Blog Index

Title List

Summary List

In Sales & Marketing, Remember: It’s About the Customer, Not You!
A true “customer first” story how one team member took extraordinary action to create an amazing and unique customer experience. Plus, how you can apply such sales and marketing at your company.

Execution Breakdown: Sales Team Sent to Trade Show with Defunct Email Address on Business Cards
What separates the winners from everyone else when it comes to successful business execution? Attention to details, or put another way, making sure the operational nuts and bolts are in order. Example and discussion.

Interact with Customers in Real Time to Boost Satisfaction & Repeat Purchase
It’s good to ask your customer how was everything. It’s so much better to ask how is everything. Learning in real time enables you to receive and process customer feedback so you can act and influence the outcome.

Value Proposition: An Unlikely Source of Strategic Inspiration
“You just saved $xx by using your library!” This brilliant, yet unlikely marketing example can help you identify differentiation opportunities and develop your value proposition.

Get-Started Action Tips to Evaluate How You Stack Up Versus Competition
Business and marketing leaders have much to gain by utilizing a “How are we doing?” outside-in learning approach. One easy-to-implement way to get started is to conduct a regular program to compare your products and services versus other available options.

Why The Return of “Geoffrey the Giraffe” Demonstrates the Power of Brand Marketing
Supermarket leader Kroger has leveraged a Toys “R” Us brand asset to launch “Geoffrey’s Toy Box.” It’s a testament to the power of brands and an example of how marketing can be a cornerstone for strong customer relationships and sustainable long-term business success.

Teamwork Difference-Making Tips from Little League, Marvel and Town Hall
Success is often determined by how management treats its workforce and how well colleagues jell together as a cohesive team. Three examples of how people and teams can make the difference in business from the Little League World Series, Marvel and a Minnesota community civility project.

Showtime’s New Series is Built on Deception and Bad for America
The new series, featuring Sacha Baron Cohen, tricks public figures and citizens into video interviews so they can be ridiculed for commercial benefit. With all the challenges we face as a society, why does Showtime feel the need to pay for and promote “gotcha” deception?

Continue Marketing After the Sale with Packaging Messages. Even B2B!
Marketing doesn’t end when the sale is made. The packaging that comes with your product — whether it’s the retail shopping bag, the shipping box, or the actual product contents structure — can be a strong influencing factor for company image and brand perception. This includes B2B.

Why Every Marketer Dreams of a Wiffle Ball Type Customer Connection
You can buy other plastic baseballs, but there is no comparison when it comes to the combination of WIFFLE® Ball’s performance and emotional attachment. That’s what makes the product and brand a marketing success story.

Take Net Promoter to the Next Level. Ask For the Recommendation.
It’s one thing to ask your customer how likely they would be to recommend you. It’s so much better to ask them to actually recommend you to a potential customer!

8 Brand Management Success Factors Drive Hess Toy Truck
The Hess Toy Truck brand continues to thrive even though Hess Corporation no longer operates gas stations. How? Eight brand management success factors.

A Business Remedy for Conventional Wisdom and Groupthink
Four business remedies to make sure conventional wisdom and groupthink don’t derail your company’s success.

This Is Marketing: We Are in the Holy S*** Business
A new corporate brand campaign for MGM Resorts International has a hidden benefit. It helps translate and demonstrate what some business leaders consider “mumbo jumbo.” That would be marketing cornerstones such as branding, positioning and customer experience.

All Aboard. Back-to-School Marketing Refresher from 1929 Blue Comet Train.
At back-to-school season, those of us done with our formal education understand that learning never stops. During a museum trip with my visiting nephews, I got a marketing communications refresher about the importance of creating anticipated, sought-after experiences in the mind of the target customer.

Brand Management Dilemma: Grow, But Don’t Kill the Core
It’s a constant dilemma and challenge: how to expand the appeal of brand x and/or position it for growth without alienating existing customers and destroying the core business. Discussion includes Applebee’s repositioning.

Wegmans Supermarket Entices Shoppers with Impressive Magazine
Marketing observations from Wegmans Menu Magazine, which demonstrates the benefit of creating content that helps the customer.

Packaging Has Strategic Role in Brand Refresh/Renovation
Marketers and business leaders who take a disciplined, strategic approach with packaging have a distinct advantage. A five-plus-years study of the Arrowhead Mills brand from Hain Celestial.

Unexpected Sources Can Power Content Marketing
Where do business teams get the content to fuel their content-driven marketing? Great content can come from unexpected places. An example from Allen Edmonds.

Don’t Retreat Marketers. Ben Franklin to the Rescue.
Judging by all the negative business stories, one would think that a plague of incompetence has afflicted commercial teams across the country. Are corporations and their marketing teams failing at higher rates or is something else going on?

Poor Integration and Sales Bombardment Equals Bad Customer Experience
When customer-facing personnel are not integrated, customer experience is likely to suffer. Eventually, the ultimate one suffering is the company itself, with lost sales.

Why “Pop-up” Thinking Can Boost Your Marketing
What can marketers apply from the “pop-up” go-to-market concept popularized in recent years by Halloween costume stores, and now chefs?

“See Thru Can” Is Vivid Example of How Packaging Can Drive Marketing
McCall Farms used packaging innovation as a marketing change agent. They introduced a new brand of ready-to-eat vegetables in see-through composite containers.

5 Pointers for Writing a Letter to Your Customer
Most customer “letters” go right in the garbage. Why this letter from an online retailer’s Brand Manager stood out.

Topgolf Provides Marketing Inspiration. Fun Entertainment. And Even Practice If You Want It.
Topgolf is a marketing story. It’s a cool example of being able to think creatively and reimagine a commodity business.

Gatorade’s High-Tech, Sweat-Reading Vending Machine Delivers Brand Positioning
Gatorade developed a high-tech vending machine that dispenses free bottles to workout warriors — if they’re sweating enough. Gatorade’s marketing is noteworthy because it consistently delivers the brand’s positioning and customer benefits.

