P&G

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Yesterday I tweeted about the OrderNet of Things. The phase is obviously borrowed from the Internet of Things, aka IoT. It refers to Amazon’s Dash Button. I thought the button was either named after the P&G detergent, but oops that’s Tide…not Dash. (Dash was discontinued in 1992. Brain fart). I also wondered if it was named after Anil Dash, the social media and technology commentator. Again, prob wrong.

dash button

No matter, the dash button is a little USB sized button, attached to the internet that allows one to replenish stores as quickly as Amazon can deliver. The Tide button can be affixed to the washing machine. The Pampers button to the baby’s diaper pail.

The OrderNet of Things – things being consumables — may be the killer app of the IoT.  Yet the big winner will be delivery services. Perhaps the U.S. Postal Service will make a comeback. Maybe Amazon will buy FedEx.

Groceries and consumable need to get into the house. One-at-a-time, these deliveries don’t make sense from an environmental stand point, but American’s love to push buttons. I see this as a cool fad. The idea to have an idea. It’s certain to be more of a luxury purchase until we figure out how to scale it, find economies and waste less gas. It’s still cool. The OrderNet of Things.

Peace.

 

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There’s a company here on Long Island named Hain Celestial.  Most know it for its line of teas. Today it is a consumer packaged goods company with wonderful focus. The result of wonderful leadership. The company sells many products in the natural and organic spaces. Space that are outperforming traditional food and drink by a full 10%.  Traditional (read not so good for you) food and beverages are growing 1%, while better for you are growing at 11%.

A spin-off of the craft economy is our attention to eating better.  Eating at home more, so as to better control foods that go into our bodies.  Less sodium. Less saturated fats. Less gov’t-subsidized high fructose corn syrup. Less genetically modified foods. It’s a movement, nee a spring.  A healthy food spring. (But God, I do love bacon.)

Hain Celestial is winning and spending and focusing on what a growing portion of the population wants. Better for you foods. As Irwin Simon, CEO of Hain said recently “Eating healthy is not a fad.”  

From a targeting point of view, those buying these products tend to be a little up market; able to afford the higher price point.  And this doesn’t bode well for lower income communities. Nutrition will and should be a building block of the Affordable Care Act. And of education reform.  And what grandmas pass down through the generations. Poor nutrition fuels the high cost of care in America.  

Keep an eye on Hain Celestial products.  This company will be the healthy P&G in a few years. Bank it. Peace.  

 

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Ask me the title of the book I’m reading and you’ll mostly get  “I nah know.”  Ask me the name of the bespectacled, nerdy character from TV show Revolution. “Sorry.”  But ask the most important thing told to me by the head of marketing at Kinney Drugs in 2008 while planning on a protein drink and not only will I recite the sentence, I’ll build a new store around it.

I once got a meeting with MT Carney, an original partner at Naked Comms, by telling her I have a good ear…that I hear things other don’t.  Like the dog that hears abba dabba do abba dabba do Wannagofor a WALK?

This is no curse, it’s a blessing.  It was born, not of an account planning manual from the UK, or a year of quant in the research dept. at P&G, it was born of the crucible that is advertising.  Studying how it’s make, its results and consumer attitudes toward it. (Okay, throw in some amazing anthropology instruction at Rollins College and seeing Margaret Mead at the annual convention. )

The mind of a planner sorts, compartmentalizes, after seeing and hearing everything.  It is always on. That’s why we smile a lot.  We’re the sober dudes and dudettes smiling on the street when there’s no reason.

Lastly, we are not horders.  We remember the important stuff – the big stuff – but we know what to keep. To act upon.  To celebrate. Then we make the paper. For some sample paper in your category, please give a call. Peace.

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Not too long ago I wrote a brand brief for a young woman with an artisanal cookie company.  The company will remain nameless since every brand strategy is a business-winning pursuit. Part of the promise of these absolutely delicious cookies is their all natural ingredients.  No preservatives. No additives for color or taste…just natural stuff, sourced from wholesome places.

One of the negatives associated with all natural though, especially when it comes to cookies and other baked goods, is that they tend toward the dry. After years of those foil-wrappered rectangular health bars, many people get a dry-mouth reflex just thinking about health bars. So one of the planks for this brand of cookies is moisture.  It’s as much a visual plank as a message plank. If a hand held cookie isn’t flexing in a picture (drooping wouldn’t be good), it should not be shown.  If a paragraph of copy block doesn’t include a reference to the science of moisture, usually tied to coconut oil, the next one should.

Brand plan planks can take on many forms and “moisture” isn’t one P&G might use, but in this category it’s a context breaker. To my cookie making friend I say “keep those natural cookies pristine and tasty – and make sure your art and copy teams stay away from all things dry.” Humor excluded. And please remember cookie responsibly. Peace.

