Russ Klein Introduces 4 Marketing Practices to Give Your Strategy a Boost

As marketers, some of us have heard of design targeting, tension advertising, social currency, and integrated marketing. What do they mean? Why do they constitute best practice thinking? American Marketing Association’s CEO Russ Klein coined several of these terms based on his own empirical research, observation, and experience, and has been a pioneer of thought leadership on them all!

Klein will speak at our next AMA Tampa Bay event on May 19, and will explain how he implemented these theories of best practice into his marketing strategies with large brands. He will also offer advice on how to implement these practices into our own marketing campaigns. First, it will help to understand what these terms mean and how Klein developed them. Klein provided a detailed explanation in a recent interview.

1. Design Targeting

Design targeting refers to applying the following design-thinking principles to marketing in an effort to ensure focus on the customer, and thereby empower brand advocacy.

A. Profit From the Core – In marketing, we must understand who our profitable core is and be sure to target this core in our marketing and advertising campaigns. What is a profitable core? This term is derived from Pareto’s Principle, or the 80-20 rule, which holds that for most companies, roughly 20% of customers are responsible for 80% of sales. This 20% is “the profitable core,” which marketers must target to remain successful. Every enterprise will have its own Pareto ratio but the concept of profiting from the core is irrefutable!

B. Focusing on Customers who Love the Brand – It is essential to remain focused on customers who are most loyal to our brands in Design Thinking Processes because these customers have a stake in the outcome. Most often the most satisfied customer will be the most helpful customer. Particularly, we must remain dedicated to engaging customers personally, continuously; and we must optimize our value propositions and services to fit their needs.

C. Use Word of Mouth Marketing – Target and engage customers who have the largest networks and who are heavily involved in word-of-mouth. These customers are able to use their networks spread the word about their favorite brands to the highest number of people. We all know how customers’ personal experience, credible influencers, and friends are the primary sources of their beliefs about our brand.

At the upcoming event, Klein will explain how Design Targeting, even when described by another name, is a powerful principle that guides the marketing campaigns of brands like NIKE, Gatorade, and others.

 2. Tension in Advertising

For an advertisement to gain the attention of the proper audience, it must contain one key element: tension. When two opposing forces conflict, there is tension. The audience feels that tension and it captivates them. When your ad introduces a certain brand as the solution to that tension, the audience becomes interested in the brand.

Klein realized the importance of tension in advertising when, a Fortune 500 CEO asked him to uncover the most effective strategic approaches to advertising. Klein carefully reviewed hundreds of the most successful ads from a variety of brands and found that they all shared only one element: tension. After this realization, Klein has used tension to develop an iconic marketing campaign for Gatorade that ran for more than a decade; and Burger King’s Whopper Freakout; still the most highly recalled advertising campaign ever measured by Nielsen/IAG., which Russ will discuss at the event.

3. Social Currency

 Marketing campaigns must be designed to build and maintain as much social currency as possible. Social currency is the entirety of actual and potential resources that arise from a brand’s presence in social networks and communities (online and offline). This concept accounts for the fact that brands must choose their networks carefully, as certain networks offer more social currency to some brands than to others.

In 1998, Klein developed this concept based on Metcalfe’s Law, which states, “The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of users connected to the network.” When applied to social networks, this simply means that the number of users determines the value. Learn why an understanding of the math behind social currency makes it a necessity, and how to convince your CFO that Social Media isn’t just pixie dust! At the event, you’ll find out how Klein used this principle to guide marketing campaigns of famous brands we all know and love.

4. Integrated Marketing

At the upcoming event, he will explain his unique vantage point and approach to integrated marketing, how to replicate it, and which large brands have benefited as a result of this approach. Moreover, he will provide you with the definitive reason Integrated Marketing works in the first place. Do you know why?

Find out the “Why” Behind the What!

Klein’s insights and track record of achievements prove that he is a pioneer of thought and a marketer who drives results. His curiosity to know why certain approaches in marketing work will inspire you to take a fresh look at marketing concepts you thought you knew inside and out!

We encourage you to join us on May 19th at the Centre Club in Tampa to hear firsthand from Russ Klein as visits AMA Tampa Bay to share more on these record breaking marketing campaign strategies.


By Chiara Tedone


Chiara is Digital Content Creator for AMA Tampa Bay. She is Co-founder and Director of Winning the Fight, a non-profit organization specializing in neurodegenerative disease research. Chiara is also a freelance digital marketer for small businesses and is finishing up her MBA with a specialty in marketing from the University of South Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Chiara lived in Washington, DC. She earned her BA in International Studies from American University’s School of International Services in 2007 and worked for Booz Allen Hamilton and the Department of Defense thereafter. Her hobbies include obstacle racing, running, swimming, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and opera/classical singing. She also loves country music and chocolate!

Contact Chiara

Email: Chiara at [email protected]

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