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"I was getting home late and just wanted to grab some easy pre-made food from the local supermarket. While there, I remembered that I needed a few things and navigated my way to the paper towel aisle, where I stood, transfixed, before 50 feet of options. I was tired and hungry and very suddenly annoyed. All I wanted was to be able to clean my face after eating and now I was confronted with 50 feet of choice. Screw the mustachioed Brawny man, the quicker picker upper, and the boldly named Mardi Gras.
In the midst of my existential meltdown, I left the store without buying anything.”
Studies show that too many choices intimidate consumers—can we make the purchasing process less painful?
[Paper Towel Mess: Jcjgphotography via Shutterstock]

"I was getting home late and just wanted to grab some easy pre-made food from the local supermarket. While there, I remembered that I needed a few things and navigated my way to the paper towel aisle, where I stood, transfixed, before 50 feet of options. I was tired and hungry and very suddenly annoyed. All I wanted was to be able to clean my face after eating and now I was confronted with 50 feet of choice. Screw the mustachioed Brawny man, the quicker picker upper, and the boldly named Mardi Gras.

In the midst of my existential meltdown, I left the store without buying anything.”

Studies show that too many choices intimidate consumers—can we make the purchasing process less painful?

[Paper Towel Mess: Jcjgphotography via Shutterstock]

If you followed Texas state senator Wendy Davis’ epic, 11-hour filibuster efforts against a bill that would have shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state (and quite possibly still will), you probably also know her shoes. As demonstrated by their newfound popularity on Amazon, the pink Mizuno Wave Riders she wore have become their own symbols of political resistance.

Callie Schweitzer, director of Marketing and Communications for Vox Media (which publishes the VergeSB Nation, and Polygon), prefers to call herself a hybrid between a journalist, a brand strategist, and an audience hacker.

Her tips for becoming a networking guru:

Be genuine. Be well-read. And follow-up. 

HereSchweitzer explains how to use new media to ‘network your way to the top.’

Alex Bogusky is one of The 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses

In 2010, Alex Bogusky surprised the advertising industry by leaving Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

He now works in the social good sector with:
The FearLess Revolution - a nonprofit consultancy.
COMMON -a collaborative network for accelerating social ventures. 
MadeMovement - a new agency dedicated to the resurgence in American manufacturing.

Alex Bogusky is one of The 10 Most Generous Marketing Geniuses

In 2010, Alex Bogusky surprised the advertising industry by leaving Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

He now works in the social good sector with:

The FearLess Revolution - a nonprofit consultancy.

COMMON -a collaborative network for accelerating social ventures.

MadeMovement - a new agency dedicated to the resurgence in American manufacturing.

7 Questions Every Head Of Marketing Better Be Able To Answer

CEO Francine Hardaway: 
"Brands are promises that get delivered every day. What did you promise today?"

CMOs have it tough. Not only do they have to account for every single dollar invested in marketing but they have to be part engineer, part marketer, and part financial guru.
Although most industries have been disintermediated by technology, the marketing industry worked backwards. More and more intermediaries now stand between the brand the publisher. It used to be only an agency. Now it’s many agencies and a plethora of tech vendors.
To complicate matters more, the marketing mix is expanding daily and now includes more buzzwords and acronyms so that you don’t pay any attention to the people behind the curtain. The savvy CMO is going to have to learn what questions to ask. Working with Proximic and its special way of helping brands deal with their own data to plan media has taught me to ask the right questions. The answers will be different for each of you.
Does this algorithm work for me?
Do I need RTB (real-time bidding) or RTM (real-time marketing)?
What’s more important, targeting the right person or delivering the right message? And do I need a cookie to know?
Do I know that where I’m appearing is brand safe?
What’s premium now?
Where does digital fit in my overall media mix?
What do I do with “Social-Mobile-Local”?
Remember: All advertising starts with a problem (e.g., one of your brands needs to gain share versus a competitor or need to protect share from a competitor). The only ROI that really matters is Did you “move the needle”? Did you move product or move minds? To do either, that message has to break through the clutter. That’s all. No other metric matters.
Read the full story here.
 
