Saturday, August 20, 2011
Moving Picture Shows.
That's what my dad used to call them when he was a kid.
If he were alive today he would be 80 right now.
But I always called them movies, and now that I've crept into my 50's I still go to the theater.
More on Boomer movie habits from Mediapost:
Look at it this way: "Larry Crowne" made a profit, despite being nearly universally panned by critics because of the size and power of the 50+ market.
In spite of Hollywood's traditional infatuation with younger audiences, some insiders are starting to wise up to the reality of the situation. "One of the most urgent issues we face as an industry is to figure out how to lure the Boomers back to the movie theaters," Bob Pisano, the Motion Picture Association of America's president and interim chief executive, attests.
And the facts back him up, proving that entertainment marketers who ignore the Boomer+ demo do so at their own peril. Consider the following:
- 45 million people age 50+ see movies in theaters every year -- that's one out of every three adult moviegoers.
- Those 45 million moviegoers demonstrate a growth of 18 million people over the last 15 years. That growth rate nearly doubles that of the 18-49 year-old movie-going population.
- Over the next 10 years, the 50+ population is expected to grow by nearly 20 million, four times the rate that the 18-49 population, which means that movie going audiences will continue to age.
Imagine what "Larry Crowne" could have done had it actually been a good film.
Or rather, don't imagine, and simply look at the success of Woody Allen's recent success with "Midnight in Paris."
Without a big marketing budget, Sony Pictures Classics struck gold with this surprise box office hit by targeting older consumers directly and then reaping the benefits from the word of mouth for which Boomers have become so well-known. The film is Allen's most successful in 25 years and, with its success among older audiences as a foundation, is now being marketed to and attracting younger audiences. It's a welcome reversal of the conventional approach of targeting the younger demographic and depending on "spill" to impact older consumers.
The truth of the matter is, movies with older star power have proven to be highly successful when also critically acclaimed. "The King's Speech" starred Colin Firth (50), Geoffrey Rush (60) and Helena Bonham Carter (45), and "The Kids Are All Right" starred Annette Bening (53), Julianne Moore (50), and Mark Ruffalo (43). Reviews are critical to the success of movies among older movie goers. According to new research from AARP among its members age 50+, nearly two-thirds say they consult reviews before seeing a movie.
Movies like "Midnight in Paris," "The Kids Are All Right" and the Meryl Streep vehicle "Julia & Julia" succeeded because they met several of the general criteria required to encourage Boomer and older consumers to open their wallets for most categories of products and services. They delivered high quality, served a valuable purpose, and added to life's experience, so they were deemed by Boomers to be a smart expenditure.
But these films went a step further by depicting Boomers in a desirable light, which is what Boomers want in both entertainment and advertising that targets them. Boomers don't want to be singled out by their generation, and especially not by their age. They want to coexist amongst other generations based on their interests and relationships. This is how they're living their lives right now.
Boomers and older consumers are a distinctly powerful consumer segment. As the evidence defying the conventional wisdom continues to mount, we can use Hollywood as yet another example of why underestimating that power will prove to be an increasingly costly error.
|Mark Bradbury is research director for AARP Media Sales.|
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Daily Sales Tip: Closing Too Quickly
It's always rewarding to close a sale and immediately have the new client sign the documents to secure the sale. No matter how many years in the business, this always feels good. We all have stories about new customers who have "fallen into our lap" and bought quickly. For some reason, we can't seem to forget the great rush that occurs from these new clients. I'm here to say that as good as the rush might be when we allow a sale to occur too quickly, we wind up leaving money on the table.
When beginning to talk with a new customer, the salesperson and the customer invariably have the intent of doing so with a specific product in mind. It may be any number of products you sell. The initial interest expressed by the customer always guides the discussion. Once the discussion turns to a specific product, the customer's focus becomes even more closed to any other products. The real danger comes when the customer agrees to buy. At that moment, the customer feels the process is over, and their mind moves to something else, usually something totally unrelated to your business or products.
To avoid a situation like this, the salesperson needs to ask the necessary exploratory questions early to determine the customer's other needs. By asking exploratory questions early, you are able to assess which additional products may interest the customer. If you wait to ask these types of questions until after the initial sale is complete, you will always be behind. This is the whole principle of not closing too quickly. You need and want enough time to explore and determine all of the customer's needs.
