Let Your Bricklayer Lay

Fatal Flaws 

Let's just cut to the chase.

You're successful and you probably got there via one of two routes. You either started at the bottom of the corporate ladder (or pretty damn near) and through shear determination, skill, street smarts, a Brooks Brothers suit and maybe just a little bit of manipulation became Mr. Golden Boy /slash/ Company Man.


You parleyed a little capital, fired up the start-‘em-up machine with that "Big Idea" tucked neatly into your Dockers back pocket and beaucoup hours of sweat equity later--you're sitting pretty with a sweet IPO just right around the corner.

Fashion sensibilities or business attire aside, here's where we check the egos at the door. Your door, my door, it doesn't matter. What really matters is that we mutually respect each other. Yes, I know, that sounds all warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely, and so not "corporate."

But here's why:

You know how you made it to the top of the pyramid, and I'm sure that during our discovery meeting I'll hear all about it from one of your many underlings. And if you choose to listen, you'll hear fantastic tales of advertising daring-do from my side of the table.

We both got to our stations in life because we are both undeniably experts in our fields of discipline. Feel free to read that sentence again.

It’s my job, no, it is my passion to learn and comprehend everything there is to know about your company, your product or your service. That's how I discover the point of difference that can distance your cog over the other guy's sprocket. That's why, or more aptly, how, your coordinated mass media campaign will show a tidy little return on your investment.

It won't be because (FATAL FLAW ALERT) you insist that our team of experts take a certain approach because that's what worked for you or your product before. Or... (FATAL FLAW ALERT) your marketing director thinks that because your competitor is taking a certain tact or direction that we must follow suit because if it works for them, then consequently, it must work for us. Or... (FATAL FLAW ALERT) someone on your board of directors read on the Internet that print is dead. Hey, if you read it on the Internet then it must be true.

Get the idea?

Good. Because I could go on and on.

Seriously I could. The advertising graveyard is totally over-populated with the zombies of flawed decision making and micro-management.

Moral of the story--let the plumbers plumb, the bricklayers lay and the doctors doc.

You hired a trained professional--let the professional do his job.

Gary LoBue Jr / Art Director / The Russo Group

17 Steps To Choosing An Ad Agency

Before the Internet, the process to select an advertising agency was very limited for clients. The only way to review a field of candidates was to issue an RFP, review proposals, narrow down to a few agencies to make presentations and then select the one that scores the highest with the committee.

There were challenges on both sides of the table with this formula. Depending on how the score sheet was weighted, most often the agency chosen was the cheapest , not necessarily the best. And for the agencies participating, the requirement to provide speculative creative was costly. Most difficult was the perception that the client already knew who they wanted and the RFP process was simply to legitimize the selection.

Inevitably, it wasn't the best agency that won the RFP and then this 'arranged marriage' was doomed to fail from the beginning, at the cost of thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once the buyer's remorse set in, the client would anxiously await the end the contract and then the process would begin again.

Times have changed

Agencies and clients have both realized that the RFP process is flawed and are moving away from it. The better agencies are being very selective about what RFPs, if any, they participate in. Clients, tired of getting stuck with hungry and inadequate agencies are skipping the RFP process entirely. With the ability to research agencies thoroughly through the Internet, blogs, Twitter and Facebook beforehand, clients can now get to know the agency and vet their qualifications and experience before they buy.

In many cases, they are hiring agencies without undergoing a lengthy and time consuming competitive review. And the client/agency relationships that result are turning out to be more productive and last much longer.

If you are looking for a new advertising agency,
here’s what to look for on their website:

  1. Category expertise - agency with experience in your industry so they understand your language and more importantly your customers.
  2. Category diversity - but not only your industry, or you will get the same rehash of what has already been done before
  3. Thought leadership - if they have an opinion, you should find it in their white papers, newsletters and blogs
  4. Defined process - you’re searching for creativity, not chaos: checks and balances will keep them on strategy
  5. Internet chops - marketing begins and ends on the Internet: your next agency better understand this
  6. Media neutrality - it’s a bad sign if their work is organized by medium: this suggests that they are in the business of producing stuff rather than getting results
  7. Ideas with legs - while highly subjective, this is important if you want ROI for your marketing investment: how long do their current clients stick with their plan?

