Productive Marketing: Don’t “Just Do It”

“Should we advertise?… increase our twitter presence?…launch an e-mail campaign?… or execute the hot marketing tactic du jour?  These are important questions that you should eventually consider, but in most cases these tactical questions are premature.  Often, they are an early warning sigh that you are on a dangerous path to a disappointing marketing campaign – – and a waste of your precious money.  If most of your recent conversations have been “should you?” save yourself from marketing peril right now. Instead, focus on why.  Set clear, specific business goals first to direct all of your marketing efforts.  It’s infinitely easier to hit a target when you aim.

The most important first question is: “What is your business objective?” Only after you have answered this do you have a sufficient foundation to develop, execute, and invest in a successful marketing program. Use this simple, but effective thought process to guide your marketing decision-making “Objective, Strategy, Tactics.” Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Clarify your Objective

“What is your business objective?” The clearer and more precise this is, the more productive and cost-effective your marketing will be.

This is the level of clarity you should have for your annual business goals:
– WHAT: Increase a specific business measure (typically sales or market share) from X to Y
– WHO: Among specific target customers (e.g. new customers? existing customers? new channels?)
– WHEN: By what date will you accomplish and measure the business goals?
Now that you have a specific goal, you can develop marketing strategies and programs that link directly to your objective. Your business objective must link directly to your long term goals (typically a five year horizon) as documented in your Strategic Plan.

Step 2: Select Marketing Strategies to Achieve the Objective

Develop appropriate marketing strategies – which are ways you will accomplish the goal. Marketing strategies are not individual marketing programs.  They are the ‘hows’ not the ‘whats.’ The most successful companies and brands stay focused on three to five marketing strategies. This forces discipline and focus on doing fewer important things exceptionally well. Examples of specific marketing objectives are:
– Secure three new “A” accounts
– Increase retail distribution by 10 percent
– Increase awareness among target consumers by 8 percentage points
– Increase sales per transaction by 9 percent
Marketing strategies are the paths you choose to reach your goal. Setting and adhering to marketing strategies is a powerful tool to narrow your focus to only pursue “on strategy” ideas. Most companies have more than 15 percent of their marketing budget invested in programs that are not tied to one of their marketing strategies.  Does yours?

Step 3: Develop Marketing Tactics with Laser Precision

With your business objective and marketing strategies in place, you are now ready to build the marketing plan and evaluate marketing tactics.  Choose your tactics wisely. Make sure they achieve the marketing objective and are a sound choice, based on projected return-on-investment. Even though projecting sales is an imperfect science, marketing budgets must be critically evaluated, just like any other potential business investment.

When you choose among potential marketing tactics, 1) select the right marketing tool to accomplish your desired outcome (e.g. building consumer awareness and increasing customer loyalty are very different marketing challenges that require different marketing tools) and 2) choose the most productive, appropriate, and efficient option (i.e. compare alternative media or programs), different levels of investment in the program, and different creative resources to do the job.  Don’t make a sizable marketing investment in any program until you have evaluated its impact per dollar spent versus alternatives.  This does not recommend ‘analysis paralysis.’ Rather, it’s a plea for you to get the best possible marketing program you deserve

Step 4: Measure and Monitor Performance

Effective marketing, contrary to popular belief, yields measurable results.  Before you start a program, commit to measure the actual performance of the program versus the projected results. Evaluate performance at specific program intervals, typically incremental sales for the duration of the program, and at three- and six- month intervals after its completion, to measure sustained impact.  This keeps you and your organization focused on desired results, rather than activity.

Measuring program impact also gives you quantifiable return-on-investment information to determine whether you should repeat or expand the program in the future. The marketplace is littered with victims of doing marketing tactics without setting business goals. You are bombarded with these potential marketing tragedies every day. Avoid this common plight by applying the same amount of rigor that you use on your other strategic investments. Get more out of every precious marketing program – and dollar!-by using this simple but effective formula: “Objective, Strategy and Tactics.”

by Tammy Katz







Why Chipotle brand will Rebound Quickly

Chipotle has been through no picnic recently, with two multi-state E-coli outbreaks, a separate norovirus issue, and widespread negative food safety publicity.   However, barring any other major food safety issue, Chipotle will recover quickly and thrive, for five major reasons.

