Big Game Advertisers STILL Fumble, even with an Absence of Storylines

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the “Big Football Game that happens once a year and is a big spectacle” (of which I will not use the actual name for fear of the NFL smackdown) and has been an event the NFL has been looking forward to for years. They are opening a brand new stadium in Santa Clara, welcoming 1 (or maybe) 2 teams back to the West Coast, and again the nation’s attention is on the game.

Or is it…

There is a significant lack of storylines surrounding this game, which allows the ads to take center stage.

“Big Game” storylines

The storylines that are surrounding this game are obviously manufactured hot buttons that were generated to provide fodder to what has the strong potential of being a snoozer of a game. Take manufactured story #1…. Steroids use amongst one of the sport’s aging legends.  At least when this happened in baseball, it was after their aging legend broke one of the most untouchable records in sports, not coming off statistically one of the worst seasons in history.

Manufactured story #2… the race of the league MVP. With #blacklivesmatter and other social movements surrounding race as hot as ever, what is a way to stir up conversation? Race. Unfortunately, Cam’s demeanor and lack of bulletin board commentary failed to have this story gain much steam, except on the media outlets who are pushing this issue hard.

Here are the realities that are harming the potential ‘sexiness’ of this “Big Game:”

  • This will surely be a defensive game with little scoring, not exactly what satisfies the primary “Big Game” audience, the casual viewer.
  • This has the very, very strong potential of being an absolute blow out, similar to the last time the aging legend was a part of a “Big Game.” A blow out would be detrimental to all, including advertisers.

Advertisers: This is your 2-minute drill:

The reality is that with such little attention being spent on the actual teams, this allows the ads to take center stage and dominate the attention, and hopefully the water cooler tomorrow.

With the very public exodus of some prominent “Big Game” advertisers and the continued growth of streaming for the game, the Spanish telecast owned by another network, other live events garnering more interest, and the increasing consumer attention being thrust into our devices, the allure of advertising on the “Big Game” appears to becoming a fleeting advertising endeavor, or one ripe for new entrants to restore interest.

Historically, the “Big Game” was time for the advertising agencies of beer companies, car companies, and insurance companies to prove their worth; not by selling cars, policies, or beers, but by generating buzz and attention. Success is measured less by consumer conversions, but more by journalistic conversions, in the form of being in the top 10 lists associated with the games.

But the onset of digital marketing and measurable advertising have forced many advertisers to realize they are able to enjoy similar success, without having to allocate significant percentages of their marketing budget to the game (see Loctite from 2015’s game who bet the house on the “Big Game” and are not back for 2016).

This has focused the attention away from being the most memorable ads, but to being the ads that actually drive consumer adoption, interest, and most of all dollars. This tectonic shift has been happening over the past half decade, but needed a low football interest “Big Game” to make its debut… SB50, marks that day. However, you might want to tell the advertisers that.

Big Game Advertisers have fumbled in 2016

There has been little pre-game hype in the form of ad series, sneak peaks, etc. and most advertisers are taking the lazy way out and just releasing their ads in their entirety, weeks prior to the game. So much for build up… unless the goal is that journalistic conversion of yesteryear.

The big winner of the “Big Game” pre-hype so far has been Ritz, a NON-Big Game advertiser. Last year, the winner of the “Big Game” hype was Newcastle, another NON-Big Game advertiser.

TL;DR Version / Summary

In a year where the actual play on the field has less luster than a tarnished Big Game ring, the stage was set for advertisers to make that goal-line interception, steal the attention, and score big on measurable results.

The reality is those who invested a sizable portion of their marketing budget to reach the mass “Big Game” audience have fallen prey to the faults of their elders. Focusing more on journalistic attention and back pats, and less on conversions and understanding pre-game hype.

The reality is those who invested a sizable portion of their marketing budget to reach the mass “Big Game” audience have fallen prey to the faults of their elders. Focusing more on journalistic attention and back pats, and less on conversions and understanding pre-game hype.