If you see any of these signs,
run away as fast as you can:

  1. You have to wait for their homepage to load (a countdown or loading message is the kiss of death)
  2. Their website is all Flash (flash is great if you want to design your own BMW online, but it’s terrible for marketing on the web)
  3. As their mission, they say something to the effect of “to offer our clients strategy that empowers them, ads that give us all goosebumps and results that make us friends for life” - if you're smart, you're not looking for friends
  4. They have a bad attitude - as if they are somehow superior to their clients and the target audience
  5. After clicking a few pages on their site, you notice the URL doesn’t change or it’s in an indecipherable code (they don’t get the importance of search engine optimization)
  6. They don’t show you any of their work
  7. Their portfolio features just print ads and/or television spots - print and TV are so twentieth century
  8. Their work looks like their agency and not like their clients
  9. They say they do everything well (there’s no such thing as an expert generalist)
  10. They brag about all the awards they’ve won

When you begin your next agency search, start by looking at the website, blog, white paper, Twitter and Facebook accounts of the prospective agencies. It will become clear that some of these things are not like the others. You will find agencies that seem to be a better fit with your companies culture. This marriage should last for a long time, so get to know them and pick the one you can work with the best.

Museum Monetizes Media

Everyone wants to feel like a VIP.  To get past the red velvet rope.  To be recognized by the big guy at the door holding the clipboard and wearing the earpiece.  To cut in line ahead of the others because you know someone or, even better, you are someone to know.

The Brooklyn Museum has managed to do just that for it's members and is doing it through social media.  They have created a program called 1stfans that provide exclusive access and encourages members to get involved through social media.

As the Museum explains:

Socialize at exclusive events during the Museum’s monthly Target First Saturdays and continue connecting online with access to artist-created content on our 1stfans Twitter Art Feed. This paperless Membership is only $20 for the year and is fully tax-deductible!

When you become a 1stfan, you can:

Will Cary, Membership for the Museum, explains that 1stfans is a way to increase members' involvement with the museum, get more information and get the info first.

Working in Membership means my job is to get people excited about and involved with the Museum. In that way, my job is just as much community-builder as it is fundraiser. Though our Membership base is sizable and diverse, I’ve always felt that there is a large group of Brooklyn Museum visitors that would like to be more involved with the Museum but do not view the traditional Membership structure and benefits as appealing. I wouldn’t be following the Museum’s mission if I didn’t make an effort to reach out to this group. The bottom-line part of my job (monthly income goals, budget projections, cost/benefit analysis) is important, but not as important—or as fun, I might add—as growing our Museum community and making personal connections with our Members. It is with the Museum’s community in mind that we are pleased to introduce a new Membership program at the Brooklyn Museum: 1stfans.
More and more businesses will continue to utilize social media to connect with their fans and even find ways to monetize it.  This is beginning of an exciting trend.

High Life Sees Sales Go Higher

With the celebration of Mardi Gras today in Southwest Louisiana, it seems appropriate to recognize the success that Miller High Life is having post Super Bowl.  

Mardi Gras...beer...seems like a natural fit.

Althought the spots didn't run in every market because NBC has an allegiance to the sponsors that paid for 4 :30 second spots at a much higher rate (a different company, the one with the Clydesdale Horses, is the official malt beverage sponsor) they had an impact across the country.

As the following Ad Age article (reg. might be req.) discusses, sales are up 8.6%.  Pretty impressive for relatively inexpensive 1 second spots that didn't even run in every market.

Miller Credits Hubbub Around Ads, Which Didn't Even Run in Some Markets

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Miller High Life's one-second Super Bowl ads that weren't created a sales bump that definitely was.

Sales of High Life popped 8.6% during the week after the Super Bowl vs. the same period a year earlier, and they were up nearly 5% during the week before the game, according to ACNielsen...

Are You Cheap Enough?

Back in December, I wrote about the difference between Relational and Transactional customers.

Specifically discussing Best Buy's successful efforts to re-engineer their operations, process, advertising, sales training and even store layout to attract more relational customers and to actually deter transactional customers.  I believe that is why they have ridden out the economic downturn so much better than Circuit City was able to.  Their brand was strengthened by the relational customers that they attracted and they weren't caught in a price war that diminished value.

