Sip. Slurp. Repeat. That sums up the business plan at Campbell Soup (CPB) before Douglas Conant took over as CEO eight years ago this month. It was the same old company doing much of the same old stuff it had been doing since it was founded in 1869. It had no clear direction. No red-hot brands. Its innovation cupboard was bare. Conant went to work.
The first tenet of ANA's Marketer's Constitution is that "Marketing must become increasingly targeted, focused and personal." We all know that marketing works best when brands can have direct conversations with people. It works even better when those conversations are with audiences that want to hear specific product and service messaging. The simplicity and elegance of this objective is finally becoming reality.
Rather than seek increased revenues and profits by expanding products and markets, companies should follow a seven-step strategy for achieving more with less.
So you've got an elevator pitch — a short, pithy description of why your business is special, exciting, and unique. Yawn. Today, elevator pitches are the economic equivalent of speeches at a beauty pageant: predictable, often vapid, always bland. Here's a suggestion. Try a Dumbwaiter Pitch instead. It's an exercise I often do with startups, giant corporations, social entrepreneurs, and investors. Its goal? To strip an organization right down to its bones, and see how compelling it really is.
Men are, well, men. They live in the 'now.' They are concrete thinkers that like to consummate, finish. A male axiom is "complete what you set out to do." Men are interested in power and in looking good, even more than being good. In short, that's the nature of beauty for the beast. You cannot market to men the same way you market to women. It's not a simple transformation of changing colors, fonts or packaging. Men and women are different biologically, psychologically and socially.
I had an epiphany recently. The setting: a multi-billion dollar global giant. The topic of discussion: innovation. My epiphany: A simple two-word phrase that can hamstring innovation. What about...
What's the No. 1 principle of marketing, at least as far as we're concerned? It's the principle of focus. You narrow the focus in order to own a word in the mind of the consumer. Without a focus, it's very difficult to build a strong brand. And without a strong brand, any company's future is in doubt. While focus should be the key ingredient in any marketing campaign, it's not the whole story. So we developed an acronym called FOCVS that does sum up our key thoughts. "FOCVS," a word using the original alphabet of the Roman Empire, consists of five key elements.
I read with great interest an article in SmartBusiness about Red Mango and the yummy yogurt chain’s founder, president, and CEO of Red Mango, Dan Kim. I’m fascinated by the frozen yogurt chains that have emerged on the cultural landscape in last 5 years. Pinkberry has probably gotten the most coverage in the press, with its high design aesthetic and celebrity fans, but there are plenty of others in the game including Red Mango. The category is very crowded with operators of all sizes competing in a relatively small niche with punch cards and discount days. Building brand awareness and shoring up a loyal customer base are particular challenges, which is in part why I’m so interested in the category (liking fro yo also has something to do with it too!). In the SB piece, Dan explains his thinking and approach to building the Red Mango brand. Clearly, this is a guy who gets it. He believes in the power of his brand and he actively nurtures and protects it.
Starbucks instant coffee was always going to be a tough sell. That's why the company spent years developing it and months preparing its frontline employees (aka baristas) for the Sept. 29 launch of Via, three-packs of instant that go for $2.95. "We took a lot of time with it because we knew it could undermine the company if we didn't do it right," CEO Howard Schultz said this summer. It's too early to say whether Via is a success. But judging from the coffee blogs, including the company's mystarbucksidea.com, for some baristas the pressure to sell Via is intense and unwelcome. "This is the most stressful promotion I have ever experienced, and I've been with the company for seven years," a barista wrote on starbucksgossip.com. Some customers are finding the hard sell a bit exasperating, too. As one wrote: "Please no more high-pressure Via sales pitches. It's annoying … it's completely out of line with Starbucks' vibe."
I used to carry a Blackberry……during the golden age of the Blackberry, when it was first nicknamed the “Crackberry.” I remember fondly images of people squishing their Blackberries between the window and the window shades on airplanes to get better reception for just that last email before takeoff. It was a revolutionary device for sure, and RIM did a great job in its development. Legions of corporate IT staff will only support that device, and more individuals carry it quite loyally. However. I hadn’t been paying attention to their advertising for a while, until I heard a recent iPhone commercial. I heard the Beatles “All you need is love” and then I looked up and saw… Well, I saw that it was an ad for the Blackberry, not the iPhone. All I need is love? For an addicting device? For the workhorse business device?
OK, kids. Class is back in session. Once again, we're studying business lessons learned from Google. As you'll recall, last time we covered these five Google-isms: 1. Innovate or die. 2. Automate or die. 3. Tap the long tail. 4. Keep your head in the cloud. 5. Don't scare users. Today, we'll discuss numbers six through eight and next time we'll finish up with nine through eleven. So get those pens and papers ready...
