“Absolutely, Positively, Overnight, Guaranteed”
“Reach out and touch someone”
“VISA: It's everywhere you want to be”
All memorable promotional slogans, right? But how did these tiny phrases work for these BIG companies, to help position and promote their service? That’s the real question.
Federal Express was perceived as just another shipping company. But they were very smart: they did market research. And what they found was that most shippers were not on time, and did not have viable tracking systems. Customers of those lesser shippers, therefore, were often angry, since their packages were lost or delayed. With that in mind, FedEx created a system that was extremely revolutionary for its time: hub shipping, which required that all orders be processed in one, centralized location. By activating a large fleet of planes and trucks (and people!), FedEx was able to meet the demand for guaranteed overnight service—at a time when our culture as a whole was infusing speed to provide an edge in business. Now, of course, we can surf the Internet faster than we can talk. But back then, such a significant move to highlight FedEx’s differences from other shippers, and promote that difference “absolutely, positively, ” convinced even us tough skeptics.
Working in the film business at the time, we typically spent over a half-million dollars just to shoot one commercial or television episode. Naturally, we were reluctant to trust our original celluloid film to some shipper who might not temperature-protect it, thus ruining the image quality. Worse, we certainly couldn’t contract with a shipper who might lose the film entirely, and wasn’t insured to reimburse us the half-mil needed to re-shoot our film. Sure, now we can digitize a copy, or use a dozen other protective measures, but back then it was a very different techno-time. In our industry, the production cost was so incredibly prohibitive that we only hired people or equipment that “absolutely, positively” could get the job done, like FedEx.
Looking back on those times, the ad slogans reveal lessons not in clever wording (as most companies mistakenly believe is the key), but rather in great thinking. After all, as we’re fond of saying, Knowledge is Bliss! Understanding what clients really need, and how your company can fill that niche, is the key to capturing ongoing business from satisfied clients. And it’s not just applicable to giant corporations, whose slogans we know so well. Small companies need intelligence to find out how they’re different, so they can really embrace and promote those differences.
EXAMPLE OF HOW IT WORKS One of my clients, Kathleen Kline & Associates, has a virtual office from which she provides transcription and editing services. She was selling against similar types of companies in her area. Once we surveyed her clients, we discovered that they valued the differences that set her apart from the plethora of other, less intellectually sophisticated editors and transcribers.
Therefore, we promoted her “Intelligent Virtual Office" services and raised her rates to be commensurate with the value she brought to her clients.
Kathleen's elite education (Diplôme Supérieur from the Sorbonne in Paris), as well as her ability to understand and accurately transcribe technically complex subject matter from audio-taped interviews into real text, using the clients’ actual words (as opposed to transcribers who simply employ phonetics, which yield impossible-to-understand or completely useless transcripts) greatly distinguished her company's value from her competitors.
If you need a great, cost-effective transcriber, editor, or proofreader, I'd be glad to put you in touch with Kathleen Kline & Associates. She can tell you firsthand how her revenues jumped from embracing her differences and promoting that.
CLEVER IDEA FROM A SMALL COMPANY Patricia Griecci, CEO (and “Top Dog”) of the “Smiling Dog” company, makes products for “Kids with Tails”. What are her products? Dog cookies. Is there a market? Yes! As a matter of fact, ten million people regularly purchase such products. The idea for her business came to Patricia when she was trying to find a really nice dog bed for her own “kid. ” She now thinks of herself as the “Martha Stewart for dogs. ”
At a professional conference a few years ago, Patricia described how she found and successfully filled this need, explaining, “Go for the void. When you see a need, do your due diligence to make sure there’s a market, and then create a niche product. Don’t take ‘no’ as never, but instead as a ‘not now’ answer. ”
WHAT TOP LEADERS TEACH US IN MARKETING Because I’ve been fortunate to work in television, taping thousands of business and community leaders, politicians, scientists, educators, entertainers, athletes, and a cross-section of humanity, I’ve gathered some wisdom from them that directly applies to marketing. These noted professionals mostly concur that if one is to be recognized and remembered, and hopes to succeed, one is obligated to put forth the following principles.
Allison Bliss Consulting, the creator of “Marketing as a Spiritual Practice" method, rebels against misleading, pushy, spam-filled marketing offering Fortune 500 companies and offers entrepreneurs an integrated range of do-it-yourself marketing products & customized marketing strategy, plans, promotional materials, websites, and hands-on services.
Having studied with Frances Ford Coppola and other film greats, Bliss is a member of the Directors Guild of America where she crafted hundreds of films, tv shows, and commercials. She moved into marketing to help worthy business get noticed, and because she figured they needed her help more than Hollywood did. Her website offers tools to make marketing idiot-proof for under $20.