When Do I Stop Marketing?

Marketing Mastication like incessant gum chewing

Is your marketing habitual mastication or deliberate observation?

 

Break the Marketing Mastication Habit

When do I stop marketing?” asks Ron, a friend of mine during a mastermind group I facilitate.

“What do you mean by that?” I reply.

“It seems easier to make decisions about new initiatives in your marketing, than to terminate existing ones.”

“Why do some people chew endlessly on a piece of gum?” I retort.

“Habit?” he ponders.

“Exactly.” I smile. “Sadly, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners still paying for some obsolete directory listing, or how about that annual order of cheap tchotchke pens? Maybe they can’t say no to that ad in the local high school football program. None of the marketing ingredients appear to yield anything of significance. We do it out of habit like some incessantly gum-chewing adolescent, we continue to masticate on something that yields no value.” [Read more…]

Marketing: Traditional or Social Media?

Macro Marketing

Kool-Aid or Cappuccino?

New vs. Traditional Media?” Is that even the right question?

… And the Marketing Micro Trends

I’m not sure which changes quicker; trends in food, fashion or marketing?

Debates rage on the merits of natural versus genetically modified foods. Are we moving towards South American or Middle Eastern cuisine? We diffract between local, organic and artisan. Really? Does anyone care beyond food consultants, critics and connoisseurs?

Similarly, over-active, hyper-caffeinated marketing mystics are quick to proffer their latest philosophical pronouncement on what’s in, what’s out, what’s dead and what’s not. And the new hot thing … the marketing dish de jour. [Read more…]

Marketing versus Sales

How Does Marketing & Sales Fit Together?

marketing versus sales like the chef vs. waiter

“Why can’t sales and marketing just get along?”

Marketing & Sales – Two sides to the same coin?

Sales and marketing,” a familiar phrase uttered in business.

But shouldn’t marketing come first?” bemoans the marketing department.

Why can’t marketing and sales get along,” laments the CEO.

Marketing versus Sales. Sales versus Marketing. Sales versus Marketing. Marketing or Sales? Two different sides of the same coin. One without the other… ineffective. Let me illustrate. [Read more…]

Measure Your Marketing

Meager Measurement

Measuring your marketing

Measure your marketing, and you’ll manage your marketing immeasurably better.

Major Marketing Malfunction # 7

I don’t like to bake and make cakes. It gives me headaches.

Why? When I cook I want to be merry and make a mess. Baking requires meticulous measurement.

However, we all know someone who likes to bake a lot. My friend Monse, appears to toss together ingredients and abracadabra, a cake, cookies or pie appear. But it’s not magic, it’s science. Mixing ingredients together to create chemistry; edible chemistry. And precision measurement is crucial to baking. The balance between flour and fat, liquid and leaven is paramount.

My style of cooking is freeform, spontaneous and subjective. So spicing up sauces, soups and salads are subjectively allowed. How about a freeform stir-fry? Or a spontaneous spinach and squash salad? I cook by mixing appropriate proportions versus measuring with absolute precision.

But cooking is my passion, not my profession. As a marketing strategist; I’m the complete opposite. I view meager measurement as another major marketing malfunction. Measure your marketing, and you’ll manage your marketing immeasurably better. [Read more…]

Effective Strategic Marketing Action Plans

Absent An Action Plan

Recipes are for cooking and marketing

Without recipes, implementation is inconsistent, loses focus & lacks accountability

Major Marketing Malfunction #6

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Having performed numerous marketing assessments and marketing audits over the years, I often see good marketing intentions, (wishful goal-setting); deteriorate into a messy mixture of marketing initiatives with marketing ingredients impulsively amassed — in the absence of an action plan. Creating a strategic marketing action plan is akin to an Executive Chef’s key responsibility in creating recipes and menu planning that keeps guests returning for more.  [Read more…]

Select the Right Marketing Weapons, Instruments or Ingredients

Ineffective Integration

Select the Right Marketing Ingredients, Marketing Weapons, Marketing Instruments

Major Marketing Malfunction #5

Strategically Select Your Marketing Ingredients

Yesterday we discussed how marketing is not any one ingredient and that every touch point is a marketing opportunity. Since there are over 175 ingredients to choose from, the strategic selection of appropriate marketing weapons to maximize this marketing opportunity is critical. In evaluating clients’ marketing strategy, I frequently see that in the haste to “put something out there,” organizations undermine their marketing effectiveness by not being more discriminating and shrewd in their selection of marketing instruments.

