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Ask and ye shall receive?

By Dr. Burt Smith February 24th, 2012

Consumer products giant Procter and Gamble competes in many categories, dominating most with its repertoire of nearly 300 brands. The company prides itself on staying close to its customer and considers the hefty sum allotted annually to market research to be an investment that yields remarkable results.

P&G interacts with more than 4 million consumers a year in nearly sixty countries. ‘We conduct more than 10,000 research studies each year and invest more than $200 million per year in consumer and market understanding. Our research spans more than twenty-five product categories, providing a more complete understanding of consumers than companies focused more narrowly on a few categories. We see innovation and opportunities that others do not see,’ said a company official in 2007.” – John Slatter, the 100 Best Stocks You Can Buy 2009.

We may not have a budget anywhere near the size of P&G’s, but soliciting customer feedback and being willing to listen to what they have to say is an investment that will pay dividends no matter our size or industry. It’s not an expense, it’s an investment!

  Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi

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chess_battle.jpgIn previous entries I’ve suggested that a much more ACTIONABLE alternative to long, drawn-out, boring strategic plans is to have a set of guiding principles that give members of the organization direction on how to make decisions. How to take ACTION, which is what strategic plans are supposed to accomplish in the first place. The problem is, about all that ever gets accomplished is that the plan gets written and then nothing happens. Zip. That’s the end of that. The plan goes in the desk drawer somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again, and it’s back to business as usual. Ugh. Don’t even get me started…

Because a good set of guiding principles helps empower everyone in the organization on what to DO to accomplish the purpose of the organization, they can become battle cries that help build culture that is incredible. Here’s a great article from Fast Company that boldly says that culture will eat strategy for lunch! Read on!

Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Remote_control_2.jpgCome Super Bowl Sunday we’ll all be gathered around the tube to give this hyped-up event the homage it deserves. Most of us will likely discuss the commercials that air during this glorious event as much as we discuss the game itself. That shouldn’t be so surprising considering how marketers pay close to $3 million per 30 seconds of Super Bowl airtime. Many of these things will be awe-inspiring productions. We may find ourselves talking about them for days afterward, in fact. A fair amount of them may cause us to look at our fellow Super-Bowl party attendees and go, “What the heck did that have to do with…anything?” If the creators of the commercials were at the party with us, they’d probably get all huffy and defensive and say that we’re missing the point. That the ad is supposed to generate “buzz” and that no brand will go far without first getting people to talk about it, and to get people to talk about it you first have to get their attention. And to get their attention you have to do something that dazzles them, and if they’re dazzled by the commercial, they’ll be dazzled by the product. If they love the commercial, they’ll love the brand, they might say.

Author Jack Trout refers to this  hoopla as “marketing theater” rather than marketing that should impress us, and he’s none too complimentary of most of it. He is quick to remind us of some important things about exactly what an advertisement is supposed to accomplish and what elements should be present in order for that to happen.

Trout says that an ad is basically what you do when you can’t send a salesperson to visit with the prospect. That simple fact shouldn’t be overlooked in any promotion we do, but especially for something we’re taking a three million dollar gamble on. Its ultimate purpose should be to SELL the VALUE of the offer. The content of the commercial should demonstrate how it is a superior solution over anything offered by a competitor and showcase how it will make the life of the customer better. That is the story the ad should tell.

As you watch the commercials that air during the big game, think about that and see if he might just have a point.

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” – David Ogilvy

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