First time advertisers should listen to Wanamaker and the rest of the Advertising Folklore as it pertains to that whole frequency thing… They satisfied the reach, hitting the biggest audience of the year, but miss the important frequency aspect, with the whole ‘one and done’ mentality. Pre-game hype, sneak peaks, contests, user generated activity, etc. press that frequency button, get more mileage out of your investment and keep your brand in front of the consumer more often leading up to the game. This allows your “Big Game” ad to be the climactic ending to your story and one that hopefully garners the consumer interest needed for sustained, measurable growth. Unfortunately, your ‘ad leak’ 3 weeks before the game does not satisfy frequency, it increases your chances at Cannes.

Let’s remember that the audience will be on 2 devices the whole night and create immersive experiences, not consumption plays in which you hope that the consumer is watching, interested, not on their device, and most of all able to recall your brand 20 seconds after your ad airs, when the next hail mary ad from the next advertiser is shown.

It is not about football or advertising

The “Big Game” event has less to do with the game and more to do with the experience. The experience of getting together with friends and family, enjoying wonderful edible delights, potentially adult beverages, but most of all laughter, TV yelling, and consumption. Why can’t we as marketers and advertisers do better. We invest huge budgets in an event that we probably perform the worst at. It is like us being the starting QB in the “Big Game” and going out drinking the entire week prior.

Consumers deserve better. Marketers deserve better. Let’s be better.

The Pleasing Paradox

We spend most of our time aiming to please strangers. Actively ignoring those who we have already succeeded in pleasing. Those individuals who welcome our banter, quirks, and uniqueness. We have successfully sold them on our bill of goods. Ironically enough, our laser-like focus on those for which we aim to please clouds our judgement. We all know too well there is an infinite number of strangers to try to please. Each with their own requirement for pleasing. Our constant pursuit for the pleasing paradox prevents us from enjoying and continuing to nurture the relationships we have already built. Our arrogance in the conquest of a successful sale, only satisfies a taste of our malicious desire.

Continuing the hunt of additional skulls for our belt, our blood thirsty lust for another satisfied customer blinds the real meaning behind our subject’s pleasure. The desire for interaction and meaningful relationships.

This metaphoric representation is all too true today in our business world. Our thirst for new customers and the conversion of a cold lead prevents us from understanding the true value of the already qualified and satisfied customer. Until that customer falls back into the funnel, as a now scorn and neglected antelope grazing in the field.

Are we KILLING Twitter??

Every article you read, every post you see, is telling you that your business should be jumping to Twitter to push your latest promotion. ‘They’ are telling you that your customers will flock to Twitter, follow your brand, and become brand evangelists right away. They are individuals who are living on Twitter and will see every post that you write, and promote it feverishly to their followers and continue to sing your brand’s praises. Or do they?

The problem marketers are running into is that their ‘Twitter evangelists’ are following at least 2000 other brands who continue to vow the same premonition. Twitter is becoming diluted by countless marketers trying to play the perfect ‘timing game’ to try to hit the most influential targets during that precious window in which they are checking their status. Originators of genuine content are competing against individuals retweeting the same content countless times which in turn continues to dilute users from seeing the genuine content.

Don’t believe me?? Log into your Twitter account and leave it ‘inactive’ for 5 minutes…. See how many updates you have when you come back? It is probably at least 20… and that was 5 minutes. But do you blame the marketers for constantly pushing their content so that they just might win the dice roll? Having the ‘influential’ person with the desired Klout score see their post and distribute it to their quandary of influential viewers…. See the benefit of the crap shoot? But with a massive amount of users trying to win this crap shoot, how can anyone actually win this diluted game of chance?

Twitter is becoming a medium in which the true impact of your marketing efforts are going to the way of Newspaper advertisements. Real marketers are analyzing their shortened links stats, trying to find out the best time to push their content, and inquiring how this content could not only drive traffic to their site, but through 140 characters, close a sale… Asking a lot from an almost ADD-actioned group of candidates barraged with countless pitches.

Twitter has evolved from a medium for celebrities to discuss their latest movie endeavor or what they had for breakfast to its intended and purposed use…. customer service!!