  1. Consumers LOVE, not like, the brand – Chipotle has extremely high levels of brand awareness and brand esteem, well beyond their peers, which yields very high levels of brand equity, from which a setback can borrow.  Brand equity is like a bank account: continued positive experiences build brand equity; issues will erode.  Consumers have a very strong personal affinity, love and respect for the brand; it’s well beyond a fast-food choice they visit.  In fact, Chipotle scores 83 (out of 100) on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), nearly at the top of all fast food brands, which average 77, well beyond Wendy’s (73) and McDonald’s (67).
  2. Chipotle has been transparent in its communication and rigorously improved product safety – Once the second E coli incident occurred, Chipotle’s leadership has aggressively communicated taking responsibility for the problem, sought best-in-class system-wide food safety counsel and implementation, and has invested in redundant measures to ensure food safety.   In their most recent quarterly report, Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle said “We are pleased to have this behind us and can place our full energies to implementing our enhanced food safety plan that will establish Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety. Image result for chipotle loveWe are extremely focused on executing this program, which designs layers of redundancy and enhanced safety measures to reduce the food safety risk to a level as near to zero as is possible. By adding these programs to an already strong and proven food culture, we strongly believe that we can establish Chipotle as a leader in food safety just as we have become a leader in our quest for the very best ingredients we can find.”  This contrasts with several food companies who either hid or understated their food safety or recall issues and were quick to try to claim it was solved with a reactionary nominal manufacturing change.
  3. Favorable food safety and public relations are reassuring and reminding consumers to return – Yesterday, both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and FDA (Food & Drug Administration) called Chipotle’s E. coli outbreaks over.  Chipotle will close its Image result for chipotle company wide meetingstores for several hours on February 8th to have a company-wide meeting reviewing new food safety measures.  Internal communication and execution of these improved processes are already in effect in their stores.  We also expect Chipotle to resume and increase its compelling advertising, in-store promotion, and couponing programs to welcome concerned consumers back to their stores and resume their unusually high frequency and loyalty of coming back to the stores.
  4. Chipotle will refine, but stay true to its compelling promise of Food With Integrity –2010_02_Chipotle
    Chipotle loyalists are drawn to their unique positioning as a higher quality fast food option, strong price/value, and great taste.  While their will be refinements in product sourcing and distribution, the product promise of Food With Integrity will remain intact, and strengthened. Consumers will continue to see the Chipotle brand as a superior fast food choice meriting their continued loyalty.
  5. Same-store-sales will rebound faster than industry averages – Since Chipotle has a stronger and more loyal customer base, traffic will improve more quickly than the industry’s typical 12-18 months to recover same-store-sales performance, as per Credit Suisse estimates. In addition, their marketing and promotional effectivenessChipotleand sophistication will also accelerate the pace of same-store-sales rebound.  We expect a recovery in 3-4 quarters, propelled by an even stronger in-store experience, product quality, favorable public relations, and consumer word-of-mouth.

Lessons learned:
1.  Give consumers a superior, differentiated product and a reason to love, not like, your brand.
2.  Beloved brands can, and do, recover from quality and public relations issues, if they are quick, contrite, and responsible.
3.  Be proactive and vigilant in your product quality processes, pre-prepare how you would mobilize to address a product quality issue.
4.  Incent post-crisis consumers to resume confidence in your brand and incent/reward them for their loyalty.


Can I patent my recipe? – Typically No!


Beyond patents

Design Patents.

Annual Plan Checklist for a Killer 2016!

We hope your 2015 is exceeding expectations and you’ve created a strong plan for 2016 to grow faster.  As most of you are, or are approaching, completing your 2016 Plan, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready for a killer 2016!

2016 Annual Plan Checklist

1. Develop a Written, Market Based Growth Plan Carefully

  • Analyze and segment your customer and consumer base, prioritize by growth potential
  • Understand what your customers’ unmet needs and why they will choose your superior product or service
  • Build a strategy that leverages your business model: market opportunities, your core competencies and where you are most profitable

2. Widely Communicate Your Growth Strategy

  • Summarize your 3-5 Key Growth Strategies, based on factual analysis (e.g. channels, products/services)
  • Growth Priorities should be quantified and clearly communicated throughout your company and key constituents (e.g. suppliers) so everyone understands them and is aligned
  • Innovation should be among your top priorities; have clear parameters (fertile areas in which to innovate) to provide direction

3. Have, or Get, the Right Accountable Team

  • Have accountable talent who can lead and drive respective pieces of the growth strategy
  • Have strong and clear inter-department communication and processes
  • Have the right talent who can produce; commit to coach up, outsource for, or dismiss those who can’t

