Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Your POWERBALL Marketing Strategy

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The POWERBALL multi-state lottery recently doubled the basic ticket price of its bi-weekly drawing, from $1 to $2.  I have no idea – and not a lot interest – in just how that has affected their revenue or profits, but it’s an intriguing example of the interplay of marketing, bottom line accounting, and customer psychology.  First, a sort of mea culpa

I cheerfully admit that I’m an occasional lottery ticket buyer, and that I savor, for a day or two, the fantasy of instant, extravagent 8 or 9 figure wealth.  My more literal minded friends – and my own right brain – point out that the financial ‘return on investment’ of my ticket purchase is about the same as flushing greenbacks down the toilet.  No argument – this accounting analysis is absolutely right.  The lottery ain’t a retirement plan!

Absolutely right – but totally irrelevant to most of us who buy lottery tickets anyway.  The point has little to do with the financial investment value of the ticket, but the entertainment value that comes from fantasizing about what could happen if we did win.   This entertainment is a perfectly valid reason to spend a couple of buck$.  We, after all, don’t bat an eye about investing in the entertainment potential of a movie, book, or theater ticket, or paying to watch a ball game.

Now, back to the POWERBALL –I’ve read that their motivation for doubling ticket prices is to build up multi-hundred million dollar jackpots more quickly and more often, and the ticket buying frenzy that those huge jackpots seem to generate.

I don’t know whether raising ticket price will ultimately help or hurt their bottom line.  I do know that, because  they’ve doubled the price of my fantasy, I’ve stopped buying POWERBALL tickets.  My temporary daydream is worth a $1 ticket, but it doesn’t quite stretch to cover the $2 POWERBALL investment.

Perhaps POWERBALL’s market research and customer segmentation analysis tells them that the loss of customers like me doesn’t really matter to their bottom line, that the extra revenue and more frequent ‘huge jackpot frenzy’ more than make up for the loss of my occasional Dollar.

BUT , there’s a bigger lesson out there for businesses large and small:  Your customers’ decisions to buy from you are driven by a thicket of motivations – motivations that are at the same time rational and emotional, often hidden, and occasionally conflicting.  Understanding what’s important to your customer – accounting-wise and in her deep psychology – gives you a better chance of winning the big jackpot in your marketplace.

Need help discovering just what motivates your customers and how to tap in?  A consultant like Marketing Intelligence & Strategy Assoc can help you figure it out.

Not Exactly Marketing, but …

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

I’m continually amazed by my grandparents’ generation, born in the 1880s and 1890s …

– before airplanes and cars, radios and TVs, and before most of the country ever saw electric lights or a telephone

– when the US was still fighting Indian Wars, cowboying and the open range were still a dominant way of life in the West, and the US was still settling its frontier

– long before antibiotics or x-rays, when a simple sore throat could kill your child in a matter of days

– before women could vote or the United States carried much weight in the broader world

They fought in the trenches of World War I, endured the Great Depression, provided the leadership and brains to win WWII, and they guided the great American post-war growth boom.

In their old age, they watched color TV and men on the moon, flew in transcontinental jets, and they had the grace, love and humor to leave me some of my most enduring and cherished memories.

Left Brain and Right

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Exercise your Left Brain as well as your right … Let imagination and the Big Picture leaven your analytics.

“Not everything that counts can actually be counted.”

Maximize Your Research ROI

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Research is expensive.  Whether you’re in the lab (measuring the properties of your new polymer, for example, or the selectivity of the catalyst you just invented) or out in the marketplace (testing consumers’ reaction to your new product prototype or measuring customers’ level of satisfaction with you and your competitors), you’re spending precious time and dollar$.

Here are 5 Rules of Research Strategy that will assure you get a handsome ROI from your research investment, whether you’re in the lab or out in the marketplace.

1.  Precisely define the business problem you need to solve or the business opportunity you’re trying to capture.  Is solving this problem sufficiently important and valuable to justify the resources you’ll need to solve it?

2.  Specify the information – technical, market, competitive, etc – that you must gain to be able to resolve the problem or realize the opportunity.  What are the key questions your research must answer?

3.  Identify key information sources.  What resources and which people are most likely to have the information you’ll need?  How will you know that the information you’re getting is objective, reliable, and complete?

