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Scott Davis of Prophet, author of “The Shift,” covered broad concepts from his new book on the changing perspectives visionary marketers are adopting in a business environment where senior marketers get about 2 years to make a business impact. His presentation was part of the 2009 Business Marketing Association Conference.

His underlying theme is dramatic changes in business within the past five years haven’t driven enough changes in marketing. The following list hits some of the significant observations from Scott’s fast-paced (and too short, due to scheduling) presentation:

  • The Shift is about replacing the old marketing mindset with an influence model and a clear focus on customer acquisition, loyalty, and retention.
  • With the rapid turnover among CMOs, the easiest place to signal near-term change has been through changes in marketing communications; this has reinforced a narrow view of marketing as not understanding fundamental business issues.
  • The dialogue in marketing changes when we start talking about growth, and being able to present solid trade-off decisions that tie marketing mix decisions to underlying business strategy issues.
  • Visionary marketers are creating strategic growth, balancing short and long term issues, advancing the reality that customers own the brand, driving revenue initiatives, coming to grips with moving ahead with 60% completed initiatives (that will be tweaked based on in-market learnings), and enabling collaboration across the business.
  • Five shifts are highlighted in Scott’s book:
    • Starting with business strategy (and working back to marketing strategy)
    • Galvanizing networks (with influence, pull, engagement, participation, transparency, & authenticity)
    • Driving pervasive innovation (it’s about experiences & business models, not products
    • Inspiring marketing excellence
    • Cultivating a relentless customer focus across the business (done through CEO strategic directives, clarity in positioning, and building tangible business cases).
  • Marketers have to display a P&L mindset, even if they don’t have direct P&L responsibility.
  • According to Scott, “A lot of great stuff happens in a downturn. Brands are getting scrappy, shifting budgets, and accepting more margin of error.”

- Mike Brown, Brainzooming, June 12, 2009

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This originally appeared on the Funny Eye for the Corporate Guy blog and is from an actual photograph of a Holiday Inn that was in the midst of changing its brand affilitation. Somewhere a brand manager should be dying a slow death.

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Joe Pine of Strategic Horizons opened the Business Marketing Association conference’s second day covering the fundamental economic shift resulting in “placemaking,” the concept (and actual implementation) of businesses using venues and events to create experiences. These experiences are becoming the predominant economic offering. Here are three key themes from his incredibly content-rich presentation: authenticity, place, and new variables.

Authenticity

According to Pine, “With every economic change, there’s a change in consumer sensibilities.” After explaining the move from a service to an experience economy, Pine highlighted authenticity as the new consumer sensibility, i.e. the criteria by which people are choosing what they buy. Being authentic ties to three rules:

1. If you’re authentic, you don’t have to say it.
2. If you say you’re authentic, you better be.
3. It’s easier to be authentic if you DON’T say you are.

Authenticity doesn’t come through a claim; it comes through “rendering” it within your organization and for your customers. It’s ultimately gauged by how true your offer is to itself and whether what your offer is what it says it is. Creating authenticity across thousands of customer interactions has to stem from imparting the brand within your employee base first.

Place

Companies that really get the criticality of experience are effectively using place as a staging ground for events allowing prospects and customers to experience a brand in ways that make then want to pay attention. Pine offered several examples of businesses doing this very well:

  • ING Direct designed cafes to create a banking experience. All employees in the cafes are both trained baristas and financial professionals, playing a dual customer service role as they engage prospects. Its several locations have created $1 billion in new accounts since introduction.
  • Johnson Controls has an experience center to simulate power outages and allow b2b buyers to experience the impact of its products in these very real situations.
  • Case Construction has a huge “sandbox” to “play” with its construction equipment.
  • The US Army employs the concept online with its America’s Army website. It has games that engage potential recruits online. As they succeed at missions within the game, they qualify as recruits.

New Variables in Creating Experiences

Within experiences, efficacy metrics become much richer than those for more traditional marketing approaches. The reason? Variables at the marketer’s disposal to engage prospects and customers go beyond trying to reach the maximum number of people with an ad.
Experience efficacy is measured as:

(The impact of number of people x Duration of experience x Degree of attention x Intensity of experience x Memorability) divided by the Cost of the Experience.

An additional experience marketing element that impacts ROI comes from prospect and customer willingness to pay for experiences even before buying a product or service. Examples offered included:

  • The American Girl Place with its in-store events
  • Harvard Business School Conferences create interest in book sales of presenting authors
  • Starizon – Charges $10,000 for potential customers to visit and experience its location where it used its innovation approaches for the design.

