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Archive for June 23rd, 2011

Making a Minor Product Usage Change Can Propel Major Sales Advances

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

Making a Minor Product Usage Change Can Propel Major Sales Advances 

In the middle of the 20th century pre-packaged foods and mixes were not as ubiquitous as they are today. Typically, a middle class home had a housewife present and preparing her families meals from scratch. The advent of mass-market consumerism would rapidly change this tradition. 

General Mills was a pioneer in developing and selling prepared food products. The Company Marketed first offered a line of dried cake mixes in the 1940’s and the convenience that these products provided was thought to be a sure fire winner. Sales were initially acceptable but not sensational. General Mills Marketing Managers could not understand what the missing element was that would make sales sizzle. 

The great Marketing Guru, the Austrian Ernest Dichter was hired by General Mills to analyze the prepared cake mix business. Mr. Dichter is credited with creating such Marketing breakthroughs as the Focus Group and Behavioral Science as applied to Consumerism. He began his analysis of the products and housewives reaction to them in his normal analytical fashion. 

Immediately he noticed that though the cakes baked utilizing the mixes were acceptable, they were dismissed by many housewives as not being as tasty, or velvety as cakes baked from scratch using natural ingredients. General Mills was very aggressive in promoting that the cake mix powder contained dried eggs. Mr. Dichter saw an opportunity. 

His advice was for General Mills to remove the dried, powdered eggs from the mixes and tout this fact in a new Advertising Campaign. Eggs are an “alpha” foodstuff and are elemental in fine cooking and baking. Ernest Dichter advised the marketers of the cake mixes to have fresh eggs added at the time the batter was being prepared. 

This advice worked swimmingly. The cakes were smoother, tastier and separated from the baking pan perfectly when the fresh eggs were added to the powdered mixes. The simple pro-active suggestion of adding eggs logically informed housewives that they were baking better cakes that their families would appreciate and better enjoy. 

Another example of driving Sales by changing usage directives is supplied by one of the most famous and commonly used O-T-C drugs in the world, Alka-Seltzer.

Founded in Elkhart, Indiana in 1931 by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company, the tablet was a modest success almost from the date of launch to the public. Dr. Miles Medicine Company Marketed the Alka-Seltzer product as an analgesic remedy for minor aches, pains, upset stomach and headache.

Initially the tablets were prescribed for use one tablet per dose. It was only when the Company began to package the tabs in tin foils, two per packet that Sales boomed. Consumers have a natural inclination that if one tablet works, two will work better. This is basic human nature and the marketing team at Dr. Miles played this emotion like a simple snare drum. “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief it Is”, was born. 

Recently our Branding-Marketing Consulting and Product Development firm was tasked with launching a new Anti-Aging Skin Care Cosmetic brand. This is a very vibrant category but brutally competitive. Products must have a special Unique Selling Proposition to drive sales and cut through Beauty Market clutter. For this product we accomplished this by employing a pro-active product feature, in this case an Activator feature. The Activator usage step cements in the consumers mind that the product is enhanced, pristine and is supported with added technology and clinical advances. 

Marketing and Sales are first cousins that need to be tightly coordinated in order insure success. Marketing a unique usage or performance benefit can separate your consumer product from the competition and drive Sales growth. This strategy is simple, easily understood by consumers and it works.

A Simple 20-Step Test That Will Confirm Whether or Not a Product Development Project Is Market-Ready

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

A Simple 20-Step Test That Will Confirm Whether or Not a Product Development Project Is Market-Ready 

For almost four decades my Consulting firm has worked with entrepreneur’s to design, develop, package, Brand, Market and Sell a vast range of Consumer Products. Our job is to save clients time, money and mistakes. This goal is best achieved when we are involved in a nascent project from inception. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

Many prospective entrepreneurs decide to self-market their “alpha” product launch. This can certainly be done, though it requires a very high level of due diligence and trial and error. Unfortunately we are approached all too often by a rookie product developer who has exhausted their funds, mis-marketed the product or not been able to penetrate the target market at the most fundamental level. 

The following is a series of questions, a test, that can be used as a guide in deciding if you have the capacity to self-market a new product, service or business strategy. This test is general in nature and you can fine tune the questions to more closely apply to a specific product you are developing.

