Is-Does

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Small businesses need to think small but they don’t. Retail businesses tend to focus more, though not all of them. (A friend started up a deli and hedged his bet by putting in pizza oven.) Business-to-business organizations are notorious for lacking focus. The easiest way to see this is to visit their websites. Sometimes you can read the home page and the About Section and still can’t tell what they do. What the hell does a “collaboration company” sell? How about a “communications company?” These descriptors suffer from broad taxonomy.

The opposite of the too-broad-to-be-meaningful approach is the “10 pound bag” approach. Rather than focus, these SMBs over-focus, over-explain. So a benefits company also becomes a financial services, wealth management, property and casualty coverage and retirement and executive plan company.

The anecdote to this is what I call the Is-Does. What a company Is and what it Does. One simple statement of product and benefit. If you can’t get your Is-Does right, you need to find someone who can. And don’t expect a web development company to do it. Or an SEO company. They get paid by the pixel. They make more money the less articulate you are.

Focus and articulation is a small or mid-size company’s best friend. Especially on the web. Insert your Yogi Berra quote hear. Get the Is-Does right and you have a great beginning.

Peace.        

 

 

 

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Yesterday I Tweeted the question “Does anyone know what the Discount Double Check is?” Everyone has heard of it; it’s all over TV.  Especially on NFL football. Aaron Rodger’s who mimes putting on a championship belt after touchdowns has sold the little dance to Allstate Insurance who has paired it with some double check insurance option and uses that as a differentiator.  I’m so interested in the humor (or lack of it), I’ve yet to figure out what the product feature means. Perhaps you do. What are we double checking and how does it work? 

It only took AFLAC half a decade to move beyond its quacking name-onic brand device until the advertising explained to customers that AFLAC is insurance that pays out if you are hurt on the job.   

In both cases we knew what the company IS but not what the product DOES. They both fail the Is-Does test. The first test of marketers, and I know it sounds fundamental and silly, is to get the Is-Does out of the way. So all you self-described lifestyle brands out there, that’s way too inside baseball. It’s too markobabble. Get your Is-Does right.

Peace.

 

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Data drives marketing. The most important data is sales. Duh. Always start with sales: daily, weekly, monthly, annual, forward and back. Data on purchase clusters, purchase frequency, bundling and demographics provide a wealth of insight, especially when compared to key competitors. One can look at dollars or units, regions, sales tied to marketing investments, both on and off-line.  However, as the data gets more complicated and pervasive, the sources require greater scrutiny.  How the data is classified and arranged is critical.  Consumer product data from Mitel and Euromonitor International aren’t always organized the same way and even when done so don’t always agree.

The next problem happens when marketers cloudy-up the waters by making hybrid products.  Can a beverage be a carbonated soft drink and water at the same time? (Ice, for instance?) Is a frozen, ready-to-bake cookie clssified as a frozen dessert or cookie? Many are these data dilemmas. It’s troubling. And if the data companies don’t know how to classify a product it’s likely consumers are having similar trouble.

Is-Does

Enter the Is-Does. What a product is and what a product does.  The Is is different from the Does.  The iPhone is a phone. Some product marketers don’t get the Is and it can be staggering – especially for startups. And the data dilemma is only making this phenomenon worse. So get your Is-Does right first and the data will follow.  

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