Free Supermarket Turkey is Easy. Donating is Harder. Why?
Free turkey promotions are common at USA supermarkets leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. But something’s missing: providing shoppers with an easy donation option. I was next in line at a ShopRite supermarket the other day when the woman in front of me asked the cashier/bagger team: Is there a way to donate my free turkey?

Stories Make a Difference – Expert’s 6 Points for Great Storytelling
Stories create connections that are emotional and inspiring. Maybe that’s why the best storytellers win. Expert ideas to optimize your business communication and team leadership.

When Strategy and Tactics Don’t Mesh, You Get Ruth’s Chris Steak for -50%
Management at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Ann Arbor, MI had a bad case of indigestion. That’s because they faced a week of giving 50% discounts on every check. It’s a case study on why you need Marketing Discipline. Strategy first, then tactics.

Dynamic Duo – Ingredient Suppliers and Marketers Work Together for Consumer Success
At the annual SupplySide West food ingredients trade show, food and beverage marketing teams will be paying attention. That’s because, in recent years, marketers have realized they can win with food ingredients – if they do it right.

You Want Change, Sit in the Same Office
Lands’ End’s CEO departed Monday after only 19 months on the job. Working in New York City, 1,000 miles away from her team in Wisconsin, didn’t help achieve her change mission.

Why You Should Stop Asking Your Customers: “How Was Everything?”
Change your customer mindset. Stop asking “How was everything?” at the end of the transaction. Instead, ask “How IS everything?” during the transaction. This way, you can address any customer concerns in real-time.

Bold Marketing: Travel Website Dares Customers with DNA Testing
Travel website momondo stands out with terrific marketing not found in a typical playbook. They dare customers to get DNA tested, and then encourage them to explore their geographic ancestry.

Smart Differentiation Powers Wholesale Fish Purveyor
Fish wholesaler Red’s Best combined brand management, technology, a keen understanding of end users and storytelling to craft a differentiated, go-to-market business strategy.

Has Crowdsourcing Gone Too Far?
A minor league baseball team is letting fans pick its new name. Where is the line between using informed judgment to make solid, on-strategy decisions, and just opening the proverbial office door to say “Hey customer, you decide.”

NJ Wine Shop Thrives on Marketing Differentiation
Wine retailer Amanti Vino is different than competitors, and that means special benefits for customers. Taste the action with 3+ marketing differentiation examples.

Topps Hits Marketing Home Run with New 24-Hour Baseball Cards
Topps demonstrates how to keep a 65-year-old brand fresh and relevant. The iconic company has launched TOPPS NOW, a limited edition, 24-hour-only series of baseball cards that caters to today’s always on, Internet-connected fans.

Why Your Business Needs “Marketing Discipline”
Marketing Discipline is essential. It’s a strategic operating mindset that serves as a guide and roadmap for well-grounded decision-making. Plus, IMD Professor Goutam Challagalla on the importance of Marketing Doctrine.

With Rolling Stone a Memory, General McChrystal Now Inspires Business Leaders
In “Team of Teams – New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,” the retired 4-star general and his colleague writers share ready-to-implement ideas on leadership, teamwork and organizational effectiveness.

Take Poll on New March Madness Basketball Courts
The NCAA has implemented a complete “packaging” change for the 2016 men’s basketball tournament. The most important new design feature is highlighting the “March Madness” brand with a giant center court logo. That’s a smart brand management marketing move.

Inside Look: How to Make the “Special Sauce” of Excellent Customer Service
“Treat every customer like they are your mother (and if you don’t like your mother… haha, treat them like someone you love dearly and would do anything for).” Think about how you can get a little bit of the Duval’s customer service mindset into your teams and across your organization.

Movie “Burnt” Depicts Both Ugly & Good Teamwork Lessons
If you want a vivid training primer on how teamwork and collaboration make a winning recipe for business success, cut-up a few scenes from the movie “Burnt.” Plus, my Ten Leadership, Collaboration & Teamwork Lessons.

Basketball-Playing Cop Demonstrates Power of Touchpoint Marketing
Everything can be marketing and everyone can be a marketer. Officer White produced more in a few minutes than any multi-million dollar community relations campaign the town of Gainesville could have commissioned.

Focus on Customer Content Drives Costco Marketing Strategy
Take a spin around, and you’ll find a website loaded with consumer-friendly product information designed to inform, persuade and generate “Add to Cart” shopping clicks.

Shake My Head Marketing (Automation Run Amok)
Beware the unintended consequences of marketing automation gone awry. Even one or two misdirected emails has the potential to threaten the customer experience and brand goodwill that your company has worked so hard to build.

Domino Confuses and Optimizes with Sugar Package Change
Domino converted a brown sugar in a pouch to a product in a canister with a different name. A good marketing move, even though some consumers were confused.

Duke’s President Offers Actionable Philosophy For Life and Work
In his welcoming comments to the Class of 2019, Richard Brodhead encouraged the new students to adopt a set of profound and powerful life and work ideas that are applicable to all of us.

Update:  Shopping Center Fixes Poor Brand Signage
New Jersey shopping center corrects brand signage mistake – new gourmet retailer sign can now be read from busy state highway. Update from post: Marketing Blasphemy: Don’t Use Your Logo?

Hey Tom Brady – Fun Foods are Here to Stay, But . . .
NFL quarterback Tom Brady has declared that Coca-Cola is “poison.” My 4 points reaction and a call for personal responsibility in the food nutrition debate.

Turn Customer Listening into Learning and Go-to-Market Action
Why is Hostess getting into bread? They listened carefully to customers and realized there was a business opportunity.

Personal Branding Helps NFL Player Move Forward
When it comes to life- and career-management, there’s really only one thing we can control — and that’s our own actions. Take the case of NFL punter Steve Weatherford, formerly of the New York Giants.

19th Hole Marketing: Positioning Requires a Decision
EZeeGolf needs to pick one positioning strategy. What is the brand concept and who is it for?

