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Build a Beachhead or Perish: Why everyone apart
from your Fans is a distraction
by GRA HA M B ROWN on FEBRUARY 2, 2012




Fans: All Else is mere detail




Every brand has fans, even yours
Image (c) Flickr


Nokia CEO Stephen Elop went on record last week talking about “Building a Beachhead” for Windows
phones. It’s an interesting change in tact. By referring to “Beachheads“, Elop acknowledged a growing
trend that is quietly revolutionizing marketing, one customer at a time. But, while Nokia may
acknowledge the need for change it has yet to embrace the next challenge which for many mobile
brands may be a bridge too far: success isn’t a strategy but a function of culture – and that culture starts
with acknowledging the paramount importance of Fans.

What is a Beachhead?

A Beachhead is a home for your fans. Our research shows that Fans are key to brand success in mobile.
Apple has Beachheads. Blackberry has a global Beachhead (in the Disruptive Divas segment) but is in
grave danger of losing it.

Fans aren’t just 2 or 3 times more influential than your average customer but up to 100x more
influential. Given that 65% of youth now buy handsets based on what their peers (not what the ad
agency) says, getting a grip on Fan mechanics is vital to success.




                                                               http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
The 3 Fan Fundamentals

So building a Beachhead to house their conversation, their Earned Media, requires a deeper
understanding of the fan fundamentals. I’ve included here mobileYouth’s 3 most important rules for
getting this sector right:

1) Everybody has fans
2) Your fans aren’t my fans
3) Fans don’t love your brand

1) Everybody has fans

I’ve worked with many brands whose first line of resistance is “but.. we don’t have fans.” In all cases,
this (lack of) insight comes from a corporate culture that perpetuates internal self-reference. If you rely
on focus groups, market research communities, design and creative agencies for your insights you will
never know (or see) your fans because these agents aren’t the solution but the reason why you’re facing
a crisis now.

I’ve seen fans of cheese brands, fans of public sector organizations and, yes, for every mobile brand out
there. You have them, it’s just that your system ignores them, drowns them out with the Big
Idealoudspeaker from the agency that speaks to everyone and yet nobody.

There are fans of the purple HTC Rhyme dubbed the “ladyphone” and slated by industry pundits. As one
commenter remarked:

“I happen to love the colour, though I could see adding a few more case colour options for those not
quite as in love with the hue of purple. No, it’s not all that powerful and the display is a bit on the
smaller end as smart-phones go, but I’d actually bought it -because- it has a smaller screen…And I’m a
tech-chick too (computer technician), but I don’t really mind it being less powerful.”

There are fans of Motorola who recently petitioned the company to remove handset bootlocks with
“Operation Make Ourselves Heard”. If their relationship was a simple case of liking Motorola, they
wouldn’t bother – they’d simply move on to another brand but they had invested time and emotion in
Motorola so valued the cost in petitioning the brand a good return on their time.

Using our SMART index methodology we’ve helped brands identify their fan base. Motorola, for
example, the US has Beachhead potential in the male, 20-21 year old category. Knowing who your fans
are is key to brand success. If you don’t know who your fans are you only have customers.




                                                              http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
2) Your Fans aren’t my Fans

Once, a man found Mulla Nasruddin searching for something on the ground outside his house. On being
asked, Nasruddin replied that he was looking for his key. The man also joined in the search and in due
course asked Mulla:”Where exactly did you drop it?”
Mulla answered:”In my house.”
”Then why are you looking here?” the man asked.
”There is more light here than in my house,” replied Mulla.


Nokia is making a big mistake in its Beachhead strategy. Nokia wants to win the early adopters and
Apple fans. Apple fans aren’t Nokia fans. Nokia needs to chase down its own Beachhead. In our
mobileYouth report we identified clear Nokia fan bases that could be converted into Beachheads using
MAP methodologies and there are distinct differences between Apple and Nokia fans. The problem is
that Nokia looks at its customer base and fails to see any brand love among early adopters. Rather than
look for its fans the brand is trying to build a Beachhead where Apple already has one. It’s a losing game
that will result in their brand destruction.


As one of our students, Reza, at the Youth Marketing Academy puts it, “All my friends would have to buy
it before I buy it,” said Reza. “Right now all my friends are using iPhones, and I’m an Android, and
they’re talking on iChat and stuff, and I’m starting to feel left out…. Windows is about being functional; a
Windows phone can’t be cool.”


