Tag Archives: message development

Your company story: A business lesson from Buzz Lightyear

In 2010, Toy Story 3 was the top-grossing film in the U.S. by a large margin, and one of the biggest films ever. It Buzz Lightyear with a lesson for businesses was five years in development. But if you assume the Pixar crew spent most of that time using fancy computers to replicate human facial expressions, Buzz Lightyear has a surprise for you.

A lesson for businesses small and large:
Pixar spent the first four years of development just getting the story straight!

For four years, they amped up the drama. They made every detail of every plot twist and turn flow together. They filled the story with emotion. Toy Story 3’s secret sauce is not Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks or amazing technology – it’s the storytelling. Continue reading


Where does a small business even start? (part 1)

So you haven’t paid attention to your marketing for a while and it’s starting to show in your bottom line. Time to ramp up?

Marketers must analyze themselves, their customers and competition

Ready for some self analysis?

Marketing isn’t something you can easily turn on and off. If you don’t make it part of your everyday routine, constantly thinking of how to better serve and interact with your customers, and constantly monitoring your competition, you put yourself at a huge, ongoing disadvantage.

Where do you start to catch up? Before you do anything else: analyze your situation. Do it yourself, or pay someone with an outside perspective – you’d be amazed at how liberating this can be. In any case, here are three things you need to truly understand: Continue reading


Don’t make your customers look like twits in the name of “creativity”

Maybe your small business can’t run an ad campaign during the Super Bowl. But you can take lessons from a couple of big brands that did – and in doing so, offended the environmental community, all of Brazil, a huge chunk of the black community and anyone who is sympathetic to the Dali Lama. Continue reading


The hardest-working Super Bowl commercial was…

There’s a brand that’s in trouble. It’s been making shoddy products for years. It was (and maybe still is) at the brink of failure. It needs not just a Hail Mary, but a succession of them.

Wieden + Kennedy may have answered at least one of those prayers with its work for Chrysler, the first-ever 2-minute Super Bowl commercial.

A Super Bowl commercial must work much like any other marketing communication. It has to speak to the right people, on a matter that’s relevant, in terms they understand, and be compelling. It has to address a need in the client’s sales process, or sales funnel.

Do you think another Super Bowl spot worked better than Chrysler’s?
Please comment at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

But the Super Bowl comes with extra burdens: It creates more pressure to make impact than any other venue in the world of advertising. Everyone’s watching. Even if they’re not watching the game, they’re watching online. They’re FB’ing, Tweeting and emailing. They’re even blogging. You mess up, you’ve done more than waste time, money and opportunity. You can embarrass your brand.

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Is your vision statement a marketing tool?

Over the years, one of my favorite marketing tools has been the vision statement. As I was explaining my definition of a vision statement to fellow marketing strategist David Camp, he tells me, “Well, that’s great. But it’s not what most people call a vision statement.”

Your vision statement should look into the future for your customers

Look into the future for your customers

He’s exactly right. What I call vision, David calls market insight. It focuses on the future of the customer – what problems they’ll face and what heroic solutions the market will provide. For me, it’s a useful tool because it helps the client look into the future, and project how the customer will need to be served. It demonstrates the client’s industry expertise, understanding of customer needs, and understanding of trends and forces that, for all intents and purposes, are unstoppable. All our marketing efforts ought to have this kind of customer focus.

Comments welcome at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

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