  1. Have you filed for Intellectual Property protection (patent, trademark, copy right, trade secret, etc.)?  Yes___  No___
  2. Do you have a detailed Gantt Chart? Yes___ No ___
  3. Have you chosen Engineer, Designer, Lab (depending on product type)  Yes___ No___
  4. Do you have Production Quality Prototypes (or formula, or recipe, etc. depending on product type)? Yes___  No___
  5. Have you conducted deep competitive product research (pricing, distribution, etc.)?  Yes___ No ___
  6. Have you researched and chosen source of mass production for the proposed product? Yes___ No ___
  7. Have you researched and chosen a Graphic Artist to produce art files for packaging, sales collateral, display, web-site, etc.? Yes___ No___
  8. Have you organized Point-of-Purchase display design? Yes___ No___
  9. Have you sourced and finalized packaging components? Yes___ No ___
  10.  Do you have a detailed Bill of Materials? Yes___ No___
  11. Do you know final, landed, dead-net Cost of Goods…CRUCIAL? Yes___ No__
  12.  Do you have a Sales Model, pricing structure? Yes___ No ___
  13.  Have you customized a Branding and Marketing Strategy? Yes___ No___
  14.  Have you tested the product (i.e. Focus group, clinical tests if needed, etc.)  Yes___ No ___
  15.  Have you begun or strategized a Public Relations Campaign? Yes___ No___
  16.  Is your Business Plan perfected? Yes___ No___
  17.  Do you have Product Liability Insurance organized? Yes___ No___
  18.   Production of Sales Brochures, Video, Web-site, Trade Show display, Point-of-Purchase display, Product Folio, etc. completed? Yes___ No___
  19.  Logistics organized (EDI, UPC, warehouse, inventory control, billing, etc.)?  Yes___ No ___
  20.  Trade shows researched and contracted for launch and Pre-Sell?  Yes__ No__

If you can objectively answer each of these questions positively you can probably be successful in self-launching a Consumer Product or Service. Remember, these are general questions and there many sub-issues related to each one. Use this as a Guide in deciding if you have the mettle to undertake this exciting new outlet for your creativity and competitiveness.

Birthing a New Business opportunity is both daunting and thrilling at the same time.

4 Crucial Elements to Include in Your Consumer Product Branding Strategy

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

4 Crucial Elements to Include in Your Consumer Product Branding Strategy 

When I started to Market Consumer Products 40 years ago the term “Branding” was one I never heard. The term was not one that enjoyed the currency it enjoys today. In the years since formal Branding and Branding Strategies have become key foundational elements that Marketers employ to imprint their products in the psyche of consumers. 

There are many pieces involved in creating a successful, enduring Branding Strategy and Campaign. These components have been discussed, studied, analyzed and debated since the term has come into such popular use among the professional Marketing crowd. These elements include everything that is visual and relates to the product being branded: package design, colors, icons, print fonts, shapes, delivery trucks, uniforms, advertising formats, etc. For this article we will look at creating powerful Branding Statements. 

The following are 4 creative rules that our Marketing Consulting and Product Development firm utilizes when creating Branding Statement Strategies for clients: 

1. The Branding Statement should have spatial symmetry.

Unbalanced phrasing leaves an uneven impression in consumer’s minds. This reflects on their acceptance or rejection of the product being branded. The goal is to leave a crisp, clean impression.  The Vidal Sassoon Hair Care Product Branding Statement is a fine example of utilizing excellent spatial symmetry:

                                             “We don’t look good,

                                             if you don’t look good”.

2. The Branding Statement should offer some lyricism. 

 Note the many messages contained in the short, pithy wording of the Vidal Sassoon Branding Statement. There is a nice lyricism, not poetry, but a flow to the verbiage. This Branding Statement was one of the most successful Beauty Product Branding Statements ever utilized. 

3. The Shorter the Branding Statement, the better. 

Several of the most famous contemporary Branding Statements have become ubiquitous and are classics. 

                                              Coke is it!

                                              Ford is Job 1!

                                              Just get out there!

                                              The Ultimate Driving Machine!

                                              Das Bug! 

Virtually every consumer can name the products that are branded by these Branding Statements. Most could also hum the jingle that supplies the musical backdrop to their television commercials. This should be the goal of every Marketing Consultant when creating a campaign and it becomes easier if the copy is as short as possible. 

4. Implant an uplifting message in the Branding Statement. 

The venerable, 250 year old Geneva, Switzerland-based luxury watch manufacturer Vacheron Constantin, is renowned for the incredible “complications” they have engineered into their timepieces. In 1819, Vacheron Constantin presented one of the first Corporate Branding Statements. It is still in use to this day. 

                                               “Do better if possible,

                                                And it is always possible”. 

Note the messaging so subtly implanted in this seemingly simple statement. There is also near perfect lyricism, tone and symmetry. In addition to producing the most desirable watches in the world, this Company has always enjoyed excellent Marketing. In 1819, long before we studied Branding as a component of a successful Marketing Strategy, Vacheron Constantin was unwittingly perfecting the practice.