Friday, October 28, 2005

Emotional Insights Drive Brand Success

Branding, we all know, is one of the trickiest things about marketing. Often it's like splitting hairs with a difference that is small but can be built up into something big. That's because the competition is always right behind with their copycat of the feature you just built a multi-million dollar campaign around.

Better insights come from the emotional level. Fortune Magazine reports on the revived branding for DeWalt power tools:

"Less than 20 years ago," DeWalt power tools "was a dead brand walking," but today it is "one of Black and Decker's most profitable divisions," reports Julie Schlosser in Fortune (10/31/05). No less an authority than the editors of Tools of the Trade magazine have declared DeWalt's comeback the "single greatest change within the power tool industry this past decade." And why not: "With $1 billion in annual sales, it commands a 35 percent share of the professional-tool market." As recently as the late 1980s, DeWalt was so totally whipped (primarily by Makita, a Japanese tool company) that Black and Decker, its parent, actually shelved the brand.

Shelved, yes -- but not forgotten. Black and Decker bothered to look into whether there was any life left in the DeWalt brand name, and "were surprised to learn that professional tool users had a high regard" for it. So, they re-launched the brand with a special focus on "professionals -- who make up 69 percent of U.S. tool sales." The driving insight was rather blunt: "The contractor doesn't want a tool that has the same name as his wife's toaster," explains Dan Gregory, DeWalt's vp of marketing. The contractor wanted something "more rugged and reliable" than the Black and Decker name suggested."
The Emotions Drove the Brand

Did you catch that? It was not that DeWalt had some super slick new feature or a new line of cordless tools. It was something much more emotional than that. The contractor did not want a tool with the same brand as his wife's toaster. Whoa! That's good.

The Cincom Simplicity Brand ... Another Emotional Edge

Our research into attributes that made for a stronger Cincom brand snagged a similar emotional platform. Enterprise software buyers were tired of overly complex application packages that took years to install, millions of dollars in services to do the installation and requirements that demanded the company change its most basic internal processes for production and customer service. These requirements were killing them. They lusted for simpler answers that would solve today's problems and still give a path for solving tomorrow's problems. They wanted simplification.

On that premise, Cincom is storming to its four best consecutive growth and profit years. The entire company has come to grips with bringing simplification to its clients ... powerful software solutions that provide immediate value, faster path to return on investment, at a lower overall cost and with less business risk.

Cincom's branding is doing the same thing that Black & Decker has done with its DeWalt Power Tools for Professionals. Effective branding must be built on honest, meaningful and sustainable emotional insights.

Stop building brands around ingredients, features, and other such tactical moosepoop and get at the underlying issues that are important to your customers. If you don't, you will be in a price-comparison battle until your brand simply runs out of steam.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Do You Really Care About Your Customers?

Actions speak louder than words.

The Company's Value Statement hanging on the Boardroom wall might profess to say we are focused on our customers and their needs.

But do your actions make it real?

Not at most companies ... just read all the negative rants on the blogs and you can tell most company executives really don't care about their customers. Most execs have not talked with a customer in recent history. If you read the blogs, it seems most companies view their customers as numbers on a spreadsheet, all neatly packaged into "profitable customers" ... "frequent shoppers" ... "seasonal prospects" ... "users of two or more products" ... "teenagers" ... "affluent elderly" ... and so on. Not terribly personal. There's no love here.

As marketers, it is the conversations that we start and maintain with customers that are truly important. That's one reason blogs are so important to me ... they can be at least one more means of continuing the conversation.

How to initiate the conversation? It takes simply a few minutes of your downtime. You see a new article on customer communications best practices on a website. You also know that several prospective customers have registered on your website and requested your Customer Communications White Paper. So you pick up the phone and call these customers to make sure they got the information from you, and you tell them about the best practices article you just spotted. Then email the link to the article to them, along with a PDF of your customer communications offerings. Now, when this lead is turned over to your sales department for local followup, the customer is in a much more receptive mood ... you have positioned your sales rep for success because the process began with your true concern for the customer!

We need to see customers as people with real needs and interests that will, ultimately, lead to a stronger relationship. Listen and respond. That's good marketing advice from Steve Hall.

Shame on Neil French ... Bad Mark for Marketing

Adrants was ontop of the furor created by WPP Creative Chief Neil French who ranted in Ad Age on creative directors who happened to be working mom's. He called them "crap" because of their inability to commit themselves 100 percent to the job due to childcare issues: "Nobody deserves a job unless they can commit to it."

No question it's hard being a working mom ... I don't know how they do it.

But there is an old adage that says if you want something done right and fast, find a busy person. Busy people are typically more productive than those who don't take on as many projects at a time. In my experience, busy people (like working mom's) get more done and should certainly not, as a class, be labeled as not committed. Activity outside work makes us sharper in all we do when on the job.

It might be hard for us to juggle our various calendars around working mom's who occasionally have to put children up front during business hours. It's inconvenient, but if you remove their talent from our team mix, the team will definitely be weaker.

And for that matter, what about "working dad's" -- there have been plenty of times that I put work on the back-burner for a morning or two to take care of our children when they were growing up. But to label me as "uncommitted" would be offensive and patently untrue.

French's comments are just a bad mark for marketing.

I wonder how many of the consumers French has designed brand campaigns for who were or are working mom's? He has insulted a big percent of the people who buy the stuff he's been marketing.

Yep, a bad mark for marketing. Especially for customer-centric, contextually relevant marketers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Where's Context?

Like Waldo, Context has been difficult to find this past two weeks.

Posts on my blog have been less and less frequent.

As with many bloggers, I hit a mental overload, and that combined with two huge projects at my real job have squeezed my activity down to a trickle.

Unfortunately, this all happened just when Technorati had this blog ranked among the top 50 marketing blogs in the world ... it's come a long way since being ranked somewhere around 2,589th. The thanks goes to all of you who have been linking here, so I will return ... hopefully next week.

In the meantime, this post from Adrants puts all of us on notice that the world of marketing communications is shaking away from its traditional foundation like a 9.0 on the Richter scale.

Video iPod Shocks Affiliates, Spawns New TV Industry

Apple's announcement last week it will air episodes of ABC's Lost and Desperate Housewives, among others, over it's new video iPod has caused concern among network affiliates who feel "off TV" viewing will hurt rating and/or make ratings in accurate, let alone destroy their business model. All the hand ringing that will, no doubt, go on for the next year or two surrounding this issue could easily be skipped with the simple acknowledgment that every bit of broadcast programming will ultimately be available for download with or without advertising, viewable on an iPod, a similar device, a PC or ported to and viewed on a TV. Current appointment television viewing as we know it will disappear. Current rating systems will become irrelevant. And the buying of "TV advertising" simply won't be the same.

Whether it's the video iPod or the DVR or the PC, the hard drive will be where it's at. People will simply subscribe to RSS feeds of their favorite programming, have them downloaded when available, port them over to the viewing device of their choosing and view them at their leisure. This will throw a monkey wrench into the workings of all involved. Marketer's campaigns will no longer be able to reliably be flighted with specific, date-based timing. The networks, soon to be referred to as content distributors, will either become pay per view providers or face the inevitable ad skippage that any device holding programming will be capable of. Affiliates will become almost irrelevant unless they become some sort of pay per view middleman between network and consumer. In fact, the entire television industry could become obsolete when creators and producers realize they can offer up pay-per-view or ad supported programming for download themselves. All that's needed is a few really big servers and the networks, affiliates and cable companies won't have much left to do. For anyone that owns a DVR, they are already living a version of this reality.

The current method of television programming distribution can be likened to the purposefully crippled method most cell phone companies force their customer to go through when using a camera-enabled cell phone. The phones themselves are perfectly capable to transferring data directly to a computer. In fact some providers allow this. However, most providers force phone makers to cripple the phones so the only way to gets images from the phone to the computer is to send them through the provider's network, for a fee, of course.

For the purposes of this discussion, the cell phone companies are the networks, affiliates and cable providers. There's really no use for them when a producer of content can easily connect directly with a viewer. Yes, there's the details of supporting costs for producing the programming in the first place but HBO seems to have a pretty good handle on that. And yes, not everyone is gleefully going to pay for content when they have, since television was invented, received it for free.

Perhaps what we're about to witness is the birth of an entirely new sister industry to ad-supported television. This new sister industry would have no middleman. Producers would create shows and sell them directly to those who chose to pay to view them. From hard drive to hard drive as it were. Those who choose not to pay could fire up the ad-supported broadcast TV that's been in the living room for over 50 years.

There's bound to be all kinds of holes in this line of thinking so feel free to poke away at them.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Can Marketing Lift an Entire Nation
from the Doldrums?

We all know that we direct marketers are masters at changing customer behavior. But the challenge reported in USA Today rises to a new level. Reveries summarizes the story for us ... do you think marketing can change the attitude of an entire nation and reverse its dismal jobless rate? Is it possible that large populations can drive themselves into a funk and be talked out of the funk with advertising?

The jobless rate is ten percent, growth is less than one percent, and Germany's "sagging pride ... and collective sense of gloom have reached critical levels" ... but it's nothing that a perky ad campaign campaign can't fix -- or so hopes Bertlesmann "and 23 other companies," reports David Crossland in USA Today. Bertlesmann, the publishing giant, and its cohorts "have kicked off a four-month, $36 million campaign to lift German spirits ... Using the slogan, 'You Are Germany,' the national pep talk began ... with an emotional two-minute TV ad featuring Katarina Witt and the theme song from the movie "Forrest Gump."

The idea, according to organizer Bernd Bauer, is to foment a "mood of optimism ... We alone can't change the country, but we may be able to initiate change, which then needs to be taken up by ordinary people, companies and organizations," he says. Richard Schuetze, a business consultant says something else: "It's a rather desperate attempt to generate enthusiasm," he says. Benno Simmering, a student pretty much agrees: "I'm not sure what it's going to achieve ... The only way you're going to change Germany's image of itself is to get serious about economic reforms," he comments.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kate Moss ... What Were You Thinking?

Just had to pass this news flash on to you from Adrants ... whose tipsters are telling them that cosmetics company Rimmel, the last Kate Moss holdout, may, after all, drop Moss as spokesmodel. The company is getting pressure form number two distributor Walgreens who, apparently, has said "She goes or we go." Not wanting to risk a serious distribution channel, Rimmel is seriously considering eradicating themselves from association with Moss. Also looming in Rimmel's rear view mirror is retail colossus Wal-Mart who may also a "Moss or us" edict essentially putting Rimmel out of business. It's a fair bet Rimmel will be saying goodbye to Kate Moss very soon.

In a marketing world of competitive advantage, it is refreshing that ethics can still prevail.

What baffles me most, however, is how any intelligent person can take the first hit of a addicting drug that has only one way to drag a person ... now there's a strong message from Corporate America that everyone best stay clean or risk losing your career in one slashing moment.

Writing is Simple

All you do is sit down behind a typewriter and open a vein.

That piece of wisdom from Steve Kayser, who is as talented a writer as I know ... he does Cincom's newsletter Expert Access (filled with informative yet humorous content) and he has several screenplays under review in Hollywood. So he knows a lot about the "opening a vein" part of writing. It takes a passion to do it well.

Makes me cringe when I see so many business managers pull out their red pens as they sit down to review copy written by professional writers. I keep thinking, "For crying out loud, would you at least read it through once before you start hacking away at it!"

Business managers need to be more thoughtful when giving direction to their writers. A well crafted, concise creative brief should give the writer what s/he needs. And if the writer delivers on the creative brief, the business manager should put the red pen away. If the writer veered off path, then there's room for a critique and for direction on how to get the content back on path.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

In Search of Execution

I am not so sure that creativity is any longer the magic button it once was in marketing.

Perhaps another way of stating my premise is that it’s not that creative ideas are unimportant. It’s just that without immaculate execution they become a dime a dozen. They fail to grow revenue over a sustained period of time.

A 1998 study by the Corporate Strategy Board examined 172 of the largest companies in the Fortune 500 list. Only eight were able to sustain real growth of more than 6 percent; the others could not even keep pace with the GNP.

It’s not for a lack of creative strategies that growth is so hard to maintain. Every marketing manager alive has dozens of creative ideas tucked away waiting for the right moment to spring them on the world.

We put more value in the importance of creativity and uniqueness than it merits.

The trouble is that few of us are excellent at execution. Mediocre execution will destroy even the best creative ideas.

The fact is that a pursuit of creativity is dangerous and risky business. It diverts management from the real task of immaculate execution.

One example on the importance of execution: Our agency was retained to build a VAR channel for a marketer of data storage devices and media. We produced a comprehensive program to launch these products to the distribution channel, complete with introductory discounts to initiate trial. At the same time, a different sales group within our client’s company launched a promotion for the same products to major retailers. Can you imagine what happened to the company’s credibility when the VARs discovered they could purchase the same products from retailers cheaper than the VAR channels was selling them on an introductory discount?

A study of 1,300 publicly traded U.S. companies in fifty-five industries by Chuck Lucier, senior vice president emeritus at Booz Allen Hamilton, found that basic ideas, copied over and over again in one sector after another, accounted for 80 percent of the breakout businesses created between 1965 and 1995.

Execute Proven Ideas -

Replicating existing marketing strategies is cheaper — and easier to implement — than developing new ones. The secret is bringing to your company a great idea that some other company has tested. The big-box store, for example, is no longer an original concept. And yet this once big idea has now been replicated in consumer electronics (Circuit City), home improvement (Home Depot), and office supplies (Staples).

Focus, Simplify and Standardize –

Okay, so this has been in every marketing textbook you have studied as far back as college. Why, then, do so few of us do it. Marketing is overwhelmed by complexity, and marketers’ predisposition toward creativity as kingly only complicates our job, our companies’ operations, and our own lives. If we fail to pick out our areas of competence and concentration, we will instead try to do a good job on everything and we will assure mediocrity of execution – for example, too many promotions, each poorly thought through and in the end producing only failure. We all look at marketing automation as a panacea but unless we simplify and standardize our internal processes, automation will simply create failure more efficiently. This is “bunny marketing” – lots and lots of activities hopping around everywhere with no direction.

Internal Collaboration Provides the Driving Energy –

The marketing job is by nature one of influencing others both inside the company and outside it. The hard work of marketing lies not in developing a uniquely new product or the communications strategy for it, but in coordinating the efforts of R&D, manufacturing, finance, communications, sales. Do this once, and you’ve created a cross-functional “whole product team” that knows how to do it over and over again, and whose enthusiasm itself will champion repeating this process consistently. Excellence will increase over and over again.

Align Marketing and Sales –

Nothing is more destructive than these two customer-facing teams acting independent of one another. The fact is that neither should own the success alone. You can hardly pick up a trade magazine without reading that sales teams ignore sales leads provided from marketing programs and that sales teams feel it necessary to produce their own sales literature because the stuff from marketing is out of touch with the real world. Technology now is available to bring these two teams together to assist customers in buying – but it won’t work unless the lances are parked at the front door and the marketing and sales swords are melted into one big scythe.

Context Counts More than Creativity.

The big idea doesn’t have to be the brand-new idea. Something common and successful in another industry can be new to in the context of your organization and your targeted market.

Two years ago, we ran an advertising and promotion program using Fortune Magazine as the foundation. It generated very high levels of awareness with our target market, but it failed to produce movement into the sales pipeline. Rather than ditching the program the following year, we analyzed where execution was weak and ran the program a second year. One quarter through the second running, some things still were not going right, so we went about fixing them immediately. Along the way, our execution is getting sharper and sharper

A well-tested breakthrough idea is more than enough to excite your team, create belief, and build the world’s greatest marketing department.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Segmenting the American Market

I've been doing some basic reading on the various age segmentations of the American population to see where new thoughts challenge my pre-existing notions.

