Archive for the ‘Positioning’ Category

When It’s All About Them, You Win Too!

Are you unable to articulate a monetized value proposition and create sales ready messaging?

Not to worry. Here’s one way to remedy the situation.

I call it Customer Success Story Selling TM.

First, make success stories the primary vehicle to engage your audience and provide customers and prospects with reasons to believe you can give them what they need. Value already delivered, as opposed to promises, builds credibility.

Second, make it mandatory that everyone in your company memorizes at least three success stories.

Third, make a commitment to capturing past, present and future success stories of value received by your customers.

Don’t have them in writing? Don’t have one for each vertical market? Don’t have the facts and figures you need for a compelling story?

Here are just a few tips and techniques I shared in a recent workshop I did:

—Think problem/solution.

—Think contributions made and value received.

—Think about their positive outcomes.

—You must use $’s, %’s, #’s and time frames.

—Use action words like increase, improve, accelerate, enhance, maximize, minimize, save, cut, reduce, eliminate, motivate, revitalize.

—Get in the habit of asking your clients why they work with you. Your good clients will help you.

—Use the Internet to find long lost facts and figures to re-construct success stories from the past.

—Do not write or talk too much how you do what you do and nothing about how much you receive in compensation.

Here’s an added benefit: When everyone writes and speaks the language of success stories your sales and marketing people will finally be “reading from the same script”. They will literally and figuratively be telling the same story.

When you focus on customer success story selling your true value proposition will begin to reveal itself to you, your people and your target audience.

As a result, you will see an increase in referrals, sales calls and requests for proposals. You will see more people walking in the door. You will see an increase in the demand for your products and services.


Post Game Post: Super Bowl Spots Fail to Cover the Spread

Who woulda thunk it. The game itself was far better than the ads. The game was super. The spots were not. There were a few exceptions. Film at eleven.

BTW: Last February I was so underwhelmed that I gave myself a bye. However, I am back at my post (pun intended) by popular demand.

Now, the ground rules. Same ones I established a few years ago.

The spots had to be, quote unquote, Super Bowl ads: Ads imbued with a creativity that would get you to want to watch them again and would stand on their own for pure entertainment value. Being shown for the first time, clock stoppers, buzz creators. And they had to either build the brand, create memorable awareness or introduce a new product in an engaging way.

I avoided previewing ads on You Tube and other sites so as not to watch them out of context. I wanted to experience them with the full impact of seeing the spots for the first time in all of the communal anxious anticipation of a Super Bowl commercial break.

This approach differs from the likes of Barbara Lippert of AdWeek and Bob Garfield of Advertising Age. We agreed on many things but had widely different opinions on the same spots on more than one occasion. Is this validation of no unequivocal standouts?

For example, Ms. Lippert’s fave was Google. Building a more emotional connection to the brand: great idea. Showing screen shots of someone navigating through a search on Google: boring. Something most of us see and do everyday.

On the other hand, something that you have never seen on the Super Bowl is a spot promoting a political position. As many of you know CBS broke precedent. My personal, ethical and political views are not at issue here. Although, I do have to say this could be a disturbing trend for the day of the year when we just want to have a good time with friends and family.

In this case it is the much ballyhooed and controversial piece by the Pro Life organization Focus On The Family. Again, personal and political beliefs aside, you could not have made up a better story. This was perfect: Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mom. However, they did not get a first down and they fumbled on the punt. Without pre-game publicity this spot would not have even been a blip on the screen.

Other things you don’t see every day, nor would you want to: Betty White being slammed to the ground. That certainly got a rise out of the viewers at the party I attended. Too violent? Oh please.

She was playing a game of football during the Super Bowl. Good tongue in cheek. Consistent tie in for the Snicker’s instant energy value proposition, too. Plus, it was one of the few ads that had a kicker in the end with Abe Vigoda’s cameo as the second celebrity tackling dummy.

The Denny’s spots satisfied all of my criteria. They were whimsical, creative and funny. The joke, the plight of the hens who had a production challenge, clearly supported the FREE Grand Slam offer; which has proven to be a winner for the company in the past.

Where’s the beef? Speaking of ground rules, the ground meat purveyor Burger King missed a great opportunity to introduce their new BK Whopper Bar, which serves beer! (Please see my last blog post below. BK and Bud together again for the first time.)

Doritos ads were consistent with their smack down themes from previous Super Bowls and they worked. Some of my armchair marketing consultants liked the one with the dog. I preferred the gym ninja using the chips as martial arts throwing stars. Certainly qualifies as the classic Madison Avenue approach: the product as the star. (No pun intended.)

Speaking of featuring the product, I found Coca-Cola’s sleepwalker spot engaging. It was pleasant to the eyes and the ears enabling it to cut through the cacophony of the day.

Cutting through the clutter was also achieved by Motorola employing vixen Megan Fox to carry the story line of the “It” device of the day, if you will. I was impressed that both men and woman alike felt good about the ad, at least at the party I attended. Among a flood of tech toys and TV’s, it was arguably the best.