Source: Sales consultant Mark Hunter
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Friday, August 19, 2011
Click & Read:
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Despite the debate over QR codes...
What debate, you ask?
The debate of whether or not they are viable or a waste of time & tech which is muttered by early adopters, geeks and marketing pros...
... my friend and co-worker, Kevin Mullett has been capturing and scanning QR codes to see if they are being used effectively.
Check his collection here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hunteeer/sets/72157627141720795/
Toyota has jumped on the QR code bandwagon:
QR Codes On Window Stickers, ToyoTags In Ads Nissan has launched a program that puts Quick Response (QR) codes on its "On Vehicle Graphics System." The company says it is the first to put the codes on individual vehicle window stickers across its entire lineup. The codes will appear first on 2012 models.
The first of the codes appeared in June on the 2012 Nissan Altima and Sentra, and according to Nissan, this is the first time the codes have been used by an OEM. The company says the QR codes, when connected via smartphone, deliver content via iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices.
Jon Brancheau, VP marketing, says the technology helps sales staff "make a more effective presentation, as well as providing customers with a 'silent salesperson' if they are shopping the lot after hours. It's a true mass market effort across all products and all Nissan dealerships nationwide -- part of our pledge to bring innovation to every aspect of the vehicle design, buying and ownership experience."
The company says the codes specify vehicle information, key features and available accessories, video product overviews, image galleries, inventory, dealer locator and mailing list opt-ins.
Brancheau said the initial test of the program on the 2012 Altima was "extremely encouraging, with consumers viewing multiple pages and requesting follow-up information regarding current offers and inventory."
Rival Toyota is also using smart codes, but not on product window stickers. The "ToyoTags," are based on a product called "SnapTag" by Denver-based SpyderLynk. The company says that consumers with any camera phone can snap a picture and send the "ToyoTag" to others, while those with iPhone and Android devices can download the SnapTag Reader and scan to get the information, promotion or content that Toyota is offering.
"ToyoTags enable consumers to engage with us wherever and whenever they want information," said Michael K. Nelson, interactive communications marketing manager at Toyota, in a company statement. The company is using them in print publications, the company web site and online portals and product display signs at events such as the L.A. and Detroit Auto Shows.
(Source: Marketing Daily, 08/05/11)
Why Surprising and Delighting Customers Isn't Enough
"As much as creative marketing and promotions can help a product, service, or company stand out," writes Linda Ireland at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog, "it always comes down to a simple premise: Did you solve the need that triggered the customer to act in the first place?" In other words: You can surprise and delight customers all you like, but it won't matter if you don't fix what they asked you to fix. So keep your focus on this goal with tips like these:
Do what you said you would do. You'll impress customers by providing the product or service you promised, on time and without any surprises along the way. It would seem self-evident, but this oft-forgotten concept forms the foundation for every positive customer experience.
Don't create more work for your customers. They're paying you to make a pain point go away—it won't seem that they've gotten their money's worth if they have to jump through hoops to get anything done.
Don't tout unnecessary benefits. A slew of new features won't excite a customer who doesn't need them; if you insist on discussing them, it'll start to feel like tiresome oversell. "Keep it simple," she says. "Fix their problem. Then stop. Then solve another one."
Don't forget the emotional aspect of customer experience. Inspire loyalty and satisfaction by matching your actions to the way a customer should feel at each stage of the process.
The Po!nt: The surest way to surprise and delight a customer is to roll up your sleeves and solve her problem.
Source: MarketingProfs Daily Fix.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011
Click & read, you know the routine...
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Check out this report:
Affluents Adopting Technology-Infused Lifestyles
"Affluent Consumers in a Digital World," a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, finds the wealthiest American consumers, those in homes with at least $100,000 annual incomes, embracing digital media and its ads.
According to the study, conducted for the IAB by Ipsos Mendelsohn, 98% of affluent consumers use the Internet, as compared with 79% of the general population. They spend 26.2 hours online weekly, 17.6 hours watching TV and 7.5 hours listening to the radio. The general population, on the other hand, spends about twice as much time weekly with TV and radio.
Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President of Industry Services, IAB, notes that "Affluents have long been one of the hardest to reach and most important consumer groups... (but) when it comes to digital media, the old paradigm has been superseded: the wealthiest Americans use digital media far more than their less affluent counterparts."
