Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 50 – page 50
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For fun, wanted to share two examples, one bad and one great, of restaurant marketing.

Bad Restaurant Marketing

This shot of the local KFC is from a recent trip back home in Hays, KS. It has a variety of problems:

  • A steak dinner for $2.49 stretches the bounds of credibility. A price that’s TOO low, doesn’t say value; it says WATCH OUT!
  • Extending KFC into steak doesn’t work either. Who is looking for beef when they see the Colonel’s white goatee and suit?
  • It’s misleading. When I showed it to my mom, she said it’s actually a CHICKEN FRIED steak special. But that’s not what the sign says. Maybe everybody in Hays knows that, but just driving by, you figure it’s an overly ambitious franchisee run amok.

Great Restaurant Marketing

In contrast, this February special from Houlihan’s is creative and on-target for several reasons:

  • It’s tied into current events – It builds off of people’s attention to the stock market. Any day in February when the Dow was up, everyone got free Italian donuts. On days when the Dow closed down, customers received a coupon for a free appetizer on the next visit.
  • It drives business when people are watching dollars – The Italian donuts are a higher-priced desert relative to Houlihan’s other small portion deserts. Inducing trial is likely to spur future sales since they’re incredibly good (trust me – I’ve tried them more than once). In the alternative, on down days, getting benefit from the coupon requires another visit to Houlihan’s.
  • There’s some built-in sizzle – The promotion includes an opportunity to win a $5000 savings bond. Strong because it gets attention, has a high perceived valued, and costs Houlihan’s much less than that figure.
  • It has built-in free advertising support – Once getting over the hurdle of people knowing about the promotion, think about how many media outlets provide 5x per week prompts on the Dow’s performance. It’s all free advertising.

Great marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, but it surely benefits from strategic thinking and implementation. Great job Houlihan’s!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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The start of baseball spring training reminds me of a favorite baseball story with a great sports strategy lesson. It’s been so long since I heard it, who knows if it’s true, but it’s so rich with strategy lessons, it almost doesn’t matter!

The Story

During a Yankee World Series appearance, Joe DiMaggio’s arm was reportedly injured. Scouting reports said opponents could run on anything hit to center since supposedly DiMaggio couldn’t throw. How did DiMaggio deal with this blatant weakness?

Even though hurt, he could make one throw a day. Most people would save that one throw for an important play late in the game. Not DiMaggio. Before the game, with the opposing team on-field, he’d uncork a bullet from center to home plate. Seeing this for themselves, the other team wouldn’t dare try to take advantage of DiMaggio’s arm by attempting to grab an extra base when things really counted.

Strategy Lesson One

Strategy lesson one focuses on the fundamental strategic question, “What matters?” In this case, preventing runners from advancing on balls hit to center was paramount. And since DiMaggio’s physical prowess was failing him, he used an alternative – his mental skill – to accomplish this important objective. His adeptness demonstrates a true strategic perspective. Applying this lesson is relatively clear: understand your desired objective and be open to unconventional ways to accomplish it.

Strategy Lesson Two

The second strategic lesson is you don’t have to display all your capabilities all the time for them to be effective. DiMaggio relied on his “brand” reputation, with only slight real evidence, to create a larger-than-reality perception. Using this strategy lesson is more subtle. Suppose you have a brand capability that’s temporarily weakened or under attack. While it’s fine to not rely on the capability, you may still need to let others know it’s in your repertoire. If that’s the case, determine in what ways you can compensate, perhaps by taking advantage of an opportunity to mass resources temporarily and deliver better than typical performance or ward off a competitor.

This two-part sports strategy lesson can help prevent others from taking advantage of you or your brand when it really counts! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Defining your brand can pose a significant strategic business challenge for organizations. This is particularly true when your organization is trying to work through defining your brand  in a group setting. In these situations, there’s often a tendency among individuals who live “inside” the organization to suppose it can stand for everything a company desires. That is generally impractical and a recipe for failure when ultimately your customers and the marketplace are going to determine how your brand lives in their minds and fulfills their expectations.

Here’s an alternative strategic thinking exercise to employ.

Start by asking, “What doesn’t our brand stand for or represent?”

By beginning with defining your brand through a “not” definition, you may subsequently be able to more readily express a succinct, targeted brand definition.

The strategic thinking exercise works beyond business brand definition efforts. You can also use it when having trouble narrowing the number of strategic or creative concepts you’re trying to fit into other things you may be trying to articulate. While you want to know what you stand for, it’s equally valuable to be able to say what you don’t represent.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. We draw on our varied strategy experience in defining new brands, jump starting lagging ones, and  rehabilitating battered brands. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It’s Super Bowl Monday. Despite minimal interest in the game, I watched much of it, primarily to see the commercials and Bruce Springsteen.

