Dr Brian's SmartaMarketing 2

Smarta Marketing Ideas for Smarta Marketers

Category: Buyer Behaviour

Perceptual Fallacies

Understanding Perception in Buyer and Consumer Behaviour is Very Important

Our normal perceptions do not correspond directly to reality. The things that we percieve (see, hear, smell etc.) are not entirely determined by what our senses detect. Our perceptions are also determined by what we expect, what we know, what we believe.

  • Our perceptions are not photographs, they are constructions – something that our minds manufacture.
  • What we perceive is partially determined by what we know or believe.
  • Constructive perception has survival value – it helps us make sense of the world
  • Seeing is not necessarily believing. Here’s why:

Perceptual Constancies

Our tendency to have perceptual experiences in the absence of stimuli

  • Colour constancy
    • We often perceive an object to be a color because we expect it to be a certain colour.
    • We also perceive colour sometimes when it is physically impossible.  The vision cells in the center of the retina are the only ones that can see colour. Therefore, we should only see colour in the center of our visual field. Objects in our peripheral vision should not appear in colour. But we see colour through the field. Why? Colour constancy!
  • Size constancy – learned perception (does a truck driving in the distance get smaller?)
    • You percieve the size of familiar objects (like a truck) to be the same size no matter how far away they are because you know that distance doesn’t change the size of an object. However, the size of the image on your retina shrinks as an object moves away from you.

Expectation – We perceive what we expect to perceive

  • Flashing light experiment- subjects were told to walk down a hall and stop walking when they saw a light flash. Many subjects stopped walking despite the fact that no flash was given. They simply expected a flash and believed they saw one. Similar experiments have shown subjects who could feel warmth, smell an odor, or feel an electric shock because they expected to.
  • We have all experienced such hallucinations. Have you ever seen the hands on a clock move only to find out that the clock didn’t run? Have you ever heard the phone ring when you were in the shower, but later found it had not rung at all?
  • What other experiences have you had that may have been due to expectation?

Looking for Clarity in Vagueness

When our senses are confronted with a formless stimulus, we often perceive something distinct. We look at clouds, smoke, fuzzy paintings and see shapes that are familiar. This illusion is called pareidolia. Many cases of pareidolia are common:

  • Man in the Moon – a cultural example
    • Samoans see a woman weaving
    • Chinese see a monkey pounding rice
  • Messages in rock music played backwards
  • Man in the shadows – Do you ever feel as though someone is following you?
  • UFOs – we try to make something familiar out of a vague object.


Our memories are consturctive, not literal

Imagine a scene…How do you look at it? Recall a scene – do you look at it through your own eyes?

Selective memory – Dreams, we have over 250 a night but only remember a few of them.


We can lead ourselves to believe that something is paranormal or supernatural when it actually isn’t.


Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on https://smartamarketing2.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

Join Dr Brians LinkedIn groups:

Marketing – Dr-Brian’s-Marketers-Network  http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Dr-Brians-Marketers-Network-Number-2650856?trk=my_groups-b-grp-v

Manangement/Project Manangement – The Project Management Information Network.  http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-Management-Information-Network-Practical-6618103


Why They Don’t Get the Message

Dr Brian Monger

People use a sophisticated psychological defence mechanism to filter out unwanted information. This mechanism consists of four “rings of defence”:

Selective Exposure.

People tend to seek out only that information which agrees with their existing attitudes or beliefs.

Selective Attention.

People tune out communication that goes against their attitudes or beliefs, or they pay attention only to parts that reinforce their positions, forgetting the dissonant parts. This is why two people with differing points of view can come to different conclusions about the same message. Each of them is tuning out the parts with which they disagree.

Selective Perception

People seek to interpret information so that it agrees with their attitudes and beliefs. This accounts for a lot of misinterpretation of messages. Some people don’t block out dissonant information; they simply reinterpret it so that it matches their preconceptions.

Selective Retention.

People tend to let psychological factors influence their recall of information. In other words, we forget the unpleasant or block out the unwanted. This also means that people tend to be more receptive to messages presented in pleasant environments


Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known business consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

The Motivation to Buy

Dr. Brian Monger

A sale is made when somebody decides to buy – decides that what is proposed satisfies his/her need, or will benefit him/her in some way that he/she does not now enjoy.

