Category Archives for "Case Studies"

How to avoid the most glaring error in advertising.

Sometimes I just cringe when I see local TV commercials. Not because of the horrific script writing or the production quality. Not because of the poorly conceived value proposition, the ill-advised choice of “talent,” or the mind-numbing jingle.

No. I cringe because many of those companies don’t belong on television at all.

I’m talking about those cases where the medium – TV – does not match the demographic and psychographic profile of the prospects. In other words, the mistake of “reaching” a lot of people, but not the right kind of people.

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2 How to create a website that works for your brand.

For some reason, many people think that “branded” websites won’t sell product or produce a steady stream of leads. And on the other hand, they don’t think “Ecommerce sites” will help their branding efforts. As if the two are mutually exclusive.

Well, here’s the good news: You really can have a website that performs well AND presents a strong brand message. But you’re going to have to go beyond the template-driven who, what, when and where approach that’s so common these days.

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1 “Brand” Trumps Managerial Incompetence.

I need to stop being surprised by managerial incompetence. Honestly. I need to reframe my expectations and just be pleasantly surprised when I encounter an exception to the rule. Because everywhere I turn, knumbskulls, nuckleheads and nitwits rule the managerial world.

Witness the retail store owner who has no handle on her inventory issues or labor costs.

The non-profit executive who has a revolving door of talent, going only one direction.

incompetenceThe managing partner of a professional agency who constantly over bills his clients.

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2 Zero-in on Branding success.

I love this saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I think Steven Covey coined that one.

When you boil it all down, that’s the essence of branding: Zero-in on one thing you can honestly, passionately, expertly hang your hat on, and stick with it. Then when it comes to marketing communications, come up with one idea to convey the main thing, and just pound that home in every way, shape and form you can afford. One idea, multiple executions.

Unfortunately, most business owners and brand managers don’t have that kind of focus. Once they get a taste of success in one little niche, the temptation is just too much… They take their eye off the main thing, and dive into a lesser thing, hoping it will become the next big thing.

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3 Deschutes Going National: How to grow without selling your soul.

Bend, Oregon is a small town better known for big fun than big business. There are only a few local brands that have grown to national prominence. It’s fitting that one is a beer brand.

When it comes to craft brewing, Oregon is the undisputed leader. And Bend is #1 in Oregon, with the most brewpubs per capita in the country. (28 at last count, with at least a dozen more in the works. Bend’s population is 80,000.)

tap-handlesIt all started 26 years ago when Gary Fish opened Deschutes Brewery. Since then, Deschutes has grown into the 6th largest craft brewery in the country, and the 11th largest U.S. brewery, period. That’s big. And with expansion into Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania this year, Deschutes is getting bigger all the time.

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2 Paralysis by analysis – How fear and data can kill great marketing.

In golf, over analysis never produces good results. If you’re thinking too much — plotting the shot, rethinking the shot, regripping the club and worrying about the position of the left pinky at the moment of impact — you’re going to fail.

Businessman ThinkingSame thing happens in many marketing departments and small businesses. People get stuck in a rut of overanalysis. They think things to death and worry about all the wrong details. When they finally pull the trigger on something, it flops. Which, of course, makes it even harder to pull the trigger the next time.

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1 The not-so-surprising failure of Sears.

The Sears store in my hometown recently closed its doors. Shut down after a 60 year presence in the market.

Can’t say I’m too broken up about it either. I bought a few tools there, once upon a time. And an appliance or two, but nothing I can recall. I certainly wouldn’t say I had any fond memories of the place, much less brand allegiance.

The recent demise of Sears, once the country’s largest retailer, is replete with lessons for business owners, entrepreneurs, marketing execs and brand managers. It’s a classic American entrepreneurial tale.

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1 Fake Thrills — Another Automotive Marketing Misfire.

Automotive advertising, as a category, is notoriously bad. And the Toyota Camry is not an exciting car. In fact, some automotive writers contend that Toyota’s building nothing but toasters these days. Despite that, the Camry has been hugely successful and has been the best-selling car in America 15 of the past 16 years. (Camry was No. 1 from 1997 to 2000, lost to the Honda Accord in 2001, and has reigned since then.)

Apparently, there’s a huge segment of the driving population that does not care about horsepower or handling or sexiness. Just reliable, utilitarian, point-A to point-B transportation for this crowd. My father drives one, and he fits the demographic perfectly… white, suburban 80-year old male who only drives a few miles a month. The last thing he’s looking for in a car is a thrill ride.

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5 Want to build a brand? First, own an idea.

I think all entrepreneurs should study advertising.

Advertising is an industry of ideas. Great ideas — paired with exceptional execution — produce growth for clients, win awards, and vault agencies into the national spotlight.

The same can be said for brands. Businesses that start with a big idea, and then stick to it, are the ones that become iconic brands.

Campbell’s owns the idea of “comfort food.” That brand is not about the soup, it’s about the rainy day when your kids are home for lunch and you sit down for a bowl of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Campbell’s warms, comforts, nourishes, takes you back in time and puts a smile on your face. All for less than a buck.

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6 Truth, Lies, and Advertising Honesty.

I don’t comment on politics. However, the recent political dialog has certainly inspired this week’s speech on brand authenticity, honesty and truth in advertising.

In politics, the standards for lying are lower than they are in business. You can sling mud and hurl half-truths at your opponent and get away with it. He’ll simply sling it back.

In business, it doesn’t work that way. If you say nasty things about your competitors, you’ll probably get sued. It’s actually illegal to blatantly mislead consumers, and if you live in a small town, like I do, disparaging a competitor will almost always come back to bite you in the Karmic ass.

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