Friday, March 9, 2012

Nature Valley sales climb

A lot of people talk a good game when it comes to bringing their brand to life, and then there's Nature Valley.

A General Mills brand that's all about the outdoors, energy and experience, Nature Valley has just launched a website that takes you on virtual hikes of some of the most famous trails in a few national parks.

Why spend a million dollars on a site that doesn't explicitly sell product?

In a New York Times article on the project, Nature Valley marketing director Scott Baldwin puts it this way, “Supporting lifestyle causes that your customers care about is what’s going to keep them loyal to you, and when they have a choice, maybe they’ll choose you.”

It's a strategy that seems to be working for them as they've gained nearly four points of market share, to 41% of the market. It's a strategy that works only because they know their brand and the people who buy their bars.

If you know your brand, you don't always have to sell your product to sell your product.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cartier takes flight

Cartier isn't like any other jeweler, so why would they advertise like every other jeweler?

This three minute spot ran as a roadblock on the major U.S. networks on Sunday night. It was  remarkable for its look, remarkable for it's length, and remarkable for the fact that a retailer that sells $12,000 watches would advertise on prime time mass market television.

I like it.

They've created awareness for their brand and re-established their status. With one media buy they got millions of people thinking about them again.

Are there other ways they could have achieved the same goals? Probably. Are there better ways?

Who knows.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The generic path to failure

If you make a product it is one of two things: distinct or generic.

Distinct products have meaning. Distinct products have value. Distinct products offer us a reason to buy other than price.

The problem is distinct products are few and far between. And if you're not improving your product constantly, what is distinct today will be generic tomorrow and extinct next week.

So you have two options: make products with distinction or face extinction.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rush Limbaugh, social media and the lessons learned

Last week Rush Limbaugh said some hateful things on the radio and now he's paying the price with a loss of advertisers and pressure on local stations to drop his syndicated show from those who've always wanted to silence his voice and now sense he's given them the perfect opportunity.

While I doubt any marketer would ever be stupid enough to use words as inappropriate as Mr. Limbaugh, blogging, social media and interactive communications require that you have an opinion to be interesting. And, if you're doing it right people will disagree with you.

So how do you put your opinions out there in a way that won't create a firestorm of negativity when others challenge you?

Know your subject.
Mr. Limbaugh clearly did not do his research on Ms. Fluke's testimony. So not only was his argument offensive, it was inaccurate. Because of this any subsequent apology was weakened by the fact that he had to try to explain why he didn't know what he was talking about.

Think beyond your target.
The Dittoheads ate up the attack on Ms. Fluke. They got Mr. Limbaugh's special brand of "satire." Unfortunately for him, the rest of the world saw it as an ignorant, hateful rant. By not understanding that people may have found his mischaracterization of Ms. Fluke offensive, he energized a group much larger than his base.

Constantly monitor and respond to feedback.
Reaction to Mr. Limbaugh's on air tirade was swift. He, however, was slow to listen and respond. It wasn't until three days after the event started that he issued an apology. And, his apology reads like someone who wasn't listening to the criticism. That (and the politics that are baked deep into this controversy) are why so many are slow to accept it.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Speak as though those you are communicating with are in the room with you. Just because there's a microphone, camera, Twitter feed or Facebook wall between you and your audience, doesn't mean they're not human and won't react emotionally. The golden rule of online marketing applies here. If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it online.

It's not often we get so public and obvious a teaching moment. My thanks to Mr. Limbaugh for making my job easy this morning.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The idea factory

Your brain is an idea factory and like any factory it needs a few things to create quality output.

Quality Raw Materials: Ideas, observations, knowledge, art, stories and everything else you've ever experienced in your life. Your experiences are just like the materials factories buy – they can be of either low or high quality. The better the quality of your "raw materials" the better the quality of your output.

Energy: Not surprisingly, a well fed and well rested mind is capable of doing more work that one that's tired and starved of nutrients.

Inventory Management: How your store your experiences and the ability to retrieve them affects your ability to generate new ideas.

A Repeatable Process: Contrary to popular opinion, generating new ideas is not the result of horsing around with Nerf guns and random chance. If you have a structured process for generating ideas, you'll generate more ideas.

Quality Control: Not all ideas are good ideas, the key is to make sure the bad ones never leave the factory. Before you brainstorm set up the attributes and criteria upon which all your ideas will be judged.

Distribution System: Coming up with ideas is the easy part. Selling them is hard. Understanding and communicating the business objective, strategy, and how your idea fits within the context of the greater environment goes a long way to getting your ideas out into the marketplace.

Work on optimizing all areas of your idea factory and you'll become a better idea person.