Posts Tagged ‘Sticky Branding’

From Strategy to Results – Plus Some Succession Planning

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

In an ’80s TV series called “The A Team”, one of the main characters used to say “I love it when a plan comes together”.Good strategy executed successfully

Here’s a wonderful example of a real life plan coming together.

In 2009 a recruiting company called LEAPJob hired us to help them with their business strategy.

It was a family business founded by Donna and Marcus Miller. One of their sons, Jeremy, worked in the firm with them. Stephen, their other son, had a very successful career with a large software company.

There were 3 major issues to consider.

First, the Millers believed the recruiting industry was undergoing fundamental change. They were concerned about the future for smaller companies.

Second, LEAPJob had an extremely high level of brand recognition in its target market and a very successful on-line lead generation engine.

Finally, Donna and Marcus were thinking about retiring.

The outcome was a 2-step strategy.

The recruiting business would be sold in approximately 3 years and Donna and Marcus would retire.

While they were positioning LEAPJob for sale, Donna and Marcus would help Jeremy launch a new business. This would leverage his skills in marketing and branding – competencies Jeremy had honed by leading the rebranding effort and building the lead generation engine.

Fast forward to January 2015.

Jeremy’s first book, published by an established Canadian label, is about to be launched. It will be available in stores and on-line via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks, amongst others, in a few days’ time.

The title of the book “Sticky Branding” is also the name of his company.

Jeremy’s commented a number of times over the years that our process played a significant role in his journey.

But the idea to pinpoint and profile small and mid-sized companies with sticky brands; the analytical skills to see the factors common to them; and the creativity to combine those factors and his own experience were all Jeremy’s.

The result – lessons which can be applied by the owners of small and mid-sized companies who want their companies to “stand out, attract customers & grow an incredible brand”

He’s had to deal with some hard knocks and tough times but now Jeremy is on the brink of success. I admire his focus and willpower.

Donna and Marcus are happily retired.

I love it when a good strategy is executed successfully.

 

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Strategies That Get Results Are Developed By Thinkers And Doers

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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn

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Strategies versus Tactics: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Our guest this week is Marcus Miller, a Partner with Sticky Branding Inc., a business development consultancy specialized in firms selling professional services such as accounting, legal and wealth management. They help their clients sell more, faster by developing marketing and business development strategies for the post-Google era.

The “Trojan Horse” is a tale of how the Greeks took the city of Troy, which had been under siege for ten years. The Greeks tried and tried for a decade to take the city, but could not break through the walls. But the Trojan horse changed their fate.

Here are the quick facts. The Greeks constructed the huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside it. The remaining Greek army made a great display of breaking down their camps, and pretending to sail away. They left the horse at the gates of the city of Troy as a “gift”. In celebration the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. They believed they had won the war by standing their ground, defending their walls and holding the Greeks at bay for ten years. However that night the Greek contingent hidden inside the horse crept out of the structure and opened the city’s gates. The rest of the Greek army – the ones who pretended to sail away – were waiting, and the city of Troy was destroyed.

The Greeks’ strategy is one of deception. They deployed the wooden horse as a gift, and appeared to sail away in defeat. The strategy worked exceedingly well. Their goal was to open the city’s gates, and attack their unsuspecting foe. The wooden horse was an important part of the strategy, but it was simply a tactic.

The strategy is the most important aspect to winning a war. Marching into battle without a well thought out strategy does not deliver success. The Greeks demonstrated that for ten years. The Trojans were able to sustain the Greeks’ attacks, because their strategies were based on their conventional tactics of war. The Trojans understood the Greek history, and built defenses that nullified the traditional attacks. The Trojan Horse was a change of strategy.

Growing a business fits very well into the metaphor of waging war. When you focus on tactics you can get mired in a stalemate, and never achieve your goals.

The key to growth is strategy. You first have to come up with a clear strategy, and then execute it with effective tactics. The problem is tactics are a lot easier to grasp than strategy. Tactics are tangible like a wooden horse. In modern terms we talk about hiring sales people, implementing software systems, creating new websites and executing campaigns. And companies love to buy tactics. They see how tactic works, and can get moving on it right away.

Some companies even believe strategy is baked into the tactics. For example they may employ a marketing agency of some ilk (design, advertising, web, digital, whatever), and expect the tactical service they are buying to deliver a growth strategy. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like they’re assuming marching drills and frontal assaults will win the war without considering the big picture and how the enemy will counter. Adopting others’ winning tactics is not a clear strategy to succeeding.

Do you have a well thought out business strategy for winning your battles, or do you adopt tactics first and try to make the strategy fit? Trojan horses are not strategies, they’re tactics. They only turn into strategy when combined with other tactics to accomplish a desired outcome.

You can reach Marcus at 416.479.4403, ext. 21 or Marcus.Miller@StickyBranding.com.

Features and Benefits Don’t Build Brands

Friday, July 15th, 2011

This is the second guest post from Jeremy Miller, President of Sticky Branding, a brand consultancy specializing in digital marketing and social media. Jeremy speaks, consults and writes on how companies build remarkable brands online.

Companies love to compare their products to the competition, and justify why they’re better. They’ve got the latest doohickey, fandangled, whatyamacallit feature, which of course makes them better than the competition.

