Are You Listening?
February 1, 2008

What do Charles Schwab Corp., JC Penney, Netflix and The Vermont Country Store all have in common? Great branding conversations with their customers.

Strategy vs. Tactics
January 1, 2008

Branding commonly is considered a critical part of any successful business these days, yet many people still view it as merely a creative endeavor. It’s something people dressed in black and armed with logos, typefaces and fancy color palettes do behind closed doors. But the truth is, branding is just as much about strategy as it is about tactics. It’s thinking and execution. It’s left brain plus right brain. It’s logic plus magic. You need to approach it from both sides to get the full impact from your branding efforts.

Three Methods to Regain Control of Your Brand
December 12, 2007

General advertisers believe they are losing control of their brands. They’re wrong. They’ve never had control! Advertising is focused on changing the way people think, while direct marketing changes the way people act. Here are three ways to get your brand back: 1. Behavioral targeting is easy when your product/service is associated with a particular activity or pursuit. It can still be done, even with more general products and services—but it’s a bigger challenge. 2. If your marketing program is broken, you need to test everything. If your program is healthy, spend about 20 percent of your budget testing. If it’s somewhere in

E-commerce Link: Did You Hear That?
December 1, 2007

Would you admit to having seen the movie “Gigli”? I asked that question of more than 5,000 people during my book tour for “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?” but I can count the number of hands that went up with my fingers. Before “Gigli” was released, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were superstars. Every magazine cover seemed to feature their Hollywood romance. They were a movie marketer’s dream. They had the winning formula. Then, the movie hit the theaters. Within hours of the first showing, word of mouth spread via cell phone, IM and online reviews. When it opened on the West coast, word got

Nuts & Bolts: Branding
November 1, 2007

It never fails. General agency professionals and clients who spend their careers building brands go limp when it comes time to ask for the order. It’s as if the call to action needed to get a reasonable response rate from the target audience somehow demeans the brand. Let’s be clear: A strong brand goes a long way toward generating higher response rates, but a strong brand without sales support will deny the organization the sales it deserves. Case in point: While working as a direct marketing consultant for a general agency, the bomb fell when I asked for a description of the offer. The goal for

Direct Selling: Tactical Branding
September 1, 2007

It commonly is accepted in business today that a strongly defined brand is one of a company’s greatest assets and actually can accelerate performance. It has the power to take a company and its products or services from an unknown commodity to a position of strength in the marketplace. You can achieve this by carving out a unique position among your competitors and standing for something relevant in the mind of the consumer. But once you have done the hard work of establishing a unique point of difference and creating a distinct personality that truly makes your brand memorable, how do you bring it to

Linking Branded Communications to Better ROI
August 22, 2007

For decades, there’s been a discrepancy between how general agencies and direct marketers approach communication. General agencies, so it is said, begin communication from the “top down,” or from the perspective of the brand, while direct marketers begin communication from the “bottom up,” or the vantage point of the customer. But does that mean that direct marketers shouldn’t be focused on work that builds brands as well? Unfortunately, for us, we often operate under this assumption. Many long-time veterans of direct marketing will say that what we do is founded on “quick hit” profitability and that no branded campaign could ever spike sales as quickly

Three Ways to Bring Marketing and Sales Together
August 8, 2007

A rift between marketing and sales departments, usually over which group deserves the credit for company success, persists in, and thus plagues, many businesses. However, many forward-thinking business are poised to solve this division, according to a recent white paper from Televerde, a Phoenix–based provider of B-to-B marketing solutions, entitled Five Myths That Divide Marketing and Sales. Here are three ways Televerde suggests you bridge the divide: #1 Articulate that each group has different goals. While both marketing and sales want common outcomes—more sales, market share and customers—the timetables and metrics they rely on are very different. Marketing hopes to develop a brand over

Famous Last Words: Ruminations on Branding
August 1, 2007

I was heartsick to hear American Heritage magazine is folding. I remember when it was founded back in 1954, the brainchild of three TIME alumni: James Parton, Oliver Jensen and Joseph Thorndyke. It broke all the rules. It accepted no advertising, was printed on heavy, glossy paper and had a hard cover with a full-color painting printed on it. It was not just a magazine; subscribers kept every issue and displayed their collections on bookshelves, along with Time-Life books, Harvard Classics and other great continuity series of the time. American Heritage circulation promotions were created by the legendary Frank Johnson, after whom the Johnson box

Wanna Make a Profit? Pay Attention to the Nonprofits
June 12, 2007

What can marketing executives at for-profit companies learn from major nonprofits? Although companies might believe corporations, because they have more staff and resources, have more access to current best practices, it’s often the nonprofits that shine, according to Roger Sametz, president of communications consulting firm Sametz Blackstone Associates. Here, he offers some tips for-profit companies can learn from the nonprofit sector: Connect place to purpose. With a distinct mission at their core, nonprofits often are better able to emphasize that mission (by walking the talk) for a competitive advantage. Group products/services into higher-level areas of focus. Nonprofits group the problems they solve, so that they