Imagine walking into a kitchen, you survey the spice rack with its plethora of dissimilar seasonings, spices and herbs. The pantry is teeming with an array of ingredients of differing tastes, textures and aromas. The refrigerator and freezer contain yet more ingredients – dozens more. Each ingredient possesses distinct attributes. Some are sharp and tangy, some soft, sweet and seductive, some have more meat than others, and yes some are junk! [Read more…]

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…]

Mediocre Marketing Messages – A Major Marketing Malfunction

Mediocre Messaging

Mediocre Messaging is a Major Marketing Malfunction

Too many choices, too many options, it’s overwhelming …

Major Marketing Malfunction #4

Part 1 – The Issues

Your prospects, clients and referral sources are being bombarded with marketing messages almost every hour of every day. It’s worse than the cereal aisle in your grocery store. Too many choices, too many options, it’s overwhelming and more often than not, you end up sticking to your established preferences unless something irresistible cuts through the clutter.

  • In 1970, the average person was exposed to about 500 advertisements each day. In the early 1990s, it was 5,000.[1] Today it is estimated that people are exposed to close to 30,000 marketing messages a day.  [Read more…]

Brand Baloney or a Bold Brand Full of Promise

Brand Baloney

Is your brand phony baloney or bold and full of promise?

Is your brand phony baloney or bold and full of promise?

Major Marketing Malfunction #3

 Part 1 – The Issues

Is your brand bruschetta or phony baloney? The first is appealing and appetizing; the latter is the definition of nonsense or “foolish or deceptive talk.” A brand is a set of promises and associations that a person (or group) perceives about an organization, product, service, or now with increasing frequency, an individual.

Your brand associations may be tangible, explicit and intentional – that is, they may be communicated through your graphic identity and other overt tactical marketing means. Or, your brand association may be more implicit and intangible, but still within your control: how you answer the phone, the cleanliness of your facility, or your follow-up, are simple examples. Sometimes they may be out of your control, for example a thumbs-down website review, a harmful press article, or negative rumors about you.

Brands make promises, build relationships and possess personality. They amply your value proposition and create a valuable asset that can potentially surpass the value of your individual offering.

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”~ Coca-Cola Executive

Brand Promise: If you think about taking a bite into a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate or a sip of Dom Perignon you probably envisage a specific sensory expectation. As you purchase an Apple iPhone, check into the Hyatt Regency or shop at Macy’s you probably have an expectation about the experience. This expectation, is essentially the promise of the brand whether based on your past experience, their marketing or someone else’s encounter. Years ago, I took my family on vacation to Italy, a culinary heaven. At the Spanish Steps in Rome, stands a world-renowned restaurant that constantly draws patrons. How can McDonalds thrive here? To Americans, Europeans and Asians, McDonalds delivers on a simple brand promise: a cheap, dependable, fast delivered meal in a clean establishment. What’s your brand promise?

Brand Relationship: Loyalty is the outcome of the strength, trust and depth of a relationship. But loyalty in a relationship doesn’t just apply to a person. It can be applied to an offering or brand that’s bold, holds strong values and is emotionally evocative. Are your followers loyal to your people, your offering or your brand?

Brand Personality: Every brand has a personality. For example, companies in the automotive, insurance and beverage industries have all very effectively crafted distinct personalities around their offerings. What’s the personality of your brand? What are the five words you want to be known by? Would they be the same five words your customers would give me if I asked them about you?

 

Market Conversations – Listening to the Marketplace

Lackluster Listening

Lackluster-Listening-vs-Market-Conversations

Photo: Ryan Glanzer

Major Marketing Malfunction #1

Listening or broadcasting? Are we singing our praises so loudly to our target audience that we can no longer hear the marketplace conversation? To be effective in our marketing, listening is as important as broadcasting. In reality, not listening or just poor, lackluster listening damages your advertising, dilutes your brand, and undermines your marketing campaigns.

Effective listening in the marketplace reveals strategic answers about your target market, their core issues and decision-making criteria. Without this, your marketing – may turn into a futile investment. It would be like planning a dinner party without knowing who’s coming to dinner. Can you imagine the embarrassment of making a steak au poivre for a distinguished vegan guest! Irrespective of how good a cook you are – not taking your prospective guests’ (audience) preferences into consideration can lead to disaster.

Three causes behind lackluster listening [Read more…]

Tagline – Your Positioning Slogan

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

The Marketing Chef Logo

STIRRING UP SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE  BUSINESS

Part 2 – Tagline Keys

In the last post on marketing taglines and slogans we covered their importance as a marketing ingredient to position your product or service offering in the mind of your target market. To be memorable it needs to be:

  1. Short
  2. Distinctive – unusual combination of words, but
  3. General enough to be applied in different contexts

The Cornell University study also discovered that memorable marketing slogans, quotes and phrases use:

  •  More present tense verbs, versus past tense
  • Few pronouns (other than you),
  • The indefinite article “a” rather than the definite article “the”,

These all contribute to taglines that are more general than specific.

