Monday, November 12, 2012

ONWARD... Post Election Insights!

I have taken about a week to truly get out from behind my desk and talk with real people about the presidential election results.

I physically got into my car and chatted with folks and also went online and chatted with both friends and chat group companions.

I will be right up front and share with all, that the person I voted for did not win the election. 

But I am not here to preach.

Here are some key take-aways of the election.

Emotion drives us more than facts and truth.

Personality, passion and relateable experiences drive us more than factual “truths” and rational argument.

Say what you want to say about Obama and his past history, but clearly the guy was able to distinguish himself on a much more connectable level than Romney.

However one may dislike Biden’s commentaries, he presented himself as much more relatable and connected than the Generation X personality of Ryan. 

Whether you connected with “Forward” or not, the Dems had a campaign “tagline” that conveyed emotional movement vs. the Republican’s who listed out the last names of their candidates.

Diversity is more American than Unity.

Some view diversity as the ignition valve of separate camps.  Some see each of the individual groups as an individual minority.

Fact is, the generational group I highlight in the next key take-away has been raised in the midst of it and for them, diversity is part of what unifies their peers as distinctively them than divides.

I have written blogs in the past about the hybrid combinations of foods, fashion and entertainment that are driving product innovation.  For example, I wrote one of the blogs a couple of years ago about the Asian tacos that two guys made famous in LA with their mobile “restaurant” truck. 

In some ways, these hybrids are the result of what truly lead to Obama getting re-elected.

The Millennials are the springboard of major market changes.

The Millennials got Obama elected to his first four years.  The Millennials are now re-crafting how we as a multi-generational America interact and see ourselves.

No question that we can thank the Boomers for catapulting the EPA.  We can also thank the Boomers for bringing music into our daily beats. 

The Millennials are re-defining our own notions of personal goals and achievement.

How Millennials view personal financial responsibility is distinctively different from the not too distant past.

The achievement of a goal may actually be second-class to the personality and perceived values of attempting to get there.

When we once viewed success as the driver of our pocket book and bank accounts, Millennials are re-focusing around the here and now of our own sense of self… and the inter-connectivity of ourselves with the higher good.

The marketplace is ADHD.

The Ritalin really never worked. 

What is here today is gone tomorrow… quickly. 

The hype of a critical event or point-of-perspective quickly is forgotten by something new, novel and different.

Brand equity is becoming redefined… and, in some ways, perhaps more easy to construct if it emotionally connects versus left-brain rationalizes.

The good news to many marketers is that a brand might be able survive PR challenges if indeed the brand has an established emotional following.

As much as a brand connects emotionally, there is even more of a need for the marketing to be driven by very smart, rifle-targeted strategy.

The DEMs are famous for their grass-roots, micro-targeted, well-crafted, emotionally-charged marketing strategy. 

The GOP is not.

The GOP still believes that if they bang on the headset of the electorate enough with rational facts, that it will passionately rally its troops and vote for their candidate of choice.

The next four years are likely to be difficult years. 

The economy is not going to jump quickly nor will businesses implement large budgets to simply spend money and build brand awareness.

For brands to grow, marketing can no longer be driven by “build it and they will buy it” rationale and perspective.

Personal final note.

Over the years in the business, I have personally met times of change and challenge. 

I have learned in many ways to adapt and refine.

I personally believe that the America I knew growing up will probably not be back on stage ever again.

I not only believe that the approach I preach to my clients, businesses, entrepreneurs and cohorts could not be more on target today, but is truly what will move brands FORWARD. 

Okay… since I did not vote for the guy that is still in the White House, I will borrow perhaps the more applicable “charge” from one of the guys I do truly admire…

As Howard Schultz coined in the title of his most recent book about the brand adaption and change at Starbucks…


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Discruption of Insight & Change

Over the course of the last several weeks, I have once again, come to a reality-check of what can be changed and what can’t.

I am writing this on the Sunday morning before the national elections. 

Politics perhaps showcases the naked truth of the human element.

Politicians seek a win while many voters wonder just how real the political promises will ever be.

Over the summer, I go to know a preacher turned human resource consultant.  In a three-hour sit-down meeting, I could see that this person’s real calling was to be the preacher.

Below all the new packaging of the business consultant was a conviction of how human behaviors worked and the calling of obedience to the higher, supreme being.  

I could quickly see how some top management players could identify with the approach.

When I started out in marketing, I served for about two and a half years in the role of the ad agency account executive.

I learned quickly how the account executive becomes protective in their style and management. 

The account executive faces the challenge of really never being on the home team.  When in front of the client, they are there to represent the agency… and when they are at the agency, they are there to represent the client.

One of the agencies that I worked with essentially removed account executives from the mix.  I am not too sure that this is the best approach.  Many of the creative agency folks are not linier in their workflow and style versus many left-brain client managers.

Whatever the case, when I realized that my calling was marketing trend forecasting and consumer insight, I also had to come to terms with the fact that much of my interaction with clients would be centered around disruption.

Disruption of perceived fact.

Disruption of personal roles.

Disruption of conventional approaches and processes.

I am very honest.  Three of the ad agencies and at least half a dozen clients literally threw me out the door because they felt very uncomfortable with the perspective being brought to the table.

Two of those agencies and a couple of those clients eventually called me back to assist.

Over the last couple of weeks, one of my client-partners has literally been beside themselves.

Market insight has engaged team members to begin to approach their business differently. 

Some of the members are digesting the insights and seeking out ways to incorporate them more directly in their day-to-day tasks.  Others are asking questions that require more than an easy answer.   

The account executive is building a protective approach. Some of the agency management is shooting the messenger.  Other agency management is digging deeper in the trench.

What I cannot personally change boils down to the depth of insight and how players around the table react.  I can offer perspective and further details, but ultimately, I cannot personally lead them players to the water and make them drink.

In less than 60 days, 2013 will be upon us. 

I started my firm 10 years ago in 2003. 

Much of the insight we provided to clients back then have come to pass.

And in more cases than not, the insights caused disruption, fear, defensive rationalization, dennial and attempts to lay claim to whatever of the past might appear to remain.

In two weeks, I will be speaking to a group of aspiring marketing students. 

I plan to share with them some of the very cool things that brand teams have embraced and experienced very positive results along the way.

Students get energized by those stories.

And to be honest, those stories not only energize me, but reinforce that what I bring to the table for Big Brands, entrepreneurs, ad agencies and fellow peers is indeed something of value.