A Show Called Brandin': Stop selling to those who are already buying, start growing; and why you might want to hold back that millennial joke
Check out the fourth episode of A Show Called Brandin' with Hipages' Stu Tucker and Salesforce's Jo Gaines below:
Brought to you by LinkedIn, The Behaviour Report and Mi3, A Show Called Brandin’ looks at brands in culture, creativity and commerce. Each episode explores one of five principles of growth identified by LinkedIn’s B2B Institute fellows, Les Binet and Peter Field. This one dives into broad marketing versus narrow communications.
Teach a marketer to fish...
Fishing outside the boat is always a good idea if you want to catch fish. Likewise, brands that want to grow should probably think about appealing to people who are not already customers.
Seems obvious, says The Behaviour Report’s Dan Gregory, and yet almost three quarters of B2B marketers (72%) polled last year by LinkedIn don’t believe that broad marketing is as effective as narrow communication strategies.
While Australia has a history of being suspicious of outsiders, Gregory expected so much more from Kiwis.
Equally, about half of people will change their jobs within the next four years. “Which means your existing customers won’t be there by the time the next Olympics rolls around.”
B2B marketers going for gold need to start thinking about their future customers – and the people who influence their decisions.
Meanwhile, given the amount of decisions made by committee, the best B2B marketing strategies need to help customers sell into their organisation and up the line.
“If you want to understand just how vulnerable your brand is, picture the typical underpaid procurement manager working for your brand as a sales rep,” says Gregory, “because they absolutely are.”
Engage future customers – or die
Marketers have been too narrow minded – literally, says Gregory’s Behaviour Report partner in crime, Kieran Flanagan.
“Many were taught that narrow is the very definition of market targeting. Which means they are really good at selling to people who are already buying.”
Any fool can do that. Winning over new customers requires actual thought. Otherwise the funnel runs dry and the brand dies: It’s why Cadbury’s makes Freddo Frogs, says Flanagan - getting into the next generation early is key. And guess what, all that adland fuss about millennials is about to pay off. According to Simon Kustenmacher, Director of Research at the Melbourne-based Demographics Group, they are about to be the biggest buying cohort of ... a generation.
“The 2020s are all about millennials, not just because they will be by far the largest generation, but also the most impactful generation,” says Kustenmacher. “At no single point in your life do you spend more money than when you are 42. And millennials are just coming into that bracket.”
Every penny they earn goes out on mortgages, kids, consumables, comestibles, says Kustenmacher. “That is shocking news for you, but really good news for brands that are trying to sell stuff to you.”
Maybe it’s time to stop the millennial jokes.
Meanwhile, their less formal approach to life, combined with a post-Covid world decamping to the suburbs, could shift B2B culture for good, he suggests.
“It may be that B2B culture moves out and online as well – and becomes deformalised: You don’t need to meet in nice business suits, you have more zoom meetings. So the B2B culture will change. And for sales jobs, that changes things dramatically.”
CMOs on brands that are winning
The marketers on the CMO couch are just outside the millennial bracket – but not by that much, whereas host Paul McIntyre is almost a boomer. The Mi3 Executive Editor tests Hipages’ Stu Tucker and Salesforce’s Jo Gaines brand recall and finds out which brands and experiences float their boats.
Hipages CMO Stu Tucker is a rubbish consumer. He says he’s just too loyal. But that’s good news for the mainstay brands in his life: Stone & Wood, Country Road and Patagonia. Unless some marketing wizardry can turn him, there will be crisp thirst quenchery from Byron Bay in the Tucker cool box for the foreseeable.
For Salesforce’s Jo Gaines, it’s Flow Athletic, the Paddington gym that powered through the pandemic with online sessions, park training, and that even set up additional premises to help members cope with limits on numbers. “They have really extended the experience so you can train whenever, wherever,” says Gaines. “Awesome.”
Best recent customer experience? Service New South Wales for Stu Tucker. “If you think about the old days when you used to have to queue up in the RTA… They’ve done a huge customer experience turnaround.”
What really sealed the deal was free Rego.
“I went to renew and up pops a thing saying it’s free because I’ve paid X dollars in tolls,” says Tucker. “From grudge purchase to surprise and delight. A little fist pump and away we go.”
New Zealand handbag and accessories brand Deadly Ponies does it for Jo Gaines.
“Key themes for me this year are know me and understand me. And they do, they suggest things to me that I like. But I’ve also needed repairs done to bags I’ve had a long time – and they make it super easy. I don’t have to get on phone calls in business hours, I don’t have to chase them up. It’s incredible.”
Exactly what Deadly Ponies founder and creative director Liam Bowden would want to hear. “Our pieces are a stratum - not simply what you see on the surface, but the layers that lie beneath,” says Liam. “With every detail intrinsically linked to the next through handcrafted consideration.”
Most improved brand for Tucker is Perisher – no more messing about with ski pass stickers, just a smart digital app that does the lot.
Jo Gaines is blown away by Air Asia’s pivot from airline provider to “super app” for literally everybody and just about all goods and services in Malaysia. “It’s super cool.”
For the marketing teams they most admire professionally in Australia – you’ll have to watch the segment.
Taking a super niche global
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride started small, one Kogarah man’s enthusiasm for stripped down custom motorbikes, or bobbers. Now it takes place in 700 cities around the world with 125,000 riders raising money for men’s health.
As with all good things, it was inspired by an adman – a picture of Don Draper astride a classic bike in a sharp suit. Founder and director, Mark Hawwa liked the image so much he built a global brand around it.
His story perfectly illustrates how brands can go simultaneously broad and narrow to win.
“We operate within a niche within a niche,” says Hawwa. Community has been key to taking that super niche global, he says, and critically, staying true to the niche.
In three words: “Community, authentic and organic,” says Hawwa. “We don’t push hard for growth. It’s about maintaining what we do. We know that it’s not about being something for everyone – I don’t believe you can have success if you want to be something for everyone.
“So for us it is about being specific, sticking to our guns, this is what we do – and we don’t tend to broaden outside of those barriers.”
That approach means he has been able to treat B2B sponsors, such as Triumph, exactly the same as ‘B2C’ riders.
“That doesn’t really change, because the B2B clients are also passionate motorcyclists. So irrespective whether they are an individual or part of a brand or a celebrity, the great thing about bikes is they are an equaliser in the scene. So the marketing tends to stay the same,” he says. “Only the reporting changes.”