So let’s put this to the test. I took the first ten of Forbes List of 20 Best-Loved Taglines: [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…]

Graphic Identity – Marketing your Brand Visually

Marketing Ingredient # 014 - Your Graphic Identity & Palette

Photo: Dave Di Biase

Food that’s colorful and visually appealing is more tempting.  Is your brand identity and color palette visually stimulating?  Or unappetizing marketing?

Your graphic identity is the visual representation of your brand.  It includes the logo, fonts, your color palette and any other tangible imagery such as photos, packaging and signage.  It’s visually marketing your brand through imagery. Brand identity reflects in every graphic display of your organization: Web site, printed materials, social media headers, golf shirts, and even your physical facility and vehicle fleet, (if you have them).  Your graphic identity is not your brand, (how you are perceived by the marketplace), but it is an important element of your branding.  Your graphic identity will probably be the first impression, the first message received by the outside world and your target market.

A strong brand has a graphic identity that is simple and distinct.  But is must also be consistent, relevant to your target audience and spark an emotional connection.  Think of robust brands such as Apple®, Starbucks®, Target®, Coca-Cola®, NBC® and Amazon®.  Can you see these brands?  What do you feel?  Each of these brands possess a level of simplicity combined with an instinctive emotion.

So what makes for a superior graphic identity?  [Read more…]

Strategic Marketing Action Plan

Marketing Ingredient # 013

Your Marketing Action Plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”, declares the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The Marketing Chef states “too much marketing is wishful goal-setting.” Why? Absent an explicit actionable marketing plan, many well-intentioned marketing activities descend into a haphazard mixture of marketing ingredients hastily thrown together. A bizarre concoction – a quick repast to satisfy the immediate craving for more business rather than a well-planned, systematic formal spread that is “simply irresistible”. [Read more…]

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.

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 )

This Recession is not My Recession

This recession is not my recession
Practical suggestions on not behaving like a lemming.

by Andrew Szabo

(First published as an exclusive article for “Progressive Distributor”)

Few would argue that we are now in an economic recession. The pundits’ endless debate now centers onwhether it’s going to be long or short, the landing hard or soft, the impact on the financial markets, the effect on other economies and their effect on America and so on. My first question is: so what? The problem of this macro-perspective is that it speaks little of your business or mine, yet we often wallow in the media’s doom-and-gloom forecast.

Like lemmings, too many business leaders accept these editorials as a foregone diagnosis of the state of their business. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: They become a contributing statistic to the depressed economy. Like lemmings mimicking another’s behavior, they react identically and fall off the cliff together.

Yet every downturn, crash, recession, or even depression has winners that succeed. Companies not only survive, but thrive, in the negative environment. What are they doing differently? If misery loves company, do the joyful seek a different path? I would suggest two key ideas that can significantly contribute to making this recession not your recession.

Stay out of it
First, resolve not to contribute to the recession. Make a choice not to suffer like everyone else. Instead, be proactive and prosper. Hyatt Hotels in the early ’80s is a classic case study in this behavior. The recession, never good news for luxury hotels, hit its peak during 1981-1982. Several cities already had a glut of hotel rooms but Hyatt resolutely went after new guests, rewarded loyal clients, made cuts only where they were not visible to the guest experience. They opened new properties, hitting the competition hard in several new markets where aging competitors were unable or unwilling to reinvest in their existing properties.

Get on the offensive
Second, take business away from your competition, which will increase your market share despite the total pie shrinking.

Sounds simple enough, but the challenge is in the implementation. There are only three effective ways to get more business.

  • Gain share of wallet. Increase business from your existing
    customers.

  • Promote loyalty. Encourage clients to continue to engage
    in profitable behavior.
    Target customer acquisition. Acquire new business from
    your competition that looks like your best customers.

Effectiveness in each of these areas is highly dependent on the quality of the relationship. Customer relationships are no different from marriages or friendships. They require an understanding of the other party (which entails investing time and other resources). Understanding your customer requires knowledge – gathering comprehensive information, behavioral knowledge and transactional data. It requires a disciplined investment of time and resources in an intelligent process. The technology that holds this all together is often categorized as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Practical solutions
Working with Sony soon after its successful launch of PlayStation, we ascertained that to increase market share and sell more games (their bread-and-butter in terms of margins), Sony would have to learn about their customers. Since it sold both the hardware and software through retailers, it had no direct contact or knowledge of its customers, except for the few warranty cards that purchasers returned.

