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Lessons in Branding from Lady Gaga

March 8, 2017 4 comments

LadyGagaWas it just me, or were the Super Bowl commercials as a whole this year disappointing? Now let’s not mistake my personal point of view (POV); I’m a Super Bowl viewer for the football and the food. That being said, I’m always interested in watching the commercials because this is where the best of the best marketing campaigns are supposed to be launched, right? Apple, Doritos, Budweiser, e*Trade and others have made splashes with their highly expensive time slots on national television. My response to this year’s crop was a resounding….”meh.”

The vast majority of the commercials focused on something other than their brand. In some cases, you were left to wonder what the product or service was. Marketing execs seemed to go out of their way to make social statements rather than stating their own POV to their target audience.

If I were selling beer, I’d focus the viewers attention on people drinking beer and having fun. If I were selling cars, perhaps a wise strategy is focusing on creating a desire for said make and model of transportation. Bottom line, politics impacted thinking around branding this year. The problem is people watch the Super Bowl to be entertained both by the game and the commercials.

Alternatively, Lady Gaga left no doubt about her brand. Her performance for the halftime show was brilliant because it showed off her main talents – singing and entertaining. There were no overt statements made; the focus was on her music and style. She sang her most popular songs to expand the net of those who only occasionally here her music. I admit I don’t know all her work, however what she sang at halftime, I did.

She added surprise to her routine by starting the show on the roof and then repelled down to the stage. She concluded by jumping off the stage while catching a ball and disappearing to raucous applause. No one watching was left uncertain of her POV or brand.

So what’s this mean for you as a business owner?

It’s very easy to become confusing to your target market, if you’re not careful. If a beer manufacturer can lose it’s POV of what it does with a scattered marketing message, then the same can happen to you. Your marketing focus should be more Lady Gaga than Budweiser. Here’s how…

Be clear about your market. Ideally, who will purchase your products or services?  Are you B2B or B2C? This is important because B2Bs write a company check based on a budget; B2Cs must be influenced to part with a portion of their paycheck. You’ve got to start with this because your marketing will be focused on this buyer.

Be clear about your image. Lady Gaga’s wardrobe and stage was consistent with her brand. What’s your image say about you? Image is portrayed in style (old school vs. contemporary); language (bold vs. tempered); platform marketing (Social media vs. word of mouth); or any number of other characteristics based on your industry. The key question is – are you consistent?

Create curiosity and engagement. There was a lot of pre-halftime buzz about what Lady Gaga would do based on her penchant for being unpredictable (which is in itself consistent).  No matter what you’re marketing, there has to be some allure, some area of curiosity, and some engagement where your customer interacts with you. She had a live audience; what do you have?

Be you. Don’t try to copy others; be yourself. Be clear about your value and how you’re the company (or individual) best suited to improve the condition of your ideal customer.

Be bold. If Lady Gaga is one thing, she’s bold and a risk-taker. However, she has a plan. It’s all done for the benefit of her customer, the audience (whether in person or watching on TV).  If your marketing message is boring or white noise, it gets tossed in the virtual trash can, never to be retrieved. You might think you are bold, but how do you know your target customer thinks so? What kind of analytics do you run? What type of metrics do you use? Have you ever even asked?

Leave them wanting more. Lady Gaga left the stage with pizzazz and her followers can’t wait for the next performance. Does your marketing strategy motivate people to contact you or do they even care? You must be innovative around the idea of getting people to take action. That action is engaging in some way with you.

And she told two friends. And so on, and so on…. If you’re my age, you remember that shampoo commercial exhorting the power of name brand and referrals. The Lady Gaga brand is best spread through social media. Not only did she “trend” on social media platforms for days afterwards, it actually converted into big revenue. According to USA Today, her sales spiked by 1,000%!

Nielsen Music reports she sold 125,000 song downloads. That’s up roughly 960% compared to the day before the game. She sold over 23,000 albums on Sunday, representing a 2,000% increase.