When the following appeared today with Roy Williams' thoughts on relational v. transactional and how the shifting economy is shifting our approach to purchases, I had to read it twice to see if I agreed with him. 

I do agree that most consumers have shifted to a transactional mode of thinking for products that used to be purely relational.  However, the consumer is not simply buying the cheapest price, there is still a relational tendency at play.  I would hazard a guess that the average consumer is still willing to spend a little more for a product that they think can provide the best value, even if it isn't the cheapest price.  Value is the focus now.

What do you think?

Please click the link below to read his article in its entirety...

The New Magic of the Wizard of Ads

by Roy Williams

A high percentage of relational customers have shifted to a transactional frame of mind.

In other words, the rules of marketing are changing.

The buying mode and mood of the general public has moved from Intuitive and Feeling (NF, right brain/right brain, pattern recognition) to Sensing and Thinking (ST, left brain/left brain, sequential reasoning.) Frosted Frank, not Monet, will win the heart today. Abandon fuzzy angles of approach. Be direct, clear, concise. Clarity is more important than creativity. But it’s also more difficult to achieve.

Ad writers, you’re going to have to work harder than ever but so are your clients.

Money is tight.
Unemployment is rising.
People aren't shopping.
Traffic is King.

Click for FULL STORY

The Front Line of Your Business

Walk through your office today.  Select five employees at random with a couple of considerations:  

People that you don't normally talk to.

People in different departments.

People that have different lengths of employment (newbies and senior staff)

Okay, ask them the following questions:

Who are we?

What do we do?

What makes us better than the rest?

Who is our target audience?

What do they need?

If you get the same general answer from each employee then someone at your place is really paying attention to the brand. Congratulations.  If you don't, and it's okay most of you won't, then it is crucial to schedule message training time immediately.  

Employees are the front line of your business.  It is crucial that their abilities go beyond answering the phone with a smile.  They have to be walking brand messengers.  Make sure that if they get caught in an elevator with your biggest prospective customer they will know exactly what to say.

Have You Heard The Buzz About Emanuel Rosen?

Word of Mouth Marketing is all the Buzz.  Emanuel Rosen started it all back in 2000 with his first book, "The Anatomy of Buzz" and now has followed up with his newest book "The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited".  Think about it.  Back in 2000, there was no Twitter.  There was no Facebook.  Social Media has taken buzz to a whole new level.

Please click the link below to read the entire interview with Emanuel Rosen by Ben McConnell

5 questions with Emanuel Rosen

Emanuel_RosenEmanuel Rosen is the dean of buzz. His ground-breaking book, “The Anatomy of Buzz," defined how buzz spreads from person to person, network to network.

This month, an updated version of that book, "The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited" comes out with oodles of updates. We asked Emanuel five questions about how buzz looks today vs. 2000, when his book was first published...

Brand Your Cattle?

Yes, the origin of the word brand dates back to farmers, cattle and claiming ownership.

But, the use today isn't really that different.  The product choices that we make tell the world about us and who we are.  It has become a mutual appreciation society.  When I wear their shoes, I claim Nike and they claim me.  We are declaring our relationship to the world.

Although, the word brand is still often misused.

A brand is not a logo.

A brand is not a business card.

A brand is not a product.

Quite simply, a brand is how a person feels about you.  

It's their emotional reaction to you, because we are emotional people.  That is why advertising that discusses features will never be as powerful at developing a relationship when compared to advertising that highlights the benefits that matter to me.

Speak my language in your marketing.  Develop a relationship with me. Then we can declare that relationship to the world.

Social Media is the most powerful set of tools for branding that has ever existed.  When I follow you are twitter I am an offical part of your tribe, as Seth Godin would say.  When you become a fan of my facebook page we are connected.  That is the development of a relationship that goes so much further than just a 30 second spot.

Why Package-Goods Companies Should Market to Men

Who is your target audience? 

What is your message?

Basic marketing 101, right?

Consumer package goods companies have forgotten those basic rules.  With the shifting demographics of the average American household, it would stand to reason that CPG would focus more on men.  Men who are getting married later.  Men who are often running single parent households.  Men who are taking on more domestic duties than ever before.

It's almost as if they are making plans for tomorrow based on the data from yesterday.