According to the survey, affluents overall currently comprise 21% of U.S. households, have 70% of all consumer wealth, and spend 3.2 times more than other Americans on purchases. Compared with non-affluent consumers, after viewing digital ads affluent consumers are also somewhat more likely to be aware of:
And, 59% of affluent consumers reported taking action based on a digital ad during the preceding six months.
Mane observed that "... the combined reach, exposure and influence of digital as an ad vehicle to affluent households is simply unprecedented."
The receptivity of affluent Americans to digital advertising is underscored by their greater understanding of the ad-supported web model and the benefits of ad targeting:
Part of what affluent consumers want from that customized experience are ads relevant to their current shopping interests (i.e., auto ads if they're ready for a new car, airline ads if they're planning a trip... wherever they may be on the Internet)
Affluent Americans are twice as likely as the general population to own smartphones (33% vs. 17%), and 79% of the affluent say their lives have become "intertwined with technology" over the past decade. However, they are more likely to say that their lives have become:
Bob Shullman, President of Ipsos Mendelsohn, says "... affluent consumers have increasingly come to desire relevant and customized experiences... in part because they are living technology-infused lifestyles... they have come to expect the benefits of digital media... "
(Source: The Center For Media Research, 08/09/11)
It's not really something I would encourage.
It's an abbreviated version of a term my Dad would say when I was stuck, "There's more than one way to skin a cat".
In other words:
Daily Sales Tip: Thinking Strategically
All successful sales professionals are strategic thinkers. By strategic thinking, I mean that they are always looking for new ways to penetrate their accounts and prospects, they are always looking for new ways to grow and develop their relationships, and they are always looking for new ways to make their customers more successful.
Recently, I read a story about a sales professional who lost a major account. He was obviously upset over the loss and tried very hard to regain the business, but his efforts were without success. The salesperson was trying to penetrate the account using old ideas. He went back to the same people he had always worked with and presented them with the same ideas. They saw no reason to change back to him.
Finally, he started working with a person that he had never worked with before, a manager assigned with the task of moving the company into a new marketplace. They had no experience in the new market and the salesperson saw the manager struggling over his decisions. When the salesperson began to question the new manager, he learned that the manager was moving into a market that the salesperson had worked in, on a prior job.
While the salesperson had no opportunity to make a sale, he was able to help the manger with some of his decisions. To me, successful salespeople differentiate themselves on the quality of their ideas, and our salesperson had done just that. He went on to describe how the company began to view him differently, on the basis of the quality of his ideas.
The company began to request other information of the salesperson, all in areas where he had no opportunity to make a sale. Yet he helped anyway. Eventually, the company started to buy again. In fact, the salesperson was not only able to regain the account, he was able to grow it as well.
The key learning point of this story is that there are always a number of ways to approach an account. If you think strategically, you will use your creative imagination to develop new and innovative approaches in developing your customer relationships. If you think in a linear manner, you will only see one way to approach and develop a relationship.
Source: Sales trainer/author Paul S. Goldner
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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It may be the growth of single parent homes headed by women...
It may be the product of being a child of divorce...
It may be a values backlash...
It's all a bit too difficult to pinpoint...
But today's Mom shares similarities with generations of women before her and that common bond is the level of influence they have on their families.
Mediapost gives this insight into the Mom's of 2011:
When kids seek permission, they usually ask mom. But these days, the things to which she is saying "yes," might be surprising. For example, if you are not yet 13 years old, joining a social network is still against the site's policy. Yet, 32% of 9-12 year olds report typically visiting social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Now, these kids are not sneaking on to these sites without their moms' permission. In fact, 84% of these kids' moms are "friends" with their child on the sites. You may be asking yourself, "Why would moms allow their children to obviously and deliberately break the rules?"
The answer may point to a larger societal trend that could have tremendous implications for marketers. Could it be that this generation of moms has learned to rely primarily on their own assessment and instincts rather than depending on the dictates of institutions on which previous generations depended? Have the purported "facts" vacillated so many times that this cohort learned that there really is no "right" answer and decisions are always relative?
