Friday, November 30, 2012

“Made To Be Broken”

“Rules Were Made to Be Broken”. The funny thing about clichés is the definition and the reality. The dictionary says “an overused expression. I say it is a time tested and proven truth. This is a cliché that I have never subscribed to until recently.

In the world of marketing, I have created my own set of rules and rarely break them. The reason is simple. Just about every time I see someone else break one of them, failure follows. Why these failures occur so often is simple. All of my rules are based on observation. That means they are real and in turn reliable. You see, I monitor them on a regular basis and if one changes, I change the rule. Endemic to the process is reality. You see they are not based on my judgment, my opinion or my brilliance; they are simply based on my observations.

Given that, I rarely break them myself or see my own rules broken by others with success. I however will share a rare one with you today. In doing so, I will further invite you to break this rule because I have recently done so myself.

The rule I am referring to is this. The perfect pathway to a favorable purchase decision has three steps.

1)   Get the target consumers attention to your Selling Proposition.
2)   Immediately communicate your Brand accompanied by your generic Descriptor.
3)   Move them next to your Benefit, accompanied by your strongest Attribute Drivers.

Those three steps need a great deal of explanation that I have detailed in my book “Pull” and in several other blogs but will skip here today.

Notice two things about these three steps. First, the leading communication is the Brand name, which I say should have lots of character and be short, poetic and memorable. Secondly, the Benefit is third on my list of steps and is accompanied by its Attribute Drivers. This scenario is almost always an integral part of all marketing recommendations I make to my clients.

Here is a break in that scenario that can work. It is creating a brand name that is in itself a Benefit. This sounds easy but is so easy to screw up that I recommend you not try it because it will backfire on you far more often than it will work.

Way back in my early days, I was working with Bill Gross, the genius behind Knowledge Adventure, children’s educational software. At that time, a brand called Reader Rabbit was dominating the category. The assumption was that a rabbit would make it fun for kids to learn. It worked, until we launched Bills product entry in that category, Jump Start Kindergarten. Jump Start simply trumped the Reader Rabbit positioning by communicating that it will give your kid an advantage over the other kids. The rabbit died a sudden and just death at the hands of Jump Start and the Jump Start line continues to flourish to this date.

In all honesty, I did not realize it at the time but Jump Start was a benefit incorporated into the Brand name. Even if you think real hard, you are unlikely to identify many others. I can think only of four. One I have been familiar with for over ten years is “Move Free”. Move Free is a nutritional supplement that simply has Glucosamine and MSM to help relieve the symptoms associated with worn out joints and is a very unremarkable product. It is a formula that has been around for many years. It is however a very successful product and I think its naming has been a significant factor. As I look back at it, knowing who named it, I am reasonably sure it was done without the benefit of this observation…in other words, probably lucky.

Another is the newly introduced “Skinny Girl Margarita’s” line of cocktail mixes. An absolute “killer” Benefit if you are a modern lady”

There is one more. I am very proud to share that I was instrumental in the launch of two very successful Arm & Hammer laundry detergent products a few months back and one of them belongs in this blog. They are targeted to two very different and unique users. One, “Crystal Burst”, is targeted to sophisticated users and the other, “Toss N’ Done”, is targeted to people like me who just want to get it over with. Toss N’ Done is the benefit. It’s about me, not the product.

 Of these four examples, I created two and I love that I did. By the way, KUDOS to all those who helped me do it. I’m a very lucky dude who gets to work with great people.

Having said all that, here is why you may not want to try this. If you screw this up it will backfire on you. Benefits are very sensitive for target consumers. Without the accompanying Attribute Driver, they are often considered fluff and dismissed by target consumers. Dismissed means NO SALE. If you have the luxury of research, go for it. If not, this is a trap and it will nail you. Remember, humans are looking for what is wrong and fluff will feed into that characteristic. Without research you will never know until you launch it. Asking all your employees and friends is not research, in case you were headed in that direction.

So, do what you will, but watch out for the traps.

Good Luck and let me know if you do.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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