Marketing At Every Touch Point

An Apple - One ingredient doesn't

Marketing, like in cooking, isn’t any singular ingredient

Every Touch Point is a Marketing Opportunity

 “What do you think of Twitter?”

“Are traditional websites are thing of the past?”
“Should I be replacing my brochures and one-sheets with YouTube® videos?”

Three typical questions I hear when giving marketing speeches. But underlying these and many other similar questions is a mistaken singular focus on a specific marketing ingredient as if it’s going to be the panacea of one’s marketing. It would be like asking a chef,

“What do you think of pomegranates?”

Or, “Is goose liver passé?”

“Shall I get rid of the cauliflower and broccoli and replace them with broccoflower?”

Both sets of questions don’t make a whole lot of sense. Marketing, like cooking, isn’t any one thing you do. The power of marketing, as in cooking, is in the appropriate selection, combination and deployment of ingredients.

There are over 175 marketing ingredients in your “marketing pantry” – there’s plenty to select from! The key is strategically selecting the right ingredients for your particular business. Marketing ingredients are not just the obvious things like your business card, website or advertising, but everything in your business. Because everything you do, (and don’t do), sends a message: how you answer your phone, the quality of your service and the cleanliness of your facilities all send a message. [Read more…]

Positioning Products & Services Purposefully & Profitably

Profitable Positioning

Chocolate soufflé

Major Marketing Malfunction #2

Part 2 – The Solution

Yesterday’s post outlined how a poor positioning for your organization or offering without distinction or appeal is unappetizing and far from irresistible.  And positioning yourself with purpose and intention is not just a good marketing exercise – it’s a profitable one!

Positioning is as foundational to marketing, as a stock is to a soup or sauce. If your stock is rancid the soup or sauce will be unappetizing! And it’s not enough to just be differentiated – although that is important. What is the value you bring to your target market? The recognized value you bring to your clients combined with your novelty and differentiation will position you, your organization or your offering with the highest potential profit.  [Read more…]

Positioning Products & Services – “The Battle for the Mind”

Poor Positioning

Unappetizing Positioning

Photo: Tobias Pohler

Major Marketing Malfunction #2

Part 1 – The Issues

Positioning your organization or offering: irresistible or unappetizing? No distinction has no appeal. Trout & Ries in their classic manifesto: Positioning calls it a “battle for the mind”. Furthermore, I would suggest if you don’t position yourself, the marketplace will position you … and it won’t be appealing! Just as a stock is foundational to making a soup or a sauce, positioning is foundational to marketing. In my thirty plus years of business experience I see poor positioning as one of the fundamental flaws in organizations’ marketing strategies.

Your organizations’ offering or your particular product or service offering must “own” a space in the marketplace that is uniquely yours. Your positioning must also be credible, defendable, and sustainable.

  • Credible positioning means when challenged with the words: “prove it!” you can back up your claims.
  • Defendable positioning means no one else can easily lay claim to your “space.”
  • Sustainable positioning means that it works today, next week, and next year.

A simply irresistible™ positioning starts with your Extraordinary Value Proposition; don’t just have an ordinary boring value proposition. Literally make it “extra – ordinary!” [Read more…]

Brand Taglines – Your Key Marketing Ingredient to Position your Offering

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

Marketing Ingredient # 015 - Your Brand Tagline

Photo: M. A. Makky

Part 1 – Tagline Basics

When you think of a company, product, or service, what is one of the first things that come to mind?  Probably the tagline With so many business names out there and many more goods and services, memorable differentiation is key. Think about it, can you remember the name of your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant?  You will more than likely remember it as ‘eggs and bacon’, or ‘the nacho platter’.  This applies to many things we spend our money on.

Taglines that are memorable position your offering in the mind of your target audience.  Taglines are the key ingredient that will make your business, product, or service memorable above all others.  Taglines are what make certain cereals stand out and sell better than others.  Taglines position particular automobiles to be dependable: “Built Ford Tough” or perhaps the exceptional: Land Rover “Go beyond.

It’s unclear when the first tagline was ever used. However we do know that in 1907, a coffee company used a slogan stating their brand was “good to the last tiny drop.”  That slogan was used well into the 1980s. Maxwell House proved a great tagline withstands the test of time.  Others have had similar success stories following a few simple principles.  [Read more…]

Your Marketing Calendar Prevents “Marketing Episodes”

Marketing Ingredient # 012

Photo: Maxime Perron

The key marketing ingredient that facilitates the success of your marketing goals is your marketing calendar. It helps you prioritize all the other ingredients and sequence them just like a recipe.

After all what is a recipe? A list of ingredients in specific portions accompanied by a sequence of strategically oriented actions.

Implementing your marketing calendar effectively, will not only enable you to coordinate all your marketing, but also assists you in budgeting your efforts.

A marketing calendar will strategically systemitize your marketing efforts and eliminate “marketing episodes” – when the panic sets in and you say – “We need more business, lets _____(Fill in the blank)*___ “ and causes more wasted marketing dollars than anything else!

* Redo our website / do a direct marketing campaign / launch a Facebook page / create a marketing video / and many more!

What’s Your Story?

Marketing Ingredient # 011

Is your message as bland as spam?

Photo: Joe Gough

Every person, every business, every organization has a story to tell. Sadly, most are as bland as spam!

Children and adults alike, love stories. A good story is the underpinning to great movies, sermons and life! And your core story is a key foundational ingredient to your marketing, just as a tasty stock is foundational to an excellent soup or sauce!

Find your story. Structure it as a story. Begin with an irresistible set-up; the middle holds you with fascination or action, and the end builds to climax and resolution.
In addition, make sure it’s relevant to your target audience. Ensure it is persuasive (moves the heart, mind and soul), and it’s compelling  … ignites action!

Your Marketing Value Proposition – What Makes It Irresistible?

Marketing Ingredient # 009

Ahi Tuna & Wine - Irresistible

Photo: Shutterstock

What makes what you offer irresistible? A four part recipe:

  1. Novelty – What do you do or offer that is different and important to your prospect or clientele?
  2. Utility – What’s useful to your target audience about what you offer?
  3. Dependable – How can you demonstrate consistency & dependability to your target audience?
  4. Economic benefit – How does your target market gain an economic benefit from your offering?

Getting N.U.D.E. is the answer to your irresistible positioning!
(Acknowledgement: Adapted from Scott Degraffenreid’s research on referral marketing,)

Competitive Differentiation with Relevancy & Value

Marketing Ingredient # 008

Competitive Differentiation

Photo: Liz West

 

Competitive Differentiation – What make you different from everyone else? What attribute, specialty, service experience or customer preference uniquely belongs to you? Find it – communicate it – and you will command a premium in the marketplace … with a caveat.

There are many way to differentiate yourself: features, service, performance, pricing, target audience. BUT, it only matters if it matters to your client or customer. If they don’t appreciate the differentiation then don’t bother! Competitive differentiation is a step in the right direction – differentiators that your customer actually cares about and values is an ingredient to Irresistible Marketing™.

… I’m curious … what’s your competitive differentiation? Share here and pass it on!

Competitive Assessment – How do you rate relative to your competitors?

Marketing Ingredient # 007

Competitive Assessment

Photo: stock.xchng

A common pitfall among entrepreneurs and business executives alike is underestimating the competition. It’s a crowded and noisy marketplace – to be different you have to know what’s out there! (And please don’t tell us you have no competition!)
Also, don’t forget that two of the biggest competitors are apathy and the incumbent.
Key question: What are the key product – service attributes that are important to the customer? How do your competitors rate? How do you rate relative to your competitors? Plotting the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses relative to yours is a key marketing ingredient.

Target Market – Who’s The Ideal Target Audience

Marketing Ingredient # 006

Target on apple

Photo: Jay Lopez

Your target audience – Your best customers and clients are probably your most profitable … what attributes make them ideal? Who are your “ideal” customers? What do they look like? What are their attributes? Their needs? What’s their core issue? What is the fundamental problem that keeps them awake at night … which you can uniquely solve?