4.  Develop a detailed ‘experimental design’.  What methodologies – what experimental plan – will most effectively extract, organize, and make sense of the information you need?  How will you actually execute your ‘experimental design’?

5.  Organize and present your research results in a way that maximizes their impact on solving the problem or realizing the opportunity.  How can you work with the rest of the team to make sure your results are most effectively integrated into the solution?

An independent consultant – like Marketing Intelligence & Strategy Assoc – can bring you the specialized expertise you need to optimize your Research Strategy, design and execution.

Marketing on the Web

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Recently, I’ve been taking a deeper look at e-commerce for clients of my consulting practice, especially in the B-2-B environment.  At the same time, more and more of Linda’s and my personal business – from bill paying and banking, to buying entertainment, western boots, Christmas presents, and designer dresses – is transacted online.

What I’m learning has prompted me to dust off and update a couple of articles I published in The Marketing Intelligence Blog over 2 years ago:

“Web Businesses Don’t Need Marketing – Revisited”

“Fundamentals of Marketing and Sales – Revisited”

There is plenty of relevance here for anyone who wants to market their business – online, bricks-and-mortar, or hybrid – more successfully.  For instance …

1. Some products and services are natural for e-commerce:  music, movies, books and magazines; information services; high value items from well know brands and suppliers, for example.

2. For other products, e-commerce just doesn’t make much sense – a candy bar, for example, or a relatively low value commodity item (like laundry detergent or paint thinners) that you can find in stores on every corner.

3. Many products thrive in a hybrid marketplace (often to the chagrin and detriment of the purely brick-and-mortar merchants), where the efficiency and convenience of on-line transactions can be coupled with a physical presence that permits hands-on test of look, feel, and fit.

Web Businesses Don’t Need Marketing? Revisited

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Updated April 2102.  Originally published in “The Marketing Intelligence Blog”March 2010.

I more than occasionally hear or read that modern web-based commerce makes marketing and brand building irrelevant, even obsolete.  Arguments from the the e-commerce contingent seem to center around 3 sentiments (apologies if I over simplify):

1. The web, and all the personal electronic communications tools attendant to it, are so easy and accessible that there is no longer a need for marketing to build a bridge between sellers and their customers.

2. The breadth and the anonymity of the web make it unnecessary, and largely impossible, to identify and speak to specific customer segments and their concerns.

3. Web commerce moves and changes so quickly that no marketing or branding effort can keep up.

Always open to new ideas and a new slant on things, I’ve thought a fair amount about the issue of marketing and e-commerce.  Here’s where I come out:

1.  The web is a very efficient tool for OUTBOUND communication.  You can broadcast your message just as quickly as you can assemble it, at a nearly insignificant cost.  The big question mark, of course, is how to focus the content of your message to address the concerns of potential buyers, and where to broadcast your message so that it gets seen and acted upon by people who matter to your success.

2. The web can be a very inefficient tool for INBOUND communications.  While there’s essentially no limit to the amount of information out there somewhere in the web-i-sphere, actually finding it is an often cumbersome and frustrating exercise for your potential customers.

3. The web bombards your potential customers with nearly limitless options.  Your message competes for your customers’ limited attention span not just with other products like yours, but with every other distraction that email, TWITTER, FB friends, and GOOGLE can put between you and your customers’ Dollar$.

4. The web is a wonderfully efficient vehicle to educate and motivate interested prospects you’ve already made a connection with.

5.  The web is a wonderful TRANSACTION MEDIUM for motivated buyers – except of course, when it isn’t.  Web commerce work well for standardized products / services that customers can confidently buy sight unseen or for items that consumers can preview at brick-and-mortar stores.  In other cases, e-commerce is nearly useless.  Imagine, for example, the inefficiency of buying candy bar or a can of paint thinner over the internet instead of the local Stop-and-Shop or big-box home center store.

So ….  The web and personalized electronic communications provide powerful new avenues for suppliers to broadcast their messages and educate interested prospects, and for motivated buyers to execute their purchases, but …

To the casual or uninformed shopper, it offers vast but undifferentiated ocean of information, nearly all of which is irrelevant and distracting to their purchase decision process.