Since the commercials will be a hot topic of conversation at work today (although probably not as hot as the game), let me point you toward two experts (Steve Yastrow and good friend Sally Hogshead) who Tweeted about the ads live during the game last night. Their conversation is online at Tom Peters’ website, so be sure to check it out.

While you’re at it, check out Sally on the Sunday morning Today Show talking about the best Super Bowl ads of all time.

As for me, my favorites were:

Not a great year for commercials, but the football game (and Bruce telling us to get away from the guacamole dip & chicken fingers) more than made up for it!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Here’s a cool guerrilla marketing example from Southwest Airlines.

At Cleveland-Hopkins Airport, the company has created a tangible way to remind customers of its “No Hidden Fees” benefit and visually reinforce the customer’s service experience with Southwest gate agents.

This is a wonderful example of “physical evidence” in services marketing, i.e. taking an intangible and providing some type of tangibility to it to reinforce customer perceptions of service quality or value.

Click here for the original post link to see the video if it doesn’t appear on your screen.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I met David Harkleroad at an October 2005 branding conference in New York where I spoke on internal branding.

During the conference, I received an email invitation from him to join his LinkedIn network. I wasn’t familiar with it but thought it was cool that he invited me, especially after hearing him explain to someone that we was selective in extending invitations.

Since then, LinkedIn has proven to be a very valuable business tool to connect with and keep track of former co-workers and individuals I’ve met at conferences. It’s great to be able to easily learn more about people’s jobs and interests. And with the Q&A, groups, and applications that have been added (check out my profile where this blog is now available), it’s given even more options for growing a personal network, contributing ideas to others’ questions, and building awareness for the blog.

Based on that early encounter, I’m still relatively selective in expanding my network, periodically reviewing contacts and testing myself on how well I know or remember them. Yet, I have a great friend, Amy Hoppenrath, a well-known LinkedIn Trainer, who is an advocate for very open networking.

Either way, if you’re a reader and on LinkedIn, let’s connect networks. I’m closing in on 500 connections, and you could be it! Thanks to David Harkleroad for being connection #1!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Amid a challenging business environment, look for opportunities to tune-up your marketing approach. Here’s a starter checklist that could be valuable for you:

Maximize What You’ve Got – Inventory creative that’s already developed and make sure it’s being used in all ways possible, i.e. Can customers get collateral as web downloads? Can you get your new TV commercial to customers in more ways? And when developing new creative, think through all potential uses before beginning. Get the extra paragraph, photograph, take, or edit that will extend its uses or effective life.

Align Messages – Pushing all-out for increased sales can create a proliferation of messages as you try to ensure every possible product and feature gets visibility. One downside can be confusion and lack of clarity among both customers and the internal sales organization. It’s a good time to revisit a solid strategic messaging platform, working hard to tie messages back to it to improve clarity.

Develop New Capabilities – Are there processes or skills that you’ve been putting off developing within your marketing team? Now might be the time to create a skunk works effort and get a new approach to an old challenge underway. To also develop your team, involve staff members not typically on your usual list of participants. That will pay dividends later as well.

Monitor Competitors’ Efforts and Share of Voice (SOV) – Most – but not all – companies cut back on marketing investments during challenging economic times. Gauge what’s happening among your competitors. Has everybody in your market pulled back, signaling an opportunity to maintain investment (or reduce it at a lower rate) and increase your share of voice? Or are certain competitors using a longer-term approach, investing for the eventual business recovery? Knowing your industry’s situation helps shape decisions on your brand’s best approach.

Spread Out or Heavy Up – Based on SOV insights, determine how to spread your marketing investment across channels. If share of voice is down overall, consider extending your investment into new areas while still maintaining enough frequency and relative presence. If you’re being outspent overall, it might be right to mass your investment in fewer places and “own” what you can, using other means to point customers and prospects to the areas where you’ve heavied up.

Consolidate Marketing Partners – When every dollar of marketing investment is precious, you need maximum efficiencies. One approach is to look at your external marketing partners and determine if there are process and cost advantages in working with fewer partners. Making this type of reduction allows you to manage fewer relationships (time efficiency), grow deeper relationships (message alignment advantages), and negotiate for lower per unit costs (investment efficiencies).

Generate a Guerrilla Tools List – Revisit and expand your list of available marketing tools, particularly low-cost and “free” ones that may be underutilized. A great starting point is the website for Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing with its list of 100 guerrilla marketing tools. Additionally, you can customize and expand the list of tools for your business. Be sure to consider blogs, podcasts, and social networking sites that allow you to inexpensively reach new parts of your audience.

Those are seven places to start fine tuning and maximizing your marketing efforts. Please comment on approaches you’re using successfully. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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