redistributing marketing wealth

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My LinkedIn profile lists me as a Brand Strategist.  That’s the “Is” of my Is-Does. As for the “Does” I say “Redistributor of marketing wealth.” 

I use redistributor of marketing wealth rather than redistributor of business wealth because one can redistribute business wealth by buying a company.  That’s business and finance, not marketing. Marketing is about product, demand creation, competitive positioning and sales.

“Redistributing” is an interesting choice of words because it does not include creating new wealth. Or incremental wealth.  If L’Oreal doubled the hair color market by getting men to color that would be new wealth. Not redistributed wealth.  Coming up with a new product or service category would also not be included in redistributing wealth. Or would it?

Someone smart once told me the money spent on your product has to come from somewhere. Airlines took train revenue. That’s a redistribution for sure.

What’s your professional Is-Does?



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Innovation in product and service marketing has redistributed wealth for ages. Yet one area where innovation has completely stagnated is messaging. The ads and sales copy developed in the 1880s by Lord and Thomas are the same as today.  Words like “sale, quality, buy, and new” were commonly used then and now.

Why can’t we innovate the message? Sure, we can sing it, animate it, give it life with video. And tomorrow we’ll add more dimension and experiential verve with virtual reality.  But the real innovation in messaging will not be in copy, art or delivery but in how we craft behavioral cognition.  Rather than tell someone what to do, we need to help them conclude they want to do it. Make if feel more like their choice. Facilitate and stimulate the behavior.

The old AIDA principle of selling: awareness, interest, desire and action is still a valid construct. Yet most messaging today concerns itself only with the last step action.  Innovations like Twitch Point Planning and other customer journey approaches account for all steps to a sale. Let’s court our consumers appropriately.




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I often wonder if the targets for my business truly understand what I do. Those targets, CMOs, directors of marketing and small and mid-size business owners, read “brand consultancy” and get the consultant part, but may not truly understand the depth of the word brand. Brand today is both a noun and a verb.  

Many think brand is a mark or logo. Something that, through design, helps consumers with product identity. The whole branded cattle history thing. For people who view brands this way a brand consultancy is all logo, name, style guide and, perhaps, tagline. When AT&T spun off Lucent in the 90s, the whole process, exquisitely implemented by the way, cost millions. A year later, the company had a new name, logo, building signs, stock symbol and ad campaign. But not a brand strategy. (Peter Kim’s “$14B tech startup” aside.)

The reality is, especially in today service economy, a brand is a living breathing thing. My definition of brand strategy as “an organizing principle for Product, Experience and Messaging.” Most of my targets understand this definition better. In fact, they are more apt to acknowledge needing and organizing principle that they are a brand strategy.  

So moving forward my mission it to educate my targets as to this new definition. It will be a long road but one I expect will redistribute marketing wealth in my direction. Onward.




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In advertising the real money maker is the creative. That’s what everyone talks about. That’s what marketers spend most of their money on. Creative creates most of the wealth in marketing and all of the wealth on the agencies side. The fuel for great creative is consumer insight. Notice I didn’t say insights. Lo, there are many insights to clog the mind of the brand or account planner. Many insights to confound the creative director or creative content builder.

mining tools

The role of the brand planner is to find a single insight that can be leveraged into a compelling selling proposition. Rosser Reeves can call it a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), Al Ries can call it positioning, any goober with a WordPress account can call it what they like (me included), but great creative doesn’t start until a single, powerful, clean insight is unearthed and frees the creative mind.

A powerful insight is pregnant with creative possibility. It can help organize an army of sellers. It can brainwash the tired huddled masses. It can launch an organizing principle that redistributes marketing wealth, unlike any TV commercial ever has. Apple’s 1984 included.

So you unsung insight miners take heart. Keep shoveling, mine till your fingers hurt, then cull, cull, cull until you find that emerald. It is so worth it.



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I favor the poetry inherent in good brand planning, so in various places on the web you may have seen some of my references to “redistributing marketing wealth.” Redistributing marketing wealth is a great calling if you can do it. It is one goal of great strategy. The only thing that trumps it is “creating new wealth.”  The most exciting work in marketing is not taking a market that currently exists, say a $2.4B market for nutrition drinks, and rejiggering it to get more share – though that is fun.  It’s taking a static market and growing it. Finding new uses, new custies, and new (I can’t think of a third thing)…  

That’s not redistributing marketing wealth, that’s creating new wealth. A smart boss at McCann once asked me, “Where will the money to pay for this product come from?” In other words what will someone not buy to pay for this product? Carbonated soft drink dollars are flowing into waters. So Coke owns both. Now Coke is getting into protein – another reapportionment. But what if Coke took money away from the gyms?  Or created a product that took consumer budget from the gas budget?

Rational consumers only have so much money to spend.  Figuring out how to get them to spend it with you is a planners MO. New money?  Or old money? That is a big planning  question.