[Image: Flickr user Tony L. Wong]

7 Questions Every Head Of Marketing Better Be Able To Answer

CEO Francine Hardaway:

"Brands are promises that get delivered every day. What did you promise today?"

CMOs have it tough. Not only do they have to account for every single dollar invested in marketing but they have to be part engineer, part marketer, and part financial guru.

Although most industries have been disintermediated by technology, the marketing industry worked backwards. More and more intermediaries now stand between the brand the publisher. It used to be only an agency. Now it’s many agencies and a plethora of tech vendors.

To complicate matters more, the marketing mix is expanding daily and now includes more buzzwords and acronyms so that you don’t pay any attention to the people behind the curtain. The savvy CMO is going to have to learn what questions to ask. Working with Proximic and its special way of helping brands deal with their own data to plan media has taught me to ask the right questions. The answers will be different for each of you.

Does this algorithm work for me?

Do I need RTB (real-time bidding) or RTM (real-time marketing)?

What’s more important, targeting the right person or delivering the right message? And do I need a cookie to know?

Do I know that where I’m appearing is brand safe?

What’s premium now?

Where does digital fit in my overall media mix?

What do I do with “Social-Mobile-Local”?

Remember: All advertising starts with a problem (e.g., one of your brands needs to gain share versus a competitor or need to protect share from a competitor). The only ROI that really matters is Did you “move the needle”? Did you move product or move minds? To do either, that message has to break through the clutter. That’s all. No other metric matters.

Read the full story here.

 

[Image: Flickr user Tony L. Wong]

The Sex Panther Formula For Finding Your Brand’s Secret Sauce

Anchorman’s Brian Fantana may have been off the mark with his Sex Panther cologne, but his head was in the right place. Every brand could use a simple lesson in setting itself apart.

Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy’s friend and Channel 4’s field reporter, brings home the importance of having a “secret sauce” to make your product stand out in the movie Anchorman. Talking about Sex Panther, the best cologne in his arsenal when he’s on the prowl, Brian tells Ron that the cologne’s secret is that “It’s made with bits of real panther.” He then hits Ron with some research-based evidence, “They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time it works, every time.”
While Brian eventually ends up striking out (the target of his desire, co-worker Veronica Corningstone, likens the cologne’s aroma to that of “a used diaper”) the iconic scene does make the point: Every offering needs to have a secret sauce. And it has to have that something inside that leads to a differentiating benefit.
For example, Gatorade helps athletes recover faster in the heat by having ingredients that replenish their fluids and electrolytes quickly. Under Armour sportswear keeps athletes comfortable and dry because its high-tech fabric wicks away moisture from their bodies. Moving to a different arena, Walmart helps value-conscious shoppers live better by giving them the lowest prices every day.
One way to test if your brand has a secret sauce is to apply the tried-and-true “brand promise” format:
For (target customer)
Who needs (what they need)
The (offering name)
Is a (category)
That provides (primary differentiation benefit)
because (secret sauce/reason to believe)

For example, Sex Panther’s brand promise would be:
For young men
who want to attract women
Sex Panther
is the cologne
that works sixty percent of the time, every time
because it’s made out of bits of real panther.

When I speak with marketers it’s that last part, the secret sauce, the reason-to-believe, that their brands struggle with. Sometime it’s not clear, what, if anything, makes them special. Oh sure, there’s vague references to “quality” or “better performance” but too often there’s no understanding of what’s unique about the brand.
So what to do?
1. Find out what’s different about your brand. 
2. Scope out the competition.
3. Find a gap in the market.

Here’s the full story.

The Sex Panther Formula For Finding Your Brand’s Secret Sauce

Anchorman’s Brian Fantana may have been off the mark with his Sex Panther cologne, but his head was in the right place. Every brand could use a simple lesson in setting itself apart.

Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy’s friend and Channel 4’s field reporter, brings home the importance of having a “secret sauce” to make your product stand out in the movie Anchorman. Talking about Sex Panther, the best cologne in his arsenal when he’s on the prowl, Brian tells Ron that the cologne’s secret is that “It’s made with bits of real panther.” He then hits Ron with some research-based evidence, “They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time it works, every time.”

