You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2017.
Foster Bias & Sales is an imaginary ad agency name I came up with that offers a trifecta of marketing success. These steps to a sale apply to marketing, advertising, even memo writing.
It starts by fostering a positive and receptive environment in which to communicate with customers. Product context, entertainment and/or education are all tools used to foster interest. Gather attention and predispose consumers to listen….that’s Mr. Foster.
Create bias toward your product or against a key competitor is step two. This is where marketers become competitors. Care-abouts and good-ats are what the brand planner mines and the communicator deals in here. Creating bias is not nuanced. It’s hardball.
Sales obviously refers to action. Real purchase, decision to purchase, or predisposition to purchase. In the sales trade this is called “asking for the order.” Even if implicit. Being too pushy is not attractive, however. You have to know how and when to ask. If you cross the line you may damage to your ability to foster a proper selling environment. Know when to walk away. Customers appreciate commitment sans the pushy hand. They may come back.
Tags: care-abouts, Foster bias and sales, good ats, good-ats and care-abouts, steps to a sale, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Two titans of retail are facing off and it’s going to be wild. Walmart and Amazon. Amazon and Walmart. There will be only winners: the businesses and the custies. Amazon continues to kill it in online retail. So much so, in fact, that they’re looking into some brick and mortar places to make product access near-instantaneous. Walmart is beginning to get that 800 lb. monkey off its back (low price, low-esteem, box store with bad vegetables), by ramping up its online offering. It quintupled online SKUs in one year thanks to purchases like Jet.com and others.
The real war zone, when it comes to customer marketing, will be brand-side. Amazon has an amazing brand that is maturing. An overdog I like to call it. Walmart in a heart brand that many people view as high-traffic but low-value. Don’t get me wrong, the retail product has value, but the brand is a little lacking in the amygdala, as brand expert Megan Kent might say.
Both brands have the money and leadership to innovate. Both have the dough to execute. Now it will be up to the brand leaders to create some excitement. Walmart faces more of an uphill challenge. One any brand strategist would love to tackle. But we all know what happened to the overdogs.
Tags: ali frazier of branding, amazon, jet.com, megan kent, overdog over dog, two titans of retail, walmart, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Someone on Quora asked a question about the worst taglines used in branding. Got me thinking. Brand planners may feel differently about taglines but for me they’re a powerful branding vehicle. To the tagline falls the work of explaining and defining what the brand is when the name falls flat. When a name doesn’t pass the Is-Does test (what a brand Is and what a brand Does), the tagline needs to. Coca-Cola was a great brand name. The fact that is was printed on a beverage can helped with the Is. Snapchat is a great brand name. The fact that it’s plastered on a web or mobile page helps with the Is.
But not all product or service names are that lucky. When a name shares no meaning, a good tagline can clear things up. For startups and new products, it’s crucial they pass the Is-Does test. In these cases taglines are even more important.
For established brand, where the Is is well known, the tagline can tighten the bond of consumer attachment — focusing of care-abouts and good-ats.
My biggest peeve is when a tagline is used as an advertising cherry. That is, as a summation of the ad campaign. When it’s all about the ad idea not the brand idea, it is the limpest form of tagline.
Get your brand strategy right and picking the strongest tagline will be easy.
Tags: cherry on the advertising, coca cola, Is-Does, quora, snapchat, tagline articles, tagline posts, tagline. Brand taglines
I write a good deal about pent-up demand. It is a marketer’s best friend. When Miller Lite was launched no one had ever successfully marketed a low calorie beer. Ergo there was no demand. The market had to be educated as to the value of light beer. Once done, demand was there. No pent-up demand.
Marketing and brand planners should always look for pent-up demand in the market. When it’s obvious, E.g., cheaper taxi rides (Uber), better tasting hamburger (Shake Shack), life is easy. When a product value is not obvious, finding pend-up demand is a chore. For Excel Commercial Maintenance, a building cleaning service whose customers care most about low price, a brand strategy “The navy seals of commercial maintenance” met pent-up demand for fast, fastidious and proactive workers. Something purchasers rarely talked about.
Not every product or service offers a marketing with a deep undying demand for a feature or function. But if you don’t dig deep you are not doing your planning job.
Tags: demand generation, excel commercial maintenance, miller lite, navy seals of commercial maintenance, pent up demand, shake shack, uber, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Marketing is problem solving. Through productizing and service-izing. And since marketing is inextricably linked to branding, problem solving is inherently a good brand strategy trait.
The digital economy has brought us many things to be excited about as marketers: the web, big data, small batch/craft economy offerings, and the Uberization of services aka the sharing economy. But when it comes to problem solving, few of these things are as exciting to me as the “group-solve” phenomenon. Think open source R&D.