Marketing Blasphemy: Don’t Use Your Logo?
For optimal brand logo or visual identity use, be sure you have contextual appreciation and a corresponding usage plan. Otherwise, expect lousy communication.  Retail shopping center examples.

Marketing is Fun, Differentiation is Hard. Part 3 of 3.
In this final installment, we’ll take a look at the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Why did a nonprofit best-known for planting trees in Israel participate at this year’s South by Southwest® (SXSW®) festival?

Marketing is Fun, Differentiation is Hard.  Part 2.
Redefining Boutique Hotel Experience for an American Audience.  Part 2 features hotel brand Mama Shelter, which has just opened its first USA location in Los Angeles.

Marketing is Fun, Differentiation is Hard. A 3-Part Series.
User Experience Innovation Creates New Kind of Wine Store.  Part 1 features Taste Wine Company, a New York City retailer that lets you taste every wine before you buy.

Texas Bus Company Caters to Fed-up Air Travelers
Vonlane provides high-end bus transportation between Dallas-Austin and Dallas-Houston.  The company is positioning itself as a premium-comfort, practical, efficient and cost-effective alternative to regional airplane flights.

Creative, Multipurpose Packaging Drives Customer Engagement – And Hopefully Sales
Packaging can play a role in delivering your marketing objectives.  Food-for-thought ideas from KFC Germany and Pizza Hut Hong Kong.

How L.L. Bean Creates Employee Brand Ambassadors
Iconic brand L.L. Bean offers and implements a suite of programs to create raging fans inside the company, which ultimately help Bean outside the company.

“Internet of Everything” Chief Talks Digital Disruption Implications at IWNY
Cisco’s Joseph M. Bradley highlighted the “Top 5 Implications of Digital Disruption” in his presentation at Internet Week New York.  They have a broader, day-to-day meaning for marketing and business professionals.

US Senator Politicizes National Guard-NFL Team Sports Marketing
The National Guard uses NFL team sponsorships for recruitment and retention marketing.  A US Senator is opposed.  Is it legitimate criticism or sensational politics?

This Law Firm is a Marketing Powerhouse
It’s no longer a surprise to see a law firm or medical practice marketing itself.  What stands out now is when one embraces marketing to grow its business — in this case a law firm advertising on sports radio station ESPN New York 98.7 FM.

NJ Hospital Improves Patient Experience with Free E-Cards
Special Video Podcast edition of Marketing World Today.  Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey prints and delivers free, same-day E-Cards to patients. It’s a small patient experience touch-point that can make a big difference.

“Magic Hour” is Real Deal Marketing for European Outdoor Clothing Brand
Peak Performance’s new marketing campaign featuring virtual pop-up stores (Magic Hour) is terrific.  It’s rare to see such marketing harmony between advertising, positioning, branding and promotion.

Uber Shifts Gears in Spain to Build Brand
Uber made a smart and creative brand-building pivot with the launch of UberEATS in Barcelona.  The move nurtures its developing brand equity and maintains its business platform foothold; and positions the company for the day when it can re-boot its car service.

How To Take a Fresh Look, Get New Ideas & Tackle A Challenging New Job
How can you get ready for the crucible of a new business assignment? A global news example demonstrates how a leader can apply an outside-in approach to get prepared for both the challenge and the boss.

Whiplash Movie is Case Study for Terrible Leaders
The movie Whiplash explores the tortured relationship between an aspiring drummer and his sadistic band leader. It’s everything we don’t want to see in corporations, organizations and teams.

Florida Beach Targets Freezing Millennials with Eye-Catching Street Marketing
Every business needs marketing, even a Florida beach during a brutal winter. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater created a clever guerrilla marketing program to target new millennial customers.

Surprise Performance: Kids Movie Characters Teach Adults How to Thrive at Work
SpongeBob, Penguins of Madagascar and Planes: Fire & Rescue are fun movies to watch with young kids. Surprisingly, they offer adults a reminder about critical organizational factors for success such as teamwork, collaboration and effective leadership.

Decisive Super Bowl Play Demonstrates Power of Being “Always Ready”
It’s the Coast Guard motto, and it makes sense for marketing and business teams too. Because Malcolm Butler was Always Ready, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champs again.

Free Marketing Advice from the US Coast Guard
The motto for the United States Coast Guard is Always Ready (Semper Paratus). It’s a good mindset for marketers, too. Plus: what marketers say is the number one most important thing to be ready about/ready for in 2015.

5 Branding Pointers Every Marketer Should Embrace
Steve McKee’s book, Power Branding, gives you a brisk marketing discipline workout. There aren’t any shortcuts, so to keep in top shape, remember that “power branding is a commitment.”

Tweets from Brooklyn: NBA Team Exec Wins with Direct Customer Engagement
Direct-to-fan and direct-to-customer communications from team executives and corporate leaders are an emerging and here-to-stay information and engagement tool. Brooklyn Nets executive Irina Pavlova gets high marks for her effective social media communications on Twitter.

Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing
Before you apply any omnichannel strategies, understand your business, existing channels and how your customer shops, or wants to shop. For best success, understand the discipline of brand management — and how to apply that expertise in today’s omni-touchpoint world.

Creative Branding Hooks $1M Investment from Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban
BeatBox Beverages earned a $1M Shark Tank investment from Mark Cuban because the founders created a differentiated concept with clever branding, defined targeting and clear positioning. It’s well-executed marketing discipline in action.

Verizon Seeks Big Gas Results from Half-Fast Advertising
Verizon FiOS has a new double entendre ad that takes a page from Kmart’s 2013 playbook. Time will tell if Half-Fast marketing leads to Big Gas results.

Rabbi’s “Look Up” Sermon Reminds that Attitude Essential in Life and Business
At Dante’s View in Death Valley National Park, it’s possible to see both the highest and lowest points in the United States. A Rosh Hashanah sermon that encouraged a “Look Up” personal mindset also offers a powerful tonic for business success.

