10 key takeaways from our webinar with Mark Ritson

Every webinar summary from anyone includes an earnest suggestion that you should listen to the webinar in full. But honestly, this time you really should. Mark Ritson is one of the most in-demand speakers in marketing, and it shows – this 45 minute conversation is packed with advice, examples, strong opinions and some wickedly funny turns of phrase.

But if you really need a quick summary, here goes. The conversation used the Covid-19 situation as a springboard for some home truths about marketing in general, and the way the profession continually forgets the basics. Here are 10 of Mark’s best bits of wisdom.

1 – Don’t throw your pants in the air and panic over Covid-19 – remember Bill Bernbach’s “Unchanging Man”. Context changes, tactics change – but the consumer doesn’t change that quickly.

2 – The pandemic is creating evolutionary pressure in marketing – pushing it further down the road we were already moving, for instance with price pressure from discounters.

3 – The biggest problem with most advertising is nobody knows it’s you. YOU know it’s your brand because you work on it 8 hours a day, but swivel it around and these ads just wash over people. Be Fluent – use the devices, assets, motifs that create your brand codes.

4 – Distinctiveness vs Differentiation is a false choice. “Differentiate or die” was never true – it was oversold by theoretical marketers. But the needle’s swung too far back – in practical terms the brand ‘DNA’ and its codes work together.

5 – One big benefit of the swing from differentiation is that it encourages marketers to keep things simple. You should be able to write down everything important about your brand on a single page.

6 – Marketers might recommend you increase spend in a crisis but at the individual boardroom level that battle had already been won or lost before Covid. CMOs who had already built legitimacy got their advice listened to – the rest were overruled.

7 – Big brands take note: the ESOV rule – brands that underspend relative to market share will ultimately lose that share – applies to 99% of brands. There are exceptions but you almost certainly aren’t one of them.

8 – Small brands beware: “Capitalism isn’t fair and the big f***er f***s everyone else.” – don’t believe David and Goliath stories will apply to you. There is no magic route to survival.

9 – Of all the traits of Ritson’s Monster – the things a successful marketer needs – one of the most relevant is comfort with imprecision. The obsession with exact data has made marketers chase precise numbers rather than make decisions based on ‘good enough’ ones.

10Brand monitoring matters – you don’t need to do it too often, but if you don’t have tracker data from the last 12 months you’re not really managing your brand. And you need to measure the shitty stuff as well as the positives.

What’s that? You want an 11th? Oh go on then – “I endorse System1, I think the work’s first rate.”

Hope you enjoyed the webinar!

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