May 20, 2010
A few weeks ago NPR did a weekend edition story on how Americans don’t fall for hype during a crisis. The story highlighted that a President’s approval ratings can be greatly impacted by actual behavior – what exactly is being done to solve the crisis at hand NOT the message being spun by the handlers. In particular, it delved into Obama’s approval ratings as he deals with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the NY Times Square terrorism plot.
This is NOT a new concept nor is it one solely owned by politicians. It’s what evidence-based marketing is all about. No one can argue the importance of a concrete, well-thought out positioning statement and subsequent messages to your key audience, but if your constituents can’t find the beef you’re dead in the water.
You have to support the ‘spin’ or the messaging through substantiated actions. No huge fluffy bun is going to hide a bad/ineffective product, service or behavior that falls short of its promise. We want – no, we demand that claims (by companies, politicians, public figures) be supported by actions that we can measure.
Way back when – 1984 to be exact-, Wendy’s did just that with their iconic “Where’s the Beef” commercial. They validated their ‘spin’ by letting us know that their one beef patty was bigger than McDonald’s and Burger King’s. Measureable? Tangible? Absolutely. Did any of us actually measure it? Probably not. But we BELIEVED it and got a fun message to proliferate to boot.
Don’t under-estimate the importance of the marriage between message and proof. If something exists but no one knows about it, does it matter? Or, can you just get by on telling people what you want them to believe? Each side of that equation is critical to the outcome.
Clara Pellar, the elderly actress who famously uttered the gutteral roar “Where’s the Beef?”, has been gone a long time…. and not to pick on Obama – (because the article includes the likes of Bush and Carter as examples of the behavior-does-not-equal-the-message equation)…, but I think her ‘prescient-twitter-ready’ line is an invaluable and timeless reminder to us all.
Always a fanatical data collector – sometimes to the chagrin of others – I am a big believer in evidence. What’s worse is that I expect consistency as well. Ever in the pursuit of holding my MarketingSmack to those same standards – hoping my effort is graded on a curve.
May 13, 2010
Where is it? Where is life’s Pause button?
Maybe I should skip the blog writing this week. I have no productive ‘insight’ to impart, no top 5 ways to improve or gain or establish better customer relationships, business practices, or social media strategy.
What I do have is one of those weeks where the gerbil wheel seems fast, furious and suffocating. Then I see several status bars on Face Book in search of some elusive life pause button. Clearly fellow gerbil wheel inhabitants cry for help.
What is it that is causing each year to seem shorter and shorter? Why is it that Christmas turns into the summer beach trip turns into Thanksgiving before you have finished your last load of laundry? Oh, wait…you NEVER finish the last load of laundry, do you?
Maybe it’s as simple as having school-aged children – maybe this feeling of time slippage is a curse for that particular demographic? I know it feels incredibly wrong to be booking summer camp options during a snow day in February. Somehow, ‘knowing’ how those three months are scheduled in the middle of winter makes it feel like it’s time to start the next school year. Eeek.
At the risk of being accused of an existential fit, where are we all going so quickly? In part, it feels like life has become one large check-list….
I have no illusions that this post will be read by many – just the few MarketingSmack or Jack ‘loyalists’ and it’s probably better that way. Those of you who do spend the five minutes reading my existential dribble words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. Especially if you have a ‘stop-time’ watch available for purchase.
My last blog about the life of a ‘Connector’ prompted some great discussions amongst my LinkedIn groups and raised a good question/point. Everyone seems to agree that it is more important to know the ‘right’ people rather than ‘a lot’ of people. The mystery seems to lie in how do you go about identifying, meeting, developing and nurturing a networking relationship with them?
To quote a classic movie icon – “Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
That being said, you can choose the drug store Whitman Sampler OR Swiss-made, The Ecstasy of Gold from DeLafée. But, how do you even get to the point where the box in front of you is certainly filled with quality, unique, compelling – worth the calories – chocolate?
Ready for the answer?
It’s not universal, some people can and do get around the natural order of things, but the reality is that for most it STARTS with the Whitman Sampler and evolves into Ecstasy.
I’ll be more specific – what follows here is my suggested path to the ‘gold’.
- Gather – At the beginning of your networking career you will be served well by meeting a lot of people. And, this is by no means an easy feat. When I say ‘meet’ I mean – schedule time, have coffee, ask questions – professional and personal. Get to know the person, make a point to keep in touch and add value.
- Research – LinkedIn is a fantastic tool by which to sample the goods. You can tell a great deal about someone by their profile and better yet, by their recommendations should they have them. If you’ve done #1 for a while and well, you’ll be lucky enough to know someone who knows the individual you are interested in and can get an introduction.