Wouldn’t you take those kinds of returns? Bottom line is this – if you want to avoid having a Bad Romance with your business, increase your revenue, be wildly successful, and have more fun doing it, be more like Lady Gaga. Be clear on your value and messaging, and then pack the house!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.

Just Doing It

August 4, 2016 Leave a comment

TWoodsNike just announced that they are dumping their golf product line, which means no more manufacturing of golf balls, bags, or equipment. This has stunned the golf world, especially the tour players that are under contract for them. The three biggest names that featured the equipment and the swoosh are Michelle Wie, former World #1 Rory McIlroy, and of course, the once invincible Tiger Woods. Heck, Nike even named a building on the campus after Tiger.

The fallout has created confusion among the profile athletes in the golf world, and unfortunately has cost many Nike employees that were representative of Nike Golf, their jobs. As an avid golfer – and actually a guy that plays Nike golf balls, sports a Nike golf bag, and hits a Nike driver and hybrid – I have been more than intrigued and fascinated by this sudden and unexpected turn in events. In the process of learning more, I believe there is a lesson here for small and medium size enterprises and the CEOs and Presidents that run those companies.

The golf industry is highly competitive. Nike was much more significant when Tiger was prowling in his decade long run as arguably the greatest golfer ever. However, He now has nearly a 10-year drought in winning a major championship, hasn’t won any tournament in three years, and hasn’t played due to injury in one year. Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major since 2014 and Michelle Wie has been under-performing for over a year. This doesn’t help the brand and even though it sounds like they make a lot of money from golf, Nike has been hitting out of hazards over the last several years.

Their decision and verbiage on the press release is telling. They state that, “We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel…” Basically, the golf equipment game was a risk they were willing to take when they had the biggest name in golf. Without him, it began not making economic sense. So they decided to “just do” what they do best. According to Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”

They will focus on what they do best…

I talk to my clients all the time about their value proposition. The value proposition defines what you do best and how you improve the condition of others. Be it product or service, what is the one thing that you excel in? What are you the undisputed leader in doing?

Many small and medium size businesses will take forays into new ideas, new products, and new services. Innovation is great and I endorse that type of thinking. However, it better still be around your value proposition. It should still feed into what you do best. If it doesn’t, you may find that you lose a lot of time and money.

If you want to profitably grow your business, determine what you do and do more of it in a myriad of ways. Dump products or services that no longer work or showcase your value. Nike realized that the run was over. It truly ended being artificial because it was fueled by one profoundly valuable asset in Woods. Without him, they are just another “name” in the game, and well down the list. In their eyes, their value is in clothing and footwear.

Take a few minutes and look at your business. Are all your efforts focused on your value proposition and being an undisputed leader in your field or industry? Or, are you still dabbling in things that distract, confuse, or lose money? It’s better that you stay in your own fairway by improving your strengths and building a profitable and fun business.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Perilous For Your Business Health

June 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I read this morning that professional golf superstar Rory McIlroy is skipping the upcoming Olympic games in Rio due to concerns about the Zika virus. I recently saw him interviewed and he stated how he was very eager and excited about representing his native Ireland as an Olympian. Golf hasn’t been an event in the Olympics since Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, and there’s no guarantee it will make the next one. Obviously, the growing concern over the virus has swayed this 27 year old who is getting married within the year to look beyond golf and glory. His legacy as a father and health of his family took precedence. He’s not the only one…

Athletes want to compete in the Olympic Games. For many, it’s the crowning achievement of their craft and because it only comes around every four years, the window of opportunity is small. What the Olympic Committee has basically created is a terrible situation where you have demand, you have ample supply, but that supply is tainted and toxic.

Consider those in the business of selling products and services to individuals and business…most likely you are one of them. Do you have a demand and supply, but make the process of buying toxic?

