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Branding Cassadee Pope

December 19, 2012 4 comments

I have to first say that I am a big fan of The Voice.  While American Idol is also entertaining for me, I’ve become spoiled by the fact that most of the contestants on The Voice are already working musicians.  It shows in the quality of the performances.

However, it also adds a bit of complexity to the show, where established artists are challenged by the coaches on who they are, what they are good at, and what kind of artist they want to be when they “grow up”.  But the biggest question, in my mind, is what does the audience want them to be when they grow up.

Enter Cassadee Pope.  Young, aspiring singer, band member, rocker.  She comes on the show with aspirations of being like Avril Lavigne.  But, she picks Blake Shelton as her coach.  Self-proclaimed hillbilly, this seemed like an interesting match.  What happened next is a great lesson in branding.

Blake recognized Cassadee’s singing abilities.  He also knows country music really, really well.  And, when it came down to the wire, he coached (convinced, I imagine) Cassadee to sing country music.  One show, she seemed visibly frustrated with singing another country song – but she did it anyway, trusting in her coach.  He was right – what he knew, and she soon learned, is that your brand is strongest when it matches what your audience wants it to be.  It sure seemed like the audience wanted her to be a country start (I secretly do).  She landed both of those country songs as the iTunes #1 song.

The lesson for us in marketing is that we need stop thinking that our brand is what we want it to be.  It can only be strong if it represents what our audience (customers and prospects) want it to be.  Of course, the brand promise has to hold true in this situation as well – and to Cassadee’s benefit, she CAN sing country music, and in my opinion, really, really well (I bought both of her #1 songs on iTunes).

And, in support of the thousands of marketing and branding agencies out there, sometimes we need an external coach to help us understand how our audience really does see us, or what they want us to be.  I’ll reference a comment from an earlier blog about “B2Me” marketing from White Rhino as a great way to peer into the minds of your audience.

Let’s be encouraged by Cassadee’s success on the show to remind ourselves how building the strongest brand is more a function of our audience and not as much our internal view of what we want our brand to represent.  As marketers, we must be open to feedback from the market and our “coaches” along the way – it will only strengthen our brand.   And then we can bask in the glory of success.


Brand Loyalty Lesson with a 10-year old

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I have a 10-year old who surprised me with a comment that displayed wonderfully the power of marketing and, at the same time, the challenge for marketers to connect with consumers.

We were shopping at our favorite sporting goods store for a couple of shirts for the school year and my wife starts picking out nice-looking shirts to show him (he just started developing his own personal taste).  She holds up a very nice Nike dry-fit shirt and asks if he likes it, and his response perplexed me:

“Yes, it’s a cool shirt, but I couldn’t buy it because I don’t want to disrespect Under Armour“.

OK.  Interesting.  Two points I think are relevant here:

1) How did a 10-year old build such a strong preference for a brand?

2) What did Under Armour do to create such a personal connection with a 10-year-old to make him feel like he is “cheating” on Under Armour if he buys a Nike shirt?

This has been eating at me, and the best thing I can come up with is that Under Armour represents a “future state” for him – being a high-performing athlete.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful athlete at his age already (yes, I’m his Dad :-)).  However, he knows he has work to do to get to the level of athletes that are portrayed in the Under Armour ads and, not to forget, the humongous mannequins they use in the stores (are these actual life size or athletes from another planet)?  –Side note, one of my neighbors used to play football for Notre Dame – there are people on earth that are as big as these Under Armour mannequins!–

The other thing I think contributes to his loyalty is that I think he believes that Under Armour can help him achieve the future state that he is working toward.  That’s where the “disrespect” comment is derived from.  He is, in a way, relying on Under Armour to get him there.  Wow, that’s a real connection.

So, what has ultimately taken place here is that Under Armour has given my son an example of what a successful athlete looks like (and dresses like) and has made an emotional connection with him as a result of this.  That ’emotional’ connection is something I blogged about in Marketing Lessons from Country Music  where I discussed the concept of B2Me (from my friends at and how we as marketers (B2B or B2C) should strive for B2Me.  They’ve taken the emotional connection one step further by instilling a sense of reliance on the brand to help him acheive this goal.

I have to admit that I am now using these concepts in my own work, drawing out “future state” scenarios for my target groups in an attempt to make them feel like they are cheating on me if they use my competitor’s products (just kidding, kinda).  The first step is defining what that future state is for your target audience and the second, more complicated step, is building such a connection with them that they rely on your brand to get them to that future state.

What have you seen with other brands where not only preference is created, but reliance is evident?  I would say Volvo is probably another good example of this – people who get in bad car accidents have a tendency to consider Volvos to help them avoid that situation again – they are reliant on Volvo’s reputation for safety.  I think some vacation services, like cruise ship companies, have been able to do this by differentiating their service offering – an example is the kid-focused Disney cruise lines.

