Category Archives: Podcast Discussion

Brand Fast-Trackers #207 – So Delicious

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For those of you that follow me on my other social accounts (Hey, connect why dontcha? Twitter, FB, LinkedIn), you know I am at minimal, very health conscious. I’m gluten free, mostly dairy free (cheese, must have it), and sugar free when I am really on my game. That being said, it was a special thrill to have Mike Murray, VP of Marketing for So Delicious® Dairy Free on the show. Mike is a classically trained marketer who spent the bulk of his career at General Mills. And this at a time when both digital and social media marketing gained their footholds and fundamentally changed brand management.

Mike is now overseeing the fast-growing So Delicious® and helping the brand bring joy to dairy free lives. For Mike, growth comes from 3 key marketing philosophies:

  1. Understanding, evaluating and leveraging trends. This really resonated with me, as Mike talked about the macro trend of health and wellness and the micro trends of dairy free and veganism. It makes sense that a brand focused on dairy free products has a lot to draw from here, but the lessons apply to all brands. Pay attention to what consumers are thinking about or paying attention to and finding a niche to serve them becomes easier.
  2. Using Hyper-Targeted Marketing. This thought ties back the podcast we did with Erika Napoletano. Figure out who your customers AREN’T, then focus on your customer. Mike puts it like this: “The correct way to grow [a brand] is to be more exclusionary with your target consumer. It seems counter-intuitive but it is not. The more exclusive you are, the better you can understand and meet the needs of that consumer. The outer circle growth takes care of itself. The reason it works is the increased empathy will yield stronger, more relevant consumer insights.”
  3. Mission-based Brand Identity. We’ve talked a lot about this through various shows, whether    we were speaking to UNICEF’s Caryl Stern or Method Home’s Eric Ryan or Seventh Generation’s Joey Bergstein. One part of me thinks this won’t apply to every brand, and another part of me asks ‘why not’? Find a mission that makes sense with your brand identity, integrate it, make it resonate for your customers. Be authentic, but also take advantage of it.

Brand and agency marketers alike, i really think there is a lot to glean from Mike and this interview. Tune into the full episode below. And hey, if you haven’t yet read our new eBook - Career Advice from 5 of the World’s Best Marketers compiled from the brilliant guests of this very podcast, click below. 


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Brand Fast-Trackers #204 – The Zestful Brand Refresh

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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:

  1. You must have an inherent curiousity
  2. You have to know where a brand comes from and what its heritage is
  3. 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]

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Brand Fast-Trackers #203 – Social Listening

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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
eloquently explained:

“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]

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Brand Fast-Trackers #201 – Venture Development

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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:

  1. What have you done to validate that the problem you are trying to solve exists?
  2. 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.

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Brand Fast-Trackers #197 – Brand Managers Are Universal Soldiers

sustainability, responsibility, green brands
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As readers of this blog know, I have a particularly fondness for purposeful brands, that is, brands who are sustainable and socially responsible. This can come from many things from how they source their ingredients/materials to how they treat their employees and customers to causes they authentically align themselves and beyond.

patagonia, don't buy this jacket, sustainability, responsibilityThink Patagonia and their Don’t Buy Their Jacket campaign and their Common Threads Initiative. Was it a completely altruistic initiative? No. At the end of the day they want the sales, but it how they go about it that counts. I recently learned about another example of which you may not be aware. Nokia. Nokia has been in the top 5 on Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics for the last four years. But well beyond that, they developed a real-time text initiative for third-world farmers that allows them to check market prices. The idea is that each morning, a farmer can easily ping this network to know what prices his particular crop is selling for in nearby markets, so he can price his supply accordingly. All of this takes place via the tech-simple SMS message. Why is Nokia doing this? In the words of a Nokia exec I recently heard speak at Social Media Week, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Very powerful stuff.

Seventh GenerationSo today, when I had the chance to speak with Joey Bergstein, CMO of Seventh Generation, I was particularly excited. I hope you forgive my nervousness on the audio as I was filling in for Brian. Our conversation was about much more than just purpose of course. Like many of our previous guests, Joey started his career at Procter & Gamble and grew is various roles in Canada, Europe and the U.S. across multiple brands. For Joey, his time at P&G taught him how to build and manage a brand. Obviously key skills for any marketers. When I asked him how he thought the role of brand manager had changed (and I am thinking back to our conversation with Dave Knox of The Brandery and also a former P&Ger), Joey shared:

The role of Brand Managers haven’t changed per se, but the tools have changed. Successful brands managers are universal soldiers.

We also spoke about how in this consumer-driven world that shoppers are essentially looking for everything. That is, they want value for their dollar, but they also want to find a brand that resonates with their lifestyle. This insight becomes particularly important for niche brands like Seventh Generation. I asked Joey what his strategy was for competing with larger, household brands with large budgets. His answer surprised me. They don’t really compete with those brands. Why? Seventh Generation appeals to a specific kind of customer. It seems to be in many ways, that makes a marketer’s job easier. There is no breaking through the clutter when the customer is seeking you out.

Lastly, I had to ask Joey about Rance Crain’s recent Ad Age piece Is the Era of Purpose-Driven Ads (Finally) OverJoey’s answer was simple. If the brand attaches itself to a cause as a selling gimmick, consumers will suss that out and it will fail. If it is a genuine initiative to do business differently, the story and the opportunity changes significantly.

To hear more of Joey’s insights, tune in below.

Connect with Kat on Google +LinkedIn or Twitter.

[Lead Image via Tagxedo]

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