Branding | The Brainzooming Group - Part 51 – page 51
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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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With many great strategy and branding insights at the marcus evans Customer Segmentation Conference last week, we’ll take several days to recap them. Brand building lessons abound, even if you’re not in a brand’s traditional target market. Two great examples were featured at the conference: Food Network and Bliss Spas. Both address customer segmentation and its branding impacts.

The Food Network

Michael Smith, Senior VP – Marketing, Creative & Brand Strategy from Food Network covered its dramatic 10-year growth (from 42nd ranked to 19th ranked network) driven by segmenting a niche market and programming to reach non-traditional viewers. Its initial target was gourmands. While an attractive audience, it didn’t offer particularly attractive growth.

Following several customer segmentation efforts, the network saw opportunities to broaden its audience through other segments:

  • “Pressed for Timers” wanted quick recipes and meal prep solutions
  • “Adventurers” combined food and lifestyle interests seeking entertainment, escape, and discovery

This customer segmentation helped create day part-based sub-brands addressing these needs. “In the Kitchen” became the daytime sub-brand, with learning-oriented programs delivering meal solutions. “Nighttime” programming links food to travel, history, and reality TV styled competitions. Hosts cross both sub-brands to link the network’s programming.

Bliss Spa

The Bliss Spa case study was presented by Kerry O’Day, its Marketing & Publissity Director. The Bliss Spa story is a great example of tying all customer experience points to the brand’s foundation to maximize branding impacts. With a vision of making people’s lives more relaxed, fun, and less stressful, the brand’s personality embodies being:

  • “Tongue in chic” (to make people smile)
  • A spa-thority (using its credibility as a spa service provider to extend into products)
  • A place for “You Time” (playing on the emotional benefits of its services and products for target consumers)

The Bliss brand, with limited dollars, was originally built on public relations and unconventional marketing. Even with more dollars now, its unconventional approach is an integral part of Bliss. One example? The spas serve small brownie bites – an indulgence that doesn’t feel that way since they’re so tiny! Bliss turned the challenge of finding local bakers into a contest, creating customer participation in brownie selection and driving website activity.

Three Take-Aways on Customer Segmentation and Branding Impacts

  • Michael Smith said successfully identifying and implementing segmentation is as much art as science. While Food Network did a lot of segmentation work, creating the specific sub-brands and programs came down to making solid, insight-filled business decisions and accepting risk.
  • I love brands where everything comes from a strategic foundation (Southwest Airlines is a favorite example). Given it’s still growing, Bliss accomplishes this through continuity in people around at its start, hiring people fitting its brand personality, and doing creative in-house. It will be fun to watch how its brand continuity plays out amid future growth.
  • There’s always value in guerrilla marketing (or as Bliss would probably call it, “Girlrilla” Marketing). Check out this link for questions to help enhance your list of guerrilla marketing tools. – 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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In the Parking Lot

I was at VML in Kansas City yesterday for a meeting. Visitors are greeted in the parking lot by these signs not only representing the new VML brand identity, but also setting the stage for strategy and innovation!

In the Bathroom

In the midst of our conversations with VML on branding, there was a product in the men’s restroom that I hadn’t seen before. It’s rather off-putting brand name? The Dyson Airblade (say it aloud for the full effect).

While it promises to be “the fastest, most hygenic hand dryer,” it was obviously named by engineers. Who really wants to stick their wet hands into a contraption whose first name sounds like a threat and whose second seems to tell you exactly how the threat will be carried out? Just in time for Halloween!


At the Polls

Voting the other day, there were signs displayed outside warning against campaigning too close to the polling place. While most candidates’ supporters were at the nearest main intersection, this supporter for candidate Steve Roberts seems to say, “I’ll operate inside your lines, but I’ll damn well get right up next to them.”

I vote for this guy’s chutzpah!

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE! You can vote in the blog poll to suggest upcoming posts. You can also vote to request a copy of the new Brainzooming book, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” by emailing me early and often at mike@mikebrownspeaks.com.

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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This is the last planned post from The Market Research Event (TMRE) – 4 intense days with so many learning and insight opportunities to share!

