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5 Things You Can Learn about Next Generation Marketing from a Former Burger King Executive

Russ Klein, the CEO of American Marketing Association and former CMO of Burger King, Arby’s, Dr Pepper, and 7-Eleven provides five tips on the business of marketing.

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BY Robbie Abed - 10 Apr 2018

5 Things You Can Learn about Next Generation Marketing from a Former Burger King Executive

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

What would happen if you walked into Burger King and tried to order a Whopper only to hear that the Whopper has been discontinued?

Would you freak out?

Well, this was the basis of a viral ad that Burger King released in 2008, appropriately named the "Whopper Freakout." It went on to win industry acclaim, shatter advertising recall records, and stands as a timeless case study for great marketing insight taught in universities around the world.

I wanted to learn more about marketing from a marketing expert, so I started with a marketing icon, the former CMO of Burger King responsible for the "Whopper Freakout" and other successful marketing campaigns, Russ Klein. He is currently the CEO of American Marketing Association.

Here are five things I learned about how to succeed in the next generation of marketing.

1. It's not about who makes the smartest decisions. It's about who makes the most decisions.

When I decided that I was going to invest in writing, I wrote 250 blog posts in one year. My strategy wasn't to write the best blog post every single time, it was about being consistent with writing and exploring different ideas. I had a blank canvas every time.

The 200th blog post went viral and I amassed over 150,000 page views in less than 24 hours. Since I made more decisions than other writers, I was able to get ahead of the game and find a winner.

"If you want to survive in the marketing world, you need to make more decisions than your competitors. "We made more decisions than our competitors. We were onto the next thing while competitors were trying to understand the last thing. If your organization moves slower than the world around you, you're dead."

The single best way to find out if a marketing campaign is going to be successful is to launch it and learn by doing.

2. The best way to build a brand is to design an experience around a solution that is useful, usable, desirable, and differentiated.

What I learned from marketing is that your story is co-created. You no longer own the story. Ask United Airlines how much they own their story. No marketing campaign can change the impact of a viral video negatively impacting their brand.

"I am passionate about Experience Design. It's next-generation marketing. Experience design is an intentional digital-physical fusion that produces remarkable experiences at formative and high yield moments. It is not only about interfaces, touchpoints, or product design; just because the app looks great, doesn't mean that people will love the experience. People will accept a refund or replacement. They will never relive a poor experience." says Klein.

As Klein says. Focus on delivering a positive experience before storytelling. The story will write itself.

3. Don't fall in love with your products.

I've said it before, brand loyalty is dead. Startups like brandless are offering $3 "brandless" products and they continue to grow.

"People don't want your product. They're in love with the solution. Brand loyalty is a historical artifact. Instead of relying on people to have an irrational attachment to your brand, focus on building an experience that customers can trust, " says Klein

This is a great opportunity for startups to compete against major brands when you have zero name recognition in the market. Take a look at how Dollar Shave Club went from a no-name startup brand to being acquired by Unilever for $1billion in cash a few years later.

4. Don't create a viral marketing campaign for the sake of going viral. Drama without relevance is like wings without feet.

It's not a coincidence that the best same-store sales growth in Burger King's 60-year history was during the seven years Klein was CMO.

"When we launched the Subservient Chicken campaign, it wasn't just to create a stir. It was a purposeful launch of a new chicken sandwich that became a billion dollar product. We were always in pursuit of a business outcome, " says Klein.

Listen to Klein. It's not about what's possible. It's about what's relevant.

5. Build an MLE "minimal lovable experience."

The term MVP, "Minimal Viable Product" is a well-known acronym in the startup community. Klein recommends that instead of just focusing just on creating a viable product, you should focus on building a minimal lovable experience.

"It's about a lovable experience that your customers will share with others, " says Klein.

Don't focus on creating the next best thing, focus on creating a minimal loveable experience and work from there. That's the core of successful marketing in next generation.

Thank you, Russ, for an insightful interview.