Other examples?

This was a fun blog.  I am eager to hear your thoughts.


Demand Generation and the 101 Freeway

April 16, 2012 2 comments

What does the 101 Freeway have to do with demand generation?  Last week, I would have said “nothing”.  But, that was before I was ‘fortunate’ enough to experience the 101 Freeway traffic firsthand.

The Trip

On my trip to a great seminar on Channel Management delivered by Bruce Stuart from ChannelCorp (he’s got more of them coming up, be sure to grab a seat in one – certainly worth your time), I was southbound on the 101 Freeway headed to Santa Clara.  Pretty much out of nowhere, traffic came to a screeching halt.  No burning rubber on my rental car, thank goodness, but the 18-wheeler to the right of me did some fancy driving (and praying, I imagine) to keep from rear-ending the car in front of him.  Anyway, that is not really related to the story, but it left an image in my mind nonetheless.

What IS related to the story, and what drove me (pun intended) to write this blog, is what happened after we all safely brought our cars, nicely lined up single file in our respective lane, to a halt.  The motorcyles around us all started creating their own lane of traffic, literally on the dotted white lines.  Really, they can do that?  Not where I’m from.

As I watched this happen, motorcycle after motorcycle, it occurred to me that the only reason this could happen is because those people were using a different device to get from point A to point B.  It was shaped differently, powered differently, and controlled differently.  And, for the purpose of moving through traffic on the 101, it was the perfect device.

“Motorcycle” Marketing

I got to thinking, we as marketers always talk about cutting through the clutter, but we’re using the same big campaigns to do it.  Campaigns designed like 4-wheeled, high-capacity, high-powered vehicles.  And, more and more, we are wondering why these campaigns aren’t getting “through” to the audience at an ever increasing rate – more campaigns with lots of content, but little response, are essentially building traffic in the inboxes of our prospects and customers (kind of like when your 10 mile trip down the 101 takes 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes, like it does for those nifty motorcycles).  I started realizing as I sat in traffic in my rental car, that what I needed on this highway, and in my marketing mix, are some motorcycles.

Now that I know I need “motorcycle campaigns”, I have to figure out what it is.  What does a motorcycle marketing campaign look like?  We’ll, it’s small (in terms of content), quick (in terms of time to consume), powerful (in terms of relevance), and  – not to be under-appreciated – eye catching (in terms of interesting)!  It’s an email that draws a reader in because the subject line says something that they can’t turn away from without opening, because the body of the email says (not literally, but implied) “I know you are busy as heck, so I’m just going to tell you what you need to know”, and because the call-to-action is simple (“respond back to me and I’ll tell you more” or “here’s a video to watch with my email and telephone number at the end – call me if you want to talk afterward”).  Don’t make me read four paragraphs to find out that what made me open the email doesn’t even relate to what you’re telling me in the email.

Another motorcycle could also be a targeted tele campaign where the most the caller has to say is “we’ve recently helped a business just like yours do XYZ, would you like me to tell you how?”

Even another motorcycle could be intelligent, value-oriented, non-product-specific comments or posts in a social media environment.  Don’t tell them that you’ve got a great product for them, just give you a call.  Tell them what you’ve learned about your customer’s business when they’ve used your product, or even what you have coached other similar customers on to help them make the best decision on the product selection for their business (pitfalls, best practices, etc.).

These are all motorcycles – quick, succinct, interesting, and well…faster to get from point A (initial contact) to point B (lead generation) than the sedans and SUVs parked on the freeway all around them.

Solid Example

I have a recent example of this.  While I am not in the market for this particular product, I was compelled to respond back to the sender with a ‘thank you’ for the tact and care they took in making the experience with their campaign a positive one.

Here’s the email I received:

Subject: Thought you might be interested

Hi Ryan,

Hope you’re well.

I just wanted to pass along “abcxyz,” a really quick read that provides a “crash course” on how to apply display across your marketing mix, the best metrics to use, and what results to expect.  I hope you find it to be a useful resource.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or would like to set aside some time to talk.


Hmm, subject line: ‘Thought you might be interested’.  OK, who is this?  I should probably open it.  So, I did.  Then, ‘just wanted to pass along…a quick read’ (well, I could probably make time for a quick read – and ‘crash course’ sounds fast).  Then ‘how to…best metrics…results to expect’ (this is all relevant to me).  ‘In the meantime, let me know if you want to set aside some time to talk’ (friendly offer to engage).

I sent this guy a note back saying that I appreciated the resource, the direct and succinct email, and his offer to engage, and that I would let him know after I looked over the document.  Simple enough.

