COMMENTARY: Delivering on Growth-- Simple or Complex?
By Deborah Malone
Growth has become one of marketing's biggest buzzwords, as well as one of the most critical mandates for any CMO. Without question, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) has embraced driving growth as its mission, and Bob Liodice, the organization's CEO, is sagely realistic about the need for growth and its challenges to marketers. Speaking this spring at the launch of the ANA's new Trust Consortium, he outlined marketing's many "shiny objects," its CMO turnover, and the urgent need to optimize the decision-making process within the corporation. He also asked, "Is any of this really working to grow brands?"
His answer was sobering: "I looked at the data and found that half of The Fortune 500 was growing, while the other half was declining. What an indictment for the marketing community! We are failing at this as marketers. We must come to a singular priority: driving growth is now the mission. And marketers are the core engine to feed the ecosystem." Interestingly, he also stated that driving growth is not necessarily complicated, but the industry has certainly made it overly complex with proprietary interests.
Bob Liodice is not the only one concerned about growth. Last month, new research from Kantar demonstrated that fewer than 1% of brands master "growth momentum," which the WPP company defines as locking in long-term growth. Kantar analyzed 3,900 brands in the BrandZ™ database over a three-year period and found:
  • Fewer than 6% of brands grew market share over one year.
  • Only 6 in 10 of those sustained that gain over three years.
  • And fewer than 1 in 10 (of the 6% who grew market share) improved on their initial gain-- leaving a small "One Percent Club" of brands that have mastered the art of building sales momentum in the long term.
So, what are marketers to do as they also grapple with increased concerns about transparency in managing customer data, new business models from performance-focused direct-to-consumer brands and ever-declining mall traffic?
At an Internationalist Think Tank earlier this year, one of our speakers-- Leslie Zane, Founder of Triggers®-- offered a solution. She advocated: "Every brand, whether a startup or an established household name, has untapped growth potential and the ability to become the automatic choice of more consumers."
While that's a remarkable statement in light of today's struggle for growth, she explains, "Every brand has a host of interconnected associations-- an ecosystem of multi-dimensional, accumulated memories that dictate which brand a person instinctively favors and purchases most often. The more positive associations your brand has, the healthier it is and the greater its growth."
Simple? Perhaps. But after 25 years of helping top brands master growth, Ms. Zane has created the means to change instinctive customer behavior and overcome the extraordinary complexity and underlying corporate inertia embedded in the brand-building process.
In a recent TEDx talk, she was quite clear about the link between growth in customers' minds and growth in the marketplace: 
"Turns out, everything you've ever seen or heard about a brand gets 'glued' to it over time without our even knowing it. Little by little a vast ecosystem of accumulated memories forms-images, sounds, symbols, smells as far back as childhood. The brand you reach for instinctively is the one with the most positive associations, least negatives, that continually expands its physical share of your mind.
In other words, at the heart of every brand decision is a hidden matrix - a network of connections which dictates every instinctive choice we make. I call this the Brand Connectome. People make instinctive decisions based on their Brand Connectome.... Triggers helps to expand these positive associations with brands, so they can grow in mind share and market share."
Sometimes, the best thing to do when tackling an overwhelmingly complicated subject is to look at it from a different perspective.  

Here's a link to Leslie Zane's TEDx talk to get you going:  The Hidden Link Between Success and the Subconscious.

The Internationalist focuses on the reinvention of marketing around the globe by connecting the people and ideas in international marketing and advertising through original content, intelligence, thought leadership, community, collaboration, and influence.  Marketer driven, The Internationalist has become a trusted source for international best practices, and is dedicated to the business needs and challenges of international marketing professionals as they participate in multinational brand building and aspire to world class standards. Originally created as a trade publication, The Internationalist connects a global audience through content, insights and case studies in print, online and in-person-- via peer-to-peer marketer events including Dinners, Think Tanks, Awards and Summits- all to better serve the needs of this fast-changing community.
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