Category Archives for "Marketing Strategy"

Sailing into a big, blue ocean of opportunity.

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, likes to tell the story of his origin as an entrepreneur. And it always revolves around focus…

“For the first five years we only had one product. Stretchy tee shirts,” Plank said. “Great entrepreneurs take one product and become great at one thing. I would say, the number one key to Under Armour’s success – to any company’s success – plain and simple, is focus.”

v5-1201166-400_htfUnder Armour’s focus on stretchy tees for football players enabled Plank to create a whole new pie in the sporting goods industry. He wasn’t fighting with Nike for market share, he was competing on a playing field that no one was on. It was a classic “blue ocean” strategy… instead of competing in the bloody waters of an existing market with well-established competitors, he sailed off on his own. And he kept his ship on course until the company was firmly established. Only then did they begin to expand their product offerings.

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Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

Clarity is the key to many things… Relationships, international relations, politics and parenting would all benefit from more clarity. But let’s stick to the subject at hand; Clarity in branding, advertising and marketing communications in general. Doesn’t matter what form… from a quick tweet or a simple email to an in-depth webinar or long-term TV campaign, you need to be clear about what you’re trying to say.

It’s a war of clarity vs. confusion. Simplification vs. Complication. Cool persuasion vs. a lot of hot air. Straight talk vs. bullshit. And it starts with your internal communications.

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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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4 How to hire the right marketing person, the first time.

I don’t work with Fortune 500 companies. My clients rely on small, efficient teams of people for all their marketing needs. If that’s your situation, or if you have a fledgling start-up, you better think carefully about the type of marketing person you hire to spearhead the effort.

The most common mistake is hiring a specialist… someone who’s deep into SEO, or social media, or web programming, or brand journalism, or graphic design. Whatever. Those “doers” are all important players in your marketing mix, but what you need is a thinker/doer. An idea guy who can wear many different hats.

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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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Truth and clarity about Guerrilla Marketing

It’s 1810. Napolean’s armies have conquered all of Europe and are enjoying the spoils. But in Spain, small bands of dedicated freedom fighters wage their own war against the occupying forces. They strike. Move. Hide. And strike again. They involve the enemy in a long, drawn-out war, and ultimately prevail.

That’s how the term Guerrilla Warfare came to be. The literal, Spanish translation is “small war.”

Fast forward to 1983. Jay Conrad Levinson, an old-school, advertising guy from Chicago, borrows the term for a marketing book he’s writing. “Guerrilla Marketing” becomes one of the most popular business books of all time, with endless spin-offs and merchandise tie-ins.

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8 Brands Of Love On Valentine’s Day

Valentines-Day-background_mainI’ll never forget my first pair of skis… Hand-me-down Heads from a by-gone era. Jet black. Heavy as can be, but oh so lovable! Since then, I’ve purchased eight more pairs of skis and four were the same brand: Head.

The latest is a pair of Head Rev 105s, and I’m absolutely loving them. I test drove many different brands — and they were all good — but I chose Head. Every time I ski on them, and every time I see another Olympic racer on the podium with their Heads at their side, I get even more attached to that brand. It’s a life long love affair.

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2 The Duck Dynasty brand goes high fashion.

How do you know when the alignment of the planets has gone completely askew? When the guys from Duck Dynasty are featured in GQ magazine.

Yessir, that’s right. The Robertson clan has risen from the swamps of Louisiana to the pages of GQ. On one page you have Bradley Cooper, “the prettiest man on the planet,” throwing the F word around and the next page you have the Duck Dynasty dudes in their branded cammo-wear quoting bible passages. What’s next? Forbes?

Oh, wait. They’ve been there, done that too.

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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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