four questions to ask before launching a new brand
I was at a talk given by Paul Kedrosky of the Kaufman Fund about "Disruption"
recently and found it to be very informative. I was amazed at how quickly
100 million dollar companies of the past, the old school, were dying off
and how fast new companies can grow. I am talking about companies like, Sears, Kodak,
Block Buster the giants of the past going or gone. New start ups like Google, FB, YouTube, and
Twitter becoming huge successes in a very short period of time.
Paul's talk was about tech start ups and attracting VC but it was the thing he said at the end that resonated with me the most. He stated four basic questions that a VC is asking himself when he is looking at and idea. These four questions are the ones marketers are also asking to it's clients about their brands and products. So what are these four questions?
This is a great question on so many levels that needs to be answered before launching a new brand. This will define who you are and give you the clarity needed to create an effective and clear marketing message. Is it solving a problem on a large enough scale to be a business? Does it add value to enough people that you can make it profitable?
So what is it about your product, service or whatever you are offering that is so amazing or important or relevant that people will want to get it now. Not soon not the next time they stop by, or even want them to bookmark your site and think about it. Are you solving an immediate need or filling a want? The answer to this will help create not only customers but a reason to build loyalty with your customers.
Now this is where the personality, credibility and values of your brand come into play. This is where trust is expressed in order for loyalty to be built. Are you putting it out there for them or just cashing in on a trend? Will you be there to support issues or problems? Are you going to be around in 10 years, 5 years, next month??? This is critical in the launch of a new brand and should be reviewed by existing brands on a consistent basis.
What is your hook or in marketing terms what is your "Secret Sauce" or "USP"?
This is what can hang up a lot of people but it needs to be answered. If the previous questions were answered honestly, and spent some time on this, then this should come out of those insights from the first three questions. Basically you are asking yourself why would people use my stuff over someone else's? Are we better, faster, stronger, or whatever it is be clear and make this a best foot forward part of your marketing. Don't go for cheaper especially if you have a major competitor. I will write more about the disadvantage of price later but just know that your competition can probably go a lot longer than you without huge profits. So they will undercut you until you are gone. Never base your "Hook" on pricing a lone unless you are the one trying to undercut all the competition. Focus on value and your Unique Talents. That's what people want and that's what builds brand loyalty.
These are questions that I have been asking clients for years and knowing that others like Paul Kedrosky are looking for the same information is a good indicator that it is what is needed to get you started in a successful launch.
- hey, just sayin'
YouTube is awesome in many ways. The clearest being how it flattened the playing field for anybody with a little ingenuity and creativity to publish videos for the world to see. It use to be that the only people capable of producing and "airing" videos were expensive ad agencies with deep pocket clients who could afford multi-million dollar television campaigns. World-Class brands are taking advantage of the much less expensive format and so should you. Some of these are higher end spots but others are really not expensive at all to produce. Now with a good style and a posting on YouTube, you too can catapult an obscure brand into the stratosphere. Here are just a few of my favorite videos.
Let's begin with "New Dork" by Grasshopper. These guys have been getting attention
for awhile by coming up with unique, effective and inexpensive marketing.
Here is their latest mark.
This is great on a lot of different levels. "Heineken's Legendary Journey". This is a truly creative way to tie in different media channels. Using Social Media Fans from FaceBook and creating a hip and campy campaign behind it to hook up people is a great use of digital marketing.
This is a very non-traditional spot with a really powerful personal message "Dove's Beauty Sketches". This touches on a deep level, personal perception and it should be looked at as not only how we perceive ourselves but how others perceive us as well. This can be applied to your Brand or your Customers giving you the clarity needed to solve their problems and needs. A great lesson in real value vs. perceived value.
One of the most successful campaigns and best uses of YouTube to launch a product "Orabrush". This to date has over 18,300,000 views and has sold hundred of millions of dollars in product and done for very little money. It shows how a vey real problem can be handled easily and it doesn't take millions of dollars of television ads to sell. I love it for it's simplicity and it doesn't take it self so seriously.
Again another hugely successful campaigns and another great use of YouTube to launch a product "Will It Blend". This one video has over 11,000,000 views and has sold tons of product and done for very little money. This is just one of a series of these fun videos, I chose this one because he uses and iPhone for the demo. This is the epitome of simplicity of YouTube because of it's over the top style but very effective use. These are done by the creator of the Blender, Tom Dickson, who just wanted to prove how powerful his blender is and how fun it can be to grind things up. If you like this one check out the one where he grinds up glow sticks. Love it! (BTW I read because of these YouTube videos his company has grown to 300 million in just 4 years.)
