The Most Powerful AR Strategy No One is Talking About

What can marketers learn from the recent solar eclipse that so consumed so many of us in the United States last week?

Here are some links that may offer a hint:

Netflix US Hey, just wondering why 10% of you chose to watch a giant rock cover a giant ball of gas when I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR YOU.

Netflix US but really, there was a 10% drop in plays during the eclipse today. Well played, Moon

As reported by Time there was, in fact, a 10% drop in Netflix usage during the event:

‘Well Played, Moon.’ Netflix Admits Defeat After Losing Viewers During the Solar Eclipse…

This is what I call “AR”…Actual Reality. It’s the most powerful reality of all and is critical to any Brand trying to navigate the mystery of Amazon and its many twists and turns.

For me, the solar eclipse reinforced the notion of Actual Reality just as, the day before, I fulfilled a bucket list desire of many years to skydive. No glasses, no simulator, no software program can come close to re-creating the feeling of tumbling out of a small plane and free-falling at 120 miles per hour toward the earth. I remember thinking at one point, “This is like Disney but it’s real!” AR…Actual Reality.

Now, why do I link this to Amazon and Brands? And more to the point, why do I think it’s critical?

Frankly, it’s because we’re focusing on and obsessing over the wrong things when it comes to marketing.

Let’s be clear. Brands have never been more important. As The Economist points out:

Brands…They are the most valuable thing that companies as diverse as Apple and McDonald’s own, often worth much more than property and machinery.

But what makes a Brand?

We’re so consumed with our own pursuit of Digibabble that many would say the answer is great social media, digital marketing, virtual activations, viral videos and on and on and on.

Yet the root of all Brands—the primal matter of a Brand’s being—is the actual product or the service that it represents and the experience the consumer has with it in AR…Actual Reality.

Let’s take a consumer product as an example:

Does it taste/feel/work better than its competitors do? Is its packaging more useful, more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing? Is its price/value relationship compelling? Is it healthier and fresher? How about sustainable? Are its claims believable and, if so, are they important? And on and on.

One of the oldest truths in business is that nothing kills a brand quicker than bad product and good advertising.

As Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame says, all of the above builds trust:

Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is on the most important characteristic, which is trust.

And then advertise, promote and engage the hell out of your brand.

Why is this critical in the era of Amazon? Because, as my (full disclosure) Boss Sir Martin Sorrell recently pointed out:

What happens if I say to Alexa, “I like Cheerios,” and Alexa says, “I’ve got Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, which are 10 percent off?”

And there you have it succinctly and clearly stated.

Because, unless you have invested into your Brand both superior product and smart advertising, the answer to that question just might be that 10% is enough to sway the purchase out of your favor.

More proof, of course, is Amazon’s own growing Ad Sales business….yes Ads. Just an aside: it still amazes me that Ad Sales fuel all of the major platforms while analysts talk about the decline of advertising. Au contraire, never has there been more opportunity.

Back to Amazon:

“In the grand scheme of things, the advertising revenue they’re generating is small compared to Google — you can barely compare them,” said Norm Johnston, global chief strategy and digital officer for Mindshare. “But for Amazon, it’s not the advertising revenue in itself. They know if brands invest in the platform, the more sales they’re going to generate, and a lot of those sales lead to subscription models.”

Which of course is critical to brands because as Sarah Hofstetter, the chief executive of the digital agency 360i has pointed out, “Amazon is the new shelf space and if you’re not on it, you may be rendered invisible.”

And there you have it. No brand wants to be invisible when Alexa gives a consumer a potentially cheaper or otherwise more compelling offer over another brand in the same space.

Folks, none of this is new. In fact, I’d strongly argue that it’s back to basics: be a Marketer, not a Digitaler. Think about your brand and your products before you worry about some viral something. Start with the consumer/user/buyer—People First. Deliver the best there is and then BOOM!

And, above all, remember that Amazon needs you. They need strong brands. They want better pricing (already creeping up). They want to offer choice and be seen as the best source for it.

Don’t despair…listen:

“Leverage your brand. You shouldn’t let two guys in a garage eat your shorts.” —Guy Kawasaki

So let me end where I began.

Brands are real. Brands make a difference. Brands aren’t the simulations at Disney. Brands are actual, physical, material and tangible. Brands are meaningful to people, and a 10% discount for a competitor won’t sway someone from buying so long as your price/value relationship is solid and compelling and they trust you and your product.

And marketers—real marketers, not posturing Digitalers—know how to make Brands count and will succeed in Amazon and whatever comes next…because the world will belong to those who understand there will be a “next.”

Meanwhile, your product is on the shelf…

What do you think?




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