Category Archives: Brand Position

Why March Madness and Vasectomies are a Perfect Match

When an idea speaks to its audience so clearly, it catches your attention.

It doesn’t have to come from an international ad agency or global ideation company.  In fact, an idea that resonates with its audience can come from anywhere.

Case in point: The VAS MADNESS promotion from The Urology Team in Austin, TX. They have extended their hours during March to encourage men who may be considering a vasectomy to do it during the NCAA’s March Madness so they can recover while watching basketball all weekend.

While the creative execution might be lacking, you can’t argue with the idea.  The number of men looking for any excuse to sit and watch basketball all weekend is significant.  The Urology Team just tapped into that desire and gave men who were considering the procedure a reason to have it now.

With so many ways to tap into your audience like social media, surveys, blogs, forums and good old-fashioned conversations, I am sure there are many ideas that you can develop to connect with your customer base.

Who knows – maybe it will come to you during March Madness.

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Is Your Brand Indispensable?

Two years ago, who would have thought Coke and Energizer could ever be cast aside by retailers?

Well – it’s happening.

Costco recently announced it was no longer selling Coca-Cola products as a result of a price battle.  CVS is dropping most Energizer products and will only carry Duracell and its private label.     Following this trend, Wal-Mart continues to move towards its product mix goal of one top brand, one value brand and its private label.

Costco is betting people will continue to come to Costco and buy alternatives to Coke.  CVS has used its customer shopping data to predict a minimal sales drop if they no longer sell Energizer.

What should all businesses take away from this?

Few brands are indispensable to the customer. In fact, you know your customers could find a pretty good alternative if you were no longer in business.

So what can you do to become as close to indispensable as possible?

Know your customers

  • Why do they choose to buy your product/service?
  • What do you offer them that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • Why do they buy from your competitors if you aren’t available?
  • What do your competitors offer that you don’t?
  • How are they using your product or service?
  • How do they use your competitor’s product or service?

(These questions can be easily answered through one-on-one interviews and quantified through online research.)

Know your competition

  • What are they offering that you don’t?
  • What makes them unique in the market?
  • Do they partner with other companies?

Upon learning about your customers, develop service offerings that they can only get from your company.  Some ideas could be:

  • Guarantees
  • Special hours
  • Rewards programs
  • Loyal customer specials
  • Packaged service offering
  • Something extra every time they do business with you (for example, a local Chinese restaurant gives you an extra appetizer as their way of saying thank you)

Why no mention of lowering prices on these lists? Making your brand indispensable is not about price; it is about creating value that your audience can not receive anywhere else.

How are you creating value to make your brand indispensable?

Post your comments so others can learn from what you are doing.

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Filed under Brand Position, Competition, Marketing ROI

The Elevator Pitch Revisited

The past few weeks I have been involved in many conversations regarding the perfect elevator pitch.  In each conversation I’ve challenged people to evolve their idea of an elevator pitch to fit in with today’s technology.  This requires keeping their pitch to 140 characters required by Twitter or the 70 characters allowed by Google AdWords.

To that end I am reposting this blog entry from January of this year.

about_logoGoogle AdWords are those “sponsored links” in the right hand column on any Google search results page.  While we’ll discuss these further another time, these are cost per click ads that are placed by a company to get your attention based on your search terms.

When using Google AdWords as a marketing tool, the challenge is communicating your point of difference in 70 characters (including spaces).  This limited amount of space also needs to motivate the audience to take action.  Just like your elevator pitch.  This got me thinking- are Google AdWords this generation’s version of the elevator pitch?

Could you differentiate your company in 70 characters?    It’s not easy.  Luckily for me it only required a 35% reduction in characters bringing my AdWords pitch to “We increase your marketing return without increasing your investment”.

There is a sales adage that says know when to stop talking.  That same advice can be said about your AdWords pitch.  Make it relevant, distinct, motivating and to the point – 70 characters will force you to do just that.  Then once you’ve said your pitch, let your audience strike up the conversation to find out more.  If they don’t want to learn more then maybe your pitch isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

If it isn’t please refer to our previous entries – Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch and Who’s On First?

So see if you can get your AdWords pitch down to 70 characters.  Doing so is just another way to market smarter.

