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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.

Punching Back…Hard

February 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Ronda RouseyRonda Rousey, in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, admitted that she was so distraught after her defeat to Holly Holm in November that she briefly contemplated suicide. The former UFC champion had been undefeated – and literally unmatched – until Holm knocked her out in the 2nd round of their title bout. Rousey’s words in the interview were chilling. She said, “I sat in the corner and thought – What am I if I’m not this anymore?”

What am I if I’m not this anymore?”

“This” for Rousey was undisputed, undefeated, and rock star UFC champion. I don’t doubt her sincerity in her statement or her feelings after the fight. I’m glad she found a way out of that mindset through the help of her friends and family. And, this sentiment doesn’t just hold true for athletes like Ronda Rousey. The world of entertainment is rife with stories of “stars” that have committed or attempted suicide or just threw their life away because they no longer identified as the “rock star” any longer. They defined their life – and their self-worth – as that “rock star.”

Humans are humans. Business people can fall victim to the same mindset. It’s not limited to Fortune 500 CEOs, political figures, and well-known business moguls. It can also happen to a small business owner that is running a 3rd generation family business and is facing a crisis; a sales superstar that has gone from fortune to famine; or a community leader that has fallen on hard times. These are just examples…the truth is that anyone can get caught in the trap of defining themselves by what they do rather than who they are.

When I coached high school basketball a decade ago, I admit I was pretty competitive. In my earlier years of coaching youth basketball, my teams won the vast majority of our games. As a high school coach, the losses outweighed the wins by a much larger margin. There were times that I allowed myself to be defined as a coach – and as a person- based on my winning percentage. The only person thinking that was me. I had defined myself as a “winning coach,” and “what was I if I was no longer that?” This hurt my self-image, my self-talk, and my self-confidence.

Fortunately, that was short-lived. These can often be minor points of time based on perspective and proportion. For business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs, this definition of themselves may be tougher to break free from.

Let’s do a very quick exercise to help you find out where your self-worth is currently:

FirstHow do you define yourself? What makes you who you are? Is it your job, your business, your affiliations?

SecondWhat happens if that’s gone? Are you opportunistic to find something else, or will you be crushed? Is what you do everything, or are you resilient to become anything?

FinallyDo you believe that you’re special, talented, and great even if when you fail? Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson confidently proclaimed after he threw a game-ending interception in the Super Bowl that he wouldn’t let that one play define him. He was seeking that next opportunity to be great. The following year, he had his best year ever.

Maybe in the end, since we started with Ronda Rousey, we should look at this from a boxing perspective. It’s not simply about being able to take a punch in life. Almost all of us have been able to do that.

The real question is – Can you can take a punch and then jump back up and deliver two punches of your own? People with great self-worth, that define themselves by who they are and not what they do, and that are resilient and opportunistic…these are the people that can.

Russell Wilson has. I have full confidence that Ronda Rousey will. But more importantly for the purpose of this article, can you?

Go define yourself as a puncher and a winner. That’s the surest and straightest past to living an “Unleashed” life.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Can You take a Punch?

February 4, 2015 2 comments

o-lineIt’s three days after an excruciatingly painful Super Bowl loss for my hometown team. The Seattle Seahawks and their fans basically took a brutal punch to the gut.

In the span of about 30 “real-time” seconds from the point where Marshawn Lynch was tackled on the 1-yard line to the fateful interception by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, we all went from the jubilation of winning the Super Bowl to losing. Cruel.

Now I understand that as a fan, this isn’t the most compelling crisis that’s occurring around the world. The measles outbreak in the United States; the terrorist actions around the globe; and the winter storm pummeling the Midwest and East Coast surely are weightier in a human perspective. That’s not quite the same for the players and organization, though.

For these people, this is their livelihood. Just as you and I go about our jobs and careers, this is their “business.” That not only includes high-salaried players and coaches; it also means the office and support staff in the building. It’s the equivalent of your company being “sucker punched” and having the entire organization in crisis-mode.

My question for you is – Can you take a punch and get back up?

The Seahawks now have to answer this question as an organization. The culture, the churn of players and coaches, and the overall mindset must stay resilient. There will be hurt feelings in the locker room. There is likely to be drama regarding new contracts offered, and others not offered. There will be that lingering feeling of opportunity lost that never goes away. Leadership and communication is critical to being able to take a punch and stand back up for them.

The same is true for you in business and in your personal life.

There are two important aspects to this resiliency. The first is physical. Do you have processes and redundancies in place to overcome a physical disaster like a fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, or loss of power? Is your insurance adequate to replace and repair property? Do you have a plan for staying open in the interim period? These are all questions that good business leaders deal with in advance.

The second aspect is more challenging and more important.

Resiliency is easy when fixing property – homes, equipment, buildings, computers. Fixing the emotional side is harder – loss of confidence, depression, distraction, fear, sense of loss, and uncertainty.

Great leaders can do this knowing 3 important things:

  1. It will take time. I know we all like to fix things fast. Emotional resiliency requires some level of grief, understanding, and perspective. It can’t be rushed, only lightened.
  2. It requires constant communication from the top down. Candid, real, and transparent communication.
  3. It requires trust. Sometimes in crisis, trust is lost, or at least damaged. In order to rebuild trust, you must enhance organizational culture.

Bottom line- we will soon see of the Seahawks are able to take a punch and pop back up. Based on experience, I’m certain they can and will. What about you personally and professionally?

Can you take a punch?

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserve

My Super Bowl Epilogue – Therapy for a 12 the Day After…

February 3, 2015 2 comments

20140121-162057.jpgI’ve been asked my many of my faithful readers what my thoughts were on the end of the Super Bowl. They were surprised that I didn’t vent on my Extra Points, but that edition was written long before the game.

When I coached high school basketball, I had a 24-hour rule (especially after losses) on making statements to avoid allowing emotion take over. This one hurt…bad. Heartbreaking, tragic, and any other adjective on that level applies to me and my fellow 12s. There may even be a few lessons on leadership and management for all of us. You never know. So here it is…

Full disclosure…I expected and wanted Marshawn Lynch to carry the ball on 2nd down on the 1-yard line to score a go-ahead touchdown and win the Super Bowl. It’s what I (and about a gazillion other people including the Patriots) expected to happen. I still think it was a tragic error by Pete Carroll to call for a pass in that situation. But then again, I would have kicked a field goal with 6 seconds left in the first half. Which leads me to my first point…

