Skip to main content

20 Assertions from A Marketing Conversation

Last night marked my return to the classroom. Adjunct assistant professor of marketing. A dream.


I’m going to leave the classroom discussion in the classroom. Let the energy stay there. Trust builds that way.


At the same time, some big ideas were shared, endorsed, chewed over.


Hope these are useful to you. Or that you have a comment, or would like to add to the conversation. What are the basics? What should everybody who wants to know about marketing, know right off the bat?


Here are last night’s 20:


1. We market, without realizing it, all the time.


2. Understand what the term “marketing” means to you upfront. Because if you don’t, you may find yourself talking past the other people in the room.


3. The key distinction to understand is between marketing and branding. (We didn’t talk about selling, but I’m throwing it in here, b/c I should have.) Branding is long-term image insurance, marketing is medium-to-short-term awareness-building, and selling is immediate term shouting designed to move merchandise. Think meat stew versus sautéing versus broiling.


4. Innovation is tough to do mainly because of social pressure. You have to train yourself to suggest things that others would find shocking.


5. Marketers must be ethical and tell the truth, but consumer insights cannot be based on political correctness. Only on what the marketer observes in an objective way.


6. Consider the regulatory environment and the client’s unique situation before suggesting solutions.


7. Exercise your marketing muscle by engaging people in conversation and then guessing what kind of brands they like, products they buy, etc.


8. It is not clear whether personality fundamentally changes over time, but life experiences do shape our thinking because we’ve gone through them.


9. To play defense is to be dead.


10. Emotion sells, but you have to control it so that you remain in touch with the customer and don’t seem like an out-of-control lunatic.


11. Usually it’s the throwaway insights that yield the most fruit.


12. You don’t always want the end user to know about your existence.


13. All publicity is good publicity. Usually.


14. The time to build a brand is way before you have a problem.


15. Rebranding is another way to say “failed brand.”


16.  Ask stupid questions if you don’t know.


17. Refuse the conventional definition of the problem statement if it suits your purposes.


18. Marketing is a helmet that you can put on and take off. It’s important to become aware when you’re doing that, and do it consciously.


19. If nobody is listening then you haven’t accomplished anything. Stop thinking so much about your message and what you want to say. Think more about connecting with the customer.


20. Corporate culture is the most important aspect of the brand and the most neglected.


Finally, when in doubt, refer to Starbucks. I criticize abundantly, but it’s only out of respect. Howard Schultz & Co. more or less wrote the book on how to build an outstanding brand, market it, and sell its individual products successfully.


Have a good evening everyone. Let me know what you think. And good luck.



Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …