Tag Archives: Brand Position

Don’t Drive Angry.

In honor of Groundhog Day and one of my favorite movies by the same name, I wanted to recall a blog post from a little over a year ago regarding the elusive elevator speech.  It continues to be a hot topic with many of my clients and networking groups.  While getting it right takes work, once it is done it can make the difference of whether or not you get your foot in the door.

Originally Posted January 5, 2009

I am often amazed that even in the smallest companies discrepancies exist between how employees convey the company story.  And if you can’t get your story straight, you can’t expect customers to truly understand what you do.

So what to do.

Have all your employees memorize your mission statement?  I have seen it done and it doesn’t work.

Create the perfect elevator pitch* and print it on the back of their business cards? The elevator pitch is a good start, but if it feels rote, it won’t be believable.

The answer – create that elevator pitch, but help your employees make it their own.  Help them internalize the idea you set forth for your brand and let them express it in their own way.  That way it is delivered with conviction.

*Your elevator pitch is the 10 – 15 second description of why someone should hire your company.  If you don’t have one, creating one should be a priority.

To see where you stand, conduct a simple exercise.

  1. Write down what you think is your elevator pitch.
  2. Have everyone write down what they think is your elevator pitch.
  3. Analyze the findings to see if everyone is on the same page.  Be honest and do not infer what people mean to say.
  4. If everyone is on the same page, great.  If not, you have a starting point to see what needs to be fixed.
  5. If the differences are significant try to identify trends.  Do the customer-facing people describe your company one way, and the back office another?  Do your long-time employees have a different perspective than your newer employees?
  6. Honestly assess the findings and determine if your elevator pitch is the best one or does a better solution exist.
  7. Present the final elevator pitch to your employees and have them write down what it means to them.  Doing so will help them internalize the pitch so they can it with conviction.

With any branding activity, it does require monitoring.

Every six months ask your employees if they think the elevator pitch is still relevant to your audience.  This is a non-threatening way to get their input and to ensure they know how important it is to you.

If things begin to stray repeat the exercise outlined above.

What is your elevator speech?  Help each other out by posting your in the comments section.


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Filed under Elevator Pitch

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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Filed under Brand Position

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


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


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.


Filed under Brand Position, Customer Marketing

Rooms To Go and BrandsMart Co-Habitate

Ca$h for CouchesSince Ca$h for Couches didn’t have the right cache Rooms To Go (a value furniture retailer) and BrandsMart (a value electronics retailer) recently launched a co-promotion where your purchase at Rooms To Go gets you a gift card to BrandsMart and vice-versa.

Both companies saw an opportunity to tap into each other’s brand equity and similar target audience to create an incentive for customers to buy – which is difficult as people continue to keep their wallets shut.

Instead of giving people money to purchase new furniture ala Cash for Clunkers, Rooms To Go and BrandsMart provided people the opportunity to finish a room via a new computer to go with that new office desk or a new kitchen set to complemented by a new refrigerator.

Like these two retailers, most businesses can benefit from an alliance, the key is selecting the right one.

When choosing a company to align with ask these questions:

  • Do you have complementary products/services?
  • Do you share a similar audience?
  • Are your brands in sync? (i.e. are you both value brands or luxury brands)
  • Do you service the same geographic area?
  • Does the complementary brand benefit your brand?
  • Is the revenue potential equitable?

Once you have decided to align and share customers remember these steps I published in my December 1, 2008 entry regarding Sharing Customers.

1. Reputation – Make sure the company you partner with has a reputation you want to be associated with.

2. Courtesy – Let the company you are partnering with make the introduction to their customers and vice-versa.  It’s just good customer etiquette.

3. Incentive – Provide an exclusive offer to these new customers to encourage them to try your services.

4. Recognition – If you are going to market directly to their customers, make sure you merge your customer information so you don’t market to their customers who may also be your customers.

5. Tracking – Make sure you are able to track which new customers come from their customer base so you know if the partnership is equitable.

Now is the time to be creative, take risks and try new things in the name of business, however, when you do, make sure you stay true to your brand.

Following the steps outlined here will help you do that.

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Filed under Marketing Tactics

Using Your Brand To Make Decisions

yardstickWhat role does your brand play in making decisions about your business?

Using your brand to help make decisions is critical to keeping your brand relevant and consistent.

Bonnie Hammer, USA Network’s CEO, uses her “brand filter” to help her determine which shows to greenlight. USA Network’s tagline is “characters welcome” so every show must have strong characters that will connect with their audience.

According to a recent Newsweek article, “when considering scripts, Hammer and her team ask a routinized series of questions: Does the show have a fun sensibility? Does it have a “blue sky” tone of hopefulness? Does it revolve around an “aspirational,” if quirky, lead character with a moral and ethical center? Potential shows are scored based on how closely they match these dictates; only high scorers make it on air.”

So how do you create your own “brand filter”?

  • Have a strong understanding of your brand promise (that expectation you set whenever someone comes in contact with your brand).
  • Create and manage your brand personality.  For example, Burger King created a subservient chicken website that reflects their edgy and cool image; in contrast, Chick-Fil-A, known for family values, hosts “dress like a cow” day instead.
  • Review all of your marketing touchpoints to ensure they fulfill the brand promise and are delivered in a way that expresses your brand personality.
  • Analyze any marketing opportunities (remember, everything is a marketing opportunity) against your brand promise and brand personality.  For example, you aren’t going to find USA airing I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here any time soon.

Following these four steps will make it easier to make marketing decisions, enhance your brand and ultimately your business.

If your brand promise and personality are in order, you are ahead of the game.  If not, what are you waiting for?  Doing so will pay dividends.


Filed under Brand Position