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Entries Tagged as 'Branding'

Who determines absolute value?

March 5th, 2014 · Books, Branding, Trends

AbsoluteValueMany people, myself included, believe in the power of a strong brand. Brand positioning has influenced buying decisions for years and a company with a strong sense of their own brand and a commitment to authentically walking out that brand is at an advantage over their competitors.

In the past, a great brand could significantly influence if not determine the absolute value of a product or service.

But, is that marketing truth evolving?

I’ve just finished reading the book Absolute Value, What Really Influences Customers in the Age of Nearly Perfect Information* by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen and it digs into this issue. The book offers many examples of how consumers have viewed and evaluated brands in the past and how they are coming to interact and judge them today. When you see the trends spelled out, in example after example, it’s pretty eye opening.

To kick things off — the authors list 5 widely held beliefs and suggest that they are all becoming less true today.

  1. A company’s brand is more important today than it has ever been
  2. Nurturing loyalty should be the marketer’s primary, day-to-day concern
  3. All customers are irrational
  4. An overload of opinions may actually paralyze people
  5. Positioning is the most important part of the marketing game

The authors assert that most brands are losing their role as a definer of quality and that a consumer’s past satisfaction is not as anchoring as it used to be. They also contend that because of the abundance of rational information that is so readily available to all of us, our methods of evaluating products and services has changed dramatically.

We really don’t shop/buy the way we used to. Let’s say you need to buy a car. Back in the day, you either went to a dealer based on your brand preference or you might have reacted to a TV spot or your neighbor’s experience.

But today, what would you do? You would look online and read the reviews. You’d look at safety reports. You’d then go to a site and could review exactly what the dealer paid for any car you were interested in. Finally, armed with print outs and a price you knew was 3% over dealer invoice, you’d head to the dealership.

Suddenly, you have access to all kinds of data that wasn’t readily available a decade ago and much of that data is ranking, grading and critiquing the item in question.

Given those two choices – a fuzzy brand preference or hundreds/thousands of reviews from other people – which do you think will influence you more today?

If you’re like most other people, you’ll trust the masses more than your own perception or previous experiences, unless you’re already a brand zealot.

That’s where the problem comes in for marketers. In this new marketplace, there’s a voice that is overshadowing theirs. And it’s not just word of mouth. It’s word of mouth, amplified. Many voices and they’re so much easier to find/listen to. And it turns out, their collective wisdom and experience is quite compelling.

This book is a thought provoking read. (Buy a copy of the book**) It will make the marketer in you tilt your head and really wonder about the effectiveness of your efforts. It will make the consumer in you examine your own purchasing patterns and identify some of your biggest influencers.

But whichever hat you’re wearing — it will force you to look at our world and your work in marketing a little differently. Just like your consumers are doing.

 

 

 

*I received a copy of this book from Emanuel Rosen but I really did read it and I really liked it and found it thought provoking.  You’d be amazed at the number of books I receive that I don’t really like… and therefore, don’t mention to you.

**Amazon affiliate link

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Why would I pick you?

September 1st, 2013 · Branding, Passion, Psychology

brand_redmarble_optWe have to remember that every day, both our existing customers and potential customers are looking at us and wondering “why would I pick you?”

Marketing 101 is that you need to understand how you’re different from your competitors.  It is perfectly logical — if you cannot differentiate yourself in terms of what you sell, how you sell it or why you sell it — the only differentiator left is price.

Maybe it boils down to this.

Would you rather invest the time and brain equity into figuring out (from the consumer’s point of view) how you are different or would you rather just have to be the cheapest?

Either choice is a good one.  It’s really all about your business’ strategy.  After all, Walmart seems to be doing okay with the cheapest route.  But let’s say that you don’t want to commit yourself to a perpetual price war.  Then what?

Then you need to go back to really understanding how you’re different (for the love of all that is holy, please do not say — it’s our people or we care more) and what sub-set of potential customers is in perfect alignment with that distinction.

Did you twitch a little at the phrase “sub-set of potential customers?”  This is one of the main reasons why I think companies don’t discover and honor their brand better.  They want everyone’s money — not just the right people’s money.  I’ll dig into that later this week.  For now, let’s stay focused on the discovering how you’re different.

We have a branding process that we walk clients through and I’m proud to say that many of our clients will tell you that it completely changed the way they did business.  It’s one of our favorite things to do at McLellan Marketing Group.

