good-ats and care-abouts

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Not enough credit has been giving to the name of my business in this blog. What’s The Idea? is the name of the blog and the business. People think is a cool name even though the URL requires explanation: “Not what is the idea, what’s the idea dot com, sans apostrophe.”

What’s The Idea? perfectly describes my brand consultancy. The search for a fitting and motivating brand idea consumes me. A single idea that captures what consumers care about and what brands are good at. (Care-abouts and good-ats.)

Not every marketer thinks they need an “idea.”  It’s not top of mind. But a sound brand idea helps position, sell and defend against competitors. If you market and don’t brand, you’re apt to struggle.

The funny thing is, the “ideas” I come up with are almost never mine. Sure I put the words together. I may even add some poetry. But the ideas come from others: from buyers, and sellers, and influencers. I’m actually just the curator. The prioritizer. I decide which idea best motivates selling and buying of a particular brand. The I organize under that idea, three proof planks to guide the way.

So when I say “What’s The Idea?” to a marketer, I’m not just branding, I’m asking a fundamental marketing question.

What is your brand idea?

Peace.

  

 

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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.        

Peace. 

 

 

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nfinity logo

Tate Chalk, the founder of footwear and apparel company Nfinity, has built a brand on par with Nike in the minds of teenage girls in the cheer community. He did so by understanding the morphology of women, i.e., feet, long bones, knees and hips, differs from that of boys. He and his designers built cheer shoes accordingly. “Shrink ‘em and pink ‘em” is what competitors did to sell girls footwear; not Mr. Chalk. His business has grown beyond cheer, using the same guiding principle.

I interviewed Mr. Chalk this week because I wanted a look inside his amazing social media program. He has done everything right. There were few surprises, but there was one left hook. It floored me.

Much of my brand planning work deals with the distillation of customer “care-abouts” and brand “good-ats.” Nfinity has a good handle on those. It has constructed its social media program around 7 core values. I can’t tip his hand, but “Rocky Balboa-ness” is one.  

Nfinity takes its deep, deep understanding of its target group, girls age 10-20, and celebrates it every day. Warts and all. The brand knows which buttons to push and which not to – making the brand real. Nfinity understands the highs and lows of the target as well as the drama. Nfinity also never forgets these kids are hardcore athletes.

Nfinity gets communications planning really well. Better than most big agency comms planners. Time-of-day, location, event, family time, hormones – all are drivers. Moreover, the social media program managers get the “digital two-step,” the mobile lifestyle that takes place 2 feet in front of the target’s noses. And a big plus, Nfinity spends money on production: new video technology, lighting, music, and well-heeled post production. Everyone talks about blocking and tackling in social media, few execute this well.

The Left Hook.

Mr. Chalk and the team of millennials running Nfinity’s program do not go to battle the same way across all social vehicles. They stay true to their core values but treat each platform as a different theater of brand expression. Without going too deeply into his approach, he explained:

“I might be a son, a father, a brother. I am one person but must use different voices in different situations.” While What’s The Idea? uses a framework of 1 claim and 3 proof planks and hits all these notes across touch points, Mr. Chalk gerrymanders his strategy by social media channel, letting the aggregate story convey the Nfinity value. This is nuance. This is smart. This is a company with serious social media chops. His followers agree.  

Peace.  

 

 

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