The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo

10th Ranked Marketing Book in Amazon Kindle Store.

Our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo was ranked as high as #4 marketing book in the Amazon Kindle Store over the weekend. This morning it is #10.

To celebrate this achievement, along with a personal milestone birthday, we are giving away free Kindle versions of The Best of the Monday Marketing Memo today.

For many years, the Monday Morning Marketing Memo was one of the most popular marketing e-newsletters around the world. It was read by business owners, entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing practitioners in organizations big and small.

Slightly edited, revised, and updated as needed, the 42 Monday Morning Marketing Memo issues reprinted in this book are the ones that generated the most commentary, queries, discussions, and feedback from readers around the world.

These 42 issues discuss a wide range of diverse topics, including corporate branding, customer retention, marketing strategies, and sales management skills.

The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo will help business executives, entrepreneurs and marketers focus on the key marketing topics that will help you grow your businesses, retain customers, and leverage your corporate brands.

Click on any of the book title links above to be taken directly to the Amazon Kindle store to download your free copy of The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo. Hurry though as these free copies are only available until this evening (Oct 17, 2016). Tomorrow the regular price of $3.88 returns.

In celebration of my birthday weekend we are also giving away three other free Kindle books today, including two more of my most popular marketing books and the #1 leadership book in the Amazon Kindle store:  8 Keys To Becoming A Great Leader (With Leadership Lessons from Gibbs, Yoda and Capt’n Jack Sparrow). Details of these books are in this Keeping Good Customers Blog post. Again this is the last day these books will be free in the Kindle store.

Terrible Marketing Advice

The Strategic Importance of a Strong Corporate Brand

A few weeks ago I downloaded some product information from a company selling CRM software.

About a week later I received an extremely delightful email that said in part:

Recently, you requested information about “XYZ  CRM”.  I want to thank you for your interest in our product, which is why I’m going to send you a valuable marketing course that will help you evaluate your current marketing efforts and give you tips that will definitely increase your profits.

This marketing course is called “6 Magnetic Marketing Secrets To Explode Your Profits.” You’ll get an email once a week that gives you powerful marketing advice for your business, which you can use right away to close more sales and make more money with your business.

I was suitably impressed…until I received part one of their six-part so-called “marketing” course.

Called “Secret #1: The Real Definition of Successful Marketing,” this initial communiqué states that “there are only three factors that influence the profitability of any marketing effort. The smartest marketing minds on the planet have sifted these factors down to this simple, but powerful formula:

The Right Message. To the Right Market. At the Right Time!”

That is the problem when someone tries to boil marketing down to a “simple formula.” They tend to ignore factors like having the right product solution, the right distribution and delivery system, the right branding strategy and, of course, a profitable pricing strategy.

Of course, these guys are trying to sell CRM software solutions, so they appear only concerned with the “selling side” of the marketing equation. But nevertheless, that does not give them the right to broadcast such a misleading interpretation of the essence of marketing to their potential customers.

If they wanted to use an all-encompassing phrase to depict the real meaning and quintessence of marketing, they should have asked to use the one created by the mind of this marketing professional:

If it touches the customer, it’s a marketing issue™

Now, with their focus on selling CRM systems, and their pitch on tracking all customer and prospect communications, these guys compound the error of their ways by offering free marketing advice in this so-called “marketing course.”

They claim that “not using the three marketing success factors and/or little or no direct response offers costs companies millions in missed sales every year!”

That is almost funny because, from almost all the articles I have read about the problems of implementing CRM systems, it appears that it is these implementation problems that are costing companies hundreds of millions in missed sales and lost customers every year.

But that is beside the point, at least for now.

What galls me the most about their free marketing advice is their first point on how to “fix” the problems of these lost sales. This advice is to:

Never waste money on image advertising, or at least keep it to a minimum and only try creating yourself or your company as a brand after becoming profitable!

What utter nonsense! What utter lack of understanding of how to create and leverage a brand. What complete confusion and wrong impression about the strategic importance of having a strong corporate brand in today’s ultra-competitive markets.

In other words, what total idiots!

