About five million dollars. That’s the cost for one of this year’s 30-second Super Bowl ads.
For most of us who lead challenger brands, that kind of outlay simply isn’t in the realm of possibility. As underdogs, we’re used to doing more with less.
The Super Bowl – and, in particular, the hype surrounding its ads – is perhaps the greatest example in business of flawed thinking on a grand scale. Though attention is heightened during the big game, viewers are primarily looking to be entertained. (This is how we get a Bud Light ad with “caucus” jokes. Oof, you are so ribald!)
Of course, ads that entertain don’t necessarily sell. And challenger brands know that it’s all about selling.
We’ve all seen them: The pipe dreams that are presented as “strategic plans.” Plans that seem to have no tether to reality. Plans that nobody believes in (but that somehow get approved).
There are many reasons such unrealistic plans survive. The organization may encourage activity, not results. Leadership may not be grounded in the planning process, and are thus unable to guide it. Politics may replace objectivity. And so on.
No matter the roots of the issue, I’ve found that one question is particularly useful in making a huge leap toward strategy that truly works.
During the Discovery phase of a recent project, I was fortunate to spend some time chatting with the company’s founder. Though he’s no longer very active in the business, he clearly conveyed the values on which the company was founded three decades ago. The employees live these values to this day.
He’s a wise, charming fellow, full of character, and I could really see why his customers loved him. Among the dozens of kernels of wisdom that I gathered in that conversation, one really stuck with me. When I asked him about the history of the company, he wrapped up a story of impressive growth by saying simply:
“The experiment so far has been a success.”
The more I think about this statement, the more I like it, and it reflects an excellent attitude for business-builders to adopt. Let’s break it into pieces:
Does size matter? If you ask me, I’ll tell you that “better” beats “bigger.” The brand is the thing.
In the pages of the Cincinnati Business Courier some weeks back, Lee Robinson of Robinson Realtors had this to say when asked what it was like being “the small guy” in the local real estate market:
“The smart consumers get it. They realize that the largest restaurant in the world, McDonald’s, isn’t the best. A similar analogy can be drawn to our high-quality real estate firm that is small by design.”
Small By Design?
Did he say “small by design”? As marketers, we’re often caught up in the “bigger” game, as if bigger is the ideal state of being. The message heard too often is “grow or die.” We have it drummed into our heads that sales have to increase vs. last month, last quarter, last year. Share has to grow. Profits have to go up, marching ever upward, or heads will roll. Continue reading “Bigger or Better?”