Certainly you aren’t dealing with a health hazard like mosquitoes and polluted water. However, your client experience may be such that they will avoid you like the Zika virus! Here are three quick ways to avoid being spurned:

  1. Make access to you easy. Look at your web site, social media platforms, email signatures, and digital or hard copy brochures. I’m amazed at how difficult it is to find contact information for some businesses. It should be easier than ever! And once they can find you, make the call a pleasant experience, not akin to having a tooth pulled.
  2. Be solutions driven. Problems happen from time to time. It’s one of the costs of doing business. Instead of fearing or dreading dealing withe them, employ people that seek the opportunity to solve problems quickly, fearlessly, and with authority. That last one is vitally important. The overwhelming majority of your clients and prospects understand that challenges and adversity occur; they simply want someone that can rapidly and professionally solve them.
  3. Be consistent. My experience is that consistency, even in less than perfect situations, keeps clients and customers coming back. Inconsistent policies, procedures, responses to questions, access, and products/services alienate those that want and need your help and product.

Here’s the deal…I know you’re not harmful to the health of your client, but you very well may be harmful to your business by not being cognizant of the factors that contribute to client and prospect dissatisfaction. Work to be exceptional on my three solutions I listed, and you won’t have to worry about anyone bowing out of your “event.”

 

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Need for Speed

April 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Speed is critical to success in business. Weedin Place image

Period.

While this seems like an overly simplistic statement, I’m constantly amazed at how many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t follow this mantra. Do you ever catch yourself saying something like:

“I just need to wait until I have the money to….”

“I am going to wait for the perfect time to…”

“I need to think about…”

Here’s the deal. Smart and savvy business people don’t need to take a lot of time to make a decision. Here’s the formula: Assess the situation. Quickly determine upside and downside. Create metrics to measure return on investment. Make a decision and commit to it.

Fear is the primary cause keeping entrepreneurs from pulling the trigger with velocity. The consequences of lack of speed – especially in today’s fast-paced, digital world – are severe. They include loss of opportunity, loss of valuable time that can never be reclaimed, and regret and anxiety for not having had the courage of commitment and missing out. The primary fear is manifested in the thinking that a risk will fail. Welcome to being in business. Risks fail all the time. Rarely are failures fatal. Taking risks is the hallmark of an entrepreneur. If you follow my decision-making model above, I surmise you’ll win significantly more than you lose. And even in those losses, there is opportunity.

I’m not suggesting that you take every risk that comes your way. I am suggesting you make speedier decisions. Here’s one important example:

Entrepreneurs often put themselves last when it comes to investing in themselves. They are eager to invest in better equipment and technology, the professional development of their employees, and marketing. While all these are terrific investments, the most important is the growth and development of the owner. It’s the first place that should be considered because without continually improving one’s own self, the rest of the organization will never reach it’s potential. I’ve heard entrepreneurs say, “I can wait on me until we can afford it.” The reality is that they can’t afford to be without it. The faster they grow their skills, the faster the company develops and accomplishes greater things.

Speed to market, speed to being smarter, speed to produce, and speed to reaching your ideal condition as a company are common denominators of successful and significant companies and business professionals. You don’t have to drive 55 on this highway; instead get your engines revved up and speed toward greater success!

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Video Killed the Radio Star and What That Means to You

October 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-19I recall vividly listening to radio growing up in the 1970s. As a kid, I enjoyed listening to the local radio “jocks” playing music and waxing poetic in between Top 40 songs. Radio personalities like Casey Kasem made a name (and a brand) for themselves in those days. As the decades passed, I also started regaling in the opportunity to listen to sports talk. As a sports junkie, I listed to all the local radio “jocks” opining their own thoughts as well as taking calls from listeners. For all the years of avidly listening to some format in radio, the “working end” of the interaction was always hidden. Like the Great Oz behind a curtain, we had  no idea what anyone actually looked like; only identifying with their voice. The joke was always, “He has a face made for radio.”

That’s all changed…

Today you can literally watch your favorite radio personalities go about their business. The genre doesn’t matter – sports music, politics, news – it’s all available either live on TV or streaming online. The industry has basically lifted its curtain and let you in to its lair. For example, every morning after I get back from the gym, I watch the Dan Patrick Show (popular sports journalist and host) being broadcast live from its New York studio. I see all the producers; all the equipment; listen to them speaking to someone on the phone; and often watch live interviews. On Patrick’s show, they even show the breaks and interactions between the staff.