Let's think about the defining events today's moms of young children witnessed. They grew up watching the institutions their parents trusted let them down. From the government (terrorist attacks, political scandals, food/product recalls, school shootings) and corporations (Enron, Exxon Valdez, BP oil spill, layoffs) to financial institutions (Bernie Madoff, et. al., the sub-prime mortgage crisis) and even religious organizations, this generation learned hard lessons about trust and control.
That is, they saw they had little control and institutions were not worthy of their trust. However, they maintained hope that the one institution that would not disappoint them and one area where they could still exert some influence and control was the family. What was clear to this generation of moms was that they can and should be the final arbiters of what is right for their families. Decisions are now based on sources of information this mom-consumer personally assesses.
This is the new "momsumer." When it comes to evaluating social networking for her child, mom feels empowered to judge the merits of those sites outside of the institutional age recommendations. Finding the sites fit the lifestyle needs of today's kids and tweens, she allows them to join. In addition, she "friends" her children on these sites and monitors their communications herself.
This momsumer pattern is exhibited in other parts of kids' media world, as well. For example, 81% of boys aged 9-12 years old, who play video games are allowed to play T-rated games, if they play with a parent. In fact, 51% of boys aged 9-12 years old, who play video games are allowed to play M-Rated games with a parent. Games are rated T, if the content is deemed appropriate for players over age 13 and an M rating is given if the content is most appropriate for players aged 17 years old and older.
The same phenomenon emerges with motion pictures. Seven in ten kids aged 6-12 are allowed to see a PG-13 rated movie, if they go with a parent, while about one out of five boys are allowed to watch R-rated movies with a parent.
With momsumers overriding traditional content guidelines, the selection set of products and services obtainable by kids is ever-expanding. So what does this mean for marketers of all goods and services? It is imperative to understand how your products hold up against the momsumers' evaluation. Who in her family really uses or advocates for your service?
Is it a part of her potential selection set? Will you teach her that your messaging over promises and under delivers or will your communications be verified as she personally evaluates your brand? Staying close to your consumers has never been more important as momsumers tailor their families' experience with your products and services in ways that you may not have anticipated. Understanding these customized interactions can help grow your brand and expand your business.
And what will the impact of these momsumers be on this generation of kids? Are we raising a cohort of rule breakers, who will only want to follow their own regulations? Well, that depends. Just like Kohlberg's assessment of moral reasoning, it is not the action that matters as much as the rationale for that action. Moms should detail for their children the reason they are overriding the standards and those institutional rules.
So, are you ready? Here they come.
|Sacerdoti is the CEO and founder of BrightRoll, a leading provider of online video advertising services. BrightRoll, which was founded in 2006, has served billions of ads on behalf of the worlds leading agencies and their clients and executed campaigns on more than three-fourths of the top 100 online media properties in the United States.|
from my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Review Your Time Frame
Even though you might have confirmed the length of your sales meeting before the call, it's always good to do it again. You might not be aware that timing has changed for the customer. The following statement will set you straight: "I know we set aside an hour for today's meeting. I just want to make sure that still works for you."
Now, some people might be saying, "Why are you asking that again? You already got the time, and the customer might tell you that now he only has 30 minutes." The answer is courtesy. Also, if the customer's had a crazy day, his attention is not going to be focused on you. I've gone on calls with reps who dive right into their presentation, no nod to time, no ice breakers, and I'll watch the customer squirm in his chair and look at his watch as if wondering: "How long is this going to take?"
When you value the customer's time, it shows that you also value your own.
Source: Sales consultant/author Barry Farber
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
You can ignore the above, just Click & read:
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The right attitude is not based on age.
Although sometimes as we grow older we mature in our thoughts and actions, and experience teaches many lessons, don't discount today's youth.
Check out this piece from Mediapost:
Keep in mind, today's incoming college freshmen were only seven years old during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. While Millennials are old enough to remember a time when "money was no object" and the threat of war was limited to nightly spots on the news, this generation has been profoundly impacted by world events, and their personal values reflect the "new normal" we have all been experiencing for some time. Why does this matter to brand marketers? Our success in bonding with today's youth begins by understanding what motivates them at the deepest level.
How They Define Success:
As a Millennial born of and raised by Boomers, I was taught that if you worked hard and saved your money, you would be able to live indefinitely off your nest egg and retire comfortably, preferably somewhere warm and dry, and on a golf course. In the wake of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, today's youth are being taught a different lesson about money: "Don't take anything for granted, or assume money will always be there for you."