How LinkedIn Users Earn an “F” in Personal Marketing
How you act on business social media sites such as LinkedIn reflects your personal brand. When you ask a stranger to connect with no stated reason, you get an “F” in personal marketing.

Joe Pulizzi Knows Content Marketing. You Can Too.
Book Review.  If you want to get smart and understand how to implement it to grow your business, read Epic Content Marketing.  Recognized as a content marketing evangelist, Joe Pulizzi is the author of three books and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

Sports Marketing Triple Play: Team, Retailer, Shoppers Win in Free Furniture Promo
Ashley Furniture HomeStore in College Station, TX powered a sports marketing triple play when its free furniture offer activated following Texas A&M’s season-opening football victory. Plus, four keys to your sponsorship success.

Hain Celestial Gives Rice Dream Easy-Open Top
Look for packaging opportunities to deliver consumer benefits and revitalize brand concepts. A good example is the new easy-open, easy pour screw cap on Hain Celestial’s Dream brand non-dairy products.

Humorous Twitter Character Fights Severe Drought in California
Changing behavior is perhaps the hardest marketing challenge. The Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) is running a humorous Twitter-character-based outdoor advertising and social media marketing campaign to get Californians to conserve water.

Mr. Selfridge’s Philosophy is Timeless – And Still Valuable
You may know him as a PBS television character, but Harry Selfridge was an innovative, retail marketing pioneer. More than 100 years after opening his iconic London store Selfridges, his ideas remain spot-on and valuable to today’s marketing and business practitioners.

Pro Teams Score with Direct-to-SportsFan Marketing
Pro sports teams are increasingly deploying head coaches and owners to directly communicate with fans and build/maintain engagement. This direct-to-sportsfan marketing strategy (D2SF) offers a unique brand management tool to score points off the field.

Make Your Mission Statement Actually Mean Something
Mission statements don’t have to be so complicated. Take a lesson from The Lazy Lobster restaurant in Longboat Key, Florida.

Coke Turns Used Soda Bottles into Fun Tools in Vietnam
Coca-Cola has launched a brilliant marketing and sustainability program in Vietnam that transforms used soda bottles into useful and fun tools. It’s an example of the smart brand management required to effectively market global brands in local geographies.

Customer Treats: AMC Transforms Movie-Watching Experience with Power Recliners
If you upgrade, they will come. AMC Theatres is making customer experience the keystone of its go-to-market strategy. The entertainment company is investing $825 million, including power recliner seating, to dramatically enhance customer comfort and the total movie-going experience.

Golf Ball Sized Apples Bring Easy, Healthy Snacking Innovation
A New Zealand company has demonstrated that innovation is possible even for a product that’s thousands of years old. Golf ball sized Rockit™ apples, packed in hand-held, clear tubes, provide a convenient solution for healthy, on-the-go snacking.

How NOT to Engage Customers: NY Mets Strike Out with Fan Letter.
Don’t engage your customers this way! The New York Mets demonstrated poor fan understanding with a misguided letter to fans that can only be described as bad marketing across the board.

Get Ready for Google Air Force. Strategy Makes Sense Even if Planes Don’t Fly.
Here comes Google Air Force. The purchase of Titan Aerospace and its jet drone technology is the latest execution of Google’s go-to-market strategy that has technology as a key enabler. That strategy also includes channel expansion and maximizing user experience.

At One Stadium, Rookie Zevia Pushes Pepsi From Starting Lineup
Score one for the underdog marketer. Beverage brand Zevia is now The Zero Calorie Soda of the Oakland Athletics, snaring the kind of sponsorship rights that typically go to icons such as Coke, Pepsi and Gatorade.

Fun Test at School: Get Your Healthy Lunch from the Food Truck
A Colorado school district is using creative marketing to address the tough problem of getting students to eat healthier lunches: provide their own food truck packed with desired choices in a healthy format.

Swedish Flooring Company Gives Away Flip-flops To Sell New Product
Swedish manufacturer Forbo Flooring Systems created a break-through sampling program using flip-flops to reach architectural customers. Good luck finding the product on their website, though.

Nuclear Sub Commander Transforms Leadership, Gets Winning Performance
Former nuclear submarine commander David Marquet has written a must-read book about how to achieve great performance at every level of your organization. Turn The Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders is terrific for all team players and especially powerful for those entrusted with leading direct reports.

Razor Battle is On! Challenges Dollar Shave Club and Gillette. is trying to beat Dollar Shave Club and both are trying to beat Gillette with a low-price, online sales model. What does it mean and what are the go-to-market differences?

Great Customer Relations Means More than Just Saying “Sorry”
When health insurance provider Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey learned that customers faced a potential loss of sensitive information, they didn’t just say sorry – they did something about it. Horizon gave all its members a free year’s subscription to an identity theft identification and resolution tool.

 Dodge Durango Marketing and the Legend of Ron Burgundy
Dodge Durango has partnered with Will Ferrell and the Anchorman movie sequel to create dozens of Ron Burgundy endorsement ads for the car. On the surface sales analysis indicated a marketing home run. But it’s too early to know for sure.

Survival Lessons from 3G Capital Takeovers at Burger King and Heinz
3G Capital takes a rigorous (some would say ruthless) approach to newly acquired companies and their management teams. Just ask the folks at Burger King and Heinz. However, there are important takeaways to increase the odds of successfully navigating your own career well-being.

T-Mobile Creates Ticked-Off Parents to Sell Global Travelers
T-Mobile USA launched a smart, attention-getting marketing campaign to highlight its cost saving international data usage plan. Can the actual customer experience live up to the hype?

For Commodity-Busting, Idea Generating Inspiration: Think Hamburgers.
The next time you’re blocked on marketing or business-building ideas, think about the hamburger.  This ubiquitous product defies its commodity status with a relentless stream of brand concept, product development and overall food establishment new business activity across the country.

