There’s a word out there that begins with the letter C that simply has no place in modern society. You’ve used it. I’ve used it. We tend to use it as an epithet, unfairly. Marketers use it all the time and we, as a group, should stop. Right now.
Soccer pitch with referee running routes; also candidate for a really cool flag
See that big orange S-shape in the middle of the pitch? That’s roughly the route that the center referee (CR)–the boss on the pitch–runs during a match. Those red and blue lines that each follow half the sides of the pitch? That’s where the assistant referees (ARs, formerly known as linesmen) run. This setup gives the officials reverse angles of play on either end of the pitch.
Last weekend, I worked as an AR with a CR who simply ran along one side of the field, the same one I was on. Thus, during any play on my end of the pitch, the CR and I had either the same view or, worse, she blocked mine.
Every passing day brings new stories about advancement in the realm of self-driving vehicles. Just this weekend, Ford announced that it had appointed the head of its autonomous vehicle unit to the CEO post (Automotive News, subscription required). Now that a pillar of the auto industry has made a major step to prying our fingers off the steering wheel, how should marketers respond?
At first glance, a book on geology should have no resonance with marketing communications whatsoever. Other than the outsize role that pressure plays in both fields, very little links them. And yet I found a simple truth in Written in Stone that speaks to me and should also speak to anyone whose job entails understanding consumer behavior.
These rocks are 440 million years old and were formed in the era of the 15% commission
This weekend’s election in France suggests that the French electorate may have a firmer grasp on sanity than those in the UK & US. A recent article in Automotive News, however, suggests that they have a firm grasp of marketing fundamentals as well. Like a latter-day Alexis de Toqueville, it might have taken the French to reveal something about America that we Yanks didn’t know ourselves: how to sell pickup trucks.
Lafayette, we are here, y’all
Nissan, which is owned by Renault plans to launch its heavily revised pickup truck one region of the country at a time:
The automaker is focusing its marketing and distribution efforts for the Titan on just four U.S. cities — Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. “We’ve concentrated on only those markets at first,” said Christian Meunier, Nissan North America’s senior vice president of sales & marketing and operations. “And once we’re satisfied that we’re where we want to be in those markets, we will then move to our second phase.”
You could argue with kicking off in the Mecca and Medina of pickup trucks, Dallas and Houston; it might have made sense to build up to these key markets rather than to start in them. However, give the French some credit for taking on the most notoriously loyal vehicle segment in a strategically sound manner.
That is, they all spent time mystery-shopping competitors to see what they had and how they did things. My Sam’s Club clients, for instance, might have spent more time in Costco’s warehouses than their own with the result that their warehouses started to look like Costco’s.
For decades, a cold war-like situation held sway with retailers keeping tabs on each other and reacting quickly. More recently, I’d argue that online retail, particularly that other Seattle-based retailer, has effectively ended the cold war and made it harder for bricks-and-mortar retailers to know what’s going on.
Witness the example of fidget cubes. Where they came from and how they got there speak volumes to the new status quo in retail.
Fortunately for my clients, I have a lot of weird friends.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I am related to this particular weirdo
By “weird,” I don’t necessarily mean that they wear only orange or like to hum Soviet propaganda tunes on the subway. I mean that their vocations and avocations fall outside of the usual professional and para-professional realms. Offhand, I can think of a theater set designer, an importer of European glassware, a sports memorabilia auction house owner and an alpaca farmer (Alpaca rancher? Alpaca herder? I dunno but she has a bunch of the wooly beasts.).
All of these folks have helped me at one time or another in my career as a marketing strategist and I recommend that you collect a similar array of acquaintances to help you. Weird people know useful things!