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I found a little piece of scratch paper in my pile with this quote on it:

“Customers who share your values will be attracted to your brand and are likely to become loyal to your brand and even enthusiastic advocates.” 

The quote was by Brad Van Auken of Forbes.

If you believe this statement raise your hand.  As they say in NY, if you believe this statement “I have a bridge to sell you.” It’s a nice sentiment, but not something brand planners should be concerning themselves with. Brand planks are a marriage of “good-ats” and “care-abouts” — what a brand is good at and what customers care about.  

Unless you are good at values, as a non-profit might be, it’s best to focus brand strategy on tangible product benefits. Leave the values for the PR and corporate responsibility departments.

If you do go the value route, the values you pick are going to be noncontroversial and values others are likely to pick. I’m not being insensitive here just pragmatic. I don’t buy Hellman’s mayonnaise for values. I don’t drink Voodoo Ranger for values. I don’t buy Marmot tents for values. Values are nice, but they are not a brand’s day job.

If you are in a meeting with a brand shop and they’re going on and on about value-based brand planks, and charitable give-backs, politely bit them adieu. I’m sure they’re wonderful, generous people, but they have, likely, never build a resolute brand.

Peace.

PS. Charity work and sustainability are important, they are just not brand planks. For examples write steve@whatstheidea.com.

 

 

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Look, I’m no genius.  When I predict things like the trivestiture of Google (gonna happen) or that Best Buy will suffer at the hands of its current CMO  — predicted at the pinnacle of his celebrity – it was just simple brand and marketing logic. Larry Downes’ article in Forbes, on the other hand, is a little bit of a genius. Entitled “Why Best Buy is going out of business…gradually” it is beautifully organized, a story well-told, and emotionally charged. It’s hard to read it without being convinced.  (That said, I don’t agree Best Buy is going down, but the case is compelling.)

What I found striking in Mr. Downes’ article was a not-so-new Web phenomenon that occurred after Thanksgiving when Best Buy could not fulfill some online orders. A situation. Here’s the missive they sent to customers:  

 “Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders.”

I was at a start-up not too long ago with some under-cooked technology that fried the night of Beta release.  We were a media darling at the time. The response of our CTO was “Due to extraordinary demand, the servers went down and…”  Turning negatives in to positives might have worked in 2007 but not in 2011.

No doubt ecommerce has reshuffled the 4Ps. Some might argue Ps have been removed. Others might suggest Ps have been added. I’m sticking with 4. Get them all right — you will still encounter situations but you’ll be prepared to deal. Peace!

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Not one to throw darts at people I don’t know, I have been known to ding their actions. That’s the fun of blogging.  One marketing person who is a bit of a lightning rod, especially to those in the advertising business is Joel Ewanich, chief marketing officer of General Motors.  Forbes called him “Marketer of the Year” in 2009 and he has done some great marketing putting Hyundai on the map. I’ve written about Hyundai’s smart marketing for years.

But lately, Mr. Ewanich who is nothing of not decisive, has been spending his time shaking up the ad agency roster and tossing grenades. Google “Goodby Silvertein+Ewanich.” While Mr. Ewanich was spending much media time energizing and de-energizing agencies his defining product launch, the Chevy Volt, was going long on glamour and short on engineering. It was reported today that the Volt’s lithium ion battery pack has been found to spark and fire in simulated crashes. 

Marketers, lest we forget, are responsible for product as well as promotion and it seems that the Volt was not adequately tested prior to launch. In all the news about loaner cars and driver safety being job one, I haven’t seen Mr. Ewanich’s name anywhere. Dart time.  Combustion engines go on fire after crashes. Hell, they are filled with gas.  Lithium ion batteries overheat — can you say Dell?  Mr. Ewanich did not design the battery pack or it’s housing, but he is responsible for product readiness.  

A lesson to all marketers: Get the product right first. I understand multi-tasking and readiness, but marketing starts with the product. And ends with the product. Now there’s a marketing trend – product quality. Peace.   

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In a Forbes interview with David Eastman, CEO, JWT North America, he speaks of his shop’s unique place in history. Of course, some of it was the same old/same old, which made sense for the audience, but what really stuck out was JWT’s commitment to integrating digital into its offering.  Mr. Eastman may be the first digital officer to CEO a major holding company ad shop.

For a big global shop like JWT, digital is really the R&D department. R&D never really existed at agencies before.  Sure, there were innovations think tanks and media kitchens but those were mostly window dressing.  Eastman believes R&D is an investment not an expense and because JWT hangs with major consumer brands and has a strong brand planning culture, everyone gets the value of a powerful brand idea and everyone gets a seat at the table. This R&D department isn’t off campus in a lab somewhere. Even creatives are open to the manifest destiny love (ish).

So what does this mean?  The outputs are better.  The ads are informed by digital insights, the didge is coddled by emotional consumer brand ideas, and the media intersects at just the right moment. The work doesn’t feel like work to many consumers, it feels welcome and softly influential. “Soft influence.” Hmm, I like that.

Sometime the approach is a little sloppy, sometimes it’s quite elegant, but it’s almost always goaled (as they say) on being brand-strategic.  In this tactics-palooza marketing world, a holding company shop with a transmedia team working with the wind at its back offers a superior product.  But you knew that. Peace!

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