Nokia needs to stop trying to be Apple and start being itself. We’ve identified key traits in Nokia that
should provide a starting point for building on its authenticity (e.g. durability – google “indestructible
Nokia 3300” to see what we mean). Nokia fans are out there. Nokia fans aren’t vocal like Apple fans but
they exist and brands just need to employ the right methodologies (like MAP) to find them.

You’ve spent your whole marketing career trying to get people to like you when all along you’ve ignored
the inconvenient truth of the people who already loved you.

3) Fans don’t love your brand


The big hangover from the party that was the “Big Idea” is that, somehow, young people wake up
thinking about your brand. Well, time to smell the coffee – young people don’t do that anymore. Fans
don’t love any brand – they love what the brand does for them. Concepts like “brand management” or
“brand equity” in the modern youth attention economy are simply meaningless.




                                                               http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
Koushik Dutta is a revered programmer within Android circles. He’s also a fan of Playstation products.
Sony put 2 and 2 together, reaching out to Dutta in the hope of luring him to work for them on a series
of exciting product lines.

Dutta refused, turning down a plum job, because of Sony’s history; Sony famously prosecuted hacker
George Holtz (GeoHot) for his PSP3 mods and Dutta felt that although he was fond of their products –
he hated the company.

When Indonesian mobile brand Nexian tried to promote a fan base using Facebook to share images and
pictures of the Nexian girls, the feed was hijacked by fans using it to share messenger PIN numbers.
When RIM tried to communicate with customers through its Facebook wall soliciting thoughts about
what they’d like to see in future product lines, the people who they were trying to engage simply used
the opportunity to, once again, trade pins.

People don’t buy stuff; they buy what stuff does for them. Reality check – fans couldn’t give a hoot
about your brand. Once you stop making useful tools or “stuff for them”, they’re off.

Summary

Which brings us to how Nokia can actually build a Beachhead rather than talk about one. The biggest
challenge here today facing all mobile companies is cultural; your biggest competitor isn’t the other
handset manufacturer or mobile operator but your own organization, your own network and your
creative partners.

You see, asking questions like “how do we engage fans/customers?” are the wrong questions to ask.
These are the questions your creative agencies are asking right now:
“How do we engage fans on Facebook/twitter/you-name-it.” and these questions will propel your brand
to do more of the same, just with a more expensive social media hat on.


The question we need to be asking is:
“How do we break down the walls that prevent fans from engaging us?”

The 3 Walls That Prevent Your Fans

The walls in this question are manyfold. Too numerous to provide an exhaustive list here but here’s a
quick takeaway list of the 3 walls that prevent your brand from building a Beachhead.

1) Your Creative Agency. 95% of brands would be better off without a creative agency. Most creative
agencies only know “Big Idea” marketing whether on Facebook or TV. This Loudspeaker approach scares
away fans, drowns out their voice and creates walls of separation between the business and the market.




                                                            http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
A creative agency once challenged our 90-10 rule (in the mobileYouth report) by saying that there is “no
way an agency could justify focusing on 10% of the market.” If that’s the case, fire the agency. The
problem here is mental not strategic. 10% of the market love you, the 90% aren’t listening – so why use
a budget allocated to the 100% when 9/10ths of that budget is simply wasted? Focus on the 10% and
work with them to influence the 90% – that’s how it happens in the real world (not in the
advertising industry unfortunately.)

If your creative agency doesn’t get Beachheads or the 90-10 rule without the Big Idea, fire them. If you
can’t find one that does (chances are slim) don’t fear – many great brands (such as Monster Energy)
have grown billion dollar organizations without creative agencies. Apple can’t exist without a creative
agency (yet) but it has significantly scaled back its external creative spend and invested in EMI-driven
frontline activities like retail.


2) Your Research. Chances are you’re using Focus Groups. If you’re not using FGs, you might be using
their 2.0 equivalent “Market Research Communities”. Either way you’re wasting your money. They
won’t tell you anything about who your Fans really are. Like Nasruddin and the key, the only way you’ll
find that answer is by looking where the light isn’t shining – in the dark and that means Immersion.


3) Your People. The hardest element. If your organization believes nothing needs changing there is no
hope. There is always change. Yet, recognizing need for change is only half the story. Nokia, for example,
wants to build a Beachhead but will still employ the same methodologies (such as Market Research
Communities and Brand Storytelling) that lost its marketshare in the first place. Great products have
little to do with success and failure in the youth market today – it’s the culture of the organization that
creates the products and how that culture allows Fans to tell their own story.




