Perception is Reality

“Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.” — Jules de Gaultier Marketers deal in perception. Great marketers meld perception and reality. The fact is that people perceive what they want to believe. This explains much about politics, religion and brand loyalty. People perceive value in things – concepts, communities, tribes, brands – and either admire or despise them accordingly. A lot of money has been made by creating a brand and charging people for the brand as opposed to the product. You can spend $3,500 for a Saint Laurent handbag which has a manufacturing cost of maybe $10, holds no more than a Walmart handbag, and arguably is a sterile design devoid of individualism. And many people do. One of marketing’s jobs is to decide on the perception the public should have of a product or a brand. This is driven largely by the target audiences and … Continue reading

Problematic Problems

Nothing is as insidious as staring so intently at a problem that the solution is obscured. Back in my IT guru era, I once wasted an entire day staring at a single line of code trying numbly to figure out why the program was misbehaving. It was a simple syntax error (switching between Pascal and C can be tricky), but the problem was about my looking for logic errors when the more simple and likely syntax mistake was staring back at me. Marketers have wasted a lot more than a day by doing the same thing. Long ago, I had a near-client who insisted that the right go-to-market strategy for his company was 100% commitment to social media marketing. He came by this conclusion due to the success of another person who marketed a different technology using the same approach. The problem was that the successful person was selling to … Continue reading

Branding Soup

soups - comparative packaging of Dole and O-Organics

I discovered a lesson in brand management at the local supermarket. While cruising an aisle I spotted two boxes of the same style of soup and was instantly and viscerally struck by how appetizing one was and the other wasn’t. Also immediately noticeable was a brand conflict that detracted from the weaker packaging in a rather astounding way. Combined, some rapid education in brand management was presented to everyone buying groceries that day. First, allow me to repeat Silicon Strategies Marketing’s [heavily copyrighted] definition of branding. It is the process of “making the market think and feel what you want them to think and feel about your product or company”. A soup maker would primarily want to make customers think their soup is tasty, and perhaps secondarily that it is wholesome and healthy. There may be subsidiary brand elements, but these two are pretty essential. Here we have soups by … Continue reading

Branding Positions

Branding and positioning during the bowling alley effect

“Branding is making the market think and feel what you want them to think and feel about you and your products.”© We are currently mentoring a London client as they work through their go-to-market strategy. Ground-up strategy development is not a simple process even for well-defined markets. These chaps are in an early adopter arena, and likely in a specific niche. Knowing their product category has been a challenge as even the analyst groups have not yet bothered to classify the space our client is staking out. Yet they are already mapping their next segments to achieve the Bowling Alley effect described in Crossing The Chasm. This situation has brought their branding mission to the fore because of the difficulty of branding a product in an undefined space, and branding it for a larger set of market segments. In a word … messy. As you no doubt recall, market dominance … Continue reading

Escalated Advertising Warfare

The gray puzzle piece on my screen is a sign of why marketers are their own worst enemy. The Chrome browser allows you to disable any automatically executing media it encounters. I enabled this feature after growing sick (and tired) of auto-playing videos on web pages I visited for text content. It is rather annoying when sitting alone in a quiet office, and focusing intently on the meaning within a paragraph, for a loud and often off-screen video to start playing, shattering the silence and destroying your concentration. Thanks to marketers who thought auto-playing videos were a smart idea, now all advertisers using playable media are banned from my laptop. It has been said that 99% of marketers give the other 1% a bad name. These ratios may be a bit off, but it illustrates the point that bad marketing practices cause marketing to fail. This has been the talk … Continue reading

Learning From Experience

My father once said “Always try to learn from other people’s mistakes. It saves you a bunch of time.” But he could have also said “Learn from other people’s success. It saves you a bunch of pain.” When looking for mentorship, finding someone who has proven themselves and whose advice goes against conventional thinking is a good tactic. My friend Ray Zinn is that mentor. It is hard to understate what Ray has accomplished in business … and in life. He founded a semiconductor company in Silicon Valley without venture capital. He ran that company as the visionary founder for 37 years. He was profitable the very first year, and for every year thereafter (except for one year during the dot-com era meltdown, and the one “unprofitable” year was due largely to a write-down for shuttering an extra fabrication facility). His company had the lowest employee turn-over rate in his industry, and likely … Continue reading

Brand Belief

Bestselling books often aren’t. For decades the New York Times (NYT) Best Seller list was the acid test of a good read. But while helping a client with his book project, we explored what it takes to get on that list, and it isn’t pretty. In short, you need to sell about 9,000 copies of a book in a given week. Based on this information, a number of companies slithered out of the marketing muck to arrange “book buy-downs” – buying many books through channels to make a book appear to be popular. An author who wants to forever be known as a NYT bestseller simply pays one of these companies to buy books through minions around the country, then store those books in a warehouse somewhere. Sleazy. Even the NYT has tried (and failed) to flag bulk buys as potential rank rigging, though this misidentifies some legitimate bulk buys … Continue reading