Why betting & mobile phone companies are crying out for a purpose | DMA

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Why betting & mobile phone companies are crying out for a purpose


I have been lucky enough to have the last 6-months off work. This has been an incredible time and has put a lot into perspective. (Reading time - about 3 1/2 minutes)

On a personal level, I have picked my daughter up from school and we have just chatted about what's happening in her world with friends and school work. Our relationship has never been better.

On a work/ Marketing level (and as I get ready to go back to work next month), this time off has taught me a lot - I have realised just how important purpose is for a company.

I have been exposed to thousands of messages, hundreds of millions of pounds of advertising and yet I can recall very little.

The biggest reason is that too many companies don't have a clear purpose - as Simon Sinek says so eloquently on TEDx Talks - companies are very good at defining the what they want to do and even the how they will do it but very few can articulate the why they are doing it and why any of their customers would care.

'People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it'.

The why drives the emotional buy in that creates fans. A fan being someone who costs less to recruit; recommends your products/ services to more people; churns less and has a lower cost to serve --- an emotional relationship rather than one purely based on price.

I know from experience, how powerful the why can be.

I was lucky enough to spend 2 amazing years in Slovakia working for Telefonica O2 - a company that had between a 1/4 - 1/5 of the marketing budget of its sizeable competitors. Yet we understood the key insight --- that the Slovak people felt cheated - originally by their Government and latterly by Big Business and didn't know who to turn to. As the challengers in the market our purpose was simple - we would be the fair operator and the whole of the company supported this pledge and purpose. The purpose dictated everything we did and we outperformed the market for 8 consecutive quarters with the highest customer satisfaction across the 27 markets Telefonica operated in.

Fast forward to the UK and these are the brands that have caught my eye.

  • Now TV - with an ethos of being able to watch Sky but on your terms with no contract or commitment. The opportunities are endless as they branch into broadband and telephony all without contracts. Effortless
  • Under Armour want to make athletes better. I love the Michael Phelps ad and that coupled with their clever programmatic marketing is driving the emotion as well as the rational and some significant purchases from Wimbledon!
  • TfL - changing movement around the capital. Tube trains are faster, more reliable and there is new innovation coming like 24-hour travel
  • England Rugby - an astonishing turn around that has more and more fans coming back and watching in amazement as to how the team is pushing to be the best in the world

These companies/ organisations/ teams not only perform well commercially but also have high fandom scores as consumers have strong emotional buy in that is much more than just a transactional 'wham, bam, thank you mam' relationship.

The same could not be said, however, of betting companies. I must have seen Ray Winston and the outrageously funny Paddy Power ads countless times but none are making me think anything more of their brands. All tell me I can cash out when I like, all scream amazing value but all are missing their purpose. What & where is the emotional hook?

Mobile providers are in a similar position - viewed now as a commodity/ utility, everyone is screaming best/ biggest/ fastest/ most but as a consumer I don't really care. I want someone to engage with me, to wow me, break through the noise and stand out. To do that you must have a purpose that the whole company gets behind - as O2 did all those years ago when it started.

It feels to me that companies need to be doing more than ever to be grabbing our attention with barriers to entry at an all time low. Save some of your sizeable advertising budgets and use it to define what you really stand for and why you are in business. From there be single minded and laser focused in your deployment. Us consumers would welcome it and you will have more emotional engagement and increased coffers in the till.

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