The real key for the success of your e-commerce business is to identify the sorts of people most likely to want your product or service, and then, to build your own database of potential customer to focus your outbound communications upon.

Bottom Line?  Web based businesses need market just as much – perhaps substantially more – than their brick-and-mortar cousins.  Identifying which consumers are your most likely to spend their $$$ with you, learning where you’re most likely to find them in the electronic communications universe, and understanding how to make your message stand out amid all the clutter are quintessentially marketing functions.  Businesses that ignore these principles are headed for failure, regardless of their venue.

Fundamentals of Marketing and Sales – Revisited

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Updated April 2012.  Originally published in “The Marketing Intelligence Blog” September 2009.

Most of my adult life, I’ve marketed specialty plastics and chemicals to technically sophisticated business customers, while my wife’s family has earned a nice living in insurance sales and marketing. Now, there’s a world of difference between health and life insurance policies – and the mostly Medicare age consumers who buy them – and the high performance polymers used in innovative medical and electronic devices, cars and airplanes, building materials and green energy systems.

But … I’ve learned that, deep down, the fundamentals of marketing and selling are just that – fundamental – regardless of the product or service you’re selling.  Here are Four Fundamentals that will pay you big dividends, whether you’re selling insurance or plastics, cars or machine tools or houses, dental care or home remodeling services, music or movies, shirts, shoes or dresses.

What are those fundamentals?

1. Know WHO your potential customers are and WHAT makes them tick.  Then FOCUS on the segments that fit you best
“You can’t be all things to all people” is especially true in business. Focus your attention and resources on the people who are most likely to appreciate and pay for what you offer. Make sure you understand what turns them on and turns them off, where they go to find offerings like yours, and who they listen to when they make decisions about your product / service.

2. UNDERSTAND the problems and opportunities your customers face (especially the opportunities they’re not yet aware of)
Few of your potential customers (even the most experienced and astute) really understand how their life or business situation could be better.  It’s up to you, the intelligent outsider, to learn the ins-and-outs of their situation so well that you can paint a convincing picture of the better future they could have if they choose you.

3. DESIGN YOUR OFFERING (your product or service plus all the other ways your customers interact with you) to best help them address the opportunity or problem
These days, the ‘better mousetrap’ is often not the mousetrap itself but the training, services, support and friendly accessibility that surround the steel springs and trigger device itself.  The more effectively your offering solves your customers’ problem – and the easier it is for them to find and do business with you – the more successful you’ll be.

4. Make sure you STAND OUT from your competitors, in ways that MAKE A DIFFERENCE to the people who’s buying decisions determine your success
Not long after your customers start to prefer your new and improved mousetrap, your competitors will notice, too. Don’t waste energy complaining about copycats, but focus instead on making sure your customers have good reasons to spend their $$$ with you instead of the competition.  (Just please, please, please resist the temptation to start down the seductive but often dead-end road of a price war.

Wondering how to get started?  A great way to take a fresh, unbiased look at your marketplace is to engage a consultant, for example:

Greener Materials and the Markets that Use Them

Monday, March 19th, 2012

We hear a lot about concepts like ‘sustainable’, ‘renewable’, ‘green’ and ‘environmentally friendly’, but it’s often not clear what those terms actually mean.  It is clear, however, that being ‘green’ (or ‘sustainable’ or ‘environmentally friendly’) signifies some notable level of success in one of these areas:

– Renewable raw materials, derived from ‘natural’ (that is, plant or animal) sources

– Biologically-based processes for transforming raw materials (usually from renewable sources) into intermediate or finished products

– Recycle, compost or bio-degrade to minimize products’ end-of-life impact

– Energy efficiency, waste reduction, supply chain management, and operating excellence to reduce cradle-to-grave carbon footprint

American industry has achieved remarkable levels of success in each of these areas, and each is attracting substantial R&D interest, investment, and new business creation.

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Want to learn more?  Check out “Greener Materials and the Markets that Use Them” at Barnes&Noble

BOB BROTHERS provides business insight, intelligence, and creative marketing strategies to entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate marketing leaders, at

Sunshine, Blue Skies … At Home with Wind and Solar Energy

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Taking the Mystery Out of America’s Energy Options:

Fundamentals of conventional and alternative energy sources

Practical advice about wind and solar energy for your home and small business

Growing the community of alternative energy users.

