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Posts Tagged ‘tom asacker’

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

– Peter Drucker

Amen. If you have to sit there and work to sell it, there’s a marketing department somewhere that’s at fault.

Read Tom Asacker’s letter to Tom Peters
to find out where the whole Sales vs. Marketing thing went oh-so-wrong. (Good stuff.)

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Vintage Coca Cola mural in Greenville, SC

Vintage Coca Cola mural in Greenville, SC

The topic of “what is a brand” or “what do we mean when we say brand” comes up pretty often, so I am always on the lookout for a clear explanation of the term… or at least an explanation that can help frame it for people who aren’t 100% clear what brand really is. (Is it a logo, symbol or mark? Is it a promise? Is it a marketing gimmick?)  Depending on whom you talk to, you might get a completely different answer.

This time around, let’s have Tom Asacker share a few insights on the subject:

A brand is not a logo, and branding is not a communication strategy. A strong brand is a strong bond, and branding is your business.”“To those with a dated, mass-market mentality, branding is still all about image and awareness. It’s about tag lines, logos, cute little animal mascots or clever jingles. It’s about spending megabucks on Super Bowl commercials, hiring celebrities to sing your corporate praises, and covering cars with advertising banners. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that awareness is unimportant. (…) But, does well-known equal strong? Not any longer. The rise of the global economy [and] the rapid adoption of the Internet have ignited commercial innovation, and put an end to those days forever. Today, like just about everything else, brand logic has been turned on its head.”

“And please, don’t get hung-up on the word brand. Today, the word brand is shorthand for the gut feeling people have about something, some group, or someone. It’s a kind of Platonic Ideal, which stands for the essence of a business, school, organization, person, or even place. If you add up the tangible and intangible qualities of something – the gestalt – and wish to represent the meaning and distinctive character this greater whole conveys to its audience, today we call it . . . brand.

“Think of your brand as a “file folder” in your audiences’ minds (not a perfect metaphor, since memory is malleable, but stick with me anyway.). When they’re exposed to you (e.g., through advertising, design, a salesperson, word-of-mouth, etc.), a feeling is immediately filed away in that “brand file folder.” As time passes, much of what your audience has filed away – the details – will become inaccessible. However, they will remember where they stored the folder: in the front (positive feelings) or pushed to the back (negative feelings). Given the sheer volume of brands trying to find a place in your audiences’ overloaded “brand file cabinets,” you must not only get their attention and be relevant (a file folder labeled with your brand name), but you must also get it placed in the front of their file cabinet (elicit strong, positive feelings of intense personal significance).

“(…) Despite what the Madison Avenue folks may tell you, the strength of your brand lies not in the fact that you own a folder with your name prominently displayed on it. Repetition does not create memories, relevance does. The strength lies in your folder’s position in your audience’s file cabinet (the emotions that linger in their memory). The strength lies in the bond! So make your brand about feeling, not just familiarity. Make it about shared values and trust. About honesty, vulnerability and presence. A brand is not simply a promise. How can it be, with everything changing at breakneck speed? A brand is a living, breathing relationship. Revel in the messy world of emotions and create a brand that’s about leadership and differentiation; about customer insight and radical innovation; and about clarity of purpose, passion and a sense of humor.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wow. Is it really Friday already?

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pita the bird


“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

– William Pollard.

That’s worth framing and hanging in every meeting room from Portland to Tahiti (via Paris).

Thanks to Tom Asacker for digging that one up for us, and for his fantastic post on the very topic I wanted to explore today: What traps should exciting new companies be on the lookout for? As you can imagine, this post was going to be long. (Or at least long-ish.) Thanks to Tom’s impeccable timing, you won’t have to suffer through another endless essay. (See? Your good deeds are already starting to pay off – and it’s only January.)

Check this out (again, from Tom’s post):

“Over time, unchanging relationships can turn into shackles that limit an organization’s flexibility and lock it into active inertia. Established relationships with customers can prevent firms from responding effectively to changes in technology, regulations, or consumer preferences.”