4. Execute with Cross-Functional Precision

  • Have clear leadership, accountability and measurement of top initiatives
  • Maintain ongoing cross-functional leadership and communication to keep key initiatives on track
  • Track key programs quantitatively and refine them based on in-market learnings

5. Deploy Effective and Efficient Marketing

  • Marketing should identify and drive consumer and marketing growth opportunities
  • Marketing should develop and lead a clear marketing strategy that directly ties to growth strategy Your brand positioning(s) should be clear, consistently communicated.
  • Your marketing communication and R&D efforts should consistently strengthen your superiority
  • All major programs should be on strategy, measurable, optimized across multiple media, and provide measurable return-on-investment

6. Drive Productivity… Everywhere

  • Set ambitious, achievable productivity goals (cost reduction/efficiency). $1 in productivity > $10 in new sales
  • Challenge each function to develop specific, measurable, cash-saving (not conceptual) programs; drive wide participation
  • Celebrate, publicize, and reward best programs. This creates a ripple effect for more productivity

5 Branding Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Campaign

The 2016 Presidential Campaign is loaded with great branding lessons that every company and person can apply to their favorite brand.   I’ll try to be unbiased.

1.   Awareness Trumps –  The ascension of the Trump brand has been astronomical, largely due to awareness.   You had heard Trumpof him before, and you’ve certainly heard of him now. Millions of Americans were exposed to the Trump brand through his television series, real estate and entertainment holdings, media-inducing polarizing comments, and the unique, visual persona.  He’s said more soundbite friendly and contentious comments since, further gaining publicity.   The political pundits were quick to downplay his legitimacy, yet he dominated media mentions.   If you’ve heard of something and it registers in your mind, it has successfully penetrated the critical consideration set – the short list of things you might choose.

Latest NBC/WSJ Poll

2.   Differentiate –  Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Bernie Sanders are succeeding, largely on their ability to  differentiate themselves.  carson Ben Carson expertly plays the ‘I’m from outside of politics, plain-speaking neurosurgeon’ game, Carly is the ‘seasoned ex-HP CEO, non-Hilary female leader,’ who deftly leveraged the “look at that face” Trump gaffe into a gift, and Bernie Sanders is the self-described democratic socialist focused on improving middle class inequality.   He also is the sole non-Hilary Democratic option.   Conversely, Scott Walker, an early front-runner dropped to oblivion and out as one of the many ‘successful governor with relevant experience’ options. You must be different, and relevantly different, to be selected from your competition.

3.   Be Authentic – Consumers demand authenticity in their brands and selections.   Consumers have a strong “bs meter” Clinton and have 24/7 access to social media that can uncover and amplify lies, inconsistencies, and skeletons.   On the (at least perceived) authenticity meter (net score on honest and trustworthy, latest Quinnipiac poll) Carson (+51),  Biden (+45), Sanders (+23), and Bush (+19) lead, while Clinton (-31) and Trump (-22) take a beating.   A brand is a promise to consumers – what you are, what you stand for, and what you consistently do – and consumers value and crave credibility and authenticity.

4.   Resonate – Your offer must resonate with your target audience; know what their key issues are, articulate how you solve their most important issues, and speak their language.    Despite his polarizing personality and image (top 4 Quinnipiac poll descriptors: arrogant, blowhard, idiot, businessman), his surge is largely explained because his messages of ‘make America great again’ and ‘sick of insider incompetence’ resonate deeply with a vast population.   He may ultimately have a product and personal credibility gap (29% of GOP voters would definitely not support Trump), but his message unquestionably resonates.

5.    Cut Through the Clutter – You must sharply define and articulate your unique brand positioning.  At the moment, Presidential_DebatesTrump, Carson, Fiorina, and Sanders’ brands are memorable and clear.   Although still early in the campaign where Trump’s style over substance noise is captivating consumers and the media, several extremely solid, admirable and, arguably, superior talent – like  Kasich and Pataki are going relatively unnoticed so far, as 57% and 58% “haven’t heard enough” about them, respectively.

As the campaigning and jockeying for position continues, we continue to enjoy the show and its rich brand and marketing lessons.   The marketing communication is riveting, but great brands perform on measurable criteria over time.


Avoid Botching Exposure: No, we still don’t know BDO

BDO, a global accounting, business and financial consultancy, is wasting millions of dollars on its current advertising campaign, “People who know, know BDO.” In their advertising, they could tell you who they are, but they don’t. They could tell you what problems they solve for you, but they don’t.    They could tell their target audience when to contact them and why, but, alas, they don’t.  It’s painful to see such a great introductory opportunity go to waste.

Rather, they do tell you that the people who already are aware of them and know what they do (presumably anyone but the audience) are knowledgeable.     So they are talking only to people who already understand and use their services.     This is a great example of everything you don’t want to do in your advertising.

Sadly, they repeat the strategic vagueness on their website as well (At least the campaign is consistent).BDO

To avoid this, take these simple steps:

1.   Clarify your brand proposition – Who are you, what problem(s) do you solve, who is your target audience, and why are you superior and unique.
2.   Determine your advertising goal – Are you trying to attract new users?  (like BDO is attempting, but failing to do)  Convince current customers to buy/select/consume your brand more frequently?   Are you trying to improve your brand image?    If you are not clear about the purpose of your advertising (or any marketing investment), you can count on meandering advertising, unless your marketing partners are clairvoyant.
3.   Assess your advertising from the consumer’s perspective – What do they know about you now?  What do you want them to know about you after they have been exposed to your message?    Make sure you are giving them a persuasive message, in their language, based on what you know from your consumer research.     Again, BDO makes a common error of crafting advertising based on their internally focused, prideful self-assessment.     It’s a missed opportunity to tell potential customers of who they are, why they’re a superior service, and how they will solve the customer’s problems.
4.  Pre-test your advertising – There are several great advertising effectiveness evaluation methods, including MSW ARS and IPSOS ASI, that will give you unbiased, quantitative and credible feedback on if your advertising campaign is persuasive and has achieved your marketing goals.    These are small investments that can be done while the campaign is in the idea phase, prior to wasting money on producing or airing ads that do little to grow your business, or even may do harm.

4 Ways to Raise Pricing and Delight Customers

Most companies loathe or mismanage the harsh reality that pricing increases are often necessary to offset inflation, even with the most diligent cost control.     Often, this is a painful across the board price percentage increase on all units, on largely unchanged products and services.     Here are five great ways to drive price increases that consumers will willingly accept, and, even enhance loyalty to your company.tide_pods
1.   Innovate to improve the customer’s user experienceTide Pods is a brilliant innovation that makes washing clothes more convenient, portable, and less messy.    The idea is grounded in solving problems and consumer irritants in the category    Tide virtually reinvented laundry detergent from the customer’s perspective of easily, and properly doing a load of laundry.    Pricing impact:   +10-15% increase per load, plus a more space efficient configuration, which reduces distribution expenses.

2.  Resize to meet changing consumer preferences –   As consumers are trying to reduce their consumption of soft drinks and/or improve their portion control, Coke has come to their rescue with their new, appealing 7 1/2 ounce cans, ostensibly for consumers to choose versus 12 ounce cans.   150114_EM_PayMoreLessSoda And consumers are delighted; sales volume is up 9% according to the Wall Street Journal, while paying nearly double – yes double – the price per ounce for these cute cans.     Yes, this is an exaggerated, albeit successful example, but the bigger point is that Coke is re-evaluating serving sizes from a consumer perspective and looking at pricing on a price per ounce vs. price per unit basis.
3.   Innovate for new usage occasions –  Similarly, Crystal Light did this brilliantly by adding smaller On-The-Go packages, specifically designed to enhance the staple 8 oz.Crystal Light brand water bottle, again at a +100% price premium versus their traditional make a gallon at home package.    Lest you forget to buy these in the supermarket, they are brilliantly merchandised in convenience stores and gyms, right at your (now enhanced) water bottle point of purchase.

4.  Adjust product mix and package sizes –  Cereal and snack companies master the ability to change their product size mix and selectively reduce the amount of product in certain packages.     This can often mask direct comparisons versus the previous product line up and  pricing.    Further, you can strategically promote your more profitable package sizes more frequently, again, driving an effective price increase that is often invisible, and/or preferred by the consumer.

Lessons Learned:
1.   Think of pricing in broader terms than price per unit.     Price per ounce, price per pound, price per consumer usage occasion give you far more latitude for consumer-accepted price increases.
2.   Solve consumers’ most nagging problems in a product improvement or innovation and they’ll pay for that privilege.   Increasing convenience or reducing waste are among two widespread benefits that consumers will pay for.
3.   Build an expectation of gross margin enhancement into your innovation program and project selection criteria.