The uncertainty of financial success has refocused our country's priorities back to spending time with our families and doing what you love, not necessarily what will make you wealthy. This shift in values is also reflected in how teens define success. Seventy-nine percent* define success as "doing what you are passionate about" and "raising a loving family" while only 13% describe success as being the CEO of a major company. Appearing successful to others, a trait coveted by many Boomers and Gen X, is also not as desirable to this generation, as only 18% feel this is important.
Today's youth are not influenced by money or the image of success. In fact, even in their online communities, only 6% feel that "having lots of friends on Facebook" is an influential quality. The vast majority believe "Being True To Yourself" is inherently more influential in life (62%).
A Generation of Actionists:
Our youth are not a generation of "haters." They don't blame their parents for the problems in their own lives; rather they see technology as empowering them to make a positive impact on their world. They are much more likely to come together, either both on and offline, to achieve a common good than prior generations, and view social media as a major catalyst for change.
Shaping Their Identity Through Social Media:
Today's youth have been building their own personal brand for years, and will be the most brand-savvy generation the world has ever known. They have hand-selected every photo, wall post, tweet, and "like" that has been tied to their digital persona, and have carefully built their outward-facing identities. This is quite possibly the greatest insight a brand marketer can glean: Their brand will always be secondary to the consumer's. The same way youth selects a photo or a wall post, they will also choose or deny your brand, depending on how it adds to or distracts from their own social brand persona.
Head in the Clouds, With Feet on the Ground:
This is not a generation of wishful thinkers, or irrational optimists. They know that hard work is needed to achieve their dreams, yet they believe that "Anything is possible through hard work." Their preference in brands has shifted as their personal values have impacted what they value in a brand. While Millennials cared about how expensive something was, the status it provided, the celebrity it was tied to or its "bling factor," today's youth puts a premium on how new something is and are more interested in product performance than status. They care less about the "badge value" of a premium brand and more about the originality and authenticity of the brand story.
Empower Them To Make Their Mark:
I am confident that today's youth will grow up to be well-adjusted, practically minded, successful problem solvers, who will live life to the fullest and make the planet better for all of us. As brand marketers, we need to help this generation on their quest by empowering them through our products, celebrate their personal brand and achievements, and embrace their desire to claim their own mark on the world.
* Note: Mr Youth leveraged Crowdtap -- a startup incubated within Mr Youth that helps brands engage audiences -- as a means to gain insights into this audience via a nationwide poll of males and females ages 14-17.
|Nick Fuller is senior director of brand development at Mr. Youth, a social media agency.|
From my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Review Your Calls
A flaw often overlooked by many sales professionals and their managers is a failure to review their calls. Similar to a pilot who uses a checklist before he/she flies or a doctor that uses a checklist to perform a diagnosis for an illness, the sales professional must run through a checklist to understand each call's high and low points.
Post-call reviews help to understand where you made any errors. They assist in either reinforcing your message or helping to revise its content for a more consistent presentation the next time. And the review provides you with valuable information the client mentioned that you must not forget.
Learn what you did right and what you did wrong so you can learn from your errors and make more sales.
Source: Sales/management consultant Drew Stevens
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Monday, August 15, 2011
Click & read:
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from the Not-So-Secret Writings of ScLoHo:
Almost 3 years ago I started subscribing to job alerts from Monster.com, even though I was not actively looking, 2008 was a year anything could happen.
Working in the sales world however, as long as I brought in more than it cost to keep me, I was fine.
Anyway, I still get regular job alerts from Monster since I:
- Haven't figured out how to make them stop...
- I have friends who are looking for jobs
Don't hire Hot Shot's.
They give a bad name to all sales people, even the good ones who put their clients needs first.
The term Hot Shot makes me think of this guy: Click here.
Hire professionals, but beware of Hot Shots.
The words of Scott Howard aka ScLoHo
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Good advice to start our week:
Discover your inner child in negotiations
By Harvey Mackay
We were treated pretty well back when we were in diapers. We made our wishes known, and the world as we knew it listened. When we wanted to be fed, we were fed. No waiting around for the dinner to get done or the waiter to notice us jumping up and down and waiving our arms. When we were feeling a little damp, we just vocalized our concern and whammo, it was all taken care of.
Ah, the good old days.
