Framing your product as a ‘job-to-be-done’

I just stumbled across this video of a talk from Clayton M. Christensen (he of ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma‘ fame) highlighting the important difference between a product’s function and its ‘job’.

The premise is that, when consumers are faced with a need, they essentially “hire” a product to do that job, and that this job can be wildly different from what the seller thinks it is. This thinking is summed up nicely by the Peter Drucker quote “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling them“, but Christensen goes on to elaborate in more detail:

The jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: why did she do it that way?

The fact that you’re 18 to 35 years old with a college degree does not cause you to buy a product. It may be correlated with the decision, but it doesn’t cause it. We developed this idea because we wanted to understand what causes us to buy a product, not what’s correlated with it. We realized that the causal mechanism behind a purchase is, ‘Oh, I’ve got a job to be done.’

Check out this article from the Harvard Business School or the video below for a more detailed take on this line of thinking.

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Branding, Marketing

McDonalds and the ‘zero-profit’ agency model

McDonald’s new ‘zero-profit’ agreement with incoming agency Omnicom has caused it’s fair share of controversy over the last few months so it’s interesting to come across these two contrasting points of view on the deal that were shared by James Whatley in his weekly newsletter.

The nub of the controversy is around the chain allegedly insisting that it’s new agency operates at cost, with all profits tied to unnamed performance goals.

Bob Hoffman (aka. The Ad Contrarian) takes the common Ad Land stance that a deal like this sets a destructive precedent for the industry for a number of reasons and explains why he thinks it’s unlikely to prove successful.

  • The agency will have full responsibility but virtually no authority.
  • As any agency profit will be based on whatever performance goals McDonalds sets, this could easily be a problem further down the road if targets are not met.
  • They will have no control over the creative product or strategy.
  • They will have no authority over either pricing or operations.
  • It’s hard to make a creative impact with primarily price-based promotions.
  • Franchisee buy-in will be a nightmare.

While the thought of an agency working for a client as big as McDonalds and essentially not making any guaranteed profit might be unjustifiable to those in the advertising industry, Mark Ritson puts forward a few potential positives of the move.

  • This incentivises the agency to focus on increasing overall sales in the long-term rather than being happy with fluffy campaigns.
  • It underlines the ‘digital first’ mindset and prioritises an integrated approach.
  • As media spend is part of the deal, it avoids any ‘shadowy gouging of client funds’.
  • It will force agencies to re-evaluate their structure and make themselves more efficient.

Either way, it’s a big bet for Omnicom. It’s very much a relationship that benefits the client in this case and not many brands will have the pull of McDonalds to convince an agency to go along with something similar. But with more than 60% of new advertising business in the US featuring a performance-based component, this is starting to become more and more common. And for brands you can see why. As Mark Ritson puts it;

“The agency’s skin is now very much in the game. Rather than obsessing over billing, creative work or ‘extra-curricular activities’, McDonald’s can now rely upon its trusted agency to exhibit a passion for burger sales like their life depended on it. Because it does.”

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Branding, Marketing

Emotional Branding: A John Lewis Case Study

When it comes to utilising the viral nature of the web to capture the collective hearts of a nation and breath new life into an old brand in the process, very few companies have been as successful over the last few years as John Lewis. The launch of their Christmas ad campaigns are widely anticipated and commented upon each year and immediately spread like wildfire on social channels.

By far my favourite talk at last month’s Dubai Lynx Festival was the case study from the head of the creative team behind the account, James Murphy, the founder of London agency adam&eve DDB, who have dragged the brand kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century since winning the account in 2009.

John Lewis as a brand traditionally didn’t really believe in the concept of marketing and even saw it as somewhat “beneath them” according to Murphy. And while the company had almost 150 years of history behind it at the time, and was extremely trusted by their customers, this didn’t necessarily inspire affection. Murphy describes the brand personality as that of the ‘mother of the bride’. Not exactly cutting edge.

The result of the collaboration was a total revamp of what the brand stood for, with a huge focus on using emotion to instil a sense of connection with the company and tap into the theme of ‘thoughtful giving’ at Christmas. And while most people think of the hugely successful Christmas video spots, the campaigns themselves go a lot deeper, encapsulating a truly multi-channel approach both offline and online (go to 16:30 for an idea of the scope of the 2014 Christmas campaign). The latest results estimate a £5 profit for every £1 spent on marketing which is a pretty staggering success whatever way you look at it.