The following article from Abigail Posner with Ad Age goes in depth on the issue elaborating with examples of how Wii and Spike have managed to leverage the new shifting demo...

by Abigail Posner

A great societal shift is under way, and no one is taking advantage of it. Numerous trend reports, even the 2008 census, show conclusively that men are more and more involved in taking care of their children and homes. So you'd think package-goods marketers would jump at the chance to include them in their marketing mixes. But you'd be wrong.

"Men don't shop as much as women." "They don't enjoy shopping." "They're not interested in consumer-package-goods messages," many marketers say. Those are all valid points. It's understandable that with shrinking marketing budgets and a potentially deep recession, companies would tailor their innovation, communications and media strategies to the lowest-hanging fruit, women. But this female-only approach, logical as it may seem, causes us to miss a huge opportunity... Click for FULL STORY (reg. might be req.)

10 Ways to Streamline Brand Plan for 2009

As Ran Cohen details, there are 10 ways to streamline your brand plan for 2009.

To help you get ahead of the curve, here are 10 insider tips that smarter branding campaigns will implement in 2009:

1. Optimizing for branding: Engagement metrics. It's a common mistake to evaluate performance of display ads exclusively by the clickthrough rate. Clicking is a direct response and not a measure of affinity or favorability towards a brand. Brand marketers are more interested in the reach and impact of campaigns, but what are the objective metrics here? Hint: it's about time. Time spent with adverts is a clear indication of brand interest. Considering increasing ad blindness online and time shifting on TV, real return on branding investment can only be assured by observing consumers as they choose to spend substantial time with the ad. 

2. Driving conversions within the banner. Conversions can be defined depending on campaign objectives from purchasing a product, requesting a test-drive, downloading a brochure or engaging the user with the brand. Enabling conversions inside the banner facilitates measurement and enhances engagement. In 2009, its best to grab the consumer while you can and bring the brand experience directly to them in the banner. For example, for their recent launch of Mars Planets, Masterfood drove in-banner conversions, forgoing the destination site altogether. The result: 35,000 consumers subscribed to the sweepstakes in the first day alone, far exceeding past expectations.

3. Frequency capping. The time of overexposing consumers to wasted impressions is over. Determining optimal frequency is in. With tighter budgets in place, marketers should hold the reins of campaigns and conduct close reviews of ad performances by frequency at the first phase of a campaign. This will help marketers to determine the optimum frequency and to demand that publishers implement frequency caps for the duration of the campaign, and then rotate creatives accordingly.

4. Geo-targeting on the publisher side. Don't forget the small stuff. If the target audience is in the U.S., make sure that the buy is for U.S. users only. A specific site that is scoring high for a certain demographic can potentially include a wide mix of international users.

5. Creative targeting. Advertisers can and should target different creative executions via the agency ad server, sequencing creatives by time of day, user behavior ("behavioral sequencing"), user activity on an advertisers' website ("retargeting tags"), etc. Although identifying and targeting impressions to relevant consumer segments with publisher ad server capabilities has become increasingly common, it's times like these that agency ad servers should not be neglected.

6. Creative optimization. Making sure you're serving the best-performing creative across your online media buys is relatively simple, yet surprisingly overlooked. This is bound to change in the coming year as marketers look for ways to cost-effectively produce multiple campaign versions to optimize against.

7. Placement performance. By examining the consumer path to conversion, media planners can gain insight into the optimal allocation for impressions between search and display. Today, media planners can optimize media buys for reach and frequency by analyzing the overlap of unique users between publishers (the smaller the overlap, the higher the reach, while a higher overlap yields a higher frequency).

8. Creative meet analytics. Campaigns need to support brand impact and scrupulous measurement as much as the creative behind them. Creative and media teams should work more closely together to design creatives that speak to overall performance objectives. Creatives must include mechanisms that allow for analyzing, monitoring and optimization.

9. Cross-channel integration. Consumers switch between media channels to their heart's content, and 2009 will be the year for campaigns to capitalize on the full range of advertising media. As display advertising broadens its horizons past the PC, traditional, online, and mobile channels will come to the front line. Marketers will now be encouraged to "follow" active consumers throughout the day across all channels to optimize their branding budgets. Innovative tools to track the full path to conversion are also available.

10. Media verification. In tough times, you better make sure you get what you paid for. This means making sure that your run-of-site buy didn't land your impressions under the fold, near objectionable content, next to your competitors' ads, etc.