And the lessons from those early days can serve us well as adults, says Herb Cohen, the Grand Master of Negotiation. Herb's book You Can Negotiate Anything was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly a year and is considered one of the greatest negotiation books of all time. I recently talked to my good friend Herb, and I'm passing along some of his negotiating tips that really make a lot of sense.
Herb said: "If you think about it, who, in this society, are among the most successful negotiators? In other words, who are people who seem to get what they want? I would answer that: children. Children are little people in a big person's world. They are people without formal authority or power, yet they seem to get what they want."
What is it that these little people do so well? Herb listed four examples:
Number one, they aim high. They understand that if you expect more, you get more. Herb says, "Raise your sights." There is so much that you don't know, that the other side doesn't reveal to you that's negative for them, so raise your sights. Ask for more, you get more.
Second, recognize that "no" is an opening bargaining position, just as children do. A lot of people think "no" is final. No. "No" means at this particular moment in time the other side looks at this negatively. In fact, it takes a while to get used to a "no" idea. You may have surprised them with a "no." When people hear an idea for the first time, they react negatively. Recognize that.
Three, get in the habit of forming coalitions, like children do. Very few of us are solitary decision makers. Herb said: "Whom do kids form coalitions with? Their grandparents. In other words, they make a request of their mother. Mother says no. They make the same request to their father. Father says no. They appeal to their next level, to their grandparents, which is easy because they have a common enemy, the parents. Kids are not that smart, not that experienced."
Herb says that kids are good negotiators because they are naive. They say things like, "I don't know. I don't understand. Help me." And that works.
In fact, a lot of executives think it's their job in a negotiation to tell the other side how brilliant they are and what their background is. Not a winning strategy. If you're brilliant or intelligent, let the other side discover it. Don't help them. In other words, you don't even want to look too good in a negotiation.
Last of all, kids tend to be tenacious and persistent. They wear you down. So be persistent, repeat your point over and over again. Wear the other side down.
If you do some of these things, you become much more effective, you become a much better negotiator, and you make things happen.
Herb's wisdom resonates with anyone who has ever dealt with a youngster. It seems to me these strategies are not mean or threatening. They aren't sneaky or deceitful. You can look across the bargaining table and know that you are being upfront, direct and determined. Your motives are honest, your position is clear and your desired outcome is unmistakable.
Now keep in mind, I'm not suggesting that you act childish. Just reprogram your thinking to a child-like view. Clear out the clutter and ask for what you want. No, ask for more than you want. Then be prepared to accept less than you ask for. That makes the other side feel like they have gotten a real concession from you. So stunningly simple, yet blindingly brilliant.
You'll learn a lot from your kids, but few lessons will be more useful in your business life than learning how to effectively negotiate. But remember, no whining!
Mackay's Moral: Think like an adult, but negotiate like a child.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Often we consider an opportunity based on how easy it is. The problem with this analysis is that if it's easy, it's often not worth doing. It's easy to start a blog, but of course, starting a blog doesn't really deliver a lot of value. Posting 4,100 blog posts in a row, though, isn't easy. It's do-able, clearly do-able, and might just be worth it.
Successful organizations seek out the do-able. When Amazon went after the big bookstore chains, analysts ridiculed them for doing something insanely difficult. But it was clearly do-able. Persistence and talent and a bit of luck, sure, but do-able.
Sometimes we seek out things that are actually impossible. Building a search engine that's just like Google but better is impossible (if your goal is to dominate the market with it). It's fun to do impossible projects because then you don't have to worry about what happens if you succeed... you have a safety net, because you're dreaming the impossible dream.
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Labels: Seth Godin
from Al Ries:
Who decides: 1) What products and services to offer; 2) What to name those products and services; and 3) What distribution channels to use to sell those products and services?
In my opinion, these are primarily marketing issues. Yet in our work with companies large and small, we don't see many marketing people calling the shots on 1) Products; 2) Names; and 3) Distribution.
Instead, marketing people tend to focus on "communications" issues. They spend most of their time figuring out how to interest prospects in their companies' current product lines. Sure, communications are important, but they are only the tactics of a marketing program. The other half, the more important half, is strategy.
The two are related. In order to improve the communications, it often is necessary to make changes in strategy. In products, names, pricing, distribution, etc. And who is in a better position to suggest such changes than an experienced marketing person?