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …
“To hit the target you must aim for the center – therefore start by defining the 100% ideal client – the bulls eye!”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

Who’s On Your Marketing Team?

Marketing Ingredient # 005

Leadership in marketing

Photo: Svilen Milev

Your marketing team … your advisors … your marketing champion. Who are you listening to? Is the advice birthed out of strategy?
Be careful, everyone has a opinion about marketing, and you know what they say about opinions – everyone’s got one!

Also, do you have a champion that spearheads your marketing – the creation of demand for your offering? Marketing counsel needs to be strategic, profitable and proven!
“If your marketing champion cannot clearly clarify the distinction and the correlation between marketing and sales in a single sentence – fire them!”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

(Photo: Svilen Milev  http://efffective.com )

The Totality of Your Product – Service Offering

Marketing Ingredient 004

A quality offering!

Photo: Daniel N. González

Your Offering? The quality of your product or service sends a message. How is it innovative? How does it address the customers’ core issues? Quality commands a premium and begins to create differentiation. Without a quality offering you have little to market. The quality of your product-service offering is in itself a powerful marketing ingredient.
Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

“Everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message.”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

Your email address – What does it say about you?

Marketing Ingredient # 003

Email Address @ Symbol

Photo: Zoran Ozetsky

 

Your email address –  What does it say about you?
Does it support your personal brand?
… especially if you’re in business for your self?
Using @yahoo.com, @att.net, @gmail.net, @hotmail.com etc., while appropriate for a personal email, for business sends the wrong message! Invest the ten bucks – get an appropriate domain name (URL) and set up a professional email account.
Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

“Everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message.”
Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef

 

 

 

Effective URLs – Irresistible Marketing Starts Here …

Marketing Ingredient # 002

Your URL www

Photo: Svilen Milev

 

 

Your web address –  What does it say about you or your business or organization? Three things to consider:

1. Does it add or subtract from your brand?
2. Is it memorable?
3. Does it help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here …

 

(Photo: Svilen Milev)

Business Name / Organization name – What Does it convey?

Marketing Ingredient #001

Marketing Ingredient # 001 - Your Business Name

Photo: Bill Davenport http://lightnshadow.blogspot.com

Irresistible Marketing™ starts here  … Marketing Ingredient # 001 – Your name – What does it convey  about you, your organization or business?

 

 

 

Marketing, Innovation and the Branding Disasters of 2010

The power of a ubiquitous commanding brand is undeniable. It gets our attention. We find them irresistible. Large companies invest millions into building and protecting their brand. But in the “everything you do sends a message” department, the higher you climb the bigger the potential fall.

24/7 Wall St. published a list of top ten name brands that have appear to have lost over $100 billion, (yes that’s a “b” not a typo) since the beginning of the year. The selection criteria was based on evaluations from top branding companies: Interbrand and Brand Z’s brand valuation methodology and a whole host of other market and financial criteria.

There are the obvious reputation management disasters: the oil spill of BP (BP), Toyota’s (TM) vehicular debacle, the SEC investigation of Goldman Sachs (GS) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recall calamities.

But then there are brands that have lost their way – companies once known for their innovation: Sony (SNE), Adobe (ADBE), Dell (DELL), Research in Motion (RIMM), Nokia (NOK). The lessons to their fall are a reminder to all of us, (in Peter Drucker’s words): “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

It is interesting that Drucker chose to put marketing ahead of innovation. After all, a decent product that is well marketed will always outperform a great product that has only modest marketing. A lesson for all of us. Pay attention to your marketing, especially your reputation. And never lose your streak of innovation.

Click here for the full article “The 10 Biggest Brand Disasters of 2010” in Daily Finance.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management

Interview with Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer (and Creative Director), David Miner

INTERVIEW WITH ROCK-AND-ROLL HALL OF FAMER (and Creative Director), DAVID MINER
615 words – approximately a 3 minute read


Recently, I sat down with David Miner, Creative Director for Marketing Symphony, to discuss the creative process within the context of a marketing firm. David is an accomplished graphic artist, videographer, record producer and Minnesota Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame bass player, and is one of the most creative people I know. This is part one of our conversation.

AS: Good morning, David. Thanks for joining me.

DM: Good morning.

AS: I wanted to sit down with you today to shed a little light on the creative process within the marketing industry. It’s quite different from creativity for creativity’s sake. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference in the two?

DM: There are obviously several differences, but in my opinion, the biggest — and most crucial — difference is communication. In order to facilitate the best use of resources, time, and talents, I need to put more time and effort into communicating than almost any other part. To satisfy the client, being creative with the end product starts by being creative with communication.

AS: “Being creative with communication”? So it’s more that just the amount of communication.

DM: Oh, yeah. Even in the best of collaborative relationships you can veer off course with each other due to nothing more than an unintended miscommunication.

A lot of creative or artistic elements are abstractions — they’re just ideas. Taking abstraction and putting them into words that objectively communicate your idea can be a very hit-and-miss proposition. You’ll go back to your notes later, and your own words don’t make sense even to you.

AS: How do you keep this from happening, or even know it’s happening? I mean, if both people at the table think they’ve communicated, but they each have a different idea in their head, there’s going to be big impact on the deadline, on the budget, and whether or not the client’s happy with the product.

DM: That’s so true. You can believe that the words you’re using to describe an artistic idea make perfect sense, and clearly convey what you want to communicate. And, to make things worse, the person hearing can believe the same thing — that it is all very clear, and makes perfect sense. But they each may have a completely different picture in their heads. The result can be that the person carrying out the creative assignment is creating something not even close to what the client thought they described.

AS: So what do you do to prevent that?

DM: First of all, you can’t depend on words. Descriptive words like WARM or INVITING — even universal words such as: CONTEMPORARY, BOLD and COLORFUL — can mean such different things to different people. Without some printed examples of what you’re trying to describe to accompany your presentation, you can really waste a lot of time.

Of course, bridges of communication will develop quite naturally once people have acquired some working history together. But even then, you can’t just take it for granted. You always need to pay attention.

The second thing you need to do is commit to invest the time at the beginning. To keep things on track in terms of timeline, budget & accomplishing the intended goal or message of a creative piece, you’ve got to pay attention to whether or not the methods of communication are working. Time for the mis-reads and for establishing a workable vocabulary have to be figured into the timeline as part of the process. You can’t rush those.
~

So that’s part one of our interview. Next time, David will give us specifics on how to get over the communication breakdowns, plus tell us some pretty interesting stories from his music and soundtrack producing and playing days. Confirmation Code: ADHKV3434264

Do You Know Your Right Mix?

KNOW YOUR RIGHT MIX?
781 words – Less than 5 minutes to read

Most of you are familiar with the U.S. food pyramid — you know, that pyramid of recommended amounts of the different types of food: so many servings of fruit and veggies, so much meat, a certain amount of grains, a bit of fat. Today we’re going to talk about its business equivalent: the marketing mix.

The food pyramid tells us the variety and proportions we need to achieve to be healthy. A marketing mix tells us the same thing for our companies. There are thousands of types of food, but they all fit into the categories on the pyramid. While there are over 160 marketing instruments in use today, they too fit into categories. Just as there are different food groups (dairy, meat, fruit, etc.), there are different marketing groups, and each meet a different requirement that companies need to stay fit.

Now, while the food pyramid shows the general guidelines, different people may have different needs. A pregnant woman will need to eat differently than an elderly heart patient. A child has different needs than a teenager; a weight lifter must eat differently than a marathoner. Likewise, different companies have different marketing needs.

Group 1: The Basics
The Basics are…well, you know. These things are foundational, they come almost as soon as you decide to open your doors and sell something to somebody. Examples of basic ingredients include a name, business card, logo, tagline, graphic identity, stationary, URL, etc. Every company should have these type of Basics as the foundational level of their company’s marketing mix. You can’t do business without these prerequisites.