The tools and tactics needed to ride out the recession already exist for online advertising. By committing to these resolutions, all simple techniques for improving and demonstrating online ROI, smart marketers will leverage the recession to capitalize on digital marketing, making 2009 a memorable year for digital display advertising and online campaign management. So when the going gets tough, don't cut ad spends, just cut inefficiencies and focus on knowing what to look for, how to optimize and when to make changes.

Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media

The following is a great post by Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester Research.  He chronicles the brands that have been on the wrong side of power of social media.  

Mr. Owyang's list includes some pretty famous companies and products including:

CNN (and by consequence Apple)
JC Penney
Louis Vuitton
Burger King
Johnson & Johnson
Church of Scientology
Marvel Comics

And many more

Please click through the link to see his list in full.

by Jeremiah Owyang

A list of companies that were blind-sided by the internet, they didn’t understand the impacts of the power shift to the participants, or how fast information would spread, or were just plain ignorant...

CMOs Not So Thrilled With Their Agencies

The following AdWeek article further details the trouble that CMOs are having with the traditional full service ad agencies.  

CMOs Not So Thrilled With Their Agencies

Bad news for shops as client honchos express their displeasure

Jan 29, 2009

-By Mark Dolliver

NEW YORK Chief marketing officers are less than enthralled with their ad agencies, to judge from a survey conducted for Epsilon by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.

Released today (based on polling fielded in October),the poll found relatively few CMOs saying their agency of record exceeds their expectations in such areas as price (9 percent), return on investment (12 percent), client service (23 percent) and "knowledge of my business" (24 percent).

Much higher numbers of CMOs said their agency "meets" expectations in these areas, though the approval was well short of unanimous even by that middling standard. For instance, 62 percent said the agency meets their expectations for knowledge of the client's business and 64 percent said it does so when it comes to client service.

The same poll asked the CMOS to say which marketing efforts they would never outsource. Atop the list (cited by 34 percent) was strategy and planning services, followed by customer relationship management (31 percent), customer database warehouse (29 percent), e-mail delivery system (22 percent) and data mining (18 percent).

You'd expect it to be a buyer's market these days for marketing talent, given all the layoffs the profession has endured. But the survey also found 39 percent of CMOs dissatisfied with the availability of qualified candidates for marketing jobs, including 6 percent who are "very unsatisfied." Just 5 percent said they're "very satisfied" with the talent pool for new hires, with most of the rest merely "somewhat satisfied." 

22 Immutable Laws of Branding

If your brand isn't following these laws, especially these days, you will probably have some dark days ahead.  If you follow the laws of branding, you will be able to leverage your dollars better and grow your company faster.  This is the time for you to gain market share.  Are you ready?

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries

1. The Law of Expansion: The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. Trying to be all things to all people undermines the power of the brand. The strength of brands lies in becoming synony-mous with a single category. Brands that spread themselves across categories lose brand focus, identity, and ultimately market share.

2. The Law of Contraction: A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus. By narrowing the focus to a single category, a brand can achieve extraordinary success. Starbucks, Subway and Dominos Pizza became category killers when they narrowed their focus.

3. The Law of Publicity: The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising. A new brand must be capable of generating favorable public-ity in the media or it won’t have a chance in the marketplace. Anita Roddick built the Body Shop into a global brand with no advertising, but with massive amounts of publicity. On the other hand, Miller Brewing spent $50 million in advertising to launch a brand called Miller Regular. The brand generated no publicity and very little sales.

4. The Law of Advertising: Once born, a brand needs advertising to stay healthy. Sooner or later, a brand leader has to shift its branding strategy from publicity to advertising. By raising the price of admission, advertising makes it difficult for a competitor to carve out a substantial share of the market.

5. The Law of the Word: A brand should strive to own a word in the mind of the consumer. If you want to build a brand, you must focus your branding efforts on owning a word in the prospect’s mind. A word that nobody else owns. Kleenex owns “tissue,” Federal Express owns “overnight,” Volvo owns “safety.”

6. The Law of Credentials: The crucial ingredient in the success of any brand is its claim to authenticity. Coke is the real thing in the minds of many, even though the last “real thing” advertisement ran almost thirty years ago. A brand’s credentials in a category as authentic, real, original, or the leader are very powerful indeed.