Contact us for report, workshops, webinars and more:

Josh Dhaliwal

Director, mobileYouth
Josh.dhaliwal@mobileYouth.org
http://www.mobileYouth.org
http://www.mobileYouthReport.com
Tel: +44 203 286 3635
Mob: +44 7904 200 513




                                                              http://www.mobileYouth.org/report

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Build a beachhead or perish why everyone apart from your fans is a distraction

  • 1. Build a Beachhead or Perish: Why everyone apart from your Fans is a distraction by GRA HA M B ROWN on FEBRUARY 2, 2012 Fans: All Else is mere detail Every brand has fans, even yours Image (c) Flickr Nokia CEO Stephen Elop went on record last week talking about “Building a Beachhead” for Windows phones. It’s an interesting change in tact. By referring to “Beachheads“, Elop acknowledged a growing trend that is quietly revolutionizing marketing, one customer at a time. But, while Nokia may acknowledge the need for change it has yet to embrace the next challenge which for many mobile brands may be a bridge too far: success isn’t a strategy but a function of culture – and that culture starts with acknowledging the paramount importance of Fans. What is a Beachhead? A Beachhead is a home for your fans. Our research shows that Fans are key to brand success in mobile. Apple has Beachheads. Blackberry has a global Beachhead (in the Disruptive Divas segment) but is in grave danger of losing it. Fans aren’t just 2 or 3 times more influential than your average customer but up to 100x more influential. Given that 65% of youth now buy handsets based on what their peers (not what the ad agency) says, getting a grip on Fan mechanics is vital to success. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
  • 2. The 3 Fan Fundamentals So building a Beachhead to house their conversation, their Earned Media, requires a deeper understanding of the fan fundamentals. I’ve included here mobileYouth’s 3 most important rules for getting this sector right: 1) Everybody has fans 2) Your fans aren’t my fans 3) Fans don’t love your brand 1) Everybody has fans I’ve worked with many brands whose first line of resistance is “but.. we don’t have fans.” In all cases, this (lack of) insight comes from a corporate culture that perpetuates internal self-reference. If you rely on focus groups, market research communities, design and creative agencies for your insights you will never know (or see) your fans because these agents aren’t the solution but the reason why you’re facing a crisis now. I’ve seen fans of cheese brands, fans of public sector organizations and, yes, for every mobile brand out there. You have them, it’s just that your system ignores them, drowns them out with the Big Idealoudspeaker from the agency that speaks to everyone and yet nobody. There are fans of the purple HTC Rhyme dubbed the “ladyphone” and slated by industry pundits. As one commenter remarked: “I happen to love the colour, though I could see adding a few more case colour options for those not quite as in love with the hue of purple. No, it’s not all that powerful and the display is a bit on the smaller end as smart-phones go, but I’d actually bought it -because- it has a smaller screen…And I’m a tech-chick too (computer technician), but I don’t really mind it being less powerful.” There are fans of Motorola who recently petitioned the company to remove handset bootlocks with “Operation Make Ourselves Heard”. If their relationship was a simple case of liking Motorola, they wouldn’t bother – they’d simply move on to another brand but they had invested time and emotion in Motorola so valued the cost in petitioning the brand a good return on their time. Using our SMART index methodology we’ve helped brands identify their fan base. Motorola, for example, the US has Beachhead potential in the male, 20-21 year old category. Knowing who your fans are is key to brand success. If you don’t know who your fans are you only have customers. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
  • 3. 2) Your Fans aren’t my Fans Once, a man found Mulla Nasruddin searching for something on the ground outside his house. On being asked, Nasruddin replied that he was looking for his key. The man also joined in the search and in due course asked Mulla:”Where exactly did you drop it?” Mulla answered:”In my house.” ”Then why are you looking here?” the man asked. ”There is more light here than in my house,” replied Mulla. Nokia is making a big mistake in its Beachhead strategy. Nokia wants to win the early adopters and Apple fans. Apple fans aren’t Nokia fans. Nokia needs to chase down its own Beachhead. In our mobileYouth report we identified clear Nokia fan bases that could be converted into Beachheads using MAP methodologies and there are distinct differences between Apple and Nokia fans. The problem is that Nokia looks at its customer base and fails to see any brand love among early adopters. Rather than look for its fans the brand is trying to build a Beachhead where Apple already has one. It’s a losing game that will result in their brand destruction. As one of our students, Reza, at the Youth Marketing Academy puts it, “All my friends would have to buy it before I buy it,” said Reza. “Right now all my friends are using iPhones, and I’m an Android, and they’re talking on iChat and stuff, and I’m starting to feel left out…. Windows is about being functional; a Windows phone can’t be cool.” Nokia needs to stop trying to be Apple and start being itself. We’ve identified key traits in Nokia that