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June 2008

The 5 P's of Marketing and a New Marketing Taxonomy

Seth Godin offers an interesting alternative taxonomy to the 4 P's of marketing.   He proposes that the tradition "P's" which are product, price, place and promotion be replaced with products/services (what you are selling), data (who is buying and when), stories (myth around your product), interaction (the way you interact with the customer) and connection (the ultimate goal).

I would say that Seth left out an important part of the puzzle.  Simply it's the why.  Why did the consumer purchase and act the way they did.  Why did the myth make sense.  Are you just optimizing observed behavior or are you developing hypothesis prior to implementing a marketing program as to why it will work?

To answer all of these questions I think you need to add one more step to the "Godin" model.  That step would be "problem".  What problem are you trying to solve for the consumer?  Why does that problem exist? How much "heat" or tension is around that problem.  What is the predisposition of the target audience (what is in their background or upbrining that makes them a good candidate to purchase your product?).  How much propensity does the target have to purchase - have they every heard of you?, are you iin the consideration set? etc.  No one should even launch a product without a full formed understanding the problem.

If you start by understanding where the consumer pain exists, the opposing forces or beliefs that are causing that pain (eg; I want to live forever, but I don't eat well or exercise), and the degree of tension around the problem, the consumer will be compelled to buy vs. needing to be convinced.

Socks Never Match

Little Miss Matched is a brilliant marketing idea.   It is a combination of the "Big Idea" by Donny Deutsch where he encourages viewers to take everyday problems and solve them and ingenious thinking  from  Seth Godin on how to create a Purple Cow.  The concept of what they do is to sell mismatched clothes.  For example, their socks come in 3 mismatched designs that can be worn in any combination.  They solved the daily sock matching chore by eliminating it all together.   

We all aspire to be remarkable. does it everyday by printing thousands of documents that are submitted over the internet by 10PM and delivered by 8:30AM the next morning.   They eliminated the drive to the copy shop and the unpredictable waiting on line by moving the business online.  The question is how do you elevate the remarkable to the level that it generates buzz like Little Miss Matched.   Something to aspire to.

The Necessity of Failure

My morning office ritual begins by reading the "quote of the day" from my 2008 "Journey to Success with Napoleon Hill" calendar.  Today's quotes ring true for two reasons.  The first is that  it reminded me of a recent conversation with my daughter who was afraid to fail and my response that failure is an essential part of the path to success.  The second is a post by Seth Godin on how luck we are to live in the United States and to be able to fail on the path to success.  I'd add to Seth's thought by saying failure is not only a right, it is an essential part of being a citizen.

Here are the quotes:

"Failure is a blessing when it pushes one out of a cushioned seat of self-satisfaction and forces him to do something useful."
                                     - Napoleon Hill

"Virtually nothing comes out right the first time.  Failures, repeated failures, are the guideposts on the road to achievement."
                                     - Charles F. Kettering*

* Charles Franklin Kettering (August 29, 1876November 24 or November 25, 1958) was an American inventor and the holder of over 300 patents. He was a founder of Delco, and was head of research for General Motors for 27 years from 1920 to 1947. Among his most widely used automotive inventions were the electrical starting motor[and leaded gasoline

The Passing of Kinkos

With little fanfare Federal Express announced the removal of the Kinkos brand from their stores in favor of the new name FedEx Office.  What is startling is not that FedEx made the move, but the lack of press around it.

Ten years ago a move like this would have been incessantly analyzed. Observers would have pointed to "Kinkos Killers" such as and their on-demand computer accessible platform or to the mixed service history and cultural confusion caused by the FedEx takeover.  Instead the market yawned.

From a branding standpoint the move was smart if FedEx focuses on fixing the service and on providing real solutions to small business.  By moving their emphasis from the specific, printing, to the vague, business support, they have a tough yet potentially rewarding road ahead.   The lack of a reaction to the brand shift was as good a reason to change the concept as any.  Given years of disappointing performance, no one seems to care.

