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Derrick Daye Market Research

Marketing Research: Differences Matter

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Marketing Research

The worst data miscalculation in brand marketing is also the easiest to fix, even though it requires a new way of looking at market opportunities for brands.

It’s a miscalculation made with good intentions. Brand marketers put a high priority on focus, so complex markets have to be boiled down to their essence. Focus through simplification is smart, but oftentimes it takes a brand in the wrong direction. So it’s worth taking a second look at bringing focus to brand marketing.

As we all learned in Marketing Research 101, there are two broad, overarching ways of looking at research data – measures of central tendency and measures of variance. Admittedly, this lingo doesn’t easily roll off the tongue, so to put it another way, for any given dataset, you can look at averages or differences. You can look at the average consumer or you can look at varieties of consumers.

There are many ways of calculating averages and differences, so each category of measures includes lots of statistical techniques. But every statistic is either a measure of central tendency or a measure of variance.

The priority on focus in brand marketing means an over-reliance on measures of central tendency and an under-appreciation of measures of variance. Brand marketers want to focus on the average because that gives them a way to simplify and concentrate their resources. Brand marketers fear getting paralyzed by the ambiguity and indecisiveness often present in differences. It is hard to know what to focus on when options, scenarios, choices and situations seem endlessly numerous and diverse. Even when brand marketers factor in differences, they do so by focusing on multiple averages, which is an incomplete way of accounting for differences.

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Brand Strategy Derrick Daye Featured

Brand Strategy: Market The Benefit

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Brand Strategy Benefits Features

Nowadays, we live in a world of features. Technology is brimful with features like apps, add-ons and upgrades. Car dashboards are overrun with feature-this and feature-that. Our social relationships are mediated by the features of mobile apps and our brand buying is completed through an ever-more feature-intensive array of hi-tech services for comparisons, payments and delivery. It is a world awash in features.

By all appearances, in today’s marketplace, features seem to sell us on one thing versus another. Yet, features don’t sell. As brand marketers we know that when it comes to the choices consumers make, features are beside the point. But it’s hard to keep this in mind in today’s feature-rich marketplace. Nevertheless, bottom line, all that matters are benefits.

With features dominating so much of the attention and investment these days, it’s worth revisiting this basic marketing imperative – market the benefit. To do so, I thought it helpful to look at an illustration I learned way back when from Kevin Clancy, who recently received the Advertising Research Foundation’s Great Minds Awards in Innovation for his career contributions to the development of marketing and marketing research.  (It’s an example that is included, along with many others, in a 1991 book he co-authored, entitled The Marketing Revolution: A Radical Manifesto for Dominating the Marketplace.)

Kevin taught me that there are two things brand marketers can focus on about a marketing message or a product or service, and two ways to say each. You can focus on attributes (or features) or benefits. Attributes describe what something is – it’s the what, if you will.  Benefits describe what something delivers – it’s the why. You can market what a product is or you can market why a product matters, or you can market both.  Ultimately, though, consumers care less about what a product is; mostly, they care about why a product matters to them.

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Derrick Daye Marketing

Linking Marketing, Magic And The Mind

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Brand Marketing Magic

The third of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws of prediction is his most famous: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Many would argue that this describes marketing nowadays. Marketing technologies, it could be said, have become so advanced that brand marketing is now indistinguishable from magic. If true, that’s an idea – or a metaphor, really – suggestive of potentialities in modern marketing that have yet to be fully explored.

But there is a missing piece in Clarke’s third law. He doesn’t say what he means by magic. Obviously, he doesn’t mean a whiz-bang Vegas show full of pyrotechnics and spooky visitations. That’s show business not technology. So it’s helpful to begin by nailing down the notion of magic before deciding whether Clarke’s law suggests anything relevant for brand marketers.

Magicians are notoriously cagey with outsiders about their craft. But magician Alex Stone has given us an insider’s look at how magic works in his new book, Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers of the Mind. The most important thing up every magician’s sleeve is something well-known to psychologists – inattentional blindness, or the inability of the human mind to process anything that is not the specific and direct focus of attention at that moment. We know that magician’s use misdirection to fool us, but generally speaking, we fail to realize just how powerful this is. Think of the famous viral video of Daniel J. Simons’ Monkey Business Illusion, or study the research about driving while talking on a cell phone or about attempting to multitask with any attention-grabbing technology.

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Brand Marketing Derrick Daye

Marketers Must Embrace The New Marketplace

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Brand Strategy DirecTV

DirecTV no longer features the character Epic Win and his gaudy, gold-plated menagerie of women, strongmen and dwarf giraffes. Instead, DirecTV ads are now filled with hapless characters whose poor treatment by their cable-TV companies triggers a chain of events that leaves them battered and tattered.

Microsoft’s current ad campaign for Bing spotlights its new collaboration with Facebook with this headline: “Search goes social.”

A couple of years ago, Virgin America teamed up with Method Hand Wash to advertise the reminder that “We’re all in this together.”

Budweiser’s call to action to “Grab Some Buds” is a deliberate play on words promoting not just picking up a six-pack but celebrating, even saluting, friendships.

What’s going here with all of this advertising about relationships between people (rather than relationships between brands and consumers)? The answer is the kinship economy.

Whether by design or by accident, these brand marketers are connecting their brands to the central dynamic unfolding in the consumer marketplace – the growing priority of process, people and purpose over product, brands and over-indulgence. Today’s driving force is the newly ascendant importance of people relationships over brand relationships.

But this marketplace shift is not one instead of the other; it’s the new in addition to the old.  The value of product is not going away. Product-related elements remain essential. Consumers still want quality, performance, good value and status. But, increasingly, anything product-related is taken for granted, and often distrusted. It’s no longer a compelling source of differentiation. What matters is process, i.e., how people are treated. It’s ‘the getting’ not ‘the get,’ so to speak. Relationships are front and center, and the gold standard of relationships is kith and kin. So with relationships first and foremost, the epitome of marketing, both today and tomorrow, is kinship.

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Brand Marketing Derrick Daye

Brand Marketing’s New Currency

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Brand Strategy Zappos

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, neuroscientists at the University of Parma discovered mirror neurons in our premotor cortex that fire when we perform an action and also when we observe others performing the same action. For example, the neurons that fire when we grasp a cup also fire when we see others grasp a cup. By mirroring the activities of others in this way, mirror neurons endow us with a built-in leaning toward empathy, social interaction and altruism.

We don’t always behave well in social settings, but because we are predisposed to social engagement, the rocketing rise of social networks makes sense. If, as some neuroscientists contend, the big ideas that stick are those that match brain structure and function, then social media are here to stay and will prove the naysayers wrong.

The discovery of our innate social faculty adds to our understanding of marketplace transactions. Embedded deep within dollar-and-cents exchanges are social exchanges of interpersonal connections – some good and some bad – that resonate to our very core.

What social networks have done is peel away the part of these exchanges that have always involved relationships. The relationships that matter most are family, and family means kinship. This is the currency of social networks. More and more these days, the currency of kinship must be spent first before any financial value can be realized, and this has big ramifications for growth opportunities in the marketplace ahead. Four warrant special mention.

First, happiness is the new metric of success. Relationships are a primary predictor of life satisfaction, so with the increasing importance of social networks and relationships, happiness will figure more prominently. Though brands like Zappo’s and Coke are touting happiness, it is not something most brands can do. But all brands can audit their consumer touchpoints to ensure that they are not upside down in their kinship accounts. This requires a different view of what relationships are all about.

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