Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Marketing to the Reality versus the Buzz

Mar 13, 13 Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Marketing to the Reality versus the Buzz

By: George L. San Jose, President and CCO

I’ve been in the marketing and advertising profession long enough to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m well aware of the kid gloves typically used when broaching the topic of multiculturalism in today’s market. Committing to the spirit of new media, where everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard, I write this post from an open, honest heart reflecting my personal voice – independent of the agency.

Advertisers who base their budget decisions on marketing to the “same old” might consider catching up to today’s market reality instead of marketing to their own likes and likenesses. There is a “not so new” American consumer and if you haven’t acknowledged them yet, ask the Republican Party why they lost the presidential election.

In Mitt Romney’s first interview with the Wall Street Journal since the election he said, “We weren’t effective in taking my message primarily to minority voters — to Hispanic Americans, to African Americans, other minorities.”  Yes, just that straight and simple. Not surprising to anyone attuned to today’s complex markets but very surprising to the advertisers of yesteryear. Let’s put this in perspective.

Currently, an estimated 90-95 cents out of every dollar spent by major advertisers is directed towards marketing to the diminishing “same old” (known in the industry as the “general market”). You know who I’m referring to, the same old group of monolingual, monolithic consumers with similar interests, living in the same neighborhoods and consuming the same proliferated media.

For brands campaigning to win, here is a simple set of profiles to evaluate your company’s grasp of the market reality:

・ Generalist: Those who do nothing towards multicultural audiences because they do not want to take the risk of allocating scarce resources to the unknown.  As a result, they cling to the safety and predictability of their externally controlled declining market share.

・ Buzz Makers: Those who talk about it, brag about it, and even have multicultural departments in charge of protecting their state secrets but in fact do very little. Most have been misguided by self-serving  information provided by their advertising partners (i.e. size of the opportunity, and requirements, etc.) and do not allocate adequate resources to develop sustainable, profitable programs that yield measureable results.

・ Illuminated Realist: Those couple of dozen smart, proactive advertisers who invest in learning the size of the opportunity, the consumer and the insights necessary to emotionally connect. In short, they get it, do it right, and have earned their share of profit from the $1.5 trillion spending power the Hispanic market will yield by 2015.

The Democratic Party won the presidential election because it was elected by the people.  They won because they intentionally and systematically connected with all of the people; people from different cultures, different lifestyles, those that live in different neighborhoods and speak different languages. The Republicans failed because they marketed to the “same old” that look like them, think like them, behave as them and watch, listen, and consume media just like them.  Here’s another surprise: their “expert” advisors (or CMOs) are Generalists, just like them.

Advertisers wanting to connect with the consumer realities of today versus just “harmonizing with the buzz” (aka: drinking the Kool-Aid) may learn from this historic lesson courtesy of our government. If you want more “votes” for your brand, if you want to increase your market share, you MUST challenge the status quo, review and re-examine your current marketing practices, and above all please, please get a true expert opinion regarding your multicultural efforts and the ROI benefit to your brand.

Notice I said expert. Drinking Mexican beer or having a Spanish name does not qualify anyone as an expert, no more than your general medicine practitioner is qualified to perform your brain surgery. The successful marketer has learned that “winning the consumer vote” has always been about the constant pursuit of brand relevancy; a pursuit with really no end, but continuous examination and adjustment according to the social climate of the marketplace. The same marketer also realizes that with calculated risk and the appropriate allocation of resources he or she can effectively connect with multiple consumer groups and create the winning brand.

I just realized that I started to write this article because we may soon have another 11MM “documented” residents… just got carried away with the moment. I’ll have to write about that next.

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