  • TMRE runs its conference with 5 minutes breaks – never seen anything like it. Hats off to them for making it work since it adds at least three more educational sessions in a 3-day conference. That translates directly into increased value for participants.
  • Interesting how many research companies include orange in their color pallets. Like that a lot! Every research company describes itself as a “full service market research company.” Doubt that a whole lot!
  • Disneyland isn’t Disney World. Granted, I was last at Disney World more than a decade ago. At the time though, it appeared to be the epitome of smart marketing, managing all conceivable elements of customer experience. Disneyland clearly doesn’t. (Quick examples – no mention of going to the park at check-in, the early-order breakfast door hanger was never replaced after using it the first day, and a bag’s worth of crushed pretzels remained on the floor overnight without being cleaned up). So, what’s not happening?
  • Disneyland note pads feature Mickey ears and the phrases
    “Ideapad” and “Inspire. Innovate. Dream.” at the top. COOL! And it has meeting rooms called “Adventure” and “Fantasy.” COOL!! But when you put the pads in basement level rooms with low ceilings, poor lighting, and no windows, it’s a little more challenging to inspire, innovate, and dream.
  • Despite my mini-rants above, how much happier would your workplace be if the background music played “Zippity Do Dah,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “The Mickey Mouse Club Theme” in heavy rotation?

And if you haven’t gotten enough about TMRE yet, go over to my Schmoozii post from yesterday about the concept of “creative consumers.” It’s the snarkiest post I’ve done yet, although I do realize Barrett that it isn’t all that snarky…but I’m working on 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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Heading home from Denver on Sunday morning, I stopped for a to-go sandwich and wound up choosing an “Angus Beef and Cheddar Cheese” sandwich. Interestingly, back at home Sunday afternoon, I saw a Sonic ad for its new Angus bacon cheeseburgers.

It would have been just as easy to say “roast beef and cheese” and “bacon cheeseburger,” but in both cases the specificity of mentioning “Angus” beef made these two random messages much more memorable.

There’s your Friday marketing lesson – don’t overlook opportunities to provide even marginally more specificity in your customer communications to stand out and improve memorability.

And as a bonus, here’s your weekend nutrition lesson: If you’re watching your weight, stay away from the Angus bacon cheeseburgers – 760 calories? Eeeeeek!!!

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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Last Saturday, my niece Valerie treated us to roller coaster riding at Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver. The afternoon provided great branding lessons on aligning naming and customer experience implementation.

A ticket booth sign promoted Rapid Ride passes – $14.99 add-ons permitting, as the materials stated, time savings by moving to the front of the line for rides. It was touted as improving your customer experience by providing more family time together at the Elitch Gardens as you enjoyed the park.

We decided to get three Rapid Ride passes. When Valerie bought the tickets, she received a receipt for one pass, but nothing we could actually use. The ticket taker told us to check with Guest Relations. The Guest Relations worker said the receipt was an internal stub, and that although she could sell the Rapid Ride passes, none had been delivered to Guest Relations yet. She sent Valerie back to the ticket booth to wait in line. After redoing the transaction for three Rapid Ride passes, they didn’t have the passes either. By the time a manager brought them over, we’d blown thirty minutes getting passes to speed up our park experience. Needless to say, we were seeing a disconnect in the Rapid Ride pass naming and customer experience we were enduring.

So think about these three branding lessons related to defects in aligning naming and customer experience:

  • A brand really is more than the name; it’s a customer’s experience with a product or service. When something’s called “Rapid,” everything about the customer experience better be “rapid.” It shouldn’t take thirty minutes for anything whose promise is based on rapidity.
  • Don’t get focused on narrow brand attributes during naming. While Elitch Gardens emphasizes speed in the name, we also got to select our seats before anyone else. For roller coaster lovers, riding at the front or back every time is nearly as good as cutting in line. But the name obscured this attractive customer experience feature.
  • Provide honest information about the customer experience people are purchasing. At the first coaster, it was unclear how to use the passes – there were no signs. Turns out there wasn’t a special line Saturday; we had to walk up a ride’s exit line. And only after checking the passes did we learn they were good only five times and only on certain rides at Elitch Gardens.

All three of these misaligned elements on naming and customer experience are important mistakes to avoid in reconciling what’s important to customers, the brand promise, and actual experiences! – 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. 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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SPECIAL OFFER! Don’t forget – there’s still time to WIN a book by helping build the audience for this blog. Check out how right here!

“If you invent your own instrument, you’re automatically one of the top three musicians in the world on that instrument.” – Matt Goldman, Co-Founder of the Blue Man Group (August 2008 “Inc.”)

That quote is how we started the week working through creating a personal category to set yourself apart. And if you’ve been playing along at home all week, you should have a wide variety of potential possibilities as input into your category.

So what are some steps to dramatically narrow the list of ideas? Here’s a flashback to some previous posts you can use to narrow your possibilities:

Try to narrow to 10-15% of your original ideas, and then begin looking for elements that you can put together to create a new category with which to describe your talents. Ideally the category should be distinctive and defined in a way that you become the only answer to, “Who are the best people who can do this?”

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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