KFC Speeds On-the-Go Eating with Cup Holder Chicken
A powerful way to innovate and deliver customer value is to provide packaging-based benefits. KFC has just launched the KFC Go Cup, a hand-held serving of chicken and potato wedges in a cup that fits most automobile cup holders.

Master of Disguise – Texas Roadhouse CEO Goes Incognito for External Learning
Texas Roadhouse’s CEO gets his marketplace learning firsthand by disguising his identity and hitting the road. While donning a costume may be tempting, there are less dramatic methods to implement an ongoing, effective system for marketplace engagement and learning. Do what works for you.

Sports Branding: Time to Say Goodbye to the NFL Redskins.
Native Americans, and many other Americans, consider the NFL’s Washington Redskins team name offensive. A clever, new marketing campaign once again puts the spotlight on this contentious issue. It’s time for the team to change and move forward.

Planet Fitness Drops Dumbbell with Gym Member Communication
Don’t let a lack of communication create a lousy experience for your customers. Planet Fitness kept its gym members in the dark about a major payment system change. The result is a reduced balance in the brand’s customer satisfaction and positive engagement account.

Duke Libraries Tell Stories to Raise Funds. Plus 3 Tips for Your Marketing Team.
Duke University tells an easy-to-relate-to story to help raise funds for its libraries.  The capability to develop an engaging story that can achieve communication and branding objectives should be in your marketing toolbox.

Nissan Salesman Adds Bizarre Twist to Car Buying Ritual
Has Nissan adopted a bizarre, new sales technique or is it just the shtick of a local salesman? What does it mean to say “I want you to leave here happy” even though the customer just told you he’s not buying a car today?

Norfolk Southern Taps Consumer Marketing Playbook for B2B Success
Even industrial marketers can utilize consumer marketing tactics to get their message out.  Norfolk Southern taps the consumer marketing playbook to achieve its business marketing objectives with fun, catchy television advertising.

P&G Battery Marketing. Does Duracell’s Quantum Have the Juice to Overtake CopperTop?
Duracell wants to pump up the battery market with the launch of Quantum, its self-proclaimed longest lasting battery. Is there a meaningful difference versus its flagship CopperTop? Are there enough benefits for consumers to pay more?

7 Reasons ESPN’s ESPY Awards are Terrific Content Marketing
ESPN’s The ESPY awards are an excellent example of creating relevant content that both engages fans and reinforces the ESPN brand promise with them.

Retailer Sundown One Fights the Big Guys with Pizza and Beer
Central Illinois electronics retailer Sundown One demonstrates how to succeed versus the big national chains

Ask Your Customer – Part 3 of a Continuing Series
There is no substitute for fact-based customer understanding.  So, ask your customer.  In this example, supermarket retailer ShopRite utilizes a simple method to obtain consumer learning.

NFL Patriots Analysis: Brand Managers Must Say No
The New England Patriots football team fired a top player arrested for murder, and offered fans a free exchange of his jersey. It’s an important reminder that brand managers have to say no sometimes.

Arrowhead Mills Gets it Right with Cereal Package Update
Contrary to news reports the past few years, food and beverage package redesign isn’t always a fiasco. Arrowhead Mills shows us how to do it right with a makeover of its healthy cereal product range.

3 Marketing Lessons from Coca-Cola’s 60-Year Relaunch in Myanmar
Coca-Cola’s return to Myanmar after a 60-year hiatus offers three refreshing marketing lessons: Don’t Dismiss Back to the Future; K.I.S.S. Works in Marketing, Too; and Learning Never Stops. Thanks to marketing leader Shakir Moin for the inspiration.

For a Close Shave, It’s Captain America to the Rescue?
High-end skincare products seller Kiehl’s wanted to spike its men’s marketing with a custom Marvel comic book distributed inside Wall Street Journal newspapers in select markets. It was an interesting content marketing effort. However, what’s the connection between Captain America and current and/or potential users?

HBS Professor: Time to Rebrand & Reimagine Strategy
Leaders must step up to the role of strategist, per HBS professor and author Cynthia Montgomery.  And strategy should be embraced ”as something open, not something closed.  It is a system that evolves, moves, and changes.”

Super Bowl Star Hopes Sock Collection Has Legs
Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress is launching a collection of high-end hosiery for men called The Plaxico Burress Collection. Do we need funky colored socks that cost $24 to $39?

For Growth & Success, Get Out of the Office
Starwood Hotels reminds us: if you’re not engaging off-site with everyone and everything that makes your company tick, that’s a problem – and lost opportunity.

Creative Product Distribution Brings Hope of Clean Water: Inventor Dean Kamen Connects with Coca-Cola
Dean Kamen was stymied to distribute an easy water purification device in Africa and Latin America. Then he realized “there’s only one organization that can get a product to any village in the world: Coca-Cola.”

A Mindset for Success: “We Have Enough to Win”
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a master team culture builder. What you can learn from his “we have enough to win” leadership philosophy.

Canadian Sports Retailer Delivers Value with Hi-Tech, Not Low Price
There’s more to value than just low price.  Canadian sports retailer Sport Chek believes that. It’s going high-tech to create what it hopes will be a unique customer buying experience.

What the Marines Can Teach Business Leaders
You don’t have to join the Marine Corps to get their best teaching on leadership and decision-making for the business crucible. Just read David H. Freedman’s Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines. The push-ups are optional!

New York Hospital Goes Too Far with Case Study Marketing
Just because you can tell a story doesn’t mean you should. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital mostly demonstrates how to do case study marketing well, but a new TV commercial goes too far.

Arrow Electronics Uses NCAA Hoops to Rollout B2B Corporate Branding
Arrow Electronics has invested in a major corporate branding campaign with an attention-getting idea called The Innovator’s Club.  A full understanding and appreciation of the company’s message probably requires a bit of effort from customers.

How to Get Rid of Innovation-itis
Companies struggle and even become disillusioned with innovation because of the wrong expectations.  How Elkay and Louisville Slugger moved the needle with non-transformational innovation.