7. The Law of Quality: Quality is important, but brands are not built by quality alone. Does a Rolex keep better time than a Timex? Does Hertz have better service than Alamo? Does a Montblanc pen write better than a Cross? Are you sure? The perception of quality, more than quality itself, is what builds a brand. And the best way to build a quality perception in the mind of consumers is by following the laws of branding.

8. The Law of the Category: A leading brand should promote the category, not the brand. The most efficient, most productive, most useful aspect of branding is creating a new category. Customers don’t really care about new brands, they care about new categories. What was the market for cheap cars before Volkswagen? What was the market for home pizza delivery before Dominos? What was the market for in-line skates before Rollerblade?

9. The Law of the Name: In the long run, a brand is nothing more than a name. In the short term, a brand needs a unique idea or concept to survive. But in the long term, all that is left is the difference between your brand name and the brand names of your competitors. Shorter names that are unique and memorable are far stronger than longer, vague or generic names.

10. The Law of Extensions: The easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. More than 90% of all new product introductions in the U.S. are line extensions. Line extensions destroy brand value by weakening the brand. The effects can be felt in diminished market share of the core brand, a loss of brand identity, and a cannibalization of the one’s own sales. Often, the brand extension directly attacks the strength of the core brand. Does Extra Strength Tylenol imply that regular Tylenol isn’t strong enough?

11. The Law of Fellowship: In order to build the category, a brand should welcome other brands. Consumers want to have choices. Choice stimulates demand. Healthy competition helps to build the category. The competi-tion between Coke and Pepsi makes customers more cola conscious. Per capita consumption goes up.

12. The Law of the Generic: One of the fastest routes to failure is giving a brand a generic name. The problem with a generic brand name is its inability to differentiate the brand from the competition. At your local health food store, you’ll find Nature’s Resource, Nature’s Answer, Nature’s Bounty, Nature’s Secret, Nature’s Way, Nature’s Best, Nature’s Plus, etc. Will any of these generic brands break into the mind and become a major brand? Unlikely.

13. The Law of the Company: Brands are brands. Companies are companies. There is a difference. Customer’s think of brands, not companies. Procter and Gamble isn’t Tide. General Motors isn’t Cadillac. The brand itself should be the focus of your attention. Use the company name, if necessary, in a decidedly secondary way.

14. The Law of Subbrands: What branding builds, subbranding can destroy. Subbranding erodes the power of the core brand. Waterford is the leading Irish crystal maker. Introducing “cheap” Waterford as “Marquis by Waterford” only dilutes the Waterford brand. Subbranding attacks a brand’s place in he mind of the prospect.

15. The Law of Siblings: There is a time and place to launch a second brand. A second brand can be launched to focus on a new subcategory within the same product family. Toyota launched Lexus because the Toyota brand couldn’t fill the luxury ar category. The focus is on the brand, not the company. Customers buy a Lexus not because it’s made by Toyota, but in spite of it.

16. The Law of Shape: A brand’s logotype should be designed to fit the eyes. Both eyes. A customer sees the world through two horizontal-ly mounted eyes peering out of the head. For maximum visual impact, a logotype should have a horizontal shape. The ideal shape is 2 1 /4 units wide by 1 unit high.

17. The Law of Color: A brand should use a color that is the opposite of its major competitor. Coke is red, and Pepsi is Blue. Hertz is yellow, and Avis is Red. Color consistency over the long term can help a brand burn its way into the mind.

18. The Law of Borders: There are no barriers to global branding. A brand should know no borders. The perfect solution to growth in a competitive market is not line extensions, but building a global brand. A brand should have a consistent message globally, but must take into account the perceptions of its country of origin.

19. The Law of Consistency: A brand is not built overnight. Success is measured in decades, not years.This is the law which is violated most frequently. Once a brand occupies a position in the mind, the manufacturer often thinks of reasons to change. Markets may change, but brands shouldn’t. They may be bent slightly, or given a new slant, but their essential characteristics should never be changed. Long-term, consistent programs might be boring, but they are also immensely powerful.

