Marketing Resolutions

OK, so you made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, save money and be nicer more often and make more friends!

And, as you approach the 3rd month of 2008, you realize that you’re still a meatball, you’re still living paycheck to paycheck and even your dog doesn’t like you!

Well, not to worry. 

Take a crack at these 10 great steps (or resolutions you can make) outlined by Helen Leggatt for getting ahead of the internet marketing curve.

Be honest with yourself.

If you were to start a new business across the street from you, how could you put "you" out of business. 

Easy… you’d become your industry’s internet category killer! So, get going and step up your I-game.


The End of Today’s Advertising

I stumbled upon this late 2007 release,  IBM Predicts the End of Advertising as We Know It.

Great insight into the future where they forecast, "greater disruption for the advertising industry in the next five years than occurred in the previous 50." Hold on to your binky!

It’s all about targeted segmentation, results, impact based marketing and major shifts away from traditional advertising.

By 2012, the report says that to survive, advertisers need to innovate in three key areas:

  1. Consumer micro-segmentation and personalization
  2. How and where ad inventory is sold, the structure of partnerships, revenue models and ad formats;
  3. Redesign organizational/operating capabilities across the ad lifecycles to support consumer and business model innovation: consumer analytics, channel planning, buying/selling, creation, delivery and impact reporting.

Consumer analytics and marketing automation to gain more insights about the consumer and how to reach them will be keys to future brands success. It may appear troubling times for some, but I prefer to view the new age of marketing exciting times and a great time to make a small fortune.

Yes, new fortunes will be made. Count me in!


Starbucks Closing for 3 Hours Tomorrow

Tomorrow evening, starting at 5:30 p.m. local time, all of your favorite 7,000+ local U.S. Starbucks are closing for re-training. The average Barista receives 40 hours of training, but today’s Starbucks is not the same as it was 10 years ago.  Management direction has been all over the place with several new directives.  They’ve gone from being a simple coffee shop with great coffee to, a "3rd place" with cozy seating, offering movies, music, books, toys, candy, Apple products, sandwiches and more. 

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a big fan and if anyone can steer this ship back on course is Howard Schultz. Getting back to the basics is a great way to get back on track and it’s great foundation for the basis of any marketing plan. 

In fact, every year’s plan should start zero-based and with a review of how well you deliver on your brand promise and core basics.

I doubt that three hours of training will immediately reverse the challenges Starbucks is facing, but I applaud Shultz for his candor and leadership as this move serves as a Clarion call for greater things to come.

Would you have the guts to do what Shultz is doing!

Starbucks – check that, no one – can be all things to all people and they need to get back to recognizing that speed and convenience (such as McDonald’s) pales in comparison to really good coffee.

 What will you do, where will you go while your local Starbucks is closed? And will you be coming back to try some retrained coffee on Thursday? 

My bet is you’ll be back because in the end, I believe Starbucks simply cares more.

P.S.: They need to start gathering more customer information from their stored value card instead of just money! Lots of good information is there to collect per each customer.


Amazon’s Customer Experience Pays Off

I’m a big Amazon fan and customer.

And, I just read a NY Times article about Amazon’s amazing growth (stock, sales, customer counts,  repeat purchases etc.,) which is in part due to Jeff Bezos’ commitment to taking care of his customers and is desire to build a lasting company vs. building  for short-term gains to appease Wall Street.

Here’s the article – use it next time you’re discussing short-term vs. long term profitable gains.

By JOE NOCERA, Published: January 5, 2008

Excerpt from the article…
"So when I looked up Amazon’s stock price after my little Christmas
miracle, I was amazed to see that it had risen around 140 percent last
year. (It closed yesterday at $88.79.) The company grew somewhere
around 35 percent in 2007 (the final numbers aren’t in yet), with
revenue likely to come in around $15 billion, and well over $1 billion
in free cash flow. Its margins had risen to around 6 percent, and it
consistently made money."

Mama mia! Is improving customer service part of your marketing plan budget?


Gandhi Marketing

I think we as Marketers, if we keep our hearts true to helping satisfy customer’s needs in a positive way can make significant contributions to the world and why not?

Shouldn’t we all strive to make the world a better place because through our actions and be servant leaders?

I’m a big Gandhi Fan – a fantastic marketer and brand of peace and love. 

He led by his actions, helped people take action and made the world a better place through word-of-mouth – I don’t recall him ever taking out an ad to have people follow him.

Be the change you wish to see in world – what a terrific mantra.


Best Super Bowl Ad

Best Super Bowl Ad – courtesy of ETRADE – here.

Click here for a quick report from Ad Rants.

Will be interesting to see which campaign has the arms and legs to run for a few more months – my prediction – ETRADE’s baby investor!

Still have a hard time justifying the mad ad craziness around the big game – has any ad on a Super Bowl ever motivated you to buy what they were selling?


How to Build Your Marketing Budget

I have loved the Marketing profession from the start.

I began my Marketing career in the early ‘80s in Pittsburgh. And, I  realized early on that if I was going to excel I needed to immerse myself in the discipline and knowledge of all of the marketing greats before me.

Pittsburgh is a great town, but it’s a few hundred miles from Madison Avenue so I began a long journey of reading marketing masters such as , Bill Bernbach, Leo Burnett, John Caples, David Ogilvy and so many others.

My journey is still going strong and I love it still.  In fact, to stay ahead of the curve, I read at least one new marketing book every 2-3 weeks, along with a non-marketing text (to keep myself slightly sane and retain/gain friendships and relationships) per month.