While Brian eventually ends up striking out (the target of his desire, co-worker Veronica Corningstone, likens the cologne’s aroma to that of “a used diaper”) the iconic scene does make the point: Every offering needs to have a secret sauce. And it has to have that something inside that leads to a differentiating benefit.

For example, Gatorade helps athletes recover faster in the heat by having ingredients that replenish their fluids and electrolytes quickly. Under Armour sportswear keeps athletes comfortable and dry because its high-tech fabric wicks away moisture from their bodies. Moving to a different arena, Walmart helps value-conscious shoppers live better by giving them the lowest prices every day.

One way to test if your brand has a secret sauce is to apply the tried-and-true “brand promise” format:

  • For (target customer)
  • Who needs (what they need)
  • The (offering name)
  • Is a (category)
  • That provides (primary differentiation benefit)
  • because (secret sauce/reason to believe)

For example, Sex Panther’s brand promise would be:

  • For young men
  • who want to attract women
  • Sex Panther
  • is the cologne
  • that works sixty percent of the time, every time
  • because it’s made out of bits of real panther.

When I speak with marketers it’s that last part, the secret sauce, the reason-to-believe, that their brands struggle with. Sometime it’s not clear, what, if anything, makes them special. Oh sure, there’s vague references to “quality” or “better performance” but too often there’s no understanding of what’s unique about the brand.

So what to do?

1. Find out what’s different about your brand. 

2. Scope out the competition.

3. Find a gap in the market.

Here’s the full story.

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 
During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

Find your value in your customers’ lives.
Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
Deliver value based on location.
Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.
Read more here.

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 

During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

  1. Find your value in your customers’ lives.
  2. Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
  3. Deliver value based on location.
  4. Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
  5. Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.

Read more here.

Why do companies keep making offensive pink products “for her”?
The ePad Femme is just the latest in a long line of ill-conceived, insulting, “female-focused” products. Here, we look into the mystery of the unnecessary genderification of gender-neutral products.


In October, the Eurostar Group introduced a product called The ePad Femme—an eReader just for women. It sells for $190, and it comes preloaded with stereotypically feminine apps, which seem to revolve around fitness, cooking, and man-pleasing. It is, of course, pink. Eurostar Group is a Dubai-based company, and the tablet received little attention in the U.S. until the past week or two, when bloggers picked up an article in the Jerusalem Post about how Eurostar was marketing the tablet as a Valentine’s Day gift. Cue the understandable outrage at such a sexist product.
This opprobrium happens every time there’s a goofy product marketed as something “for women”: Check out the Bic Cristal Pen for Her, the Della computer for women, and Honda’s car for women for debacles similar to the ePad Femme kerfuffle. And even marketers who aren’t creating a bespoke product for women seem to cling to some jaw-droppingly retrograde notions about women’s behavior vis-à-vis their existing product and women’s lives in general—witness Samsung’s embarrassing Galaxy S4 event, which featured a group of drunk ladies preoccupied with weight loss and marrying doctors.
Since the public response to the pinkification of gender-neutral products seems, at face value, to be universally negative, we were wondering, why do companies keep making these things?
We asked Jonah Disend, CEO at the brand development firm Redscout, and Gina Reimann, director of industrial design at Redscout, to clue us in on why Eurostar might have created the ePad Femme.
Find out what she had to say here.

Why do companies keep making offensive pink products “for her”?

The ePad Femme is just the latest in a long line of ill-conceived, insulting, “female-focused” products. Here, we look into the mystery of the unnecessary genderification of gender-neutral products.

In October, the Eurostar Group introduced a product called The ePad Femme—an eReader just for women. It sells for $190, and it comes preloaded with stereotypically feminine apps, which seem to revolve around fitness, cooking, and man-pleasing. It is, of course, pink. Eurostar Group is a Dubai-based company, and the tablet received little attention in the U.S. until the past week or two, when bloggers picked up an article in the Jerusalem Post about how Eurostar was marketing the tablet as a Valentine’s Day gift. Cue the understandable outrage at such a sexist product.

This opprobrium happens every time there’s a goofy product marketed as something “for women”: Check out the Bic Cristal Pen for Her, the Della computer for women, and Honda’s car for women for debacles similar to the ePad Femme kerfuffle. And even marketers who aren’t creating a bespoke product for women seem to cling to some jaw-droppingly retrograde notions about women’s behavior vis-à-vis their existing product and women’s lives in general—witness Samsung’s embarrassing Galaxy S4 event, which featured a group of drunk ladies preoccupied with weight loss and marrying doctors.

Since the public response to the pinkification of gender-neutral products seems, at face value, to be universally negative, we were wondering, why do companies keep making these things?

We asked Jonah Disend, CEO at the brand development firm Redscout, and Gina Reimann, director of industrial design at Redscout, to clue us in on why Eurostar might have created the ePad Femme.

Find out what she had to say here.

The Genius Marketing Idea That Put Maxwell House On Every Passover Table
If you’ll be attending a Passover Seder this year, chances are you’ll be reading from the Maxwell House Haggadah—which is the perfect example of how to do branded content right.
Over 90 years ago, American Jews celebrated the Passover holiday by eating matzo and unleavened treats, but when they reached for a beverage they shunned coffee in favor of tea. It seems there wasn’t a coffee brand certified kosher for Passover. In 1923, Maxwell House saw an opportunity and introduced the first kosher for Passover coffee; others soon followed. Looking to solidify the brand in the minds of Jewish consumers in the early 1930s, Maxwell House’s ad agency employed an innovative marketing tactic for the time: branded content.
Well, that’s what we call it today. In fact, Maxwell House decided to publish a book, specifically a Haggadah, and offer it to customers for free with the purchase of a can of coffee. (A Haggadah recounts the Exodus from Egypt, comprised of prayers, songs, and stories which guide the Passover Seder.) The Maxwell House edition was an instant hit. Today, it’s the most popular Haggadah in the world, with over 50 million printed.
Click here for the four principles that make the Maxwell House Haggadah the perfect case study in branded content.

The Genius Marketing Idea That Put Maxwell House On Every Passover Table

If you’ll be attending a Passover Seder this year, chances are you’ll be reading from the Maxwell House Haggadah—which is the perfect example of how to do branded content right.

Over 90 years ago, American Jews celebrated the Passover holiday by eating matzo and unleavened treats, but when they reached for a beverage they shunned coffee in favor of tea. It seems there wasn’t a coffee brand certified kosher for Passover. In 1923, Maxwell House saw an opportunity and introduced the first kosher for Passover coffee; others soon followed. Looking to solidify the brand in the minds of Jewish consumers in the early 1930s, Maxwell House’s ad agency employed an innovative marketing tactic for the time: branded content.

Well, that’s what we call it today. In fact, Maxwell House decided to publish a book, specifically a Haggadah, and offer it to customers for free with the purchase of a can of coffee. (A Haggadah recounts the Exodus from Egypt, comprised of prayers, songs, and stories which guide the Passover Seder.) The Maxwell House edition was an instant hit. Today, it’s the most popular Haggadah in the world, with over 50 million printed.

Click here for the four principles that make the Maxwell House Haggadah the perfect case study in branded content.

Laughter is social bonding communication. It’s like saying, “I like you” or “I want you to like me.” Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar says that belly laughing may have worked like “grooming at a distance” for early ancestors, allowing them to maintain bonds within larger groups, which explains why humor in ads can bond people to brands. Laughter is an innate, cross-cultural response triggered unconsciously, which is why it is hard to fake or control. Shared laughter synchronizes our brains in emotional attunement, the hallmark of successful communication, releasing oxytocin and tension, firing our trust circuits.

This approach felt authentic and compelling only because the brand had earned the right. VW had a storied legacy to “think small,” not boast big; not through sales talk, but by speaking human. And they attained massive sales growth back then as well as today. That’s in part because they recognized that our purpose as people is to lead better lives, not to consume their products.

Check out “I’m Not Your Consumer" here.