The Value Proposition

Why should a consumer buy from you?

Competitive Advantages

What makes you better than your competition?

Choosing A Differentiation Strategy

You chose a target market, now what?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brand Audit

Have you ever audited your brand?  Audit?  Isn't that for taxes?  Yes it is.  And it can be unpleasant.  However, audits often weed out the things that need to change in your finances.  Brand audits can show you what may need to change in your branding.

Any good branding audit should:

- Identify branding elements that are out of alignment
- Explain why those elements are out of alignment
- Suggest how to bring them into alignment

Two key elements to proper alignments are clearly defined brand architectures, and properly integrated brand identities

In the next few weeks, we will look at brand architecture and brand identities.  Until my next post, sit back, and consider the following questions:

1) Is my brand clearly defined?
2) Is my brand clearly understood in the marketplace?
3) Is my brand achieving the goals it it supposed to be?
4) Does my perception of my brand image match my customer's perception of my brand?
5) Am I willing to take a hard look at what may need to change? 

Going through a brand audit helps you understand the answers to questions 1-4.  Question 5 is simply there to humble yourself to begin this process.

Saturday, August 27, 2011



Aren't these terms just labels meant to edify the decision a CMO or Director of Marketing has made where to make their media buys or marketing plans?  One goes the "proven" path, another goes down the "modern" road.

Last time I checked, we don't hire Chief Traditional Marketing Officers or Director of Non-Traditional Marketing-er's.... (pardon my poor grammar and spelling here).  At least we shouldn't.

A CMO or Director of Marketing is in charge of steering a company's MARKETING efforts.  The goal of this marketing is to find your customer, communicate your message, and convince them to give you their money.  Sometimes the most effective messaging medium is a 30 second spot on broadcast television networks.  Sometimes it's a 3 minute video on YouTube that is meant to go viral and attract consumers to a Facebook campaign.  Regardless of the medium, it's all marketing.  And it's only worth doing if it is reaching your customers and convincing them to buy.

Stop labeling your marketing ... and just market.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are you doing anything NEW??

Jonathan Salem Baskin published an article on AdAge today that raises a fundamental "Selling 101 question": What are you doing that is NEW?

It's easy to get stuck in a rut.  Everyone creates commercials.  Banner ads...been there done that.  Facebook page?  That so...last month.  Twitter bomb?  Does anyone care anymore? get the idea.

Mr. Baskin takes a look at the retail segment during the Back To School season.  There are less consumers actually entering stores this year compared to last year.  Traditional advertising (even "creative" ads) aren't motivating customers, as evidenced by Gap's recent 2nd quarter results.  Mr. Baskin asserts that the retail segment isn't doing anything NEW to get the attention of cost conscience, value oriented, highly savvy consumers.

So let's ask the question: Are you doing anything NEW to get the attention of your existing or potential customers?  Anyone can offer a coupon...what are you doing that is unique with coupons?  Tried cause-marketing?  Frequent buyer campaigns?  Here's a better question: what aren't your competitors doing? 

Take a pen and pad out tonight.  Open up your word processor.  Pull out your iPad.  Tonight is the night.  Spend a half hour and think of some new ways to get your customer's attention.  Then do them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Message Overload

John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, recently posted on American Express's OPEN Forum an article on marketing confusion.  He asserts that it's impossible to sell to anyone if you over-complicate your message.  It's a back-to-basics commentary on much of today's marketing, and I have to agree.

Keep It Simple Stupid (or K.I.S.S.) comes to my mind here.  John is completely right.  It is always best to have a single, focused message.  Don't pile on the features and adjectives.  Focus your message into one single, strong, best-case selling effort.  You only get one real shot to implant a positive perception into the mind of the consumer.  It's better to be simple and focused, than over-informative, confusing, and ultimately ... pushy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dropping Consumer Confidence Equals More Marketing

Today's news that the Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to it's third worst level since measuring began in 1952 led many to predictions of doom and gloom.  Granted, an uncertain economy, high unemployment, and an emotionally influenced stock market is bound to make any consumer timid to let go of any of their hard earned dollars.  However, it's during times like these that companies should be spending an greater amount of their dollars on focused marketing.
Last week I commented on frequency.  Specifically that focused, consistent, disciplined marketing leads to effective frequency.  Frequency is even more important when consumers are spending less.  Why?  Even if a consumer isn't spending their dollars now, you want to be the one they give their dollars to when they do buy.  

Increase your marketing now.  Get the message out now.  Convince the consumer that your product and brand is the one they need when they do choose to spend their dollars.  Make sure you have the leading position in their brains now.  If you do, you will reap the rewards when consumers are more willing to spend money later, and you will be the one making announcements of increased sales and profits before anyone else.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Post Frequenly" ... and OFTEN on Facebook

Recently, Hussein Fazal posted a piece on AdAge, presenting six, logical, fundamental steps to effective marketing through Facebook.  His third point, "Post Frequently", caught my attention.  The reason is a basic practice of effective advertising: frequency.

Let's review the basic concept behind frequency: effective frequency (note the word effective) is the number of times a person must be exposed to a message before a response (such as buying) is made and before exposure to the marketing has become wasteful economically.  There have been numerous studies on this.  Many of them have a different conclusion.  However, most seem to agree that 5-7 impressions is a bare minimum. (I'm sure some of you disagree, but work with me here)

For any medium to be used effectively, frequency must be practiced.  However, the problem is many businesses still don't give proper weight to online media in general.  They don't believe (until someone presents them with proper statistics and decent research) that marketing online CAN give you a good ROI.  The other problem is many individuals (even ad agencies and skilled consultants) tend to jump into blogging and social media with gusto, but never keep up the discipline (frequency) necessary to see an effective blogging or social media effort through.  

Here's my point:  it's easy for someone to post once a week, and then 3 times the next, and then 2 times the next...but to keep posting every week, with purpose, with a plan, takes effort.  Don't just post often, plan often.  Put together a long term plan that meets your specific goals.  This plan should cover at least a few months, if not an entire calendar year (or two if you know what your product development cycle will be).  It takes time to form a relationship with your customers, no matter what medium you are using to market to them.  Use that time to give them reasons to come back to you, buy from you, and tell others about you.  Change your content often.  Change your marketplace ads often.  Change your incentives often.

In other what you are going to do, often.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tag Heuer Drops Tiger Woods

Today, Tag Heuer announced the end of it's relationship with Tiger Woods.  According to Bloomberg News, the watch maker had limited it's use of Tiger Woods in it's advertising since the now infamous November 2009 car accident that led to a series of life changes for the golfer.  Seeing this announcement today reminds me that people are brands too, and they need to be nurtured and protected like any other brand.

Remember, branding is a holistic approach to a company’s position, image, and activities, based on its values. What many of today's prominent figures seem to forget, is that the same holds true for the individual as well.  You are a brand.  No really, you are.  Your brand affects everything about you.  For example, consider:
  • How people interact with you
  • Potential job opportunities
  • Friendships and potential life-long mates
  • Business transactions
Ask yourself:
  • How do people perceive you? 
  • What image do you project?
  • What are your values?  Do people associate you with those values?
  • Do your daily activities properly represent the image you want to project?
Take one of your closest friends out to lunch or dinner, and talk to them about these questions.  Be willing to listen to their criticism.  Take their words to heart.  Take the brand of "you" seriously.  It will affect your future.

Source: Bloomberg News