Ace Hardware Aims to Win with “The Help”
A new marketing campaign from Ace Hardware builds from a simple positioning – “Getting help at Ace is like going to your neighbor” – and is effectively communicated in new TV commercials.

3M Brands Get Endorsement Right with Mike Holmes
What is it about endorsements that make them such a tempting magical elixir for marketers and agencies? Read a mini case study of 3M brand endorsements with HGTV contractor Mike Holmes, and get five key pointers for your marketing endorsement decision-making process.

Engage Customers with “Content Marketing”
Content marketing should be part of your marketing mix and deserves to be treated strategically because it can be a real difference-maker.  Learn about Serena Software’s five-part video episode series called “Doug Serena, CIO.”

Put “70 Percent Solution” & Rapid Fielding Concepts into Go-to-Market Toolbox
These can be business differentiators.  Spread this way of thinking across your company and make it a valuable addition to your organization’s go-to-market toolbox.

9 Thought-Provoking Leadership & Personal Growth Ideas for 2013
Here are a few thought-provoking ideas from my recent reading, including from Jeff Bezos and Clayton Christensen, that resonated with me and could prove valuable to you. While they’re mostly for your professional consideration, you may also find some personal overlap. They’re organized into nine categories for easy processing.

Duluth Trading Company Nails Positioning for Tradesmen Clothes
Super-clear positioning and content marketing drive Duluth Trading Company. Marketing basics do work. If you can get your positioning and personality easily defined, you’ve got a solid platform to reach customers, especially when your product line backs it up. Then, become a great story-teller.

Acer Computer’s Megan Fox Marketing Campaign is a Big Question Mark
Sorry, Megan Fox talking to dolphins is not a reason to buy an Acer computer. Maybe I’m missing the boat, but there should be more than that to an Acer brand-building campaign, especially when reallocating and investing limited company financial resources.

CA Winery Blends Packaging & Consumer Insights To Create New Products
Packaging can be a powerful component of the marketing and branding mix – when used skillfully. Mini case study of Calilfornia winery Truett-Hurst’s launch of Evocative Wrapped Bottles occasion-based wines.

Marketing Lessons from the Axe Brand Team
The latest Axe brand communication is Showerpooling, a social media-driven marketing campaign that integrates the Axe brand essence with a tongue-in-cheek nod to environmentalism

Save the CEO Newspaper Letter for the Big Stuff
Save the CEO and C-Suite leaders for the most important customer communications. When he or she takes a large newspaper ad and gives out a personal email address, it should be vitally important and especially urgent.

Uber Shows How to Make Money with Social Media
On-demand car service company Uber provides a strong example of how a business can use the net to engage with its customer base and drive change.   They just told their customers what was happening and gave them the tools to take their own action.  This is the power of the Internet today.

How to Sell Steak at Walmart: Find New Ways to Talk About An Old Product.
Walmart’s steak marketing is a good example of a strategy I refer to as “making news.”  This means finding and/or creating relevant message point news about your brand or product.  It’s especially applicable for mature products that don’t easily lend themselves to product improvement or innovations – steak, for example.

Google, Coca-Cola Leaders Push Transformative Mindset
Need to overcome big hurdles?  Take a page from Coca-Cola’s Muhtar Kent and Google’s Sebastian Thrun.  Be constructively discontent and get rid of the baggage!

What Azerbaijan’s New Taxis Can Teach Us About Branding
The next time someone asks you to define branding, tell the story about how Azerbaijan selected the iconic London taxi for its fleet modernization. That’s all you really need to know.

American Express Treats “Service” as a Marketing Differentiator
Let’s give Jim Bush (EVP World Service) a “marketer of the day” award for his mindset on how to leverage the service function to impact the bottom line – via customer engagement and not simple transaction management.

Would You Buy IKEA’s New Integrated HD Entertainment Furniture System?
Global retailer IKEA has just announced that it’s entering (or perhaps creating?) a new category of integrated electronics and furniture.  The new HD entertainment furniture system is easy to understand from a corporate strategy and mission standpoint. It even seems to address a consumer opportunity area. Give them high marks for thinking different and being willing to innovate. That doesn’t guarantee success, though.

6 Management & Marketing Ideas from Facebook and Lululemon
New ideas, clever approaches and important reminders always jump off the page during my business reading, especially those that might apply to challenges I’m facing or will likely face again.  Here are  six management and marketing ideas that stood out to me recently, along with an “action step thought starter” for each one.

Coca-Cola Portugal Gets A+ in Sponsorship Activation
Beyond getting the strategy and platform right, powerful sponsorship is all about activation and user engagement. To Coca-Cola Portugal, I simply say, Goaaaaaallllll!

Why You Need to Market for the “Zero Moment of Truth”
ZMOT – Winning the Zero Moment of Truth is an easy reading, 73-page e-book that every marketer, seller, businessperson and customer touchpoint team member should read.  It’s a simple, yet powerful reminder of something fundamentally important and critical in today’s business world: “Can they even find your product?”

Is Apple’s Secret Culture Really the Way to Go?
Apple has such a wonderful reputation and so much cool marketing that I was shocked to read details about its secretive corporate culture.  It flies in the face about everything I’ve been taught, believe and have seen work during my business career.

Penney Pushes Change. What Can You Take Away?
J.C. Penney’s new CEO, former Apple executive Ron Johnson, boldly proclaimed the retailer’s plan to become “America’s favorite store.”

You Can Do It – Kipling’s Prescription for Success
What Rudyard Kipling’s “If” poem teaches us about life and business.

Social Media Idea Powers Brazilian Condom Marketer
Ideas power marketing.  Today’s example:  check out this terrific marketing idea for Brazil’s Olla Condoms.

Sexy Target Marketing Promotes Male Cancer Awareness
A British health organization has taken a super-sexy approach to help solve the deadly serious issue of testicular cancer.  Let’s explore why this is such a great marketing lesson and reminder for all of us.