If you are in any way interested in the power of emotional branding, the below video is 29 minutes well spent.

Note: the videos of these talks are kept behind an attendee login so can’t be embedded. The below image is a link to the direct video source.

john lewis

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Branding, Social Media

Apple Music, Facebook Video Ads, Airline Co-branding, and Man United Marketing

First impressions of Apple Music look pretty positive

The launch of Apple Music on 30th June was the undoubted tech / media story of the week, and first impressions seemed quite positive across the board. Despite some minor gripes about it being a bloated service with a questionable user interface, people seem to like it. Whether it will be enough to persuade the legion of dedicated Spotify users to switch allegiances, or more importantly, to convince a chunk of the 800 million iTunes users to start paying a monthly subscription fee, only time will tell. Streaming music will likely become somewhat of a commodity product over the next few years, and the fact that Apple Music is baked into every iOS device will likely be their ace-in-the-hole when it comes to whether they come out on top or not.

Facebook is starting to ramp up it’s video ad revenue generation service for publishers

It’s been clear for the last couple of years that video is becoming an increasingly popular medium and that Facebook are keen on stopping YouTube from hogging all the action. Over the last few weeks it seems that they have begun testing in-line autoplay ads on ‘suggested videos’ and in doing so, making it more rewarding for content publishers to push video directly on the platform. YouTube has traditionally been a more valuable platform for content publishers as they can earn money from the ads served before their videos start. While this is harder for Facebook to deliver because the vast majority of video views come from directly in the timeline (i.e. users will likely keep scrolling if an ad plays before a random video in their timeline), playing ads before ‘suggested videos’ that users actively pursue (and might be willing to suffer through an ad for) gives them a way of getting in on the action.

What global brands can learn from Manchester United’s marketing playbook

This is an interesting piece from AdWeek’s current Sports Issue detailing the multiple different ways that Manchester United have blazed a trail when it comes to creating a truly global brand. From being one of the first teams to embark on regular international pre-season tours all over the world, to launching their own television channel (MUTV), bringing out branded credit cards, signing multiple region-specific partnership deals as opposed to finding broad global sponsors, and generally being one of the first global sports teams to truly embrace unique digital content, there’s plenty of lessons to learn for brands in general and not just sports teams.

Co-branding opportunities in the premium airline / travel market

Another great post from Skift, this time discussing the different ways that airlines might be able to add value through premium co-branding initiatives. Air travel is becoming a much contested space, especially at the premium end of the market with the likes of Emirates, Etihad etc. constantly trying to out-do each other in offering the most outlandish experiences in the air (Emirates introduced on-board showers and cocktail bars to their A380s in 2008. Not to be outdone, Etihad answered back with their first class apartment suites last year). With such an onus on airlines wanting to position themselves as premium brands, why is there not more collaboration between airlines and other premium brands that compliment each-other? Bulgari already makes the first-class amenity kits for Emirates, but that is only the tip of the iceberg – “there could be Louis Vuitton First Class suites, … Millennial-focused rows at the back offering free connectivity and music streaming, courtesy of Apple. There could be Happy Meals in the Family cabin for the kiddies. Starbucks could offer everything from Lattes to Teavana, from scones to healthy sandwich options, to those Gen-TREP passengers in a dedicated Connected cabin. Beautyrest could sponsor special bedding and more comfortable seat cushions for a Rest Zone cabin.”

Posted by Rob in Apple, Branding, Facebook, Links of the Week

Replace crappy pre-roll videos with the world’s best ads

I absolutely love this little web browser extension from D&AD. Ad-blocking is becoming more and more popular these days with people being constantly bombarded with crappy ads from every angle online. Here is a quirky little alternative for those of us who are a bit more creatively minded.

Instead of being fed crappy video ad after crappy video ad, you can now replace them with some of the best ads from the last few years with a new Chrome and Firefox web browser extension called The Ad Filter. All of these ads are crackers and leave you feeling inspired to create better work yourself, a tonic to the constant Ad Fails we all witness every time we go online.

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Branding