Group 2: The Interrupters
Most companies must fight for their target audience’s attention. Individuals receive more information, messages and images now than ever before in history. To be heard, marketing has to interrupt. You know you have a good interrupter if your prospect does a double take, clicks on your banner ad, or stops flipping through channels in order to watch your commercial. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your marketing mix is if you never get their attention, so this should be a large portion of the pyramid for most companies. You say you’re fortunate enough to be completely unique or selling to a captive audience? Then bless your heart, you don’t have to worry about this one as much. But for the rest of us, Interrupters are critical.

Group 3: The Informatives
Some products need no explanation. What you see is what you get, there’s nothing mysterious or different about them. Most businesses have to work for it, though. They have to convey information about their product, service and/or company before people will buy. Informatives might be a big proposal, a video demonstration or a slick brochure. But it could just be the word “NEW!” on the packaging. Informative ingredients establish your credibility (think a radio interview or website), display your unique status (the only organically-grown wart-remover!), increase interest (wow, a widget can do that?) and move the conversation from your weakness to your strength (we may be more expensive, but only because we refuse to use sweatshops). If your product’s distinction isn’t immediately obvious, your pyramid needs enough Informatives to establish you as the clear choice.

Group 4: The Interactors
This could also be called the “Nordstrom” group. The Interactors are all about the customer experience. Obviously, it includes the level of customer service your employees show your clients, but it also includes how clean your store or office is, the on-hold message they have to listen to when they call (and how long they have to listen to it) and how easy and understandable your manuals, policies and website are. If you’ve ever walked away from a purchase, frustrated that you couldn’t find a cashier, or vowed never to return to a company that didn’t stand by its guarantee, you know the importance of the Interactors.

Group 5: The Closers
Every salesperson knows the importance of “The Close”. Your local bookstore probably has three shelves of books about how to present, negotiate and close the sale. Here’s where it all pays off — but it’s too crucial to coast now. Even businesses whose customers initiate and drive the close can build relationships, get contact information or up-sell during the close (“Would you like fries with that?”).

Trying to use all 160+ marketing ingredients would be as absurd as eating a single bite of every food at the grocery store. Instead, determine the marketing mix that best suits your business, then handpick the choicest selection of ingredients to ensure your company is strong and continues growing. Here’s to your marketing health!


Additional informaion about the different groups of ingredients can be found on the Strategy disk (disk one) of my recently released 5 CD set, Foundations to Irresistible Marketing.

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Super Bowl Ads

SUPER BOWL ADS
955 words – a little over 4 minutes to read

How do you measure the success of Super Bowl Ads? Some measure by a laugh-o-meter. Others go for big graphics. I would put forth that success is based not on cheap laughs or expensive art, but what the viewers remembered about the brand itself days after viewing the commercial. Last week, I dissected the Super Bowl ads with students from Dallas Christian College, where I was a guest lecturer. Here are the 10 top ads we chose, and why.

Best Storytelling
Human minds zero in on stories. We love them, remember them, internalize them. And, if the story is truly connected to the brand, the feelings produced by the story are transferred to that brand for years to come. Here are our picks for best storytelling:

1. Taco Bell – Date
Taco Bell presented an entertaining story, as we watched a hyper-drive man move with supersonic speed from meeting a woman at a party to introducing her to his parents.

2. Bud Light – Meeting
We’ve all been there: the budget meeting, brainstorming session on how to reduce big corporate costs, the young guy in the corner who comes up with an idea. In this case, however, the idea (stop providing Bud Light at every meeting) gets him ejected — literally. Companies may need to cut back, but cutting Bud Light is unthinkable. The best part? The last line from the injured golden boy: “I was just kidding”. Even a green kid like him knows better than to touch the Bud Light budget.

3. GE – Wind Energy
A young boy tries to catch wind in a jar somewhere in Europe. He runs to a quaint cottage to join a birthday party of his grandfather. Warm tones, music from the old country, European farm life warm viewers’ hearts. Grandpa can’t blow out all his candles, so the boy has adorably tried to help. He opens the jar and woosh — gale force winds escape. Capturing the wind is suddenly a powerful thing. Well done, GE.

Top Pick for Ongoing Marketing
Jack in the Box – Hit by a Bus

The witty, good natured Jack is talking with a staff member when suddenly, out of nowhere, pow! Hit by a bus. Overly dramatic clichés mock TV dramas. The key, though is the ongoing campaign at www.hangintherejack.com. Visitors can watch “home videos” from inside the bus that hit Jack, leave a message wishing Jack well and see “In lieu of sending flowers, please order anything on the menu, anytime of day. Jack would want it that way.” Now that’s ongoing marketing.

Top Pick for Citizen Marketing
Doritos – Crystal Ball
An office worker brings in a “crystal ball” — really a snow globe — that tells him the future. Of course, this is a DIY destiny, so “I see free Doritos” is followed by the guy throwing the globe through the vending machine glass. Sadly, his co-worker’s attempt fairs less well. This ad was a great piece done by an amateur filmmaker and some of his friends, and deserves the buzz it produced. However, the real payoff for Doritos is the attention it gets for the contest. Over the past 3 years, thousands of amateur producers have tried to create winning Super Bowl commercials. Well, these friends did just that and were awarded $1 million for their efforts.

Top Pick for Putting a New Product on-the-Map
Hulu.com – Alec Baldwin
Whether a Super Bowl ad is worth the money is debatable in many cases. However, one of the best uses of a Super Bowl spot is to introduce a new or previously unknown company. Hulu introduced itself to over 151 million viewers at once and put itself on the map. Overnight, Hulu became the place to go to watch your TV favorite shows on your computer. Traffic on the website has skyrocketed. Web information company Alexa says Hulu’s 3-month visit percentage is up 32.1%.

Top Pick for Best Offer
Denny’s Thugs – Free Grand Slam
Denny’s “serious breakfast” ads weren’t superior, but their offer was. During America’s most watched television event, Denny’s announced that it would give a free breakfast to every person in the country. They made a big gamble, and the following Tuesday, America showed up. I waited for 25 minutes, while some in California waited for 2 hours.

Top Pick for Best Commercial
(that wasn’t entirely dependent on humor)
Audi – The Chase
While most of the ads depended heavily on humor, Audi stood out with an action sequence. Jason Statham, star of the Transporter movies, is being chased. He moves from car to car, disappointed each time, until he finds an Audi. He zooms off, finally in a car that performs as needed.

Top Pick for Most Memorable
Career Builder.com – Tips
There’s a reason kids’ songs that repeat and build every verse are popular: they’re really easy to remember. Career Builder did it’s version for viewers unhappy in their jobs and few people have forgotten it. The punchy visuals and emotion that you can relate to if you’ve ever been in a really horrid job. Career Builder had us anticipating the next verse and trying to remember each repetition. Kudos for getting the audience involved, and kudos for getting us to remember.

Top Pick for Continued Greats
E*trade – Talking Golf Baby
This ad was another good one for the guys at E*trade. The talking and trading baby, who debuted at Super Bowl XLII and continued to be a hit all year, joined us again for XLIII. This time he was joined by a friend. He was also joined by the great audio-visual synching, writing and punch lines that made this campaign famous.

All of these advertisers saw increased web traffic and/or business almost immediately. They created buzz both offline and on. They were memorable, well-done and will generate positive return on investment. Super Bowl Ad money well spent.

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Leveraging The Basics

LEVERAGING THE BASICS
409 words – a little over 2 minutes to read

Recently, I blogged about the Marketing Mix. Now let’s talk about the first category in the mix: The Basics. Remember that this category includes those attributes so fundamental that people often forget that they really are marketing ingredients: your company’s name, business cards, stationery, payment methods you accept and more. Chefs will tell you that the “boring” steps of the recipe are often the most important: choosing the best cut of beef is more important to the meal than the fancy tomato rose that adorns the plate. Chefs spend time combining butter and flour and cooking it just enough to create a smooth base called the “roux” (pronounced “roo”) before adding ingredients to make a gravy or sauce. Creating a smooth roux isn’t exciting, but if you get it wrong, there’s nothing you can do to fix your gravy later. In the same way, the “marketing basics” aren’t as glamorous as a 3D ad or a slick brochure, but they’re the most crucial.

