Category Archives: Positioning

Getting Away From Your Bread and Butter

Bread and ButterIf you watched the Cowboys-Packers game last night, you saw a textbook example of a a very successful group losing sight of what has made them successful.

And it wasn’t the Cowboys.

As the Sturminator details on this post, the Packers have made their way to the top of the NFC this year not by drilling long pass after long pass, but by nailing the short routes and letting their receivers take over with their league-leading yards after catch. But that’s not what you saw in the first half last night. Instead, you saw them throwing rainmakers one after another, going for the jugular in a situation that didn’t call for it and from a team that has no business doing it. The only thing I think is that they were trying to exploit Roy Williams in the secondary, and I can’t blame them there. But it didn’t work.

Since this is blog mostly dedicated to marketing, I hope you see where this is going. When it comes down to it, the Packers had a momentary lapse in branding last night. Most companies experience this on a regular basis. You forget what makes you good, what makes you stand out, what got you where you are, what’s getting you where you’re going and what people think of when they think of you. It’s easy to do. It’s tempting to do. But it’s always a mistake.

The good groups recognize it fairly early and get back on track. The Packers looked like the Packers last night in the second half – it was just too late. The bad groups take one step away from their brand position, only to take another to try to correct it, only to continue until they’re as confused as to who they are, and so are their customers. (To continue the football analogies, I would say see the Arizona Cardinals right now – they aren’t total failures, but I don’t know how I would categorize them).

Moral of the story: know your bread and butter. Make sure everyone you work with knows it. Build your messages around it. Most of all, get everyone involved committed to it.

When I was in 6th grade, I made the local baseball all-star team. We went to the state level, where we didn’t fair too well. I had used my own bat the entire year, but once we got to state, I was mesmerized by a bat that a fellow player was using. So I started using it. Long story short, I didn’t hit too well during the tournament, and we came home early.

Afterward, I remember my Dad asking why I switched bats. I can’t remember how I answered, but I can remember his response: “But your bat is the one that made you an all-star to begin with.”

At 12 years old, that made all the sense in the world to me. At 30 years old, it still does.

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Weekend Reading May 25 – 28

Here’s another edition of ‘Weekend Reading’ with lots of great links worth at least a minute or two of your time:

  1. All You Can Eat Baseball? A story on Yahoo detailing how the L.A. Dodgers are doing well with a new buffet seat at ballgames. Seems like a great idea – I would be a sucker for it every time. Great example of taking something that seems to be set in stone and doing it a different way.
  2. Real Meaning of Genius: Tom Asacker’s got an excellent post about how genius has more to do with doing and risking and less about knowing. It’s full of excellent quotes, like Oscar Wildes’s “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
  3. The Differentiation Trade-Off and Marketing to Values: I’ve said it before, and here it is said even better. If you’re aiming for a target, you’ve got to pick one and neglect the rest.
  4. Miss USA Falls Down: OK, I’m sure you’ve seen this one by now, but just in case you haven’t . . . . Priceless. My question – how did Tony Romo become a judge?
  5. How to Cure Your Bad Breath in 12 Minutes: I don’t think this is an issue for me, but you can never be too sure. Something about the headline drew me in, so maybe it’ll work on you, too.
  6. Why Do People Refer?: With word-of-mouth being all the craze, answering this question seems to be all too important. The duct-tape marketer has a great post leading the way.

Give Them What They Want

Uncle SamFound a great new blog today with a post focusing on “Is find a need and fill it bad marketing advice?”

This post really takes the same slant as my Need vs. Want post from a few weeks ago, but I think it might clarify the point a bit more.

Here are my favorite points:

  • “Find a need and fill it … that is the key to successfully marketing a business.”Someone who needs to be slapped around a little bit.

  • People price shop for what they need, and even that makes them grumpy. People pay premium prices for what they want, and they love it.

I work at a company that markets nutritional supplements. You can imagine how many products that all of us feel people need, but they still aren’t great sellers. I’m convinced everyone on the face of the planet needs calcium supplementation, but it’s not really something most of us want, right? However, give people something that burns fat and allows that to eat whatever they want and they won’t gain weight, and they’ll go crazy for it. Cuz they want that.

Answering the question of “Will people want this?” is one of the fundamental gatekeepers of any product development strategy.

Thanks to David for pointing the way on the batch of links that included this little morsel.

Lebron James Screwed Up

Michael Jordan and Lebron┬áJamesWhat’s the worst thing you can do if you enter the NBA with the promise of being “the next Michael Jordan?”

You wear his number 23.

Lebron, why didn’t you pick your own number to make famous, to immortalize in NBA history? Now every time we see you, we’re reminded that you’re supposed to be as good as Jordan. And while that might be great, it means you have one more thing to overcome before people start talking about “the next Lebron James.”

Point is, if someone else already has full claim of something (a number, a color, a position), let them have it and find your own. Otherwise, you’ll always be just a second-hand version of the original.

And I like Lebron . . . .