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

Continue Marketing After the Sale with Packaging Messages. Even B2B!

The marketing job doesn’t end when the sale is made and the product is purchased or shipped.

Many factors contributing to company image and brand perception continue to be in play after the product leaves your premises. Top of the list is likely product performance. There’s something else though, perhaps underappreciated and deserving of more attention, that contributes to the overall customer experience.

The packaging that comes with your product — whether it’s the retail shopping bag, the shipping box, the actual product contents structure or even the B2B product container — can be a strong influencing factor in how you feel about what you just bought.

Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Case in point is clothing and sports performance marketer Under Armour. Buy something in one of their factory stores and you’ll take your items home in a bag that boldly declares: Everything here was engineered to make you better. 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

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

Gatorade’s High-Tech, Sweat-Reading Vending Machine Delivers Brand Positioning

For the Gatorade marketing team, the old adage “never let them see you sweat” does not apply.

Quite the opposite.

Credit: Gatorade.

Credit: Gatorade.

The Gatorade brand is all about sweat and countering its effects on the body. For the past three years, Gatorade has activated marketing around the “sweat it to get it” idea.

Now, Gatorade’s team in India has evolved the idea with a high-tech vending machine that dispenses free bottles of Gatorade to workout warriors. It’s technology powered marketing that delivers positioning and product benefits in a fun, content-friendly activity that’s well-suited for social media and mobile Internet sharing. Continue reading