The impact of this is the denominator in the Experience ROI equation offsets costs with admission fees. As a result, ROI could actually become infinite as a denominator goes to zero. In keeping with the conference theme, the challenge for marketers of all types is to unlearn the traditional approaches that have worked in a service economy, and be able to embrace new realities where experiences are the source of the value being created today. – Mike Brown

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This Thursday’s guest post is a first in that it was unsolicited, and it introduces an international perspective since its author is from the UK. It’s been cool how many people globally have been following Brainzooming, particularly because of Twitter. Next week’s guest post will originate from Australia.

Relative to the topic, we haven’t spent too much time on Brainzooming discussing branding and specifically how logos fit into marketing efforts. We’ll address some of that gap today with this guest post from Ben Johnson of Logoinn, a custom logo design service provider based in the UK. Here’s Ben’s take on integrating logos into branding efforts:

Branding is an early step in developing a company or product. Naturally, you want potential customers to recognize your brand from among the competition by showing you have something not being offered by anyone else. Yet, among all the introductory activities business leaders face, they may consider logo design a secondary matter. That’s not sound strategic thinking though if you’re trying to mount a successful marketing and branding effort.

For example, think of Nike. The “Swoosh” first comes to mind. What if there were no Swoosh? Would you as quickly recall the perceptions you have associated with the Nike brand? Most likely not.

Hence, before moving ahead with a marketing and branding effort, a well-designed, attractive logo is vital. A strong logo is necessary to directly impact the customers’ minds and convey your brand attitude and benefits to the target market.

Other reasons to place a deliberate emphasis on establishing an innovative, strategic logo design? Doing so:

Gives your brand a unique identity
One of the most important functions of a strong business logo is establishing a brand identity that’s easily recognized and remembered by customers. A person may not remember your business by name alone, so integrating a logo into your identity system makes it easier to create customer recognition of your business at a glance.

Shows stability, reliability, and credibility
If you don’t have a logo or have one that doesn’t accurately portray your business message, it can undermine customer confidence and desire to do business with you. A logo that accurately represents your business, however, contributes to leaving a lasting impression of stability, reliability, and credibility.

Can make your brand a personality
Think again about Nike and the brand impact it would lose without the Swoosh. Would its brand be as strong today if that image weren’t known by customers? Would the name work as well by itself? A unique logo gives a brand personality that can dramatically improve memorability over the long term.

Provides more polish for your brand
Having a logo is important, and having a professionally-designed one is vital. If a logo doesn’t look professional or is not well designed, it will reflect poorly on your business image. Customers may get the impression you don’t care about the way your business presents itself, which might signal you also don’t care about the quality of products or services you provide.

You can start the design process by brainstorming images you want to represent your business, engaging a logo design company for help, and ultimately working through the entire design process. Obviously, developing an appropriate logo takes time and effort, but getting a strategically sound logo in place is a crucial initial investment that will open the door to successful marketing and branding, which should contribute to your company’s long run success. - Ben Johnson

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Strategic Thought: Adaptability is a great thing to have when planning & implementing strategy, but at some point, you have to be able to depend on some degree of consistency for successful performance.

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When Southwest Airlines unveiled a new fare structure along with its return to a number-specific boarding process, it was a potential brand deal breaker for me. For someone who had made great sport of flourishing under the old 3 letter boarding process, I envisioned losing out on my fairly regular #1 general boarding position. This coveted spot was secured through strategic thinking, planning, early arrival, relationship building, stamina, and pure competitive spirit.

Having flown Southwest many times since the modifications, the process change has been great from my perspective. It still favors planning and punctuality, but it’s shifted the strategy to only a few minutes before the check in time 24 hours before the flight, not sitting on the floor for several hours at the airport before departure.

The early arrival, stamina, and relationship building – the most problematic aspects of getting a good seat under the old approach – have all been removed. And having snagged my preferred seating areas even into the lower B group (i.e., 80 people having boarded before me), I don’t mind the competitiveness is pretty much out of the equation as well.

Another bonus has been an upgrade in most Southwest boarding areas, with more comfortable seating and ready access to power outlets. I can only assume that in the Southwest focus on keeping planes flying (and not on the ground), these innovations were to keep people close to the gate and not wandering off to other parts of the concourse. All designed for a higher likelihood of on-time departures.

This is a great example of the emotional connection we have with brands, the apprehension and uncertainty changes to personally important brand dimensions can create for customers, and the ability of re-win customers when creativity leads to a clearly better experience. The Southwest switch was a wonderful case study for how a great brand does this very well.


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I’ll be leading the social media team at this week’s Business Marketing Association UNLearn Conference in Chicago. The sold-out conference features more than 20 sessions on a broad array of topics. The social media team will be doing live tweeting, blogging, video interviews, and I’m sure a variety of other projects to document and share the conference with attendees and those who can’t be there live.

The main social media page for the conference is www.marketing.org/unlearn – visit this link to branch off to Twitter searches (the conference hashtag is #bma09), daily blogs, and links to video interviews.


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