This year, Cars.Com spent about $3 – $4 million on their Superbowl ad. The commercial, in the style of The Royal Tennenbaums, was full of wit and focused on the message.

Now imagine that millions of car buyers go to the site in the week after the game. Imagine that the site is sloppy, unhelpful or even frozen. What if it contained biased opinions or information that was just wrong? Imagine if some prospects tried to contact the company and didn’t hear back from them for several days, or weeks, or not at all. Like the smell of a steak grilling, great ads draw prospects to you. Once they’re there, The Basics – the quality of the steak – are what keep them.

Before you blow your budget on a slick campaign, ask yourself if you’ve covered The Basics. What do your people wear at work? Do their clothes underscore or fight your company’s message? At networking meetings, do your elevator pitches result in referrals? What do clients hear when they’re put on hold? Are you annoying them with bland music or using that time to upsell, introduce new offers or entertain them? Is every piece of communication (printed, digital, visual or audio) professional, on-message and proactive?

This week, spend some time looking at your company the way a prospect or client sees it. Remember, roux may not be anyone’s favorite food, but it’s the foundation for some of the best culinary experiences out there. Go do your roux!

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The Worst 8 Of ‘08

THE WORST 8 OF ‘08
1002 words – less than 5 minutes to read


Last time we looked at the Top 8 of ’08: the best marketing campaigns of the year. As promised, today we’ll survey the biggest marketing blunders of 2008.

#8. Walmart: Facebook Page
So, just to review: cool social networking requires three things: cool, social, and yes, networking. We thought everyone understood this, until we watched Wal-Mart’s infamous Facebook fiasco. The retail giant lumbered onto Facebook with a humorless, decidedly uncool fan page with little content and no benefits. There’s no real community and fans get no “social capital” by associating themselves with the company. Lastly, after suffering through some insults on their discussion board, Wal-Mart ditched their discussion boards. The network (I use that term loosely) has been downgraded to occasional wall posts that the Orwellian behemoth censors. The worst part is the lost potential. The number one Facebook page associated with Wal-Mart is “30 Things to Do at Wal-Mart”. Others include “I love pointless trips to Wal-Mart” and “I’m bored, let’s go to Wal-Mart.” These groups have wittier, more loyal and positive posts. The official page could have widgets. For example: the “Money saved since January 1, 2009” counter from its corporate website, Facebook-only coupons, or specials that are only good for the next 2 hours. Wal-Mart’s mascot is the happy face “Rollback Man”, which could star in an infinite number of badges. Sadly, Wal-Mart missed the boat completely because it doesn’t understand the medium.

#7. The Big 3 Automakers: unintended bailout campaign
OK, so this wasn’t technically a marketing campaign. However, when the eyes of America were watching (and were already bailout-bitter), the Big 3 CEOs came to Washington to beg for billions. The worst marketing blunder, though? GM CEO Richard Wagoner, Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally flew in their private jets to our nation’s capital. If I’d been their marketing advisor, they would have humbly driven down in their hybrid cars. Doing so would have: resulted in tons of free press for the cars, sent a message of humility, cost effectiveness, and environmental awareness and sent the message that “our hybrids are so great, even our CEOs love to drive them.” Big blunder.

#6. Coors: “Code Blue” MySpace campaign
Here again, a major marketer blunders in the social networking medium. Coors has done many good things in the viral/social media campaigning. However, it’s Code Blue campaign allowed MySpacers to send unlimited text messages saying “Code Blue” to anyone they wanted. The result? Cell phone users were overwhelmed with both the cost and the annoyance of text messages from Coors. The viral aspects went out of control, and the backlash of public anger sank the campaign.

#5. Sales Genie: Superbowl Ad
The service is a solid idea: provide leads to companies and salespeople. However, in 2008, Sales Genie blew their marketing budget on an ad that was able to turn off 97.5 million viewers in 30 seconds. The ad, featuring panda bears running an unsuccessful bamboo furniture store, would have been forgotten as a poorly written, uninteresting waste of an advertising budget, except that it was filled with racist innuendos. Sales Genie only wishes that the ad could be forgotten.

#4. Starbucks: Friends and Family Week
Ah, those good intentions… In 2008, Starbucks decided to spoil the friends and families of their Baristas with a week of free iced coffee. However, Starbucks cancelled the program after the first day when crowds of “friends” and “family” overwhelmed the stores. Annoying your best customers is definitely not a great move, but here’s the real kicker: Starbucks had done a similar promotion in 2006 and had similar results. You’d think they’d learn.

#3. Judd Apatow: Forgetting Sarah Marshall billboards
Apatow, director of many hit movies such as “40-Year Old Virgin (2006),” “Knocked Up (2007),” and “Superbad (2008),” wanted a quirky, viral-worthy marketing campaign for his new movie. The campaign consisted of “hand-written” signs ostensibly written by the jilted ex-boyfriend slamming a girl named Sarah Marshall. The problem? Apparently, “Sarah Marshall” is a pretty common name. Sarahs all over the country were surrounded by ego-boosters like “You do look fat in those jeans, Sarah Marshall” and “My mother always hated you, Sarah Marshall.” Ms. Marshalls across the nation protested (or at least would have, if they could’ve handled leaving the house). Some even responded with similar sayings to Judd Apatow himself. The result? The movie, and its creator, just looked mean.

#2. Microsoft: Seinfeld and Gates
After being beat up by Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign (see Top 8 of ’08) for almost two years, Microsoft finally decided to put up its dukes and fight. Microsoft’s campaign featured Jerry Seinfeld showing Gates the real world in an attempt to connect to regular people. The ads mocked both Bill Gates and his “regular guy” customers, but worse yet, they were neither funny nor well-branded. The ads were the antithesis of Apple’s campaign, and were cancelled so quickly that the third commercial, already filmed, was never aired.

#1. John McCain: Presidential Campaign
The 2008 presidential election was as much a race between marketing strategies as it was between candidates. Obama’s young, inclusive, techno-savvy campaign (see top 8 of ’08) helped raise money and win the election. McCain’s marketing, however, looked tired, indecisive and dispassionate. McCain misstep: a cluttered and fragmented message. Is experience important? Yes, until Sarah Palin came on board. Was he a maverick? Yes, except he couldn’t disentangle himself from President Bush. Was he the champion of lowered government spending? As long as you ignored the vote for a $700 Billion Bailout weeks before the election. Was he the inclusive candidate, reaching out to younger voters, women and minorities? Well, no on that one. These were communication and marketing strategy decisions. Many times, the campaign simply couldn’t get the word out on his position. They let the media and the opponent define McCain, and for that, they’re our biggest blunderer of ’08. Hey, at least he came in first this time!

Did I forget anyone? Don’t agree? Let me know!

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My Picks For the Top 8 Of ’08

MY PICKS FOR THE TOP 8 OF ’08
938 words – about 4 minutes to read

Now that tumultuous 2008 is in the can, I’m revisiting the Top 8 of ’08: those marketing campaigns that left everybody else in the dust. These are the most appetizing appetizers and the most mouthwatering desserts. Here’s the countdown. As we say here at Marketing Chef HQ, Bon Appetit!

#8. Apple: I’m a Mac.
Witty, approachable and elegantly designed: Apple’s product philosophy entered its advertising with the I’m a Mac campaign. The ads let “Mac” be congenial and caring — the good guy, while “PC” made a buffoon of himself — awkward, a little paranoid, and often “buggy.” Worse yet for PCs everywhere, the ads went unanswered until just recently (and when they were, the Microsoft response flopped.)

#7. Nalley Lexus dealer: The Love Letter
Just before Valentine’s Day, thousands of men in the Atlanta area received a pink envelope containing a handwritten love letter. The first page is so doting, it almost makes you blush: “I can’t stop thinking about being yours…we belong together…life is too short to spend another day apart…” You get the picture. “I’ve left my picture and phone number.” The recipient turns to the second page and sees (you guessed it) the picture of a Lexus, “I was made for you” and, still handwritten, the dealership’s name, phone number and website. Steamy, deliciously funny and oh so satisfying!