RIM has embroiled itself in this classic feature-benefit positioning game with their Playbook tablet. The key selling features listed in their ads:

1. It plays Flash. “It runs flash. So unlike some tablets we can mention you get the best of the internet,  not just part of it.”
2. It’s smaller. “Small enough to take anywhere, powerful enough to take you everywhere.”
3. It runs multiple apps simultaneously. “It runs all this at the same time. Why can’t every tablet do that?”

RIM backs up these impressive features with its latest tagline, “Amateur Hour is Over. The world’s first professional-grade tablet.” Compared to what? The iPad? If that’s the case, this is a pretty precarious branding and positioning strategy.

Positioning on features and benefits is risky for 3 reasons:

1. Features are susceptible to innovation.

RIM’s positioning strategy is a classic one. It’s applied in almost every industry: automotive, consumer electronics, computers, building materials, you name it. Companies are constantly trying to up the ante, and offer their customers new features or choices.

The challenge is features can be displaced by innovation. Apple has been the 800 pound gorilla in the consumer electronics arena. The iPod made the Walkman and Discman obsolete. Why carry around a CD with 12 to 15 songs when you can carry 1,000 songs in your pocket?

Then there’s the iPhone, which sparked the app revolution for mobile devices. And now the iPad is changing the way we interact with the internet and consume digital content.

Apple is an unusual competitor. In less than a decade Apple it has created 3 new consumer electronic categories. They didn’t try to compete on features and benefits with existing options in the market. Instead they created devices and platforms that serve untapped markets.

RIM is entering Apple’s playing field, and employing a classic features and benefits positioning strategy is shortsighted.

2. Features aren’t always the deciding factor

People are wise to the feature-benefits positioning game. Eventually they get tired of the comparisons, and choose what they’re comfortable with.

The Playbook does some things really well, and the iPad does other things really well. At the end of the day, both Apple and RIM have released incredible pieces of technology. Really you can’t go wrong with either, and buyers know that.

3. People value intangible factors.

The Playbook may have impressive features and capabilities, but it’s not an iPad.

That may not be fair, but that’s how many people think. The iPad is a status symbol. The iPad has more apps. The iPad comes from Apple. The iPad looks cooler. Everyone else has an iPad, and I want one too.

Perceived value, perceived leadership and perceived quality all come together in the customers’ minds to influence their purchases. It may not be logical and may not even be accurate, but those perceived values are as important to customers as the actual features.

Brand beyond the features

Features and benefits come and go, but brands last much longer. People buy brands first, and features second.

Instead of pushing the features and benefits of your products and services, look to the intangible aspects of your brand. Why does your company exist? What does it value? What is it thriving to accomplish? What kind of relationship does it have with its customers?  These are the intangibles to build upon that can lead to a clearly differentiated brand.

You can reach Jeremy at Jeremy.Miller@StickyBranding.com or 416.479.4403, Ext. 22.

Follow Your Dreams, But Chase The Money

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Our first guest blogger is.………………Jeremy Miller, the President of Sticky Branding — a brand consultancy specialized in building brands that sell themselves online.

The best way to grow profits is to cut your own path. 

You never hear about companies who achieved immense success by doing what everyone else did.  No.  Successful companies challenge the status quo, and create new categories and sub-categories.

Companies that break the mold and create new categories create immense competitive advantage.  You can see these breakout businesses in almost every industry.  Wal-Mart rewrote the business model for discount retailers, and set the standard for big box retailers.  The Chrysler minivan went 16 years without a viable competitor.  And Apple epitomizes the creation of new categories with the iPod, iPhone and iPad – each product causing structural shifts in consumer electronics.

Every business owner has an opportunity to break the mold and find their own path.  It takes vision, commitment and quick reflexes.

New categories aren’t made in a vacuum

Innovative new categories are not created in isolation.  Thousands of brilliant business ideas have died on the vine, because there just wasn’t enough demand for them.  The entrepreneur saw a need that no one else cared about.

Successful companies challenge the status quo.  Steve Jobs said in a Fortune Magazine interview, “When we created the iTunes Music Store, we did that because we thought it would be great to be able to buy music electronically, not because we had plans to redefine the music industry.  I mean, it just seemed like writing on the wall.”

When forming a new category it’s always in comparison to the current alternatives.  Your customers already have solutions for their business challenges; they just might not be the most optimal.  Challenge those solutions head-on, and provide them a better option.

Constantly Tinker

Businesses rarely get it right the first time.  Wal-Mart’s dominance didn’t happen overnight.  It was Sam Walton’s life’s work, and came out of his constant tinkering and risk taking.

Walton was always on the hunt for fresh ideas he could implement in his own stores.  He said, “I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America.  I am just trying to get ideas, any kind of ideas that will help our company.  Most of us don’t invent ideas.  We take the best ideas from someone else.”

Creating a new category is a work in progress.  It takes a significant commitment of time, resources and energy to give your customers a new alternative.

Nothing relieves pressure like sales

It always boils down to money.  If your customers don’t get it, they won’t pay for it.  Customer feedback is the best feedback.  It will tell you if you’re on the right track or not.

Chances are your first time to market may not be a whopping success.  So persist, tinker, reinvest and continue to push the bar forward.  It’s your vision and dreams that will help you find a new category, but it’s your customers that will form it and make it a reality.  When it does come together you will be on the path to immense profit growth.

For more information on Jeremy Miller and Sticky Branding visit http://www.StickyBranding.com

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