20. The Law of Change: Brands can be changed, but only infrequently and only very carefully. Nothing is absolute and there are exceptions to every rule. There are three situations where changing your brand is feasible: When your brand is weak or non-existent in the mind, when you want to move your brand down the food chain to a lower price and perception point, or when your brand is in a slow-moving field and the change is going to take place over an extended period of time. Remember, changing your brand is a long and difficult process. Change at your own risk!

21. The Law of Mortality: No brand will live forever. Euthanasia is often thebest solution. While the laws of branding are immutable, brands themselves are not. They are born, grow up, mature, and eventually will die. Yet companies that are willing to spend millions to save a dying brand, won’t spend pennies to launch a new one. Opportunities for new brands and threats to old ones are constantly being created by the invention of new categories. The rise of personal computers created opportunities for Compaq, Dell and Gateway, but put pressure on Digital, Data General and Wang.

22. The Law of Singularity: The most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. What is a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect. It’s as simple or as difficult as that.

Are You Boring Enough?

So you want to be everything to everybody.  

You think that the way to ride out this storm is to be a jack of all trades.   

There are two problems with this approach.  First, there is already a company in your category  that has cornered the market on boring.

As Seth Godin writes, in the book Purple Cow, “In almost every market, the boring slot is filled. The product designed to appeal to the largest possible audience already exists, and displacing it is awfully difficult. The real growth comes with products that annoy, offend, don't appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple — too something."

Second, if you are a jack of all trades, you will be a master of none.

You have to find your niche, so it can make you rich.

Be something.  Don't try to be everything.

A great example of this is Starbucks. I personally don't like their coffee.  At all.  It is too strong and too bitter.  I am a community coffee person.   To be honest, I like the smell of coffee more than the actual taste.  I am really a hot chocolate drinker.  That way I can look like the rest of the adults at the table.

Back to Starbucks.  So the coffee is strong and bitter.  Does it appeal to everyone?  No.  Will it win a taste test with "coffee virgins"?  Definately not.  It is too strong.  

But those aren't the right questions.  The important question is, do the people that love it REALLY love it.  YES.  They are loyal.  They are advocates.  They will not stray to a competing brand.  

Isn't that the point?

15 Ways to Brand Your Restaurant Through Social Media

The most important thing about your restaurant is the food.  If the food isn't good none of the rest of it matters.  

However, once you have gotten the menu right, then there are so many other places where you can lose a customer forever.  And it seems that people are more tempted to talk about a bad experience with a restaurant than any other type of business.

Well, there are ways to solidify your relationship with your customer, find out about their bad experience before they tell all of their friends and stay ahead of any bad word of mouth which will actually create positive word of mouth.

Social Media Tools for Restaurants

  • Register - Use sites like Yelp.com, TripAdvisor.com and Urbanspoon.com.  Go in and register your restaurant and provide as much information as possible regarding location, menu, price, hours.  Make it easy for people to find out about you.
  • Reviews - Encourage your customers to review you online and provide feedback of their experiences. 
  • Twitter – Utilizing your twitter account you can take to go orders, let people know about specials, get feedback on menu changes, promote your blog and announce entertainment.  Be sure to promote your twitter account on everything you do and encourage people to follow you.
  • Blog – Blogging is a great way to bring the customer into the kitchen. Sharing a recipe, employee profiles, and kitchen tips and tricks are just a few options to break down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Customers want to be part of something more then just a meal, they want to feel like they belong.
  • E-Newsletter – Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new menu items, entertainment news, recipe of the month etc. This is also a great tool to collect email addresses for future opportunities to connect with the customer.
  • Google Alerts – This is a great tool to use to listen to what is being said about your business, website or even your chef. Setting up a Google alert with just the name of your restaurant can bring priceless insight to both positive and negative talk that’s being said online about your business.
  • Facebook – Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook. Keep it updated with fresh content and always make sure you’re involved with the conversations that are taking place on “the wall.”
  • MySpace – If your clientele is more likely to be found using MySpace, create a profile page and updated it with fresh content as well. Like Facebook engage in conversations and comments.
  • YouTube – Incorporate video into your social media strategy. Like your blog, take your customer behind the scene and give them a pass to a part of the restaurant that only insiders are allowed to go. Provide a few quick tips and how-tos from the house chef. Share these videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites, as well as your blog. Use video to even show where you buy your produce and meats. This is also serves a dual role because it promotes your local farmers.
  • Mobile – Have customers provide their mobile phone number for coupons, specials and latest news via an SMS message.
  • Events – Host Tweetups for your Twitter community and Meetups for those that gather around topics via meetup.com.
  • The Business Card – Provide a business card or note-card to each customer that maps out where they can continue their dining experience online.
  • Flickr – Use photo sharing sites to show images of events, behind the scenes and market days. Let your customer see from the eyes of the chef rather then just the brand.
  • Email – Use email not only for your e-newsletter, but also to give away FREE stuff to your customers and continue to build your email list.
Remember, that the effectiveness of social media isn’t the tool; its listening, answering questions and connecting with others. These tools are just opportunities to connect your customers to your brand and by connecting with them they’ll tell others about you.

