All posts by Steve

Professor of Marketing & International Business; Consultant

The Importance of Branding

Think of any product category (e.g., beer). Think of your favorite beer. If your favorite beer isn’t available, what are the one or two acceptable substitutes? How many acceptable substitutes can you name? Congratulations – you’ve successfully completed a branding exercise designed to illustrate the concept of evoked set (aka, consideration set): a set of acceptable brands of which the consumer is aware when seeking to satisfy a need. Such is the power of branding and the reason that branding is so important in marketing. Our goal as marketers is to position our brand, vis-a-vis the competition, in your mindscape as part of your evoked set.

The perfect analogy for branding, in my opinion, is building an in-ground swimming pool and filling it with water poured from a shot glass. First, you need to establish a strong foundation. Don’t forget to include the supporting functions required to make the foundation operative. Next, branding requires consistency of effort over a long period of time (shot after shot poured into the swimming pool). In the beginning, you may feel discouraged and may not see measurable results from your efforts. If you’re confident that the foundation is solid, keep working. As you get closer to your objective, you’ll notice and enjoy some of the benefits of your work. And after you finish your initial task (filling the pool, shot by shot), it’s easier to maintain your branding efforts (top off the pool) than it is to drain the pool and start over.

What are the critical success factors for branding? Start with a solid foundation including the establishment of ancillary support functions, build on that foundation with consistent effort over time and maintain position/pertinence in the consumers’ mind-space through intermittent reinforcement.

Since 7 June, Dr. Angela Hausman, has posted a series of blogs about branding on her site. Click here to join in the discussion.

And finally, when you think of marketing professors, please don’t forget to include me in your evoked set. My goal is to become your preference for “All Things Marketing”.

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Locate This!

Location-based marketing is fostering a lot of buzz in the B2C marketing community. Being able to reach potential customers who are in close proximity of your business in order to provide them with an incentive to visit is something that has business owners salivating.

An article written by John Arnold and published today on the Business Insider War Room provides an excellent overview of the methods currently in use to foster location-based marketing exchanges. Read the Beginner’s Guide to Location-Based Marketing by clicking on this link.

While most of the services highlighted (referred to as location-based services – LBS) in the 16 slide presentation require active participation from the customer (e.g., logging in), a couple highlight passive approaches to location-based marketing such as bluetooth connections (e.g., ProximityMedia in the USA, Bluetooth Proximity Marketing Solutions in the UK). The UK seems to be ahead of the USA in developing and implementing this technology, including the use of Blue Onboard – a transit delivery system of bluetooth marketing messages. For location-based marketing to “catch fire”, after the initial active opt-in (permanent, temporary by location, or ad hoc), the services need to provide consumers with the capability of passively receiving information from local businesses. For instance, if I check in using a location-based service once I arrive in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, notices of offers from the Black Rose Pub or Comedy Club at Cheers should arrive on my mobile phone over the course of the evening. Even better, if I enable my bluetooth connection once I arrive in the Quincy Market Colonnade, offers should arrive automatically based on my proximity to the business who is advertising.

One can envision a time (but it’s probably already happening!) that after you walk into one restaurant, an ad from a competing restaurant is sent to your mobile phone highlighting reasons to frequent them instead and offering an incentive to do so.

Regardless of how location-based social networking and marketing evolves, it is clearly the future of B2C marketing, including via GPS systems used for driving assistance (similar to mobile phones, another potential advertising venue and ordering system – imagine entering and paying for your Dunkin Donuts order from your GPS as you pull up to the store).

Limitations today include technology and an overwhelming public concern for privacy. I, for one, am not as concerned about publicly divulging my location as I am excited about finding deals or hidden gems in the places that I frequent. And at some point, as more businesses utilize location-based marketing, it has the potential to become overwhelming – resulting in too many offers deluging an individual and thus becoming a turn-off.

For marketers, it will be exciting to see how the LBS landscape shakes out over the next three years. Although the list of location-based social networking links provided here is extensive, it doesn’t include some important ancillary contenders such as Groupon. Astute marketers will be proactive in their embrace of LBS.

Location-Based Marketing: coming soon to a location near you……

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Tipping Point? More Like Ignition Point! The Rapid Ascension to the Knowledge-Based Economy and What it Means for Marketers

We’ve crossed into new territory and our ascension has been fostered by the rapid cycle of technological innovation, the proliferation of information technology infrastructure and the number of people connected to each other in real-time.

In a recent article about the Sectors of the Economy, Matt Rosenberg does a good job of defining the primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary and quinary sectors of economic activity. As you know, most of the developed nation/states on the planet possess highly developed third-stage (tertiary stage) economies in which over 75 percent of economic activity is generated by service activities (including government). In the graphic below, this sector of economic activity is highlighted with a star to illustrate its importance to those of us living in developed countries.

Few have noticed that the countries in the developed world are shifting from a tertiary stage of economic activity to the quaternary stage of economic activity: a knowledge-based economy. Clearly the degree of connectedness has contributed to this almost imperceptible transition to the knowledge-based economy. So, although somewhat late and in the spirit of the World Cup, let’s officially declare the knowledge-based economy open for competition. As illustrated here, although service-based economic activities remain dominant, knowledge-based activities represent the growth area.

What does this have to do with marketing? Almost all of what exists in the realm of social media contributes to knowledge. New experts are emerging based on their knowledge of social media, best practices, diffusing knowledge and establishing their personal brand using content marketing.

Copyblogger provides an excellent overview of content marketing (Content Marketing 101), but the essence is that the content provider embraces, either explicitly or implicitly, the concept of open source and provides content for free. Thus, the answer to the question “What if we gave it away?” is that doing so builds networks and relationships that offer opportunities for monetization. In essence, content marketing is analogous to the primary economic sector activity of farming: you plant a seed (content), add water and fertilizer (more content) and wait for it to germinate and grow.

How is this marketing? In the knowledge-based economy, you (the knowledge provider) build your network globally through demonstrating mastery of some sought-after service (e.g., metrics and platforms ala HubSpot, knowledge and research ala Forrester, good content and innovative branding ala Chris Brogan). Marketing is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.

For those of you already competing in the knowledge-based economy: congratulations on being innovators. For the rest of you, jump in now and become an early adopter before the landscape becomes too crowded to allow you to gain a foothold. Some knowledge required.

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