Value Proposition: An Unlikely Source of Strategic Inspiration

“You just saved $63.00 by using your library!”

That statement was printed at the bottom of a check out receipt for two books recently borrowed from my public library.

Credit: Morris County Library.


The focus of my last post was providing action tips for instituting a formal system to determine how your products and services stack up versus competitor choices. It’s an important part of monitoring and understanding your strategic situation analysis.

Critical outputs from such analysis can include identifying competitive differentiation opportunities and developing a value proposition. Surprisingly, the library check out receipt is a wonderful example that can provide inspiration for this type of strategic challenge.


Credit: Morris County Library (mclib.info)

The statement “You just saved $xx by using your library!” is brilliant. Continue reading

Get-Started Action Tips to Evaluate How You Stack Up Versus Competition

The late New York City mayor Ed Koch created a personal, attention-getting mechanism for gaining input and feedback. He famously asked: How am I doing?

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.

During my brand management days at Unilever, the marketing teams had scheduled “cuttings” during which they would compare their products to those of their competitors, review new products and/or generally explore options in the category. It was a cross-functional gathering including R&D and sometimes other colleagues. It fostered collaboration and led to productive and interesting conversations about the business, beyond the technical details.

It was also a fun part of the job, and vividly demonstrated why we all came to work each day: to provide great tasting products to consumers.

I remembered those product review sessions when reading about the keynote speech former Kroger and Harris Teeter executive Fred Morganthall gave during this month’s Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show. His advice has widespread relevance beyond the grocery business: Continue reading

Why The Return of “Geoffrey the Giraffe” Demonstrates the Power of Brand Marketing

A recent conversation with a business executive reminded me that, for many non-marketers, there’s often vagueness or even confusion about the term “branding” and its application.

I suspect it’s connected to a fuzziness about what marketing is/does in general and the use and power of brands, branding and brand management in particular. That’s unfortunate because excellent marketing and effective brand management can be cornerstones for strong customer relationships and sustainable long-term business success.

Take last week’s announcement that Kroger is mounting a major 2018 holiday season push to sell specially branded toys via the launch of Geoffrey’s Toy Box across a multi-banner network of nearly 600 supermarkets.  The branded store-within-a-store is a reconstituted marketing and brand concept created from Toys “R” Us intellectual property. More on this in a moment.

Credit: Geoffrey LLC.


First, as a general principle, when it comes to your products and services, it’s an excellent idea to brand them. Doing so creates a distinct identity and perception with your customer that can generate sales, establish differentiation and produce loyal, repeat business. Lack of a brand name may put you into an unknown, generic box with everyone else. Continue reading

Teamwork Difference-Making Tips from Little League, Marvel and Town Hall

People can make the difference in business.

That means the level of success is often impacted by how management treats its workforce and how well colleagues jell together as a cohesive team.

At the same time, success doesn’t happen without core components such as products, supply chains, strategy and marketing plans. For the best long-term success, people, products and systems need to be clicking on all cylinders.

As summer 2018 comes to an end, let’s focus on the people/teamwork variable for success. Here are three examples that recently caught my attention from the Little League World Series, Marvel and a Minnesota community civility project. Continue reading

Showtime’s New Series is Built on Deception and Bad for America

Writing about marketing and business is more fun when sharing excellent examples and great creativity.

However, just as important, sometimes we have to learn from what’s not excellent. A new “comedy” series from Showtime is a glaring example.

Authenticity and transparency are important go-to-market levers. Consumers want that in their products and services. Citizens want that in their government. We don’t always get it.

Part of the reason is that we all, even implicitly, allow it to happen.

Credit: Showtime (sho.com)

Take Showtime’s new series with Sacha Baron Cohen, Who Is America? According to the network, the series “features his first new characters in 15 years, which are so believably performed that they can exist in the real world.”

Let me translate: these “believable new characters” are fraudulent impersonations of purportedly real people, designed to trick targets into participating in on-camera interviews.

With all the challenges we face as a society, why does Showtime feel the need to pay for and promote “gotcha” deception? Continue reading