So, all the fancy graphics, pretty colors, and copy-heavy campaigns are just like the sedans, SUVs, and semi-trailer trucks that clog the 101.  They may hold a bunch of stuff, be painted nicely and have leather interiors, but they still just take up space and clog the freeways of demand generation.

Vroom, Vroom

As marketers, we need to find more motorcycles.  Not for us, but for our customers and prospects.  Trust me, they appreciate it (as I did), and will respond accordingly, which will in turn help us get to our ultimate destination – leads for sales.

I hope you enjoyed taking a ride with me down the 101.  Next time you’re in traffic in San Fran, watch the motorcycles – they’re going places, and a lot faster than you are!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or other examples of “motorcycle” campaigns.  Leave me a note.

Take care,


Social Media: Sales or Marketing?

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I was recently asked to be a contributing blogger for the SAP Community Network (SCN), providing my point of view on social media related topics.  I took this opportunity to write my first post on if social media was for marketing or sales.  Being a prior sales rep and a long-time marketer, I struggled with this early on as well.  However, I think you’ll agree with my position on this.

Check it out:

Please comment as well.  I would love to hear your thoughts.


Marketing Lessons from Country Music

October 26, 2011 4 comments

One busy weekend afternoon, while cleaning the house and listening to country music, a curious connection started to emerge…what country music teaches us about life AND about marketing.

Let me start with a fun list of my favorite “life lessons” as told by the great country music stars:

  1. Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em (Kenny Rogers)
  2. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys (Willie Nelson)
  3. She’s in love with the boy…she’s gonna marry that boy some day (Trisha Yearwood)
  4. Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, it’s a love without end, amen (George Strait)
  5. If you ain’t lovin’, you ain’t livin’ (George Strait)
  6. You’ve got to stand for somethin’, or you’ll fall for anything (Aaron Tippin)
  7. Wherever you go, there you are (Clint Black)
  8. Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares (George Strait)
  9. I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was (Toby Keith)
  10. God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy (Billy Currington)

Now that I’ve got the fun stuff out the way, let’s get into just how this applies to marketing.

It’s actually quite simple – country songs relate to their audience.  Let me say that again a different way, country songs are relevant to their audience.  As marketers (and yes, singers, and their posse, are marketers), we have to be relevant to our target audience. 

I’ll even go a step further and say that not only do we have to be relevant, but, taking a page from the country singer book of marketing, also that we have to be entertaining to capture the attention and, subsequently, the emotion of our target audience.

I know that this is not a groundbreaking concept – we’ve been batting this around for a while now in marketing circles.  However, I think it’s actually easier than it may first seem. 

Where we as B2B marketers may have over-rotated on marketing the next widget because, well, the engineers said it’s awesome and it does really cool things, if we just flipped the conversation and started with the idea that B2B buyers are consumers (and people) also, then we can take the appropriate measures to understand them as the individuals they are.  With this, we can start to understand how to be relevant to them as individuals and how to progress from just relevancy to emotional connection – which, we all know from brand studies, can positively impact a purchase decision and the future consumer-business relationship.

There is an agency that I’ve had the fortune to interact with, called WhiteRhino, who has articulated a nice strategy and set of tactics to achieve this as B2B marketers through what they call “B2Me” marketing. 

It’s not rocket science, but it is a shift in our approach and an opportunity for B2B marketers to put the focus back on the buyer/consumer in an engineering-driven environment.

If you have any examples of doing this in your B2B marketing environment, I’m interested in hearing about it.  I’ll keep my eyes out for good examples and share them on the blog.

Until next time, I’ll jump in my old truck, get the old dog out of the back, pick up my dancin’ partner and head down to the dancin’ hall for some good ol’ boot scootin’, while I think about how country music has done so well considering it’s stories are so sad…I guess it’s all relevant.

A Diet Plan for Marketers

June 8, 2011 2 comments

Well, I hope you enjoyed my previous blog and that you learned something that not only will help keep your shoes tied longer (way longer – I tried this out during a soccer tournament over Memorial Day weekend, no double knots, and no loose shoe laces…amazing) but will also help you find new perspectives that will improve your marketing strategies and tactics.

In true form of relating seemingly unrelated topics to marketing, I have once again taken inspiration from my iPhone (actually, an app called “MyFitnessPal”) to draw a link between losing weight and marketing. After reading this, I hope you agree this really is a “diet plan for marketers”.

