What it says on the tin
While my views on planning and strategy are always evolving (and hopefully improving), I thought it was time to make a pit-stop and assess what I believe constitutes a solid strategy today. And if there weren’t enough acronyms out there, I’m about to add one more to your arsenal. With my mind set on Words-With-Friends mode, the letters just sort of fell in place, and a 42 point (I hit DL and TW!) strategy checklist emerged. So here’s R.A.D.I.C.A.L Planning, to help your brand get a little TLC.
R is for Relevance
The role of communication is to solve a problem for the company. To do so, the company must solve a problem for the customer. Both problems must be defined properly from the beginning to ensure they’re relevant. However, the problems must be kept separate, as the company’s problem is not the customer’s problem. Answers are only as good as the questions asked, and that is also the case with solutions and problems. The more specific and unique the problem is, the better the subsequent campaign becomes. Not selling enough products is not a problem, it is the consequence of a problem. Further, many ads propose to solve problems their customers simply don’t have, and while the executions may be amusing, they fail to engage after their 30 seconds are up.
A is for Authenticity
While the problem must be relevant, the solution must be one which the company can credibly claim to solve. Spin and lack of substance may get you one step forward, but will eventually revealed for what it is and take you two steps back. Hollow claims of delivering generic emotions, for example, won’t fly for long.
Below is an ad which breaks the first two RADICAL rules; a non-problem which the brand can’t solve.
D is for Different
To be noticed, you have to stand out; both from the category and from advertising in general. I find many ads to be extremely arrogant in their presumptions of the degree to which they expect to accomplish behavioural change. Expecting people to change deeply held beliefs, attitudes and values based on a set of advertising clichés is condescending and demonstrates how marketers forget that their target audience consists of real people; their family and friends. And, indeed, themselves.
I is for Interesting
It is not enough to be different; you must also be interesting enough for people to willingly invest time engaging and interacting with the brand; if only opening one’s mind to what it has to say. Intelligent enough for people not to feel treated like mindless consumer-drones. Coles ads are different, and they work. But only by bullying us into buying under-prised commodities. See what happens if they stop advertising for a month; that’s when the level of actual engagement and brand loyalty becomes evident.
C is for Consistency
The idea of consistency has evolved from consistency in visual templates via messages to personality. Marketing efforts – media, messages and execution – can and should vary; the key criterion being that they feel as if they’re coming from the same brand. A brand is like a person and must stay in character not to be perceived as weird, or worse, a wanna-be.
A is for Ask questions
A healthy sense of scepticism (popularly referred to as cynicism by those who lack it) is crucial to ensure that the rules of RADICAL planning are being adhered to. It is particularly easy to be misled by sloppy research analysis into posing what is an irrelevant problem in the first place. A campaign based on a fallacy will quickly get out of control. Cross referencing and manipulating a couple of Roy Morgan stats do not produce insights, despite your media agency’s best efforts to convince you otherwise. Statistics lie, and so do focus group participants (although not on purpose). So common sense is the numero uno tool in the planner’s toolbox. “Does this make sense?” and “Would I care?” should be in the FAQ of any strategy process.
L is for Lead the way
Be a lighthouse brand. Leverage insights into consumers, categories and culture to take a position on a topic people care about. But instead of feeding back to them what they already know, think and do, help them get to the next level. Fulfil desires. Think big!
And this is how your brand may get a little TLC; how people may Trust, Like and Care about your brand.