In addition, to reading daily/weekly internet feeds of marketing missives, I make at least a once a month trek to Barnes & Noble, Border’s or the “wow-ful” Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Pittsburgh’s South Side to review marketing related magazines.  Magazines are great resources to review new trends and ideas that may take time to reach books, plus for me there are too many I review that I can’t afford to buy and more importantly lack the space in my home.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, it’s been my experience that you never “arrive” in marketing.  It’s constantly changing and staying the same too. Every book I read either confirms an opinion of mine or adds at least one new thing, so it’s always a winning experience.

One book I’ve found myself referring to for some time and enjoying has been “What Sticks.”

The authors Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart offer insightful views about the relationship of “Motivations, Messaging, Media and Maximizing” toward Marketing Campaign effectiveness.  It’s a fascinating read and they provide excellent case studies.

In addition, their suggestion about how to allocate your marketing budget is worth consideration and follows my client recommendations over the years.

Briggs and Stuart suggest your Marketing Budget follow a 70:20:10 rule such as allocating:

  • 70% to what you know works best for your brand
  • 20% to innovating or testing within the 70% of what’s been working for you
  • 10% for new ideas (e.g., Web 2.0 etc.,) to stay ahead of the curve and your competition

Give their 70:20:10 recommendation a shot this year and pick up their book – it’s worth your time and money.


How to Create Buzz for Your Brand

A client recently asked me, "How can we create more buzz for our brand?"

"Do something buzzworthy," I replied.  "That’s the first most important step!"

Are your products, services, ideas, employees buzzworthy?

Are they authentic, truthful and make a discernible meaning?

If not, why not and ask yourself how can you make them so.

Always remember that it’s real easy to get hit by a car if you stand in the middle of the street!


How to Become a Powerful Brand


To know where you’re going (or want to go) as a Marketer, it’s helpful to know where you’ve been and where others have gone before you.

Over the holidays and to date, I’ve been researching some new ways to profitably build my client’s brands this year and came across Millward Brown’s annual BRANDZ Top 100 Most Powerful Brands Rankings (released April , 2007). I’ve read it several times and suggest you should too. (See chart on left for Top 20 list)

Here’s the skinny.

Google is ranked as the top brand in the world beating last year’s leader Microsoft which dropped to third (lost 11% of its brand value) and GE which rose to second place. Last year Google was in 7th place, but it’s meteoric 77% rise landed it in the top spot.

So what can you learn from this report? Here’s a quote from Millward Brown’s Big Kahuna.

"Success stories from this year’s Brandz Top 100 demonstrate that winning brands leverage major market trends effectively to create business value," said Joanna Seddon, chief executive for Millward Brown. "Strong brands are capable of extending into areas of opportunity to access new revenue streams and to help businesses respond to market changes."

Seddon’s two key insights which are worth repeating.

  1. Winning brands leverage major market trends effectively to create business value
  2. Strong brands are capable of extending into areas of opportunity to access new revenue streams and to help businesses respond to market changes

So, as you build, re-build and course correct your plans for marketing success in 2008 ask yourself these questions:

  1. What market trends are going on right now in our industry and other industries?
  2. What market trends are predicted to occur in the next 3-5-10 years?
  3. Do we have the leadership, people, budget, mind sets and skill sets to exploit and take advantage of these key trends? And, have we built-in some flexibility to our plans? And, if not, why not and what do we need to do to not only get on the bus, but get a license to drive it!

And pay attention to these key actionable insights from the BRANDZ rankings report:

The rise of the East. Emerging market consumers, especially those in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) have more disposable income than ever and are looking for Western brands offering relevant and meaningful goods and services. Question – Can you use the Internet to become a more global brand?

Converging technologies. Convergence, which is the ability to mix and match different services (voice, data, GPS, music, internet, email, etc.) and deliver them over different devices can help improve your customers lives.  Question – Is your customer service department open 24/7 and can you help people through their preferred communication channel? Net – are you easy to do business with?

Delivering on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Many major brands such as an oil company like BP (Solar Energy), an automobile manufacturer like Toyota (Prius), a Rock Star like Bono and U2 (AIDS) find ways to become a better neighbor and know that long-term they reap what they sow. Question – How do (will you) consistently deliver on your promise to be socially responsible in some unique and meaningful way?

Help health conscious consumers. Observe how major fast foodies such as McDonald’s and Burger King have repositioned themselves with healthier food items on their menus.  In fact, BK has realized a 63% increase in its brand value and McDonald’s stock continues to rise in a poor economy! Question – Can you help in some way too? If you’re not in the food business, can you help your employees become healthier with flex-work schedules, better insurance plans, benefits packages (paid sabbaticals, fitness plans etc.,)?

Now, why should you work hard to create a more powerful brand? Certainly it’s about the Benjamins, but here are 6 more reasons why:

  1. Strong brands create significant value for your business
  2. They permit you to charge premium prices
  3. They lower your cost of new market entries
  4. They reduce business risks
  5. They help you attract quality employees
  6. And, they help you and retain them too

And, here are 10 more reasons!

Here are Millward Brown’s top 10 ranked sites, by brand value:

   1. Google–$66.4 billion
   2. General Electric–$61.9 billion
   3. Microsoft–$55 billion
   4. Coca-Cola–$44.1 billion
   5. China Mobile–$41.2 billion
   6. Marlboro–$39.2 billion
   7. Wal-Mart–$36.9 billion
   8. Citigroup–$33.7 billion
   9. IBM–$33.6 billion
  10. Toyota Motor–$33.4 billion

Source: BRANDZ Ranking 2007

Work smart and work hard to hang ten and ride some new wave trends in 2008+.  You’ll be glad you did.