should provide a starting point for building on its authenticity (e.g. durability – google “indestructible Nokia 3300” to see what we mean). Nokia fans are out there. Nokia fans aren’t vocal like Apple fans but they exist and brands just need to employ the right methodologies (like MAP) to find them. You’ve spent your whole marketing career trying to get people to like you when all along you’ve ignored the inconvenient truth of the people who already loved you. 3) Fans don’t love your brand The big hangover from the party that was the “Big Idea” is that, somehow, young people wake up thinking about your brand. Well, time to smell the coffee – young people don’t do that anymore. Fans don’t love any brand – they love what the brand does for them. Concepts like “brand management” or “brand equity” in the modern youth attention economy are simply meaningless. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
  • 4. Koushik Dutta is a revered programmer within Android circles. He’s also a fan of Playstation products. Sony put 2 and 2 together, reaching out to Dutta in the hope of luring him to work for them on a series of exciting product lines. Dutta refused, turning down a plum job, because of Sony’s history; Sony famously prosecuted hacker George Holtz (GeoHot) for his PSP3 mods and Dutta felt that although he was fond of their products – he hated the company. When Indonesian mobile brand Nexian tried to promote a fan base using Facebook to share images and pictures of the Nexian girls, the feed was hijacked by fans using it to share messenger PIN numbers. When RIM tried to communicate with customers through its Facebook wall soliciting thoughts about what they’d like to see in future product lines, the people who they were trying to engage simply used the opportunity to, once again, trade pins. People don’t buy stuff; they buy what stuff does for them. Reality check – fans couldn’t give a hoot about your brand. Once you stop making useful tools or “stuff for them”, they’re off. Summary Which brings us to how Nokia can actually build a Beachhead rather than talk about one. The biggest challenge here today facing all mobile companies is cultural; your biggest competitor isn’t the other handset manufacturer or mobile operator but your own organization, your own network and your creative partners. You see, asking questions like “how do we engage fans/customers?” are the wrong questions to ask. These are the questions your creative agencies are asking right now: “How do we engage fans on Facebook/twitter/you-name-it.” and these questions will propel your brand to do more of the same, just with a more expensive social media hat on. The question we need to be asking is: “How do we break down the walls that prevent fans from engaging us?” The 3 Walls That Prevent Your Fans The walls in this question are manyfold. Too numerous to provide an exhaustive list here but here’s a quick takeaway list of the 3 walls that prevent your brand from building a Beachhead. 1) Your Creative Agency. 95% of brands would be better off without a creative agency. Most creative agencies only know “Big Idea” marketing whether on Facebook or TV. This Loudspeaker approach scares away fans, drowns out their voice and creates walls of separation between the business and the market. http://www.mobileYouth.org/report
  • 5. A creative agency once challenged our 90-10 rule (in the mobileYouth report) by saying that there is “no way an agency could justify focusing on 10% of the market.” If that’s the case, fire the agency. The problem here is mental not strategic. 10% of the market love you, the 90% aren’t listening – so why use a budget allocated to the 100% when 9/10ths of that budget is simply wasted? Focus on the 10% and work with them to influence the 90% – that’s how it happens in the real world (not in the advertising industry unfortunately.) If your creative agency doesn’t get Beachheads or the 90-10 rule without the Big Idea, fire them. If you can’t find one that does (chances are slim) don’t fear – many great brands (such as Monster Energy) have grown billion dollar organizations without creative agencies. Apple can’t exist without a creative agency (yet) but it has significantly scaled back its external creative spend and invested in EMI-driven frontline activities like retail. 2) Your Research. Chances are you’re using Focus Groups. If you’re not using FGs, you might be using their 2.0 equivalent “Market Research Communities”. Either way you’re wasting your money. They won’t tell you anything about who your Fans really are. Like Nasruddin and the key, the only way you’ll find that answer is by looking where the light isn’t shining – in the dark and that means Immersion. 3) Your People. The hardest element. If your organization believes nothing needs changing there is no hope. There is always change. Yet, recognizing need for change is only half the story. Nokia, for example, wants to build a Beachhead but will still employ the same methodologies (such as Market Research Communities and Brand Storytelling) that lost its marketshare in the first place. Great products have little to do with success and failure in the youth market today – it’s the culture of the organization that creates the products and how that culture allows Fans to tell their own story. Contact us for report, workshops, webinars and more: Josh Dhaliwal Director, mobileYouth Josh.dhaliwal@mobileYouth.org http://www.mobileYouth.org http://www.mobileYouthReport.com Tel: +44 203 286 3635 Mob: +44 7904 200 513 http://www.mobileYouth.org/report