– Donald Sull
(Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad an How Great Managers Remake Them.)

So… your new mission every day is to keep it fresh. That’s it. Whether you’re in the business of designing ads, repairing engines, selling shoes or answering calls from angry customers, don’t ever, ever, ever let routine set in. Try different things. Learn something new from every customer. From every sale. From every design challenge. From every product launch. From every commercial you hear on the radio. From every movie you catch on cable. From the games your kids play. From magazines you’ve never picked up.

Keep it fresh. Shake things up. Kill the routine before it starts killing you.

Ad go read Tom’s full post. It’s very good.

Thanks for reading. See you guys on Twitter! 🙂


photo by F360: Pita, resident troublemaker.

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More on the topic of experts, and how too much focus on “expertise” can actually be a very bad thing. Let’s flashback to Tom Asacker’s Ten Truths. For the full thing, go here. For my favorite parts, however…

“People today are incredulous of marketing, institutions and the media. The only way to suspend disbelief, cut through skepticism and create trust is to act as a real human being and get to the truth. As the sages say: “Words that come from the heart can enter the heart.”“What the business world needs now is a return to the idea of amateur spirit. Now, it’s probably not the amateur spirit as you may think of it. The definition of amateur has evolved for the worse over the past few hundred years, coming to represent a dabbler or incompetent. The original spirit of amateur was a positive, noble tag to apply to someone (the Latin root for amateur is “amator,” lover). An amateur pursuit was one you did for love, with a spirit of passion and authenticity. And it certainly didn’t imply a lack of skill. Thomas Jefferson was an amateur writer and philosopher when he drafted the Declaration of Independence.

“Organizations – actually the people in them – must recapture this amateur spirit. Not because it is morally right, but because it’s the only way to succeed in a world stunned by scandals and greed-is-good ideology. Ask yourself these simple questions: Do you want customers and employees to come to you first – and stay with you? Do you want them to recommend you to their friends and associates? Then you have to get them to do what? Trust you. And how do you go about doing that in a post-Enron economy? Certainly not by saying, “Trust me.” That kind of talk immediately causes people to put up their defenses. Instead, you must get them to believe! Success today all boils down to belief. “Who should I believe? Who can I believe?” These are the critical questions. You must be believed to have any chance of success.”

“Within the first few seconds of meeting you or being exposed to your communications, your audience will form an impression that is easily reinforced and unlikely to change. They’ll observe your mannerisms, voice, choice of words, etc. and judge whether you are worth listening to. To cut through their innate disbelief – and very short attention span -simply push past your comfort level and be authentic! Amazingly, that’s all there is to it. Simply take off your mask – your title, your expertise, your bureaucratic language and technical jargon – and connect with them with honest, simple, and engaging language. Be on the level. Be moved to candor. Tell them what you believe and what you think. Speak the unspoken.

“Listen to your innocent, inner voice. Be childlike. Speak in a language that is natural, open, and honest. Get rid of all of the hype and toss in a dash of self-deprecating humor. State what you feel in a candid and caring, yet unapologetic way. And never – never – hide anything. People will then believe that you are being straight with them (warts and all), and as a result, you’ll be worthy of their trust.”

“Daniel Boorstin wrote: “The amateur is not afraid to do something for the first time.” And that’s the measure of great artists, great lovers, and great entrepreneurs (not to mention children). To say, “I don’t know.” To ask the hard question that is on your mind (in a soft way). To take risks. To be bold. To state what you are feeling, openly. To admit your weaknesses. To adopt this amateur spirit takes courage and demonstrates your love for – and connects you on an emotional level with – your audience. They’ll believe you. It will demonstrate your trust in them, and your desire to eliminate their fears and their concerns. And it will inspire them and engender trust because it rings true.”

And this:

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. And it doesn’t take a genius to tell the difference between someone who listens in order to get something, and someone who listens because she cares.”

Tom doesn’t get enough props for how brilliant he is… at not being an expert.  😉

Superfly photo by Christopher Wray McCann

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