A Business Remedy for Conventional Wisdom and Groupthink

Merriam-Webster defines conventional wisdom as “the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter.”

More than ever, we need vigilance and counter-measures to prevent conventional wisdom and the related danger of groupthink from derailing high-performing organizations.

Credit: iStock

Picture this. Colleagues sitting around a table (or maybe remotely connected by phone or video), giving their views, sharing ideas, making recommendations, or just pontificating. Someone has a question, wants a clarification, or can offer a different point-of-view, or an alternate way forward.

We’ve all been there. But what really happens? Continue reading

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.

These critical building blocks, and others, are like oxygen to marketers and business leaders who believe in the power of smart, disciplined marketing to help build and grow profitable businesses, and keep them relevant.

But, not everyone is a believer, and not all practitioners have instilled confidence.

Credit: MGM Resorts International.

So, particularly for the marketing skeptics, this new MGM marketing is instructive. It’s strong, bold marketing that grabs attention. And seemingly has a chance to be effective.* Continue reading

All Aboard. Back-to-School Marketing Refresher from 1929 Blue Comet Train.

It’s back-to-school season. Even though we’re not heading off to class, those of us done with our formal education understand that learning and subject-matter refreshers never stop.

Sometimes that happens in unexpected places. That was the case for me this summer, while taking my visiting, young nephews to a local museum. For the price of admission, I got fun time with my buddies and:

◉ A marketing communications refresher about the importance of painting an image and creating anticipated, sought-after experiences in the mind of the target customer. Continue reading

Brand Management Dilemma: Grow, But Don’t Kill the Core

I think, in retrospect, we may have tried too hard to attract new guests. That left some of our fans shaking their heads, asking ‘What happened to Applebee’s?’

Patrick Lenow (VP Communications and Public Affairs, DineEquity – August 10, 2017)


That’s an eye-opening, unusually direct assessment. There’s even more blunt analysis from Applebee’s president.

First, let’s set the stage with some framing thoughts on brand management.

A Quick Primer – What To Do and Not Do

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.

Depending on the type of product or service, many actions can be implemented, such as: product upgrades, promoting secondary usage, launching new products, stimulating growth of the overall category, expanding distribution channels, developing brand refresh/renovation tactics, or even complete repositioning.

JCPenney failed.

Domino’s seems to have had success.

Hardees/Carl’s Jr. is trying to reboot their image and brand positioning.

Effective brand management requires smart discipline. To borrow from Ringo Starr, it don’t come easy.

► Building brands is a process, which requires steady, disciplined hands at the helm. It can take time and money. Unfortunately, steady discipline, time and money can be in short supply in CEO suites and boardrooms where results are measured short-term in weeks and quarters. Plus, marketing teams themselves can fall victim to a lack of steady discipline on occasion. Continue reading

Wegmans Supermarket Entices Shoppers with Impressive Magazine

Print is still powerful – if used correctly.

Want proof? Check out the latest issue of Wegmans Menu Magazine.

The well-regarded Rochester, NY grocer publishes an attention-getting, glossy magazine chock full of beautiful photography and enticing recipes. Even non-cooks may be motivated to shop and then head to their kitchens.

Menu Magazine came to my attention via a family member, who recently signed-up for a Shoppers Club loyalty card in advance of a new store opening next week. The magazine was mailed to the home.

After perusing the magazine, I can share three marketing observations:

▶  Make content for the customer. The value and utility of Menu Magazine – products and recipes that make you want to buy – is what hooks the shopper. Of course Wegmans is selling (they are entitled), yet they achieve a business objective by putting the customer first. The magazine’s content makes the reader want to shop, cook and eat.  Continue reading