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Friday
Oct072011

How’s Your Marketing Value Chain? 

By now, most business executives are well-versed in understanding their supply chain – that system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.

Michael Porter introduced the concept of “Value Chain” back in 1985 to identify, measure and optimize how each touch point along the chain can (or should) add value. The main point being, that at every step, is the value is undefined or poorly executed, you have a kink in your chain that will impact the bottom line through late deliveries, poorly-made products, inferior service, etc.

In my experience, most marketers have lagged in their understanding of the marketing value chain. Marketing disciplines can seem like a hodgepodge of independent efforts, poorly connected and therefore not delivering as much marketing value – or return on marketing investment – as they should.

  • How many market research studies have gathered dust with no action taken to embed their insights into the next campaign?
  • How many strategic marketing plans are sitting on the shelf while short-term marketing campaigns get developed in a vacuum?
  • How many sales kickoffs have been launched without a clear service-level agreement with marketing on the exact type of leads that sales expects to receive to make their number?
  • How many new employees have been hired without HR integrating the company’s brand values into the selection criteria?

It’s this very problem that inspired me to develop the “Ten Pillars of Meaningful Marketing.” Each pillar is an opportunity to shine a light on a stage of the marketing value chain for assessment, brainstorming, planning and measurement.

We have a series of workshops designed to shine a light on your marketing value chain. It’s a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to work out those kinks.

 

Wednesday
Sep072011

Core Values: Are You Down With OPS (Other People's Syndrome)?

Sometimes I feel like I have OPS - “other people syndrome.” You know, that constant feeling of worrying about what other people think of you. This “syndrome” has made me wonder if my values are actually mine or do they belong to someone else?

It dawned on me that my OPS might be a key factor in my values and priorities when I started the Franklin Covey system. The Franklin Covey system requires you to prioritize your schedule based on your Core Values.  Like many planning or success systems, Franklin Covey teaches (and sometimes preaches) that in order to achieve our goals we must be very clear about our Core Values.  

This message triggered many thoughts and some concerns for me.  Gradually, I realized that clarifying my values would obviously make my life flow well, not just my work schedule. More importantly, it would give everything in my life - and I mean everything - a stronger foundation. I am the mother of three children, active in my community, a marketing professional, a writer/poet, a daughter and sister, etc.  My list of to do’s can range from writing a poem, washing the car, speaking at an event, creating PowerPoint slides and scheduling haircuts.

As I became familiar with Franklin Covey, one point jumped out at me: planning.

Planning is without a doubt the key to success. In fact, my firm, Mythology, is actually a planning tool for business marketing. I know the value of planning for clients, and with the Franklin Covey system I am determined to organize my life with my values, priorities and goals instead of OPS values.

While thinking about my “other people’s syndrome” I wondered: Do other people have “other people’s syndrome” too?  I instantly thought of the “rapid testing” tool we use at Mythology. It’s a marketing tag line testing tactic we use to quickly gather information for and about a client. Over the years we’ve learned that what businesses generally think of themselves is not what others perceive them to be. I think the same can be said for many people. So I decided to do my own “rapid testing” about core values.

When we do this rapid testing we are selective about the pool of people we use. I thought I should apply this same selectivity to my core values survey.  I looked for people whose lives seemed to be in synch with their values and priorities.  I thought by doing this I might find some common denominators with my own values.

I asked women whose occupations range  from homemakers to CEO’s, married and divorced, various ages and races –What VALUES do you VALUE most?? Integrity, adventure, spirituality, courage, balance?

They had no common denominator other than they are women, have or had some role in my life as a friend, mentor or business associate, and I deeply respect their opinions. 

Here is what they reported:

Balance

Caring

Civic engagement

Compassion

Consideration

Courage

Courteously

Creativity

Dependability

Dignity

Equity

Excellence

Fairness

Faith

Family

Forbearance

Fortitude

Freedom

Fun

Generosity

Grace

Growth

Honesty

Humanity

Humility

Independence

Integrity

Joy

Kindness

Love

Loyalty

Passion

Professional

Progress

Respect

Sensuality

Spirituality

Understanding

I discovered that I shared many of the same values as the women I surveyed.  I also found a few of my core values missing in the list:  philanthropy, beauty, humor and diversity.

Philanthropy, beauty, humor and diversity are also values that I consistently apply in my work. I am getting closer to a definitive list and taking the next step in the Franklin Covey process, which is a clarifying statement for my values.

Example (taken from the Franklin Covey value/mission worksheet):

Professionalism:

I do excellent work every day.

I am open to ideas of others.

I have a positive attitude.

I am a team player.

Surprisingly the common values I found in my “rapid testing” poll showed me that “other people’s syndrome” isn’t such a bad thing when you’re asking the right people.  That is true in your personal life as well as your business.

Franklin Covey is helping me organize my work/life in the same way Mythology helps your businesses define its core values and ask the right people about your brand so you can build belief in your business. 

So what core values are guiding you? I’d love to read some of your comments.