Bowl Spots Don't Brand

by  man man the sox fan

This week concludes the past month of hub bub over the Super Bowl spots.  After all of the pundits are done with their analysis and opinions, there is still a question left to consider.  The biggest question of all, actually, was it worth it?

When you calculate the almost $3M per spot for airtime plus the almost $1M more for the production - where is the return on the investment?

The analysts spend a good bit of time talking about the added value and shelf line beyond the actual run.  With views on line, discussions in blog posts and mentions in main media and news it does appear that most spots do live longer than 30 seconds.

Wrap into that the ongoing discussions, even when it isn't positive, about the spots that caused a scandal.  The ones that had to be edited because they couldn't get approved.  In years past, there have been a number of commercials that were protested by various groups because of scandalous content so their shelf life was for a few weeks longer than the others.

But is it worth it?  Do Super Bowl Spots improve the brand?

Branding is about how they feel about you.

A good brand plan focuses on an emotional connection that changes the conversation.

Do any of the Super Bowl spots accomplish this?  Most consumers didn't even remember who the advertiser was.  Loved the spot with the little talking baby, but who was that company again.

How can there be a return on the investment if you don't remember the advertiser?

The better question is how much better could that almost $4M be invested?

Change is coming...

Ad Age - Top 10 Spots of the Super Bowl

Ever year the question According to Ad Age (reg. might be req). The Top 10 Most Recalled, Most Liked, TV Spots of the Super Bowl.  

The picks include some companies that you would expect, like Budweiser and Doritos, as well newcomers to the list, Pedigree.

Clydesdale Stick
Budweiser ran three ads in this year's Super Bowl that featured its Clydesdale mascots, but the one that viewers liked the best was the one that pitted the horse against the dalmation in a game of fetch...Click for FULL STORY in Ad Age (reg. might be req)

Super Bowl TV Spots - Part 3

It appears that for a number of Super Bowl Advertisers the buzz and sometimes scandal surrounding their spots are the reasons they participate.  Every year there are reports of companies whose spots were censored by the broadcaster.  Every year there are spots whose sole purpose appears to be generating buzz, not for the product but for the outlandishness of the spot.

2009 was no different.  GoDaddy.com sunk to new depths with their spots.  If their only goal was to build buzz and get people talking, then mission accomplished.  But what do these spots really have to do with the company and their service?  How do they further the brand?  Are hormonal teenage boys really their only audience?  

Title: Enhanced
Company:  GoDaddy.com
Why?  Really.  Why oh why?

Title: Shower
Company:  GoDaddy.com
Why?  Ugh.  I just don't know.

Super Bowl TV Spots - Part 2

Doritos has done a great job with Super Bowl ads in the past. Who can't forget their spots a few years ago featuring Ali Landry. All good.

This year, the chip maker has a series of spots that go a long way to continuing to showcase their sense of humor.

Title: Crystal Ball
Company: Doritos
Why? C'mon, how could you not laugh. Too funny.

Title: Power of the Crunch
Company: Doritos
Why? Just a great look at the power of the chip.

Super Bowl TV Spots - Part 1

Every Monday morning quarterback will be reviewing the game, what the Steelers did right and how the Cardinals could have played better (at least a few less penalties).

But when it comes to the Super Bowl, we are looking at only one thing - which tv spots are the best. Here is our pick for #5.

Title: David Abernathy
Company: Cars.com
Why: Spot is classic branding. Creates a story with an emotional connection. Draws you in, makes in impression, makes you want to interact. Clearly states the cars.com promise. All around great spot!