Category Archives: Positioning

How LinkedIn Users Earn an “F” in Personal Marketing

Enough already.  I have to call “foul” on LinkedIn users.

When I played pick-up basketball, we self-refereed and yelled out “foul” when we got hacked. It worked fine.

It’s time for LinkedIn members to take a similar approach.  Let me explain.

Why is it okay for a stranger to send me a connect request without a reason?  It’s not.

Credit: LinkedIn.com

Credit: LinkedIn.com

Something prompted you to send the message.   Tell me.  LinkedIn makes it easy to replace or add onto the standard verbiage that comes in the connection request box. So, why don’t people do it?

If you can’t take two minutes to tell me why you’re reaching out to connect, then don’t bother.  It’s unprofessional and impolite, and I’m not interested.

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Golf Ball Sized Apples Bring Easy, Healthy Snacking Innovation

Photo: Havelock North Fruit Company.

Photo: Havelock North Fruit Company.

A New Zealand company has come up with a new, innovative concept to market a product that’s thousands of years old:  the apple.

It’s a combination of agricultural technology and smart marketing.

The Havelock North Fruit Company developed the capability to grow mini apples that are just 1.5 times the size of a golf ball (via cross-breeding selected varieties).  Next came packaging inspiration that put five apples into a hand-held , transparent tube.  The concept was tied together with an attention-generating brand called  Rockit™.

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Razor Battle is On! 800Razors.com Challenges Dollar Shave Club and Gillette.

Photo:  800Razors Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

At first glance, it would be easy to conclude that 800Razors.com is just a Dollar Shave Club copycat in the nearly $2 billion razor cartridge category.

But that would be wrong.

Let’s quickly set the stage for this discussion.

Category leader Gillette built a strong business via a decades-long, continuing series of product innovations that support a premium-price strategy.  They kept some of the older models as part of a tiered product/pricing assortment for consumers.

An opening existed for a competitor to deliver a high-quality blade at much lower cost, and it came via a new business model.  Dollar Shave Club (DSC) emerged as a disruptive player in 2011/2012, getting wide notice with a wacky video featuring its founder.  Its online, recurring monthly sales model (“club”) took dead aim at the category giants selling through traditional retail channels.

Photo:  Dollar Shave Club website.

Photo: Dollar Shave Club website.

Then, in 2013, 800Razors.com joined the fray, building off the DSC approach while incorporating significant go-to-market differences:

Photo:  800Razors.com Facebook.

Photo: 800Razors.com Facebook.

  1. Buy Only When You Want.  800Razors allows single purchase. Dollar Shave Club does not.  It’s an important difference because it removes a potential obstacle to trial.  For example, I’ve thought about trying DSC but didn’t want to sign-up for regular monthly deliveries. Continue reading

For Commodity-Busting, Idea Generating Inspiration: Think Hamburgers.

The next time you’re blocked on marketing or business-building ideas, think about hamburgers.

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Because, what’s more of a commodity than hamburgers?

Author Dave Dolak provides this succinct definition:  Commodity products are largely undifferentiated products that offer little or no perceived differences between competitive offerings.

Yet, consider the creativity spawned by the ubiquitous hamburger – so many variations on the same idea that excite consumers every day.

This is top-of-mind for me because I just learned about a hamburger chain called Bareburger, which opened a restaurant in Edgewater, NJ.

It got me thinking.  There seems to be an endless amount of brand concept, product development and overall food establishment new business activity across the country, built around hamburgers.

Obviously, the challenge is to create meaningful differences or reasons to buy.  Build the news or make new news out of existing products.

So, if you’re running a commodity business, tasked with marketing a commodity product, or just in need of some new business ideas, be encouraged.  Draw inspiration from USA hamburger chains. Continue reading

Sports Branding: Time to Say Goodbye to the NFL Redskins.

Is it time for the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name?

A Native American organization says yes, and has mounted an aggressive marketing campaign to see it happen.

Let’s look at five key aspects to this story:

  1. Derogatory Term.  It’s not hard to understand that a National Football League team called the “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans.
  2. Incredible Commissioner.  The NFL commissioner’s letter to Congress suspends reality.
  3. Strong Marketing.  The advertising campaign is clever.
  4. Insensitive Owner.  The team’s owner ought to be more diplomatic in his public comments.
  5. Brand Management Implications.  The name has been used for 80 years, but is it a good brand management decision going forward?

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Norfolk Southern Taps Consumer Marketing Playbook for B2B Success

Even industrial marketers can utilize consumer marketing tactics to get their message out.

The latest example is transportation company Norfolk Southern.  If you’ve watched any television during the past two months, you still might be humming their song “What’s Your Function?”

Since being hired in 2010, the marketing challenge for Norfolk Southern’s agency RP3 has been to turn an industrial brand into a magnet brand.  Previous work was built off the tagline:  “One line, infinite possibilities.”

The overarching message this year is that “trains connect us all.”

Specifically, the new ad is designed to “remind everyone how Norfolk Southern connects businesses, creates jobs, and keeps the economy moving.”  That’s bold. Continue reading

Retailer Sundown One Fights the Big Guys with Pizza and Beer

When you compete against “big box” retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart, you need a clever way to win.

Especially if you’re a one-store, “little guy” electronics retailer.

Sundown One, located in Central Illinois, has found the formula.

The company has put together a nice marketing mix to carve out a distinctive brand image and personality, featuring:

  • Information-based advertising, themed with modest humor and featuring the owner/operators; plus
  • Comfortable, in-store special event product demonstrations.

(Disclosure – I’m a satisfied former customer who’s on his own with this marketing commentary.)

Here’s the postcard for their June 2013 event:

Sundown One - Card FrontSundown One - Card Back Continue reading