Why do people buy? What makes them say yes to some salesmen and no to others? What makes them like some products better than others? Why do people behave as they do?

If marketers could only know in advance of each call what the answers to these, and similar questions, would be, then their task of selling would be much easier.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict people’s buying behaviour, and this is the main reason why so much skill is required in marketing. However, there has been much research in the behavioural fields on why people act as they do and from this we are able to see a general pattern of buying behaviour.

All of us are moved by motives and urges

What is Motivation?

1. Motivation can be described as the driving force within individuals that impels them to action.

2. This driving force is produced by a state of tension, which exists as the result of an unfilled need.

3. The specific courses of action that consumers pursue and their specific goals are selected on the basis of their thinking process and previous learning.

II. Needs

1. Every individual has needs: some are innate others are acquired.

2. Innate needs are physiological or biogenic, and include food, water, air, clothing, shelter, and sex.

3. These needs (innate) are considered primary needs or motives.

4. Acquired needs are needs that we learn in response to our culture or environment, and include the need for self-esteem, prestige, affection, power, and for learning.

5. These needs (acquired) are considered secondary needs of motives.

When asked to buy something, a person is confronted with a problem which he/she needs to interpret and resolve. Frequently he/she overcomes the problem (either personal or business) by making a buying decision.

Actually, the sale takes place in the mind of the buyer – it is the buyer’s viewpoint and the satisfactory resolution of his/her buying problem that concerns the marketer.

Often the solution to the problem can be attractive and unattractive at the same time. It may involve the choice between two attractive courses of behaviour or it may involve choosing between two unattractive things.

The marketer’s task is to assist the prospect to resolve his/her problem.

For some the solving of problems, or making decisions, is relatively easy, while for others even a minor decision causes tension and worry.

It is important for the salesperson to appreciate that the higher the tension the more irrational the prospect becomes, and the less likely he/she is to follow the logic of the salesperson’s story.

People generally will not make a buying decision until they are satisfied in their own minds that the benefits they will derive from the product outweigh the costs to themselves.

Marketing and especially selling therefore, is concerned with reducing buyer tensions, and assisting the prospect to identify his needs through the products and services offered.

People buy for basic reasons and, like all selling fundamentals, the reasons are simple and clear-cut. Look at the list below. Not advanced technical terms but simple everyday words. Like all simple things we tend to overlook them but every sale you ever make will be made because your proposition appeals strongly in one or more of these aspects:

• Profit, gain or economy/savings
• Design or appearance
• Pleasure, comfort and pain avoidance (physical and emotional)
• Safety or security
• Convenience
• Love and affection
• Sex appeal
• Social approval
• Pride, prestige/status
• Speed of Operation
• Ease of Operation
• Compatibility with Present System
• Availability/Delivery Speed
• Absolute Price/Price Flexibility
• Service/maintenance support/Software support
• Broad Line of Equipment Supplier Stability
• Competence of Personnel
• Personal Interaction – Liking
• Personal relevance
• Situational factors/Immediacy
• Curiosity/Discovery
• Creativity
• Exclusivity
• Empathy with brand
• Consistency of Delivered Value
• Performance/dependability/ Reliability of Operation
• Reliability of supply
• Environmental concerns

Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known business consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

Who Are You Targeting? Really?

To achieve true segment focus, manangers must be able to identify and define the markets they plan to market to/with.  To hone in on the segments to identify the ones that best fit their business/marketing strategy.

To do that, you must be able to answer a series of key questions, including:

  • Who are the current customers that make up your market?
  • Who are the future customers in that market that align with your product offering?
  • Do you want more customers like them and are those customers profitable?
  • What are the distinct segments in the market and how big is each segment (i.e., number of prospects, market value, and revenue expectation)?
  • What is the growth rate of each segment and how much will it cost you to target each one?
  • What are the major trends in each segment that make it attractive?
  • Which characteristics (company size, revenue size, IT budget size, geographic location, business model, current needs or pain points) define the buyers in each segment and how do those characteristics align with your product offering and value proposition?
  • Why (based on the criteria above) is a particular segment a good fit for your business?

Answering those questions should help you boil down your target market to the customer segments that make the most sense for you to target.