It is only a sense of professionalism, combined with pity for their misguided ways, which prevents my total outrage at their spreading their mistaken and erroneous claptrap from telling our Monday Morning Marketing Memo readers who “XYZ CRM” actually is.

I will share this week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo with the person sending out their email campaign. I will also point them to the classic advertisement from McGraw-Hill that ran in the 1950s. The copy platform of this ad was quite simple, yet effective:

I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t know what your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

I don’t know your company’s record.

I don’t know your company’s reputation.

Now ─ what is it you wanted to sell me?

Come to think of it, in terms of the “XYZ CRM” company, I don’t know who they are, what they stand for, their customers, their track record, or even their reputation. All I know is that they give out awful free marketing advice.

And for me, that’s enough NOT to recommend them to anyone now, or in the near future.

Perhaps they ought to reconsider their own policies, and their own advice, by figuring out how to create a strong corporate brand for themselves that can be leveraged for greater sales, higher margins, and better profitability.

In the meantime, I caution all readers to be leery of free marketing advice, especially when this is promulgated by sales people more interested in meeting quarterly sales targets than in helping you to better understand how to use the power of marketing to create and grow your own sustainable business.

KEY POINT:  do not overlook the strategic importance of having a strong corporate brand in today’s ultra-competitive markets.

TAKING ACTION:  be leery of free marketing advice, particularly when it is not proffered by professional marketing people, but by those eager to sell you their goods and services.

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your corporate brand and the impact of this on both your future sales and your customer retention levels? Have you become so comfortable with your corporate brand that you have forgotten to check its pulse with your customers, prospects, employees, and the communities you serve?

Contact us today for an in-depth discussion on how we can help you evaluate your corporate brand and devise strategies to leverage your corporate image to enhance the sustainable growth of your business.

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

Protecting Your Corporate Brand

Corporate Branding Is More Than Just Logos and PR

Ever since I wrote my first book in 1997, Corporate Image Management: A Marketing Discipline for the 21st Century, I have advocated that “nothing touches the customer more than how he or she perceives your corporate image.”

Corporate image management, or what some writers and researchers refer today as corporate reputation management, remains one of the most important (and yet most overlooked) management and marketing disciples for businesses, organizations, associations, and government entities.

In today’s global market environment, customer trust in organizations, particularly corporations, is at an all-time low as a direct fallout from the never-ending series of widely reported scandals (i.e. WorldCom and CEO Bernie Ebbers, Enron, Martha Stewart, HIH Insurance, OneTel, Tyco, Citicorp’s recent activities in Japan and Europe, Boeing, and Parmalat in Italy).

Corporate image management has always been important, but perhaps never as important as today. As Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in his Commencement Address at Harvard University in 1999, “In today’s world, where ideas are increasingly displacing the physical in the production of economic value, competition for reputation becomes a significant driving force, propelling our economy forward.”

The corporate image is an extremely important corporate asset, one deserving the same attention and commitment by senior management as any other vital issue. The key to managing this asset is to fully understand that your stakeholders’ perceptions embody your corporate image.

Unfortunately for every organization, these stakeholder perceptions are no longer (and I doubt if they truly ever were) formed solely through experiences with your products and services.

For instance, a multiyear study by Cone Inc., a marketing and communications firm based in Boston, reveals that American customers are now increasingly taking into consideration the reputation and track record of social responsibility of the companies they will keep in their spending circle. Eighty percent reportedly said corporate support of a cause is a key factor in whether or not they trust a particular firm, an increase of 21 percent from the previous year.

According to Carol Cone, CEO of Cone, “This study, a series of research spanning over a decade, shows that in today’s climate, more than ever before, companies must get involved with social issues in order to protect and enhance their reputations.

Supporting a cause can improve a company’s status with customers. Companies that are caught or reported behaving unethically or illegally can also expect to receive some clearly defined customer responses. In such cases, according to the Cone research:

  • 90 percent said they would consider switching to another company’s product or service.
  • 81 percent said they would speak out against the company to family and friends.
  • 80 percent would consider selling any stock holdings in the company.
  • 80 percent would refuse to invest in the company.
  • 75 percent would refuse to work for that company.
  • 73 percent said they would boycott that company’s goods or services.
  • 67 percent said they would be less loyal in their job at that company.

