There are certain iconic brands from my 80′s childhood that just stick in my mind. If I asked you to sing the jingle for DoubleMint or Big Red gum, could you? What about Zest? Do you still remember the packaging of V05 Hot Oil?
Zestfully Clean . . . A Brand Refresh
Today, we are privileged to speak with a classically trained marketer (General Mills, Unilever) who brings iconic brands back to popularity. Nina Riley is the Vice President of Marketing for High Ridge Brands, including Zest, Coast, White Rain, V05 and Rave. Here on Brand Fast-Trackers, we’ve spoken with big brand marketers and niche brand marketers, we’ve spoken with venture capitalists/lawyers/developers, but I can’t think of a show where we’ve talked about how to refresh a brand.
High Ridge is owned by private equity firm Brynwood Partners. They specialize in buying iconic brands that have been neglected under bigger brand portfolios for years and flipping them. They’ve done this with Balance Bar, Sun Country Food and others.
As a marketer, what prepares you to thrive in a lean, private-equity owned brand? For Nina, her experience founding her own company is key to this lean culture, but more than that, successful brand refreshes requires three core principles:
- You must have an inherent curiousity
- You have to know where a brand comes from and what its heritage is
- You have to know to whom that heritage/brand stance will appeal
For High Ridge, their brands appeal mostly to the value consumers, so that goes into all of their initiatives. Nina recommends to not be afraid of really delving into the brand heritage. With V05, she was able to discover that the “5″ actually stood for five essential oils in the formula. Turns out that v05 was using most of these before they became key ingredients in other popular hair products.
Overall, this was a really insightful discussion and one I think you will enjoy:
[Lead Image via High Ridge Brands]
Say What? Social Listening
Consumers are having conversations every day; about the brands they are engaging with, the products they love, their interests, their ideas and their lifestyle. But how are we as marketers engaging in these conversations with them? Making our presence known and responding relevantly?
Today we connected with Zena Weist, VP of Strategy for Expion, who had a lot of great insights about how we should be engaging with consumers every day. Zena’s key strategy is a simple concept we all have been taught since our elementary years and is perhaps one of the most effective tactics all marketers should be utilizing. Stop and listen.
When we were discussing with Zena the most frequent “misses” brands have related to social, Zena
“You have to listen first. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. They
(brands) need to listen to the conversations that are going on. Not only about the brand, but by the people they are targeting. What conversations are going on and how can the brand become a part of those conversations in a very relevant and meaningful way? How can they organically weave themselves in? They only way to do this is to really listen to the conversations that are going on. They have to identify advocates and listen to the advocates. This is a time commitment. It boils down to customer relationship management.”
Zena ended this thought with a key take a way, “Social Media is more than broadcasting the brand. It is to stimulate conversation.”
That insight truly made me stop to think, how are we engaging in conversations? How are our brands relevant to consumers beyond the product itself? Are we telling consumers about our brand, or are we talking about it? For more incredible insights from Zena on how to reach your consumers please tune into the podcast below:
[Lead Image Via ICUC Moderation]
In a lot of ways, today’s podcast completes the venture capital trifecta. In episode #137 with Dave Knox, we spoke about his work with the Cincinnati-based start-up accelerator The Brandery and why budding entrepreneurs have to act on their ideas. In episode #143 with Ed Zimmerman, a venture lawyer, we spoke about how he helps start-ups to raise the necessary funding to get their great ideas off the ground. Today, we speak with Frank Dale, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at DeveloperTown, a venture development firm.
I had never really thought about VC firms vs. venture development firms, but Frank explained the different positioning of the two and how venture development firms are more hands on operationally.
For those of us who have thought of starting our own business Frank’s advice was surprisingly simple. Much like Dave Knox sharing that one has to act on the idea, Frank asks two simple questions:
- What have you done to validate that the problem you are trying to solve exists?
- What is your strategy for connecting the new product with the right consumer demographic on a large scale?
Simple, succinct advice. To hear more of Frank’s interview on thinking innovatively, finding gaps in the marketing and identifying the new needs of consumers. Listen below, on iTunes, or Stitcher.
[Lead Image via OnStartups.com]
Contrary to the cartoon above, you don’t always have to face the maze of destruction when bringing an innovative idea to market.
Today we speak with global innovation & trends expert Debra Kaye. Debra is an author of the brand new book Red Thread Thinking. We have covered innovation in the past before with both Mark Sebell and Bryan Mattimore. Mark’s episode focused more on how large brands can innovate from the C-Suite and what that process looks like. Bryan focused on the brainstorming process itself. What I really like about Debra’s perspective is the tie to profit.
Let’s be honest, ideas are great. Innovation is better. BUT unless you can take it to market and make a profit out of it, it is just another idea. And in the immortal words of Dave Knox, “The problem is, people have ideas and aren’t taking action.” Applying this to Debra’s book, it is fundamental to tie new ideas to profitability. Debra puts it simply:
“I think what holds us back is fear and doubt; that’s what actually holds us back a lot in life in everything. Right? And innovation’s really all about connections. [. . .] You don’t really need to have any creativity. You just need to do a really good gap analysis of what’s missing. Any company today that really looks at their marketplace and looks at gaps and looks at consumer needs can be great innovators. That’s what innovation’s really all about.”
One of the key things that Debra touched on is separating creativity from innovation Once you realize that it comes down to analytics and seeing an opportunity, the pressure of being creative goes away. Take a listen to the episode below and hear more from Debra about this and her nuggets on insights. Enjoy!
Connect with Kat on Google +, LinkedIn or Twitter.
[Lead Image by The Marketoonist | Tom Fishburne]
What is Lovable Marketing?
Today we speak with HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe. Now I have been a big fab of content and inbound marketing for quite some time, and in full disclosure am a HubSpot user myself. I reached out to Mike because I don’t think the Inbound story is one that is really told — or understood — by many large brands. As Mike puts it, “Major brands looks to past P&L’s and make adjustments,” which makes it hard for new marketing philosophies make their way into the proverbial “Marketing Plan” slide deck.
At the heart of inbound marketing is really permission. Seth Godin wrote his groundbreaking book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers in 1999. Yet 13 years later, we’ve made little progress away from interruptive advertising. We live in an opt-in world with spam filters, do not call lists, DVRs for fast-forwarding through ads, and yet as Mike shares, “most brands have not adapted their marketing to this next gen of consumers.”
My favorite statement that Mike shared was about not relying on interrupting the consumer to get your message across:
“Don’t interrupt the thing they want to consume, be the thing they want to consume.”
The power of that statement really hits me in the gut as a marketer. This plays in perfectly the what RedBull did with Stratos. They created an experience consumers wanted to watch and participate in. Of course, this also plays into the idea of context. Brands can blog or create “experiences,” but it is really about the context. Geoff Livingson had a post on this very thing yesterday when he wrote, “[c]ontext is the only way to gain permission from busy, wary stakeholders. Without relevance, there is nothing.”
All of this leads to marketing that earns respect from your customers and garners their permission, which in turn can transform your marketing into something Mike calls “a little more lovable”. What a great concept in today’s jaded world – Lovable Marketing!
Tune into the full episode below or catch us on iTunes. No time to sync? We’re on Stitcher too!
Connect with Kat on Google +, LinkedIn or Twitter.
[Lead Image via Tom Fishbourne | The Marketoonist]