3 Innovation Thought-Starters
Here are three ideas that can help overcome the “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome, and better yet, foster a forward-looking, innovative culture and mindset.

Don’t Be a Lazy Marketer. Use Marketing Briefs.
Hey marketers, if you can’t or don’t want to take the time on the front-end to map out just what it is you want to achieve and why, then don’t expect to have any success.  Sure, you might get lucky, but over time, the odds are greatly against you.  You need to write a marketing brief.

General Mills Pushes Magic Brownies. Plus 5 Tips for Evaluating Bold Marketing Ideas.
You’re in a conference room being pitched ideas for the marketing rollout of your new product and the recommendation is to use iconic marijuana-smoking characters from a 1970s movie. What do you do?

The Brand Management-Retail Management Battle at Sears
Craftsman tools are now for sale at Costco.  Sears’ dilemma may just be that what’s good for the brands is not good for the stores.  Channel expansion for Sears’ big, power brands may be the right brand management choice, but how can that be the right retail growth management choice?

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council Publishes H. Chimoff Article.

Make Strategic Changes From Position of Strength, Not Weakness. Why do leaders and companies seemingly wait until crisis time before making the tough go-to-market and organizational structure decisions needed to ensure healthy sales and profit generation?  The best time to do this is when the company is doing well and can process the change rationale and ramifications from a position of strength.

Mobilize Your Marketing Mix
Mobile marketing is hot, particularly smartphones. It’s no surprise that marketers are in overdrive figuring out how to optimize engagement and maximize experience for mobile consumers and customers.

Advertising That Saves Rental Car $$$
Budget Rent a Car of Atlanta has partnered with Wrap Media Group to wrap rental vehicles with the Sheets™ Brand Energy Strips logo.  Significant discounts are touted for those bold enough to be indirect brand ambassadors.

Now Playing: The Holographic Marketing Communicator
Technology should be on your radar screen in the context of difference-making, whether in terms of direct customer experience or in-house productivity.

Winning Lessons from US Womens Soccer
Yes, congratulate the women’s World Cup soccer team.  Beyond the great play, what really stood out to me was the teamwork, mindset and leadership.  Great players have success but the best teams become champions.

Leadership Tips from United CEO Jeff Smisek
There’s a certain wow factor about United CEO Jeff Smisek’s leadership and management philosophy  because he comes across so straightforward and genuine, without the jargon and BS.  Smisek is a refreshing difference, which is why he stands out.

New Corona “Find Your Beach” Commercial Powerfully Delivers Brand Positioning
You can build meaningful brand/product/service differentiation, image and equity with the right positioning foundation and marketing communications ideas that bring it to life.  Corona Extra’s “Find Your Beach” tv campaign is a poster example.

Ace Hardware and Avis Bring Positioning to Life in New Ads
Why does some advertising easily fit and resonate for the brand while so much does not?  One answer is that the advertising is consistent with the positioning, and helps dimensionalize it and bring it to life for customers.

Make Strategic Changes From Position of Strength, Not Weakness
Why do leaders and companies seemingly wait until crisis time before making the tough go-to-market and organizational structure decisions needed to ensure healthy sales and profit generation?  The best time to do this is when the company is doing well and can process the change rationale and ramifications from a position of strength.

Inspiration from Ritz Carlton: Create & Activate Your Extended Marketing Team for Customer Success
Positioning only to the customer is not enough.  There’s an important corollary, which is positioning to internal, cross-functional teams so that they are prepared to successfully interact with customers.  Today’s CMO should create, engage and activate a powerful extended marketing team, that together with superb positioning, can produce a compelling, differentiating customer experience.

New Strategies Bring Change at Cisco and Best Buy
Cisco (shutting the Flip recorder business) and Best Buy (reducing big box square footage and adding mobile stores) made important strategic announcements last week.  Each decision provides a good opportunity for a mini-case study discussion. After you read my take, post a comment and tell me what you think.

Stop-You-in-Your-Tracks Advertising
The new bus ad for Midwest DNA & Drug Testing, Inc. is brilliant.  It plays off a popular expression, which cuts right to the core service and benefit.  Simple, effective and powerful.  Plus, avoid these six pitfalls in your advertising development and creative evaluation process.

Gillette Pushes Razor Growth by Competing Against Itself
Gillette, a Procter & Gamble brand, has an impressive marketing innovation track record with razors.  Gillette, and now P&G, has not been afraid to compete against itself and to cannibalize, if necessary, existing products for higher priced/higher margin sales.

The Basics Aren’t Sexy but Help Get the Right Things Done
Powerful, effective ideas don’t have to be based on fancy jargon or complex theories. The basics often work quite well. That’s the major takeaway from the short book: Plugged: Dig out & get the right things done.

Ask Your Customer
Customer understanding and market research should be key components of your strategic marketing planning. This is often a significant expenditure, but you don’t always have to invest big bucks to understand your customer. When possible, take advantage of low-cost, easy-to-implement options such as the following example from Amazon.

What I Learned in China – Exclusive Interview
Everyone is talking about China.  But what do we really know?  Here’s an exclusive interview with ex-pat business executive Greg Morency, just back from living and working in Shanghai.  It’s an inside look at lessons learned from doing business in China.

Vote on New Starbucks Logo
You play Brand Manager.  Check out the Starbucks logo evolution and then tell us what you think.

Sales & Marketing Management Publishes H. Chimoff  Article

Put the Marketing in Your Trade Shows.  12 organization and action points to help maximize your trade show marketing.

UK first aider markets to save lives
Don’t let mature brands and commodity products stop you from producing terrific marketing.  As UK first aid charity organization St John Ambulance vividly demonstrates, you can break through.

Feel the Noise – SunChips Canada goes Social for Compostable Packaging
Frito Lay Canada engages consumers with a clever social media campaign to market its new compostable SunChips packaging.

