good and plenty

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Okay, there’s not an app for Christmas but there will be one for Christmas shopping.  You know how hard-to-shop-for people “Oh, I have everything I need”? It’s often true.  So how do you find a nice gift that they really want? That they like and need?  Big data.

I was watching Robert Scoble interview some big data dude yesterday on the web and the interviewee happened to mention that soon there will be 100 times more data available about consumers than ever before.  Once available, you will know I get Good and Plenty in my stocking, a rock and roll tee shirt from my kids, and shirts from my mom (16.5 neck).

It is enjoyable to find the perfect gift for the right person, but it is hard. I smell an app. The app won’t average a person’s demographics it will actually know consumption behaviors. Wear out and maybe even refill speeds.  “Dear Mr. President, please don’t collect private information on the populace – unless it’s to buy better gifts.”

Peace on earth!

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There’s an old marketing adage — okay, I just made it up – “The more times you say something the more consumers believe it.”  Hell, the more marketers themselves believes it.  Advertising agents take this notion and create campaigns around it.  Some campaigns last a long time (I can still sing the Good and Plenty song from my childhood), but most don’t.  Rote repetition in advertising is bad – it burns out.  That’s why, to coin a phrase, campaigns come and go.

There is a change management theory, espoused by the godfather of GE Jack Welch, suggesting change is best affected by making communications “relentless and boring.”  You can’t argue with Mr. Welch’s success so let’s say that one’s sacrosanct. It seems that many marketers and their agents also fall into this trap.  I understand relentless but when selling it has a negative connotation. Geico is relentless. There is clearly such a thing as too much selling. Advertisers need to be relentlessly on message, about that I would agree, but not baseball bat relentless with the pound, pound, pound of same ad frequency.  It’s boring. And off-putting. 

As for boring, there is never a place for it in marketing and certainly not in advertising.  Relentless creates boring…and boring creates boring. Two strikes.  

So here’s a guiding principle for marketers and agents. Find a brand strategy (a claim and supports), live it, message it, listen to it with your own ears, and enliven it — daily. Touch consumers with meted frequency, especially when they’re most willing, refresh those touches continuously, and do so without being boring. Easily typed, harder deployed.  That’s why they call it work. Peace!  

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When I say I like Good and Plenty, it really means I like licorice. When I say I like Budweiser, it means I like beer. Granted there are lots of flavors of licorice and beer but the point is one doesn’t have an innate, built-in need for brands. (I said innate.) If I like Maytag, it means I like clean clothes. The iPhone? Staying in touch…with everything.

Some of us in marketing forget this, spending too much time on a distended version of the brand story. (“We must break though the clutter!”)  But it is a product we are selling, not the story.

The way out this trap is by focusing on a product’s Is-Does: what a brand Is and what a brand Does. I came upon this notion when reading some branding literature while at McCann-Erickson. Eric Einhorn created a document exploring what a brand is and what it means. I rolled the “means” over on its side to make it more concrete. 

For me the pursuit of the Is-Does became particularly necessary when planning in the tech sector where chief technologists have a hard time explaining their products in less than 50 words. Was Apple’s iPhone really a phone? For most marketers and planners, the heavy lifting is in the Does, but even here one can go off track. Does Coke really provide happiness (today’s strategy) or Does it provide refreshment ( real strategy).  Find the right Is-Does and you tell better stories, create more loyalty, and sell more shtuff. Peace!

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