Why wouldn’t any brand want to be transparent to the point that their customer service efforts would be showcased on a medium that not only can develop brand evangelists, but also provide your users with almost instant resolution of their issues? No longer do you need to archive your customer service conquests to the depths of phone records and live chat transcripts. Your brand can easily resolved a delayed shipment, incorrect order fulfillment, or incorrect invoice with your direct customers. This continues to build your brand loyalty and does what countless users are trying to do now…. initiate their brand as a brand, owned by the people…

So as it pertains to your customer service and social media marketing….are you killing Twitter?

Marketers are Sheep

Marketers are sheep… let’s face it. They shy away from confrontation and nestle into their comfort zone because it is not only a proven method, but one traditionally has yielded highest results. The number of marketers eager to join the herd grows greater everyday we see another negative report on our economy. ‘herd’ marketers are afraid to jump out of the norm and create customer service experiences that create brand evangelists. Instead of leading the pack and innovative new and inventive ways to show your customers, your product is superior, you rely on traditional mindsets and ‘word of mouth’. While word of mouth has long been the fabled most successful form of marketing, it pales in comparison to customer service. Customer service creates satisfied customers, who feel the need to sing your brands praises, who then generate buzz, which then creates word of mouth and viral campaigns. Word of mouth is a product of customer service…not vice versa.

Will you leave the herd behind?

The key to positive customer service in the new age is transparency. Creating an environment where customers feel comfortable to to express their positive and negative thoughts, as well as provide them a venue free from judgement in a location where their needs will be met. This is the key to determining true customer service. Use your negative comments as a medium to continuous product development and enhancement. This negative customer experience can provide you with the competitive advantage that your competition is missing out on because they are nestled in the herd. Companies not confident enough in their products and not confident enough in their support staff that they stifle themselves inside a box, secure from negative chatter, are the ones hemorrhaging customer loyalty. Your product is your medium to connect to your customers. you develop your product to satisfy a potential customer need, but without knowing the true needs of your customers, you are not truly satisfying their needs to the point of evangelism are you?

Tools to maximize customer service are everywhere. Social media and live chat being 2 of those options. But do not use your customer service channels and keep them stuffed into archives. Present these conversations, display them on your website, social media channels, and press releases. Confidence in your customer service efforts adds a level of confidence in your brand. products chasing competitors with higher market share can utilize this technique to not only showcase your personalization, but present your product as the superior brand, highlighted by your customer service.

Will you join the herd and only showcase your positive experiences, or will you use your negative experiences as a means of transparency and not a weakness. This is where true evangelists are built.

Negative experiences build more efficient product development.

Irrational Decisions Render Irreplaceable Results

Hasteful decisions are commonplace in today’s society. Life has become far too busy for us to take a back seat and reflect on potential decisions or the repercussions of said decisions. We are surrounded by media outlets who throw caution to the wind and rely on semi credible sources of information in order to “scoop” the story. Being first has become more important then being right. To quote a popular comedy “If you are not first, you are last” and although derived as a comedic venture, it has proved correct for today’s society. There is little effort shown in the confirmation of validity, and more effort is shown to become the first. This has not only become prevalent in media outlets, but in business. And the results can be devastating.

Hasteful decisions can really play a hindrance on a product launch

Apple’s hasteful release of the iPhone 4, which created the entire “Antennagate” fiasco, is just one prime example of how being first, was more important then being the best. The PR storm that ensued left a black eye for Apple that could permanently damage their brand as a result. Although this is one example of an issue with hasteful decisions, it will not be the last as this practice has become almost commonplace. PR and Marketing departments have to always have a emergency plan set up to handle PR disasters such as this event. Apple, however has done an excellent job of saving face during the whole fiasco and managed to continue to increase sales as a result.

While the rewards are plentiful for being first to a particular market or first to produce the next great piece of technology, the benefit of a product being well tested has gone to the wayside. No longer are customers more interested in whether a product is a quality product, as they are proud of the fact their product is ‘new and shiny.’ This practice is fueled by brilliant marketing among the industry leaders to make consumers realize that what is new, is always better despite the lack of testing. The consumers who flock to retail stores on the release date are willing to spend countless money on a product with minimal testing in hopes of being one of the first to own this product.

