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Mack_Truck_Bulldog.jpgAs the Mack Truck Company began to craft its brand message, they very wisely asked some of those who had used their products for their input. Mack Trucks had been used extensively in World War I, so studying the trucks’ performance under such harsh conditions was an obvious way to look at a lot of product-specific attributes.

But the real “a-ha’s” came as a result of unsolicited feedback. Soldiers shared several powerful, emotional stories about how relieved they would be on the battlefield to see the easily-recognized Mack trucks dependably trudging through the mud to bring supplies, medical aid, etc. British soldiers remarked that the very shape of the trucks reminded them of a tough bulldog, which coincidentally happens to be Great Britain’s national mascot. The rest, as they say, is history. Mack instantly adopted the bulldog as their brand symbol, placing likenesses of the rugged canine on the hoods of their trucks.

The Customer IS the answer to every marketing question! We need to be sure we have as much open dialog with them as possible, both formal and informal, and that we LISTEN when they have something to tell us. What they have to say could be worth a fortune!



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 My friend Carlos over at Audiotech.com was kind enough to let me post this article from Trends Magazine. I’ve been a customer of theirs for over 10 years and have always found their products to be a great way to get your hands on and digest a LOT of information in a manner that is condensed enough to fit a busy schedule. I encourage you to visit their site and see for yourself.

Trends Magazine


Trends Magazine – June 11, 2009


How the Recession Is Preparing Us for the Future

More than 2,000 years ago, the Stoic philosophers observed that an enlightened person always finds a way to turn misfortune into opportunity.  That is no less true today.  The fact is, even while the headlines are screaming about a financial crisis, the economies of the United States and the world are laying the foundations for the creation of vast new wealth.  Strong companies with enlightened leadership, as well as individual professionals and investors, will be able to deploy strategies that ensure they make the best use of their resources now, and then participate in the boom times when they come. 

As recently highlighted in the McKinsey Quarterly, timing is of the utmost importance in making the most of crises.  There are some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities out there, and one looming question is when to seize them.  Moving too soon could mean incurring further losses, while waiting could mean missing the opportunities altogether.  This is especially true of companies considering an acquisition or a merger. 

The short answer seems to be that moving sooner rather than later is more likely to optimize value than waiting for a positively defined bottom.  It

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John_Deere_Logo.jpgThe other day I went on John Deere’s website to get my 2 year old son a John Deere cap to replace the toddler-sized one he’d outgrown. While there, I also bought the little fellow a John Deere Toy Lawn Trimmer, seriously considered a John Deere Toy mower, and would have probably bought him a really cool motorized 6 Volt Utility Tractor with Loader (click here to get a look at this thing and tell me it’s not the coolest thing ever!) Fortunately, Mrs. Dr. Burt confiscated the credit card before these impulse buys got the best of me.

John Deere’s real value, it’s real capital, it’s real “green,” is in the power of it’s brand. When Mr. Deere founded the company, he based everything he did on the guiding principle, “I will not put my name on anything that does not have in it the best that is in me.” This commitment to excellence has lasted well over 100 years! It has VALUE because it connects with the customer, the customer believes it, trusts the brand, and is willing to pay a premium for it. John Deere is a brand we can bank on.

This brand loyalty isn’t just true for the heavy equipment which makes up their core product offering, but for any and all ancillary products loyal customers can purchase with the John Deere name on them. John Deere doesn’t make toy trimmers or caps or any of those items. Toy companies and apparel companies and other vendors line up outside John Deere’s doors and pay a hefty licensing fee for the use of the John Deere logo and color scheme, which they’ll then use to  market a line of products using the John Deere name, for which John Deere will receive a generous royalty. The hefty horsepower of the brand lets John Deere make money on the front end with the licensing fees and on the back end with royalties. John Deere wins, the merchandisers win, and of course, the customers win because we’re all part of a value-for-value brand experience.

J. Paul Getty, one of the first “celebrity millionaires,” was often asked for a formula for getting rich. He replied, “Rise early, work hard, and strike oil!” If you build a solid brand, it’s better than striking oil! The residuals are incredible, the passive income is there, and you don’t have to get your hands dirty or deal with the EPA!

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No.jpgI heard an ad on the radio the other day from a fellow selling a real estate investment program. One of the things that really stood out was how he emphasized just before giving the 1-800 number to call, “You can make big money in rental property, and you don’t have to be a handyman.” This is undoubtedly counter to the frequent “Yeah, but if you own rental property you have to get up and go fix the tenant’s toilet at 2 A.M.” or “You’ll go broke doing all the repairs that come with rental property” objections that accompany this type of investment.

Typically, the best time to address an issue, concern, or objection in the marketing or selling process is when it arises. However, if we know in advance that there is an ongoing concern, or that the customer’s perceptions of our brand are based on inaccurate information, and that a specific objection is likely, it’s not a bad idea to bring those to the forefront and address them before they are even raised. In come cases, this gets the objection out of the way so our relationship with the customer can begin.

In fact, sometimes handling a “negative” up front can be turned into a benefit! In the classic The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, the authors praised Avis Car Rental for their “We’re #2, So We Try Harder” campaign. After striving to be number one, they realized they weren’t going to get there, so they said, “You know what, forget about being number one in the market, let’s be number one with our customers. Let’s focus on what we can ultimately do value-wise for the customer, not on what we want to achieve.” The campaign immediately struck a chord and their sales increased. No, they never took the #1 spot away from Hertz, but they increased their profits incredibly. Listerine enjoyed similar success with its “The Taste You Hate Twice A Day” campaign which is also showcased in the book.

If you have a good rebuttal to a negative (objection), and we KNOW (because we did our RESEARCH) that it’s going to come up, don’t be shy about using it. Experiment with using it in your copy or presentation BEFORE the target audience raises the concern and see how that works. By getting your “bad news” now, you may be surprised at how much sooner profits show up! 

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