Missives from the Marketing Mafia

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Now THAT’s great marketing!

Now THAT’s great marketing!

Apr 9

Four Ways to Strengthen Your Company’s Competitive Spirit

A senior executive who came to American Express after 10+ years at Pepsi told us a great story on his first day at the company: 

“I took my six-year old daughter to a birthday party in our neighborhood.  At one point, one of her friends reached for a can of Coke on the table and was about to drink it when my daughter reached out and smacked the can right out of the little boy’s hands just as he was about to take a sip.  ‘Don’t drink that,’ she scolded him.  ‘Don’t you know it’s poison!!”

The little girl had grown up with a dad who was – apparently – quite maniacal about his hatred for the competition, so much so that it permeated his family life.  By telling that story, he was making it clear that he expected us to share that competitive mindset.

By continuously fostering the four actions below, you will create a competitive mindset that keeps your sales and servicing teams focused on a results-based culture leading to more wins in the marketplace.

Keep your customers close and your competitor’s customers closer – One of the most intriguing initiatives I witnessed at my former employer was the division president’s inclusion of a competitor’s customer on his President’s Advisory Board.   The board was set up as a feedback loop for product strategy, pricing, positioning, features, etc.  Including a competitor’s customer was his way of insuring we never lost sight of how our main competitor was positioning their product against us. 

Develop effect sell against strategies for every important competitor – The product management or marketing organization should produce a sell-against sheet for every important competitor.  Sales and servicing teams should be trained on the information from the sheets and taught how to use them to respond to competitive threats.  The information should include, at the least, SWOT for each competitive product, pricing, list of important customers and a listing of feature/functionality gaps (both positive and negative relative to your product/service).  (Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post with more detail on effective sell-against strategies)

Loyalty is dead.  Build a better product – expecting customers to continue to invest in your products/services out of a sense of loyalty is absurd.  The best way to ensure your customers remain customers is to build a better product and service it better than your competition.  Ensure product features remain ahead of the competition.  Focus on overall usability.  Avoid radical changes that give customers reason to disrupt their current experience. These initiatives will give your customers no reason to seek other solutions.

The real competition is the status quo - Studies have concluded that around 60% of business is lost, not to competitive products/services, but to inaction, i.e., maintaining the status quo.  The most important thing to accomplish in order to defeat the status quo is to demonize it.  Provide undeniable proof that doing nothing is much riskier than doing something.  Move a client into a buying cycle by painting a risky picture of inaction.

Apr 8

3 Times to Run From a Company

One day you’re chilling at your job, thinking senior management really has its stuff together. Then, one of these things happen. Run!

1. The company hires a “chief quality officer.” This means that everyone else needn’t worry about quality since the new guy had it all covered.
2. The company puts its name on the side of the building. This means they’re investing in the wrong things.
3. A company leader says, ” I want us to be the next Apple/Google.” Why? Those companies became those companies because they ended to be UNLIKE any other company.

Keep a pair of sneakers under your desk… just in case.

Apr 4

7 Biggest Misconceptions of Successful B2B Marketing

No. 3 is my favorite.

http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/10472/the-7-biggest-misconceptions-of-successful-b2b-marketing

Apr 3

Stop being a perfectionist. Embrace the fear that you’ll make a mistake. Be vulnerable.

- Charles Plant (via fastcompany)

Apr 3
fastcompany:

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 
During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

Find your value in your customers’ lives.
Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
Deliver value based on location.
Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.
Read more here.

fastcompany:

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 

During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

  1. Find your value in your customers’ lives.
  2. Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
  3. Deliver value based on location.
  4. Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
  5. Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.

Read more here.

Apr 1

Play Ball! 4 Lessons Company Leaders Can Learn From the Joys of Opening Day

Opening day is one of my favorite days of the year.  It represents hope, renewal and, for diehard fans of certain teams, the irrational optimism that belies all valid data, expert prognostication and rational intelligence.  (Full disclosure:  I’m a lifelong NY Mets fan.) Here’s my take on the analogies of baseball’s best day to business…

1.       Let optimism reign supreme (but be honest about the challenges ahead):   Like a baseball team, every company needs to ensure its team members are enthusiastic about the future of the business.  It’s up to leadership to foster this enthusiasm by consistently communicating strategic and tactical plans and being relentlessly transparent about the state of the business, especially during a losing streak.  Ballplayers can read the scores and standings in the media, so can employees.  Hiding the truth breeds mistrust in the locker room and in the cubicles. Show your customers and employees that you’ve got an eye to the future and they’ll stick with you.

2.       Ignore the experts:  Moneyball changed the financial approach to baseball, and it did so by bucking every existing notion about roster development, on-field management and statistical norms.  Rebuking the advice of life-long scouts and talent evaluators, Billy Beane had a different vision for acquiring talent based on criteria honed from empirical data rather than qualitative factors.

