The One-Day Strategy Session.
Thirty-six years ago, Al wrote a book that changed the field of marketing.
Even today, most people assume marketing is communications. You study the product, its features and its competitors and then create advertising that explains why the product is better than the competition.
In spite of billions of marketing dollars spent every year, perceptions about leading brands as well as their market shares seldom changed. Little communications were taking place. That insight led to the positioning idea and the book: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
Instead of focusing on the product, positioning is focused on the mind of the prospect.
To build a brand: Look for an open hole in the mind and then be the first brand to fill it.
Most brands are too broad in scope to fill a hole in the mind. They have too many features and too many benefits. And they appeal to too many different market segments.
What hole in the mind could a brand like Chevrolet fill? A brand which has which has 19 different models, including sedans, trucks, SUVs and sports cars?
Chevrolet would first need to focus its brand, as outlined in our book, Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It.
BMW focused on “driving” and became the world’s largest-selling luxury-vehicle brand outselling Mercedes-Benz.
We help clients build or refocus their companies around a singular idea. If you study successful companies in the past, that’s exactly what they did.
Dell . . . . . . Computers sold direct to business.
Zappos . . . Free shipping. Both ways.
FedEx . . . . Overnight delivery.
Why does Ries & Ries conduct one-day sessions when most marketing consultants work on a 30-day or 60-day cycle?
Most companies don’t need a consultant to generate a lot of facts, opinions, ideas and concepts, all packaged in an expensive binder.
Most companies already have more information than any one person can absorb.
That’s exactly why we conduct one-day sessions. On a single day we can keep the group focused on a single issue. There’s not enough time to cover a lot of secondary problems.
Both Al Ries and Laura Ries will personally conduct the session. We also do international consulting assignments in partnership with affiliates in China, Mexico, Dubai, Iran, Austria.
Every brand needs two names: A brand name and a category name. Marketing people often overlook the opportunity to create a new category. Yet many brands owe their success to this strategy.
Chobani . . . The first Greek yogurt.
Red Bull . . . The first energy drink.
Activia . . . . The first probiotic yogurt.
In our book, “The Origin of Brands,” we explain how divergence is creating endless opportunities to create new categories. The first companies to launch new brands to exploit these new categories will likely become the long-time winners.
That’s what Apple has done with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
The goal of positioning is to: Own a word in the mind. But in today’s overcommunicated society, that’s not enough. Words are weak and don’t have the emotional power of visuals. When you combine a verbal position (or verbal nail) with a visual hammer, you can build a brand that can be exceptionally powerful. Some examples.
Marlboro, Masculine cigarette & the cowboy.
Coca-Cola, The real thing & the contour bottle.
Tropicana, Not from concentrate & the straw-in-the-orange.
Our philosophy is simple: never settle for just a verbal approach. Rather, try to find the right combination of a visual hammer and a verbal nail.
The objective of a visual hammer is to hammer your position into prospects’ minds. That job is much easier if your slogan is converted into a memorable battlecry, as outlined in Laura’s latest book Battlecry. Some examples.
Ace Hardware: Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man.
M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
BMW: The ultimate driving machine.
How do you convert an ordinary slogan into a memorable battlecry?
There are five techniques you could use: Rhyme, alliteration, repetition, reversals and double-entendre.
In addition to developing an overall visual/verbal strategy, our consulting sessions include discussions about executing the strategy.
For example, it’s usually a mistake to try to put a new idea into prospects’ minds with advertising. Advertising doesn’t have the credibility to do that. Rather, a company should use PR, or public relations, to establish the position. At some point in time the company can switch to advertising to maintain that position.
PR first, advertising second is what we recommend in our book, “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR.”
But PR is just one of the ways to execute a new strategy.
There are many other ways to build strong brands. Packaging, trademarks, distribution, pricing, websites, social media. These and other issues will also be explored during the one-day consulting session.
Our branding philosophy is outlined in our book, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.”
The book covers such issues as the use of second brands, the shape and color of logotypes, techniques for online branding and other issues often overlooked by marketing people.
Who should attend?
We suggest the entire top-management team (up to 8 or 10 people) attend the session. Every company has people who literally think differently, as explained in our book, “War in the Boardroom.”
There are right brainers (visual, intuitive, holistic) and there are left brainers (verbal, logical, analytical.) In other words, free thinkers and button-down practical types. Both types should attend the consulting session.
One of the purposes of a strategy session is to assure that everyone participates in developing the company’s visual/verbal strategy and that everyone enthusiastically supports the strategy that is developed.
If at the end of the day everyone doesn’t agree on the proposed strategy, then Ries & Ries will have failed in its duties.
A week or so after the session is completed, Ries & Ries will send the client an eight to ten-page report summarizing the recommendations made at the consulting session.
In addition, at no additional charge, we are always available via phone or email to answer any questions you might have.