Archives For Marketing

Stairway to Brand Heaven

Mark Howell —  June 13, 2008

One of the bloggers I check out regularly is David Armano over at Logic + Emotion.  Often a really good way of looking at things, maybe a little unexpected, but definitely will make you think.  Check out this diagram about the Stairway to Brand Heaven:

Interesting, don’t you think?  This is all about the way things work from the standpoint of brand value (whether you’re talking corporate or personal).  Want to build loyalty in your customer?  Building loyalty takes a lot of work.  Positive interactions are only the beginning.  Consistency and credibility are important steps along the way.  Authenticity and trust get you beyond credibility to the place where you’re actually building loyalty.

The truth?  Compromise on consistency or waste credibility on a half-hearted effort…and you take a few steps down the stairway.  Fudge a little on something or break trust even for an instant…and you may take a giant leap backwards and have to rebuild.  Want to build brand loyalty?  Where are you?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  As true as that is…and it is true…sometimes a well crafted image is pretty powerful too.  Check out this line from Hugh over at Gapingvoid:


Speaking of Seth Godin, you can listen in to the interview over at Catalyst right here.  Great interview.

Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) is out with a free preview of his next book on the concept of certain kinds of things "wanting to be free."  You can read his article right here.   I referred to the idea previously in Uncopyable Values, and this is a really important concept to understand.

Basic idea?  In the past some things were "free" because you bought another item (think razor blades).  Today the shift is to another kind of free.  Think email storage, youtube, the New York Times online, etc.

So if things truly "want to be free" how does anyone charge for anything?  There are things that become more valuable, like reputation and attention, and those things aren’t free.  You can read more about this in Uncopyable Values.

Anderson’s article on free is an interesting concept, packed with ideas that are important for all of us.  I particularly found these two paragraphs helpful:

is not the only scarcity in the world. Chief among the others are your
time and respect, two factors that we’ve always known about but have
only recently been able to measure properly. The "attention economy"
and "reputation economy" are too fuzzy to merit an academic department,
but there’s something real at the heart of both. Thanks to Google, we
now have a handy way to convert from reputation (PageRank) to attention
(traffic) to money (ads). Anything you can consistently convert to cash
is a form of currency itself, and Google plays the role of central
banker for these new economies.

There is, presumably, a limited supply of reputation and attention
in the world at any point in time. These are the new scarcities — and
the world of free exists mostly to acquire these valuable assets for
the sake of a business model to be identified later. Free shifts the
economy from a focus on only that which can be quantified in dollars
and cents to a more realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today.

I don’t understand it all…but I know it applies to what all of us do.  In a way it has to do with the reallocation of what matters, "a realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today."

You can read the whole article right here.

Free palmOne Wi-Fi Card

The Decaying Value of Brands?

Mark Howell —  February 22, 2008

Branding.  Got it down?  Know what you’re talking about?  Maybe you’ve worked through a branding process with your organization.  Maybe you know you need to but haven’t gotten around to it.  Branding’s big.

But is it always going to stay big the way it is right now?

Read an interesting article by Umair Haque over at Harvard Business Online: The Shrinking Advantage of Brands.  Basic idea?  Back in the day, when print, radio and television were the only way to market your product, branding as we know it made sense.  You had to condense your message in order to get it across.  If you wanted "front of mind" you had to use things like logos and slogans that could be communicated in the mediums that were available and that’s not cheap.  Companies like Coke and P&G invest 10 to 15% of revenues into marketing. 

What’s happening now?  Those forms are still with us, but cheap interaction is changing the game.  The number one brand, according to Millward Brown’s Brandz report is Google.  And Google invests nothing in advertising.  What’s going on?  According to Haque "cheap interaction" (between customers) is causing the value of brands to decay.  "The cheaper interaction gets, the more connected consumers can talk to
each other – and the less time they have to spend listening to the
often empty promises of firms."

This is an interesting idea.  Has a lot to say about what all of us do.  Take a look at the article and let me know what you think.