3.       Go the opposite way of everyone else:  Again, from Moneyball:  While other teams were falling over themselves to sign big dollar free agents, Beane looked for players that represented value – a metric not coveted by most teams.

4.       Learn to move on.  When bad things happen, deal with it and take action.  Losing last year’s Cy Young Award pitcher and a $35 million superstar pitcher to injury one year after parting with the NL batting champion can unsettle a fan base (are you feeling me Mets fans?).   However, that same team has reason to be optimistic for the future having signed one superstar, and acquiring two high-potential starting pitchers and a “can’t miss” catching prospect.  Leadership saw a need to build for the future and it took the necessary steps to do it.

5 Business Lessons from The Eagles

5 Business Lessons from The Eagles

After watching The History of the Eagles on Showtime for the fifth time this week, I started to shift my interest from the music fandom aspect of the terrific Alison Eastwood-directed documentary and began to assess the lessons learned in a business context.  Here are the five lessons from The Eagles that could apply to any business:

1.       Never sacrifice the quality of the product:  when Don Felder brought “Victim of Love” to the band to record, he insisted on singing lead vocals on the track.  Glen Frye and Don Henley were not convinced his vocal chops were good enough.  They both agreed that Henley (one of the great voices in rock history) provide the lead vocals.  Now, Don Felder is a good singer.  However, he’s not as good as Henley (how many are?), so the track was demoed and recorded with Henley on vocals over the loud and impassioned objection of Felder.  Why?  “The vocals simply weren’t up to band standards,” explained Henley.    Put another way, Henley and Frye refused to compromise the quality of the product even if it meant causing internal turmoil.  Are you prepared to defend your standards with the same passion?

2.       Develop a viable succession plan:  when Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner left the band, Frye and Henley know exactly who should take their place based on the direction they wanted to take the band.  Frye knew Timothy B. Schmidt was the perfect choice to replace Meisner because he was not only a terrific bass player with the same exact (unique) vocal range as Meisner, but also because he already successfully replaced him once in a previous band (Poco).  When Leadon left, Frey and Henley wanted someone who could rock out a little more and bring a rebellious street cred to the band.  Enter Joe Walsh.

3.       Listen to your customers and give them what they want.  Every time:  Randy Meisner had a vocal range that was quite unique for a rocker.  He was able to hit some extremely high notes.  When performing their first Billboard number one hit, “Take it to the Limit,” live in concert, Meisner was called upon to hit a signature note at the very end of the song.  It was a huge fan favorite at every concert.  At one particular performance, Meisner refused to perform the song because he didn’t feel he could hit that note that night (for reasons best discovered while viewing the documentary).  Frye tried to convince him that it was his duty to perform the song because there were thousands of people who waited months and paid good money to hear Meisner perform that song.  Frye was so adamant that Meisner do the song that he was willing to physically duel with Meisner to get him to see things his way.  Pleasing the audience was that important to Frye as it should be to every business that wants to maintain a loyal following.

4.       Make sure the key principles are on the same page when it comes to financial planning:  Ultimately Don Felder left the Eagles as a result of years of conflict between him and Henley/Frye.  The likely main cause of the tension between the artists who collaborated on the brilliant musical masterpiece “Hotel California” was a difference of opinion on how the band revenue should be divided.  Felder thought the band was operating in a “One for all and all for one” model where all the proceeds were split equally among the band members.  Frye and Henley had a completely different vision for the compensation structure which demanded a bigger portion of the dollars go to the main drivers of the success of the business, the songwriting team of Henley and Frey.  Henley and Frye argued that because they wrote the hits that generated the revenues (even as solo artists during the Eagles 14-year hiatus, thus indirectly keeping the Eagle relevant), they should be paid more.  Guess who won that argument?

5.       Sometimes being successful means being unpopular:  Irving Azoff is the manager of The Eagles., who acknowledges that in order to ensure the success of the band, he had to do some pretty unseemly things.  This list includes firing people who were friends, initiating hard-line negotiations with industry giants who had done a lot for the band to ensure The Eagles were treated fairly, taking care of certain “regulatory issues” that could have stymied the creative process, etc.  At The Eagles’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Don Henley acknowledged Azoff’s approach by offering the following compliment:  “He may be Satan, but he’s our Satan.”  Azoff’s response:  “Show me a manager who has a lot of friends in this business and I’ll show you a manager who sold out his artist.”  Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs…

The History of the Eagles is airing on Showtime.  Check it out for the musical, cultural and business lessons.

Five Reasons to Outsource Your Marketing Department

unmaskedrecruiter:

Have a great weekend reflecting on Bruce’s words of wisdom!
chicagofitfreak:

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals For Getting Your Life In Shape

unmaskedrecruiter:

Have a great weekend reflecting on Bruce’s words of wisdom!

chicagofitfreak:

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals For Getting Your Life In Shape

(Source: godhenrydesign)