An honorable mention for VIZIO. They were able to inform by saying the right things to the right people at the right time. That is to say, speak to the growing addiction to bigger, flatter and brighter screens.

OK. Now I have to fess up. I have never gone for the eTrade baby spots, although I know amateurs and professionals love them. I must tell you that the room fell silent when the spots played. At least there was no projectile vomiting this year.

Show stopper for me was the piece on the LATE SHOW. I got a huge kick out of seeing Letterman, Oprah and Leno on the couch. All the more reason I was left empty. How could you not get a solid punch line from that ensemble?

Although bordering on depressing, misogynist and ultimately trite, the Dodge Charger entry grabbed everyone in the room and resonated with the guys. Credit to the sponsor and the agency for having the horsepower not to reveal the product until the very end.

Dove successfully introduced its new line of products for men, but it was not a super spot.

I loved Brett Farve making fun of himself. Unfortunately, he was a good sport in search of a good ad. Hyundai missed the uprights. In fact, I found many of the cars ads ho hum. Nice try by Audi. At least they created a wacky story to get their green message across.

While we are being automotive, kinda sorta had it working but could not clinch, get on the team bus and go home. Bridgestone ought to be just thrown under the bus.

What was the deal with men running around in their underwear this year? OK for Dockers who is trying to sell pants. KGB’s sumo wrestlers. Huh? Career Builders once again succeeded in creating spots that got people to stop look and listen and then quickly try to forget what just happened. Insult to injury as it ran back to back with the Dockers deprived men.

Also, little people spots ran back to back too. Neither of which were worth the risk of insulting people or the venerable Ground Hog. KISS of death for the good Dr. Pepper? BTW: I did get the message of the new flavor.

Bud Light and Bud spent a fortune, as always, but the creative was consistently not up to par with past work. The human bridge was predictable and worse: weird and grotesque.

Just to be even handed, let’s look for the silver lining in the cool blue aluminum bottles of Bud Light. The house of bottles was an arresting vision.

The “LOST” spot used a classic story line: “We are stranded on a deserted island and we don’t care because we have beer.” The nod and the wink to the popularity of the show gave this some freshness.

In the interest of some quickly disappearing attempt at brevity and to be kind, I will not savage any more spots except the ones by Go Daddy. Those offered up by Boost, FLO TV, Intel,, Home, VW, Diamond/Pop Secret and Taco Bell may remain on the sidelines.

Go Daddy failed to launch. You got everyone’s attention and then each time there was a big groan. “Is that it? Is that all you got?” “Did you give it your best shot?”

They will undoubtedly be successful again in driving traffic to their site but bodice ripping is so passé after Janet Jackson’s costume malfunction. Even the “racier” stuff on the Internet is awfully tame. Actually this year’s entries were just awful.

Too bad, because I think Danica Patrick is swell. You go girl and keep up your gutsy behavior on and off the racetrack were she has given a fantastic boost to both Indy and NASCAR racing.

Did I say gutsy? How about that onside kick to start the second half? Congratulations to the City of New Orleans and the Saints. No longer to be ridiculed as the “Aints”. Now it just seems to apply to so many of the ads.

Better luck next time to the advertisers and their agencies; and to the great Peyton Manning who came a heck of lot closer to achieving success than most of them did.


United Airlines: “It’s Time to Paint”

What does it cost to paint a plane? And what is the cost to the brand if you don’t?

Staring out at the tarmac as I hiked through SFO, I wondered for the umpteenth time, when is United going to unify (no pun intended) the look of its fleet. I felt a need to issue a citation for a major branding violation.

What are they waiting for? You are probably thinking, the last thing the airline can afford to do is paint their planes. I’m not buying that argument. That’s just like the people who cut advertising budgets in a recession.

Plus, for reasons too numerous to mention, it looks like the airline industry as a whole is going to be beleaguered for a long time to come.

The latest color scheme evocative of friendly skies of puffy clouds and blue horizons is good to go.

Way better than the awful gray fuselage that looks militaristic and anything but welcoming. And speaking of which, what is with the blue and black horizontal lines on the tail. Was that supposed to make the planes look like the ride would be smoother than the competition? Never got that.

Next time you are at the airport and you run out of things to read or your Blackberry needs re-charging, count the number of colors they used on those overly demure planes. They went over to the dark side and lost touch with years of red, white and orange.

To be even handed about this, United has shown patience and consistency when it comes to the sound of their brand. They deserve kudos for co-opting George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and sticking with it for so many years.

Also, I have made inquiries with some of my long time air freight clients in hopes of getting the hard numbers on what it costs to paint planes.

Finally, I must fess-up. I am approaching a million miles flown on United and wish them continued success. Having said that let’s finish where we began.

No paint job for the brand – cost effective? Yes.
Good branding? No.