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Monday, September 14, 2009

Dyson Ball - a vacuum purchaser's dilemma

So, I'm buying a new house, and I set out to determine if I want to have a built-in vacuum or a stand-alone vacuum - specifically the Dyson. Why the Dyson? Well, they have great ads, and really seem to stand for something. So, I "Google'd" it.

The forums I found - including one by car enthusiasts - all pointed to the Dyson as the clear winner in the suction and cleaning battle. So, then I set out to find a Dyson. I visited the Dyson site and found ... that I am now very confused about what their models all do. I didn't know that there could be so many models. They all look alike, and their descriptions don't really help you tell what miraculous feature one vacuum has over the other.

Here's the punchline however. On their site Dyson sell refurbished vacuums. These are older models, and without the new "Ball" feature. Presumably, however, they machines are as good as new. AND, they are roughly half-price. However, my better half isn't interested in saving $300. She's interested in getting "The Ball." Why? Well, simply put, because Dyson has done such a darn find job of telling us all about how great the ball is, and how stupid you'd be to buy a non-ball model.

Dyson = GREAT Branding! We are willing to pay a premium just because of the value of the brand.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will Google make you irrelevant?

Image representing Google SketchUp as depicted...Image via CrunchBase

I love Google! Who wouldn't?

But today I was going to buy some software to make a drawing of a new bathroom that I'm setting up. When I searched (on Google, of course) for some design software the first sponsored link was for Google's own Google SketchUp software. Price? You've got to know ... FREE.

Google's competitor, Microsoft, makes software, sells it for ba-zillions then goes out and destroys its competition by out-muscling them. Google, on the other hand, makes software, GIVES it away for free, and destroys competition by the ultimate under-pricing model.

This is all well, I suppose, until Google finds a way to move into your own business sector. If you see that happening, then it is probably time to go out and find another career. There aren't many examples of Google failing to bring successful products to market. If Google automates Marketing Strategy (and they will eventually), then it is time for me to go back into Project Management (unless they've automated that ...).

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CBC's article on Guerrilla Marketing Gone Bad

CBC has a good retrospective on Guerrilla Marketing, and some bad or even disturbing outcomes.

Check out "When Ad Campaigns Go Bad".

The Web Urbanist also has a good review of 5 campaigns gone bad.

In fact, doing a Google search for news on "Guerrilla Marketing Bad", provides some interesting results.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

On the other hand ...

Today I came across Mango Moose Media, and in contrast to my last blog entry and rant on the Ikea kerfuffle, MMM's site does have some interesting quotes on it:
  • Every media plan should contain an element of alternative media
  • "Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make" - William Bernbach
  • Standing out is our job.
Alternative advertising, guerrilla advertising, ambient advertising, non-traditional media, mobile campaigns, pizza boxes, sidewalk ads, street teams, hangar ads, nail salons, floating billboards, pop-up billboards, limo wraps, projection ads, PR stunts ... the list goes on. These guys sound fun. I bet they get into trouble from time-to-time.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swedish for "DUH!" - Ikea's guerilla ad campaign

Ikea is running an interesting, and apparently stupid, advertising campaign which involves tagging (i.e. spray-painting) their ad on public space. Do you think people are upset with this?

How about this:

Ikea has apologized and admitted the 400-sign national campaign was poorly executed.

It blamed the mistake on miscommunication between it and the company contracted to do the job, and promised to remove the stenciled ads.

What ... their Marketing team doesn't sign-off on this sort of ad campaign? Come on!

Read more on:
Also - the comments on these stories are interesting. They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity ... I wonder.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What is Brand Health?

Following up on yesterday's post about financial ratios, and predictors of business success, today I'm plugging away at Brand Health.

Again, armed with my basic knowledge and Google, I set out to define ...

Brand Health 101.

Unlike the hard-and-fast & tried-and-true financial ratios, there is no standard and limited information floating around out there about Brand Health. It is something of an art and science. Available information is vague but critical, and is largely controlled by Agencies. Hmmm ... sounds sort of like Advertising.

One important commonality among the definitions of Brand Health is that Healthy Brands can command and sustain price premiums, and Healthy Brands can better sustain themselves in the face of adversity.

Among the many websites I found through Google to compile this summary of Brand Health, these were the most helpful:
And here's a quick run-down on what Brand Health is and how to measure it ...

If you generally define Brand as what people think of your product or service, then it flows that Brand Health is a measure of how they think of your Brand. To that end, Brand Equity (a quantitative measure of the value of the brand in the consumers' minds which is often assigned a dollar value and reported as an asset on balance sheets) could be considered a sub-set of Brand Health. Sometimes it is even considered to be the measure for Brand Health.

