Blog

September 2015 - PS Insights

LOGOS

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We’re generally not big fans of logo redesigns. Too often they’re updates for no apparent reason or the “brainchild” of newly-hired CMOs who want to make immediate brand impact without dealing with the company’s real problems. But in the case of Google’s recent redesign, we acknowledge some smart thinking. Fast Company has a lengthy posting as to the reasons. In a nutshell? It’s a “digital” redesign. The spacing between the letters is dynamic, so the word can compress. And it can become extremely small and still be legible. When you look at your company’s logo, are you asking 21st century questions about what the redesign should do?

WHAT’S YOUR SKILL?

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We asked the question the other day “What’s Your Job?” The parallel question is, “What were you hired to do?” A great answer this time from Paul Klein who was head of programming at NBC. We asked him once how he determined what scripts to produce. He said, “Anyone can separate the good ideas from the bad. The skill is being able to separate the good ideas you’re going to do from the good ideas you’re not going to do.” In today’s universe of infinite opportunities, that’s truly a gift. Do you have a system for separating the good from the great?

WHAT’S YOUR JOB?

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We never heard it expressed better than one of our mentors. He called us into his office and asked us, “What do you think your job is?” As we stammered to give a comprehensive answer, he cut us short. “Your job is to make me look good. My job is to see you get the credit for it.” Please note that without the second half of that sentence he’d be a martinet, not a mentor. Do you support your business partners…and do they give you credit for it?

DEMYSTIFYING MARKETING

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   We’ll let you in on a secret. Demystifying Marketing is basically what we do for a living. Marketing may be complicated, stressful, challenging, aggravating…it may be many things, but it ain’t hard. Hard is, well, brain surgery. Or rocket science. But luckily for us, too many clients get caught up in the complexities of new media choices, audience segmentation and the dozens of other metrics that blind them to the simple ideas that fuel good marketing: Who’s our audience? What’s our positioning? What’s our selling proposition? What’s our big idea to engage our audience in the marketplace? Have you answered those questions?

CROSS TRAINING

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It works for personal fitness and it works for professional fitness as well. Benchmarking (as it’s called) is a smart way to take a look at what other industries are doing and adopt smart new ideas. Here’s a lunch exercise for your team: Bring them together, pick an industry as far away from yours as possible. Do a two-step brainstorming session. Step One: What marketing and business practices does that industry do? When you have a list, go to Step Two: How could we adopt each of those ideas to what we do?

EXPERTISE

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Time and again we see people hire a freelancer, an agency, a consultant, a vendor–and then tell them what they want done and how to do it. The whole idea of hiring an outside resource is to get their input. Their thinking. Their experience. Their knowledge. Their unique perspective. If you just want an extra pair of hands, hire an intern. If you want fresh insight, how willing are you to hire outside resources for the unique value their contributions can make?

OWN THE INSIGHT

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   “Your Name Here” marketing is neither unique nor compelling. So when is it okay to make a claim or develop a brand position that any of your competitors can also claim? When you’re staking out the underlying insight that drives your customers. Think about Nike’s “Just Do It” or Michelin’s “Because So Much is Riding On Your Tires” or BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Any of their competitors could have written or used those lines. But now they can’t…because Nike, Michelin and BMW staked out claims to their customers’ underlying motivation. So when you review your marketing, ask yourself, “Do I own an insight here?”

WHO ARE YOU?

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  Too many companies aren’t willing to hear the truth. They’ll do research and focus groups and talk about “metrics” and “insights” and “current perception/desired perception.” But what are the verbatims? What do people think about your business in plain English? Take a lesson from the TV series Undercover Boss. Get out there and anonymously speak to people. Even if you’re not the boss. Listen to what they say and what they think. Then address the concerns they raise. How well do you know how your key constituencies perceive you?

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

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  The U.S. convention business is back. Certainly not to pre-2008 levels, but at least to healthier numbers than in the recent past. Although we appreciate Skype, Go To Meeting and the myriad other video conferencing platforms, there’s still no substitute for the meet-and-greet of an industry sales convention. Do you dismiss conventions as the event your salespeople attend – or do you make a point to go there, walk the floor, and see what’s new in your area of expertise?”

BRAND BOUNDARIES

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 What are the limitations of your brand? Where won’t your customers let you go? The classic example was Coca-Cola Clothing Stores. Believe it or not, Coke went into the clothing business in the 1980s. In fact, Gary Warnett has a terrific in-depth blog on that story. But in simple fact, Coke had permission from its customers to make soft drinks, not clothing. And sales went flat (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) fairly quickly. Do you know what limits your customers put on your brand?