Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Power of Saying No

Sometimes, it's the best thing we can ever do.

There is something to being an exclusive. That's the power of focus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

By The Book

People often compare life to a book. Everyday you are writing a little bit of it. Let's assume this is true.

If your life is your story, then why live by the book. That only makes for a boring story that people have read before.

Spice up your book with curisoity, adventure, risks, generosity, family, independence and excitement.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Proper Follow Up

Personally, I believe a good post-sale follow up is one of the most effective marketing tactics anyone can use. That second sale is equally important to the first one and a good follow up goes a long way to earning that second sale.

However, there can be wrong way to follow up on your sale.

This week I took my car to the dealer because I received a recall notice from the manufacturer. I typically take my car there for service just because they send coupons for discount oil changes but I wouldn't say that I am overjoyed by their service- but it's at least serviceable.

Well, suddenly, this dealer became a BIG believer in a follow up. The following day I received a phone call from them asking me about my service. Nice, right? Unfortunately the delivery was not good. Their rep was made to read a horribly generic script, asking questions they should already know the answer to, such as, what type of car was it and why did you come in?

Follow this up with a generic email and a telephone recording and you become annoying not caring. Rather, show your customers care about your product them by following up with relevant, individual connections.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Innovation vs. Simplicity

When someone says the word innovation, what words or images come to mind? Technology. Computers. Internet. Speed. I think this is a good starting point because most have become wired to think about innovation this way in a technology driven world.

For instance, last night I was listening to a guy on television talk about innovation- how great it was, how the businesses that will survive are doing it etc. Unfortunately, as is the case with most "innovation people," he was not easiest to follow. He rambled on in industry speak- inputs, outputs, resources, the convergence of ideas, and that one day we can take over the world from our handheld- concepts that really mean nothing to the viewer.

I started to question his knowledge of true innovation. If he really understood innovation, why can't he explain it in a way everyone understands. His explanation needed some innovative revisions to simplify it for the person buying his product.

Then I thought, how often do a lot of these so called "innovations" truly simplify the lives of the user.

Let's say for instance you have a question for your bank so you call them up. The phone rings and you have to talk to a computer for a few minutes- press one for this, six for this, eight for this. But you were probably looking for something completely different. It's frustration not innovation.

Conversely, look at Google. They became the internet search leader in part because of innovation. Go to the MSN homepage. Then go to Google's. See the difference. Innovative, simple and user-friendly.

The same goes to Apple. When you first take your Mac computer home, setting it up is a bit different then setting up your new PC. It's simple and easy.

Just to prove that you can innovate in a non-tech industry, I'll mention McDonald's. Their new drive-thru is two lanes, both open all the time. it's not two lanes open at lunch and dinner the rest of the time the customer has to figure it out. It's easy for the consumer and it speeds up your wait.

If your business is truly going to innovate, you must have the customer in mind at all times. So the next time you hear innovation, the first thought to mind is simplify.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Little Details

I could do an entire blog about this but I won't- this posting will have to suffice. Your brand is judged on how it handles details. Period.

Ad campaigns and magazine/newspaper articles will get all the credit upstairs with management, but the consumer (that person who decides what your brand really is) is not fooled.

The devil is in the little details. The phrase is so old it's a cliche, yet for many even big details remain an afterthought. For example, this morning I had an appointment at 9:00 am. After a twenty-minute drive, I arrive to an empty parking lot and locked doors.

Ask yourself how well you are managing details. If you have clients, how often do you call to reschedule meetings? If you have a store, what does your parking lot and store front look like?

These details are your most convincing and impactful advertisement. And yet, because they don't reach 1000 people at one time they are usually overlooked.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More than Just Not Funny

When it came to creating commercials, Bud Light was King. Their ads were so good that a bunch of them became part of pop culture. My personal favorites are the "Real Men of Genius" ads.

Unfortunately, the brand seems to have lost a bit of it's magic. There new improved Drinkability 2.0 campaign-"Too light, too heavy" commercials leave much to be desire. They're not funny and unimaginative.

Normally, those ads don't do much for me and I just tune out but this ad caught my eye today. It depicts two guys training a dog to speak. However, it ends with a dog driving a car all over the road. For a beer ad! A car all over the road crashing into stuff...Is that really the image we want for a beer ad? Whether you take offense or not, the fact that someone could make the connection is reason enough for the idea to be on the cutting room floor.

The fact that this made it into millions of homes, despite the obvious drunk driving connection, is a clear sign that the marketing folks at Bud Light are lost in their ways.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SWA on the Money

I know I'm a bit late posting this, but I think everything about this commercial is great. Great purpose, great script.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HR Folks Need Marketing Lesson

HR folks, I know your job is tough. I know it's way more than just hiring and firing. It also involves employee benefits, payroll, worker complaints, and endless number of laws and mountains of paperwork. You definitely have a lot on your plate.

However, maybe you could spare a few minutes for a bit of a marketing lesson. Every time you don't return a phone it hurts your brand. Someone feels mistreated and they will not buy your goods, despite how excited they sound in their cover letter or interview.

In addition, you expect the candidate to take the time to write personalized letters and resumes, but you send back a very generic "thank you for your interest...we're going in another direction" letter or email.

While I have a shoebox full of generic letters and a head full names I vow not to forget, I say this as a marketer. Candidates take enough of an interest in your brand to say "Yeah, I'd love to work there" so chances are there is the potential for customer behind that resume.

For your brand's sake it's time to put the human back in human resources. A bridge burns both ways and it won't help your brand by being the bully.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I will be honest. I don’t like salesmen. It’s not that I don’t like them personally but it’s there job I don’t like.

I think most people agree that don’t like being sold to. We love to buy, but just don't sell us. As consumers we are most comfortable buying products that we buy our own terms.

How often are you contacted by a salesmen with the world's most amazing new product or service that you never heard of before?

Salesmen are everywhere making their boring calls everyday. My thinking is, if I have to be talked into buying something, I must have never wanted it. I live fine without it.

So, how would these sales hungry men and women spend their day if people woke up wanting to buy what their selling? No convincing necessary.

The answer: they would be branding.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Knowing your market

A couple days ago I began rereading the book that started it all for me, "The Origin of Brands" by Al and Laura Ries. I pulled this important lesson from first couple chapters and summarized it for the good of humanity.

A common question that people ask when discussing a brand is how big is the market the product or service. Most managers, even the best marketing managers and advertising directors will rattle off a long list of numbers and percentages that will all sound very impressive.

However, the best brands will all have the same answer- zero. That is because they don't think about "markets." Rather they think in terms of categories and owning a category in the mind. To these brands, being first in the mind is crucial. This is brand leadership.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. What was the cola market 123 years ago before it was invented? Zero, no one knew what cola was. They created the market, were able to maintain it and are still the brand leader.

The true leaders will always think about the marketplace how it could be, and not how it currently is.