Otherwise, to measure Brand Health you have to be able to determine what a consumer's relationship is with your product or service, and answer questions such as:
  • What they know of it?
  • How they intereact with it?
  • How they use it?
  • What they think of its performance?
  • Their emotional bond to it?
  • The place it has in their heart?
  • The place it has in their wallets?
  • What they believe the attributes of it are?
  • What their distinct image of it is (perhaps their "Onliness")?
In their paper "Towards a System for Monitoring Brand Health from Store Scanner Data", authors Bhattacharya and Lodish define brand health using established notions of health. The two dimensions of Brand Health they say are:
  • Current wellbeing — a brand's attraction to consumers in an environment where all brands are operating under typical, normal conditions, and
  • Resistance — a brand's attraction to consumers when it is under attack from competition or from other elements in the macro-environment (e.g., when a new product enters the market).
Very interesting of course. In practical perspective, how is one to measure Brand Health? One way is to call up Angus Reid Strategies. They have a proprietary Brand Assessment Measure tool (BAM), that has four measures: Knowledge, Uniformity, Originality and Power. Their BAM score is well recognized and is derived from analyses of people's responses to the full set of brand attributes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's the best long-term predictor of business success?

Return on Equity or Brand Health? Current Ratio or Brand Health? Average Inventory Turnover or Brand Health?

I wonder ... A long time ago a friend of mine made good cash by investing in Starbucks and Microsoft. How did he predict their success? His advice was simple, if you like a company, believe in that company's product or service, and like their culture, then you should invest in them. Hmmm ... in hind-sight it sounds to me like he was talking about their brand (oh, and I wish I'd done it at the same time)!

So, I thought I'd do blog a comparison of financial ratios to brand health. Today, I'm poking at financial ratios. Armed only with my own dated knowledge of ratios, and Google (which quickly led me to some good sources, cited below), I am happy to present for your reading pleasure ...

Basic Financial Ratios 101.

There are a wide variety of financial ratios that help to give you some idea of a firm's success. These can pretty much all be computed from basic information provided in annual statements, or are already publicly available on a wide array of websites. Ratios provide a snapshot of a company's performance. On its own an individual ratio won't tell you anything. Even when you get all the ratios for a given company at a given time, they still won't tell you anything.

Ratios are really only valuable when they are compared with other snapshots in time or wih other ratios from other similar companies, other similar industries, and so forth. Additionally, you need to have the context of what the company's strategy is and what they are trying to achieve. that will tell you why the ratios are what they are, and let you know if they should be what they are. In that light, here are some of the most common financial ratios:

  • Liquidity Ratios --> provide information about a firm's ability to meet its short-term financial obligations and pay debt. Among Liquidity ratios are the Current Ratio (Current Assets divided by Current Liabilities). A higher current ratio reduces a lender's risk, while a lower current ratio indicates that more of the firm's assets are working to grow the business. Alternatively, an Operating Cash Flow Ratio calculation provides a much more conservative view of a firm's liquidity ((Cash + Marketable Securities) divided by Current Liabilities).
  • Asset Turnover Ratios (or Efficiency Ratios, or Asset Utilization Ratios, or Asset Management Ratios, or Activity Ratios) --> indicate how well the firm uses its assets. One measure of Asset Turnover is Average Inventory Turnover (Average daily cost of goods sold in a period divided by the Average Inventory in that same period, or Annual Cost of Goods Sold divided by 365). The appropriate ratio value and its meaning varies dramatically by firm and industry.
  • Financial Leverage Ratios or Debt Ratios --> try to tell the story of the long-term solvency of the firm. For instance, the Debt Ratio (Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets) or the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (Total Debt divided by Total Equity).
  • Profitability Ratios --> include several different measures of how well a firm generates profits and controls its expenses. These include the simple Gross Profit Margin (Sales less the Cost of Goods Sold), which focuses on the firm's cost of goods sold, but does not include other costs. More complex ratios are the Return on assets (Net Income divided by Total Assets) which is a measure of how effectively the firm's assets are being used to generate profits, and Return on Equity (Net Income divided by Shareholder Equity) which similarly measures how effectively the investor's cash is earning profits.
  • Market Ratios --> measure investor response to owning a company's stock. For instance, Earnings per Share is an often-quoted ratio (Expected Earnings divided by Number of Shares issued).
Tomorrow ... "What is Brand Health?"

With thanks to: