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Let’s begin with a simple truth:
Every business has problems.
Those problems may be internal or external (often both). They may be created by others or self-inflicted. They may be present-day certainties or future possibilities.
But there’s no business anywhere that is blissfully free of challenges, obstacles, changes… problems.
Continue reading “If It Doesn’t Solve Your Problems, It’s Weak Strategy”
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It was early 1993. I was less than a year out of college, and the Assistant Brand Manager of Airheads candy. (A title that no doubt made my parents very proud.)
After the successful launch of Blue Raspberry Airheads in August 1992, we were searching for the next new flavor to add to our lineup.
We took all the standard steps – reviewing category sales data, reading trade magazines, meeting with flavor suppliers, etc.
taking the standard steps, unsurprisingly, resulted in a list of the usual
Continue reading “The Birth of White Mystery Airheads (and What It Taught Me)”
By now, we’re at the point where we know what to expect from the Super Bowl ads. (Reading Time: 6 minutes)
Before the game, you could have jotted down a list of what you thought you would see, based on history. That list probably would have included:
Animals (especially dogs) at their most undeniably adorable
People or animals doing silly dances
Inspiring Statements of High-Minded Purpose
The unusual, the surreal, the flat-out bizarre (with or without reason)
Production values to rival a summer blockbuster film
You can make this kind of list for almost any category. Sometimes, it’s comically easy to do. And the more “tried, true and expected” the items on that list, the more ripe that category is for some rule-breaking.
So who broke the rules with this year’s Super Bowl ads?
Continue reading “The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?”
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m an advocate of feedback loops. (Reading Time: 2 minutes)
There are dozens of ways that you can (and should) use feedback loops to better understand your consumers. These include advisory panels, ethnography, surveys and so on.
But too often, we brand leaders forget that we’re an active part of these feedback loops. We need to send signals as well as receive them. And we can build stronger bonds by signaling the right things to the people we serve.
Continue reading “The Best Brands Use Feedback Loops Both Ways”
Quick show of hands: Do you have a marketing budget of five million dollars? (Reading Time: 7 minutes)
And if you did, how would you feel about spending it in 30 seconds? Because that’s exactly what last night’s Super Bowl advertisers did. Repeatedly.
That’s nearly $167,000 per second – more than most Americans earn in an entire year.
So I trust you’ll forgive me if I approach the Super Bowl ads, and the surrounding fanfare, with a healthy degree of scrutiny. I’m a brand guy – always have been – but I also know this: If it doesn’t sell, it’s bad branding.
And, based on history, most of last night’s ads did not sell.
Continue reading “Six Important Questions for This Year’s Super Bowl Advertisers”
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For many leaders of smaller businesses, sustainable growth can be difficult to conjure up. If that sounds like you, I’d like to introduce you to a company that should give you hope.
Consider these results:
This company has averaged 19% compounded annual growth over the last 8 years, with annual growth never less than 6% during this period. This company doubled sales in one five-year period, and nearly quadrupled sales in eight years. Notably, this growth was earned in a mature market that can be challenging to sell to.
And they did it without relying on any “secrets,” gimmicks or silver bullets.
Intrigued? Let’s get to know them a little better.
Continue reading “Here’s How One Business Quadrupled Its Sales in a Flat Market”
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“We’re in a crowded market. We have no meaningful advantage, and if we did, someone would copy it by next Tuesday. So how do we create brand differentiation?”
This question, or some version of it, is one I’ve been asked most often in my 20 years of brand strategy consulting.
The good news: There’s always an answer, and I’ll point you to several areas of exploration. The bad news: It won’t be easy.
Continue reading “In a Crowded Market, How Do I Create Brand Differentiation?”
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At some point in the history of marketing and sales, the “purchase funnel” was created.
At the top of every funnel is the first step – awareness.
We then proceed down the funnel to consideration, evaluation and purchase (though the exact steps vary from model to model).
One of several versions of the “purchase funnel.”
And so some marketers began to believe that brand awareness was a reasonable objective of their efforts. How can we stuff consumers into our imaginary funnel if we don’t start with awareness?
Continue reading “Why Is Brand Awareness Such a Weak Objective?”
Be selective. (Reading Time: 2 minutes)
This is not a suggestion or an empty mantra. It’s one of the very few brand-building imperatives I’ll propose to you.
As a leader of a challenger brand, you’re starting from behind, and with fewer resources than your competitors. And limited resources must be focused if they are to have maximum impact.
Here are five important ways you can be selective:
Continue reading “Be Selective (To Do More With Less)”
If growing your brand is among your priorities, at some point you’ll face a choice: (Reading Time: 2 minutes)
Would you rather grow rapidly, even if it means sacrificing the quality of your experience?
Or would you rather grow more slowly, while maintaining or improving the quality of your experience?
In other words: If you had to choose, would you rather be bigger or better?
Continue reading “Standing at the Crossroads: Will You Choose Bigger or Better?”