Friday, July 12, 2013

Living in the shadow of the past

I love the technique in this Honda video. I like that Honda is reminding us of all the great things they've done over the years. It's a great statement about the company's willingness to be innovative, daring, and human.

What I don't like is that their current automotive line up doesn't live up to this promise. While all their vehicles are solid, have the features you want and are made with excellent quality, they are anything but innovative, daring or human.

Let's hope a few of the 3.5 million people who have seen this video are the designers, engineers and program managers who are developing the next generation Civic and Accord. I'd love for their future be as interesting as their past.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stereotypical marketing

In another of those coincidences where I write about something one day and a brand proves my point the next, we have this quotation in an AdAge article from Harley-Davidson's Mark-Hans Richer about their new campaign #stereotypicalharley:
"There really is no stereotypical customer. That's the whole point of it."

I have criticized Harley-Davidson marketing for parting ways with Carmichael Lynch, the ad agency that saved their bacon in the '80s, and their decision to crowd-source creative ideas for their ads. I still don't believe those decisions will serve the brand well in the long run.

This campaign, however, gets one thing right. It shows how one brand can serve many different demographics by finding something common in all of them. In the article, Mr. Richer says it's about "living the life you choose." That's a politically-correct way of explaining what really binds these people together.

I'd say its about expressing their inner outlaw.

Yes, these people may be teachers, soccer moms, artists, soldiers, etc., but when they get on their Harleys they get to be something else, something the world doesn't ordinarily see. It's obvious from the images in the spot. The riders are not smiling, happy innocents.

These normal, workaday people get on their bikes and suddenly they're a little bit badass.

That's the common bond for the Harley brand. It feeds that archetypal need that exists at some level within all of us to rebel from conformity.

What deep-seated desire can your brand feed? Focus on that and you'll find a way to attract more – and more diverse – people than you ever thought possible to your products.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Attitude is everything

This isn't a new idea, but it's something I still end up talking about more than I should in meetings.

Demographics are not a reliable way to segment your customers and potential customers.

Attitudes are.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Let's say you're selling business menswear, suits, shirts, sport coats, dress slacks. A man walks into your store. He is in his 50s, married lives in the New York City Metro area, and earns more than a million dollars a year.

That could be this guy...

Anthony Bourdain
Celebrity Chef
College dropout

It could also be this guy...

Hugh E. "Skip" McGee III
Chief Executive
BS in Engineering Princeton, JD University of Texas Law School

You're not going to sell them the same suit, the same tie, the same shirt, or shoes. Nor should you sell them in the same way. If you try to, you're going to lose one, the other or both.

It is possible to adapt your messaging and tactics to appeal to distinctly different attitudinal segments. All you have to do is figure out what about your brand is relevant to both and then treat them like individuals.

It's not easy, but it's what the best marketers find a way to do.

Monday, July 8, 2013

You can't build value on features alone

You may have all the features people want. You may have excellent distribution. You may have a healthy advertising budget. You may have a nice share of the market.

But if you don't have a brand, you have nothing.

A product without a brand is a commodity.

Samsung is quickly finding this out.

Despite a relentless drive for innovation, increasing their ad budget by 58%, launching high profile promotions and partnerships with every major carrier, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will miss sales projections by 20 million units. One investor said the reason was "Galaxy Fatigue."

I think it's more like Galaxy Apathy.


Because neither Samsung nor Galaxy stand for anything other than a collection of features.

What is the benefit of owning a Galaxy over an iPhone, HTC, LG or Motorola?

A bigger screen? A higher definition camera? More memory? Hands-free answering? All features that are easily copied.

Brands must offer value beyond the product otherwise the minute a competitor offers better features or the same features for less money, you're toast.

Nike continues to dominate the market not just because it makes products with features that people want, but because it makes those who own its products feel like athletes every time they lace them on.

Toyota was able to survive a slew of recalls and its unintended acceleration scare because they built a reputation for reliability that allowed them to ride out those dark days.

Great brands own a relevant word, concept or phrase that makes them distinctive to such a degree that when that brand's name in mentioned that word or phrase comes immediately to mind.

What does Samsung stand for? Anyone... Anyone...

That's what I thought.

That's the reason Samsung will continue to suffer wild swings in demand as other companies match features, prices and other functional factors in a highly competitive market.