There a hundreds of more examples out there on how to Transform your customers into Brand Champions. These are just a few examples that engage people into relationship with a product or service and how it is important that you do the same. Just know that your customers will help you more than your marketing alone will do. They can hurt you even more if you do not listen to them and even worse neglect them. Isn't it true that when you love a brand or product that you use you will defend it above others in a conversation with friends? Your customers will do the same for you if you listen to them and engage in the conversation.
June 2, 2013
Building brand loyalty has definitely changed over the years - no doubt. It use to be due to price and quality. The more expensive the better the quality. There were a lot less products in the market place as well. Now it is an overcrowded playing field with too much competition and cut throat pricing everywhere - or is it?
It has been proven over and over that price is not the end all or be all in the ultimate buying decision. Yes there are times when your financial situation may dictate a discount brand but if you are a Starbucks fan nothing will stop you from ordering that triple caf, 1/2 decaf, 2 shots of caramel, Frappuccino with extra whipped cream, oh yea and make it a lite. Even if it does cost 3 times more than a competitor you will forego the 3 ply toilette paper so you can have this experience of supporting your team, your brand. You are a Brand Champion and this is your team and you are loyal to the end and price had nothing to do with it. It is the experience.
This is how I see it. At the bottom level you have the "Commodity", in this case roasted coffee beans that you can buy at the store. Bring then home and grind them up and have coffee for maybe 6.5¢ per cup. The next level is the generated "Product". This would be going to the store and buying a national brand like Maxwell House. You can purchase this at a higher price because of the added value of being pre-ground and packaged and the price may be 45¢ per cup. The next level is "Service" which is what a mini-mart or 7/11 would provide by brewing it and giving you the cup, sugar, cream substitute and brewing it for you. This could be maybe around $1.50 a cup because again they are providing you with additional added value. Now we come to the next level which is what starts to build Brand Loyalty and that is what I call "Experiential". This is where StarBucks excels by creating the experience. Not only can you get coffee you can try exotic blends from all over the world that you can't find in any of the previous levels of the coffee offer. OK, you can probably find assorted blends in the supermarket but you can't have it right now and fresh brewed. In addition they steam the milk, offer different flavorings, a barista to make you beverage and of course a wrapper on the cup so you don't burn yourself. You can even bring in your laptop and get FREE Wifi so you can read emails, chat, check out FaceBook or whatever else you want to do. They ask your name, write it on your cup a real personal touch, and then yell out your name so you can claim your awaited beverage like a trophy. If you are a true "Starbuckian Loyalist" they even remember your name if you are a daily caffeine addict. This is an "Experience" and this leads to Brand Loyalty. That is "Transformational Marketing" in a nut shell. You are transforming your customer with a great experience so they can be a huge champion for your brand.
I once read about how coffee was made popular in Japan. If you think about it it is strange how a tea drinking society for centuries in fact millennium became coffee drinkers in one generation. The account I read talks about how in the 70's, or around there, they opened coffee houses around Tokyo and other cities and because of the tradition tea held for this culture, they had no business. So some creative and determined entrepreneurs thought about the problem and came up with the idea to introduce coffee flavored ice cream into the culture. The kids loved it and even caught on with adults as a new kind of dessert. As the kids became of age they started visiting coffee house and coffee sales exploded. Now it is one of the most popular drinks in Japan. Again an experience was created that made people champions of their new found drink. I am sure there are competing coffee brands in Japan as well and brand champions behind all of them.
This is not meant to be a story about coffee but the examples are great for illustrating how creating an experience leads to a transformation of just having a customer to creating Brand Champions that will not only come back but will tell all of their friends about you. Sports like the NFL, NBA, NHL and others know this better than anyone. The problem comes in when you let you fans down. With sports that's just part of the game but with your brand you don't have to let your fans down. You have the advantage to always keep them loyal and being a fan by continually giving them and experience they can talk about.
It comes down to legitimacy, core values and are you for real. No longer can you hide behind a corporate vail or a slick ad campaign and even though it was done that way for years it still had very little value. That is why brands had to constantly re-invent themselves and sell us perceived value for decades. Now we want one thing and one thing only and that is to back the things we buy because of true value and not because we are lured into buying a novelty. OK crap!