Sunday, June 27, 2010
Professor Schultz concludes his argument with the question "does any of the brand baggage we've dragged into the 21st Century have any relevance or resonance today with us, our customers, or the marketplace?" Throughout the article, Professor Schultz makes it clear where he stands, which is evident with his description of positioning as "brand baggage".
Unfortunately, his apparent disdain for anyone foolish enough to cling to the notion that brands can occupy a particular place in the mind of the consumer has clouded his judgment, and for the first time in a long while I think the professor has totally missed the mark.
Professor Schultz is certainly right that the idea of one brand completely owning a position for all time in the customer's mind is outdated. But I don't think that idea was ever totally valid in the first place. Volvo has always been positioned as the epitome of safety, but that brand was never the only brand with safety features. So it never owned exclusive rights to that position.
Yes, things are different today than they were in the 1970's when the original concept of positioning was coined by Messrs. Trout and Reis. Yes, the proliferation of brands, sub-brands and line extensions has increased while the ability of marketers to reach masses of consumers has dwindled dramatically. Yes, there are new tools that all marketers should be exploring to discern how best to speak to today's customers.
But I've got news for you, Professor Schultz. The consumer has always been in charge.
When the marketing mavens in Atlanta tried to foist a new version of Coca-Cola on the world, consumers said no in dramatic fashion. The marketing business has always had its share of Edsels when consumers refused to buy into the marketer's attempts to position the product in the consumer's mind. Do you remember Quadraphonic sound, Apple Newton, Apple Lisa, PC Jr., the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, the USFL? These were all well-positioned, sure-fire winners until consumers said "no thanks".
So the idea that positioning is no longer valid for marketers because the consumer is now in charge doesn't resonate well with me. Nor do the arguments that marketers have limited means to communicate or that every exposure and every brand experience outside of the brand manager's voice and control is suddenly more powerful. The sum total of the actual brand experience has always been more powerful than the statements made in formal branding communications. And they always will be.
No matter how wired the world becomes in the 21st Century, there will always be a need for marketers to try to position their product or service offering in the mind of the customer. There will always be a need for marketers to search for competitive niches and unmet needs, and to espouse the most salient benefits to a target group of consumers. Success, as always, will be based on whether expectations are aligned with the reality of the brand experience.
Is the concept of brand positioning different in today's world?
Is the concept of brand positioning more difficult in today's world?
Is the concept of brand positioning nothing more than yesterday's "baggage" and thus dead in the 21st century?
What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
- posted by Don Morgan, Raindance Consulting
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Anna gave the PSAMA audience an overview of the values, attitudes, beliefs, and motivational drivers of each of the four generations that are now present in the workforce - Traditionalists (1925 - 1945), Baby Boomers (1946 - 1964), Gen X (1965 - 1977) and Millennials ( 1978 - 1999). But more importantly, she gave the audience insight into how those belief systems developed and why it is important to understand them as managers, employees, peers and potential customers. Being able to communicate in a way that says "I know who you are" and "I know what you value", can be the difference between a successful relationship (and sale) and a lost opportunity.
Much of her presentation was devoted to the theme "Selling to the Generations", and that portion of her message was something that every marketer should hear and take to heart in their internal and external communications. She addressed each of the generations with insights on these four questions:
- How do you develop trust and relate to each generation?
- How do you discover their key needs?
- What format or approach should you use in the selling process?
- What tone and media do you use to achieve the best result?
The answers for each generation are too numerous to cover in this post, but you can learn more by visiting her website at http://www.resultance.com/ and downloading a white paper she has written on this important subject. One example she used in her presentation showed how Gen Xers approach problem-solving and management from a no-nonsense, bottom line perspective, while Millennials respond more positively to a collaborative approach that seeks continuous evaluation and reinforcement. She described interacting with Millennials in this way - "it's not about managing, it's about coaching", and understanding that attitude and approach is important when working with or selling to that generation.
Ms. Liota began her presentation by pointing out that if you have ever asked yourself "what's up with today's generation?", you are not alone. Every generation has said the same thing about the succeeding generation. To dramatize her point, she quoted from a 1968 Time Magazine article that described the Baby Boom generation as having a "bad attitude, inflated sense of entitlement, lack of a strong work ethic, rude, and disloyal". Does that sound familiar to you when thinking about younger generations?
I will talk more about the specifics of Generationally Savvy communication in future posts. But I am curious. Is it important to understand how to communicate with the various generations in your job? How do you think you could do a better job and what would the impact be if you did?
- posted by Don Morgan, Raindance Consulting
Saturday, June 5, 2010
For the first time in American history, there are four generations working side by side in the workplace - Traditionalists, or Veterans, born before 1945; Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Generation X (1965-1980); and Generation Y, or Millennials (1981-2000). Each generation has distinct attitudes, values, behaviors, expectations, and motivational needs that can be obstacles or opportunities.
For organizations and managers, these generational differences can affect almost everything, from recruiting to training to retaining employees. Failure to recognize and respect these differences when communicating with others inside the organization can result in high turnover, decreased productivity, and low job satisfaction.
For employees, recognizing the work ethic, values and interactive style of your boss and your peers can have a direct impact on job success and failure. And understanding that measuring job success to Boomers is dramatically different from job success to Gen Y Millennials, can be the difference in a high performing team environment and a disengaged workforce.
For marketers, failure to recognize these differences can also have a negative impact. Understanding the personal and lifestyle characteristics by generation through acknowledgment of their core values, family environment, aspirations for their job, their marriage and their lifestyle are just as important as understanding their media preferences.
The chart below was compiled by Greg Hammill, the former executive director of Fairleigh Dickenson University - Center for Human Resource Management Studies. The characteristics listed in the table are just a few of the examples that have been studied and reported by various authors.
While not every person in a generation shares all of these characteristics,this should give you a good start on understanding and interacting more effectively with others. The most important thing to remember is that being aware of the differences in generations can help you to tailor your message for maximum effect, regardless of the task, or the relationship.
Want to know more? Attend the June 9 PSAMA luncheon and start turning potential obstacles into opportunities.