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spray and pray

June 20, 2009

my favorite descriptive phrase for hyperactive marketing.

here’s how it works.

rather than thinking clearly and deeply about the unique value of your product or solution and identifying a set of customers (either existing or new), many marketers simply crank out a whole range of “tactics” and call it a marketing plan. the best plan has the most stuff, right?

spray the market and pray “they will come” . . .

that isn’t marketing . . .and i don’t care if you’re using traditional (and costly) marketing methods and media, or if you’re a cutting edge social marketer. if you do not think through what you are trying to accomplish, you are inevitably wasting money and time. and you are not only wasting your time, you are wasting the limited amount of time that a potential customer has to hear about your product.

so get up off your knees for a little while . . .find a quiet place and think about what it is you’re trying to accomplish. put it in a sentence . . .no more than 6 words. and everything you do from this point forward should point back to that idea.

what’s unique about being #2?

June 13, 2009

a potential client, a general manager in a large technology company, came to us recently needing some help with an integrated campaign for one of his products.

he sent a very long powerpoint deck (technologists are some of the worst offenders of hyperactive marketing . . . why take time to simplify your message and condense your presentation . . .hard drives now can easily hold thousands of useless powerpoint decks, and email systems can easily send 5 mb files . . . why simplify?) about the product.

our favorite was the slide (buried in the middle of the deck) on the product’s unique value proposition. the first bullet point listed was . . .(drumroll please) . . .”still #2 in market share.”

well, that is unique now, isn’t it?

speaking of dove

June 13, 2009

after i wrote my last entry, i happened to notice this article about a dove campaign. seems the company is still around and doing well . . .

i guess naming them the same thing as an ice cream bar hasn’t hurt after all . . .

most people don’t know what marketing is

June 13, 2009

a long time ago when i was in sales, the president of our small company pulled me aside and asked me if i’d like to start a marketing department for the company. things were going well . . . our market was growing and the company was growing even faster. we’d been a very sales driven company. we made a good product, but our only avenue to the market was through a direct sales force and a small inside sales team. now, the president explained, we could take things to a whole new level if we started marketing our products, instead of just selling them.

i had never had another job and i had avoided anything other than liberal arts courses in school . . . i didn’t know what marketing was. so i asked him what he thought the marketing department would do. “i’m not sure really . . . i know we need some catalogs, some brochures, and basically someone to be really organized.” it seemed interesting, but for a (fairly) successful sales guy, seemed kind of squishy. making a catalog? being organized? i passed on the opportunity and recommended someone i knew . . .someone who was very organized and creative. in hindsight, it was a great decision . . . i would have been a trainwreck in that role. with no formal training, no real idea of what marketing could be, i would have fallen prey to the worst habits of novice marketers . . . producing a lot of stuff. most of it useless.

a couple of years later, i left the company and went to business school . . . and i began to understand not only what marketing could be, but also how completely connected good marketing is to the whole strategy and success of a company. i loved learning about analytics . . . from segmentation to pricing. i loved learning how to build a comprehensive marketing plan.

i loved learning how to stir the alphabet soup that underlies much of marketing (3 c’s, 4 p’s, then another p, then an “i” for integration).

emboldened by my four classes in marketing in my first year of business school, i marched off to my summer internship with a large technology company (many more stories to tell in time).

my hiring manager was walking me around the office and we came to a conference room. on the table were two familiar consumer packaged goods . . . a dove bar and a dove bar. “see?” he said. “a real marketer would have picked a different” for him, marketing was about branding. the other common pigeon hole. regardless of how different these products were, he was convinced that the common name was surely going to doom one or the other to poor results. as if a customer hankering for ice cream would see a dove bar in the freezer section and get a mental image of soaping up his underarms in the shower . . .i’m sure it’s a common occurrence.

in my hiring manager’s view, marketing came into the picture after a product was designed, created, etc.

to be sure, just as doctors are increasingly driven to specialization, there are marketing specialists who excel in one part of marketing or another . . .creative, catalog design, branding, analytics, social media, “being organized,” event management, agency work, etc. but marketing works best when it works together . . .when it is deeply integrated inside the operations and strategy of a company. i think companies that are heavily invested in marketing are the companies that will succeed. in later posts, i’ll share some statistics about the “value of brand,” which is shorthand for “the value created by successfully considering marketing across all functions.” in our view anyway, that’s what we’ve seen work.

today’s random example of hyperactive (which is to say, bad) marketing

June 9, 2009

file this under “why, we’ll just do some email marketing and take off like gangbusters”

this happens all the time . . .companies do not take the time to focus their marketing . . .instead taking the easier route of “doing a whole bunch of stuff.”

marketing works best when companies focus. choose to do only amplify a couple of things, and spend their time ensuring all tactics line up to support that work. customers do not have time to learn from a marketing pitch that you sell 128 products and have 6 major strategies and . . . .

just because you are hyperactive in creating stuff does not mean customers will be hyperactive in paying attention to it.

gm and microsoft’s big hairy marketing challenges

June 7, 2009

we’ll eventually get around to writing up some of our approaches . . .what’s worked for us and all that.

but am following two very interesting marketing campaigns at the moment. both are “come from behind” stories, though quite different.

on one hand, general motors has to completely resurrect it’s brand, redefine itself to its existing customer base, reassure investors and the market, and possibly salvage the american economy. great article in business week about what the marketing department is doing here.

microsoft is similarly faced with a bit of an uphill battle, but of an different kind. this is less about resurrection and more about overcoming the one competitor that has consistently outmanuevered microsoft. the campaign that launched for bing last week has been interesting to follow. the article in the seattle post-intelligencer is well done.

in general, the thing we always watch for is the level of integration . . .is the product consistent with the marketing message? that’s important. what are the other elements that have to be consistent to be really integrated? good question, and one we think about a lot — product, message, advertising, customer outreach methods, customer targeting . . .all of that and more has to work together.

it is in the level of integration that these two campaigns are so different — gm must “rebrand” and bring along a set of legacy products, a vast network (though smaller now) of dealers, and convince people to make $20K+ choices. microsoft has to shift the conversation from a rapidly established household brand in google, to convince people to change rapid-fire minute by minute decisions.

i’ve never bought a gm car, but if they make a really good car . . .i would at least consider them. google to me is a reflex. it’s almost harder to overcome the tiny decisions that lead me to go to google instead of bing. but, i’ll at least consider it. i have tried bing and it seemed fine, but i’ve probably spent 30 minutes on google just today, when i think about it.

anyway, these are two marketing campaigns that are going to be fascinating to watch because they will get so much attention. what is interesting is how many marketing campaigns you interact with on a daily basis that haven’t received any attention . . .but affect the choices you make.

good, but be careful

June 6, 2009

great graphic on social media landscape here:

but marketers do need to be careful about their expectations about social media, as I said in my comment on the blog.