Showing posts with label Account Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Account Planning. Show all posts

I hate your “ creative” .. give me something that sells or burst!

I'm a marketer not in the entertainment  business .. i dont sell art .. im not here to impress people and get a "WOW" effect!

Grow up Mr. or Ms. Kخreative ( Kخhara + Creative) in Arabic and the better English for it is " shitReative" ( Shit + creative)

The 7 Creative Elements That “Win” 

  • Focal Point -- Ads with an obvious focal point help to focus the person viewing your brand’s message.
  • Brand Link-- Ads, tend to perform better when it is easy for someone to establish a quick link between the ad and the brand being represented. This is especially true for more iconic brands.
  • Brand Personality -- How well does the ad fit with what users know about the brand? 
  • Informational Reward -- Does the ad have interesting information? 
  • Emotional Reward-- Ads with emotional reward tend to perform better, especially when the emotions are aligned with the true spirit and authenticity of the brand. Use of humor is a good way to connect with your audience.
  • Noticeability -- Think about what makes you pause and look at ads, especially on mobile. Video ads that grab your attention tend to perform better.
  • Call to Action -- Include a strong call to action like “Shop Now.” Your audience will be more likely to take action if you tell them what you’d like them to do. Call To Action options: Shop Now, Book Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Download, Watch More, Contact Us, Apply Now, and Donate Now.

Brands, strategy, innovation and the world of account planning| A reflection on planning by planners|

Is planning impotent?

What makes a good planner?

Are planners glorified researchers?

Is planning handicapped by advertising?

Campaign Vs.Conversation

This graph clearly and neatly map the differences between the two approaches and  this RGA film talkes about the importance of long term brand platforms.
Campaigns versus conversations Infographic by Kenneth J Weiss
Campaigns versus conversations Infographic by Kenneth J Weiss
The danger, however, is that the believe that we can simply shine a spotlight on the conversation, abandon the campaign and leave consumers to it. It’s dangerous for a number of reasons:
  1. They may not be saying very much at all. Writing about launching “Brands in Public” Seth Godin observes “If your brand has any traction at all people are talking about you”. That’s partially true of course, but only partially. If you’re say a bread brand, a detergent brand or a toilet paper brand they may not be saying a lot.  As Oscar Wilde so memorably put it “The only thing worse than been talked about is not being talked about”.Or is it…
  2. In the absence of something positive to respond to, the conversation may be dominated by customer service issues or by mischief making. The Skittles experiment is a case in point where without a conversation starter from the brand the conversation is effectively high-jacked. Indeed many brand owners’ reaction to the Brands in Public initiative seems to indicate that simply letting the conversation run without interesting brand stimulus and curation is problematic for any number of brands.
  3. Our brands become the guy with no opinion-the one who responds to every question with “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Skittles' Twitter Homepage Experiment
Skittles' Twitter Homepage Experiment
It’s very easy to see the campaign as the poster child for everything that is wrong with communications today-monolithic, monomaniacal and myopic. But do any of us really want to talk to a brand with nothing to say for itself? The people I want to talk to are the ones who tell me interesting stories, make me laugh or show me something beautiful. The brands people participate with most are arguably the ones generating the most interesting material of their own. So perhaps we need to re-frame the way we think about campaigns, seeing them not as egomaniacal, one-way rants but as conversation starters and stimulators-the jokes, stories and provocations that start a conversation, keep it going, keep it interesting.
Benjamin Palmer of the Barbarian Group in an excellent-and provocative-post on the subject of brands and conversations emphasises this need to do something worth talking about:
“I can’t help but feel that while we’re in a phase where our industry is looking at social media as a new marketing platform, what we should be thinking is that it’s just the newest place our audience goes to to talk about us when we do something worth talking about”
Smart and nuanced stuff, though I’m not sure I agree 100%. There’s no question that the age of the monologue is over. The conversations between brands and their consumers happen in the open today and we either embrace that or lose all control of the dialogue. Likewise, as media platforms fragment we need to create our own platforms; brand destinations delivering ongoing utility and entertainment. As consumers become ever more empowered and expressive we will want to embrace that expressive-ness and co-create with them.
Clearly, any smart social media thinkers will find ways of managing and directing the conversation. They will understand the role of content in giving shape to conversations, they will know how to associate brands with the subjects consumers do want to talk about, they will build in simple and scaleable ways of joining a conversation. They will find ways of aggregating the conversation into something bigger and more beautiful than the sum of its parts.
But we believe campaigns also have a pivotal role to play if we want our brands to be involved in the right kinds of conversations:
  • Campaigns start conversations: Campaigns are the jokes, the chat-up lines, the anecdotes that get conversations started. Done right, they make our brands look interesting, sexy and funny-the kind of brand you want to talk back to. Campaigns bring people to platforms.
  • Campaigns refresh and expand conversations: So you’ve started a conversation. People are talking about the brand, passing around branded content, buzzing about the campaign. You’ve used that buzz to draw some people into a deeper conversation, perhaps engaging with a long-term brand platform or utility. Now you want 1. to give those people something new to talk about and 2. to draw more people into that deeper relationship.
  • Campaigns amplify conversations: You may have a hard core of loyal users who talk to you all the time. They’re fascinating individuals, they make excellent comments, they co-create some fantastic content with the brand. But they’re maybe 1% of your target audience. Campaigns can give these users and their content a much broader stage to play on.
The role of campaigns in conversation thinking
The role of campaigns in conversation thinking
Of course, to do all this we need to be designing the right kind of campaign. Campaigns that provoke, entertain and inspire, campaigns that invite participation, campaigns that are designed to move consumers from buzzing about brand content towards a richer, longer term dialogue. We need to design in social features from the outset and incentivise social spread. We need to make a Campaign’s ability to drive participation a key metric, to try more things more quickly and see what catches fire. Campaigns have long been designed to be talked about, it’s time to start designing them to be talked to.
If we think of conversations as the fire and campaigns as the fuel for those conversations, it’s pretty clear we need both. There’s no fire without a spark. There’s not much heat without fuel.