#6. E*TRADE: Baby
E*TRADE hit 2008 right out of the gate with a Superbowl ad touchdown. Now, normally these ads aren’t worth the cost, but E*TRADE’s Superbowl commercial practically paid for itself before kickoff of the Pro Bowl. You remember the campaign: cute baby sitting in front of a computer making trades. Sounds pretty innocuous, except for the eerily well done lip synching that makes it appear that the infant’s actually delivering the monologue. Add a clown, phone or an unexpected spit up and you’ve got an unforgettable campaign.

#5. Geico: Gecko, The Caveman, and the Celebrity impersonating a real person
In 2008, Geico did something that most other companies didn’t do; they ran three different marketing campaigns simultaneously. They ran all three campaigns throughout 2008. The humor ties them all together, while cycling the commercials prevented overexposure for any one of them (a real risk for the Cavemen after the failed sitcom attempt). Rather than suffering from burnout, Geico customers and prospects anticipate the next commercials. When your customers feel like your new commercial is a treat, you know you’ve done something right.




#4. BlendTec: Will It Blend?”
The Posterboy of viral marketing has to be Blendtec’s internal videos turned brilliant marketing campaign. It all began when retro-cheesy CEO Tom Dickson started throwing things into the powerful blenders to see what would happen. Luckily, they videotaped it and somebody threw it onto YouTube. iPhones, tiki torch, marbles and more — and the viewers keep coming back to see what they’ll try next. Millions of views later, sales are up an astonishing 800%. Not bad for an accidental ad campaign!

#3. OfficeMax: Elf Yourself
Nothing says Christmas like dressing up in elf costumes and bustin’ a move with the family. Of course, few of us will actually do this, so OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself is the next best thing. Upload pictures of your family members’ faces, and voila — well-produced video greeting card starring you (or at least dancing elves that look remarkably like you). Interactive, appealing to the eye, starring in your own “movie” — what’s not to like? The website has boasted a whopping 193 million page visits in 2008, making it one of the most successful viral campaigns ever.

#2. China: Summer Olympic Games
When China hosted the 2008 summer games, it took the opportunity to remake its image. China, once thought of primarily as closed, communist, totalitarian country was hoping that the whopping $44 billion it spent on the games would change the world’s opinion. In preparation for the Paralympics, Beijing and the surrounding areas became disability-friendly. Sponsorships were touted as examples of a more open economy, and the ceremonies displayed the nation’s art and prosperity. China highlighted its modernity through technology, architecture and infrastructure, and its soft-side through its sites and human interest stories. Though there were slips in the image-making, like the little lip-synching girl, and the gymnastics age dispute, China largely succeeded in its endeavor.

#1. Obama for America: Presidential Campaign
Every four years, the best and the brightest come out to show us what they’ve got, and 2008 was no exception. No, I’m not talking about the candidates. I’m talking about the marketers who are hired by the presidential campaigns. No matter what your politics, I think it’s inarguable that the marketing for the Obama for America campaign left primary and general election competitors in the dust. Some of the things they did right:

  • An idealistic message appealing on a deep archetypal level;
  • Serious use of social networking. The campaign didn’t just use social networking, it lived on it.
  • Consistency throughout. The campaign (all about youth, hope, technology and inclusion) received a whopping 10% of its donations online, and almost all of those were under $100. Remember, everything you do and everything you don’t do sends a message;
  • Viral Marketing. Okay, so this technically wasn’t the campaign itself, but it still helped. You may have seen the YouTube video, Obama Girl. If so, you were among 8 million others who viewed — and were influenced by — the video.
Of course, this is my opinion only, so I’d love to hear your feedback. Join the conversation and leave a comment! And, check in next time, when I’ll talk about the Worst 8 of ’08: the biggest marketing blunders of the year.

 

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The Most Powerful Marketing Action You Can Take: A Strategic Trip

THE MOST POWERFUL MARKETING ACTION YOU CAN TAKE: A STRATEGIC TRIP
983 words – Less than 5 minutes to read

Imagine for a moment that you’re planning your first trip to Greece. You call a friend, who says “Greece — wonderful! I just took a cruise there. All you need are a few swimsuits!” A business associate hears where you’re going and says, “I love Greece. Be sure to bring hiking boots.” The professor who lives next door warns you, “I went for an archeology conference. Take enough paper and several pens — I almost ran out.” You take all the good advice and pack your suitcase. When you arrive, you don your swimsuit and hiking boots, and grab your paper and pens — for your ski trip on the slopes of Parnassos.

I know, you’re thinking the whole scenario is absurd. Nobody would spend that much money, have that much time to plan, and have this once-in-a-lifetime trip, and blow it by making inappropriate choices based on other people’s trips. But people do it with their companies — where the stakes are a lot higher than a ruined vacation — all the time.

A business will see a “great deal” on a newspaper ad and feel like they can’t pass it up — even though the company’s prospects don’t read that paper. Somebody at a network lunch mentions they got great results using a late night infomercial, and four different CEOs call their marketing departments on the way to the office. A retailer gets on the blogging bandwagon, and the unplanned blather tears down the image they’ve cultivated for years.

What’s the cause for these missteps which, at best, are a waste of money and, at worst, do irreparable damage? The lack of a marketing strategy. A company’s strategy is foundational. If you don’t have one, go clear your calendar for the rest of the day and get one. It’s that important.

In order to determine your company’s marketing strategy, do our 2×5 analysis: two topics, five questions each. They seem simple, but dig deep. Call in people from your office — heck, call some of your clients or vendors if you need to. Do what you must to discover the answers to these questions.

Topic 1: Your Company
Ask yourself the following questions about the business:

  1. Who are we? What is your brand personality? What’s your company’s identity? Look at your key people, your culture, projects where the company has excelled, the clients you attract and why. Craft a brand identity that is compelling to your ideal customer and that authentically fits who you are and what you do.
  2. What are we selling? What are you offering? What are the products, services, benefits and emotions you provide?
  3. Why are we in business? Go to your mission statement, vision, values and goals. Examine the unspoken values as well as the published ones. Compare the original vision to the ideal the company aims for today. How do these fit in your marketing plan?
  4. Where is the competition positioned? What positions have been taken by competitors, and what haven’t? What characteristic are already “owned” by a major competitor? How do you differ from the competition, and how are you similar?
  5. How do we differ? This is your Unique Selling Proposition — or better yet, your Extraordinary Value Proposition. What do you do that is credibly, sustainably, energetically your own?

Topic 2: Your Message
Ask yourself these questions about what you should communicate.

  1. Who is our target audience? Do you know who your ideal client is? What does a qualified prospect look like? Do you know their demographics? If it’s an organization, what are its characteristics? Most importantly, what “pain” does your ideal client feel that you can help cure?
  2. Why are we communicating? Why are you talking? What is it that you want to say? Develop your message and your core story. Everyone in your organization should be able to communicate your core story in 30 seconds and 5 minutes, with key players able to deliver it in a 15 minute conversation and a 45 minute presentation as well.
  3. What are we going to invest? Time to put your money where your marketing is. How much are you willing to spend now, and how much on the long term?
  4. How should we communicate? Given who you are and who your clients are, what marketing ingredients make sense? What media matches your message? What media conflicts with the image or message you’re trying to portray? Commit to a “hands-off” policy for whatever doesn’t fit — no matter who talks it up, no matter how good a deal you can get.
  5. When will we use the methods? Figure out your priorities. What’s urgent, what should be done in the next 6 months, what needs to be done sometime in the future? I suggest creating a rolling 90-day marketing calendar to keep the momentum going.

A marketing strategy will save you money, because it prevents throwing money into ineffective marketing tactics. It will prevent public perception missteps, because it will give you and all your employees guidance on who the company is and who it’s not. It will help you uncover opportunities, spend wisely, communicate consistently and attract your ideal customer over and over again.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll tell you outright, strategy is my passion. Nothing excites me more than to see an organization transform through my proven strategic process. And the process generates results. Whether it’s opening up a whole new market for a credit union, taking a portable air conditioning company from 8 straight quarters of declining sales to a 42% increase in sales over 12 months or helping a technology company obtain 7 million in new business, it works. If you don’t have a comprehensive, authentic marketing strategy, or if yours needs to be updated, take care of it now. It’s the most important thing you’ll do.

