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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 www.whiterhino.com) 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.

Ryan

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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.