APG Creative Strategy Awards - The New Volkswagen Website

A Continuous Focus on the Ideal Visitor Experience


In this paper we show how account planning kept a continuous focus on visitors’ needs, helping reach its highest share of visitors for automotive manufacturers’ websites. By 2007, the website was six years old and needed a redesign. Besides, customer behaviour online had changed. Visitors had become more demanding of their online experiences as more of them got online; the web had become more sophisticated and so had visitors’ skills. In the automotive category, more people than ever were researching what car to buy online and manufacturers’ websites, to a degree, had taken on the role of dealerships. We identified insights for each of the key stages most people would pass when buying and owning a car. Our website had to help people progress to a further stage by addressing unmet needs. Through a continuous focus on the visitor experience and a planning effort to remain involved throughout the eighteen months of the project, we ensured that the website delivered at the end was aligned with our initial vision. Every part of the site is built around the ideal experience that online car buyers would expect from Volkswagen and makes every stage of buying a car more intuitive.


In this paper we will show how account planning kept a continuous focus on visitors’ needs over eighteen months of website development, helping reach its highest share of visitors for automotive manufacturers’ websites (from 9.2% in 2007 to 10.4% in 2008).

Making the case for a new website

By 2007, the website was six years old and ancient by web standards. It was time for a redesign. While the current design had been efficient at delivering information to visitors, it didn’t provide a brand experience and didn’t help move people towards purchase as much as it could.

The first thing we had to do was to make a case for why Volkswagen should go to the expense of creating a new website from scratch rather than keeping the one they had.

The business case was largely already made: we had just finished writing an IPA award paper in 2006 showing how a more engaging experience for Volkswagen’s Golf GTI resulted in more profitable configurations for Volkswagen; we forecasted a similar improvement in profitability for other models if we were to build a new, more engaging website.

More compelling, however, was the evidence that buyer behaviour had changed in the six years since the last design. The arrival of the web had transformed the car buying environment. More people than ever were researching what car to buy online.

In fact, by 2007, the Internet was the first source used to research cars. 57% of all buyers tried online research before using other media. 80% of consumers used the Internet as an information source during the vehicle buying process. Prospects spent more time online with the brand than in any other medium; of an average nineteen hours researching their next car purchase, eleven of them were spent online.

As a result, visitors knew what they wanted, how they wanted it, and what they were prepared to pay for it. Manufacturers’ websites, to a degree, had taken on the role of dealerships. Rather than visiting a selection of dealerships, people visited a selection of websites; according to a study published by Network Q, the average customer visited less than three showrooms before buying in 2007 (compared to six in 2001).