Here’s another action step you can take: Start your year off right by getting MORE business! Watch your sales soar as you apply the ideas, concepts and practical action-steps from Andrew’s newly released “Foundations to Irresistible Marketing,” a 5 CD set and 180 page workbook. The secrets to Strategy, Publicity, Referrals, Networking and Sales are revealed to make your marketing irresistible. In addition, your purchase will provide 720 meals, enough to feed 24 orphans for 1 month at a designated Children’s Hope Chest Care Point facility in Swaziland, Africa; which has the highest AIDS rate in the world. So, when you invest in “Foundations to Irresistible Marketing,” you will not only transform your business but you will transform the lives of starving orphans. Click here to learn more.

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A Jumbo-Sized Truth

A JUMBO-SIZED TRUTH
434 Words – Less than 2 minutes to read

When I speak to groups, I like to ask a question. I ask, “What is marketing?” Immediately, I’ll hear “advertising,” “promotion” and “sales”. The product guy adds “packaging” and an eager front-rower will say, “your brand.” The skeptic on the left shakes his head. “No,” he says, “it’s every message you send to clients and prospects.” The audience gasps at the implications. “Good,” I say, and they nod, pleased. “What else?” They look confused. Front-rower speaks timidly: “There’s more?” I look at their innocent faces, judging whether they’re ready for this jumbo-sized truth. I decide they are, and let it fly: “Marketing is everything you do, and everything you don’t do.” Everyone freezes for a moment. When time starts again, skeptical guy’s ecstatic, front-rower’s eyebrows knit worriedly, and some sweet old lady in the back lets out a four-letter word. This changes things. For too long, we’ve thought of marketing as something separate, an add-on or cover up or costume. The trouble with that thought is that marketing never happens in a vacuum. If your advertisements were all your customers knew of you, then fine, focus only on ads. But, your customers also see your product quality, your company blogs, and the event you sponsor. The image they have of your company is built on ALL the information they get about you: your business cards, what you play when they’re on hold, even your job postings on Monster and how politely your delivery guys drive your trucks. If you’re not getting the response you want from prospects and clients, ask yourself these three questions:

 In everything we do, and everything we don’t do, are we:

  1. Getting the word out? If no one is watching everything you do, and everything you don’t do, focus on engaging your audience.
  2. Telling a consistent story? Your story should be evident in everything you do, and everything you don’t do. Your story should be like a cold: so pervasive that your customers catch it just by being near you, and pass it on to people they come in contact with. Spend some time clearly defining a story that is relevant, compelling and persuasive to your customers and prospects.
  3. Believable? To be credible, your actions and communications must line up with each other and be consistent over time. Is everything you do, and everything you don’t do consistent with what you tell your audience? Make sure your behavior and your message are aligned so your prospects and clients believe you.

So, marketing is everything—and that’s a jumbo-sized truth even front-rower is ready for.

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Making Pay-Per-Click Pay

MAKING PAY-PER-CLICK PAY
790 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

For large and small business alike, pay-per-click advertising can be a nimble marketing instrument with high ROI. It can also be a huge waste of money. A few tricks make all the difference. This week, we’re talking to Mark Shead, President of Xeric Corporation about capitalizing on pay-per-click’s flexibility, feedback and focus.

First, let’s have an overview of how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads work. PPCs are advertisements that are tied to certain keywords and phrases. For instance, a company that makes a seasickness patch might display a banner ad above a blogger’s tirade about a horrible cruise. Many PPCs are linked to Internet searches. If you’ve ever seen “sponsored links” at the top of search engine results, you’ve seen a PPC. And if you’ve ever clicked on one of those links, you just made that search engine some money, because (you guessed it), the advertiser pays per click. The order of appearance is determined by auction, where the highest bidder would appear first, followed by the second, and so on (but remember, they only pay that amount when and if the ad is clicked on.)

FLEXIBILITY
Pay-per-click sounds intimidating to many people who haven’t investigated it, so they’re often surprised to find that PPC is remarkably responsive and a great bargain. In the realm of marketing, there are sculptures skillfully chiseled in stone, like your brand identity. There are masterpiece paintings, that aren’t quite as hardy as a sculpture, but also take time to craft: an ad campaign, perhaps. Then there are your 2 year-old’s scribbles, created in seconds, prolific in number, and at best, destined for a few weeks on the fridge. PPC, then, is the refrigerator scribble of the marketing world.

There are several reasons it’s so flexible. First, it’s cheap. I mean, really, really cheap. You can test an ad on the web for a few days for, say, between $1 and $5 per day, then scrap it or change it, and throw it back on the “cyber-fridge door” to see how the new version does.

FEEDBACK
How do you decide whether or not to keep a certain “ad-scribble”? Feedback, of course. I’m not talking about the “No, really, I did like your ad, honey,” comments that your supportive spouse gives you. I’m talking analytics: hard data, numbers, statistics, facts and trends. OK, breathe. You don’t have to do this part. The nice techies at your search engine company will have an analytics package that will tell you things like how many people are clicking on your ad, how many clickers reach your predetermined goal (usually a sale, but perhaps the completion of a form or subscription to a newsletter). This allows you to test keywords and phrases to find the ones that maximize profits for you.

Interestingly enough, Mark points out that you don’t have to understand the trends, just use them. “The Analytics find patterns you can’t explain, but can use,” he says. You might find out that one phrase “crimson feather boas” works better than another, “red boas.” You may never know about all the snake lovers who clicked on your site with dreams of red-spotted constrictors, only to find your precious plumes, but it doesn’t matter, because now you know which phrase connects you to your customers.

FOCUS
You know that I’m a great proponent of targeting your audience, but PPC takes this to new levels. When you think keywords, Mark recommends brainstorming with the thoughts “If I were looking for this product, how would I describe it?” and “If I had a problem, and I didn’t know that this product was the solution, what would I search for?” Be specific, because the more you narrow your keyword phrases, the more on target you are (and therefore a higher sales to click ratio).

Focus on narrow slivers of internet users, but choose several of those slivers. For instance, if you sell super glue, you might want to attach an ad to the phrases “super glue” “adhesive” and “Cyanoacrylate.” But Mark points out that you also might want an ad with the key words “teacup” “broken” and “fix.” And for the CSI lovers out there, “super glue fuming,” “criminal investigation” and “latent fingerprints.”

You can focus PPC ads by geography, too, so your concert is only advertised to computers operating in your region, your grocery store only to your city, and your babysitting service to your subdivision. And you can limit when the ads run, so your nightclub ad only shows up on the first Thursday and Friday of each month (after people just got paid and are planning their weekend) to the hippest neighborhoods in the city. Talk about targeting!

So get out there and stick something on Google’s refrigerator door!

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Taglines – Ask About Them at Work

TAGLINES – ASK ABOUT THEM AT WORK
760 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

You try harder. You have passion for excellence, and care enough to send the very best. Like a good neighbor, you’re there. For all you do, taglines are for you.

Taglines (AKA slogans) reach out and touch someone. A tagline is the one-line (ideally 5 words or less) marketing ingredient that’s not just for breakfast anymore. It’s everywhere you want to be. Easy, breezy, beautiful marketing, because you deserve a break today. Get a tagline: it pays, so don’t leave home without it. Now, let’s look at how to create a great tagline for your company.

Bring Good Things to Life.
Taglines should focus on the benefits (always from the customer’s perspective.) The most direct way is an educational tact (especially important if your name isn’t descriptive.) You let people know about your unique selling proposition by simply saying it: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” “99.44% pure.” “Pick Enterprise. We’ll pick you up.” One of our clients, a property tax lender, has a benefit tagline that makes people do a double-take: TaxEase–We Pay Your Property Taxes. Benefit-focused strategy has even more authority with the addition of experts: “Oral-B. Brush Like A Dentist.” or “Max Factor. The make-up of make-up artists.” This strategy can also be achieved by pointing out what your competitors’ don’t have: “Where’s the Beef?” “Orange juice direct from oranges, not from concentrate.”

Rather than focusing on the direct benefit, many great taglines focus on psychological benefit, reinforcing the customer’s image of who he or she would like to be. Some of the angles to do this: lifestyle (“Las Vegas: What happens here, stays here.”), health (“I could have had a V8!”), status (“Shouldn’t your baby be a Gerber baby?”), values (“Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”), or problem-solution (“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”).

Have it Your Way.
A tagline should show off your unique selling proposition—whatever makes you different, desirable, more attractive to your particular niche. If you can substitute your competitors’ names and the tagline works just as well, it doesn’t work well at all. The mustard in the yellow plastic bottle could never use “Pardon me, do you have any French’s?” The stuffiness was Grey Poupon’s distinctive. Only Wheaties, with athletes on its box, is “The breakfast of champions.” Not just any amusement park could be “The happiest place on earth.” Rides plus the Disneyland magic made it so. Two cosmetic companies take totally different approaches to selling lip color: “Dress your lips in Armani” alludes to Armani’s fashion line. On the other end of the spectrum, “Smackers. All the flavor of being a girl” appeals not only to young girls dazzled by the flavors and sparkles, but also to their mothers, who nostalgically remember their first Smackers.

Contrast these with “Use Sapolio”, “Mobil Oil. We want you to live,” “Studio One. When Only The Best Will Do!” and the beauty salon slogan “Satisfying our clients.” None are specific or unique, and all illicit yawns.

We Love to See You Smile.
If the tagline adds no information, connotation or emotion, it’s a waste of space. “We’re Exxon” was a tagline that was met with “so what?” Equity & Law’s “Need we say more?” begs the answer, “Yes, you do.”

Wordplays (“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”), alliterations (“Intel Inside”), twists on clichés (“When it rains, it pours.”), rhyme (“See the USA in your Chevrolet”), surprise (“I liked it so much I bought the company.”), irony (“The toughest job you’ll ever love.”) and deep-seated values (“The few, the proud, the Marines”) increase memorability of your tagline and your identity.

This is the punch. Belgian lager producer Stella Artois went beyond snob appeal, and playfully combined it with humor that makes the customer a willing participant in the joke: “Stella Artois. Reassuringly expensive.” Aquafina’s twist makes the listener stop and think: “So pure, we promise nothing.”

True, not even “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” could make consumers believe that Oldsmobiles were—well, not their fathers’ kind of car. And “I think, therefore IBM” probably wasn’t run by any 8-year-olds before it was adopted. And Burger King most certainly wouldn’t have introduced it’s “Home of the Whopper” tagline in Australia if they’d know that “whopper” is an Australian euphemism for flatulence. That said, a tagline that demonstrates your benefits, uniqueness and punch is a powerful ingredient in your marketing kitchen. And you’re worth it, because you’ve come a long way, baby.

Is Your Publicist Worth It?

IS YOUR PUBLICIST WORTH IT?
679 words – Less than 3 minutes to read

Everybody knows that a good P.R. specialist can generate exposure for your company that’s more cost-effective, authoritative and even seven times more credible. But what do P.R. specialists do for you, and how do you know if yours is a seedy spin-doctor or a professional who’s integral to your team? I sat down with Susan Morrow, publicist extraordinaire and my partner for 8 years to uncover the mysteries of the P.R. world. I want to know why she thinks she can do that better than the business itself. I mean, aren’t insiders better able to relay that story than an outsider? Not necessarily, says she. There are benefits to having an outsider tell the tale. There are several strengths a good P.R. specialist will bring to the table: they communicate your story, know the people and know the industry.

COMMUNICATE YOUR STORY
“Every company has a story to tell.” I’m on the phone with Susan, whose voice–despite the long day and the late hour–speeds up with enthusiasm. “My job is to communicate that story.” While it’s true that many publicists don’t follow the client’s marketing strategy in their work (who hasn’t heard of the clichéd uneasy relationship between publicity and marketing), the best ones do. P.R., according to Susan, should function as one piece of the reputation-making whole. She says that without the roadmap of a marketing strategy, P.R. efforts are often inconsistent and lacking in credibility. Make sure your publicist works with your strategy, or find someone who will.

KNOW THE PEOPLE
Many companies (and press release “farms”, for that matter) create a press release and send it to every news outlet they can think of. These companies often purchase huge contact lists and send reams of faxes and buckets of emails indiscriminately. The problem? It just doesn’t work. Faxes end up in the trash with the others from thousands of other companies doing the exact same thing and most of the emails end up in journalists’ spam folders. And those contact lists? Most are obsolete, incorrect and overpriced. If a P.R. specialist recommends these “buckshot” approaches, she isn’t worth the money you’re paying her.

It turns out that the old maxim is true. It really is who you know. Susan explains why. To get any attention, your pitch has to be targeted to an interested party. It might take you days of researching to find the name of a journalist who once wrote on the topic, then to find an angle they might be interested in, then to get them to take your call, then to find out that they’ve moved to sports or obituaries or a different organization altogether. You’re back at square one—rinse and repeat. A publicist worth her salt knows the best publications for your story, has a rolodex big enough to anchor the QE2, and is a couple of phone calls away from just the right journalist. If your publicist is a stellar one, she has long-nurtured relationships with many journalists who trust her and her leads. And because she’s a third-party (not you), the information she gives the journalist is automatically more trustworthy than if you pitched it yourself.

THEY KNOW THE INDUSTRY
News outlets exists in a strange world. Their demand for stories is constant, but supply is overabundant one week and slow the next. They appreciate story ideas, but refuse to be a pawn. They prefer a proven, dependable source over one they’ve never worked with. They don’t have time for under-prepared or unprofessional pitches. They use jargon and key words, and need to see the hook up front. They can use your story, but only if the angle is right. Navigating all these (and more) unwritten rules can be baffling. To get your money’s worth, find a P.R. specialist who is a veteran industry-insider who already knows how to play the game, speak the language, and supply stories that meet the journalist’s demands.

If you find your publicist is failing to delivering any of these advantages, its time to move on.

The Power of Promotional Products

THE POWER OF PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
650 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

Companies invest almost $17 billion every year in promotional products, and with good reason. Used correctly, promotional products are seen 10 times as often as a billboard, have triple the recall rate of banner ads, get increased referrals and result in sales over half the time. Unfortunately, most companies misuse this advertising ingredient and waste both their money and the tool’s potential.

The key to harnessing the power of promotional products lies in communicating the right message to the right people through the right product. Many companies use a shotgun approach to promotional products. They buy large quantities of items and distribute them liberally at tradeshows, parades, and in the course of daily business.

Donna Bender, president of the Donna Bender Company and recent guest on my radio program the Marketing Point, says this approach squanders the potential of the medium. Ms. Bender worked for brand giants like Eddie Bauer, Laura Ashley and Salvatore Ferragamo before starting her own promotional product company. She was dedicated to the idea that promotional products used properly result in improved relationships and ultimately, an impact to a company’s bottom line. And what constitutes proper use? Three points: Brand Consistency, Targeted Audience and Value.

BRAND CONSISTENCY
If you’re a Marketing Chef regular, you know this point: Every marketing tactic you use should come out of a unified marketing strategy (in Marketing Chef parlance, your Marketing Recipe.) Promotional items must follow the rules of consistency just like any other advertising ingredient. As Ms Bender says, what makes a successfully branded company is that “everything they do, and everything they give out speaks exactly to who they are.”

Your promotional items need to fit your brand, whether that brand is based on dependable security or youthful energy. A company known for refined luxury giving away cheap refrigerator magnates, or a hip clothing company presenting staid leather-bound planners would not only be ineffective. It would actually undermine those company’s respective brands. Therefore, when using promotional product, find items that reinforce your message.

TARGETED AUDIENCE
In using promotional products, more coverage is not necessarily better. Gaining name recognition with the wrong audience is a waste of your effort and budget. Just like your other advertising efforts, the promotional product’s audience should be closely targeted.

Most often, the target will be the decision maker within your niche market. However, promotional products can be creative ways to get past roadblocks, through what Bender calls, “Romancing the Gatekeeper.” A useful gift to an overworked (and normally overlooked) admin might just result in years of good feelings, and more concretely, in getting appointments that your competitors can’t get.

VALUE
Narrowing your audience has another benefit: the ability to give more valued gifts. While it’s true that a gold pen set costs more than a cheap ballpoint, you actually make a bigger impact with a smaller quantity of highly valued gifts. Rather than spending your budget on unwanted trinkets for people with little buying potential, you can invest in your relationship with a few top clients or prospects.

The longer, more often, and more prominently the recipient sees and uses your gift, the more he or she thinks good thoughts about you. With a little thought, you can put something truly appreciated on the desk or in the home of a person who can influence your business for years to come. That appreciation becomes tangible—the value the recipient places on your gift can translate directly to loyalty, to a sense of reciprocity, and ultimately, to sales.

So rather than spending your promotional product budget on inexpensive items that you can distribute widely, invest in the relationships that matter by giving items they’ll keep, use and see for years to come. Finding a gift that’s consistent with your brand and that will be appreciated by your targeted audience is the key to unlocking the power of promotional products.

POSTSCRIPT For more on promotional products email me at
info@TheMarketingChef.com. You can also call The Marketing Chef at 972.444.9310 (direct), or toll free (US) 877.252.2995.

When is it the Right Time to Market?

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO MARKET?
1256 Words – Less than 4½ minutes to read

BOOM OR BUST?
Yesterday, CNN reported the Feds were still concerned the US economy was overheating; this morning NPR news quoted an economic pundit “fearing” an economic downturn, and multiple media outlets were reporting on Cisco’s better-than-expected earnings and bullish 12 month forecast as a positive indicator that the technology sector is healthy and growing. So what are we to make of all this? How do you react to economy changes both real and forecasted?

The news caused me to pause and return to the perennial question about timing one’s marketing activities. When is the best time to market & how should one respond to economic upturns, downturns, plateaus and valleys?

Ideally, you want your business to thrive irrespective of the economic climate and clearly some businesses do much better than others. History bears witness to the successful organizations that thrive when the economic tide wanes and outperform others when the tide raises all boats. I believe three key principles stand between the triumphant and the regretful:

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
I am amazed how few organizations can accurately describe their ideal target audience.
We all know that we can’t be all things to all people. Yet out of fear from alienating a particular group or segment, we try to accommodate all, diluting our message to the point of irrelevancy. Instead of being 20% relevant to 80% of your audience, I suggest become100% relevant to your ideal audience, the center of your target, the golden circle.

Although this “bulls-eye” may only represent less than 10% of your universe, your marketing arrows will invariably hit the red zone that possess 70-80% of the “ideal” attributes and can be excellent customers nonetheless. By focusing on the center you will nail BOTH the ideal and those who closely resemble the ideal. Such penetration marketing is like cutting through butter with a laser knife as opposed to dusting the outside with a little hot air.

Practical application tip #1: Paint the picture of your ideal customer. Analyze your past customers to see how they match up to the ideal. What are their attributes? What made them such good customers? What are their needs, issues, challenges, and decision-making criteria? Then target your marketing accordingly to attract more prospects that look like your best past clients.

P.S. Sometimes your ideal clients in a downturn are different from those in an upturn. For example, in the travel industry, the business client is critical for airlines in a downturn; without them they are “toast”. In a boom, the marginal traveler provides additional revenues with incremental better margins.

ZIG WHEN OTHERS ZAG

Following the herd means you are destined to forever be a part of the herd. The alternatives
are twofold: Lead the herd or Leave the herd.
This is one of the key principles ensconced in Trout & Ries’ classic marketing tome: 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. If you can’t take a differentiated leadership position, then create and lead a new category (or sub-category). Hence the rise of “fusion cuisine” restaurants in the last 20 years. Asian, American and European culinary traditions have been brought together to create unique combinations heretofore not seen on the planet. Anyone for salad with crisp nori topping, and a misocilantro vinaigrette?

New categories and sectors are being created regularly. For example, ten years ago, categories like broadband, online music, online dating, online training, e-commerce, e-learning and e-books had yet to be formulated … and that’s just naming a few. Now we have mobile commerce, many category components to the virtual office and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group vying to be the leader in commercial space tourism.

Another approach is to create a radical point of differentiation through innovation and /or marketing. Despite the fact that most physical-therapy treatments are reimbursable by health insurance, more than 90 percent of massage therapy sessions are paid out of the client’s pocket. One local Registered Massage Therapist, Dan Puig (RMT), not only has a nine-year trained background in the health field in anatomy, physiology, and surgical procedures, but he took the trouble to create the necessary strategic partnerships to receive third-party insurance reimbursement. The result? He has carved out a niche for himself as a registered medical massage therapist who not only is qualified to fulfill a doctor’s prescription for a massage but also will make the necessary insurance claim on a person’s behalf so he or she only pays the deductible.

Practical application tip #2: Define your category or niche leadership.
ALWAYS BE MARKETING
One of the greatest failures in marketing businesses and organizations is the lack of consistency and continuity.he strategic objective of their marketing is to have their clients, prospects, referral sources and other stakeholders thing of them first, often and well. One of the three key factors to achieve this is to constantly invest and build into the relationships through relevant, persuasive and compelling communication.

I constantly stress to my clients that that the strategic objective of their marketing is to have their clients, prospects, referral sources and other stakeholders thing of them first, often and well. One of the three key factors to achieve this is to constantly invest and build into the relationships through relevant, persuasive and compelling communication.

It’s like a marriage relationship. It is my objective that my beloved wife, Melissa, thinks of me first, often and well. If she does not, then I am in deep trouble!

This takes a constant investment in the relationship. After all 20+ years ago, I made a promise. “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s Holy ordinance.” Well our marriage has been best when I have invested in it irrespective of whether times were good or bad. Likewise, our marketing cannot be “episodic.” It needs to have the continuous “drizzle” of good communications to keep the relationship healthy and for our target markets to think of us first, often and well.

Like in a marriage or family relationship, don’t just think of the obvious … I often recommend to husbands to surprise their brides with flowers not just on their wives’ birthdays or anniversaries. Likewise, “surprise” your clients with a handwritten note or an article you came across that is relevant to them. I can almost guarantee you will be one of the few in their business relationships that do that and you will be well remembered.

Practical application tip #3: In the next 48 hours send a client or prospect a trade or magazine article that pertains to them, (and share the result with us!).

FINAL THOUGHTS

So my counsel is …don’t worry about the economic pundits … market in the good times and in the bad. You can take away significant market share from your competitors in a declining economy and you can take more than your fair share in an expanding economy. It all depends on the quality of your market. Your target market might need refinement and your message might alter. But leaders, by definition don’t follow. In marketing that means you must carve out new categories and niches. Final examples … in the early 80’s downturn, I worked with Hyatt Hotels and I marveled at how they grew at the expense of their competitors. Also, I had the good fortune to work with several hi-tech companies in the late 90’s such as Symphion and others. Their marketing was intelligent and as a result they did not crash when the bust came – they retrenched, re-positioned and survived when 99% crashed.

So it all comes back to an intelligent comprehensive marketing strategy that will make your marketing effective in good times or bad.
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“.. people like Ralph Larsen at Johnson & Johnson, Richard Ziman at Arden Realty, Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide Financial, and Chad Holliday at DuPont—exhibit a highly sophisticated degree of business cycle literacy. They have built and run organizations that are strategically and tactically business cycle sensitive, and they are quite willing to engage in countercyclical and often contrarian behavior in anticipation of economic turbulence.” ~ Peter Navarro,
The Well-Timed Strategy
: Managing the Business Cycle for Competitive Advantage

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