But…for you do it yourselfers — start by really taking some time and answering these questions, but remember, the answer can never be the product or service you sell:

  • Beyond profitability, what is the mission of your company?
  • If your company were to leave a legacy, what would it be?
  • How does your organization make the world a better place?
  • If firm disappeared tomorrow, what would be missed most of all?
  • What is the single most-important aspect of your company?
  • With regard to your organization, what do you feel passionate about?
  • What business is your company in?
  • What business is your company not in?
  • Which three adjectives best describe your organization?
  • Who (customer) would love your company the most?
  • How do you prioritize your customers? If you had to allocate 100 points between the different customers segments or types (in terms of importance), how would you do so?
  • What customer need does your product/service fulfill? Why does your target customer need or want you sell?
  • What emotion(s) do you most closely associate with your product or service?
  • How will your organization change your industry?
  • How will your company change the world?

And some fun ones to twist your brain around:

  • If your company was a shape, what would it be?
  • If your organization was a texture, what would it be?
  • If your firm was a mood or feeling, what would it be?
  • If company was something from nature, what would it be?

If you’re really brave — pull together some of your best customers and see how they answer these questions.  Or, schedule a team retreat and walk through them with your employees.

If you actually take the time to really dig into each of these questions until you’ve come up with answers that resonate and aren’t the first or a trite response — I think you’ll be surprised at how it changes the way you look at your business, what potential customers you approach and how you describe yourself.

Are you brave enough to tackle these questions?

 

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Building a great brand means going the extra mile

August 1st, 2013 · Branding, Customers/Clients, Love affair with customers · 42 Comments

Want a great brand? Building a great brand means going the extra mile. Let me give you an example. I travel a lot so I decided it was time to invest in a suitcase that could take the beating that 100+ flights a year dishes out without having to be replaced every year.  So after [Read more...]

Why isn’t marketing’s version of storytelling working?

November 11th, 2012 · Branding, Content Marketing, Sales, Storytelling · 13 Comments

Storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling. Seems like every marketing book, blog (including mine if you’ve been reading this week’s posts) and study is talking about how we should be using storytelling as a marketing technique. I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately, I think most attempts fall short. Earlier this week — I made the point that [Read more...]

Have we lost the art of storytelling in marketing?

November 5th, 2012 · Branding, Content Marketing, Psychology, Sales, Storytelling · 17 Comments

As the buzz about content marketing, social media and all things digital continues to rise, one of the catch phrases that gets a lot of attention is storytelling in marketing.  We afford it incredible lip service but do we actually practice it? As we give way to our USA Today sound byte style of sharing [Read more...]

Get your brand on

September 20th, 2012 · Branding, Business owner/leader stuff · No Comments

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times — your brand is not your logo.  It’s so much more. Want to explore what branding is really about and how it can completely change the trajectory of your company?  Then you need to get to Chicago on October 11th for my friends at [Read more...]

The most important job any business owner has

September 6th, 2012 · Branding, Business owner/leader stuff, Strategy · No Comments

You know…sometimes we make things so much more complicated than they need to be.  Do you want to own or work for a company with longevity, a strong reputation and customers who are your best advertising? Then follow this advice from The Little Blue Book of Advertising.  But I warn you…the simplicity of the advice [Read more...]

Why do the hard work of building a brand?

August 20th, 2012 · Branding, Strategy · 5 Comments

Let’s assume the following is true: Your brand is not your logo but instead it is the essence (heart, true north, reason for being) of your organization. A business either builds a brand of distinction or has to compete based on price A brand isn’t easy or common.  Most companies don’t have the courage to [Read more...]

Why your brand is dead in the water

August 14th, 2012 · Branding, Employees · 14 Comments

Here’s how most brand evolve.  The organization’s leadership huddles up at a corporate retreat (or if it’s a start-up, around the kitchen table) and decide on a tagline and maybe a logo. The tagline becomes the battle cry of the brand and they’re off to the races. Or worse yet…the organization hires an agency who [Read more...]

Any brand can become talkable

July 28th, 2012 · Branding, Storytelling, Word of Mouth · 7 Comments

Are you talkable? On this blog, we often explore the importance of brand and the power of word of mouth. It seems that many business owners/leaders believe that you can just plan on something being spread by word of mouth and voila, it happens. (Sort of like planning for a video to go viral). The [Read more...]