By developing a cutting-edge relationship program that tapped into the psyche of gamers, we challenged the gamers to tell us who they conquered in what game. As a reward, they were admitted into the PS Underground, a “stealth” Web site and loyalty program that gave them inside information on new developments and tips on existing games.

Within 12 months, Sony built a base of 40,000 customer names into a comprehensive customer knowledge bank of 500,000 enthusiastic gamers with known genre preferences. This information was then leveraged into targeted, personalized, marketing campaigns that both gained a greater share of wallet and engendered loyalty, making them resistant to new game launches such as Nintendo 64. Sony crushed Sega, and greatly mitigated the threat from Nintendo’s launch of N64.

Although the implementation specifics are certain to be different from your industry, the underlying principles are directly relevant. Understand your customer by investing in the relationship: leverage the knowledge relevantly.

So how do you go about this?

  • Walk in your customer’s footsteps. What does a day (or days) in the life of your customer look like? By analyzing the interactions between your organization and the customer, you can identify key touch-points where data and information are gathered or exchanged.

  • What would the ideal path look like? Dialogues with an organization’s different stakeholders yield mission-critical customer knowledge requirements. Interviews with customers breed greater understanding of the customer’s needs.

  • Perform a gap analysis between the current and the ideal.

  • Throughout the process it is important to identify the systems (both processes and technology) that may aid or hinder the relationship and the ability to assimilate or leverage customer knowledge.

  • Finally, isolate key points of inflection, areas that are critically important and have significant economic impact. Improving these areas will yield the best return on investment.

Technology is not the ultimate panacea for cultivating effective customer relationships. Technology implementations, like CRM solutions, must be accompanied by a strategic process that examines the organization’s customer relationship practices and incorporates communication.

Whether you are a veteran player or a new entrant, experience reveals most have yet to master this combination of art and science called CRM. For example, the marketing department of a relatively new bank entered vital information about their customers into a contact management program. Loan information was entered into a custom-built system, and the regular banking information was entered into a third application. Despite professing a client-centric philosophy, the systems were disintegrated. No one performed a comprehensive analysis of the bank’s customers.

In summary, make this recession not your recession by choosing to grow your business wisely through the intelligent practice of effective customer cultivation.

Part 2 of My Interview with Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer (& Creative Director), David Miner

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


Today’s blog features Part 2 of my interview with David Miner, Creative Director for Marketing Symphony. In this part, David shares some lessons he learned from his days as a record producer and Minnesota Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame bass player. And, how those lessons can be applied to the creative process for marketing. My favorite? Use examples rather than descriptions to get your point across. To read part 2 of 3, click here.

AS: Welcome back, David. Last time, you were saying that communication was the crucial foundation to creating an end-product that your client is thrilled with. Can you recap that for us?

DM: Sure, Andrew. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that words mean different things to different people. The classic example is the word trunk: If a client describes an ad where a guy’s leaning on an old trunk, maybe you’re thinking of steamer luggage, I’m thinking of the back of a ’59 Chevy and he’s expecting a picture of a guy next to a large tree. You can’t be too confident of words.

AS: So what do you do, then? How do you communicate ideas so your advertisement or video or direct mail meets the client’s expectations?

DM: Well, as you know, I came up through the musical side. As a producer,

I started using CDs to show a group of musicians what I was after for certain songs.  Sometimes it would be a combination of things that I wanted to meld, so I would bring two CDs and show them rather than try to explain.

It worked so well that I started using it to as a safety check to make sure everybody understood the words we used in the same way.

AS: Like “trunk.”

DM: Exactly. Periodically, we’d listen to an example to make sure. And of course, whenever we came across a breakdown with words, I would ask the person, “Can you play that for me on the piano?”  or “Do you have a CD that illustrates what you’re talking about?”

AS: And this saves time?

DM: It saves time, money-it’s even saved projects. I remember one film score that was on the brink. I’d wasted an entire week on a complicated music piece that was several minutes long and needed to convey some very stark & deep emotion. The director listened to my third attempt and told me that I was even further from what he wanted with this version. Nothing he said to me made any sense. He said-and I quote:

“It needs more ‘ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum.'”

So I said, “You mean like percussion?”

“No, like ‘ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum'”

“I don’t understand-what kind of instrument is making that sound?” I asked.

His response: “Well I’m not a musician, I don’t know how you make the sound, I just need more ba-bum, ba-bum!”