You might be asking, “So what, who cares, what’s in it for me?” What’s this mean for you and your business and career?

Plenty. If you want to build your brand, you must be visual. Our society has changed from static yellow pages advertisements to You Tube promotions. You can’t bank on the fact that hiding behind a phone or email will be the accepted method of communications now or in the future. I spent 60 minutes on a business call with a colleague in Florida on Google video conference. I didn’t even shave, but my beard masks all those facial flaws anyway…

Here’s the deal – find ways to make your company and you more visual. Learn how to utilize videos as part of your website marketing, your blogging, and your messaging. Use images in your speaking to enhance your presentations (note I said images, not text). Become skilled in video conferencing for webinars and client/prospect calls. Many customer service platforms in the insurance industry now offer video chats. Can you do the same? You need to throw back your own curtain and be prepared to have your market see you in all your glory.

Video killed the radio star back in the mid 1980s when MTV and VH1 emerged. It’s progressively evolved in entertainment and business. If you stay static and unseen, you’ll end up going the way of the yellow pages. If you commit to being cutting edge and creative when it comes to showing off your business, you’ll become the next rock star in your world.

© 2015 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved

Practicing what I preach – check out my latest video blog.

Weedin Unleashed Recording – What’s Your Brand?

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment

18 minutes, 55 seconds

© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved

Unleashed Leadership LAST WEEK to Pre-Order at 40% Discount
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Are You Leading the Pack?

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

I see that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is bowing out of his presidential bid after a pedestrian performance last week in the Republican debate. I think more will start following suit.

But this is NOT a political blog or article. It’s a metaphor for comprehending where your business is now and where you aspire for it to be. Allow me to explain…

Before Walker dropping out, there were 16 candidates (or so…I lost count). There were so many that many of them had to eat at the kid’s table in the debate structure….that is they were the not ready for prime time players according to the polls. Carly Fiorina made such a splash in the first debate, she moved her way up the chain and forced her way to the adult table for Round 2. In the second debate last week, you had 11 (and at times it seemed more) candidates trying to get a word in edge-wise. The result was that a few improved their position (including Fiorina) and some others dropped like the proverbial lead balloon…Walker among them. If you are following the debates at all, you’ll notice in such a large field, not everyone can capture the attention. Those that don’t are left in the abyss, while others rise.

Here’s my point…

YOU have competition. Sometimes it’s others that do what you do, or live in the same industry. Often, you have competition within the organizations you’re trying to attract as clients (e.g. consultants getting push back from internal sources). Whatever the case, if you’re not adept at becoming an object of interest, you may be yourself eating at the kid’s table and not even know it!

In presidential races, it’s often the loudest and most bombastic that take the lead. Ultimately, the ones that are most skilled at influence rise to the top. The same is true with you. There may be others that are louder, but the ability to influence, persuade, and be interesting usually wins the day. Here are some quick tips to do that:

  1. Don’t shrink from being contrarian. Everybody regurgitating the same ideas gets boring and lost. Find a way to get your message across in a way that’s brand new and thought-provoking.
  2. Defend your position. If someone challenges you, that’s fine. Make sure you don’t shirk away from controversy. I’m not talking about being obnoxious. I am saying that you need to be prepared to defend your position with interesting examples, stories, and facts.
  3. Avoid vanilla. Delivery is everything. How you express your message is just as important as your message itself. It’s steak and sizzle. You need both becasue without any sizzle, nobody will buy the steak!
  4. Being ordinary gets you pushed down. In the debates, that means going to the kid’s table. Its really about distinguishing yourself. Can you distinguish your products and services versus your competitors? How do you know?
  5. Never get fazed. The ability to smile in adversity and remain cool is noticeable to others and carries great power.

Bottom line – your business (no matter the size) needs to distinguish itself as THE front-runner; and that is up to you. How are you faring in your own “polls?”

© 2015 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved