I am convinced of it—advertising has a brand problem.
Discussion after discussion, meeting after meeting, experience after experience, it keeps coming back to me: advertising is losing the war.
With big agencies, and big accounts, and big budgets, the word ‘advertising’ is still okay. But in small to mid-sized business, saying ‘advertising’ in conversation makes you sound like you’re completely out of touch with today.
The CEOs, managing partners, and presidents of today’s businesses and organizations don’t like advertising. It’s been drilled into their heads that it doesn’t work, or at least a big part of it doesn’t. That can be argued, but that’s for another blog post.
What can’t be argued (well) is that our terms have changed. Today’s executive is much more interested in ‘marketing’. Now the classic definition puts advertising as one activity under the marketing umbrella, but that’s beside the point. That’s not how corporate America is using the term.
Marketing is now loosely defined as everything to promote your product or service EXCEPT advertising. It’s about social media, personal selling, networking, PR, sales promotion, trade promotion, events, and ‘engagement’. It’s not about advertising.
The C-suite has been misguided, I will give you that. In the push for ‘accountability’ in marketing and advertising expenditures, traditional advertising has been pushed aside by the Internet for its incredible measurements and metrics. With the web, we know who is visiting our sites and opening our emails. When know when the did it, for how long, and where they clicked. And if a purchase action occurred, we can point our finger right to the action and know how, where and why.
Tradition advertising doesn’t offer those luxuries. It’s much harder to track—not impossible, but harder. CEOs want numbers…or better put, CFOs are pushing CEOs to want numbers.
Here’s the catch: just because its harder to measure doesn’t mean it isn’t working.
To add to the challenges of advertising accountability, we now have to worry about the perception of the whole concept.
Since the economic downturn of 2008, my students at Pepperdine University have learned that it is far easier to get ‘marketing’ jobs than ‘advertising’ jobs. And that, my friends, is a classic brand problem.
Advertising and branding luminaries Stuart and Bob Sanders years ago drilled into my head that branding problems are not always (or even often) from real circumstances. They are from perceptions. And the good news is those perceptions can be altered.
So I challenge you marketing folk to watch your use of the terms of this profession, and measure the results on the faces of your clients. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself talking more about ‘integrated marketing’ efforts, and less about ‘advertising campaigns.’
Marketing is making a comeback, and so am I. For the past 9 months, I’ve been actively blogging, but not under my own name. I was hired by several others to become their online voice. I’ve learned a lot new and exciting bits of marketing information which I plan to share with you over the coming months.
I chose take a rest from my own blog, but that’s over. I’m back to blogging on marketing and branding topics, and now in my own voice, and under my own name. While I will still consult with others on their blog efforts, I will not do it at the cost of my own blog ever again!
So, with that, please stay tuned for my upcoming posts, including commentary on the success and failures of social media, the marketing winners of this recession, and who the marketing thought leaders should be following.
It’s good to be back home!
What does the Apple iPad have to do with legal marketing? A lot.
Apple introduced the iPad in the spring of this year (2010). It came with modest applause from Mac fans; boo’s and jeers from the PC world. It wasn’t a full computer. It was, in essence, a giant iTouch. Most just simply said, “Why?”
That why was not a real question, but a rhetorical one. Those who didn’t “get it” simply assumed it would go away. An Apple failure.
But that didn’t happen.
First week sales were a few hundred thousand. It took a bit longer to hit one million in sales. PC fans assumed sales would fall off after the first blush.
But that didn’t happen, either.
In its first 80 days, the iPad sold 3 million units. Not too shabby. Pretty sure more PC manufacturers would jump at that. As would most phone manufacturers. Or any manufacturers of anything, for that matter.
Oh, and during this time, Apple also launced the new iPhone 4. As of this writing, 1.7 million in sales…in just 5 days. Not bad.
What about the attorney’s and their marketing lesson?
I consult with a lot of attorneys, accountants, financial professionals, and other professional service providers. The competition for lawyers is intense, and they’re diving into marketing like kids jumping in a pool on a hot summer’s day.
As much as attorneys have learned to “build a case” in law, they, as a group, don’t do the same in marketing. I find that all too often they look a quick fix, a silver bullet, or a miracle advertisement. “Just tell me which ad is the best, because I only want to run the one that brings in business.” (Real quote.) That’s like us saying, “Just use the defense that gets me off the hook, because I only want the one that guarantees the jury aquits me.”
Here’s three things I’ve learned to say when speaking on marketing to groups of lawyers.
1) Brands are built step by step over time. How you answer your phone, if you answer your phone, or what your voice mail sounds like—they’re all a part of your brand. Every experience your clients receive in working with you builds (or tears down) your brand. And it never ends. Your brand as an attorney is never done.
2) Don’t worry if everybody doesn’t “get it” right away. Marketing attorneys and law firms is about marketing expectations. When people don’t have the need for your services, they won’t hear much. Keep the message simple. Focus on being different, and being memorable. But when a potential client needs your services, they’re like patients in the emergency room: they want to know that there’s someone around to make things better. That’s what your brand needs to tell them, that you can help make things better.
3) First, be good at what you do. Then get people to understand what you do. Apple, in my opinion, didn’t do a great job of explaining what the iPad was for in the pre-launch marketing. Was it a tablet? A computer? A big “apps” screen? Apple’s first concern was doing their job of making a good piece of equipment that worked well. And they did that. Next came explaining it. How did Apple do that? They simply launched it. I bet their research showed that once in people’s hands, they’d love iPads. Every person I know with one was in love within five minutes of booting it up. Apple didn’t need to “sell”, they needed consumers to “experience” the iPad.
Three million units later, I’d say its working.
It’s been said that iPads are lousy for productivity. Why? Because as soon as you bring one to a meeting, everyone wants to play with it.
I know one attorney, a big PC guy, who was into music. He determined that an iPod was the best MP3 player and got one. A while later, he decided to get an iPhone, because his Blackberry just didn’t do all he wanted. Once he got that, he decided he wanted an Apple laptop for work. And yes, when the iPad came out, he got one of those, too. PC user, to Apple evangelist in 3 months flat!
I asked him which he used in court. His answer? “All three. I line them up. My laptop has all my files and notes. and my iPad has my case and presentation on it.”
“What about your phone?” I asked.
“That’s for calling home when court is in recess!”
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I was recently asked to be a guest author of the new book(let) “Law Firm Marketing Leaders – Tips from a Collection of Experts”. In fact I was one of a dozen legal marketing experts to contribute.
As a brand consultant and executive marketing coach, I contributed five key personal marketing strategies for attorneys. I’ll be going over these in my blog in the days to come.
The books arrive at my office today…I’m shipping them out immediately to all of my lawyer / attorney clients! Please look for reviews coming up soon to a blog or website near you!
Although the idea of Internet video surpassing TV consumption isn’t a big surprise, the timing of it might be. In a new study of The Diffusion Group (TDG), it is estimated that Internet video consumption will eclipse regular TV by 2010. (Read more at http://bit.ly/aOgl55)
In just a single decade, we can expect to spend more time watch video via computers, pads, tabs, and phones (as well as any new yet-to-be-invented devices). For many of us, this may seem inconceivable. On the other hand, if you were to ask my university students, they’re surprised it hasn’t happened already.
The advertising, news, and economic impact of this will be staggering, marking a huge shift in communications. Marketing and branding will NOT be the same in the not-so-distant-future. We know officially live in a world where the consumer can choose what media they consume, and when. As my frequent readers may have heard me say before, we handed the keys of the communications car to the public, and as marketers we’ve been relegated to the backseat.
Stay tuned for more strategies on getting back behind the marketing wheel and learning to drive your message in a new way!
It’s the number one rule of marketing. It’s that one thing we all must do. It’s the difference between a brand that is irresistible and one that is forgettable.
And if you’ve ever seen City Slickers, you may know where I’m going with this.
I recently sat in a meeting with a potential client. They’re a service firm, and they have a pretty good marketing focus on what they’re doing.
The problem is that their internal struggle is that some of the management team is fighting with the focus, and doesn’t want to give up promoting other service offerings.
In analyzing their business, we determined that no matter what the service offering, they’re really known for one thing. In this case, it’s experience. They’re the area’s most experienced firm, by a long shot. This needs to be the lead in any and all marketing efforts.
It’s what In-N-Out learned long ago. In their case, it’s fresh, juicy, burgers. It’s “all about the burger.” That’s what they’re great at. In many people’s minds, they do it better than any other fast food restaurant. Fries? Shakes? Yeah, they do those, too. But you go to In-N-Out for the burgers. They GET the other sales, too, but people will go long out of their way for the burgers, right past McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and the rest.
What does your brand do better than anyone? What can you shout louder? What mountain top can you own?
We’ve found, with client after client, that a “focus” strategy creates better understanding and demand for the brand. It separates you from the pack. It makes you stand out. It makes you…irresistible!
Clients are concerned that they “give up” something when the focus, but we have seen time after time that you still get the other business, too. We call it “over the transom” business. It still comes in. But you can get more for the “focused” product or service because you’re seen as a leader, and it increases demand.
How does In-N-Out make their burgers even more special? Double-doubles, 4x4s, animal style, and protein style! They’ve created their own burger language by having a “secret” menu.
Every brand needs a #1 rule for their marketing efforts. As Billy Crystal held up his index finger and talked about the “one thing” everybody needs to know about the meaning of life. There’s one thing you need to know about your brand. Do it right, and the rest “don’t mean a thing.”
Some of you love her. Some of you hate her. Politics aside, this woman is an expert on personal marketing and branding!
Just as I’ve spoken on how Barack Obama can rally a crowd better than any politician in the past 20 years, I believe that Sarah Palin is showing she is a master of controlling her own personal brand.
Here are three things Sarah Palin, love her or leave her, is doing really brilliantly as a personal brand.
1) SHE’S FOUND A MOUNTAINTOP SHE CAN SHOUT FROM
When Palin appeared on the national scene during the last presidential election, most of us didn’t know who she was. Sure, she was the governor of Alaska, but when did that make anyone a political powerhouse? But over time Palin has been climbing a mountain. When other Repulicans were slipping down their own mountains, she was climbing up her own. She’s been unafraid of taking positions, and she’s galvanized a whole segment of the population. She’s also alienated another segment, but that’s a part of her positioning. She’s no agnostic! Today she shouts from the mountaintop of Republican women (and some would argue she’s higher up than most Republican men, too!). By being at the top, she gets “top of mind” recall on most issues. Here’s the measure: what journalist doesn’t want to interview her right now? KEY QUESTION: What mountaintop can your personal brand own?
2) HER BRAND IS CLEAR, CONCISE, & CONSISTENT
Think Nike. Think Apple. Think Coca Cola. Think Palin. Each of these “brands” paints an instant picture in our minds. Nike is about the athlete in all of us. Apple is all about cool technology. Coca Cola is the real thing. And Palin, she’s the 40-something conservative mom-turned politician who comes off more like the woman next door than the Washington policitical insider we’re used to in national politics. Her message is clear, concise, and consistent, as any powerful brand message needs to be. KEY QUESTION: Do all of your customers (or potential customers) know what you’re “all about”?
3) SHE LIVES HER BRAND
She flubs her lines. She writes notes on her hand. Her daughter got pregnant. For her, that’s all just a day in the life. No biggee. She’s not about polish. She’s about plain language, sweatshirts, family, and stirring up stuff. And one might argue that her recent book deals and speaker’s fees put her in a new world, but remember, she’s a Republican. They won’t look down on her for making money. KEY QUESTION: Do you live your personal brand each and every day?
Love her, hate her, or don’t give a darn about her—doesn’t matter. If you want to build a personal brand, her personal marketing is worth watching!
Oops! An Apple employee “accidently” leaves a prototype 4G iPhone in a Redwood City bar. Accident? Or brilliant PR? Or counter-intelligence to throw off the competitors?
First off, what’s an employee doing with the phone off-site? If he was trying to hook up, and iPad might be good enough to make the grade with nearby Stanford co-eds.
Oh, was he “field testing?” We’re they were checking for possible Verizon reception in the bar? Can you hear me now?
Maybe AT&T should be worried? Maybe this was right on track for the marketing plan.
What I know is that Apple is brilliant at marketing. If they wanted word to get out, they got it. If they didn’t, they’ll spin it to their favor.
And by the way, Apple’s stock is more than double what it was a year ago. Hmmm, not bad in a recession.
Marketing misstep, or brilliant PR? You decide.