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The company Reputation Management has asked me to comment on how a brand can bounce back from poor online reviews.

I believe it’s best to leave them up. As hard and painful as it is, it’s “real world” online commerce. Not everyone is a super model. Not everyone bats .400. To err is human.  How you overcome quality or service problems dictates how you improve. If a product has flaws, fix them. Or acknowledge why they happen. When Chipotle made people sick, it acknowledged “farm to table” is not easy. Healthier is not easy. And they changed.

When Marmot, known for quality in winter gear, gets a bad review, it isn’t defensive, it works even harder to make better product.

Today, if an e-commerce site doesn’t have poor reviews people know it’s been cleaned.

Also, a strong brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks) is also a good way to maintain reputation.  Using an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging feeds the market the information it needs to understand your product. When care-about and good-ats align, brands are hard to tear down. When you simplify and strengthen your value, a few disorganized comments won’t hurt. They just make you real.



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I love the Marmot brand. I ski in Marmot, I sleep in Marmot, I do outdoors stuff in Marmot. I want to own more of it.  The gear is well-designed, engineered-to-the-max and good looking.  They’ve done a wonderful job with branding and marketing. (I have tend pole that bent, and it doesn’t even bother me. Why? Because Marmot is like family.)

Then, before the Super Bowl, I saw a Marmot teaser ad campaign and knew I wasn’t going to like. Super Sunday I saw the real thing.  It’s a Goodby, Silverstein and Partners spot, focusing around, you guessed it, a marmot. Were this toilet tissue or insurance, maybe. But cuddly talking Marmot? Oy. I can only imagine the 2 other campaigns the agency pitched to beat this one. It should never have been presented. Lazy ass trade craft. It is so unfitting of the brand.

I can just imagine the engineers in the goose down research center, breathing feathers all day, watching the game on TV with their friends. “A talking marmot, really?” No wonder advertising and marketing people have a bad name in engineering focused companies.

As a brand strategy guy and Marmot fan it was a sad day. Even if the spot tested off the charts with the teens and tweens – the next generation of buyers – it was a brand mistake. A 5 million dollar mistake. And that’s a lot of feathers.




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There is a digital marketing practice called retargeting through which advertisers, thanks to a cookie or pixel tracker, serves you an ad message based upon your previous web shopping.  If you shop online for a Marmot tent at REI and don’t buy, you may see Marmot tent ads for a few weeks or months on various other sites. The “re” in retargeting, in this case, refers to repetitive targeting. Insofar as moving a prospect closer to a sale, this approach is not that great. It’s a frequency play – not that there’s anything wrong with frequency. (Okay, there is a little bit wrong with frequency.  It’s noise.) 

Twitch Point Planning is a healthy evolution of the frequency model. It is intended solely to move consumers closer to a sale. The sales continuum is a fine thread that extends from not being aware to aware, then interested, desirous and finally purchaser. Retargeting efforts often attempt to hit consumers with a promotion but don’t spend a lot of time understanding the continuum.

Twitch Point Planning focuses on “understanding, mapping, and manipulating” customers closer to a sale. Understanding is the behavioral part. Mapping the media part. Manipulating the creative and creation part. Digital agencies are best equipped to do this, but often fall short in one or two of the three pursuits. The Droga5s, Barbarians and Anomalies of the world get it but haven’t yet codified the model (and compensation).

This is science people. Part chess, part art. It is the future of a fairly stagnant, though creative business.  Peace. 


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Is the channel dead? Which channel you say? The TV channel. The retail channel. The state channel through the Great South Bay due to Hurricane Sandy? (No, not that one. Ish.)  With Netflix amazing turn around and the growth of all access streaming TV services, one has to wonder if the TV channel will still be around in 10 years.  I don’t travel alot but when I do and try to find Justified while in another city, I have to channel surf the TV live like pig on a ruffle.  By the time I get there, if it’s even the right day, it might be partly over. All of which might be exacerbated by the fact that a commercial might be on when I do hit the channel — whichever it is TBS, USA, what evs.  In the age of Google, this is silly.

As for the retail channel. Amazon and Zappos and Marmot (I yike them) dot com are places to get the products I want, at prices I want, while sitting in my chair. So long as I’m programmed to shop in advance, it saves gas, time, stocking and availability issues and provides good consumer ratings systems. The brick and mortar retail channel has lost some luster. And bucks.

And communications channels are starting to blend together too. Videos are available from newspapers and radio shows available on blogs. Media will shake out and be more about content than the circuits and pipes delivering them.

How do we deal with this? How do we get ahead of this?  We create brands. Brand that transcend channels.  To a hammer everything looks like a nail, you say? Hee hee.

A frigid peace to you.


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