A recently published Media Post Marketing Daily piece, “Some Categories May Be Vulnerable at Retail,” points to some serious fall-out at retail after many months of sales declines. The gist: retailers are intent on cutting inventory levels. That doesn’t only mean there will be less back stock in stores. It also means there will be considerable SKU cuts made to reduce costs, optimize assortments and improve profit margins. According to the Wall Street Journal, the nation’s largest retailers will be cutting their overall product assortment by 15% in 2010. Wal-Mart is committed to an overall reduction of 15-18% in their assortments. That’s significant. In fact, it’s a total reversal of the trend in the past few years to grow assortments. It’s a safe bet, mid-sized and smaller retailers will follow suit. The losers here will be CPG companies.
In researching his new book, Googled: the End of the World as We Know It, to be published next week by Penguin Press, author Ken Auletta had extensive access to the company's inner workings and reported widely on its impact on the media landscape. In a Fortune.com exclusive, he offers ten enduring lessons drawn from his journey into Google's realm.
A new executive team at MySpace is trying to reignite the brand by focusing on areas like music, videos and games as users abandon the social-networking site for cooler destinations. MySpace, which is holding a conference this week for its global ad-sales staff, needs to lure visitors back and kick-start advertising revenue, ad executives say. Research firm eMarketer estimates U.S. ad spending on the site will be $495 million this year, down 15% from $585 million in 2008. The basic challenge is similar to the one facing big Internet companies, such as Time Warner's AOL and Yahoo, that are under pressure to reinvent themselves for fickle audiences.
When Salesforce.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff wanted ideas about how to run his business during the technology recession of 2001, he turned to his friend Michael Dell. Dell’s advice: “Economic difficulties are a time when companies can reassess where they are in the market and rebuild themselves rapidly,” says Benioff, who has known Dell Inc.’s founder and CEO for 20 years. Now Dell is trying to follow his own advice.
The Kroger Co. realized nearly a decade ago that to survive it had to put the customer first, and permanently. That meant larger stores with more products at cheaper prices. It meant cleaner aisles and shorter lines. It meant $4 generic prescriptions, organic food selections, Murray's Cheese counters and a 3-cent reward for using a reusable shopping bag. It meant donating food to local food pantries, launching breast cancer awareness campaigns using local women, giving away its Deluxe ice cream to loyal Twitter followers. "We told our shareholders our intention is to save money in places that won't matter as much to the customer, so we can pass on savings to the customer," Kroger CEO David Dillon told a packed Music Hall Ballroom crowd attending the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's annual luncheon Wednesday.
Starbucks is looking beyond its own brand to help transform the company. CEO Howard Schultz has described Seattle's Best Coffee, which Starbucks acquired in 2003, as a big opportunity for the company as a whole. Now Seattle's Best will have Michelle Gass, one of Mr. Schultz's most-trusted advisers, at the helm. Ms. Gass is a 13-year company veteran and architect of Starbucks' multibillion-dollar Frappuccino franchise. "Moving [Seattle's Best Coffee] into a distinct and separate business unit will provide the focus necessary to enable SBC's full potential in the specialty coffee marketplace," Mr. Schultz said in a statement.
It's been a rough few years for Sears Holdings, even before the recession took hold and consumers fled stores. Cut budgets, fierce competition and management shifts all have dogged the organization's flagship retailers, Sears and Kmart, which continue to fight to prove their relevance to consumers. Same-store sales were down 13% at Sears and 4% at Kmart in the last quarter. And Sears Holdings' annual advertising budget was cut from $2.2 billion in 2007 to $2.1 billion in 2008. Meanwhile, Chairman Eddie Lampert, a self-made billionaire investor who had been anointed as the next Warren Buffet, has proven to be an endless source of fascination. Plenty are keen to see how his grand experiment -- the retail novice took over Kmart in 2003 and purchased Sears in 2004 -- will turn out.
Starbucks is a brand that grew from the ground up and always flirted with marketing in a a way that it never felt comfortable with. However, given a year of declining comp store sales and an erosion of the brand, marketing appears to be firmly back on the agenda. At a recent Goldman Sachs conference, the CFO of Starbucks talked repeatedly about marketing initiatives that are doing to be driving the company forward.
As most of you know, Sharper Image, home of innovative products like the Razor scooter, the robotic dog, the Ionic Breeze, the StressEraser and the R2-D2 interactive droid, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What remains is an important lesson. Innovation is not a strategy and companies which depend on a constant flow of new, innovative products will someday find themselves in deep trouble. As Sharper Image did. Every successful company needs a branding strategy, which may or may not include innovation. Yet many marketing gurus have elevated innovation to a point where it is widely perceived as the single, most-important function of a corporation. Witness the raft of recent articles on the subject, including an editorial in my favorite publication with the theme, Forget the recession and innovate.
The cover story of the most recent issue of Wired addresses how Craigslist rose to dominate classified listings, in spite of (or perhaps because of) how little it has changed, and the quirkiness of the business. The real customer experience lesson though, can be found in a follow-on blog post written by the story's author, Gary Wolf. In it, he muses, "Why, given the site's notorious shortcomings, has nobody ever succeeded in taking business away from it?" He writes about how many local newspapers have tried to embrace local listings, such as the Bakersfield Californian. When you look at their apartment-for-rent page, you immediately see the problem — the classified listings are sandwiched between giant banner ads and overwhelming navigation options. And this speaks to the fundamental issue facing the mass media today — it doesn't know who its customer is.