Here's a capsule of observations that can serve as a refresher course for segmentation:

G. I. GENERATION (Born 1901-1926 / Current age: 78+) The most revered generation on the planet. The most fascinating generation on the planet. Their Depression was The Great One; their war was The Big One; their prosperity was the legendary Happy Days. They saved the world and then built a nation. They are the assertive and energetic do'ers. Excellent team players. Community-minded. strong fixation on personal health. Many have lost a spouse in recent years. Brokaw's book was aptly named: The Greatest Generation.

HOPEFULS (Born 1927-1945 / Current age: 60 to 77). Came of age deferring to the more assertive G. I. Generation. Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar Happy Days: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock 'n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine! The First Hopeful Drumbeats Of Civil Rights! Its pre-feminism women have wondered "what if...?". Its Organization Men pledged loyalty to the corporation. The richest, most free-spending retirees in history. Under-appreciated and overlooked. Increasing concern over personal health.

BOOMERS (Born 1946-1964 / Current age: 40 to 60). Two sub-sets: the save-the-world revolutionaries of the '60s and '70s who provided the passion and masses to the dizzying 6 cultural revolutions of the Consciousness Movement; and, the party-hardy career climbers of the '70s/'80s. Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly. The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ENDING with them. Their activism is beginning to re-emerge as they have more time to ponder social issues.

LATCH KEY KIDS(Born 1965-1981 / Current age: 23 to 39). Grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Entrepreneurial. Very individualistic. Government and big business mean little to them. Eager to make marriage work and "be there" for their children. Want to save the neighborhood, not the world. Feel misunderstood by other generations. Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years. Don't "feel" like a generation, but they ARE one.

GEN X, Y and Z(Born: 1982-Present / Current age: Birth to 22). America's next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X. Today's youth are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused. Respect for authority. Cooperative team players. Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But still with problems. They schedule everything. They feel enormous academic pressure. AKA "The 9/11 Generation". They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves

Agency vs. In-House for Direct Marketing

An interesting fact surfaced in a recent analysis by Forrester:

Only 25% of companies use a direct marketing agency and of firms over $100 million nearly two-thirds do not use an agency.
That stat seems to run headlong into my own experience in running one of the bigger promotion marketing agencies in the US. Most prospective clients we called on while soliciting new accounts already had at least one direct marketing agency onboard.

This now points to an overwhelming amount of the work being done in-house.

Another surprising statistic:

Consultants (58%) and service bureaus (57%) lead over ad agencies (22%) and academics (11%)when it comes to providing direct marketing guidance to marketers. This will shift in the future to more outsourcing to consultants than to service bureaus.

Ten Q's for Selecting a
Database Marketing Provider

1.Will vendor manage our database or provide services for a system we manage?
2.Does vendor take a technology-centric or full-service agency philosophy?
3.Will vendor actively contribute to our database marketing strategy?
4.Does vendor have experience in type of programs we have in mind?
5.Will vendor’s analytical capabilities satisfy our needs?
6.Does vendor have online marketing expertise that we need?
7.Has vendor designed and built a system as large as we need?
8.Does vendor prefer to specify technology platform or support decisions we make?
9.What value-add services (e.g. compiled data, print, fulfillment) does vendor offer?
10.What experience does vendor have in my industry?

A Sure-Win Process for
Brand Message Development

A look behind the scenes for how Cincom Systems updated its brand positioning ... try these same steps on your business and you will develop a sharper, clearer and more relevant message for your brand.

First, the marketing department conducted 30 one-hour interviews with prospective customers in the US and in Europe. These interviews were open-ended to maximize the objectivity of input from prospects. Each interview was recorded and transcribed.

Transcriptions were dissected carefully to identify characteristics that the prospects stated as most important, in their own words and from their own perspectives. The various words and phrases identified were then charted in spreadsheets and ranked in importance, based on the frequency that prospects cited each of the words/phrases during the open-ended interviews.

We transformed the unstructured input into a quantifiable analysis.

We aggregated the commonalities among the various leading messages to hone in on a single message that was universally desired by prospects.

This led to the observation that all of the interviewed prospects were struggling with the complexity of their businesses and the complaint that most software companies actually made the complexity worse, rather than simpler.