Diffusing Traditional Buyer-Seller Roles

When customers have been brought into your business as residents in your sales database and when you have penetrated their businesses in depth, breadth, and height, the traditional distinctions between buyer and seller will become diffused.  Their basis, which lies in the absence of mutual objectives, will have disappeared.  Win-lose sales strategies will have no place.  Because your customers must win if you are going to have a growing market, and because you must win if your customers are going to have a growing improvement in their profits, Your combined need for win-win relations will foster a new union in your roles.

The line between selling and buying will grey out.  The zone where customer interests conflict with your interests will thin down.  Your need to overcome them will be converted to a need to come over to their way of assigning priorities to their problems, defining the kinds of solutions they can most readily accept, and together with them, implementing the solutions inside their businesses.

You will still have to compete to serve them.  But once accepted, you will become their partners in profit.  Your common objectives will be identified in your penetration plans; both of you will have signed off on them.  The strategies will be known to both of you and approved by your customers so that they can work together with you to achieve shared objectives.

In such a scenario, which is commonplace in Consultative Selling relationships, who is buyer and who is seller-and what difference does it make?  Your role will be that of a customer extender, acting as an extension of your customer’s own people and their capabilities to solve their problems.  Thus you can become positioned as a true adder of value.  Your contribution is perceptible; it is also quantifiable.

The essence of role blending is your combined ability to achieve the dollar objectives of your account penetration plan.  This is your pivot point in moving away from vending toward consultation.  If you fail, you fall back to being a vendor.  You separate out of the partnership and become a supplier once again, perceived as having your own self-serving objectives that are bound to be inconsistent with-indeed, they are adversarial to-the needs of your customers.

Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

Basic Strategy And Psychology For Handling Objections

Dr Brian Monger

During an average sales interview you may have to handle from two to five objections.  Your first problem is to determine whether they are real objections or mere excuses or stalls.  Your second problem is to decide on the strategy and tactics of handling them in order to retain control of the interview.

Your standard reaction to all objections should involve these principles:

Welcome the Objection.  Do not resent it or attempt to argue.  The prospect may be offering you a point around which the sale can be rapidly closed.

Listen Carefully to It.  Keep quiet, smile, and concentrate on what your prospect is saying.  You may think the matter is trivial, but to him or her it may be very important.  Allow the prospect adequate time for full expression – to finish speaking.  Do not make the mistake of cutting him or her off in mid-thought even if you do recognise the objection and are eager to acknowledge it.

Rephrase and Repeat the Objection.  By taking the time to rephrase and repeat the objection, you accomplish three major goals:

1.         You demonstrate that you have understood and respect the objection and thus please him or her with your interest.

2.         You gain time to think for a moment how best to handle it.

3.         You can soften the objection by rephrasing it into a question, which is easier to handle than an objection, and you put yourself in the position of helping answer it.

For example, if the complaint is that your product is too expensive, he or she may really be wondering if a cheaper one would not be just as practical.  You can test this objection by rephrasing it into a question, such as, “Mr. King, aren’t you really wondering whether the expense for this item can be justified?”

Do not guess at the reasons behind objections.  Your aim is to try rapidly to pin down the real issue.  Sometimes the problem bothering the prospect is not clear even in his or her own mind.  You have to find the right question if you expect to handle the objection.  You then have to give facts that will influence him or her to answer the question favourably rather than unfavourably.  Rephrasing and repeating the objection help clarify the issue for both of you.

Agree at Least in Part.  By agreeing with the prospect’s right to object and by agreeing that he or she has raised an important point, you avoid contradiction and take him or her off the defensive.  You lose nothing by agreeing that the complaint is reasonable, logical, and worth thinking about.  You can then supply additional facts that may help to show the situation differently and may turn the objection to your own advantage by making it a positive sales point.

Uncover Hidden Objections  The Process of rephrasing and restating objections into questions helps determine whether the objections are valid ones or mere excuses or stalls.  If your prospect offers more than five objections during the interview, you can assume that he or she is probably stalling.  Most likely he or she is hiding the real objection, and your problem is to bring it out into the open.