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I love making predictions.  When I started disagreeing with Barry Judge, CMO of Best Buy, a few years ago about marketing and brand management, implicit in that disagreement was that Best Buy would have earnings troubles. You see, Mr. Judge jumped on the pop marketing band wagon proclaiming “companies don’t own brands, consumers do.”  My response was this view was lazy and opened the door for disorganized brand management. Even a number of P&G digitists were agreeing with this fallacious notion.

Best Buy’s net income is down 30% this quarter, all due to price cutting.  If your name is Best Buy and you ask customers what they want they’ll say “coupons and low prices.” If you don’t create another value for your customers they default to price.  And when customers default to price you’re not marketing, you’re simply selling.

Mr. Judge and his army of Twelpforcers and sales assistants needed a plan. They were in the right neighborhood (providing assistance), but bounding about without a motivation.  Had they a plan, had someone at the top managed the brand rather than turned it over to the masses, Best Buy would be killing it now as we slide step out of recession. 

The good news for Mr. Judge is it’s not too late to fix this thing. He has more data, more inputs and more mindshare than he knows what to do with.  If he organizes his house with some serious brand management chops, next year Best Buy won’t be covering up price tags to fend off the smartphone price scanner apps, they’ll be smiling with gold teeth. Peace.

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Do you know what is driving all the “free” on the Web?  Marketing. Not just advertising but marketing.  Why is Facebook so valuable?  Why does Google have more money than Allah? Where’s that money coming from?  Yep, Toyota and P&G and Verizon.

And as we glance beyond the dashboard at the future and see, as the iPad commercial puts it, newspapers with videos and magazines that sing, we see a world in which the Web and mobile devices are the primary instruments of marketers. The devices know what we like and where we are.  They know when we are sleeping. They know when we’re awake. Dare say, they know when we’ve been bad or good.

As the social web evolves and the big ad and marketing shops learn how to “map and manipulate”, it will become more apparent that people with influence are the drivers of marketing.  Kim Kardashian, for instance, earns $30,000 for a tweet.  To a tech start-up a Robert Scoble endorsement can mean the difference between being funded and being fun dead. So where am I going with this?  To Klout.

Klout is the new online oxy. It’s a drug…and more and more Posters will be talking about it. The Klout score will identify those people who advertisers want to target. And revere.  High Klout scores and predictions thereof will be the things around which ad agencies develop departments. Klout is on to something and they know it.  Get it right dudes and dudettes. And get it right soon before a competitors snaps it up. Peace!

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Here’s a marketing dashboard for you: A daily view of money coming in and a daily view of money going out.  As they say on the Long Island Rail Road “Please watch the gap.”  Cursor over the money coming in and it should be able to show drop downs of the various expenses by category. Cursor over the money going out, the same.  If you can’t parse the ins and outs by day, look at the data by week or in three week rolling averages. That’s Da Monies.

Factors Influencing Revenue.

Money going in and out is a nice start but tying actual tactics and events to spikes and dips is what is exciting.  Pumping GRPs of TV into the market should create revenue lift.  Promotions the same.  A big bad news story in St. Louis might create a dip. As might a poor earnings reports.  Careful monitoring and modulation of marketing dollars, based on a game plan and strategy, introduces a higher level of accountability to marketing. But it’s not often happening.  In healthcare, there are chief quality officers, who own the data.  When physician mistakes are up or when hospital born infections trend high, the average patient discharge rate slows down. Where is this type oversight in marketing? With the CMO?

The Opportunity.

I’m sure P&G has some dashboard jockeys.  One of them will be a millionaire soon if s/he figures out a marketing dashboard application that ties Da Monies to the marketing.  With precision. Elegance. And with standardization.  Coming to an iPhone near you. Peace!

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In Charlene Li’s new book Open Leadership (which I have not yet read, but will), one of the premises is that leaders who really listen to customers are the most informed and prepared to deal with business issues. Because of social media’s prevalence and importance, this notion suggests that leaders who use the new listening channel (the web) are better leaders.  Good advice, for sure.  Those who know the name Andy Grove may remember that the first thing he did every morning upon hitting the office was to listen in on random customer service calls to his 800 number.   It was old school technology, but it was listening.  That’s why Intel succeeded.

General Motors (GM) brand managers and its ad agency strategists at Goodby Silverstein and Partners have decided to stop using the word Chevy in favor of the full, formal name Chevrolet.  This is a strong brand management move. I yike it, as my daughter used to say. I don’t know the Chevrolet strategy, but can imagine this nomenclature move is intended to imbue the brand with a little more up-market sensibility. As GM nameplates are jettisoned, Chevrolet will be attempting to win over consumers who once bought pricier Oldsmobiles, Hummers, Pontiacs and such. Consumers will still say Chevy, but the people managing the brand will polish it with a finer cloth. They are exercising control. They are leading.

Pop marketing pundits are telling us consumers own the brand.  Even the youthfully exuberant at P&G and others wielding great budget power are saying so. But if we cede control of marketing, strategy and leadership to the masses, we are being lazy. Listen yes…but lead. Peace!

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