Clearly defining your problem leads to better advertising results

Diageo is a company that I greatly respect. They are a leading alcoholic beverage company that has an impressive corporate social responsibility element that isn’t spoken about as far as CSR is concerned. This is the area of empowering partners and suppliers so that they can work together to build their brands. The effect of which is seamlessly aligned marketing communications, but more importantly it leaves a trail of partner companies that are strengthened because of it; and that is good for the the entire sector.

One programme they run is called DWBB, pronounced ‘dweeb’. DWBB stands for Diageo Way of Brand Building and is a series of seminars and workshops that are run both internally for the staff and externally for the partner and supplier teams. It began in 1999 with the aim to achieve the world’s best practice in marketing through learning events that were run by the senior staff. In early 2000 the entire Diageo executive team, including the CEO, had attended the interactive learning event, and by 2012 over 6000 people including advertising agencies and commercial partners had been through DWBB.

I was fortunate to be one of those who had participated in the programme; 3 times actually, in 3 separate companies that were working with the Diageo marketing team. One tool in particular that stood out was the 5 i’s of unlocking brand growth which works on the premise that clearly defined problems lead to breakthrough solutions. The process aims to deliver penetrating insights about consumers, upon which we can develop relevant and effective communication strategies that meet specific objectives.

The 5 i’s are issue, information, insights, implications and implementation. It starts by investigating the issue. What is the problem that the brand is currently facing? Apart from the overall purpose of the brand, what are the obstacles to get over at this particular point in time. In the words of my former chairman ‘what’s keeping you awake at night?’ It could be a specific market segment that’s embracing a competing product over the last 3 months, or the visibility of the brand has dropped due to increased advertising clutter in the media, or perhaps the brand health has decreased with the potential to affect future sales.

Whatever they are, they need to be the issues that are core to the brand and are hampering it from reaching its full potential. This is possibly the single most important part of the process because if you get it right the rest of the exercise will be relevant and it will probably lead to effective solutions; though if you get it wrong, there isn’t much chance that you will find the right formula.

From the issue we move to information, and this is usually where research consultants come in. We review all the information relevant to the issue and that will further illuminate the problem through existing research or by commissioning new studies into it.
Using only relevant information we combine different aspects to create insights about our consumers. Market insight can be defined as the attempt to discover a penetrating truth about consumers, their aspirations and motivations which can in turn be used to generate growth.

For example, when Johnny Walker first launched in the Chinese market they failed to make the expected sales during the new year festive season, when a great number of gifts are exchanged. Following investigation into the matter they found an insight into the gift giving culture common in China; that people give gifts that are commensurate to the respect they have for the receiver. Because Johnny Walker hadn’t set its credentials in the marketplace, instead only raising awareness, it wasn’t clear to the customers what impression it would set as a gift. The series of marketing activities that followed promoted the credentials of the brand and the results thereafter were outstanding.

It is upon the insights that have been uncovered that we develop the communication and advertising strategies. We determine the implications of the insight and draw up a number of organised activities and tactics, which are again linked to the issue and that will meet the set objectives. These could be messaging strategies, packaging strategies, or engagement strategies that will fully leverage on the insight.

Implementation follows the implications, as specific outputs such as ads, social media engagements and point-of-sale promotions are developed and run. This is the final output that reaches the target audience and encourages them to behave in a manner that is positive towards the brand, and in a way that addresses the original issue.

In many situations, the question asked is not the problem defined, it is simply an inquiry that leads to an understanding of the real issue. A clearly defined problem breaks down the puzzle and reveals possible solutions. The 5 i’s tool standardises the process of problem definition, reviewing relevant information, generating insights, developing strategies and implementing advertising campaigns.


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