Monthly Archives: February 2012


Everything is everything these days. Long gone are the days when clear lines of distinction exist between channels. For example; where is the line between PR and advertising today? Content and advertising?  Is Social best handled by a PR agency or a digital agency? How does a marketer divide responsibilities between their service agencies when there is overlap in capabilities and expertise?

We had a situation recently that could have gotten ugly in which two service partners sharing a mutual client had a different take on who should ‘own’ execution on what was a combined recommendation. Each partner had a unique take on how they would execute it.  Was one right and the other wrong? No, they each approached it from their unique expertise.  Either agency would have executed the program well and the client would have had good results.

So, how did we resolve this?

First and foremost, we did not drag the client into the middle of the discussion because the last thing the agencies needed was to come across as non-collaborative to the client. This was our problem, not theirs.

Two open and honest phone calls between reasonable professionals who never lost sight that the decision should be made based on what was best for the client. Had these conversations become arguments or devolved into financial self-interests we’d still have no resolution. We also never characterized the situation as a fight because that creates conflict, friction and animosity.

Our first inclination was to see if there was an opportunity to collaborate on execution. But due to the unique nature of this specific initiative, we ultimately both agreed that one of the partners needed to own it outright and the other agency gracefully backed away in the spirit of partnership feeling that the client was still in very capable hands respecting the decision and the overall relationship.

The moral of the story?  In absence of having very clear and agreed to lines of distinction cooler heads will prevail. If you find yourself in this predicament be willing to back away if the client is better served by the other partner—or equally served. One bad situation can sour a relationship forever and ultimately you and the client are worse off for it.

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Does One Size Really Fit All?

Welcome to what I intend will be a regularly published thought piece on marketing and media. I’ve made a career out of bucking conventional wisdom and challenging the status quo, so expect thought provoking content that challenges your thinking. I invite you to comment, tell me how big a fool I am or whatever pleases you, but do come back and read again.

Does One Size Really Fit All?

Often times I work with segmentations which reveal clusters of potential customers with varying motivations and category needs, yet most marketers I’ve run across try to create one lowest common denominator message delivered with a media buy that focuses on a broad demographic group. While not wanting to alienate large segments of the population is good, what results is a message/media strategy that is bland, non persuasive and ultimately unsuccessful.

What I have found is the most mundane categories often have the most deeply rooted psychological drivers. Think about why you drink the brand of coffee you have most often. Are you a functional buyer or an aesthetic buyer? Is price a factor or are you willing to pay premium price for better taste? Is fair trade or organic important to you? What about convenience? Many brands can appeal to multiple motivations, yet rarely do they segment their marketing efforts to match the consumer segments.

What confounds me is that in today’s fractured media world we can create unique messages and media strategies for multiple audiences yet most marketers don’t. Why? I can only guess that marketers are on austerity budgets as it relates to producing multiple executions. But is trying to save money actually costing money in lost sales opportunity? I believe so. Marketers opt for heavy ‘weight levels’ of universal messaging instead of pinpointing messaging at the appropriate times. What we have is a case where audience metrics (GRP’s, high levels of reach, and low CPMs) overrule the business metrics.

So, what’s the fix? Start with a segmentation based on the different motivations for your category. Identify the segments that you can compete in based on matching your traits with customer needs and create messaging/media efforts that appeal to each unique group. How much should you spend behind each segment? Depends on the value of the segment; are they heavier users or lighter users? What are their purchase influences? How competitive is the segment? This is how you determine where your next best dollar should be spent.


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