America’s favorite chocolate has a new logo. What’s good about it? They got rid of the faux 3D, cleared up the font mismatch between the brand and company, incorporated the company nicely into the logo, unified all three elements (brand, company, Kiss), and made the whole thing scalable.

Hershey

That said, some people think Hershey’s new logo looks similar to an emoji. That didn’t come to my mind, but I’m guessing it’ll take Fox News about 24 hours until it claims that America’s favorite chocolate-maker is run by Arab terrorists, because the Kiss looks a little like a prayer mosque.

The Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) is a fad—a good fad, to be sure, as it [hopefully] raises funds for and [probably] awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”

But what has made the campaign so successful?

Selfies are not a new phenomenon, but research shows that they don’t go viral as much as if someone else were to either take or post that exact same picture of you. So, you can still take that photo or movie of yourself, but someone else should post it; we used to call this “earned media,” and today more likely “native advertising.”

There’s an unwritten rule among Millennials (and other younguns) that the more outrageous the selfie image/situation, the less socially acceptable it is to post the photo yourself. So, while selfies are neither passé nor blasé, if we want to keep the respect of our peers—and, more importantly, preserve the chance of the image going viral—we must behave as though they are.

But what is this urge to be seen in these [often staged] situations, and the need to have this go viral? It’s not a need for self-publishing, it’s a need for recognition.

We all want for our lives to mean something and have our existence acknowledged by those whose opinion (and own existence) we respect. Today, however, social circles are larger; the definition of “friend” has changed. Because of that you no longer needed to have been there to believe it, as social media now bridge that gap and in near-real time make others experience the same event.

The IBC, however, has now given everyone an out from the self-promotion restriction rule, and turned it on its head. You can literally buy your way out, raise your own status in the process, and self-publish an ever-escalating stream of outrageous behavior in the name of doing good. It’s becoming the greatest club of exhibitionists and voyeurs that have ever found each other.

And that’s the real marketing lesson here: What can you do in your campaigns that turns customers into exhibitionists, and prospects into voyeurs? We’re not talking Net Promoter Score here; that scale only goes to 10, and Exhibitionists score an 11.

GoPro has been doing an excellent job of accomplishing this (just check out their YouTube channel). Even Red Bull, the world’s most self promotional company, touts the virtues of GoPro. Just think about this for a second: without GoPro there wouldn’t be a Red Bull.

But the point here isn’t to send your customers GoPro cameras, but to turn yourself into a media company, regardless of what your product is. And then you feature your customers and nurture and enable them to participate themselves.

In the meantime, after you’ve donated to ALS research, there’s another water project that needs your attention.

the-other-water-bucket-challenge

Marketing is the art of making others believe your idea is their idea.

I have previously referred to Fred Wilson’s pronouncement that “marketing is for companies with crappy products,” and what he means by that.

It’s very refreshing then to read an article about a company that really gets it right.

The July 15, 2015 issue of  Food Business News features an article (“Making insects inviting to eat“) about Chapul, and the company’s go-to-market strategy in introducing insects as a viable protein source in the Western diet.

I don’t know what Patrick Crowley’s (director/co-founder of Chapul) background is—he says he didn’t go to business school; maybe that’s a really good thing—but he groks the fundamentals of marketing:

Grasp a needs-driven opportunity, even if the market hasn’t yet caught on. It’s difficult or impossible to feed the world’s population sustainably and nutritionally given the current approach; at least is it’s practice in the West.

Develop a product for the opportunity that solves the need. Chapul has done its research and learned that insects (specifically crickets) are high in protein, can be cheaply and sustainably sourced, and are already an ingredient in the global diet.

Understand your market and audience. Chapul knows eating insects is a difficult sell in the U.S., but there there are audiences (segmentation!) receptive to the message.

Get others to market for you (Fred Wilson’s point). Chapul hasn’t received a lot of media attention, but it got the right attention in the right places, and now the message is being carried by varying strata of influencers: sustainability reporters; product converts; net promoters, etc. Remember, “Marketing is, and always has been, about influencing the influencer,” was the first marketing axiom I published.