Yet who is calling the shots on marketing strategy? Mostly top management people.
What's the strategy of Hewlett-Packard?
As best as I can determine, here is H-P's new strategy as outlined in an interview The Wall Street Journal conducted with its new CEO Leo Apotheker.
- Invest more in software, networking and storage.
- Emphasize systems that combine these functions.
- Increase spending on research.
- Focus on cloud computing.
- Build a business helping companies build cloud-computing setups.
- Increase sales to telecom firms.
Now, how is marketing going to execute Hewlett-Packard's new strategy? By positioning the company as a leader in "software, networking, storage and cloud computing"? And, of course, personal computers.
Most companies take a similar approach. What's the strategy of Dell, the world's third-largest seller of PCs? Same as H-P. Expand the brand in all directions.
What's the strategy of Wells Fargo?
According to the Journal, "Wells Fargo plans insurance growth."
"The effort comes at a time when loan demand remains tepid and, given the size of Wells, growth in banking is hard to achieve," reported the Journal. "Other units the bank is expanding include securities brokerage and investment banking."
Insurance makes up a tiny portion of the bank's revenues, last year, about 2.5%. Didn't Wells Fargo study what happened when Citicorp merged with Travelers Group to form Citigroup? (Four years later, Citigroup spun off Travelers in an IPO.)
Maybe this is heresy in a world smitten with the line-extension religion, but why doesn't Wells Fargo focus on banking? It's the smallest of the big four, after Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.
I would think Well Fargo would want to move up the banking ladder before trying to climb the insurance ladder.
What's the strategy of Romney, Bachmann, Cain, et al?
So far, there are eight Republican presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman.
Do you know the verbal position of any of these eight?
I don't think they have any.
Doesn't anyone remember "Change we can believe in?" After Barack Obama's victory in 2008, I would have thought that any future presidential candidate would summarize his or her campaign with a few memorable words. But so far, no one has.
Apparently, nobody wants to be tied down to a single idea or concept. Everybody wants to be free to expand their campaigns in all directions, depending on which way the wind blows.
Take Jon Huntsman. "He resigned just 11 weeks ago as the U.S. ambassador to China," reported The Journal, "but already Jon Huntsman has a logo, a musical theme, a small arsenal of promotional videos, a Hollywood narrator and a line of travel mugs, lapel pins, baseball caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the distinctive H of his infant presidential campaign. He even has a generation named after himself. Generation H, his campaign calls it."
Jon Huntsman has everything except a marketing strategy.
What is strategy anyway?
Dictionary definition: "The science of planning and directing large-scale military operations, specifically maneuvering forces into the most advantageous position prior to engagement with the enemy."
And what is the most advantageous position? According to Carl von Clausewitz, the world's most-famous military strategist, "Keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. The fundamental idea always to be aimed at before all and as far as possible."
Strategy is like a garden hose with an adjustable nozzle. Turn it one way to increase the concentration and out comes a powerful stream of water that could knock down a child. Turn it the other way and out comes a fine mist that wouldn't harm a butterfly.
Almost every military strategist recommends "concentration of forces," while almost every business strategist recommends "scatteration of forces."
We used to run a series of seminars entitled "Marketing Warfare." One of our luncheon speakers was William Westmoreland, the four-star general who commanded U.S. military operations in Vietnam. After watching some of our presentations, Gen. Westmoreland expressed surprise that marketing people found anything new in our lectures. Everybody knows these military principles, he said.
Hewlett-Packard has just 17.5% of the world market for personal computers. One would think the company would focus on making Hewlett-Packard a dominant brand like Windows (90%) or Google (75%) or iPod (70%) before trying to expand in all directions.
Everything about marketing strategy parallels military strategy. The principle of force. The superiority of the defense. The advantage of flanking. And most importantly, the principle of focus.
There is one difference. Marketing is about brands, not companies. You can successfully expand a company, but not usually a brand.
Apple has become the world's second most-valuable company, not by expanding the Apple brand, but by launching new brands: Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad.
Marketing: A discipline in decline?
Is this what marketing has become? A discipline that execute strategies designed by somebody else. If so, I have a message for marketers, borrowed from Tennyson.
Forward Marketing Brigade!
Was there a person dismay'd?
Not tho' marketers knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.