On the other hand, positive corporate activity in social and community issues can have an immediate positive impact on corporate brand images. GMIPoll conducted a survey with 20,000 consumers in 20 countries one week after the South Asian Tsunami, measuring their opinions on American multinational brands, corporate tsunami relief efforts, and U.S. foreign policy. A remarkable 59% of these consumers reported that their impressions of corporate brands improved as a result of the tsunami relief efforts from U.S.-based multinational corporations.

For example, Coca-Cola provided bottled drinking water, basic foodstuffs, and medical supplies to tsunami victims; Starbucks made an initial contribution of $100,000 to international relief organizations CARE and Oxfam UK, plus donated $2 per pound of Sumatra coffee sold during January; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged an initial $3 million to nongovernmental organizations to aid tsunami relief efforts.

The GMIPoll results indicated that as a result of Coke’s contributions, 61% of consumers reported an improved image of Coca-Cola. Starbuck’s tsunami relief pledge resulted in 51% of respondents expressing an improved image of Starbucks. The Bill and Melinda Gates donation resulted in 50% of respondents reporting an improved image of Microsoft.

Furthermore, 46% of all consumers indicated that they will purchase more products from the companies that provided tsunami relief. For example, 39% indicated they would consider purchasing more Coca-Cola products in the future; 32% indicated they would buy more at Starbucks; and 37% indicated a greater willingness to buy Microsoft products.

Positive brand sentiment gained from tsunami relief efforts stands in stark contrast to images heavily influenced by U.S. foreign policy. The GMIPoll found that one in five international consumers consciously avoids purchasing American brands as a way of displaying their discontent over recent American foreign policies and military action (the three countries with the highest percentage of consumers who indicate an intention to boycott iconic American brands are South Korea 45%, Greece 40% and France 25%).

Softening the blow however, 56% of those who indicated that they consider boycotting American brands also reported that their judgment of those corporations that had donated to the tsunami relief effort had improved; similarly, 48% stated that they would consider purchasing products in the future from those brands that had provided tsunami aid. Clearly, there are powerful international cross currents influencing global consumers’ views of American iconic brands.

Corporate branding is more than just positive media coverage, good financial results, and increased market share. And it is certainly more than just donating money, products, or services when natural disasters strike.

Properly managed, your corporate brand should discourage unethical behavior throughout the organization, reduce staff turnover, reduce customer churn and attrition, and minimize negative media coverage. This will happen only when management sees the corporate image as a management discipline, and not just a marketing tool, a graphic design project, or a public relations exercise.

The essential role that corporate image now performs is also a result of major shifts in the field of marketing combined with more knowledgeable and interested customers. The corporate brand image is much more than a name or logo. Your corporate brand reflects your way of doing business, a key component of reputation and identity.

The strongest corporate brands tend to be the ones with the most consistent and clearest messages. These brands create expectations and anticipations in the minds of both consumers who buy, use, or recommend the brands and the employees who deliver upon these inherent promises.

Every organization has a corporate image, whether it wants one or not.

When properly designed and managed, the corporate image will accurately reflect the organization’s commitment to quality, excellence, and its relationships with its various constituents: such as current and potential customers, employees and future staff, competitors, partners, governing bodies, and the general public.

Also, when properly managed and communicated, the corporate image will create an internal culture that is more likely to protect the brand and reputation of the organization.

In a sense, this is complete circle of corporate brand protection. A properly managed corporate image creates a culture that protects the brand and reputation, which therefore reinforces and strengthens the management of the corporate image.

This makes the management of your corporate image one of the most potent marketing and management tools available for your senior executives to use in ensuring the viable execution of your corporate vision, as well as ensuring the protection of this most vital corporate asset.

 

KEY POINT: nothing touches the customer more than how he or she perceives your corporate image.

TAKING ACTION: who is in charge of your corporate image? If the answer is not “everyone in the organization,” then take time to reflect on why not.

When was the last time your senior management team reviewed and discussed your corporate image? How soon can this subject be added to the next senior management meeting agenda?