Diet Plan for Marketers

Step 1: Get a Management Tool (CRM/ERP, the revenue marketing equivalent to calorie counters)

Step 2: Set a Goal and Benchmarks (for your Revenue generation, the revenue marketing equivalent to weight loss)

Step 3: Execute the Plan (Demand generation, the revenue marketing equivalent to a workout and eating plan)

Step 4: Record Progress (Campaign-level lead generation progress, the revenue marketing equivalent to a diet diary)

Step 5: Post-plan Assessment (Plan-level assessment of meeting revenue goals, the revenue marketing equivalent to achieving your weight loss goal – single metric of success).

The Genesis

It all started with my decision to join (actually re-join) a gym to try to shed a few extra pounds before too much pool time passes me by. I figured if I was going to really get serious about this, I needed to have a tool that I could use to help me set goals and manage a plan (step 1, for marketing too, right?). So, I downloaded “MyFitnessPal” for my iPhone. Now that I have the tool, I needed to set a goal and benchmarks for my weight loss (Step 2, sounds like a marketing plan to me). After setting a goal and benchmarks, I started with developed my workout and eating plan (I know you are seeing the pattern here…Step 3, marketing execution). After each day, I record my calorie intake and my workout results, determining if I met my daily goal (Step 4, let’s call each day a “campaign” and consider this step “Recording Progress”). The true test of how well each day went was when I get on the scale at the end of my scheduled program to check my weight (Step 5, this is the final assessment of the plan – results reporting).

What I Gained (insight, not weight!)

After doing this a few days, I starting realizing that I am managing my weight loss just like I manage my Revenue Marketing plan. Ah, revenue marketing. There’s the connection. The path to losing weight is the same path to generating revenue through marketing! See, I told you there was a connection (though I knew you were on to me anyway).

What You Need

The great thing about revenue marketing is that it is easy to show success, as long as you have a plan and the right tools, tactics, and monitoring systems in place. As an employee of SAP, I hope you will oblige me a quick, shameless plug for the SAP software that helps small and medium-size businesses do just this – SAP® All-in-One ERP, SAP® CRM and SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence. Check it out.


For those who are looking for more conventional descriptions of revenue marketing, SiriusDecisions has great information on strategies for revenue marketing and how companies are implementing this. You can also check out the Pedowitz Group Revenue Marketing Blog for ideas and additional examples of revenue marketing. So, who’s in this with me?

I’ll Close With This

It’s best to have accountability partners when you embark on a diet plan (and revenue marketing plan), so pick somebody that you can trust will keep you to your revenue marketing plan (I’m sure your boss will be happy to be your accountability partner :-)). I hope to hear from you all about your weight loss (around the waist) and weight gain (in the revenue pocketbook)!

photo: property of The Pedowitz Group

A New Perspective in 3 Minutes

May 26, 2011 1 comment

Like me, you probably think that to get information that really makes a difference in your thinking or your actions, you need to spend significant amounts of time on the subject – reading books, researching articles, checking out, and maybe even calling up some friends that are experts on the subject to pick their brain.  I learned that it doesn’t have to be the case. 

You see, I am a proud new owner of an iPhone 4, and I am eager to spend any down time refreshing and expanding my knowledgebase.  In my search for a good, well-rounded information source, I came across a great podcast series from TEDTalks

Though I am reluctant to think that it could actually be this easy to fundamentally change something about myself, or the people around me, I am proof that 3 minutes is all it takes to actually lead to a new perspective and absolute change.  And, even more surprising, it was achieved by a video on tying shoe laces (watch here:

Terry Moore, the speaker in this particular video showed me how to tie my shoe.  Seriously.  I’ve been doing it wrong all my life.  And, more importantly, I’ve taught my kids the wrong way (which is why their laces keep coming untied and why I can say that this 3-minute video resulted in absolute change for me).  Not only does this solve a consistent problem in my house, and for all of those school teachers that spend time tying and re-tying students’ shoes, it also proves that sometimes a new perspective is all we need to make significant change in what we do. 

Here’s the quick story:  My son knows how to tie his shoes.   However, the laces would always come untied (sometimes within minutes of tying the shoe).  So, my son started to realize no matter how many times he re-tied the laces, they would still come untied.  To no surprise, he walked around all day with his laces untied, gathering dirt, gum and anything else that lingered on the ground.  I found myself reminding him to re-tie his shoe laces regularly, and re-tying them for him even more often.  I am sure the school teachers were doing the same.

This is where the absolute change comes in.  Simply reverse the direction of the twist in the knot and gain the advantage!  By learning to tie the laces differently – better – I have positively changed my son’s daily experience, helped school teachers, and eliminated one (of many) reminder conversations with my son.  Greatness!  A new perspective and absolute change, all in just 3 minutes.  Thank you TED Talks.

Now, what is the small “twist” that we can apply to our marketing and sales that will lead to absolute change in our business?

photo: captured from TED Talks video: Terry Moore | How to tie your shoes