Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A "Nook" to go with my "Zune"

Arguably the best marketing campaign of all time was Coca-Cola's "It's the real thing" campaign. It reinforced the idea in the consumer's mind that Pepsi is a copy cat of Coke, the cola leader.

Today the marketplace is filled with leading brand's (the real thing's) and copy cat also-ran products.

Obviously, you want to be a leader brand. Or I thought it was obvious.

Yesterday I stopped in Barnes & Noble to check out a book and look around. As soon as I got both feet in the doors I noticed a gigantic display for a new Barnes and Noble product called the "Nook."

Aside from a terrible name, what is a nook?

It's Barnes and Noble's version of the Kindle (Amazon) that is essiantially an ipod for reading.

Or just another also-ran product.

And this isn't the first time Barnes and Noble, a bookstore pioneer, copied Amazon. They created after took off and was already known as the leader in online book retailing. Did this move pay off? They have yet to overtake the world's largest bookstore in online sales and have hurt their physical store brand in the process.

Revenues have fallen over last five quarters and profits have dipped for the last seven.

If they want to turn that around they should refocus on their core brand; actual bookstores.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I absolutely hate clutter. I always keep things neat, organized and in the same places (or close to the same). Whether it's just for peace of mind or it's truly more efficient, there is something about it that I like.

Marketing should be no different. There is too much clutter; and not just from the competition.

Several marketers bombard prospects with all the reasons they can think of to get you to choose them. Thus rendering their own messages useless.

Want a more efficient message? Focus. Give us one good reason why.

Then your "marketing communications" will actually reinforce your "market position."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marketing 101: For NBC's Jeff Zucker

As an incredibly astute reader, you're aware of mess incredible mess NBC has created with it's late night lineup.

The man who is largely responsible for the mess is Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal. What kind of idiot is this guy?

Well, he is a graduate of Havard University with a B.A. in American History and is a journalism lifer; working as editor of the Crimson in college and then moving to a research post at NBC in 1986. He moved on to become the producer of The Today Show, then becoming President of NBC Entertainment and eventually up the ranks to CEO.

Too bad he didn't have a background in marketing. This mess probably would not happen?

For example, smart marketers know that successful brands take time to build. You cannot make drastic changes and pull the plug after a few months.

Marketer's also value consistency and continuity. Now, instead of making big changes once, they will have to make three...and probably more.

And simplicity. NBC's old schedule was simple. Local News. Then Jay for an hour. Then Conan for an hour. It was nice and easy. That is certainly no longer the case.

Lastly, NBC lacks focus. They have four different late night talk shows that span from 10 p.m. to after 2 a.m. Something to mildly satisfy all tastes.

Have one face that people can associate with NBC and own that hour.

Focus, simplicity, consistency and time are all necessary ingredients for building a brand, even for networks like NBC.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


For big companies, technology and social media provides an amazing opportunity to act like a mom and pop.

For example, I once personally delivered a note to an executive at a major corporation in Rochester and received an email back by the time I returned home.

And last week I email a question to a billionaire entrepreneur and had my answer in my inbox less than 24 hours later.

The lesson: social media tools do not make you engaging. It's the people behind the keyboard.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thank You

Could thanking your customer or client be a viable marketing startegy?

Those words are so rare, I'm begining to think so.

Remember, dare to be different. Thank your customers. And then thank them again.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Best Customers

In college, my professors taught me a interesting theory for marketing.

They likened it to a ladder and management's goal was to move customer's up the ladder. To gain new customers you will market your less expensive goods and as the relationship progresses, so will the price of the items.

Thus, the customers at the top are your best customers. In theory this sounds good. However, in practice it goes more like this.

Your cable company hikes it rates on you after the first year and the only way to "save" is to add more services and more channels.

Or that affordable rent you used to pay is now sky high because your landlord has raised the rent three years in a row.

Or maybe, that football team you were so loyal to said you need to move to the upper deck because the seats you are currently in will cost $20,000 (in addition to the price of the tickets!) next season.

To some these tactics are merely revenue generators. To others, their best customers are.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Domino's Doesn't Get It

In April of 2009 Domino's was forced to go into it's all-hands-on-deck nightmare scenario after two Domino's employee's posted a video of them tampering with food quality to Youtube. In a 36 hour period the video was seen 760,000 on Youtube alone.

Eventually, their PR team pulled the plug on the video but it undoubtibly left a huge hole in the brand. Then Domino's quickly began picking up the pieces and going on the offensive- firing the offending employees, assuring food safety and releasing a viral video of their own.

Fast forward to December 2009 and the crumbs have settled a bit. Customers have moved on and Domino's took time to evaluate it's strategy.

Better Pizza. Crispier crust. Fresher ingredients. Everything that is wonderful about pizza. They listened to their critics and are fixing what's wrong. How can anyone oppose that. It makes perfect sense and is just good business.

Except, it's not.

A lot of companies make this classic mistake. They market to the physical world and not the mind. They believe that if you can just change the product then customers' perceptions will automatically follow. A major marketing fallacy.

Altering a customer's perceptions is an extremely difficult task because brands occupy spaces in our head...and they rarely move. Domino's has owned the cheap, I'll-only-eat-it-in-an-altered-state-after-midnight-pizza tag for way too long. They can advertise and blind taste test us all day but we still won't believe Domino's tastes as good as the local place on the corner (or wherever).

And this problem didn't start with two idiotic employees taping and tampering. It's years of losing focus on their core product. That product?


Domino's delivers. Thirty minutes or less or your pizza is free. Always. A simple, hard-line brand guarantee. It changed the game and they dominated it. So, of course they changed that. (P.S.: The turnaround video even says Domino's pioneered delivery in the eighties and it's the reason for the explosive growth of the franchise). Straight from their mouth and they still don't get it.

How should they reposition themselves? Focus on what made Domino's great; it's speed and service. It was never it's pizza.
When you just gotta have a cheap pie now; it's gotta be Domino's.