Archive for the ‘Engagement Marketing’ Category

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,


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.