Sunday
Aug282011

The Mythology of Power Balance Bands

We've been having fun managing the Aetna Student Health Wellness Spa tour at college campuses around the country this fall.

One reason it's fun? We're giving out Aetna-branded Power Balance Bands, those popular rubber bracelets that have their own mythology that has grown up around them. Australian researcher Richard Saunders: “The claims are that these bands will improve your strength, your balance, and your flexibility. They also suggest it will improve your well-being, give you clarity of thought, improve your stamina and sports performance, that sort of thing.”

Alas, the claims aren't scientifically justified.

At Mythology, we facillitate the development of "sticky stories" like the ones that developed around Power Balance. However, we advocate that these stories are rooted in truth verified by facts and positive customer case studies. Still...Power Balance is another example of how audiences often want to believe in something magical about a product. It may be a placebo, but placebos can be quite powerfull, can't they?

 

 

 

Sunday
Aug282011

Taking the Boring Out of B2B

A big temptation for business-to-business marketers is to fill their advertising and marketing collateral with information. After all, business decision-makers are logical and looking for the best facts in order to make their decision, right?

Wrong, at least most of the time. Here's a great article about winning the emotional side of the B2B decision-maker.

Business Decision-Makers can be as emotion-driven as consumers in many cases.However, in addition to appealing to the emotional needs of B2B buyers, a marketer focusing on the business audience can also deliver...well, more interesting information.

As marketers, we tend to fall in love with information about our own products or services. In reality, business audiences are just like consumer audiences: they're overloaded with information and tend to tune out unless there is a compelling hook. This is especially true when marketing communication has not yet established interest.

We recently ran across a very solid print ad from Siemens in Wired magazine called "The Answer Exchange." It caught our eye because the ad didn't pitch Siemens' solutions for smart energy management or manufacturing systems. Instead, it includes the results of an online survey of Wired.com readers about key issues in sustainability, smart grid technology, mobility and manufacturing. In other words, it fed the results of a survey of Wired's very own readers. Interesting.

In the process, of course, it established Siemens' brand and thought leadership on these topics. The ad promoted the http://www.usa.siemens.com/answers web site where additonal insights and case studies could be perused, including a cool Green City Index, a research initiative sponsored by Siemens.

Although the Siemens ad on YouTube doesn't seem integrated into this print campaign, this "here's what you told us" approach is a good example of integrating online and offline messaging. It's also a great example of generating interest among B2B audiences before inundating them with TMI - too much information - about your offering.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Jun202011

Not Sure What to Say? Try Market-Validated Taglines 

Mythology Developed CSC's Trusted Cloud Message "Right Cloud, Right Way"At Mythology, we like to be careful what we say.

Well, OK. Sometimes I’m not careful what I say, especially as I seek to distract the Mythology team members on a daily basis with silly jokes and random observations (you know, just to test them a little).

But with clients, we believe very strongly in knowing the right thing to say. That’s especially true when it comes to helping them develop a powerful, differentiated value proposition and a corresponding tagline that captures the essence of the brand.

Great taglines are a perfect combination of art and science. The artistic element enables you to dream up possibilities; the science element allows you to gather reactions and optimize it before taking it out to a wider audience.

It’s the ideal witty comment when introducing yourself at a party. You don’t want to be testing out your tagline on the prettiest girl first; you should know what works before you “go big.”

Taglines have a dual function: they must a) place a positive sticky image in the mind of a customer, and b) clearly position your brand differently than the mass of competitors out there. A tagline needs to be compelling and unique.

Unfortunately, most people rely only on the art side of the brain when developing a tagline. And even more unfortunately, it’s the “art” of the founder or a roomful of execs who all think they’re brilliant marketers who come up with a tagline.

Here’s what is unfortunate about it: They aren’t selling to themselves.

Boy Scouts and their parents reacted most positively to the Summit Bechtel Reserve's positioning and Jamboree headline: Go Big. Get Wild.It’s still an uncomfortable thought for many marketing executives (and especially CEO’s and founders) that they don’t own their brand. A brand only exists in the minds of the customers; it’s what they think you are that is your true brand. We only get to participate and suggest what it is; customers decide.

So as we develop positioning and taglines for our clients, we build in a healthy dose of battle testing on the front lines. In other words, we ask customers and prospective customers what they think of a given tagline or value proposition. If they think it’s a stinker vs. other tested options, we go back to the drawing board.

I won’t get into the full process here, but it’s very similar to way politicians poll voters to determine the best messaging to win votes. OK fine, mostly politicians test messaging that will tear down their opponent…But the process works either way.

Senior executives in Fortune 500 firms made it clear for the law firm Spilman Thomas and Battle: "We want excellence AND value!"More often than not, the executives who just knew their tagline suggestion would be a hit are surprised (and sometimes shocked) that it tested poorly, and that something else entirely was a much more effective choice. But they often express relief and new confidence after viewing the data.

After all, who wants to waste thousands (millions?) marketing an ineffective value proposition and a tagline that is neither compelling nor unique? Who wants to go to the party of the year without knowing what to say?

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