Search Results for: 'aha'
January 10th, 2018

2017 was the year of Aha Moments at Mortar: Five things we learned

We started 2017 by promising we would deliver on a new idea: that marketing thrives when it is focused on creating emotional impact. And that point of focus crystallizes in our intended prospects’ reaction. Aha Moments would be our new area of specialty. (More on that decision here).

To maximize focus we have to make a decision to be different

These two elements: the decision to be different (the Strategic Marketing Decision) combined with the resulting, emotional reaction, the Aha Moment, are the twin pillars of Mortar’s approach to Marketing. They come together best in this definition:

An Aha Moment is the desired reaction to a decision to be different.

Let’s break that down:A-ha's are an expression of insight or discovery

We say “Aha!” when we encounter something new, surprising, or as Collin’s Dictionary says, “an instant at which the solution to a problem becomes clear.” Webster’s puts it this way, “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension … The aha moment you experience when you’ve been trying to remember the name of a song and three hours later it hits you.” When we say “Aha Moment” we are seeking a positive reaction to our message.

A-ha moments are a reaction to a decision to be different.

Decision-making can be tough, especially among marketers. But without clearly identifying some unique area of differentiation marketers fail to lay claim to something people can prefer, an idea customers can choose, remember or tell their friends about. The quickest way to leverage any position is to claim novelty—and put everything you can behind communicating the benefits of choosing an option that is quite unlike everything else. 

a-a moments can be tested (and yes, that is Paula).

Deciding to be different is a testable proposition. So too is the Aha. It is not too much to ask that prospects use the words we expect and indicate the Aha we promise is motivating and clear. (Testing need not break the bank or slow the process unduly. On several occasions in 2017 we found quick, 45-minute one-on-one phone calls with a small group of prospects (four to six) to be a cost effective and relatively painless method of gauging impact).

a-ha moments are many, but they should all liberate and inspire

Crafting any communication requires a solid grasp of the product or service, the target, the opportunity and a myriad of other factors. By selecting an Aha Moment we seek to inspire our teams to be more creative—and explore the possibilities of delivering a focused message. Boring or mundane Aha’s don’t cut it. Neither do Aha’s that rely too heavily on logic or sound like a line from a press release. Strong Aha’s sound authentic and spark response. In many ways the Aha Moment is similar to the the notion of a Big Idea or Unique Selling Point, but with two major differences: 1. Aha Moments often travel in groups—there can be many. One person’s moment of clarity can be another’s ho-hum moment. 2. Aha’s can only be expressed in words the target might actually say. People only say, “Wow, because my network infrastructure is now fluid and adaptable, I can drive home strategic value and orient my stack to open protocols” in our minds. What they actually say is more along the lines of: “F**k me, flexibility like this rocks.” The Aha discipline reminds us to focus on genuine expressions of discovery. (BTW, we have written elsewhere on how a juicy swear word can enhance the impact of a well-chosen Aha.)

aha moments are personal and heartfelt

At the core of our approach is a questioning of Big Idea thinking and the requirement that what we are selling is merely a new way to think about an issue. Aha Moments are experienced by prospects encountering products or services for the first time, or looking at an existing product in a new way. Aha is what prospects say when confronted with our message. By attempting to shape the intended reaction, we leapfrog the necessity of providing logical reasons to believe to attack the amygdala—the part of the brain devoted to emotion and arousal—head on. Because if we don’t, our marketing will fall short of its intended purpose: to move people along the funnel to buy, recommend or just like. 

In any creative solution, smart, reasoned decision-making and the promise of discovering something new go hand-in-hand. To divorce one from the other is to miss an opportunity to deliver marketing that makes a lasting impact.

June 18th, 2018

Lessons in testing. When a good A-ha goes bad.

I never cease to be amazed by the power of small amounts of  testing.

I’m reminded of a Mortar client that made water out of thin air (they said it involved condensation, I’m pretty sure the dark arts were involved).

Like most tech teams they were in a hurry, and so the question of testing kept getting pushed further and further down the development cycle.

Only weeks from launch, our strategy was nailed, we knew how our product was different, and we had a new name, logo, and a crisp elevator speech.  All that stood between us and the Market was confirmation.

For this project we chose an engagement session: the agency, client team and prospects sit down around a coffee table for a moderated discussion. Although less scientifically objective than traditional focus groups (which make heavy use of one-way mirrors and bowls full of M&M’s) engagement sessions provide a more immersive experience for all parties.

