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My 7-Layer Dip Recipe for Long-Lasting Advertising Success

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    I've been working with the same large independent agency going on 38 years. People are always surprised and ask what has kept me at the same place for so long. I have worked with a collection of well-known brands for a long time (current RPA tally: American Honda—49 years, Farmers Insurance—13 years and Apartments.com—9 years, to name a few). Having long-standing clients that trust us to help grow their business is the reason I've stayed put for nearly four decades.

    What's the secret?

    Same thing my mom would say after we devoured what she made: "A good recipe does wonders."

    Leading creative development for all these years, it's become evident that just having a great idea isn't enough. That's the main ingredient, to be sure. But to enjoy lasting creative success, it's critical to have business success. You need to help drive long-term growth.

    You must understand the importance of nurturing a strong brand, while simultaneously supporting the sales side and lower funnel, plus retail ops and activations. 

    It all comes down to building brands while building the business. Even this old art director likes a good metaphor. So, I like to refer to this as the 7-Layer Dip. Each ingredient is good on its own. But what makes it special is when you dig in and get it all at once.

    1. Beans: Identify "the why." What is the future purpose for the brand? Consider what will stick in people's minds and what motivates them to act short term. Combining those into one cohesive platform that can evolve and adapt to changing market trends. This adds value for your customers.
    2. Guacamole: Develop a strong presence. The brand platform. The big idea. For Farmers, we let consumers know that the company makes them a little smarter about insurance. Maintain consistency across all touch-points, both online and offline, to be remembered as time goes on.
    3. Veggies: Local awareness. Pay special attention to franchisees or regional aspects of your brand. Different regions have varying customer needs, competitive landscapes and audience behaviors. Offers using local references spoken in colloquial ways can help. Being able to manage and capitalize on these differences is a superpower.
    4. Sour Cream: Personal connection. This can take many forms—a storied character actor playing a professor might be one. The goal is to create an emotional bond between the brand and its customers that will pay off in trust and a sense of community.
    5. Salsa: An exchange of value. A bit of entertainment. The spicy idea rather than just a sales pitch, even in the lower funnel, such as DRTV or engagements. In a noisy marketplace, a bold creative platform can set your brand apart from others.
    6. Cheese: A tagline, a catch phrase, an earworm. Because it's fun, people may tell two friends.  Cue, "We Are Farmers—bum ba-dum bum bum bum bum."
    7. Olives (some prefer green onions): Cultural relevance. The top of the dish. Ultimately, the aspiration is for the brand to earn its place in culture. The ability to pivot, rebrand or evolve strategy in response to changing trends or customer feedback is what can set you apart.

    To have business-building results, brands need a consistent voice. Stick with it. One voice that builds brand equity over the long haul can also drive short-term gains.

    A well-measured, crafted marketing mix can make a brand more appealing. Awareness goes up, leads to more goodwill. Which ultimately leads to more engagement, more visits, quotes, signups ... and sales!

    What CMO doesn't want to share that? What CEO won't eat that up? 

    More chips, anyone?


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    Author: Ernest Dunn

    Last Updated: 1700080442

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    Author information

    Name: Ernest Dunn

    Birthday: 1958-10-22

    Address: 782 Johnston Route Apt. 454, Ralphport, MT 39914

    Phone: +4323393654752183

    Job: Social Worker

    Hobby: Running, Skiing, Stargazing, Billiards, Raspberry Pi, Motorcycling, Kite Flying

    Introduction: My name is Ernest Dunn, I am a unguarded, unreserved, valuable, radiant, cherished, intrepid, unyielding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.