As I write this – 19 March 2012 – the price of gasoline seems headed past $4, Japan’s melted-down nuclear industry is dead for years to come, Syria is tearing itself apart and Iraq sometimes seems not far behind, Iran wants The Bomb and Israel wants to bomb Iran, the Canadians are digging up miles of prairie and soaking up giga-gallons of fresh pure water to mine for tar sands, and West Virginians are ‘disappearing’ their mountains to get at the coal underneath.

I can’t predict (and don’t believe anyone who says they can!) precisely what’s going to happen over the next few years in the energy economy, geo-politics, or the environment, but ….

1.  Energy supplies are going to be less, not more, reliable as population and economies grow, and as the more cheaply accessible fossil fuel sources are ‘mined out.’

2.  If history’s any guide, energy prices are sure to yo-yo up and down under the competing influences of supply, demand, global business cycles, and energy market speculators.

More and more, these realities are driving people, companies and institutions to look for alternatives – for ways to reduce their electricity, heating and cooling bills, and the economic black hole of the gas pump.  These alternatives come in many forms – solar and wind, tidal and geothermal energy, renewable fuels and bio-diesel.  Sorting reality of alternative energy from the hype isn’t easy.  For example:

Solar panels for your home may not be the utility-busting slam-dunk that some solar evangelists would have you believe – But plenty of solar powered homeowners are putting money in the bank by selling electricity back into the utility grid.

The wind is free – but the huge wind turbines to capture it and the high voltage transmission lines to carry the resulting electricity are anything but.  And – oh, by the way – even some fervent environmentalists and property owners bitterly oppose big wind energy development.

Energy economics – for conventional as well as alternative energy sources – is a confusing and ever-changing mix of supply-and-demand market forces, government subsidies and tax breaks, and exciting new technologies, and the seemingly inevitable advantage of the powerful and established over the new technology on the block.

———————  //  ———————

Want to learn more?  Check out “Sunshine, Blue Skies: At Home with Wind and Solar Energy”

Barnes& Noble

BOB BROTHERS provides business insight, intelligence, and creative marketing strategies to entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate marketing leaders, at

Four Things You Must Know to Brand Your Way to Success

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Your “brand” is the sum of everything that people think, feel, believe and ‘know’ about you, your product and your company

The visibility and respect that come from successful branding can increase the value of your business by Million$, but, too often brand building is the cause of frustration and ill-spent resources.  Here are 4 things that every start-up entrepreneur or struggling artist, every corporate marketing manager, and every business owner should know about building your brand and the value it represents.

1.  Your Reputation is Your Brand

Think about a familiar brand, and you’ll surely have some clear and distinct images – what the ownership experience would be like for you, what to expect of the product, and how you’ll be treated by the company that stands behind it.

To build your own valuable image – and the good reputation your brand represents – you must:

– Clearly and consistently communicate your promise to deliver products, performance and service that bring value and satisfaction to your customers

– Build and nurture your reputation for delivering all that you promise

2.  Symbols of Your Brand

Logos and trademarks are the symbols of your brand, shorthand ways of assuring that you remain visible in a noisy and crowded marketplace.  Create simple, easily recognized branding symbols, then use those symbols widely and consistently

3.  Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

– Identify and understand your target audience, the people you most need to attract

– Tailor the content and the look-and-feel of your message to the needs, expectations and sensibilities of this target audience.

– Select the mix of communications vehicles most likely to capture the ‘eyeballs’ of the people you need to influence most

4.  Build a Branding Strategy That’s Right for YOU

Successful branding isn’t a cook-book process.  It’s a long term investment in creativity and hard work, consistent attention, and patience – but the pay-off can add Million$ to the value of your company.

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Want to learn more?  Check out

Your Brand Is Your Business:  Creating Value in Your Brands and Branding Strategy at:

Barnes & Noble

———————  //  ———————

BOB BROTHERS provides business insight, intelligence, and creative marketing strategies to entrepreneurs, business owners and corporate marketing leaders, at