  • You can’t have it both ways. Head Coach Pete Carroll has always been a gambler and as much as we sometimes cringe, we more often than not have ended up on the good side of the score. Have we forgotten last year’s 4th down completion to Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown against the 49’ers in the NFC Championship game that ended up being one of the critical game-changing plays? How about the fake field goal just 2 weeks ago versus Green Bay that resulted in our first touchdown? You live by the sword and you die by the sword. In truth, his instincts have been right more often than not.
  • Calling a pass in that situation (although I’m on record that I wanted the run) isn’t crazy. In fact, it’s a good option at that point with only one timeout left. My issue is the pass play itself. If you’re going to pass, put the ball in your point guard’s hands (i.e. Russell Wilson) and give him options to throw or run. Eliminate the necessity of perfect timing and a bunch of bodies clogging up the middle of the field. I watch every Seahawks game and I think they are more effective passing the ball in from the 1-yard line than running it. My issue is with the play.
  • Pete Carroll was right. The call was set up perfectly for the defense. If you watch the experts on ESPN or the NFL Network diagram it out, it was set up for success. Here’s my issue – I believe more in players than plays. If you have Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant running that route, fine. With all due respect to Ricardo Lockette, we don’t have that guy. The timing of the play requires that Wilson throw to a spot. Kearse didn’t get his job done in rubbing off the cornerback that eventually picked it off. The failure was in the execution and that happens when you put your trust on the play and not your best players. Our best players are Lynch and Wilson. We needed to give them the opportunity to win the game for us.
  • Let’s give a lot of credit to two Patriots on that last play – Malcolm Butler and Brandon Browner. Browner stood up the smaller in stature Kearse (in my opinion a coaching gaffe to have him there) and didn’t allow the legal pick. Butler, an undrafted rookie, made a brilliant move beating Lockette to the ball and then hanging on to it. That was an unbelievable play by him. Wilson’s ball was too high and needed to be in a spot that only Lockette could catch it. Give Butler credit for making him pay. Those guys on defense get paid, too. They out-executed us on that most important play and it won them a championship.
  • Pete Carroll took the blame. That’s what good leaders do. Russell Wilson took the blame, saying that he threw the pass. That’s what good leaders do. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Ricardo Lockette could have fought harder for the ball (twice). That’s bogus. While he may be entirely right, he threw his player under the bus. Lockette is a backup that makes his living as the gunner on special teams. He’s not even your best wide receiver. He’s good, but not special and that play required special. Bottom line is that even if you’re right in your assessment, you take the blame. That more than anything else can lead to dissension in the ranks. Bevell is not ready to be a head coach.
  • I read and hear people bashing the defense for their 4th quarter performance. The Seahawks were 18-0 heading into this game when leading by at least 10 points in the final quarter. Now 18-1. Here’s the deal – first of all, the Patriots are good. Really good. They have one of the best quarterbacks of all time and outstanding skill receivers. Second, I literally gulped when we lost Jeremy Lane. That was a huge loss because now the Hawks had to move Byron Maxwell into the slot and leave Therold Simon out there against these terrific wide receivers. Advantage Brady. Two of the touchdown passes (including he final one) were thrown against Simon. Third, losing Cliff Avril to a concussion was brutal. We lost our outside speed rusher and from that moment on, we never put the same pressure on Brady.
  • Injuries are part of the game, but let’s be candid here. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor were all banged up and not nearly close to 100%. You lose Lane and Avril during the game. The guys coming in are doing the best they can but it’s not the same. Brady will find weaknesses and exploit them. It’s not dissimilar to benefiting two weeks earlier from a gimpy Aaron Rodgers. The defense wasn’t the same because, well…it wasn’t the same.
  • I was asked about the mêlée at the end and must admit I wasn’t watching it live because I was off in the corner throwing my own little private tantrum. Let’s face it, highly charged guys in the heat of the moment can get into very emotional states at the worst time and that is unfortunate. For his part, Bruce Irvin issued an apology. What Doug Baldwin did earlier was indefensible. I like Baldwin a lot and have every time come to his defense, but on his touchdown celebration antic, I can’t. It hurt his team and it was embarrassing to the organization and the city. Knowing him to be a smart guy, I doubt it will happen again.
  • I look back at how close Marshawn was to scoring on the play before the interception. When he hit the 3-yard line, I thought he was in. Someone made a great tackle and isn’t getting credit for saving the game for the Pats. Damn.
  • If I hear one more knucklehead conspiracy theorist imply that the coaches actually decided to not give the ball to Lynch because they didn’t want him to be the MVP, then I might actually internally combust. These people are either still drunk, ignorant, or need concussion testing. C’mon, man.
  • To a fan with no dog in the hunt, it may have been the best Super Bowl of all time. That is of no solace to us on the losing end; in fact it makes it worse. This loss doesn’t sting. It hurts like a Kam Chancellor hit to the gut. You don’t get chances to make history all the time. It may never happen again. The NFL is set up for “anti-dynasties.” It will be hard to get back here again next year. I think I now know how Boston fans felt when the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series or Buffalo fans when Scott Norwood’s game-winning FG strayed to the right in Super Bowl XXV.
  • I’m now way past “dazed and confused.” I’m getting over the “really, really angry” stage. Now, I’m just trying to gain perspective. All that within 24 hours shows some maturity and growth from me. Maybe that’s what happens when you get your AARP card in the mail.

My final thoughts – The coaching staff made the same mistake that many business people make. They were guilty of “over-thinking.” It’s always best to “stay in your lane” and do what you do best. The Monday Morning QB in me says you err on the side of winning or losing with your best players. With 26 seconds and one timeout left, you lean on Wilson and/or Lynch. If you’re going to pass, then give Russell options and outs, not precise timing patterns. That’s when he’s at his best. Damn again.

I know how much I am still hurting. As a former coach, I know it’s exponentially more painful for the players, coaches, and organization. It’s probably time for us soon to be part of the team and show them our support. You win and lose as a team. And we fancy ourselves part of the team, so time to act the part.

But (as a good colleague of mine always signs off with), that’s just me…

Objects of Interest

February 7, 2014 2 comments

Seahawks parade

A couple of days ago, I made my way to Seattle with a friend to join in the celebration of the Seattle Seahawks victory parade after the Super Bowl. In excess of what was anticipated, over 700,000 people crammed into about a 3-mile space to greet the returning heroes. It was an amazing scene. People ditched work, school, and other obligations to spend the day celebrating as a region. One of the remarkable things was that in all the turmoil of transportation woes, and other “challenges,” there wasn’t one arrest made. Talk about a peaceful party! (See photo you see is looking up from 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue. Believe it or not, there is supposed to be an actual road there. The street is packed with people for a block up and down. This was consistent with every block in the 3-mile route).

How do you draw interest to your work, to your company, to the services and products that you offer?

The Seahawks are an object of interest for many reasons. They are champions of the NFL, which is this nation’s national sport (drawing a record 110 million viewers). They have unique characters on the team that turn them from a “vanilla”to a “tootie fruity” brand of team. Their style of play appeals to most fans. And they have a coach that is emotionally charged and is romping up and down the sideline like he’s coaching a JV football team (which in and of itself is refreshing).

What do you do that makes you or your company an object of interest? Do you write books on your expertise? Are you a dynamic speaker? Are you cited in interviews and publications? Do you write fascinating blogs, articles, E-books, or columns? Do you offer contrarian viewpoints rather than be part of the noise? What do you do to offer instant value to people and organizations?

People flock to interesting people, teams, bands, and politicians. They also flock to those that aren’t “vanilla;” that are provoking and humorous; and that challenge and influence. If that doesn’t sound lie you yet, what are you waiting for?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Unleashed

February 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Unleashed.20140121-162057.jpg
Guest Writer – Captain Jack

Hello. My name is Captain Jack and I’m the terribly charming, witty, and intelligent pal of my human, Dan. I’ve been observing human behavior and have come to the conclusion that you all can learn a lot from dogs. Especially me. You see, I’m a Jack Russell and we are unquestionably the smartest dogs on the planet. Because it’s Super Bowl week, Dan has asked me to fill in. It’s your lucky week…

The biggest difference between you humans and we dogs can be summed up with one simple concept. An open gate.

You see we dogs always are ready to breach the open gate. That’s why our olfactory senses (Yes, I’m a well read dog with a wicked vocabulary. Keep up.) are so keen. We can actually smell opportunity. One whiff of adventure and an open invitation doesn’t need a second ask. We bolt by the open gate into the world quicker than Percy Harvin on a kickoff return for the Seahawks. Even an electric fence won’t keep me in. Heck, the pain isn’t ever fatal and goes away quickly. The adventure lives on.

Humans can’t smell opportunity as well as we can. It’s usually due to one of two things – too much wheat clogging their noses or fear. Most often, it’s the latter. Fear of failure; fear of rejection; fear of pain; fear of looking foolish; fear of repercussions. I think you get my point. Humans often walk up to gate, peer out at the open world, over think the situation, and ultimately lose the opportunity or allow someone else to grab it.

We only come around this way once. Dogs get it and we take advantage of it. Open gates don’t hold us. We are what we call in the dog world, “unleashed.” Is there a gate holding you back? Maybe it’s even an invisible gate. Whatever it is, you have my permission to unshackle yourself and become unleashed yourself. There’s an open gate sitting there waiting for you.

Run.

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –

“If you were waiting for the opportune moment…that was it.”

~ Captain Jack Sparrow to Will Turner in “The Curse of the Black Pearl”

 

Super Bowl Edition Redux

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I know this happens with all 32 teams in the NFL. Of this I’m sure. If you have doubts on the impact of professional sports in our culture, take the 7 1/2 minutes to watch this video. Bring tissues. You will be glad you did.
Watch Video

Go Hawks!