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

Dynamic Duo – Ingredient Suppliers and Marketers Work Together for Consumer Success

Food ingredient suppliers are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the annual SupplySide West trade show.

And food and beverage marketing teams will be paying attention.

Credit: SupplySide West.

Credit: SupplySide West.

That’s because, in recent years, marketers have realized they can win with food ingredients – if they do it right. Keys include science-based credibility, great taste and mainstream-type products. It’s not easy, but there are wonderful opportunities. Consumers care about what they put in their bodies, more so than ever. They are proactive about what they want to eat and don’t want to eat.

As someone who has worked on the both the ingredient marketing and consumer brand management side of the desk, it’s been interesting to monitor how suppliers and marketers are increasingly coming together. Continue reading

Has Crowdsourcing Gone Too Far?

Have marketers thrown in the towel on making decisions?

Specifically, I’m wondering:

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.”

Credit: Binghamton Mets.

Credit: Binghamton Mets.

The prompt for my contemplation is a re-naming contest initiated by a minor league baseball team in upstate New York.

It’s part of a business and brand overhaul initiated by new owner John Hughes, who purchased the Double-A Binghamton Mets (affiliated with the New York Mets) in December 2015. The team had been owned by a local group for 24 years. Continue reading

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.

For example, imagine my surprise to see this Planet Fitness email after I returned from the gym last night:

 

Planet Fitness - We Want You Back - 2

Wow.  Guess I was lucky to get in.

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Domino Confuses and Optimizes with Sugar Package Change

Converting a product from a resealable pouch to a flip-top canister is a dramatic packaging change.

Different enough to confuse the shopper that brought it to my attention.

Too buried among tens of thousands of SKUs for the in-store customer service team to know the scoop.

Finally solved by calling Domino and getting the explanation.

Photo/Graphic Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Continue reading