We focused the message on the concept of simplicity.

A new description of the business –
Cincom provides software that helps you manage the complexity of your business in the five areas where simplification provides the most value -- revenue growth, customer communications, process optimization, business transformation and leveraging existing infrastructure.

A new positioning statement –
Software to simplify your complex world

A new value proposition statement –
Simpler, smarter software to provide you with high value, low cost, rapid return on investment at low risk

A new proof statement –
We have been simplifying business for clients such as (list) for 37 years. The high value is documented in their success stories. Their cost of ownership is often less than half that offered by our competitors. The installation time is faster so ROI is achieved faster. Our experience in the business reduces your risk.

A new tagline –
Simplification through innovation

The simplicity message was then adapted for each of the primary business units. The result is a clear statement of purpose that has strong relevance to customers.

Using Direct Marketing to
Change Health Behaviors

Direct marketing excels at creating consumer behavioral change. Our methodologies work consistently and generate millions upon millions of dollars in revenue by motivating customers to purchase.

A perhaps even bigger utilization of these direct marketing techniques is to change behavior toward our own healthcare practices. Healthcare costs will come down only when we take responsibility for our own health. Health insurers who get a handle on using direct marketing as an essential part of Care Management will increase the number of people who become self-motivated to live a healthier life.

The goal is to codify and replicate Care Management team best practices for creating behavioral change by helping them see how our process will help them live better, thus minimizing avoidable healthcare episodes and more intrusive treatments.

To change enrollee behavior we must go beyond persuading, handling objections, overcoming resistance and move toward helping the enrollees visualize how following best practices will enable them to achieve personally important needs.

In this sense, the total Care Management Program becomes a holistic approach, with a rich portfolio of events and communications tools that are available for use by the Care Management Team in one-to-one situations.

It begins with a personal assessment conducted by the local Case Manager of the enrollee and the enrollee’s “family” support team.

This individual information is entered into the Care Management Database and is used to segment enrollees into clusters, based on behavioral factors.

The Care Management Database is integrated with the Care Management Rules Engine to guide the Case Manager Team in the selection of the most appropriate protocols and communications paths for each enrollee situation.

This will enable us to pose relevant questions, converse situationally, provide positive motivation and empower enrollees to solve problems, satisfy physical and emotional needs and achieve personal goals.

Pre-plan and create predictable conversations where the healthcare team can create compliant behavior on the part of the consumer. Begin by plotting the primary interests that each person in the communications net has regarding health compliance and positive social living habits and activities. Understand their needs and then flow chart the barriers, the relevant information and conversations that need to take place and construct messages that consistently use questions to guide the target audience toward making the right decision.

First understand the situational context with a Diagnosis and Objective for each prioritized cluster of consumers who share a common lifestyle situation, and then establish a contextually relevant conversation to help the target take charge and improve his or her life.

This conversation follows a consistent process: Challenge, Reward, Action, Confirmation -- and uses a range of media from the portfolio, including calls or visits by Case Managers, or social workers, call center communications, videos, eMail, etc.

For example:

Diagnosis: Enrollee frequently forgets to exercise and take medication

Objective: The Enrollee needs to establish an exercise ritual.

An Example of the Contextual Conversation:

Challenge: If you knew taking a 10-minute walk each day for the next 5 days

Reward: would help you sleep better at night

Action: would you rather take this walk in the morning or the afternoon?

Confirmation: Great! That’s when I take my walk, too.

Another example:

Challenge: If I bring you a free watch with a little alarm in it

Reward: that can remind you to take your walk in the afternoon

Action: would that be a good way to let you know or would you rather I give you a call each afternoon?

Confirmation: Perfect … I know you will feel better when you get a good night’s rest.

A Third Example:

Challenge: Did you know that

Reward: a lot of people also use this watch to remind them its time to take their prescriptions, too?

Action: Would you like me to set the alarm on your watch to tell you when it is time to take your medicine?

Confirmation: I will bring you a watch tomorrow when I visit to check out how you are doing. Part of feeling better is doing the right things for yourself each day.

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