If you’re up on who’s doing cool things, you already know about Seth Godin and Tim Sanders.  Two of my favorite bloggers and authors.  Part of Seth’s sort’ve book tour for his new book, Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?, has been a series of audio interviews with panels of well-known writers and bloggers.  This is a good one!  You can check it out right here.

Is There a Tipping Point?

Mark Howell —  January 28, 2008

Think you know how trends spread?

One of the most influential books over the last few years has been Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.  Very interesting stuff.  Based on the idea that trends are launched by a very few influential people referred to in the book as mavens, The Tipping Point has had an impact on the marketing strategies of many organizations.  And now it turns out that we may have given too much credit to the theory.

In a fascinating Fast Company article, Duncan Watts, a "a network-theory scientist who recently took a sabbatical from Columbia University and is now working for Yahoo," challenges the "influentials" theory.  Gladwell’s diplomatic response?

Duncan Watts is exceedingly clever, and I’ve learned a great deal from
his research," he emailed me. "In the end, though, I suppose that I
feel the same ways about his insights as I do about Steve Levitt’s
disagreements with me over the causes of the decline in violent crime
in the 1990s. I think that all books like The Tipping Point
or articles by academics can ever do is uncover a little piece of the
bigger picture, and one day–when we put all those pieces
together–maybe we’ll have a shot at the truth.

Gotta love it!  Very interesting article.  You can check it out yourself right here.

Want some very practical applications?  Take a look at Guy Kawasaki’s blog for some great takeaways.

Seth Godin on Meatball Sundae

Mark Howell —  January 24, 2008

If you haven’t checked out Seth Godin’s latest interview on his newest book/idea, Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?, you can listen in right here.  Basic idea?  Commodities (necessary products) are everywhere.  Meatballs are commodities.  When you try to put the new marketing on top of a meatball…well, it’s like putting the sundae toppings on top of a meatball.

How does it apply to all of us?  Well…I’m pretty sure there are a few of us working in a meatball factory and at the same time trying to figure out how to grow.  And we’re tempted to try and market what we’re producing, thinking that marketing is what’s missing.  Dohhhhhh!

There are definitely some great sound bites on this one.  Love the idea of "who vs. how many" from the standpoint of really designing your strategy to capture a certain kind of person versus "the watered down larger market."

Or how about this one: "If you make x in a factory, then you’re probably going to have a hard time growing."  Again, factories make commodities.  And commodities are meatballs.  Try to dress them up with a little whipped cream and a cherry and you don’t get an appetizing thing.  You get a meatball sundae.

In addition to Seth Godin, the interview features Chris Anderson (author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More),  Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek), and John Jantsch, founder at Duct Tape Marketing.

Take a listen right here.


Mark Howell —  December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve.  All is calm, all is bright.  2007’s version is a good one.  Hope your’s is as well.

Tripped across this over at Valeria’s.  Very interesting to see it unfold.

Is your business geared towards today’s realities?  Maybe I need to debug a couple things.  First of all, we ALL are in a business of some kind.  It may not be "for-profit".  You may not think of it as a business.  But, as Peter Drucker said, "What business are you in?" and "How’s business?" are two questions right at the heart of what defines success.   So…we’re all in a business, right?  Second item to debug might be the idea of "today’s realities."  What I’m getting at is the idea that life today is just different than it was even a decade ago.  But it is very different than it was 50 years ago.  We all need to be honest about how relevant our business actually is, as currently defined.

So, those two items debugged, is your business geared towards today’s realities?

Let me give you a frame of reference.  In Welcome to Offer World, Seth Godin breaks down how a stranger might be converted to a customer in today’s reality.  The short version is that many web-based efforts attempt to do this:  offer —> sale

when it really works like this:
offer—> sample —> permission —> learning —> sample —> sale —> subscription.

Now, I believe this translates into ALL of our worlds.  But we’re not geared this way.  So we need to be retooled if we’re going to have any chance of succeeding.

What do you think?

Be sure and check out Seth’s whole post.