We don’t care about brand loyalty


No one takes the time to pause and reflect if they are loyal enough to you or your product. No one. Period. I’m sorry if this is news to you.

Consumers (myself included) are too selfish. What we do care about is our own desires. Our expectations. A way to fix our problems. That is what we think about.

We are loyal to our own stuff on the inside and sometimes we look for stuff on the outside that we think may help. But that is as far as it goes. Brand loyalty is dead (or better said, it never existed).

[And if you’re wondering, yes, we do think in Sans font.]

Happy Thursday all!


Festivus on Marketing (Part 3): Feats of Strength


This is Part 3 of a small series called Festivus on Marketing (ending tomorrow of course!). You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

A couple of days ago we talked about the Festivus ritual of “Airing of Grievances.” Today we’ll talk about another ritual called “Feats of Strength.” Festivus tradition states that Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned in some sort of a wrestling match. As Frank Costanza is undoubtedly v-e-r-y strong, the almost insurmountable feat of pinning him must have taken a great deal of strength, courage and stamina.

But in business it’s great to know that in order to win the hearts of your customers, it usually takes a far less grandiose deed. Instead, it’s usually some small acts of humanness that we remember.

Zappos surprised someone who lost a loved one with flowers. DoubleTree delights arriving hotels guests with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Southwest Airlines spreads fun and humanness with their standup flight instruction that resemble comedy routines.

Surprise. Delight. Humanness. Repeat. Try it out – it really works!

By the way, a B-I-G thanks goes out to the refrigerator repairmen who not only fixed our refrigerator but also went out of their way to fix our garage door that had just broke. Pure awesomeness.

Have a very Merry Festivus Eve everyone!

[Photo Credit: M-J Milloy]

Why you need a bouncer


If you go to an exclusive club, inevitably you’ll encounter a bouncer trying to keep out the riff raff. They don’t let everyone in and that’s the whole point. A bouncer’s entire job is to create scarcity.

Bouncers are good. They are the gate keepers of the unique experience. We all need bouncers.


Because you can’t be everything to everyone. No bouncer means “enter the ordinary” (ever see a bouncer at an Olive Garden?). You have to decide who’s on your A-list and gets their hand stamped to come and go as they please. But maybe even more importantly, you must decide who’s not worthy to enter your club.

What is your bouncer? Does your bouncer have strict standards or does he sometimes slip and take the occasional bribe and let in someone he shouldn’t? Is your bouncer “beefy” enough (yuck, did I just say beefy?!)?

Happy Monday!

(Photo credit, sol proprietor)

3 things to truly change your business

We hear it all the time – “You’ve got to be different to make it in today’s business world.”

In other words….

Be a Zagging, Purple Cow in a Blue Ocean (a gold star on your forehead if you understand that phrase).

“BUT HOW?”, lament many frustrated companies. It seems like you make a product and BAM! 3.2 seconds later someone else has a similar product or service only cheaper. You open a store and while on your lunch break your competition has moved just down the block. I’ve found it tough (impossible?) to compete on the old 4 marketing P’s of Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

Okay, so maybe the 4 marketing P’s aren’t dead exactly, but they do seem so one-dimensional and base.

So what can we compete on?

I propose the much more dynamic and hard to copy 3 P’s – Passion, People and Promises.

  • Passion. Thinking beyond 9 to 5. Daring to dream beyond this quarter’s profits. Inspiring beyond the walls of your store.
  • People. Not pogs, but people. Real people with real hopes, desires, passions (see above) and fears are everywhere inside and outside your organization. Open your eyes and connect (I mean really connect) with people. See their potential and help them expand their vision.
  • Promises. Make promises and keep them. Do more than what is merely expected. Dare to be bold, dare to do what no other has done.

Sadly, most companies stop after the traditional 4 P’s. Many don’t cross the great chasm carefully crafted by the few great companies that use Passion, People and Promises to their ultimate advantage and differentiation. It’s the difference between Southwest Airlines and Delta, between Build-A-Bear and Toys-R-Us and Cold Stone and Baskin Robbins.

Make it happen for your company this Monday morning.

Sequins and soul

Sequins are important to us (and no, I’m not talking about the clothes that Richard Simmons wears). They are the flash, the shiny things that catch our eye – a cool direct mail piece, a sleek and metallic colored stereo system (mostly men fall for this one) or a great sale.

But there are limits to what sequins can do (and sadly, many marketers have tried to stretch sequins way beyond their intended purpose). The great looking stereo system loses its luster if it breaks after only a few months. The direct mail campaign seems less creative if the product behind the glossy mailer is nothing but a scam. Sequins can never make up for a bad product. The market is too smart, too agile and too connected to fool most of us most of the time.

When we do fall for stretched sequins, we don’t simply put it behind us and move on. We make a mental note (and the Internet usually keeps a permanent record) of those that try to stretch sequins beyond their intention. So when we dig deeper into what you offer and all we find is a man behind a curtain out to trick us, we don’t soon forget. We feel cheated and we are much less likely to fall for your sequins again.

So the next time you are building something out of sequins for the market, make sure that it has plenty of soul to back it up.

Lame advice: Build brand loyalty

Lame advice: Build loyalty to your brand.

Not exactly. I may commit heresy as a brand/marketing guy, but here goes nothing. People are not loyal to brands. Before you threaten to take away my first born and pour lemon juice in my eyes (ouch!), please hear me out.

A brand is nothing more than a perceived expectation in an exchange of value. In other words, if you give me something that you value (your time or your money), than you expect something of value in return from me. The stronger the brand is, the greater the expectation that you have. But this expectation of yours goes much deeper than just my products or services.

You see, a brand is not just what you expect from my company; more importantly it is what you expect of yourself by choosing my brand. If you have an iPod, you expect to be (and probably see yourself as) a stylish person. If you buy a safe Volvo car, you expect to be a safe person. If you buy high-class jewelry from Tiffany & Co., you expect to be a high-class person. In other words, you expect to be what you expect of the brand.

But let’s say that Tiffany & Co. went out of business tomorrow. Since you could no longer buy their high-class jewelry, would you stop seeing yourself as a high-class person? Probably not. You’d simply fulfill your need to be a high-class person someplace else. And I’m not just talking about other jewelry stores. Even if every piece of jewelry ceased to exist in a blink of an eye (sorry Mr. T!), you would still seek out something that gives you the sense of high-class.

So you’re not really loyal to the brand, but to the underlining, emotional benefit. A brand is simply the best perceived conduit (at the moment) to the expectation you seek. So stop worrying about brand loyalty and start thinking about the best way your brand can help consumers get what they are truly after.

What are your thoughts?

Happy Monday!

Are you compensating?

No amount of success to your bottom line can compensate for failure of your trust.