Luckily, I remembered the CD trick and asked him to bring me some tracks. When he did, it took me about 5 minutes to know exactly what he wanted. I went back to the drawing board, and returned to him with a “rough sketch” for the scene.  His response: “Perfect!  That’s exactly what I was after.” We ended up doing 3 more films together, and he got very good at using CDs to help steer the process, and I got very good at creating ba-bum ba-bum.

AS: One of our maxims at Marketing Symphony is that “creativity is birthed out of strategy,” but without good communication and syntax for community ideas. There will be no ba-bum in your creative!

~

So that’s part two of our interview and more to follow.

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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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.

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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What’s the Point of Marketing?

WHAT’S THE POINT OF MARKETING?

873 Words – Less than 3 minutes to read


A NEW DEFINITION

I believe the marketing profession in the last 20 years has made marketing more complicated than it needs to be.

If I asked ten of you to define marketing, you would probably come up with ten different answers. Actually, you do, every time I conduct a seminar or workshop I ask everyone to give me their definitions and no two are ever the same.

If you all can’t agree on a simple definition, how can we all effectively set strategic objectives and implement measurable tactical execution? Or, even agree on why we need to market in the first place.

Successful organizations, large and small, have inculcated a branding message into everything they do. Everybody inside and out knows exactly what the organization does, stands for and is well thought of. Think about Apple, Hyatt Hotels, Nike, The Gap or George Forman’s Grills. What about that local restaurant you keep going back to and recommend to others. The dentist who makes you so comfortable. Or, the accountant that you trust and wouldn’t imagine ever leaving. All these firms and practices market but in highly differentiated ways, what is the commonality?

I suggest the beginning of the solution is to widen our view of marketing as merely advertising, promotion or collateral. It’s not any one thing you do … marketing is much, much more.

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
~ David Packard, Hewlett-Packard

EVERYTHING YOU DO …

Very simply, marketing is everything you do. Because everything you do sends a message. Every action has a communication dimension and can influence another.

For example, the telephone is one of the most powerful marketing instruments, if properly used. The number of rings before answering sends a message. The demeanor of the receptionist’s voice communicates something. Your voicemail greeting may need some work. How are you leaving messages for others? What do your prospects or clients hear when they are on hold?

Also, marketing is everything you don’t do. Because everything you don’t do also sends a message. Every inaction has a communication dimension and can influence someone, usually for the worse. For example, a littered disorganized workplace sends a message. Grammatical mistakes in an email or spelling mistakes in your marketing convey a lack of care or attention to detail. What about that telephone call we didn’t return promptly?

So if marketing is everything we do and don’t do, what is our desired outcome?

FIRST, OFTEN & WELL

The strategic objective of marketing is also very simple. The whole point of your marketing is to have your clients, prospects, suspects, referral sources and other stakeholders think of you first, often and well. If they think of you first, often and well, then your clients are always giving you more business. You have first crack at your prospects’ business and you are getting a stream of referrals.

So why isn’t this happening consistently?

1. They have not heard about you. This is often due to a lack of marketing or your marketing is ineffective. It is drowned out by the 20,000 other marketing messages the average person receives daily.

2. They have not heard about your value-added claims. They may have heard about you, but don’t know or understand what you do. How many people, even in your own circle of neighbors, friends, church or gym truly know what you do? This is a great litmus test. Today ask five people you know and see how accurately it reflects “your marketing.” If you are not marketing effectively to those closest to you, do you think you are any better to those who do not know you well?

3. They don’t believe you. Sometime the problem is not a quantitative or qualitative issue of marketing. They simply do not believe you. You have not backed up your claims or made your messaging sufficiently relevant to the audience.

One simple way to evaluate your key messages is to imagine a thought balloon above your client’s or prospect’s head. Whenever you say anything, or give them a piece of marketing collateral, see the balloon. They are either thinking “So what?” In other words, how is this relevant to me? Or, “Prove it!” Back up that statement with facts, figures or other evidence.

4. They don’t remember you. Often, the failure in marketing is to convey a message that is sufficiently differentiated, relevant, or action-oriented. A compelling, unique communication that moves heart, mind and soul will cut through the clutter of insipid rubbish that the many colleagues in the industry generate.


FINAL THOUGHTS

So in reality you are already marketing, the key question is what is the message you are sending in all you do, and don’t do?

It has been my experience for over 25 years that all too many organizations are wasting too much money, time and other resources into marketing that does not yield the return they should be getting.

An intelligent comprehensive marketing strategy will make ALL you do in marketing more effective. Otherwise, it is like an orchestra without the musical score, the movie without the script, the chef without a recipe, or the battle without the plan.

In conclusion, I suggest you cease to view marketing as any singular activity but the sum total of all your activities in having your clients, prospects and others think of you first, often and well.

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