- Leverage – As you keep in touch with your growing network remind those that you find impressive that you are always open to meeting interesting and compelling people. Never sell your services during these opportunities – you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting that coveted introduction.
- Reciprocate – You start to get requests – if you’ve done your groundwork, consistently and have added value along the way the phone will ring. The word will get around that you are someone worth knowing – worth the investment. I firmly believe the greatest gift we give one another is our time – make it worthwhile; for both of you.
As you stumble-upon high quality people, they will in turn suggest others – let’s face it, good people know good people. Before you know it your network will resemble The Ecstasy box of chocolates where you know no matter which one you choose you’ll be certain of the quality.
Hoping this week’s MarketingSmack’s filling is rich and worthy of your time. http://www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com
I was looking for a lost email yesterday when I stumbled upon an online introduction I made in August of 2006. I chuckled while reading it – in it I state:
“Given my conversations with each of you, I think the two of you would benefit from knowing one another. Consider yourselves introduced. Would love to hear how it turns out.”
Fast forward three and a half years and I find myself in the midst of re-branding their co-founded company, Innovalyst.
I wish I could say all my connections end up in such a lucrative way – both financially and personally – as my relationship with these two individuals has grown and flourished over the years.
But alas, being a “connector” as defined by Gladwell in his Tipping Point book has not always proved so. Case in point, a couple of years back I had a client who provides a shipping software solution for 3PLs, shippers, brokers and carriers. We had a great working relationship and to this day I can call on Geoff to be a reference on my behalf – or at least I hope so, after this blog. Well, at some point I met someone over coffee who gave me a sixth-sense type feeling and within days of that coffee I sent one of my ‘Consider yourselves introduced’ emails to both of them.
Fast forward again – this time about a year or so and my coffee networking buddy became Geoff’s CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and within his first week had the pleasure of firing me. Ouch. Not personal – but not fun.
I can’t stop connecting people – it would be like asking me to stop eating Oreo’s dunked in milk. It doesn’t even seem to be a frontal lobe activity anymore – sometimes I just know two people need to meet. The real question is can you monetize your gift or is it a loss leader – so to speak?
If Hugh and Paul had not met would there be an Innovalyst? And, even though Les fired me and I have not subsequently seen revenue from Transite – is it money in the karmic bank so to speak?
Or as my friend Janet, reminded me just now on the phone – sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.
Like a moth to a flame – my hopes are you will rush right out and get SMACKED, weekly. www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com
As an aside: My friend Janet is the President of KJAS, parent company of Ethical Advocate, who also has developed a long-term business relationship via one of my connections. See, I told you I can’t stop.
April 8, 2010
I am sure by now most of us have seen the new Nike commercial with Tiger Woods – 30 seconds of Tiger looking somewhat contrite into the camera while his deceased father’s words pipe down from somewhere – heaven?
Earl’s voice reassuringly speaks to his son; “I want to find out what your thinking was….. I want to find out what your feelings are and did you learn anything”
I don’t know about everyone else but I keep waiting for Tiger to respond – “Yeah, I learned it sucks to get caught!”
Aside from being tacky, I don’t believe the message – it’s not authentic. Is this what big bucks with Wieden + Kennedy buys you? Are they really trying to re-brand Tiger as someone who is sorry for being a philanderer and that somehow has “learned his lesson” and won’t do it again? Please, do we look that stupid?
I have written about Tiger before – back in December when he posted his “I want privacy” plea on his website. My contention then was that he would need to re-brand but that he didn’t get to do it in private. I still believe Tiger needs re-branding. But in my humble opinion he needs a NEW brand – I don’t want to be asked to believe that a double-digit mistress count was a tiny life hiccup and that he is restored to his family-man golf-deity status.
So, I can trash the new Nike creative ‘til the cows come home but what good is that if I don’t offer up a solution? What brand would we believe? I hearken back to a much more believable Nike re-branding of Charles Barkley, “I am not a role model”. In thirty odd seconds Charles reminds us that he is paid to ‘wreak havoc’ on the basketball court NOT to raise our children. I respect that brand– it’s authentic, sustainable and powerful. Nicely done, W+K.
And, while Nike hasn’t come knocking on my door for creative in the Tiger Woods’ re-branding mission, I will kindly offer up my idea, gratis: Tiger = golf and Nike sells golf balls, right? So, why not take a fun ‘in your face, Tiger accepts who he is and many wish they could have the talent, fame, money and let’s face it, women he had’ approach.
I suggest to you and Nike, the following:
Maybe this is EXACTLY what keeps Nike from calling, who knows? At least I get to share my absurd, ballsy thoughts in my MarketingSmack. More Smack can be found on www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.
