Category: Advertising San Francisco
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.

January 4th, 2018

Why you f**king need emotion in your Aha moment.

Even Oprah enjoys a good A-ha moment.

Looking to make a great new year’s resolution? Here’s one we can all get our heads around: promise yourself you will spend more time contemplating your customers’ Aha moment.

That moment your prospects see the power of your idea.

Focus your marketing on that instant and you will not go far wrong.

You see the great irony of marketing and advertising in 2017 was how hard it is to answer that fundamental question: what is your Aha moment? What is it about what you do that makes people gasp with surprise. To giggle. To nudge a neighbor and share. To say to themselves: wow, I never realized I could to that.

Look, too much money and time is spent elsewhere in the marketing development funnel.

Consider how much energy it takes to align your team with the desires of your executive staff. To figure out what you are selling and when it will be ready. And then get your partners to deliver communications that drive those ideas home.

No wonder we spend so little time testing ideas in the wild with live actual prospects.

At Mortar, we are not immune to the mistake of driving ideas forward without customer feedback.

There was a time, not so long ago, when we attempted to market a new water-generating technology without ever tasing a single drop of the water our clients’ machine produced.

One small focus group corrected that problem.

We soon found ourselves back at the drawing board, our ears ringing from “the water tastes like ass doesn’t it?” rebuke. In that case a modicum of customer testing early in the process would have saved thousands and months of hard work.

But this post isn’t just about the importance of identifying the Aha moment.

I’d like to share a favorite marketing hack. Turns out that a well placed expletive can really help nail  the A-ha moment. 

One of the BIG surprises for Mortar in 2017 was the discovery that swearing can actually improve the process of briefing creative teams.

Turns out that “amazing storage” leaves one wanting. But that “f**king awesome storage” gets giggles. Elicits reaction. Reveals emotions. 

Adding a simple, primitive swear word to your brief sparks creativity

In 2017 we told the creative team a home security device could stop creeps f**king spying on their kids.

That a part-time business degree was exactly the f**king same as the full-time equivalent. And that people really needed to f**king know that.

That people wanted to f**king hear what their families were f**king saying (advanced hearing aids).

And that the network was really f**king important. (That realization was shared by four different customers in 2017).

F**king robots will not take our f**king jobs (hmm, still not sure about that–but we told them that anyway).

Running your business with more online meetings can be vastly f**king better than relying on face-to-face.

And that f**king software was fucking hard. And more to the point, that making compromises really f**king sucked.

Try it. In 2018, resolve to put a nice big juicy swear word into your Aha moment.

It’s the quickest way to make sure there is an emotional trigger in your brief.

December 2nd, 2017

Mortar gets (this) close to GOT

Look what Ogilvy did with the work we did on Cisco’s new network launch: which they christened as The Network. Intuitive.

November 2nd, 2017

New Varian Brand Campaign

Oh, and this happened in 2017… we helped launch the new Varian brand campaign on the Internets.. (see the landing page here).

April 30th, 2017

The new face of RingCentral: Call-een (geddit?)

Mortar helped RingCentral showcase a new look for collaboration and demonstrated the power of everything coming together.

“A-ha Moment: “A-ha! It all this work stuff works together now. Even on my phone.”