Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June 11th, 2008

Time for your weekly brandbuilder reality check.
There are only two types of businesses: The ones you know are the best in their category, and… everyone else.
Advertising and marketing are nice, but too many “also in” businesses waste money on marketing and advertising when they should instead revamp one or two elements of their business that would help them actually gain market share. (The most pleasant and efficient customer service experience in your industry, a perfectly designed user interface, a 100% uptime guarantee, stunning design, impeccable ergonomics, remarkable flavor, etc.)

Advertising is basically a load of bullshit unless you have something worth advertising to begin with. (Otherwise, what are you advertising: Hey, come buy from us! We’re the thirteenth best shoe store in the 90210!) You’re either the best at something, or you’re just another voice in the crowd getting fleeced by just another run-of-the-mill ad agency or “marketing firm.”

Before you start wasting money on advertising, ask yourself what your super-special value to your users/customers/clients truly is. Maybe you have the best prices. Maybe you have the most comfortable meeting rooms. Maybe you have the most square footage of any gym in your area, or the freshest produce, or the most knowledgeable staff, or the fastest check-out. It doesn’t matter what that something is as long as it is something concrete (as opposed to another lame marketing spinfest).

Whatever your value differentiator is, whatever your brand’s value advantage is (or should be), this is what you need to invest in FIRST. Once you have that aspect of your business nailed down, THEN and only then should you even bother with advertising.

A few days ago, Seth Godin posted some great advice to college grads on his blog: Only borrow money to pay for things that increase in value. A pair of shoes or cool clothes never increase in value. An education or professional experience, however do. Great advice, especially in the crux of our current economic/credit crunch. The same applies to businesses, which is why Seth’s advice is so damn relevant to the discussion today.

Perhaps more relevant to today’s topic is a slightly tweaked version of Seth’s advice: “only invest in things that increase in value.”

Like shoes and clothes, advertising never increases in value. With advertising, you are at best buying a small percentage of the public’s attention across a very narrow sliver of space and time (and paying a premium price for it.) Before you know it, your advertising budget is gone, and so is that very expensive bubble of attention.

Investing in better products/services, better people and better processes, however, makes a whole lot more sense as these things never lose value. Great employees, great products, great customer experiences and fostering a unique relationship with your fan base are the types of things worth investing in. These are the true foundations of a great brand. These are the types of things that will help strengthen your brand equity.

Advertising never translates into brand equity unless these foundations exist to support it. Even so, the more solid the brand’s foundation, the less relevant advertising becomes.

Starbucks doesn’t advertise and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Whole Foods ad anywhere, yet millions of people drop solid stacks of greenbacks there every year. I don’t shop at Target, wear Rudy Project sunglasses, drive a VW or crave a BMW because of advertising. Other than creating awareness for a product that hasn’t managed to capture anyone’s attention yet (red flag), advertising does nothing to impact most companies’ growth.

Building a strong reputation by developing great products, buzz-worthy experiences and generally delighting customers/users is a much stronger strategy than paying loads of cash for advertising.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

Read Full Post »

Sweet post by Chris Wilson over at The Marketing Fresh Peel this week:

An ability to perceptively spot trends is a vital part of putting your company ahead of the competition. But recognizing a trend is only half of the equation. It’s even more important that you take action. What good is it to spot a trend if you can’t take advantage of the coming wave?

This is where it becomes important to not only look for trends, but to look for them early. I’ve compiled a list of 20 different how to tips, tools, blogs and websites that can help you in spotting trends. They are organized into different categories.

Trend Tips

Get out of your office! Go somewhere that everyone seems to be. Watch people interact with each other. What are they doing? What are they wearing? Who is the center of attention? Why? Look for something different. Something unique.

Listen. Learn to listen to people (even the ones you can’t stand). Try to figure out why they think and believe what they do. Be curious. Ask questions and listen some more.

Volunteer. Getting involved with a project where you can give back will help you to get out of your comfort zone and into an a new environment with different people.

Watch the Celebs. No matter how much we hate it, celebrities often have access to fashions, products and trends before they go mainstream. When it comes to fashion they can even influence trends and consumer buying behavior.

Read something different. Once a week, pick up a magazine or trade journal from a totally different industry. What’s transforming the industry? How could this be applied to your business or product?

Dedicated to Trends

TrendsSpotting follows the behaviors and attitudes of internet users and regularly report and conduct surveys. Contributors to the site express their professional opinions on emerging trends and what they mean to you.

PSFK is one of my favorite sources for discovering emerging trends from around the world. The blog consistently delivers surprising observations. They also host a number of great conferences throughout the year.

Springwise boasts more than 8,000 “Springspotters” from around the world, all on the lookout for emerging trends. The site is a hub for entrepreneurs looking for their next business ideas.

Trend Hunter Magazine bring observations from a wide range of topics. The site provides 99 different RSS feeds, broken down into different categories, so that you can hone in on trends in a certain niche or industry. Trend Hunter also issues a number of reports and presentations.

Design Trends

Cool Hunting is blog that is self described as “a daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology.” I find Cool Hunting to be an awesome source for a look at design trends, modern urban lifestyle, fashion and arts.

NOTCOT is a daily showcase of inspiring design works from around the world, “fighting the good fight against ‘creative block’ since 2005.” (NOTCOT.org, and Tastespotting are some other great sites in the NOTCOT network.)

Design*Sponge is a daily website/blog dedicated to home and product design. The site even sports a special mini trends section, exploring waves of small trends (colors, styles, patterns) as they are spotted.

Josh Spear covers everything from Design to gadgets to travel. It’s a must following for anyone wanting to stay ahead of the curve.

Rapid Online Trends

Google Search Trends is a tool with which you can cross search different terms and compare them. Do some research here.
You will find Google Hot Trends on this same page. This feature has become a valuable source of information providing rapid search trend reports. There have been numerous times where I have spotted major news on Google Trends, hours before the news broke on the national stations. By subscribing to the feed, you will receive updates every hour reporting Googles top 100 searches from the last hour.

Viral Video Chart is the ultimate source for tracking what’s moving in video. Their Top 20 Viral Chart is by far the most popular, but the site also breaks the videos down into different categories to help you fine-tune your research.

Trendpedia is a tool that scans blog content, making it easy to compare popular topics graphically. Find out what’s hot and what’s not.

Twist performs a similar function to Trendpedia, only comparing Twitter content trends.

Summize is a tool that makes it easy to search Twitter updates.

—–
What’s your method for spotting trends?

Read the entire article here.

Read Full Post »