Note: This ad creation is a Jack Perez only special – neither approval nor endorsement was received from either Tiger Woods or Nike.
March 24, 2010
This week’s posting is not for the wussy and may actually piss some off. Can you use the words ‘piss’ and ‘off’ in a professional blog? Some may think I’ve crossed a line in human decency – in the “some things are better left unsaid, even if we might think it” category.
Last night I attended the launch party for IHeart Charity. IHeart Charity provides a smart phone application that allows users to “Tap-n-Give” to a number of pre-selected charities. The application is currently only available on the IPhone/Apple platform.
Four charities are currently hosted and each had their opportunity to speak. The first three had reasonable causes – animals, Haiti, green energy – with solid positioning and sound reasons to encourage donations. I listened – relatively unmoved.
Then Diane Moore took the stage. Diane is tall, strikingly beautiful, with closely shorn hair (a tribute to her daughter not the 80’s edgy singer Sinead) and a peaceful presence. While I ‘care’ about a smattering of other topics in the world, I felt a resonant, heart-wrenching connection to Diane’s organization, Striving for More. Founded by Diane after her daughter’s death from cancer at the age of eight, the charity’s sole purpose is to ensure that no family endures childhood cancer alone. What parent cannot relate to that?
I think we can all agree that there aren’t many ultimate truths – that we each, as individuals, connect to or with different messages – hence one of marketing’s challenges, right? Understanding different audiences and digging deep to create a Disruptive Conversation™ – that which will rise above the din of the white noise and move the potential consumer to take action is no easy feat. Ms. Moore has her Disruptive Conversation™ nailed – it is authentic, personal, compelling and it rings out above so many other messages because it speaks to us as a universal truth. The natural order has been disrupted and we fundamentally don’t understand how that can happen and want desperately to make it stop. Or, with the help of Striving for More, at least survive it.
She shared her story – simple, direct, not a trace of marketing speak – and the audience wept. Ah yes, there were women present but I heard a few of the men complain of blurred vision. Sometimes it’s obvious – right? What is worthwhile? What we can all get behind? When we have the opportunity to be involved with one of those organizations – whether as a client, consumer or supporter – the answer is simple.
So, why am I going to make people angry?
Well, because in the midst of all of this I believe there is a marketing lesson here for those of us who don’t have an obvious ‘universal truth’ to deliver. The closer we can get to one, the higher likelihood we have of altering our audience’s perceptions and behaviors.
Great marketing is when something as banal as athletic wear can speak to us at that ‘universal truth’ level. Nike delivers it: our fundamental fear of failure. Everyone has it – everyone can identify with it.
The image above is one of the many ways that Striving for More provides encouragement to children struggling with cancer. Each time a child endures a procedure they are given a Courage Bead.
March 10, 2010
My dojhang has been recently stamped with a – what is supposed to inspire glee and hope sign, “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT”. We’ve all experienced it – either within our own work environments due to mergers or acquisitions or in our communities. Typically it happens to a restaurant or bar that has been closed for a while and then, just like that – it pops back on the scene promising better food, ambience, hipper music. And, when that’s the case everyone’s the winner.
What happens when the business is an on-going entity with a subscribed set of consumers? How do you manage the transition to the new management without alienating your existing customer base – without stamping out the ‘culture’ so to speak? I do think the key word here is TRANSITION the concept of passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another ….rather than the abrupt, no room for dialogue, Alice in Wonderland ‘Off with His Head’ type moment.
At the risk of falling into the ‘everyone’s a critic’ camp, I can certainly give you a fat list of what NOT to do. So, I’ll try – really, I will – to stay on track and stick to what should be done.
When managing the changeover, which may include – feature enhancements, price adjustments, rules of engagement alterations, employment modifications it is best to lead with what will be received well. If your promise is a better new widget then prove it. I may suggest to you that major price increases with absolutely no real change – but just a ‘promise’ for change – and an unclear promise at that, is a BAD idea. It builds resentment and mistrust, even amongst the most patient and loyal.
If your organization depends on the geography model, meaning your customers must be local to consume your goods and services then ignoring that communities’ ‘corporate culture’ is another grave error. While you may have standard operating procedures and a brand that works really well in your corporate headquarters they may not translate to outside of that location. Let’s face it, a hot new bar by the name of G-Spot or ManHole may inspire long lines in San Fran or Key West but would sit lonely and empty in ConservativeTown, USA.
As we all know change, no matter how it’s presented, can be stressful – the fear of the unknown, the break in routine, the adjustments to a new product or service. And while it is inevitable and can only be classified as ‘change’ for a short period of time before becoming the new ‘norm’, I do believe there are ‘better’ choices to be made when it comes to gaining customer acceptance and continued loyalty.