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Filed under Brand Position, Elevator Pitch

Never Contradict Your Brand

jm-fat-burneAs an exercise boot camp instructor, my guilty pleasure is NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  I appreciate the no-nonsense approach to weight loss:

  • Burn More Calories Than You Consume
  • Make Good Food Choices and Eat In Small Portions

So I was surprised to find Jillian Michaels – an extremely tough-minded trainer who thrives on reminding her trainees that there are no shortcuts to weight loss – lending her name to sell fat burning and weight loss supplements.
Doing so not only contradicts her brand; it also contradicts the Biggest Loser brand. Not surprising, as companies often contradict their brands.
For years The Home Depot swore it would never have sale prices because they always offered the lowest price.  Even before the economic downturn, they began offering sale prices instead of sticking with brand position as the lowest price provider.
Comcast promotes increased efficiency with the speed of their Internet service.  You can hear this promotional message at least 25 times as you sit on hold waiting to talk with a customer service rep.
A former client of mine wanted to be known for operational efficiency, but regularly invoiced their customers incorrectly.
Your brand is the combination of many things:

  • The customer experience with every touch point with your company
  • Marketing
  • Office/retail space
  • Packaging
  • Customer reviews
  • Web Site/Social Media presence
  • Invoicing
  • On-Hold Time/Messages
  • Guarantees/Return Policies

When managing your brand you need to evaluate your entire operation to make sure your message is communicated consistently. Any contradiction can begin to erode your brand without you even knowing.

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Don’t Get Lost In The Words

1191600_lost_in_wordsToo many times great ideas go undiscovered because they are not communicated well.

Think about your web site.  Are you so worried about search engine optimization and loading your content with key words that your company’s point of difference is lost in the words?

I spend a lot of time with clients helping them hone their unique point of difference, only to watch it get lost when they try to communicate it through their web site, blogs, brochures and other forms of communications.

So how do you ensure your ideas are communicated in a way that makes them stand out?

  1. Edit – a good idea should be able to stand on its own, so keep copy simple and direct
  2. Share – have uninvolved parties who will give you honest feedback read your communications to make sure your point is expressed well
  3. Hand-Off – if you are not a strong writer, find someone who is and have them write or at least edit your content

SHAMELESS PLUG:

In an effort to help clients enhance their communications tools, I have expanded M is for Marketing’s services to include editing and writing services.  I call the service Idea Assurance – helping ensure your idea is communicated as you intended.

We are having a new service special in which we will edit 10 pages of web copy for $475.

Clear, concise communication is as important as the idea itself.  Take your time when writing; it will help position your company more effectively.

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Filed under Good Communications

Customer Service Doesn’t End – Part 2

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Last week I wrote about the importance of having your employees positively represent your brand – even if they are on break.  I highlighted a negative experience I had at Starbucks with some employees on break who decided to smoke near patrons when an alternative was available.

Yesterday I had an interesting experience with another popular brand, one that provided a nice counterpoint to last week’s topic.

I was at a neighborhood CVS yesterday when I approached the check-out line at the same time as a Best Buy employee (though nowhere near a Best Buy) who immediately let me take the place at the front of the line.

When another register opened, that same person let someone else go ahead to the register.

Those small gestures made me feel good about Best Buy and has me thinking about Best Buy in a positive light.

It’s amazing what a positive experience — even an unrelated one — can have on your brand.

Remember, your employees are always representing your brand.

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Filed under Brand Position, Customer Marketing

Customer Service Doesn’t End – Even On Break

imagesEmployees are always representing your brand as long as they have on your uniform or are at your place of work. They play the most important role in creating a brand experience that is consistent with how you want your brand to be perceived.

One company that works hard to manage its brand is Starbucks.  One key element of the Starbucks brand is creating an environment in which its patrons can enjoy coffee.

Imagine my surprise when two Starbucks employees took their break to have a cigarette, and instead of sitting on the side of the patio in which no one was sitting – and smoking was allowed – they decided to sit near myself and other patrons.

I am not sure what offended me more – the smoke or the ignorance of these employees about the message they were sending to customers at a time when Starbucks is struggling to keep its customers.

Being a marketer and brand advocate, I decided it was the latter.

When your employees interact with the public, they are your brand.  If your truck cuts someone off the road, the person you cut off will remember.  If an employee spits gum on the ground before walking in for their shift – the customer will remember.

Branding starts at home so make sure your employees understand their role in making your brand and your business a success.

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Filed under Brand Position, Customer Marketing