #engagementbanking. Whatever the case may be, starting phasing out campaigns today – get targeted, get digital and engage!


Customer’s tell banks “We don’t believe you anymore…” (HuffPost Blog)

In Blogs, Groundswell, Media, Retail Banking, Social Networking, Strategy, Twitter on February 11, 2010 at 14:21

Brand reputation the key to banks leveraging social media.
Check out the original entry on Huffington Post…

Recently I posted on how shifts in consumer behavior and technology adoption is significantly changing the marketing dynamic for banks. Essentially my message was that for marketing to continue to be effective in measurable ways, that a large portion of effort needed to be redirected to optimizing the mechanisms for reaching and enabling customers, rather than just reinforcing brand recall and directing campaigns. I have had some brand marketers bristle at this suggestion and asking me how brands themselves would get started or get known it it wasn’t for the fundamentals of brand marketing.

First of all, I don’t believe that brand marketing will disappear, however, I think it is far to say that social media brings a transparency and honesty that means that despite the best brand marketing money can buy, if you screw up your customer relationships it won’t matter – social media will punish you. Google was able to build its brand entirely online, so some might argue that the need for traditional brand marketing is no longer a given either. However, for banks right now, they need all the help they can get, so it can’t hurt.

Brand marketing is useful for telling us as consumers the core brand values of these organizations who want our business. Banks have long held up their brands as bastions of stability, trust and understanding. They kept telling us that they were safe places to hold our hard earned savings, and that when they loaned us money we should be eternally grateful, because it was only out of their gracious generosity that we were able to afford to buy that new home, car or trip to the Caymans. We could trust banks because they were ‘as safe as houses’! Well, guess what…thanks to banks even houses aren’t safe anymore.

The side-effect of the global financial crisis, and the huge botch up that leading financial brands like Bank of America, Citi, Merrill, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, RBS and others have made with their bonuses and lack of prudence, is that trust for banks is at an all time low. Brand marketing is not going to save the banks in this environment.

Right now if you go and do a twitter feed search on say… Bank of America you’ll find a plethora of negativity out there in cyberspace. Now to be fair BofA has a twitter feed (@BofA_Help) and they have a Blogsite ( – although it should be pointed out that their blog has no content as yet…

The key issue is that although Bank of America has a brand built over more than a century, their brand presence across the USA is pervasive, and their marketing capability staggering, they face an uphill battle. None of that capability really can help them in the current environment where they lack transparency on fees, are generally seen as out of touch with customers and are struggling in the war on customer word of mouth impact. Brand marketing is not enough to win in the 21st Century – the BANK 2.0 paradigm. Bank’s need to rebuild their brand reputation – and telling us how fantastic they are won’t cut it anymore. We just don’t trust those messages anymore.

What customers long to see is banks that care. Banks that reward you for the more business you do with them. Banks that are prepared occasionally to waive fees because you are a good customer. Banks that try to make it easier to work with them, instead of the endless compliance hoops we have to jump through because the banks find it to much trouble to change their internal processes.

We want the banks to build their brand reputation by restoring their reputation with us – the customer.

Social media is empowering customers – giving them a voice. It’s time major brands took the time to listen and adapt. Most banks spend millions on focus groups, customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping exercises each year to find out what they can learn for free just by listening to their customers on social networks and blogs. It’s not rocket science – but it is good branding.