Survey the top 20% of your customers on their perceptions of your corporate image. Survey 100% of your employees asking the same questions. Compare the results.

This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon.

The Value of a Good Corporate Brand

One of my favorite marketing topics is the subject of corporate image.

While I was conducting research for my first book, Corporate Image Management: A Marketing Discipline For the 21st Century, I began looking for illustrations to prove the value of a strong corporate image.

I knew intuitively that a strong corporate image would provide several levels of value to an organization ─ such as financial value, market place value, human resource value and, of course, customer value.

But how to prove this?

Well, an example from the automotive world probably best illustrates the market value of a powerful corporate brand.

In the late 1980s, Toyota and General Motors created a joint venture company in Freemont, California called New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI).

The NUMMI plant produced two identical cars: the Toyota Corolla and the General Motors Geo Prizm. These two cars were produced on the same manufacturing line, using the same raw materials, the same labor, and the same manufacturing process; basically the same of everything. In the computer world we would call these two car models “pin for pin compatible.”

The only difference between the two models was that some of them carried the Toyota Corolla brand name and some of them had the General Motors GM Prizm marque.

Being identical in all but brand name, they should sell for approximately the same price and depreciate at about the same rate, correct?

Perhaps so, but they didn’t.

The Toyota Corolla sold in 1989 for about 10% more than the GM Geo Prizm.  It then depreciated more slowly than the Geo Prizm, resulting in a second-hand value almost 18% higher than the American-branded model after five years.

Why the differences?

One has to conclude that the relative strength of the Toyota brand and corporate name, over the General Motors name in the late 1980s and early 1990s, played the first significant role. If car buyers perceived a Toyota named car to be superior to a GM car in the same model class, they would be willing to pay a higher sticker price.

But that wasn’t the entire difference, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group. The BCG study reported that the after-sales service provided by the Toyota dealer network sustained, and even boosted, the perceived edge of the Toyota name.

In other words, the corporate image management process taken by Toyota to ensure that the service departments at its dealer network wouldn’t tarnish or deteriorate the Toyota brand helped to reinforce the positive attributes of the Toyota identity.

These positive attributes had already given it an edge in the marketplace vis-a-vis a direct competitor brand manufactured in the same facility, using the same materials and labor.

This example shows the direct value of a powerful and well-managed corporate brand.

It was stories such as this, as I continued to conduct my research into the value of corporate branding and corporate image, that led me to conclude that corporate image management is one of the most powerful and potent marketing and management tools available to senior executives for the 21st century.

KEY POINT: corporate image management is one of the most powerful marketing and management tools available.

TAKING ACTION: what are your internal processes for managing your corporate brand and corporate image?

What is the weakest link in your corporate image management chain? What steps can be taken immediately to strengthen this weakest link?

What is the strongest aspect of your corporate image? How can this be further leveraged to develop market leadership for your products or services?

 

 

This article is partially excerpted from the book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon.

Marketing Words of Wisdom

Marketing is not rocket science.

In fact, marketing is more art than science, though there are some scientific and measurable aspects to marketing. But what to measure?

Here are three quotations from our new book Marketing Words of Wisdom containing advice I regularly give to clients on what to measure and how to differentiation advertising from branding:

 

There is a misplaced focus on marketing metrics today.

The number one thing to measure is your customers’ propensity to repeat their business with you.

Secondly, measure how likely are they to bring to you new customers or to refer potential customers, colleagues, and friends to you.

▲▲▲▲▲

A competitive advantage is what you do different from and/or better than your competition.

It is the service, product, brand identification, guarantee, or anything else that motivates the customer to give you his or her money because price is no longer the main issue or the deciding point of differentiation.

▲▲▲▲▲

An advertising campaign should be timely. A branding campaign should be timeless.

 

Now I realize that this is not how many of the big agency firms approach these topics. But my focus is more on helping non-marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs get a firmer grasp on how to build their businesses and retain good customers.

For more of my thoughts, Marketing Words of Wisdom is available at Amazon for just $5.88 in paperback and $2.99 in Kindle.