Recently, the Opioid Epidemic Challenge Summit hack-a-thon sponsored by Mass General Hospital and the GE Foundation came up with a Narcan lock box idea that may stem death by opioids. A number of years ago, I worked on an idea called Future Boston (there’s that city again), whereby virtual teams were to come together to solve Boston city problems like traffic, education and population health. This teaming event was sponsored by MIT, IEEE, and the Boston Globe. (Disclosure: it never made it out of plan.)
By bringing great and willing minds together in these hack-a-thon problem solving initiatives, we are doing what humans, with our large brain cases, do best.
When marketers crowd source problems, sans economic motive, amazing things can happen. This is not just a non-profit space, it’s for all members of the commercial community.
Tags: Boston globe, craft economy, future boston, ge foundation, group solve, IEEE, Massachusetts general hospital, mit, narcan, opioid epidemic challenge summit, whats the idea, whatstheidea
When Milos Forman was auditioning Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito for One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, he had them sit in a faux group therapy circle and vamp lines. When something seemed off he repeatedly instructed “That is not natural.”
At one point in my career, having never, ever had a real sales job, a la David Ogilvy selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, I decided to make amends. I had done lots of ride-arounds with salesman, interviewed them ad nauseam, but never felt what it was like to look consumers in the eye and be paid based on my ability to make them buy.
I did have a little head start in sales having sat through hundreds of hours of consumer focus groups and having read hours and hours of attitude and awareness studies, but looking Mary Q. Public and getting her to unsnap her purse, not so much.
Sales is hard. I learned that whenever I was “selling” and it didn’t sound natural, I wasn’t really selling. I was wasting breath. When I sounded like a commercial or a brochure, I was wasting time. This lesson has served me well as a brand planner. When I use words in strategy that sound like selling, that are off-pitch (music pitch), I have more work to do. If brand strategy isn’t natural, it isn’t effective.
Tags: Brand Strategy, Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, david Ogilvy selling vacuum cleaners door to door, Milos Forman, natural brand a strategy, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nests, that’s not natural, whats the idea, whatstheidea
Salesforce, a spectacular online business, ran an ad today in the NYT paper paper using a tried and true ad tactic “the testimonial.” Amazon Web Service was the customer. Both are great companies, but the ad was so weak. It’s what my dad Fred Poppe might have called the “doggy’s dinner.”
Central to the idea is something called the (initial caps) Customer Success Platform. Oy. Luckily, the Customer Service Platform is powered by (initial cap) Einstein artificial intelligence. A skootch better. It “qualifies leads, predicts when customers are ready to buy, and helps them close more deals.” This is actually stuff a real copywriter could work with — but as written it’s all claim, no proof.
To make matters worse the ad ends with “What if you had a way to help your business take flight?” followed by the Salesforcrce logo (When did they lose the .com in the logo?) and tagline “Blaze new trails.” Flight? Trails? Talk about mixing your metaphors.
It’s as if someone used an ad-by-numbers kit.
For a company as successful and powerful as Salesforce, you’d think they could put together a cogent, well-craft print ad. Maybe they should download a Hubspot template. JKJK.
Tags: amazon web services salesforce ad, blaze new trails tagline, claim and proof, Einstein artificial intelligence, fred poppe, hubspot, salesforce, salesforce ad, salesforce.com, whats the idea, whatstheifeda
Fred Wilson is a blogger (www.avc.com) and businessman I admire greatly. He blogs daily and share his knowledge without second thought. He’s probably the most prominent VC on the east coast if not the county. In a recent speech given at MIT, he mentioned that on his first ever test there he had gotten a zero. About MIT he said, and I paraphrase, “When you go to MIT to go from being the smartest kid at your school to being the dumbest.” Anyway when asked about his nil test score his professor the response was “You didn’t understand the question.”
Here’s the thing about brand planning. The ones who get it right aren’t the ones with the best methodology or framework. They are the ones who understand the question. The problem is that question always changes. Yesterday I posted brand strategy is not Chaos Theory. But if the question changes for every brand strategy, isn’t that a bit chaotic?
A generic question for all brands might be “What value or behavior does the brand provide that best meets the needs of the customer?” Doesn’t seem like a bad question. But, per Fred Wilson’s professor, it’s the wrong one. Only when you are waist deep in a brand, customer care-abouts and brand good-ats can one ask the real question. It will be a business question, tempered by consumer insight, and help you pass that first and last test.
Tags: avc, brand good-ats, Brand Planning, brand strategy framework, brand strategy methodology, Customer care-abouts, customer care-abouts and brand good-ats, fred Wilson, mit, whats the idea, whatstheidea