Procter & Gamble's Brand Star Folger's Moves to Smuckers

It was with some degree of sadness that I read about the sale of Folger's Coffee to Smuckers.  Nothing against Smuckers.  It's a great company and a good home for the brand.  The early part of my career was spent on the great "Best Part of Waking Up" Folger's advertising campaign so it has tremendous nostalgic meaning.

Folger's advertising set the standard for what Procter & Gamble benchmarked as the modern brand.  A perfect combination of functional/product benefit coupled with a strong emotional benefit.  Folger's declared ownership of the category functional benefits such as waking you up, better beans (Mountain Grown), freshness (aroma) while at the same time promising to get your day off to a positive start.

Interestingly as my knowledge of brands evolved, I reinterpreted the strategy to the notion that Folger's served as a strategy for the consumer to mitigate what they wanted to do, which is roll back into bed, with what they had to do, start their day.   The coffee was a strategy that let the consumer cope with conflicting desire, a much more powerful motivator.

Either way, Folger's is and will continue to be one of the greatest American Brands and  a brand I was honored to have worked with for  so many years.

CRM and Its Transformation into VRM

Interesting wiki on VRM and the transformation of customer relationship management to vendor relationship management.  In vendor relationship management the customer shares some of the burden for closing the gap between a vendors offering and customer desire.  The concept is being promoted by Doc Searls and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

For those just catching up to the conversation I suggest you start by reading Doc Searl's book Cluetrain Manifesto on the principles of conversational marketing.  Thank you to Howard Greenstein and his Harbrooke Group Monthly Newsletter for pointing out all of the above.

iPhone Wins Again, Nokia Seeks #2, Everyone Else Down for the Count

The air conditioning broke in our office during this 97 degree day in NYC causing me to sit on the couch at home, work and listen to CNBC television in the background.  They should have renamed the channel the Apple IPhone channel since all they covered is the launch of the new phone.

Not one of the commentators brought a marketing perspective to the conversation which is interesting since the consumer will be the ultimate voter.  So here is the "Grill" prognosis:

1. Apple will evolve into the category hardware leader for AT&T customers.  They will solidify the gain if and when they offer the iPhone over Verizon, Sprint (are they still in this business) and TMobile.  If they don't Nokia has a small chance to regain ground fi there top secret can't talk about it smart phone lives up to the hype (code name "The Tube" - don't ask me why cause I don't know).

2. Nokia should be a solid number 2.  They can't be number 1 because everyone wants an iPhone and by definition they are not.  Can anyone say Zune.  Learn the lesson.  If they aren't careful they will fall to #3 behind Blackberry and Research in Motion.

3. Sony/Erickson, Samsung, Audiovox, Motorola are down for the count.  Find a niche and stick to it like lower income individuals.  Game is over.  Move on.  Sell the business.

The last time I was in a Verizon store all I saw were poor Apple imitators.  If it wasn't for the two year contract I  have with Verizon I would have waled over to the AT&T store across the street.

The Public Relations Plop Factor

The cover story in PR Week is on web 2.0 and the client's drive to digital communications.  David Almacy   quoted Pam Edstrom from PR firm Waggener Edstrom who said that  "the challenge with multimedia digital is that there's no plop factor."  When the Wall Street Journal lands on the CEOs desk it goes Plop.  Blog posts do not.

The solution is to educate the "C" suite when high credibility individuals mention your brand in their blog.  More work, but a pretty good plop.

The Kindle - I'm Coming Around

Sometimes our instincts are to reject an idea that is completely disruptive such as my reaction to the Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device.  For those that are unfamiliar with the device, it is an electronic book reader offered by Amazon.  It's plain, simple and for a tech device a bit ugly.  That said, it does what it is supposed to do, display text in a way that you would want to read it.

Now I love books.  I love reading them, touching them, bending the pages, piling them up and lending them out.  The Kindle fights all of these.

So what changed my mind?  Reading Denny Hatch this morning and the way he described a demonstration given by Jeff Bezos. In the presentation Jeff showed how he took the sold out Scott McClellan tell all about the Bush White house and instead of having to wait until the June book preprint, downloaded it to a Kindle in 60 seconds.

That is true disruption...and more importantly the Kindle now seems to make sense.