What consumers fail to realize is if we would judge a product based on quality standards as opposed to its novelty, we would force the manufacturers to ensure the product meets the standards issued by the consumer, which would in turn create more quality products. Manufacturers are willing to cut corners in hopes of winning the race, because the consumer is willing to accept less in order to have it first.

As a marketer, I find that the manufacturers, who are willing to take an extra week or month to ensure the success of a product and the elimination of any bugs, prove to be far more valuable then producing it first. But our society has been bred by the idea that asking for forgiveness for poor design is far easier then ensuring quality. Because, all a bad design does, is set the stage for an upgraded model.

The Audacity of Change

Our brains are built with the assumption that everything we do, will last forever and the possibility of our status quo being interrupted sends a shockwave through our minds that glimpses of the apocalypse. In a time of maintaining, what drive innovation? Without hardships and boat rocking, intuitive thought thought is not provoked. When your business hits a rut and growth is halted, the common practice is to stand back and blame previous decisions and criticize the supposive ‘lack of foresight.’ Nowhere in this process does one stand up and state that perhaps our model is flawed and we just didn’t realize the beginning of a changing landscape. Freethinkers are often put out and shunned for their innovation. When in turn, providing a haven for creativity breeds innovation which in turn breeds competitive advantage.

The greatest products and innovations were not developed out of complacentness and uniformity. They were developed by throwing away the norm and forcing free thinkers to be proactive. Anticipating the consumer’s next step is what separates brand identity and forces the market to carve out a new niche.

When Board of Directors are constantly forcing marketing managers to rethink previous decisions and be reactive in their advertising endeavors, this causes you to fall behind the evolution of the market and most of all, lose touch with your ever evolving customer base. There is no difference between a marketer and a financial advisor. Both are trying to anticipate the market’s next move. One is doing it with securities and investments, where the other is doing it with advertising campaigns and social media. Both are trying to analyze trends and forecast where the next growth avenue to gain that competitive advantage.

In some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, how will you attack the market? Will you sit in the bullpen and be reactive while letting your competitors gain the competitive advantage and the hard sought after dollars of your customers, or will you take the ball and carve out your next big revenue stream? It is truly your choice.

Be in front of your consumer…even when they don’t need your product.

I know this sounds like blasphemy but remaining in front of your consumer, even though they do not have an immediate need for your product or service holds significant value….and the organizations using this tactic very well, are the ones with a community of loyalists, willing to purchase at the hint of need, without regard for competitive wandering.
Some of the strongest brands in the world are built under the assumption that you have an immediate need but chances are…. You don’t. Immediate needs are becoming less and less about who is available and more about who do I already know and trust. The trust factor holds more weight now then pricing and even features. Don’t believe me…. (why buy a particular brand of laundry detergent or anti-persperent, when all of them work effectively)…. Because you TRUST the one that you have been using and are a loyalist because it has satisfied your need consistently.

The same thing applies to marketing your message initially. If the intended consumer knows you are a viable resource for subjects pertaining to their need or expected need, then when they are looking for a product in that category, they already know you are the trusted source. Why do so many people purchase their multi-vitamins from a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, when there are countless other e-retailers dealing the same wares for a fraction of the cost… same exact wares!! Because you know your product is going to be correct and contain exactly what you have come to trust from that retailer. No surprises and they have become the resource for satisfying your demand consistently for an extended period of time.

Why wouldn’t you use a digital medium to merely promote your brand and not necessarily beat your consumers over the head with the perception of an immediate need? Why only measure the immediate sale based off of the first touch and strive for that as the end goal? Why not devote all of your attention and resources to garnering the most 5 or 6 touch conversion? Yes the cost of the conversion is significantly higher, but think that in the age of short attention spans and constant interruption, the consumer TRUSTED your brand enough to revisit multiple times and digest your message, prior to purchase. You have created an informed consumer that will inheritly be more satisfied with their purchase since they are most likely fully aware of the outcome of their purchase.

