Friday, August 27, 2010

Identity Crisis: Your Marketing Identity vs. Your Marketing Image

Last week, I mentioned how marketers need to be aware of buyer's expectations, like doctors wearing white lab coats.

An astute reader pointed out that there's a difference between projecting a successful image and overdoing it.  For example marble floors and walnut wainscoting may signal success to some and excess to others.


There is also a difference between your marketing image and your identity. Image is all fluff and appearances. It is all about the outward. Identity is a much deeper thing. It's what you are at your core.

The difference between image and identity in marketing is much like the difference between a well-groomed but dishonest salesman and a average-looking salesman with integrity. Which would you rather deal with? (In this case, if image is personality then identity is character.)

Identity is also about knowing who you are as a brand and being true to that. If you are a hip brand like Apple, you need to be sure everything you do is hip. If you are a more friendly, down-to earth brand like Lowes, you want to project that in all your marketing (which I think they do well in their new TV spots). 

Takeaway: Are you focused on image more than identity? What defines your brand or you as a salesperson? 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lab Coats: Marketing's Dress For Success...

I'm just about over my double ear infection.

After being irritable and sleepless for several days, I decided to have pity on my family. I stopped at a local quick care clinic. The process was faster and cheaper than a doctor's visit.

And the Nurse Practitioner wore a white lab coat, so I felt well cared for.

Last year the AMA considered a proposal recommending that physicians no long wear lab coats. However, I think it might affect doctor trust.

An old study says that patients trust doctors in lab coats more than doctors without them -- especially doctors in white lab coats with stethoscopes. It's what they expect.

Trust isn't always based on skill or quality. Often it's based on perception. What's your white lab coat?

Takeaway: What do your customers expect of your salesforce? Your product? Your packaging? Are you building trust or not?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ya Know: Knowing Too Much Makes For Bad Marketing...

One of PJ's friend's dads called me the other day for advice on buying an
Apple computer.

Since I own an iPhone, a couple iPods and half a dozen Macs, you'd think
I'd be a wise person to call. My problem: I knew too much. I had to stop and refocus my thinking. It was harder than I expected to get back to basics.

In their book "Made To Stick" the Heath brothers call this problem "the
curse of knowledge".

Here's a fun experiment they give: think of a familiar song. Now drum out the tune with your figures for someone and ask them to guess it. They likely can't. Ask them to do the same with a different song. When the tune is ringing in your head, it seems impossible that the other person can't guess it. But if you lack the vital information to guess the song, it will make sense.

When you know something well, it's hard to remember what it's like not to know it. Overcoming that is what separates a good teacher from a bad one. And a good marketer from a bad one.

Many marketers make the mistake of assuming their customers and prospects know more about their product or the category than they really do. I can't tell you the number of times I advise a client to include a basic piece of information in their advertising.

"Everyone knows about the guarantee," for instance one client told me.

"Really?" I replied. "I've worked with you for a year. I didn't know about
the guarantee."

That's what gives a firm like mine an edge. I know the market. I know my business. But I'm just far enough away to get into the average prospect's head.

Now if I could just use that approach in my marriage...

Takeaway: If you're too close, find an outsider to help you bring your marketing in focus. Better yet, ask your customers and prospect what they think. It may surprise you.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Goal of Branding....

A masters degree in "luxury retail management" will be launched this fall at the International University of Monaco, says the BBC News website. The program will have 35 seats and be taught in English.

The postgraduate program will cover topics from trends and competitive
dynamics to "codes, symbols and rituals" in luxury retail. The goal of the
course is to teach how to provide an "exceptional and inimitable shopping experience in which consumers develop long-lasting and emotional ties with the brand".

All snide comments aside, there's a lesson here even if your product or
service isn't Rolex or Rolls-Royce. The goal of branding is to build
long-lasting emotional ties to your products or services.

The stronger your brand, the less price becomes an issue.

Allstate insurance, for instance is fighting back against price-focused
Geico's Gecko, and Progressive's Flo. Allstate's Speed Dating commercial is intended to draw you back to a face-to-face relationship to your insurance agent. They beg the question: Do you know who to call when you need to file a claim? Not the phone number. The name of the person.

As I see it, whether you're selling luxury goods or more practical goods
and services, it all boils down to building a relationship.

Takeaway: What makes your brand worth it? Are you promoting that? What more can you build into your brand to create a stronger bond with your customers?