The lessons learned in engagement sessions are often much more powerful, because the team hears the feedback directly and without filter, instead of weeks later as part of a 116 slide PowerPoint deck.

So, there we are, sitting on a couch, with eight early adopters, the pioneers we expect to be among the first to buy, and we launch into our idea.

The CTO lays out the challenge, details the product idea, and is about to reveal our first creative concept when a burly engineer leans forward and asks, “so what does the water taste like?”

The CTO turns green and starts to stammer.

Everyone else on the team is taken aback. Incredibly, we’d been so wrapped up in the genius of the technology that we never asked ourselves this simple question: what does the water our machine makes, actually taste like?

Before we can respond, the engineer says “I bet it tastes awful, am I right?”

Yes, dear reader, it turns out that water condensed from the air (or via the dark arts) has no flavor. And while that may sound like a good thing, it turns out we expect our water to taste like something, and that the lack of any flavor is… well… disgusting. How water tastes is a critical attribute for any water-making appliance.

The discovery that the A-ha Moment for our water-making innovation was not “Wow, I can make water, anywhere,” sent shockwaves through the team.

We had simply not considered that the benefit of providing fresh water would need to include taste.

That was not the only thing we took from our research.

We were also struck by the pride with which our first prospect pointed out the flaw in our marketing.

Members of the early market are often heavily invested in product details and are rarely shy about offering their opinions for improvement or further innovation.

But there is a point, as every innovator will attest, when a product should be hurled into the market, as there is no better indicator of success than purchase and use.

Still, our first customers would regard the lack of focus on taste as a critical product flaw—and it would cloud the bigger story: that they could now make water anywhere.

Not to fix the taste issue would leave our first customers feeling betrayed and ignored.

And it left me scratching my head over how I could have allowed the project to advance so far without considering such a vital factor.

My entire marketing career has been punctuated by moments like these.  I have learned the hard way that small, regular doses of feedback from potential customers are an essential ingredient of any successful marketing program.

And experiences like these are why we insist our clients test their A-ha moment before they head to market. For more on Mortar and our emphasis on the A-ha see this post: Five things we learned about A-ha moments in 2017.

May 23rd, 2018

Marketers: are you giving up too much ground?

150 years ago, Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for two cents an acre. With the discovery of huge oil and gas reserves 20 years later, Russia realized it had also lost natural resources worth billions.

Knowing the potential of what you have is not just important. It’s essential.

To help our clients make smart strategic decisions, we start every assignment by gathering with key team members around a whiteboard for an energetic brainstorm—and work hard to uncover what’s surprising, challenge what we think is true, and forge a plan forward.

Had the Russians aristocrats used a similar technique they might not have sold off such a vital resource.

If you’re looking to get a fresh lay of your own land before launching any new marketing efforts, drop us an email at: heythere@mortaragency.com.

We’ll help you mine the gold that’s just waiting to be tapped.

April 4th, 2018

Remember the lesson of the Greeks.

During the siege of Troy, the invading Greeks hid a small number of troops inside a huge wooden horse and placed it at the city’s gate. Thinking it a symbol of surrender, the unwitting Trojans pulled the horse inside. That night the secreted Greeks crept out and opened the gate for the rest of their army, destroying the city and ending the war.

Every marketer needs to be able to tell the difference between promise and threat.

To make smart decisions, we should always listen to the wisdom of colleagues—but let’s not forget to also pay attention to critics. Just as the voice of caution could have saved the Trojans, so too could a dose of objective, collaborative third-party thinking (from, oh we don’t know, these guys?) ensure you’re headed for victory.

Looking to mount a new marketing effort? Drop us an email at: heythere@mortaragency.com. We’ll make sure you ride off with the spoils.

March 15th, 2018

Get your marketing priorities straight

Pisa’s famous tower started leaning only five years after construction began in 1173. Erected on unstable soil with a foundation too shallow to support the structure’s weight, the building quickly started to shift. After 800 years of renovation the problem has been fixed and the tower finally stopped listing any further.

Before setting out to make marketing history, it’s always a good idea to survey the decisions you are making about your business foundation. Take care to verify you are standing on solid ground, and you’ll avoid unexpected A-ha Moments.

Looking to build concrete confidence in your marketing efforts? Drop us an email at: heythere@mortaragency.com and we’ll angle you in the right direction.