How the competition reacted

Despite an opportunity to address these issues, most manufacturers’ websites simply continued to use their websites as a confusing hard sell environment. A typical competitor’s website bombarded visitors with hundreds of choices, thousands of pages and cluttered imagery, with small cars fighting large cars and luxury cars for page space, with navigable items and links inserted for fear of what might happen if customers weren’t told to do one thing or another.

Understanding people and modelling their behaviour

Similar to the process that Volkswagen takes when building its cars, building the new site started with a thorough understanding of people. By modelling the behaviour of different customers, we were able to build a website that makes every stage of buying a Volkswagen more intuitive.

Even though people had changed their research methods, the stages of the buying process itself remained similar. We visited dealerships and interviewed people. We also drew on New Car Buyer Survey results and 39 years of agency experience of speaking with car buyers.

This allowed us to identify thirteen key stages of purchase and ownership. These were not a linear journey that all people took, but were rather important stages most people would pass when buying and owning a car.

The brand experience had to help people progress to a further stage, particularly through bridging the gap between consideration and purchase. Having customer insights for each of the key stages helped us to come up with features that would address unmet user needs.

We also looked at the shopping experience on other websites outside of the automotive category. Visitors had become more demanding of their online experiences as more of them got online; the web had become more sophisticated and so had visitors’ skills. Though mainly driven by other industries, innovation was on the rise.

Our strategy, therefore, considered three major behavioural frameworks: the shift in the car buying process towards online research; the 13 stages of car purchase and ownership; and increasingly sophisticated user expectations.

Planning the ideal experience

Based on our research and insights, we created a video briefing to inspire our team by outlining how we could take an approach different to that of our competitors. This was our challenge to the team:

Our idea was to put the customer, not the brand, at the centre.

This was translated into an overall conceptual model for how we wanted people to experience the site.

Keeping the focus on the visitor

The true value of account planning was shown in the eighteen months between the development of the vision and delivery of the website. Planners sat amongst user experience architects, creative teams and developers throughout.

Making the video briefing and creating the conceptual model had been vital steps towards designing the right experience on the website. We knew, however, that the project would take at least a year to complete, so we translated the vision and conceptual model into a set of user experience principles, which allowed us to remain involved throughout the project. In this way we would ensure that the website delivered at the end was aligned with our initial vision.

These were the five user experience principles we set for the broader team:
  • The site will be a destination for anyone interested in buying a car and become the most visited automotive website in the UK with its new features and functions as the main attractions.
  • The car models are the heroes of the Volkswagen brand, each with its own features, benefits and personalities. Each will be given a separate pedestal to stand on, even though the site is not about creating model-based campaigns.
  • The site will become the hub of Volkswagen; bringing together the brand, their retailers and customers, and strengthening the relationship between the three parties.
  • The site will reflect the brand essence by demonstrating Volkswagen’s better thinking in all business areas and through all page details.
  • The site will recognise the distinct needs of different audience groups. We will not try to be all things to all people.
From these principles came a wall of briefs.

Every corner of the website experience was subject to planning scrutiny; each stage of the visitor’s journey was issued a flexible brief. The cascading nature of the different experiences created dependencies between each brief that required day-to-day attention.

An added benefit to having the living wall of briefs came during measurement phase. When it was time to work with the website measurement technology provider, we knew exactly how we wanted each part of the site to be measured because we knew how visitors would ideally behave.

The creative result

After eighteen months, the result is a site that looks and behaves in a markedly different way. Right from the homepage you can see that the experience is designed around visitors’ needs. We don’t bombard our visitors with hundreds of choices; instead we highlight the five most important ones.

Another example of our visitor focus is the model search and selection function. Where our competitors ask you to select models for inspection simply by model name and shape, the Volkswagen site allows people to find a car suitable for their needs using a series of easy-to-understand filters based on key criteria such as shape, size, price, engine type, performance, or fuel efficiency. As you change your criteria the relevant models appear or disappear, leaving you with only the Volkswagens that are right for you.

Once you’ve selected a model, the website presents you with a bit of the ownership dream. During our research we found that people need to imagine what it might be like to own a GTI, or in this case, a Touareg 4x4. Within the thirteen stage buying process, this is our opportunity to build additional consideration and desire for a model.

The true heart of the website experience, however, is the configurator. The configurator smoothes out the complexity of buying a Volkswagen and presents the customer with a personalised, enjoyable experience. A fully animated interview process allows you to watch your dream Volkswagen being built, from getting the chosen paint colour sprayed on to finding the right finance package.

