Crushing on Mark Ritson

Mark Ritson Branding

Marketing consultant Gemma Ede shares what she and Mark Ritson have to say about being a badass brand in 2021.


I admit it. I have a bit of a crush. He’s not exactly Chris Hemsworth – but boy does he spin my wheels from a marketing perspective.

I can’t get enough of Mark Ritson’s punchy, in-your-face advice and humour. I find him refreshingly on-point, honest and hilarious – all shrouded in a healthy dose of ego of course.

But after getting a recent fix of his advice and content, combined with my own experience as a consultant, I began to ponder what we should be doing in 2021 as marketers – because there’s a bit of pressure team.

Pressure to emerge from the dirty, rotten (but conversely opportunistic) chrysalis that was 2020 and launch sky-high with a marketing plan that will rectify all the frustrations your CEO has.

The reality however, is that many of us marketers would do well to just:

  • Take a bit more time.
  • Talk to a few more customers.
  • Give our marketing activities a bit more of a chance…with a bit more investment behind them. And;
  • Negotiate a little harder at the big-cheese table.

So let’s try and ignore any pressure and instead get practical. To help with that, here’s with my top picks (influenced a little by my ‘crush’) for doing great things with your brand in 2021.

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

As marketer we’ve all been guilty of it. Getting stuck in to the job without getting out and knowing who we’re really talking to.

This year, get out of your home, your office, the trendy shared space you now work in and go visit some folks. Go sit and listen. Grab a few sales call recordings, put the pressure on any newbies to the business to use that lucrative ‘fresh perspective’ before it gets sucked into the inevitable blinkered-ness that we all fall victim too. 

Understand you customers and segment them based on their behaviour. Bit of qual, bit of quant research and then choose ONE to target – preferably the most profitable.

There’s always another year to choose another segment. Chasing too many on a lean budget means dilution. Which means bugger-all results.

Move. One. Mountain.

A penny here, a penny there… is not a strategy

A little of this, a little of that, a Facebook campaign here and a shot at a direct mailer there. Trialling and testing is part of good marketing but if your activities aren’t given a decent run, are minimally funded, or not tied to any evidence, they’ll likely give you average results or baffle you with where you went wrong. Sounds familiar? See this article for a quick diagnosis.

Lots of companies – especially in the SME space tell me they don’t need strategy. Their business is running ok and they’re in tactical mode. But they flip/flop between things never really knowing why something’s worked or hasn’t, and missing the blazing hole burning in the middle of their tactics – right where a strategy should be, not to mention a brand identity.

Play the long game, and the short

Your robust marketing plan needs both a longer-term brand building lens, as well as a shorter-term sales and product lens.  

Ritson talks about ‘two-speed’ marketing plans that address both long term brand positioning and shorter-term tactical, targeted, product related activity.

What’s often difficult is justifying to stakeholders the longer-term brand strategy investment. Proposals of this nature get met with “Where are the hard results?” “Do we really need this stuff?” and other equally awkward questions.

So what’s your answer to “Do we really need it?” Simple.

“Hell yes we do folks”. And don’t dial back the language either – hit them square in the chops and then slam down an example like Dove, or any number of other credible and successful brands who’ve dabbled with dropping brand campaigns and felt the bite in their product sales, EVEN when the tactical campaigns continued to run.

You don’t need the huge budgets. But you do need a stream of work to drive positioning and cast a wider audience net.  

Go ahead and layer on those channels

In short – and echoing another Ritson ‘gem’, using more marketing channels within your campaigns (with a consistent message) = more results.

Based on the insights Ritson pulled from more than 3,200 campaigns globally – alongside Analytic Partners, brands can realise up to 19 percent increased engagement for a campaign when adding a marketing channel and up to 35 percent increased engagement if you layer in an extra four plus channels.

Research. Strategy. Campaign: Layer, layer, layer…

Get all the beans you can, using your evidence arsenal

Many companies have many opportunities right now, but lean budgets. The “do more with less conversations” are a marketer’s knife to the heart, but you’ve got to empathise with the head honchos.  Just don’t wallow. And do not roll over.

Make it your job to turn those conversations around – using your research, your segmentation and your SMART goals. Your PowerPoint to the CEO goes a little something like this:

  • This is what we’re doing and why (And what we’re not doing)
  • This is who we’re going after (and who we’re not)
  • This is what the company is going to get
  • This is what it’s going to cost.

Make this year the year YOU dictate the marketing budget.

A pretty picture delivers a thousand customers

My design partners are some of best in their business. With the right brief and strategy they create so much more than beautiful branding – they create moments, vibes, moods and actual customer change.

It’s not a tick-box, or a nice to have. Design matters a lot to your customers and future customers.

How much?

  • People judge your company’s credibility 75 percent based on your company’s website design*
  • Almost 40 percent of your visitors will stop engaging with your website if the layout or content is unattractive*
  • First impressions about a company are 94 percent design-related*

And don’t stop at just good design, or nice design. Design (and critically the right messaging) is your BIG opportunity to get greater cut-through in market, tell a better story, change perceptions and shift a dusty brand.

And don’t underestimate the power of a good code. Ritson *crushing* gave me a good reminder in a podcast about this exact matter. Do not forget about the codes:

Your marketing doesn’t need to be Oscar-worthy emotive, or Saatchi level creative every time.

Research shows that just hammering your brand codes: colours, fonts, logos, imagery, the unique ways you do things drive awareness and recall. Just simple, consistent use of codes drives awareness, recall and ownership Use them I creative ways – everywhere.

My local print shop in Browns Bay has a fluoro green colour palette and one of their codes is a cute little ladybug. TBH, I am so sick of seeing that ladybug everywhere I go – cars, signage, in-store collateral, sponsorship, posters etc. That bug is living the Browns Bay dream, and I’ll hand it to them: it’s coding well done. Consistent, recognisable and multi-channel. If they can do it so can you. So push harder, take more risks, get more in tune with your brand personality and dial up those unique traits.

Gemma Ede

About Gemma Ede

Gemma Ede is Founder of Strut & Swagger Marketing – helping companies build brands that people remember.

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