Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Repost

This is from 2009. It's a timeless message that all business people need to be reminded of from time to time.

Save the best for now

Do you know who your best customers are and how much they're worth to you? Their value extends way beyond the money spent in your store or on your product. Yes, they're your most consistent revenue stream, but they're also your most important marketing tool and an infinite source of information about your product or service. The question is, what are you doing to maximize their value?

Do you have a system in place for them to tell you what they like and don't like about your product? Have you made it easy and do you reward them for telling their friends about you? And most important, have you thanked them in a meaningful way for their patronage? With so many social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, it's easier than ever to stay in touch with your biggest fans. Your customers, however, have more choices than ever these days and other businesses would love to take them from you. If you're not willing to give your best to your best customers, it won't be long until you find yourself with no customers at all.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Because you can never have enough zombies

I love this idea.

Not so much the spot. It's just okay. The acting could be better. The joke could have been set up better. And there should have been a lot more zombies.

What I really like is the event it's promoting: "A Zombie Infested 5K Obstacle Course Race." I'm not sure who came up with the idea, but this is genius, a combination of cross country running, a military obstacle course, flag football and Shaun of the Dead.

How cool is that.

The first Run For Your Life is scheduled for 22 October in Baltimore and they're planning on more in other cities. If there's one near Milwaukee, I might just have to dig the old Nikes out of the closet and get back in running shape.

And that, my friends, is the power of innovation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MGD Lemonade goes sour

Here's a tip when you're developing your next new food or beverage product.

Make sure people like the taste.

I know that may seem obvious, but apparently it wasn't to Miller/Coors when they developed MGD 64 Lemonade. I haven't tried it myself, but upon reading review, after review, after review, it doesn't sound like I or the rest of the country is missing anything.

How bad is MGD 64 Lemonade?

It was only supposed to be on store shelves from Memorial Day through Labor Day, yet yesterday, Miller/Coors announced they were pulling it from the market early, paying distributors for their troubles, and creating a massive amount of negative publicity for the brand, rather than let the product quietly fade out of sight in five and a half weeks as scheduled.

Beer and lemonade isn't the problem. That combination has been around for a long time and it's actually possible to make it taste good. The problem is M/C boxed themselves in with the need to make it 64 calories and the only way to produce the product to that spec was with artificial lemon flavor and sweeteners that taste like... well we all know what they taste like.

And that's the problem with the whole MGD 64 brand, nothing is more important than the 64 calories and that's not the most important benefit in the category. It forces you to make choices that no rational person would make. And oh, yeah, when you're largest competitor comes out with a beer that's only 55 calories, you've lost your entire reason for being.

That's why you should never build a brand (or in this case a sub brand) around a feature or functional benefit. They're too easy to copy. Someone will and before you know it you'll be out of business.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We're not that "Mad"

AMC, the network that brought you "MadMen," wants to bring you a more modern view of the craft of advertising this fall with a new show called, "The Pitch."

The basic premise is this. An advertiser – they already have Kodak and Yahoo! signed up – gives two or three real ad agencies a chance to put together a pitch for real project assignment, all while being documented by video crews for the 10 days between the briefing and the pitch. The winning agency gets to execute their campaign and earns the revenue from the project. The losing agencies get nothing.

Not surprisingly, the producers of the show are having trouble getting agencies to participate.

New business pitches have been a part of advertising as long as there's been advertising. Clients are smart enough to know that they own the power in the relationship and often pit agencies against each other to see who has the best ideas, which team has the best chemistry, and who will give it to them cheaper. Even in private, its a grueling and demeaning process.

Aside from the fact that the show is asking the losing agencies to give the client their ideas for free, to commit significant resources to this pitch, and bring an even more unnatural element into an already unnatural process. It also exposes one of the industry's dirty little secrets...

There is no difference between agencies.

Every agency claims to have:
  • A "Proprietary Process" for coming up with great ideas.
  • A model for branding that will reveal your brand's true power.
  • A research methodology that will uncover incredible insights that no other agency can possibly duplicate.
  • A secret algorithm for effective media buying.
  • An integrated system that leverages all campaign elements to maximize impact.
  • A team of all-stars that you won't find anywhere else.
If any agency goes on the show it will make it clear to the world that J. Walter is just like Ogilvy. That Goodby isn't any different from Wieden. That Grey and Strawberry Frog have more in common than their names would suggest. And that would be bad for business.

As a friend of mine used to say as he was ready to jump ship to yet another agency in an effort to forward his career, "Same circus. Different clowns."

Oh, and if the producers are hoping to find alcohol fueled rages, office sex scandals, and a client getting his foot severed by a riding lawn mower, I hate to disappoint them, but that stuff went out with the '60s.