Finally, we knew that if the website was really replacing showroom visits, the following stage would be buying a Volkswagen. It was therefore important for us to allow visitors to find a retailer, choose one based on location or other customers’ recommendations and book a test drive, all directly on the website.

In the end, the creative result was a predictable outcome of our process. Every part of the site (of which we’ve only shown a portion) is built around the ideal experience that online car buyers would expect from Volkswagen. On launch looked and behaved like no other manufacturer’s website. The constant focus on visitor experience has paid off.

The results, so far (2007 vs. 2008)

Despite car sales being down by 11% year over year in the UK, we have seen noticeable improvements since launch. With visitors up by four percentage points, became for the first time the most visited automotive manufacturer’s website in the UK in November 2008, beating industry sales leaders Ford and Vauxhall.

The people who used the site are now more likely to buy: the ratio of online test drive requests to retail sales went up by 8%.

According to Psyma, a cross manufacturer website survey, between October 2007 and October 2008 overall satisfaction was up by six percentage points (from 70% to 76%). The number of people agreeing with the statement “The website makes me feel positive towards the VW brand” increased by five percentage points (from 68% to 73%) and the number of people agreeing with the statement “The site has exactly the information and function that I require” was up by seven percentage points (from 54% to 61%).

The initial results are encouraging despite the current economic climate. But what excites us most is that we have established a visitor-focused planning process that will continue building on this early success.


[Agencies] Small Vs. Big

1. Nimble. Because we don’t have a lot of people to get in the way of progress, we can turn on a dime for a client. They like that.

2. Loyal. Genuinely and to a fault. We need our precious clients to be successful, or else we’ll we’ll cease to exist. So we tend to act like we’re their partner. And really, we are.

3. Honest. Maybe too much at times. The rest of my team jokes about how “blunt” I can be with a client. Hey, if their hours suck, their staff is surly, the inventory dated, or the prices too high, someone needs to tell them…might as well be a “partner”. I care. (See Number 2.)

4. Efficient. Time is money. We’re small and don’t have the luxury of waxing poetic about a piece of creative for months. We study the issues and then work hard to sell something. Isn’t that what advertising is supposed to do, after all?

5. Hungry. We don’t eat till someone sells something. And we all know it, so we take nothing for granted.

6. Cost-conscious. Small agencies “feel the pain” of our small clients. We have to make money, but we don’t nickle and dime a client for every breath we take on their behalf.

7. Ego-less. Well, somewhat. If you think you’re the smartest one in the group, then you can’t work in a small shop. Arrogance just doesn’t work. Collaboration does.

Four Ways to Exceed Clients' Expectations

1. Agree to a deadline you know you can beat. Clients nearly always appreciate when good work arrives before the due date, because it affords them flexibility. Plus, it shows that you are both efficient and customer-focused. Of course, you shouldn't nudge clients to begrudgingly accept deadlines that don't suit them just so that you can exceed expectations later. But the surprise of early delivery is more memorable than an up-front offer to beat a client's proposed due date.

2. Be an astute questioner, not a silent sage. People often overestimate the value clients place on not being bothered while their work is with a contractor. In fact, asking pointed, proactive questions during the process demonstrates your genuine interest and focus. That doesn't mean nickel-and-diming clients so that they suspect you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. But follow-up that proves you have foresight and a knack for process efficiency sends the reassuring message that while the work is in your hands, there's no need to worry about it. Silence, in contrast, can generate unease. Besides, the occasional question is a pinprick compared with the laceration that a wholesale misinterpretation can later prove to be.

3. Be collegial. "Duh," you're probably thinking. "I'm obviously not going to be rude." But collegiality is less about politeness than about your level of deference. Too much deference, which is what most contractors show, makes you seem merely like the hired help rather than a capable complement to the internal staff — and that doesn't inspire confidence. Most clients would rather work with an equal (i.e., a colleague) than a lackey, especially if you're providing expertise. That said, acting like a know-it-all obviously isn't collegial either

4. Offer constructive suggestions at the end. Every process can be improved, and who better to provide insights than someone who just went through it? If you focus solely on the merits, not on how you would benefit, your ideas for improvement won't sound presumptuous or like complaints. A truly useful suggestion, offered in good faith and with great tact, is one that the client will want to implement, probably with you. Of course, making suggestions as an outsider is a delicate endeavor that requires appropriate circumstances and good social skills. But if you've got both on your side, the payoff can be big.