While this seems completely ulterior to the gospel of marketing, why is a constant saturation of brand messaging through multiple channels (even those pesky low conversion channels) such a bad thing? ROI of a single medium is quickly eroding and producing false hopes and misconceived success.

In a time of uncertainty revolving around the most ‘effective’ marketing medium, why search for unicorns and wizards, when the consumers are asking to be touched extensively.

Revenue or Bust…the New Facebook Advertising Model

Leave it to marketers to ruin yet another one of the most effective forms of communication and staple of consumers’ lives….

In a sick game of keeping up with the jones’s more and more organizations are pimping out their consumer base and attracting new ones through a no holds barred death match of attract and convert or die.

Marketers are thinking less like a consumer and more like a media outlet. Get your message in front of as many people as possible with the sole purpose of converting the sale. The sale has becoming the only thing that matters and loyalty and customer retention has quickly slipped down the priority list.

How can you blame them…. Revenue and value is the only thing that matters. The only metrics worth attracting any interest from the C-suite has to revolve around sales numbers. So you have countless positive product reviews and unbelievable customer loyalty on social media, if those consumers are not converting on a regular basis….they are dead to C-suite.

You can’t achieve sales goals by engagement on Facebook….. or can you?? (teaser for later on the post)

With spending on digital being as bullish as it has ever been, more and more organizations are choosing to abandon the masses of Facebook for the greener pastures of other digital media. What was once the inherit craze of relationship building is slowly eroding to the archaic but perceived ‘proven’ model of acquisition.
What GM and other large organizations fail to realize about advertising on Facebook and other ‘low return’ media is their complete disregard for one of the most common and fundamental marketing lessons in history. The fact that it requires multiple touches and impressions of a consumer seeing your marketing before they:

  1. Recognize your brand or product
  2. Remember your brand or product the next time they see it
  3. Realize your brand or product can satisfy their need
  4. Trust your brand and product
  5. Purchase your brand or product
  6. Share your brand or product with their cohorts and tribe

With the relatively low barrier to entry and cost of doing business, the model of Facebook (or any low return digital media for that matter), is that the saturation effect and multiple touches to the consumer are the new 30 second spot. Forcing your message through non-intrusive (yet utterly very intrusive) tactics is essential to build the larger tribe and community of potential and current customers.

If the consumer feels your brand satisfies their needs and provides them with content, emotional connection, social confidence (your friends/tribe like this brand), outreach or some other determining factor, that is not only where sales are generated, but repeat sales… requiring much less acquisition expense per customer.

Much like one of Seth Godin’s messages in Linchpin, giving away content is the new promotion and can smoothly transition into an evangelist and vital consumer to your growth.

The ‘should be’ new Facebook Advertising Model
If you are expecting to make significant direct revenue off of a social channel or other soft touch referral source, you are on a race to abolishment. What you SHOULD BE doing is understanding the consumers perception of the medium and using this as a lever to communicate your message in a way that is parallel to their intended usage of the medium. Billboarding your message and making buying the only logical option to your consumer on one of these ‘soft touch’ referral sources is the fastest way to suffering ads, horrible CTRs, and the inherit demolishing the opportunity for creating a community worth value.

Don’t agree with my point and see value in the ‘real’ Facebook advertising model… please stop communicating, and leave more value to us smart marketers.

New customers are the ONLY customers that matter

O the infamous introductory offers, benefits for new customers and the aggressive drive for acquisition, our eyes are solely focused on the untapped farmland of new customers.

Eyes faced forward without the notion of looking back at the seas of satisfied (or dissatisfied) customers who have already fell victim to your marketing and promotional messaging, this is the successful model used by an overwhelming majority of businesses and pressed on heavily from the C-suite.

New is the only barometer for growth right??

As Joseph Jaffe brilliantly communicated in Flip the Funnel, why spend high sums on new customer acquisition when some of your biggest potential evangelists are sitting in your AS400 and CRM software, waiting to be engaged?