Peace be upon you this Friday!     

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I enjoy coming up with ideas that, as an old mentor once suggested, create market discontinuities.  That’s 60s or 70s speak.  Today let’s just call it ideas the redistribute marketing wealth.  It was reported today that $69 billion was spent in the US last year on mobile phones. The lack of a security app to keep them from being stolen keeps this number high. An app that does so, will cut the market size number significantly. I mean, GDP of Rumania significantly. 

When consumers save money the market gets smaller – marketers don’t like that too much. Consumers do. And marketers who find ways to save the consumer money build loyalty. And I’m not just suggesting price savings and coupons…heavens no.

I’ve had  lot off ideas before their time and here’s a fun one. A Kindle Exchange.  I have a 100 books on my Kindle and they just sit there. My neighbor has a 100 books on her Kindle and they just sit there.  Using Sneaker Net, if I were to (ta dah) walk next store and exchange Kindles with her, I would have likely 50 new books for the price of some sneaker tread. If I were to search people of likemind and borrow their Kindles?  I might find some new writers and friends.

Why doesn’t Kindle come up with this idea?  You know why.  Why doesn’t the book publishers association? You know why.  Amazon, should introduce something like this and even if it  actually sells a few less Kindles it will bring more custies to Amazon love. Peace! 

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I’ve been interviewing a number of registered dieticians the last few days, all specialists in renal or kidney disease. A fascinating group. This country has about 20 million people with chronic kidney disease and I am guestimating about a half million of those are on dialysis.  

A typical marketer in need of a dialysis ad would call the ad agency in, perhaps invite a physician to brief them on disease and treatment.  Then the agency would go back to its office, do some budgeting, paperwork and layouts and return 2 weeks later with a picture of a sunset of blue sky and a pithy copy about how the future looks brighter with XYZ product.

What would a brand planner do? (What would I do?)

Having primed the pump by talking to the second, maybe first, line of defense for kidney patients – the dietician – I would like to do a DILO (day in the life of) od a dialysis patient. Anthropologists might call this a quickie ethnography.  Wake up in the patient’s house. See what breakfast is like.  Ask about dreams (Freud-like). Watch clothes selection. Find out who they call on the phone.  Probe feelings. Learn about professional support, caregiver relationships and insurance coverage. Plumb the highs and lows.  Listen to the dialog at dialysis check-in. Experience food and drug shopping. Talk meds. Vamp. Care.

In one full day, with his technique, a brand planner could craft an EFFIE winning ad strategy, a medical retailing strategy and a spending level that would redistribute marketing wealth. All in one day. Why are we not doing more or this? Peace.   

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Time Inc. is reducing its global workforce by 6%, effectively shrinking its news organization at a time when news is more extensive than ever.  There is more to report, more media to share, more interest and access. If you were to look at all news organizations I bet they’d be contracting. Well maybe not the HuffPost, but the total number if people in the business.  Why?  I suspect it is because of citizen journalism. Citizens find the news, shoot it on camera phones and send it to the highest bidder in seconds. And they blog it.

A similar contraction has been happening in the network TV business. TV viewership for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox is down relative to the population. What are those people doing?  They are not reading magazines (another story).  They are on the internech (pronounced neck). But, what are they doing and watching on the internet? Videos.  

In my marketing and brand consultancy, I promote myself as someone who help “redistribute marketing wealth.”  New technology and new trends (see above) redistribute content, functions and services. The airlines were not in the plane business, they were in the transportation business. As the calendar pages flip by, marketers need to not forget to ask themselves “What business am I in?” “What consumer purpose am I serving?” “What role do I play?”

That’s how to get beyond the dashboard.  That’s where the future at. Peace.

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I’m an idea farmer.  A strategic farmer.  I assess the ground, rid it of things that will hinder growth, and then I plant.  I search for the right kind of idea, make sure it’s clean and healthy, and put it into an environment where it can grow strong.  This is what many strategic planners do and where they often stop. 

Too often planners hand off the idea and let the elements take over.  But ideas need attention. And cultivation. Water and sunshine. They can handle some bad weather, it’s natural,  but this is not a “plant and go” business. There are ideas I have planted for corporations a decade ago that are still growing. Their root systems are strong. Long gone is my paper, but those roots are herculean.

There are lots of consultants and freelance planners bouncing around who are in it for the invoice. They plant the seeds and go farm elsewhere. Me, I like to stick around and watch what flowers and bears fruit. I like to use those grown nutrients to sustain additional growth. Strategic planners who seed an idea but don’t get involved with the deliverables – aiding other departments to bring the idea to life — are either poorly managed or cowardly.  Life is not easy for an idea farmer.

If you are in the business of redistributing marketing wealth, growing markets, you need someone who plants and cultivates. Peace!     

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