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Does Your Business Have Multiple Personality Disorder?

Does Your Business Have Multiple Personality Disorder?

Marketing is not about selling.

Marketing is establishing or propagating a brand in the eye of the consumer. One of the most important things any business has to achieve is “brand awareness”.

The brand is what sells not the marketing.

Al Ries helped me with an important principle in regards to branding:

“The power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope”

What did he mean by that? He meant that for any business to thrive the important step they must take is telling the consumer (in various ways and means, i.e. “marketing”), “We do ____”. One thing. One thing only. We don’t only do it – we are masters at it. We are authorities in this area.

Consider the businesses that have really thrived and took off throughout the years: Starbucks, Subway, Hertz, etc. Each one of these started out not trying to be “everything to everyone”, but knew what one thing they wanted to do and they did it.

Look closely.

Whenever a business tries to extend themselves beyond this, they begin to decline or lose their branding power. It’s also interesting to see that the ones who started out with a powerful brand and got greedy and began to try and do what everyone else was doing and lost their influence. Pretty soon someone else will come and pick up where they began and they will be the new stud on the block.

You remember Cadillac’s attempt at making a smaller car? Now think about it. Who wants a small Cadillac? Those two words don’t even go together. But in the wake of heightened consumer demand for smaller, more cost efficient vehicles, the Cadillac group couldn’t resist. They did it and it failed terribly. Most don’t even know which car I’m talking about.

Last I heard Starbuck’s is getting into ice cream now… ugh.

Ford now owns Chevrolet in the truck market. Why? Because they poured all their advertising energy and engineering into that division.

In 1988, American Express had a handful of cards and 27 percent of the market. Then it started to introduce a blizzard of new cards including: Senior, Student, Membership Miles, Optima, Optima Rewards Plus Gold, Delta SkyMiles Optima, Optima True Grace, Optima Golf,Purchasing, and Corporate Executive, to name a few. The goal, according to the CEO, was to issue twelve to fifteen new cards a year. American Express market share today: 18 percent (1).

As a sales writer our job is to find each company’s “One Thing”. To help them to find it and to broadcast it. It isn’t that they can’t have but one service to offer, but they have to know what “one thing” sets them apart and drives business and not try to be Masters of the Universe.

I was doing a proposal for a local business one time and the owner told me that everyone in their city had considered them the leader at one particular area of service. There was a growing need for another and he asked if I would help him to market this service. I politely told him that this was a bad idea. They only needed to keep pushing and keep announcing their specific area of expertise and watch it rise and not give in to the urge to go in another direction.

The worst writing I have ever done is when my ability to influence a business of this fails and they persist in having multiple personalities. It’s a hard way to write and makes for miserable reading. Not everyone can be a Walmart. Those that try soon meet their demise.

So here is the tip for your writing:

Focus on one thing. One target group. One audience. Write to them like you were sitting in a coffee shop telling them about whatever product or service you are attempting to sell. Resist schizophrenic tendencies. Watch your advertising skyrocket.

1. Ries, Al; Ries, Laura (2009-10-06). The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The Next Time They Ask, “How Are You?” (Unexpected Responses To Life’s Most Dull Questions)

You know you are going to get asked at some point. Why not have some fun with it?

How Are You?

I’ve been way way worse.

Not near as contagious.

Another day closer to death.

Better than I need to be.

They say I should be fine.

It may look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level, I’m actually quite busy.

Great. They’ll never find me here.

I’m fine. It’s everyone else in this place that needs to worry.

Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow.

Fine, as long as another person doesn’t ask me that.

Gradually moving from self-pity to self-loathing. How are you?

I was right in the middle of a complicated, but life-altering mental project, but sure I could take a break.

Short about 5 dollars. How are you?

I know I am, I just don’t know “how I am”.

Shh. They’re listening to us.

*Pretty much anything in an indigenous language.


How’s It Going?

Very quickly.

In accordance with my genetic destiny.

Living off the kindness of strangers.

A lot smoother with less baggage.

Needing to confide in someone for awhile, you busy the rest of the day?

Not bad. As long as I don’t buy anything else, I should have enough money to live on for the rest of my life.
“Find everything ok?” (asked by check-out clerk)

Yep and some things I never ever wanna find again for the rest of my life.

Yes, cops are on their way.

Well of course or I’d still be out there looking for it. Pssh.


Howard Gossage’s famous quote reads:
“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.”

If you are in advertising of any kind you know immediately what he meant. We advertisers are in competition with You-Tubers, Meme Generators, videos of Grandpa backing over his mailbox and someone setting their hair on fire. Somehow in the midst of all this noise, we must gain their attention and create awareness.

“So we scream. So we shout. Until we don’t have a voice” – Kenny Chesney

There is a better way. Copywriting is all about finding unnatural ways to liven up the ordinary. To spice up the norm – suck the bore out. Our job is to take the common and bring in a new way of seeing it. No one cares about a toothbrush, a blow dryer or an oil change, but we need them don’t we? We do and people are going to buy them. So why not have fun with it? Why not make an appeal to the buyers that doesn’t feel so drab?

This isn’t a new idea. Marketing departments for many large companies realize that to compete they too must enter into the arena of nonsense. Get silly. Take their pants off. There is no longer a choice. The people have spoken and they (not the CEOs) are calling the shots.

The good news? We get to act crazy and maybe have a little fun at work.

Creativity breeds creativity and we must never let it take a day off.

Blah, blah blah. So anyway…

How have you been?