I’m not sure if Chapul is starting a trend or latching on to one, but they’re definitely very early in the game. Challenges ahead all relate to supply chain and scalability (a bit of business school knowledge might help here, but they’re all easily predicted): procurement/availability/pricing (maybe even currency hedging), quality/safety, distribution/demand, alternate supply/country risk, etc.

And then it will be time to spend money on marketing.

It’ll be fun to watch, not just the company, but the space itself (public perception, new entrants, VC funding). Neat!

So, do read the article (link at top), not because it talks about eating insects, but because it’s simply a very good, well written go-to-market case study that addresses the modern core marketing principles highlighted here.

You can’t outsource your brand.

word-of-mouth-marketing

Sent to me by @jennbrusco (LinkedIn). Original here.

Not to rehash previous posts in their entirety, but I once more take the approach that marketing is the process of getting your product to and into the market—a larger discipline that includes R&D, sales, and customer care, not just promotion and advertising. Marketing also includes pricing and margin optimization, which can often mean needing to reinvent or reposition existing products with a new spin.

To be successful, marketing needs to take the customer’s side—to paraphrase a saying that has popped up at the top of my LinkedIn feed for the past week, marketing needs to listen to learn, not just listen to answer. What is the psychological driver that causes product adoption? Yes, a need is surely a driver, but among myriad choices, what differences matter to whom?

Therefore, both customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are critical measures of marketing’s success. However, satisfaction ≠ loyalty. You can have extremely satisfied customers, but if they buy based on price, and you raise your prices, they may not stay loyal. Thus, loyalty measured in price elasticity is an important metric to track.

Which brings me to Delta Airlines’ brilliant decision to revamp its frequent flyer loyalty program, and start rewarding travelers based on how much they spend, not on how far they travel. This shift has received tremendously negative attention in the press, I’m guessing because muckraking is fun, and business acumen is not required to write a compelling story.

Let’s first cite a different example. Grocery retailers reward their worst customers the best—those who spend the least get the quickest lines. But those who spend the most need to queue up in long lines while the ice cream is melting in their shopping carts. Grocery retailers are well advised to treat “high rollers” just as well, if not better than the “quickies.” The tactics supporting this strategy would be quite simple to implement.

Delta has grasped this. To date, like all airline loyalty programs, bargain shopping has been the most efficient way to maximize the value of a frequent traveler loyalty program—in fact, infrequent travelers are rewarded the best, needing just a few cheap cross-country flights to earn the right to a free flight. Those who need to travel last-minute, and thus pay the most, get no additional benefits. Their ice cream is melting.

Instead, Delta will be re-programming travelers’ mindsets from spend-less-get-more to spend-more-get-more. Bargain hunting will die a quick death with those who want to maximize the value of their loyalty program membership. And Delta’s profits will soar. They may lose some travelers, so revenues may stay flat, but margins will be better. Less work = more money; employees and stockholders love this!

And I even question the loss of travelers. Most airports have one anchor airline, maybe two. But in the end you need to get to where you are traveling in the most efficient and expeditious manner, regardless of who you want to be loyal to. My own attempt to switch from US Airways to United Airlines—because I desperately want to stay with the Star Alliance loyalty program after US Airways merges with American Airlines’ One World loyalty program—has been an utter failure, because US Airways dominates PHX, and can get me to most destinations more quickly.

I bet that’s what Delta is counting on: increased happiness from its best customers (those who spend the most, most frequently), and the inability of the least good customers to make serious changes to their travel needs, while still giving them the ability to earn the same level of rewards they are used to (by simply spending more).

That’s pretty damn good marketing—the process of getting your product into the market at a higher profit margin, while offering the disenfranchised the opportunity to stay engaged.

In the late 1990′s my friend Didier and I worked at the same interactive agency in NYC. He was (and still is) a designer. He’s also prescient. One day we were in his office and he was very excited. He asked me if I’d seen the movie “American Beauty.” I answered in the affirmative, adding that I thought it was a Hollywood rip-off of [some indie movie which title I can no longer remember]. Didier’s excitement stemmed from the little movie clip inside the movie itself, of the garbage bag that was circulating around itself in the windhose. He said that this is where personal entertainment would go; that people would be posting a lot more of this on the Web (“Web” was capitalized back then). Didier foretold of the coming of YouTube.

The thing that made Didier brilliant was that he didn’t realize he was brilliant—he assumed everyone else had the same mental acuity. In his design Didier did not think of appearance, but of use. This made him an excellent user experience designer before that term existed. The most important thing he ever said about web design was “For every click, a reward.”

As a marketer and marketing strategist—including interactive/online marketing—I live by that mantra. And it’s caused me to break some best practices, especially the age-old one of “what can be measured can be managed.”

Marketers love landing pages. I agree, they are useful, but not necessarily rewarding. They are useful because now I can measure an action; they can be annoying to the user, however, because they really are just an interstitial served up to meet my marketing bean-counting needs rather than my visitor’s needs.

As a marketer you need to deliver in-place experiences, not pathways to them. Landing pages are great for inbound traffic, but for internal linking you should consider foregoing accountability in favor of experience.

On our new corporate website (launching in a few weeks…hopefully) we will be focusing on calls to actions (CTAs) that can be satisfied immediately and transparently, rather than through redirects and and other invasive gimmicks.

To get around not being able to account for every click and associate it with a unique profile, our efforts are focused on delivering value as opposed to entrapment. Instead of relying on click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates (CR), our new metric will be action rate (AR).

Our hope—an experiment to be measured—is that AR will correlate more closely with new revenues, and become a predictive indicator, than CTR or CR.

The onus will be on us to deliver meaningful content that prompts visitors to engage in a dialogue with us, but we’re using this as an opportunity measure a hunch that we have.

Apparently Barnes & Noble has different online and in-store prices. I didn’t know this, since I haven’t shopped there in ages (nor on their website), but this recent thread on The Consumerist website makes the pricing discrepancy abundantly clear.

Bringing a business mindset to this issue, it is easy to understand why the prices are different: because the cost structures are different. But the resulting price discrepancy is somewhat unusual for consumers to deal with…apparently. That is something that B&N’s media and customer relations departments didn’t seem to grasp, as evidenced by their well-reasoned business-like response when confronted with customer dissatisfaction over this issue:

“Barnes & Noble.com is a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc., with its own management, operations and price structure.”

“The online and retail businesses each offer their own unique selection and competitive price structure.”

“Neither business advertises the other’s price structure.”

“Neither business matches the other’s advertised prices.”

And, as stated on BN.com:
Barnes & Noble.com usually is able to fill your order with less expense than our retail stores, and we pass those savings on to our online customers. This is why our prices online sometimes are lower than prices in your local Barnes & Noble store. Similarly, at times, your local store may offer exclusive promotions that are not offered at Barnes & Noble.com.

Fail!

The correct response would have been, “The two business units have different cost structures…[blah blah blah]. This is also because of differing labor costs across these two types of businesses. You see, we love our employees as much as we love our customers. And to attract and retain high-quality employees to give you the best possible service and in-store experience, we need to pay people well and also provide benefits. That’s why our in-store cost are higher—to create a win-win. Both of us need happy employees to make sure you are a satisfied customer.”

I’m not quite talking cause-marketing here, but according to a Nielsen study, consumers apparently are “…willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society…”

B&N could have humanized the problem and made sure that customers understand that their hard-earned money goes to a good cause: making sure that other people can also earn a living wage in a service-oriented economy. That’s turning lemons into lemonade (and brought to you by the “duh” department).

In the past I’ve read many a different explanation of what differentiates B2B and B2C marketing and purchase decision-making processes. I very much like Jerry Rackley’s take on this, which is that in B2B it is relationship-based, whereas in B2C it is brand-based.

I’ve finally come up with my own differentiation:

  • B2C: benefit-based
  • B2B: value-based

Both are versions of ROI, but I believe that for consumers most purchases are considered sunk costs, and that the emotional accounting is benefit-based, e.g., food needs to not just satiate an appetite, but also taste good. But on occasion we’ll just choose the functional solution so that we’re not hungry even though the food may not taste very good.

However, in B2B a prevalent mindset is that a solution wouldn’t even get considered for purchase if it didn’t provide a benefit (duh!), but it must also generate a measurable/tangible return. “Will this make me money, not just cost me money?” That’s value.

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