How do you answer “We already tried that”?

How do you solve the recurring difficulty of brand stakeholders stuck behind the that-doesn’t-work-for-us barrier? Sure, sometimes it’s legitimate. There are always strategies, tactics, media and processes impractical for a given brand. (Don’t advertise tampons during hockey broadcasts, or reverse mortgages on the Disney Channel.) There are even whole market segments that should be avoided. (Marketing cottage cheese to African-Americans, …

Global naming, and the “no va” myth.

Naming for multinational markets demands you learn what the name suggests in multiple languages and cultures.  You don’t want to discover too late that your brand means “poop” in Punjabi, or “fraud” in Farsi. But which and how many languages? The easy answer is, as many languages as are spoken where you market, now or in the future. Another reasonable …

Startup Success Step #3

Every business plan is fiction. The very idea of a Year 5 Sales Volume Projection for a company that hasn’t opened its doors yet is clearly an amusing fantasy, but there it sits (lies?) in that time-honored novella, the business plan. If it’s a fantasy, is it still worth doing? Of course. The exercise of committing to paper a coherent …

Startup Success Step #10

Company naming is a major neglected area of startup investment. Many entrepreneurs believe they either lack the capital to get professional help in naming, or believe it’s a do-it-yourself area where they can save a few bucks for the dozens of other startup expenses tugging at their wallet. They named their children after all, and that turned out well, didn’t …

Success Startup Step #12

Pinch the right pennies. You don’t need fancy offices to launch a successful startup. You don’t need to own the factory that will make your widget. Distribution and warehousing don’t have to be bought – they can be rented. Those are just a few sensible ways to keep your overhead low. You can economize in other ways, of course, such …

It’s Darwinian. (Duh!)

Is your brand endangered? Here are nine tests to see if you’re adapting for survival: 1. Have you shifted >51% of your media spending to online? 2. Could your tagline be used only by you, and not by your closest competitor? 3. Has your website been redesigned since 2007? 4. Have you introduced a new product line (not just a …

Nine nuggets of business wisdom

1. When you leave your phone number on voice mail, insert three pauses. 2. People only absorb the first topic of an email. To say three things, send three emails. 3. Do in-house what you do best. Turn to pros for all the rest. 4. If a meeting can be held in nine minutes or less, conduct it standing up. …

How not to use research

Doing no research at all is obviously foolish. Assuming what your prospects want can be risky, especially if you assume prospects are just like customers. It’s MBWT again. But even if you’ve done enough research to know prospects desire X rather than Y, things can still go very wrong. Typical X/Y choices might be low-cost vs. high-quality, or innovative-idea vs. …

MBWT, enemy of branding

MBWT is a crippling disease of branding: Marketing By Wishful Thinking. MBWT strikes brands large and small, old and new. You see the symptoms everywhere: the urge to stand for more than one thing, the assumption that if you say it they will hear it, the stupider assumption that if they hear it they will believe it. Wishful thinking fuels …

Anyone can play the violin.

Put that big thing on your left shoulder. Pick up that little thing with your right hand, and rub it across the strings of the big thing. Hear that? You’re playing the violin! You can also decorate your wedding cake, or give yourself a haircut, or rebuild your transmission. You can name your company, design your logo, direct your brand …