Marketing and the Competition

Marketing and the Competition

Marketing professionals look in the mirror and have reflections filled with angst over their competition. They watch with great anticipation to see what they will do next, how they respond to market changes and they get obsessed about how they price their products. Of course, a deep understanding of competition matters, but it rarely solves the most critical challenge marketers face. How can we be true to who we are? Worrying about competition means that you are always in comparison mode with others. They add a new SKU, so you add one. They sell through a new channel, so you feel compelled to do the same. And while you are copying and pasting what they do, brands that are followers often lose their way. Family Vacation as Metaphor A simple metaphor is the family vacation. You would never look at the holidays your neighbors take and say, I want to do what they are doing. Your kids may hate Disney World and prefer to go camping. Just because a family down the block took their kids to Europe, it may not be the adventure you want for your children. As a family, you want to give your children an experience that you and your spouse feel will give them a chance to get away and to open their eyes to a new experience. You want the vacation to resonate with everyone and be authentic to your family, not the neighbors.  If you are copying your neighbors, you aren’t in tune with what matters to you and your family. The same is true for brands and businesses.  Competition and Marketing...
Owner’s Care

Owner’s Care

For more than twenty years, I have been getting my haircut at the same place not far from my home. Lindsay, who cuts my hair today is both talented and a pleasure to connect with every six weeks. She knows how I like my haircut and we always talk about food, cooking, and family. As I was leaving to pay, I asked the receptionist if I could schedule my appointments online. It would be so convenient to do, and I can avoid the typical 5-minute wait that happens every time I call. She, along with her co-worker told me that you can schedule online, but you have to pay upfront, and sometimes it doesn’t work right, and you can’t schedule an appointment for a men’s haircut versus a women’s cut. Wait, what? So I went online and found a confusing, complicated form that didn’t work. Ridiculous. In today’s world, this should be simple and second nature. I emailed the owner through his online form, and 10 minutes later he reached out to apologize. Wow, we screwed up, I’ll get this fixed. Thanks for letting me know it didn’t work. Owners Care As an owner, you always care more than your staff. It is your business. You will always care more than most employees.  The receptionist who I spoke to probably figured — NMJ. (not my job). She didn’t say, let me get your phone number or email and I’ll speak to the owner, we will figure it out and I’ll let you know when it is fixed. The two receptionist acted like – gee, it is kind of screwed...
The Power of a Trailer for Brands

The Power of a Trailer for Brands

Marketing requires energy, excitement, and teasing. The movie industry understands this better than most and has used trailers to help gain awareness and anticipation. Marketers don’t often think like Hollywood, and they are missing an important tactic. Almost a third of all consumers who see a trailer say they are likely to watch a movie. Imagine brands getting that much interest. Trailers can easily be shared and are an apt format for putting fuel into the tank of many marketing campaigns. They can evoke and provoke intense emotion and can bring heightened engagement and awareness. Trailers turn brands into experiences. Two Branded Trailers Web of Fries Taco Bell recently launched a trailer campaign that felt like a movie but was all about Taco Bell’s nacho fries and cheese dipping sauce. With Josh Duhamel starring in the trailer, he investigates why there haven’t been French fries at Taco Bell. His “trailer” daughter asks why they are no fries and it leads him to examine coverups, clowns, and food-based espionage. The ads will run on TV but also in theatres and on social media channels. Watch the trailer here.   Robert Graham and the Fake Car Movie Trailer In March 2016, a four-minute trailer was created for fashion brand Robert Graham to help raise awareness and to develop the brands. Using real actors like Juliette Lewis and Vincent Kartheiser, the fake trailer promoted the idea of breaking the second sound barrier which is a speed beyond the limits of the sound barrier. Grahams brand wanted an association with an exhilarating and exciting lifestyle and pure happiness and whimsy. Watch this trailer here....
What is your Word?

What is your Word?

Over coffee, a colleague was sharing a story of a recent marketing experience. A recent campaign failed, and everyone was licking their wounds wondering what went wrong. I asked for their word. Jonathan didn’t know what I meant. What word is the center of the core of your brand essence? Authentic. We are an authentic company, with a passion for being real, not something we aren’t. As we looked at his marketing campaign that consisted of a series of ads, he realized that his ads were almost the opposite of his word. In fact, when he considered his “word,” the problem became clear. Their new campaign was fashionable and on trend with what others were doing in their industry. The problem, however, it wasn’t who they aspire to become.  Brand Essence Most brands have one word that defines the core of what you stand for, who you are and what you promise. It is a word that should be used to filter every activity. A relaxed brand acts a very specific way and every touchpoint with customers should be chill, easy going and flexible in action. The brand is jeans not a suit. It is an untucked shirt, not a formal look. Every touch needs the look, feel and smell of relaxed. If you are a rebellious brand filled with irreverence, you better live that in everything you do from your t-shirts to your website to your events. Every touch is imbued with an anti-establishment tone. Your word is the playing field where you can take your brand out to exercise her muscles. In my corporate days working on...
How Do You Know?

How Do You Know?

I don’t like repeating myself, but sometimes it is necessary. Consultants from all disciplines need to conduct discovery sessions to help them understand the challenges a company faces. Through open-ended questions, insights can emerge the will help define the problem to be solved. On a recent assignment, I found that I repeated the same question over and over again. How do you know this? What emerged from various interview sessions was my client repeating the phrase, I just know. It always works this way. Discovery Tells Us About Tomorrow  When you are doing a marketing, financial or operational discovery session, you want to understand the context of the past, but more importantly is how to anticipate what is coming tomorrow. How do you know that the customer’s you have been selling to aren’t buying less because their world has experienced disruption? How do you know if the choices and options your customer has had for the last ten years have changed so much that you are no longer top of mind? How do you know that the people you view as competitors aren’t the only people going after your customer’s dollar? Business teams need to challenge themselves and find ways to understand a buyer’s motivation. And, you can’t rely on history as predictive of any future behavior. Just because the old locomotive train arrived in your small town for 20 years at 10:32 am, doesn’t mean the new high-speed rail will follow the same rules. Could your business use a discovery session to help define the essence of the challenges you face? Are you too close to your business...
Chewing on a Clever Tactic

Chewing on a Clever Tactic

As the winery executive walked down the Unified tradeshow aisle, she stopped, looked at a banner sign with a headline and declared, “that’s my problem.” The sign said, BREAK YOUR EXCEL HABIT. My client, Business Impact from Chapel Hill, NC consists of a team of data artisans who reimagine how companies can access data. Instead of Excel® spreadsheets everywhere, they eliminate Excel by replacing data with warehouses filled with information and then making the data available at client’s fingertips. When a comptroller from a larger winery passed by their booth at The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, our message resonated with her because my client and I have been listening carefully to understand a pain point. Over the last six months, we have worked together on a variety of marketing projects, but getting the right message was critical. After listening to hours of client interviews and testimonials, I kept hearing, in different words, that this customer had been overly reliant on Excel before Business Impact appeared. Strategy First – but Tactics can be Sticky The image that came to my mind was that we needed to create a nicotine patch to help break their addiction. Through discussions with my client and my partners at The Marketing Machine, we came up with a simple message but put it on a pack of chewing gum (think Nicotine gum instead of a Nicotine patch). Our various communications activities were well written, designed and did a great job of delivering our message. But the little pack of gum that we handed out helped to reinforce our message in a fun, playful way. This...