Friday, July 15, 2011

Nothing to everyone

The next time you're trying to justify a marketing program to your boss, try using this as an argument...

"These spots position our product as something that people will find they enjoy only on very, very rare occasions."

How do you think that will go over?

That appears to be how Heineken Light is being positioned in this spot.

I get it. Heineken Light isn't perfect for every occasion. (Actually for me it's probably not perfect for any occasion). But why would you compare your product to something that is basically relegated to the dustbin of history?

It almost seems as if they're insinuating this beer has no relevance today.

Rather than trying to say to everyone that there may be a time, however rare, when our product could possibly be something you might enjoy, Heineken should find a segment people for whom Heineken Light is perfect most of the time, and market it to them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Really slow growth

The Morgan Motor Company was founded in 1910 when the auto business was a cottage industry. A century later, selling just a few hundred cars a year, it still is.

Everything about Morgan is the antithesis of today's modern automobile industry.

At the company's facilities in Malvern, England 163 craftsmen assemble cars by hand. There are no robots nor any assembly lines.

Its latest model, the Morgan 3 Wheeler, is an open roadster that features a two-cylinder S&S motorcycle engine mounted ahead of the front axle.

What Morgan proves is that not every business needs to be a growth business to succeed.

At about $50,000,000 a year in sales, they seem to be quite successful.

In fact, if Morgan were to focus on growth, it would actually kill what makes the company successful. Morgan is still around and thriving today because of its exclusivity, its classically beautiful designs, its craftsmanship. All of that would disappear if they tried to sell thousands of cars to a broad target.

It's not always about selling more. Sometimes it's about selling better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Assumptions vs Hypotheses

Assumptions are rooms without doors or windows.

They freeze the world at a moment in time.

They keep you from discovering new information.

They are lazy.

They are what everyone "knows" about a business, category and consumer.

They protect the status quo.

They lead to me-too products.

Assumptions are arrogant and kill innovation.

Hypotheses are a series of signposts that lead to a destination.

They are the foundation of experimentation.

They are subject to change based on new knowledge.

They require work.

They change what everyone knows about a business, category and consumer.

They identify and even create new opportunities.

They lead to breakthrough products.

Hypotheses are humble, yet they drive innovation.

Successful companies think hypothetically. Failed companies make assumptions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The naked truth, one of the internet's most successful retailers, has a problem.

It's not their sales. In just over ten years, their annual sales are well over one billion dollars.

It's not their profits. Even in this down economy, they seem to be hanging in there.

It's that 80% of their revenue still comes from the sale of shoes.

That's not entirely surprising since they began as an online shoe store and only started to add accessories and clothing in 2007. But now they're making a concerted effort to change that perception with a bold, new advertising campaign.

Strategic nudity is nothing new in advertising. Certainly not in fashion retailing. What makes this work for me is that nudity isn't the strategy, it's the executional idea that brings the strategy to life.

The strategy is: Zappos sells all kinds of clothes with the same fun attitude and great customer experience you've come to expect over the last ten years.

Is nudity a gimmick to grab your attention? Yes. But like all great advertising the gimmick is tied directly to the promise of the ad and reinforces the message. It's not a superfluous gag as is the case with the humor in most light beer advertising.

I'm sure some people will take offense to the ads. But that's okay. In the end, as long as the campaign drives sales, it's better to have a few people hate your ads than nobody notice them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Your brand is not the center of my universe

The problem most marketing executives have is perspective.

They spend eight, ten, twelve or sixteen hours a day thinking about their brands. They're in meeting after meeting where the topic is the brand. They're writing marketing plans about the brand. They're obsessing over brand identity and packaging details. Attending brand discovery focus groups. Picking apart the competitive brands. They're listening to their agency tell them how cool the brand is. In short, their brands occupy most of their lives.

Meanwhile, here's what's happening on the other side of the fence.

I see your commercial, say "that's cool" then get a phone call from a friend who wants to play golf tomorrow. Poof, you're gone.

I'm rushing through the store, filling my cart, trying to get home in time to make dinner. Your brand may be just one of fifty that I've thought about for ten seconds during that trip, if you're lucky.

I'm at the bar after our round of golf where there are fifteen taps and thirty other bottled beers available. Which brand is yours again?

There are thousands of brands in my life every day. From my computer to my toothpaste to my cereal to my shirt and on and on.

I barely have time for relationships with all the people I know. I certainly don't have time for a relationship with every brand I use.

I'll use your product and if it works I'll buy it again. If it doesn't, I'll probably move on. But I'm not going to have a conversation with you. I'm not going to 'like' you on Facebook so you can tell me how special you are every day.

Your brand may mean everything to you. It means very little to me.

Make it interesting. Make it different. Make it easy. Make it good. Then I'll give you money for the privilege of using it.

That is the extent of our 'relationship.'