Posts tagged ‘microsoft’

Capitalize on your brand equity to gain market share

Frank Sinatra had a Vegas-inspired song called “Luck Be A Lady.” One of the lines in the song is:

“Stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.”

In many ways, marketing is like Lady Luck that ol’ Blue Eyes is singing about, especially when it comes to branding. This is one of the trickier subjects to explain to someone new to marketing. In a nutshell, branding is the sum total of experiences and perceptions that a company has with its customers, competitors, and marketplace. The tactical elements of marketing — websites, brochures, advertising, etc. — are physical manifestations of branding. There’s also something called brand equity, which is not only a perceived value of a brand, but it can also be a tangible value. In fact, many organizations carry their brand as an asset on their balance sheets, with an actual dollar amount attached to it. Google has the highest brand value in the world, which is estimated to be worth more than $100 Billion. Software giant Microsoft has the second highest rated brand in the world, worth over $76 Billion.

There’s a reason why I mention these two examples together. You’ve undoubtedly noticed the “Bing” logo at the top of the entry. You may also be asking yourself, “what the hell is Bing?” As it turns out, Bing is the newest incarnation of Microsoft’s search engine, renamed from Windows Live Search. In my opinion, Microsoft made a big mistake and squandered a golden opportunity. They took one of the most high-profile aspects of the Internet (search engines), went up against the 800-pound gorilla, and didn’t take advantage of the Microsoft brand equity. Even worse, when you go to the Bing home page, the Microsoft name is nowhere to be found, so they can’t springboard their new brand off the established Microsoft name. How can you realistically pit a $100 Billion brand against a brand with zero equity? Frankly, you can’t. Microsoft doomed Bing to the ash heap of history before it even launched, just like another one of their infamous failures. The rest is just an exercise in futility.

What’s the lesson here? The Microsoft branding team should have told the Bing team, “stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.” The only thing left is a roll of the dice and the hope that Lady Luck is on their side. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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June 15, 2009 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

“Field of Dreams” marketing

Build it and they will come.

If only that were true.

Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.

I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:

  • A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
  • A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
  • A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.

You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.

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May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

David’s 2009 predictions – part 2

crystal_ball

Here is Part 2 of my eagerly awaited 2009 predictions… I’d love to hear your comments (after all, I’m not writing this stuff for my health)…

4. Gas prices will remain under $3.

The average price of a gallon of gas in December 2008 was $1.62; in December 2007 it was $3.04. With a recession, layoffs, and less people engaging in discretionary travel, gas prices will remain a lot lower than they’ve been over the past two years. Even with OPEC trying to raise the price by squeezing supply, they’ve been unable to move the needle. Like it or not, world, the U.S. consumer is the strongest component in this equation. One unintended benefit with lower oil/gas prices: Iran’s economy is suffering so badly that they’ve had to virtually abandon their nuclear weapon ambitions. Hopefully North Korea will follow suit.

5. Vista, or Windows 7, or whatever it will end up being, will regain luster and respect.

Worldwide usage of the Windows operating system dipped below 90% for the first time in eons last month. Even with that “bad” news, I can’t imagine how awesome it would be to own a 90% market share of anything. And that’s not going away any time soon. The dirtiest little secret about Vista is the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1) in March 2008, which has made the operating system quicker, safer, more compatible, and more reliable. Essentially, it has helped Microsoft realize the full promise of what Vista was supposed to be. However, with the Jerry Seinfeld/”I’m a PC”/Mojave Experiment TV commercials focused on everything but the word “Vista,” everyone still assumes that Vista is buggy and slow. Maybe they should hire me again…

6. Phoenix will have a white Christmas in 2009.

Sounds crazy, I know. But Las Vegas had 3 ½ inches the week before Christmas, so is it really that far-fetched? Sure, it hasn’t snowed in the city of Phoenix in 18 years (there have been a couple minor dustings since then, but too few to mention) – that just means we’re due for a big one. How funny would it be for all those snow-weary visitors from Minnesota and Iowa to spend their Christmas in a white desert? Don’t worry… it’ll be 65 degrees by lunch time.

7. With shrinking budgets and layoffs, marketing consultants will be more important than ever.

Of course, since I’m a marketing consultant, this is a little self-serving. However, I know that companies are really tightening their belts when it comes to marketing expenditures. I also know that many marketing departments have been forced to reduce headcount. However, they continue to recognize the benefits that marketing can bring them, and if they can’t produce results their jobs are in jeopardy. Marketing consultants bring the best of both worlds; they don’t increase your department’s headcount, and, when you consider the cost of employee health insurance, payroll taxes, 401(k) matching funds, etc., consultants end up costing less money than full-time employees. Below are some of my Success Stories from clients and employers of mine, which should give you a good idea of what you should be looking for in a consultant. Feel free to email me or call me at 480-814-8838 to discuss it further.

Coming up next week… another episode of “Phoning It In”, so stay tuned. Have a great weekend.

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January 30, 2009 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

David’s 2009 predictions – part 1

I see... yes... wait...

Yes, I know that 2009 has already begun, but I also realize you were probably tired of reading predictions from pseudo-pundits back in December, so I decided to wait a few weeks before publishing mine. Do I have greater prognosticative abilities than anyone else? Probably not. But I am a keen observer of human nature (being the third of three boys, I needed to stay on my toes or risk getting slapped in the head by my older brothers), so I believe these predictions will come true. At the very least, I will try to provide an entertaining read.

We shall revisit these next January to see how close I got. In the meantime, here’s Part 1 of my 2009 predictions:

1. The recession will end by the late spring.

Most economists agree that the recession actually started in December 2007, not in the fall of 2008. There have been 10 post-WWII recessions which have lasted an average of 10.4 months, the longest lasting 16 months. If the current economic downturn lasts 16 months, we’ll be back on the road to recovery by April. Chin up.

2. MySpace is so 2008. Twitter is so 2009.

Can Twitter change the face of social networking, 140 characters at a time? Perhaps. So far, I’ve had very good initial success with using Twitter as a supplement to other marketing activities. Its appeal is the ability to enable personalized, instant communication between customers and companies. Sure, you can’t engage in deep, content-rich conversations, but that’s not the point. You can always link to other sources for that. If you’re looking to join Twitter, create an account and follow me – I’ll walk you through it.

3. Microsoft will buy Yahoo!

Conditions are a lot more favorable now for a purchase of Yahoo! than they were when Microsoft made its initial bid in mid-2008. In hindsight, I’m sure Steve Ballmer is thanking his lucky stars that CEO Jerry Yang turned down his $44.6 billion bid. The current market value of Yahoo! is 60% lower than the bid value, and the company continues to struggle keeping up with Google. Combine a lower stock price, lower market share, recent layoffs of 1,500 employees, and the ouster of Yang (undoubtedly for putting his ego ahead of his stockholders), and it’s more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if.’ Sorry, Yahooies, but as much as you hate Redmond, you’ll call it home in 2009.

I’ll bring you Part 2 of my predictions next week. Have a great weekend!

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January 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment


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