How can you uncover hidden doubts or objections?  The best technique is to ask questions that bring them into the open.  You have to watch as well as listen for clues, since some prospects mask their real emotions or feelings.  Keep searching for the real reason.


Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

Smartamarketing Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

Forget the stereotype: typical Australian teenagers?

Forget the stereotype:

Typical Australian teenagers are more likely to be found helping around the house after school than using Facebook or playing computer games, University of Canberra researchers have found.

Teenagers were asked about their typical after school activities with computer games only just scraping into the top 10 in 10th place and Facebook ranked ninth. Family time topped the list, with sport, homework, hobbies and odd jobs also in the top 10, compiled as part of a report commissioned by the Australian Computer Society Community Engagement Board.

“We really need to re-think our stereotypes of modern teenagers,” the report’s author, Dr Karen Macpherson from the University of Canberra Education Institute, said.

“No one would argue against the fact that teenagers have welcomed digital technologies into their lives with open arms. But it may be that the popular stereotype of teenagers as being consumed by Facebook and computer games needs some rethinking. Although technology is now woven into their lives, for example on a daily basis almost half of the teenagers surveyed access Facebook, this study suggested that young people today spend most of their time doing what they have done after school for generations: spending time with family; playing sport; doing jobs around the house; and doing homework. And as they get older, casual jobs are also common.”

Dr Macpherson said it was important to understand the role of technology in young people’s lives to have a clearer picture of what might influence them to take up a career in technology, to help meet the nation’s critical skills shortage. The study gathered comprehensive information from teenagers about the role of technology in their out-of-school lives; their attitudes to the use of technology in schools; their interest in studying technology at school and later; and in taking it up as a career.

“The driver of this project was a question of Australian national interest,” Dr Macpherson said. “We need more young people to take up careers in Information and Communication Technology.”

More than 200 teenagers aged 12-18 years participated in the survey, which was administered at a sample of ACT government and non-government schools during Terms 3 and 4, 2012.

The study found, as with many adults, the mobile phone is usually within arm’s reach. In fact by the age of 18 years, 82 percent of the students in the sample slept with their mobile turned on next to their bed either “always” or “sometimes”.

The research suggested a large discrepancy between teenagers’ confidence in using technology – which was high; and their competence. For example information literacy skills that are fundamental to effective internet searching need improvement.

The study suggested that use of Facebook increases for both boys and girls with age; while playing computer games is very much gender related, and peaks with boys aged 13-15 years.

Results indicate that early high school is a critical time in which to engage teenagers in the study of Science, Maths and Technology.

“In early high school, we see a mismatch between the number of students who are interested in ‘how computers work’, and the lower numbers of students who are interested in ‘studying ICT’. After these early years, interest in both declines. We have a clear opportunity to interest more students in ICT if we engage with them at around 12-14 years of age,” Dr Macpherson said.

A final issue is the significant gap between young people’s perceptions of work available in ICT careers, which many see as fairly limited, and their stated ambitions of working in interesting and well paid jobs that ‘make a difference’.

“Our job is to provide learning opportunities to students that help them join the dots between their stated career objectives, and the fact that many ICT and science careers can meet those objectives,” Dr Macpherson said.

The full report, Digital Technology and Australian Teenagers: Consumption, Study and Careers, is published today and available at http://theeducationinstitute.edu.au/eduinstitute/node/159


The teenager’s top 10

When asked what they do after school, the most common activities young people undertake on a regular basis (at least several times a week) are:

  1. spending time with family (90%)
  2. doing homework (82%)
  3. watching television (75%)
  4. doing jobs around the house (73%)
  5. spending time doing a hobby (72%)
  6. playing sport (67%)
  7. seeing friends (65%)
  8. reading (62%)
  9. Facebook(61%)
  10. playing computer games (46%)


Dr Macpherson is available for interview: 0407 896489

Contact the University of Canberra media team:

Ed O’Daly 0408 829 618

Claudia Doman 0408 826 362

Why Buyers Buy – Or Not

What motivates a buyer to buy?

When you approach a prospective customer, he wonders what you have and what you want of his busy working day.  He is more interested in what you can do for him, at first, and, if this is interesting enough, your name and company assume importance because it tells him who is going to do it for him.

Selling is not a battle of wits and those who approach it as such usually are the losers.  The true salesman recognises basic fundamentals and buying motives and uses them logically to give his presentation all the power he can muster.  When selling to a retailer your appeals to buying motives must be directed through him to his customers.  A retailer wants what his customers wants plus a fair measure of profit.  Thus your approach will be aimed in a slightly different manner to show him what it will do for his business and how and why it will appeal to his customers.  Selling to retailers is on a more personal basis, as you call on the same man with some regularity and know his habits, his preferences.  But if you want to increase your share of his business, or approach a new customer, sell to him, do not just tell him, and hope for the best.  The hardest distance for your goods to travel is from his shelf to the other side of the counter.  Constantly give him help and guidance in appealing to his customers’ buying motives.

Value – Profit or Economy

To most of us these means much the same thing.  We can profit by making economies or we can improve economy through greater profits.  Depending upon your product you must decide which aspect will appeal more to your type of customer.  A retailer is more likely to be interested in profit through greater discount, or he could profit through more economical or balanced stocks.  An accountant may be more motivated by the word economy, as usually it is his task to save money.  He saves money to ensure increased profit but thinks more of saving money than making it.

Design or Appearance

The value of design or appearance is far more important than we tend to think.  People who buy houses, cars, furniture and appliances on appearance or design are buying with their eyes.  Whenever possible appeal to the eye with a visual presentation or paint the picture in your customer’s mind with words.

Comfort or Convenience

Does a furniture salesman sell just the wood, springs and covering? No!  He sells comfort.  All of us gather about us those things that make life more comfortable or convenient.  Look around your home and ask yourself how many things have to do just this for you.  Refrigerators are more convenient than ice chests, radiators more than log fires.  The list is endless.

Comfort and convenience apply to a man’s business life too.  What you offer may give him convenience by removing a process or clerical problem that recurs at regular intervals.  He has the mental comfort of dismissing the problem from his mind.  Insurance has security, such as knowing money will be available at the time of retirement.  You see many instances of comfort or convenience being the primary buying motive.  Think about what you sell and weave this aspect of buying appeal into your story.


Take two rival cars, both of similar size, finish and price.  One does twenty miles to the gallon, the other thirty.  Which would you buy under these conditions?  Performance can be the manner in which your product does its work; it can be the extra production it gives in a given time.  Where practical, stress the value of performance in easily understood and demonstrable terms.  For many products, performance is the feature above all else.

Safety or Security

Unit trusts, shares in large public companies are attractive because they offer gain and security.  The risk is minimised and this appeals to all of us.  Seat belts are sold for safety or security, so would you really be concerned with what their materials look like, if you were assured they would stand up to the stress of an accident?  When your item has a safety or security factor highlight it, whether it be physical safety or mental security.


This is an important buying motive but its value is somewhat different.  Your name or your company name can spell dependability.  You business history with a client can give him this feeling about you or the lack of it.  You have always done all you said you would, your company has unfailingly backed its products.  So much of the value of dependability as a buying motive rests on you and your selling behaviour.

Those qualities you may feel are important in your proposition, may not necessarily be as important to the prospective customer.  Your job is to dig out what is important to him and be able to convince him that what you offer has those qualities for which he is looking.  How can you do this?  Let him tell you why he will buy.  Find out by careful questioning and listening.  He could well call it turnover, where you think of the benefit as profit.  They amount to the same things, so sell him increased turnover.  Whatever he calls it, however he states his/her buying motive, sell it to him in his terms Perhaps Mr. Brown says: “I’ve heard this system gives trouble!”  Sell him reliability, sell him service; quote other installations to verify your statements, but sell what he asked for, reliability.

No salesman achieves anything for himself or his company until a sale is made.  You influence these decisions that lead to success or failure, so always remember that people buy for six basic reasons.  This will become part of your selling strength.

Like these ideas?  Please comment

And visit our other blogs/articles http://smartamarkeketing.wordpress

The Benefits of Socially Responsible Branding

Adding Cause to Branding

The benefits of being perceived to be socially responsible are varied and many. Understandably brands want to be perceived as socially responsible. Being associated with a good cause is a quick way for a brand to be gain the tag of being seen as ‘socially responsible’. This shows the brand to be responsible and caring and these are indeed good qualities for a brand to have. While some brands are inspired by a genuine sense of social responsibility many brands look at the image of being socially responsible as helping in building brand stature. The conscious employment of resources by a brand to aid charitable causes in order to develop image, associations and identity benefits is called cause related branding.

There are 5 main reasons why brands associate with charitable causes other than from a socially responsible perspective:

Builds brand preference: Marketing sense states and some research studies confirm, that ceteris paribus, consumers would prefer buying a brand that is associated with a good cause than from other brands.

Justifies a premium: Consumers often do not mind paying a premium for a brand that is known to be generous to a well-known charity as consumers feel that the brand deserves the premium. The knowledge that a part of the money paid to a brand is going to a good cause adds to the positive emotional component of the brand.

Reduces negative connotations associated with the brand: Liquor and tobacco brands often associate themselves with causes as a means of negating a part of the disrepute associated with their industry.

Provides the brand with desirable values: Brands that are seen to possess a very commercial and greedy image may wish to develop a softer image by showing a softer nicer side by donating to charitable organizations.

Useful for raising money: Brands that plan to approach the money market for raising money from the public often show the warm side of their personality by publicly supporting charitable causes. Investors who are not doing extensive research on the brand may invest because they believe a brand with good intentions can be trusted.

As is obvious from the advantages mentioned above, cause related branding has a lot to offer brands and therefore this route is being used by many brands. There are several successful examples cause related branding working wonders for brands it must be understood that a poorly developed cause strategy will lead to no little or no benefits for the brand. The days when a brand could merely tie up with a well-known charity and earn brownie points are over and the intricacies involved in making cause related branding work are worthy of careful consideration.

In branding, adopting a strategic perspective is critical. In cause related branding it becomes even more critical as the process of establishing an association with a cause takes significant investment of time, effort and money. Reaping the benefits of the association takes time and delinking from a cause can have strong negative repercussions for a brand and the involvement of the highest echelons of management need to be involved in decisions involving cause related branding.

There are three levels of decisions that brands need to look at and the implications of each category of decisions is to be understood before planning for any kind of cause related branding:

Deciding the category: There are a wide range of categories of causes ranging from care of deprived children to restoration of dignity of seniors. Categories are wide and can encompass a wide range of sub categories. Within the cause category of care for senior citizens there are sub categories addressing issues such as care for abandoned elders, medical treatment of senior citizens, etc. It is important to choose the right kind of category and sub category as a prelude to deciding a relevant issue to back within this category.

Deciding the specific issue: Categories of causes consist of different issues. Issues are specific such as programmes to aid restoration of dignity of senior citizens that feel deprived of dignity following their old age. Focussing on specific issues is important for brands as it helps fine tune the values that flow from the association.

Deciding the specific institutions: Unless the brand is willing to create a trust that handles the responsibilities of the cause it will have to depend on institutions to run the operational aspects involved in the execution of cause related activities. Aligning with an institution that caters to a specific cause can provide a brand with strong associations however there are times when brands need to ensure that they are not overshadowed by charities that are stronger brands than their sponsors.

These are some of the aspects that need to be studied before a brand decides to associate with a charitable cause.

What is the relevance of the cause to the brand’s consumer segment?: Association with a charitable cause does not immediately mean that consumers will immediately hold the brand in high esteem. Consumers must find the cause relevant to their value system before the brand receives any approbation. For example: Not all consumers may be equally supportive of a cause that looks at providing food and shelter to immigrants/refugees. These consumers may be more supportive of causes that benefit their countrymen.

How different is it?: Many people are inured to causes and even associations with a good cause like Cancer Care may neither draw much attention to the brand or to the cause nor would the association be very memorable. Finding a cause that is relevant and yet different would help in enhancing the memorability of the brand and cause. For example: A trust that looks after veteran entertainers suffering from terminal diseases can be seen as a worthy cause to support as it appreciates people who once entertained and gave others happiness.

Can the cause be owned?: It is normally difficult to own a cause as this would require immense investment of resources. A niche cause like the one mentioned in the above example may not require huge investments and may not see many other brands supporting this cause. The task of guarding the cause associations may not be very tough nor may the cost of running such a trust be very high.

