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?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where's The Beef?

I was born in 1980.  I remember lots of things from my childhood.  I remember GI Joe, the Transformers, Mask, the Challenger disaster, Christmas at my grandmother's, and a basic, loud phrase coming from an elderly woman on television: "Where's the beef?"

In 1984, a spot entitled "Fluffy Bun" appeared featuring actress Clara Peller, asking the question, "Where's the beef" upon receiving a massive hamburger bun containing a paltry piece of "beef."  Wendy's used this iconic phrase to poke fun and embarrass competitors such as McDonald's and Burger King, bringing to light the tiny, sliver patties being put into fast food burgers at the time.

Fast forward over twenty years.  The phrase has become part of our American culture, but the origins, and the meaning, have slowly faded away.  Over time, with Wendy's leading the charge, the major fast food restaurants have been offering more items with more natural ingredients.   Now they are upping the ante again, releasing a new line of value hamburgers that aims to one-up category leaders based on quantity and quality of the beef in the sandwich.  In order to do this, Wendy's resurrected "Where's the beef?"  It's a spot-on approach.

In order to bridge the gap between a generation of consumers from the 1980's and the 21st century, Wendy's used today's current retro fashion trends, placing "Modern Family" actor Reid Ewing in a 1980's styled "Where's the beef sandwich" walking down the sidewalks of urban settings.  Along the way, people familiar with "Where's the beef?" give him the proverbial "thumbs up".  The main character doesn't understand the recognition he receives, until he comes up to a sign at a local Wendy's.  Then it all makes sense.  Cut to juicy shot of large hamburger, product sold.

Frankly I think this is brilliant.  We could have seen Clara again.  We could have seen the big bun, small patty.  Instead, what we see is a brilliantly simple connection between two generations.  There's no hard sell, not silly gimmick, just a recognition of pop culture history, and a delicious looking hamburger.

The most powerful messages are sometimes the simplest ones.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blogging Effectively

Sage Lewis at the SageRock Digital Marketing Blog wrote that people don't blog as much as they use other social media because, "I think it’s because they see blogging as a big thing." Translation: Blogging is hard.  Blogging is not "hard".  People don't blog, because they are unsure what to do with it.  They don't know how to use it effectively.

Like any use of media, blogging starts with a plan.  Planning helps you set goals, build discipline, and write with purpose.

Goals help you have a purpose.  Without goals, you're blog, or any other type of marketing, is ineffective.  Goals help you focus.  All of your posts should lead towards one common goal, one common claim or idea.  For example, what if you created the most comfortable seat cushion in the world?  What if your goal was to sell one million by the end of the year?  Then all of your posts should be focused on convincing someone of the virtues of properly padded buttocks...which can be achieved with your amazing seat cushion.  Your posts could feature customer stories, or the results of studies about padded versus un-padded seats.  Each post focuses on one reason that someone should buy your seat cushion, which helps you reach one million unit sales.

Regular blogging also helps you develop the discipline you need to reach your goals.  Without discipline, it's impossible to reach a long term goal. Jim Whittaker said, "You can never conquer the mountain.  You can only conquer yourself."  The mountain is the sales goal.  Climbing the mountain means defeating the army of doubt, laziness, and busyness.  Doubt tells you that you will never sell enough of your product, and that no one will read your blog.  Laziness prevents you from spending the time to plan what you are going to write, when you are going to write it, writing it, and editing it.  Busyness lets you make excuses, allowing life's events to constantly get in the way of your online marketing plan.  

Setting goals and practicing discipline with your blogging frees you up to write with a purpose.  If you're not writing with a purpose, your blog becomes a set of random, rambling posts. Start by creating a list of all of the things you want to say that relate to your main goal.  Next, create a short outline for each item on your list.  Spend time each week developing and writing about each item on your list.  Eventually it will become easy, and you will develop a weekly writing routine.  Another benefit to this weekly writing plan is that it will build up content on your blog over time.  That content can be indexed by search engines such as Google.  Eventually you will have a large mass of indexed, searchable content.  Google also grades your blog higher if you're posting relevant content more frequently.  A stale, rarely updated blog will almost never appear on Google search results.  If you're also participating in online forums and other online communities, make sure you are linking back to your blog in your signature.  This helps build a "web" of links going back to your blog, and over time it can improve your search rankings, since Google gives your site a higher ranking when others link to you.

Create a plan, set a goal, practice discipline, and write with a purpose.  You just might find that the skills you develop writing a blog will end up permeating other parts of your life as well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is the 30 second spot relevant?

No one watches commercials anymore, right?  In the age of the DVR, we zip right past them.  Commercials are old school, they are relics of ages past.  It's all about the web, social media and gorilla marketing via YouTube, right?

Is there any point to a 30 second commercial on broadcast television?  Absolutely!  Not only are they relevant, but they are the best way to build brand equity through brand awareness.

In order to build Brand Awareness, you need to get the attention of your audience.  No other human sense gets our attention better than visual stimuli.  The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" is still very true.  Commercial advertising used to be all about the "sell".  Get a spokesperson, list off your product's features, and tell everyone to buy it.  There was no better way to sell a car or a frozen dinner in the 1960's and 70's than to list off your features and tell a viewer to go and buy it.  It doesn't work the same today.

Today you have to get someone's attention.  You have to pique their interest.  You have to create buzz.  You have to make the emotional sell.  Saying your car is "Imported from Detroit", or "You're In Good Hands With Allstate" speaks louder than telling everyone your insurance has lower monthly premiums.  Connecting with an older audience, while featuring someone from a new generation in a simple t-shirt does wonders when you want to get everyone to ask, "Where's the Beef?".  One commercial, one visual, can spark a flood of conversation that spreads from the office water cooler to the status updates of Facebook. 

Today television presents a great ROI, not just because you can reach millions of eyes at one time, but also because you can use it to drive people to more direct brand interaction and messaging.  The venerable commercial used to be a one-way experience.  The viewer watched it, and you hoped that the message would soak in.  You hoped they would go to a store and interact with your product.  Today a viewer can have instant interaction with your brand via the internet and mobile devices.

Today a commercial that doesn't just create interest, but moves someone to interact with you is essential to a successful campaign.  Want to find out more?  Go to our website.  Want to get great deals?  Visit Facebook or GROUPON to get 20% off your first purchase.  Visit YouTube for more clues and win your very own car.  You couldn't do this 20 or even 10 years ago.  Now you can.

No other medium allows you to reach as large an audience at once as television.  However, Jerry Shereshewsky, a New York City ad agency veteran and CEO of, asserts that if you want to get narrower than a general demographic, you're out of luck.  With today's audience diversification and deep pool of niche channels, this isn't the case. TV is now a target rich environment, and it allows you the opportunity to tailor your message for any specific demographic.  Even better, that demographic is a willing listener.  You don't want to watch Food Network or G4 because you have to, you watch it because you want to, because you're interested in that hobby or vocation.  Viewers of these niche channels are already willing to buy items to suit their interests, and if your product fits these interests, they are willing to listen to you.

Getting attention, creating interest, and encouraging brand interaction are all possible today through the focused use of the 30 second spot. What used to be a multi-million dollar shot in the dark is now a viable, successful option for building brand equity through brand awareness and brand engagement.  Consumers are willing to watch commercials...are you giving them a reason to watch yours?

Wendy's Brings Back "Where's the Beef" - Chicago Tribune
Which Ad Strategy Works For You? - Entrepreneur Online