The elevator speech. It's one of the prerequisites of business development. In the time you can spend with someone on a 30-second ride, how do you describe your business? For established brands, the elevator speech is not so much a speech but a word. For brands like Google, Microsoft, and Apple, you can quickly get from brand name to association in a word. Let's play the game together, in your head or on paper. Google? Microsoft? Apple? Got your word?
Following a complaint from Apple, Microsoft has quietly tweaked at least one of the ads in its "Laptop Hunters" campaign to reflect its rival's lower pricing on its Mac notebooks.
Much, and I mean much, has been written about the General Motors crisis. Some claim it’s hopeless. Others say there’s a chance that things will work out in time. No one writes about the fact that success or failure will not revolve around the GM brand. (No one walks into a car dealership and asks for a GM car.) Their future depends on how well their remaining brands are positioned and how well each strategy is executed. In some ways it is a replay of Alfred Sloan’s eliminating a number of GM brands, and building a gigantic business around five brands that became a “car for every purse and purpose”. But that was then. What’s available in today’s highly saturated and wildly competitive automobile market?
When you study the marketing wars, the well-differentiated specialist tends to be the winner. Here are some thoughts on why the specialist brand appears to make an impression on the mind. First, the specialist can focus on one product, one beneﬁt, and one message. This focus enables the marketer to put a sharp point on the message that quickly drives it into the mind.
Aiming to please too many different types of customers can be a fatal flaw. Focus on your core audience and don't waste money on the rest.
The series on brand value creation continues today with a look at how brands create value for companies in their Internal Business Processes. Although a brand’s ability to create value from the Financial and Customer perspectives is probably the most important, its impact on Internal Business Processes is the most fundamental.
There are plenty of global conglomerates in industries from finance to pharmaceuticals to, of course, advertising. But running a global news business requires a tricky combination of international brand appeal, regional relevance and subject expertise that both travels and translates.
News broke this week that Yahoo has hired a cost-cutting specialist as its new CFO, with references that he'll help "...weed out the bureaucracy that has been dragging down its profits." Is that what Yahoo needs to fix?
Have you seen Starbucks new campaign? The one designed to remind you of the "Starbucks story?" From the announcement video to the ads themselves, Starbucks is making the first mistake of modern advertising - they're telling you when they should be showing you.
In its heyday, Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Truck plant generated up to $3.7 billion a year in profits building sports utility vehicles. On Wednesday, the auto maker will detail plans to convert the plant to produce a compact car that never made a nickel in the U.S. Building a profitable Ford Focus small-car line will require huge changes in how the vehicles are equipped and assembled. By one estimate, the earlier-model Ford Focus lost as much as $1 billion a year. But Ford believes it now has a new formula to turn those losses into steady profits.
K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a mantra that always pops into my head when I’m looking at new startups. A lot of them seem to want to do a million different things because other companies have been successful at one of those things in the past. But that’s a bad idea. Way too many new products and services are too complicated. And I would suggest, often fail as a direct result of that.
Anytime a brand's advertising slogan begins with "We do more than _____," you know the brand is making a major mistake. This is exactly the case with the UPS Store’s new slogan: “We do more than shipping.”
We've written much on what we know will be virtues of a successful 21st-century brand: trustworthiness, durability and accessibility, distinct from the core values (or motivators) they ultimately support. For instance, a brand may value Independence (Harley-Davidson, say), and exercise its virtues of Trustworthiness, Durability and Accessibility to ensure that its core value is understood, and motivating, at every turn. We as a practice don't assign values to brands; we simply apply these virtues to brands in when designing for their values, whatever they may be.
One of Harvard Business Review’s pieces on marketing in these tough economic times left me feeling ambivalent. In “Five Rules for Retailing in a Recession,” the authors outline how retailers can discover that “a larger universe of growth and productivity opportunities is open to them than they might believe.”
Marketing is a long-term proposition. A company can get in trouble if it changes its marketing strategy to cope with a short-term problem.
The packaged-goods outfit has unloaded 40% of its businesses and used the proceeds to invest in product lines with more growth potential.
Reebok, once a broad force in the U.S. footwear market, is trying to start over by returning to its niche roots.
The KitKat team have been brave enough to "kill the dwarves" in their range, those little line extensions that eat up money and time, and bring little in the way of sales. The resources freed up have been re-focused on core growth, and on one big, bold and successful extension: KitKat Senses.They are now reaping the business benefits of this strategy, with sales up 30% in 2008, the fastest-growing confectionery brand in the UK, according to a report in Marketing.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s incoming president, Akio Toyoda, has a sobering message for the giant company founded by his grandfather: It has gotten too fancy for its own good. On Monday, three top executives who helped lead Toyota the past four years announced their retirement. The departures clear the way for Mr. Toyoda's planned makeover of the world's biggest auto maker.