Will it hold enduring relevance with this segment?: Some causes are contextual. These causes appear to touch a sensitive chord with consumers and then suddenly seem to lose their appeal. Often charities in India catering to cyclone victims suddenly find their support waning in the wake of a fresh new tragedy in a different part of the country. Public sympathy often veers towards the more current tragedies.

How will the relationship be positioned?: The nature of the brand’s relationship with the cause can influence consumer perceptions of the brand. A brand that extends it relationship beyond the financial support to also provide investments of time and talent would most likely stand to gain greater credibility from the relationship than would a brand that only provides money. Brands that appear to only offer financial support may be seen as ‘forced’ or ‘insincere’ and this could in some cases prove counterproductive.

Controversial issues: Brands need to be careful while handling causes associated with controversial issues. For example: A ‘euthanasia’ support foundation campaigning for change in legislation towards euthanasia may be seen by some as a worthy cause but association with this cause may lead to the brand supporting it being embroiled in controversy at some stage of its association if public opinion suffers from the occasional mood swing. While some brands court controversy through short term associations with controversial causes this could be risky as well as counter productive as the issue could turn ugly and taint the brand or it could grow far bigger than the brand.

Cause related branding works best when it is driven by the core values of the brand. Like anything else that is forced, cause related branding could prove counterproductive if it is not a ‘natural’ facet of the brand. When it is not ‘natural’ to the brand then the cause related activities are de-prioritised and lose focus often with corresponding effect on the brand.

In an increasingly cynical world, the value of genuinely sensitive acts is extremely high. There are several cries for brands to show greater responsibility and to share a small part of their wealth with the less privileged. The current economic strife created by schizophrenic brands that show dissonance between their different actions has led to lower levels of consumer belief in brands. Cause related branding performed with genuine intent can help restore consumer trust and build brand equity

Like this short article?  Please comment.  And have a look at other articles  in our sister blog http://smartamarketing.wordpress and checkout the smartamarketing posts on SlideShare. (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

Doing Business in China – Face

The worst thing to do any foreign country or with foreign people is to assume you understand a situation or the person thinks (or should think) just like you.

Dr Brian Monger


In Chinese and Chinese based cultures, if someone has “good face it means they have  a good reputation in front of their peers.  Face in Chinese culture is even more important than “reputation” in Western cultures.

Having face in front of one’s business colleagues or within a community is  a statement of that person’s value.

Losing Face

In situations where someone  has made a mistake or done something wrong, and the error is attributable to that person in public, then that one person has “lost face” – their reputation in the eyes of their peers has been reduced. Losing face is an experience no-one wishes to happen to them. So, even if the one losing face is clearly “wrong”, some folks will go to great lengths to avoid the appearance of losing face.

In any case, when face has been lost, the losing party leaves with “bad face”.

Saving Face

Saving face implies a situation where someone’s reputation is under question, or has already been lost, and is undergoing restoration. Saving face is an action whereby one is able to prove that they were not wrong, or show that the degree of their wrongdoing was only very small – not such a big deal.

This restoration is usually done with the help of someone else with good face, usually by making some kind of announcement before one’s peers, exonerating or endorsing the person who had lost face.

Giving (or Lending) Face

In a case where a person has no face or no recognised reputation within certain circles, this person may be required to seek out and “borrow” a certain measure of face from someone willing to “lend” it to them.

When dealing with Chinese do not make people lose face in public, you will likely make an enemy for life

Learn to not always state your opinion in public (especially about Chinese things), especially if it is contrary to a Chinese person’s opinion, this could cause them to think you are attacking them, which might make them feel they are loosing face, which leads to the first situation. Avoid arguing with Chinese people about things that are not critical. You will just piss people off. Many people are more emotional and think much more about face and often less empathetic about others (outside their social group), and not very direct/straight forward in many social relationships (which to Westerns can appear dishonest at times, but Chinese do not mean it that way, they are often trying to save themselves or you face)…keep that in mind and you will be okay.

Would you like a free copy of the MAANZ International eBooklet “Doing Business in China”?  Just send us an email to info@marketing.org.au and we will send you a copy.  We wont harvest your information or give it to any other party


You may also like to check out the MAANZ Website http://www.marketing.org.au or our other blogs/articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress




%d bloggers like this: