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Opening a planner's tool box with Prof Avery

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 21, 2012
IAA-IC organised a two day seminar, StrateGYM, with Prof. Jim Avery.

The India Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA-IC), with the support of Mathrubhumi and Turner International, organised a two day seminar, StrateGYM with Prof. Jim Avery. The seminar was held in Mumbai on May 18-19 at Mayfair Rooms, Worli.

Prof. Jim Avery

Prof Avery had named this seminar on strategic planning 'A planner's tool box'.

He began the first day with a brief talk on strategic planning, which was followed by a session on consumer insight.

The consumer insight session was full of various exercises for the audience. In an interesting exercise, Prof Avery asked the members in the audience to name an ad that personally involved them. After hearing a few examples from the audience on the product/ad, insight, and the corresponding reaction to the communication, he posed a potent question, "Did you take time in naming an ad like this?" When he got a positive response from most of the members in the audience, he said, "Most of the people find it difficult to point out a brand that has influenced them."

His gave personal examples too, and mentioned a 1984 Macintosh commercial that led him to go and make a purchase. He also mentioned how, prior to watching a United Airline commercial, he was a Northwest Airline loyalist.

In a session on understanding consumers, Prof Avery emphasised the need to rely on ethnography and professional detectives.

According to Prof Avery, people are 'full', they must have a reason to change, their decision making is complex and there are different kinds of choices that people have to make.

He said that there are different methods to acquire consumer inputs - such as through client research, quantitative research, focus group study and ethnography. Quoting Lisa Fortini-Campbell, he explained how it is important to first start thinking like consumers.

Prof Avery questioned the audience on what they wanted to learn about their consumer. The audience answered that it was interested in behavioural pattern, interest areas, and what they do in a day.

"The best person to give you these answers is a professional detective," said Prof Avery. He put in bullet points that a professional detective is a person who watches over people or is already watching them. "For example, a shoe-polish brand should employ a shoe-shiner as a professional detective. He is in the business of observing and talking to the consumer on a regular basis," he explained.

He added that a marketer or an agency should ask the 'professional detectives' the 'who', 'when', 'what', 'why', 'how', and 'where' questions.

According to Prof Avery, it is important to find a way to talk to people, observe them and tabulate that in the form of a common grid. "This will help decode who your consumers are," he said.

Prof Avery described unique brand characteristics as USP, perception and reality, differentiation, relevance and consumer reward (functional, sensory, emotional and financial).

In the following session on consumer journey, Prof Avery explained the topic as a process that a consumer goes through before purchasing a brand. He explained some of the important milestones of a consumer journey as unaware, aware but no action, planning, purchase, anticipation, usages, evaluation and repeat.

He gave an example of 'Bryan' buying a guitar. "He would read magazines, websites, visit shops, and compare on websites till he actually makes a purchase. But, this journey would be different for some other consumer."

Avery said that it is important for a brand to build awareness, continuity, show value to the consumer and have a continuous engagement with him.

The other sessions in this two-day seminar included a session on planner's toolbox, one on 'Creative Briefs to Creative Ideas' and a plethora of brainstorming activities and interactive exercises.

Prof Avery is a professor at the University of Oklahoma and has conducted branding workshops across the world. He is known to have more than 25 years of advertising experience, which includes working for large international agencies in USA. He is also an active marketing and management consultant. He has written more than 100 articles for both academic and professional publications. He has also authored a book titled Advertising Campaign Planning.

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