These consumers saw value in your product and service, trusted your messaging, and parted ways with their ever shrinking dollar to buy your wares. Once they have entered your store and purchased your widget, you pass them off like a bad one night stand…..never looking back.

While particular industries feel that the new consumer is the ONLY consumer (one time and seldom purchase categories, please stand up), some of your most engaged consumers are sitting silent on the backlines, completely satisfied with their purchase and your product.

Why not speak to them, thank them for their loyalty to your brand and look to reengage and create a community of completely satisfied customers. If these people all spoke up and shared to their community the benefits of your product and how wonderfully your product satisfied their needs, you would be on board right?? Why not create that environment?

Why we don’t care about existing consumers…

Attracting new customers is fun…and the thrill of the kill is more engaging them dipping your toes in the water of a previously visited lake. The thirst for newness and untouched farmland seduces us into creating a tunnel vision approach on the unknowing prey.

The thrill of obtaining a new customer or a new lead is a high that many marketers consider to be euphoric. It makes you feel like you just slaughtered the unknowing bison. You pillaged the weak town and took all of their assets. You are the king of the jungle….

All of the effort you put into finding and capturing that new consumer, could have went into rekindling the old flame of your previous customers and created an army of “I will do anything for you” consumers willing to spread your message at the drop of a hat. The acquisition cost you are saving from now just focusing on the new prey, can be used to incent your existing customers to reach out to the new customers. The multiplier effect from this practice makes your quest for the new fruit, feel like a bad pick up line.

Treat your existing customers like new customers

Loyalty and rewards are the new currency. Incent your consumers to do something they have already agreed to do (trust you and purchase from you) and the ROI speaks for itself. Why climb the mountain on foot, if you have a ATV right next to you? O because the thrill of climbing the mountain makes the victory lap that much more exciting….

Do you know what I think is more exciting…. Loyal customers willing to pay FULL PRICE for your wares… profit margin and low acquisition cost… that is exciting.

Irrational Decisions Render Irreplaceable Results

Hasteful decisions are commonplace in today’s society. Life has become far too busy for Apple’s hasteful release of the iphone 4, which created the entire “Antennagate” fiasco, is just one prime example of how being first, was more important then being the best. The PR storm that ensued left a black eye for Apple that could permanently damage their brand as a result. Although this is one example of an issue with hasteful decisions, it will not be the last as this practice has become almost commonplace. PR and Marketing departments have to always have a emergency plan set up to handle PR disasters such as this event. Apple, however has done an excellent job of saving face during the whole fiasco and managed to continue to increase sales as a result.us to take a back seat and reflect on potential decisions or the repercussions of said decisions. We are surrounded by media outlets who throw caution to the wind and rely on semi credible sources of information in order to “scoop” the story. Being first has become more important then being right. To quote a popular comedy “If you are not first, you are

last” and although derived as a comedic venture, it has proved correct for today’s society. There is little effort shown in the confirmation of validity, and more effort is shown to become the first. This has not only become prevalent in media outlets, but in business. And the results can be devastating.

While the rewards are plentiful for being first to a particular market or first to produce the next great piece of technology, the benefit of a product being well tested has gone to the wayside. No longer are customers more interested in whether a product is a quality product, as they are proud of the fact their product is ‘new and shiny.’ This practice is fueled by brilliant marketing among the industry leaders to make consumers realize that what is new, is always better despite the lack of testing. The consumers who flock to retail stores on the release date are willing to spend countless money on a product with minimal testing in hopes of being one of the first to own this product.

What consumers fail to realize is if we would judge a product based on quality standards as opposed to its novelty, we would force the manufacturers to ensure the product meets the standards issued by the consumer, which would in turn create more quality products. Manufacturers are willing to cut corners in hopes of winning the race, because the consumer is willing to accept less in order to have it first.

As a marketer, I find that the manufacturers, who are willing to take an extra week or month to ensure the success of a product and the elimination of any bugs, prove to be far more valuable then producing it first. But our society has been bred by the idea that asking for forgiveness for poor design is far easier then ensuring quality. Because, all a bad design does, is set the stage for an upgraded model…