Dare to Be Different
Former NFL star and Super Bowl winner Brad Benson leverages current events, politics and celebrity actions to create memorable, attention-getting radio ads for the largest car dealership in New Jersey.  His unique communications platform drives traffic, and enhances brand identity and market awareness.

Tips From the Top
Ponder the meaning and implications of CEO marketing leadership examples from 3M, Wal-Mart and United Continental for your team and company.

Thinking About Branding
Everyone wants to be a brand manager, but figuring out how to use brands is hard.  Discussion examples from Hyundai, Continental-United, Starbucks and Donald Trump.

Make the Sales Team Your Friend
Here are four key themes to embrace for successful marketing-sales interaction and communication, which will also help you build a great working relationship.

Marketing Show and Tell
Here’s a short story about Olive Garden and wine. It’s a good reminder that marketers need to make their products and services approachable, easy-to-understand, and sometimes even fun.

OfficeMax Takes Expertise to New Channels
You may be surprised to learn how OfficeMax has creatively modified its go-to-market strategy.  Office Max unlocked growth potential because it avoided defining itself as purely an office supply store retailer.

Commodity? Not All Chicken is the Same
When you’ve got meaningful differentiation, market the heck out of it. When you don’t have it, gear your innovation efforts to get it. If it’s just not possible, out-execute your competitors.

A Cure for We-know-it-itis
Don’t be the emperor with no clothes.  When it comes to operating your business and maximizing performance, relying on limited, assumption-based rather than fact-based knowledge has the potential to lead the organization astray.

Loyalty Goes Both Ways for Hotel Chain 
InterContinental Hotels Group has a new Priority Club rewards program.  I don’t know if it’s crazy, brilliant marketing or much ado about nothing.  However, to break from the pack, a certain dose of bold and different is often required.

21st Century Soda Fountain Offers Innovative Choice
Innovation can take many forms within the go-to-market strategy, and is not restricted to just new products.  Make sure your company invests in some “imagineering” resources to protect existing businesses and/or to grow new ones.  Here’s a look at the new Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispenser, and why Coke hopes it’s the next real thing.

Power Leadership from Football Coach Rex Ryan
A study of New York Jets football coach Rex Ryan reveals important leadership, communication and motivational insights for business and marketing leaders.  “You’re going to stay the same, get better or get worse.  We’re getting better.”

Expand Your Horizons for Winning Ideas 
What’s the marketing connection between Netherlands lingerie, Brazilian hamburgers and US chicken?  Cast your idea net far and wide for inspiration that can help drive your business.

Championship Inspiration from Coach K
Everyone wants it, scores have written about it, many aspire to provide it, but few can actually produce it:  great leadership.  The leadership philosophy of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski extends from the court to the marketplace.

Observations From The Great Food Nutrition Debate
March 2010 featured four intriguing events pertaining to the great food nutrition debate.  There are implications to be gleaned from food retailers Hy-Vee and Basha’s Supermarkets; Michelle Obama’s address to the GMA; and the new reality television show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Marketers Are Sellers Too
Marketers need to be savvy operators who understand that marketing’s role is to help generate profitable sales. Former Denny’s CMO Mark Chmiel opines on the topic.

Attention Marketers:  Watch Undercover Boss
Undercover Boss provides tv entertainment that will stimulate important reflection about your job and company.

Back To The Future Marketing
New ideas don’t always have to be new.  The Food Network’s Unwrapped show featured a coin-operated eating blast from the past with BAMN! Automat.

Inspired By Harshest Critics, Dominos Rolls New Pizza
Why would the number one US pizza delivery company highlight that consumers think its product tastes like “cardboard?”  Explore the incredible new marketing campaign for reformulated Domino’s Pizza.

Beware The Arrogance of Dismissing Competition
A case study about the pitfalls of underestimating the competition.  Lessons from the the use of Predator drone aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inside the Red Blue $1 DVD Battle
Coinstar Inc. and its Redbox DVD rental kiosk are battling NCR, with licensed brand Blockbluster Express, and its own DVD kiosk.  Gain important marketing insights from this content delivery battle.

BoltBus Provides A Branding Ticket To Ride
Advertising Age magazine named BoltBus one of “America’s Hottest Brands.”  Read why.

Power Positioning
Duracell, part of Procter & Gamble, unveiled a new strategy to position itself beyond just batteries.  The company organized a suite of existing and new products under the Duracell Smart Power platform.

Burger King Links In-Store with At-Home
Burger King, seeking to leverage its brand and generate new revenue streams, utilized licensing to bring BK branded french fries and apples to the at-home market.

Welcome To the Brave New World of Consumer Generated Marketing
Kraft Foods Australia invites consumers to name its new Vegemite product and takes a wild marketing ride.

Testing New Choices: Whats’ For Lunch, Mom?
Armour-Eckrich challenges Kraft Lunchables with test market launch of Active Packs.

Does Face-Time Mean Revenue Time?
Create a price benefit that can help build your business longer-term instead of just getting a one-time sales spike.  Learn from British Airways.

Marketers, Embrace Technology
Technology can play a role in bringing your marketing strategy to life.  Examples from Live Sports Radio, print ads with embedded video, Avatar and Coldwell Banker.

Promote This
Take calculated risks in your promotion strategy to achieve differentiation.  Learn from the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and Jet Blue Airways.

Attack Season
Direct comparison/attack advertising examples from the Ball Park/Oscar Mayer hot dog war; Powerade vs. Gatorade; and Campbell Soup against Progresso.

Challenge The Status Quo
Experiment and test new ways to impact and persuade your customers.  Intriguing examples from the LPGA, Alexander’s Steakhouse, Metropolitan Police Department and Miller Lite.

Be A Leader-Coach
Great teams require excellent leadership and coaching.  Examples from Google, Costco and Colin Powell.

Channel Agony
Did channel expansion lead to the downfall of Mattress pioneer

Can Two Worlds Beat One City?
Connecticut casinos Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods join forces in an unexpected destination marketing campaign.

Positioning Made Fun
Creative marketing campaign from Air New Zealand.