kentucky kicks a**

One of the very first blog posts I published in 2005 was a repurposing of an op-ed article I wrote for the Courier-Journal about the failure of the Unbridled Spirit “rebranding” of Kentucky. I’ve used that story many many times since then. It’s featured prominently in Brand Zeitgeist. I use it in my marketing keynotes when I speak about branding. Because I’m from the Bluegrass State, it’s one of my favorite ways to talk about misconceptions on brand strategy.

branding keynote speechAfter seven years of lackluster response to Unbridled Spirit, someone decided to do something about it. A group calling themselves Kentucky for Kentucky has taken the task of reimagining the branding of the state commonwealth.

They’ve replaced “Unbridled Spirit” with “Kentucky kicks a**” (no asterisks) complete with a YouTube video that’s gone viral and related merchandise.

Their campaign, which is only a few weeks old, has already outpaced the real campaign run by the Kentucky Department of Tourism in Facebook likes, video views, etc. It made a big jump when it picked up national exposure in the USA Today this week.

Many have faulted the state tourism department spokesman for their response, but I can see the point of the tourism bureaucrats trying to distance themselves from this homegrown branding effort because of the vulgarity of it. It plays well with certain demos, but will turn off others which is a death knell for tourism.

While I’ve gone on record against vulgarity, I do like the fact that this campaign does something right. It has emotion. It has personality. Instead of trying to cram a corporate brand message down someone’s throat, it takes the brand equity that is there and translates it into something people want to share and experience. State leaders should take a lesson of how to properly translate a brand message into something people want to share.

(btw. KY does kick a**.)

best of 2012

Another year has come and gone. As I do every year … [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] … I present what were the biggest hits of 2012 on the blog for you to revisit if you’re a regular or discover if you are a new reader:

  • For raw numbers of traffic / visitors, it seems appropriate that AAA Marketing ranked first.
  • My recent diatribe on evolving holiday traditions also did well according to the reliable folks at Google Analytics.
  • One of my favorite posts from the past year dealt with the one essential rule for planning a great event.
  • I hate strongly dislike JC Penney. They continue to fail further since I wrote that post in June.
  • Kotex and social media are like peas and carrots.
  • Probably one of the best things I’ve ever written deals with brand leadership. Great brands are built by people.

I’ve been meaning to write a short post about this, but here’s a good a place as any… For the past seven years, I have tried to maintain a laser focus on this blog. I tried to just write about marketing topics with very little tangent material. Frankly, I’ve beat most of the traditional marketing stuff to death and the world doesn’t need more blog posts on how to do social media. In the past few months, there’s been a slight shift in the focus of this blog. That shift will continue and may grow in the future. There will still be the old media, marketing, branding, etc posts, but there will also be some other stuff too.

As always, thanks for reading this stuff, no matter what I output. I truly thank you for being a reader of the Shotgun Marketing Blog my blog. I hope to continue to provide you with useful and entertaining content in 2013. Don’t miss any of upcoming posts by either subscribing to the RSS feed (through a reader or by email) or following me on Twitter or on Facebook.

death of the daily

Almost two years ago, I wrote a scathing review of the new iPad only newspaper “The Daily”. Today, News Corp announced they’re closing down the Daily.

While I’ll stick with much of my initial critique of why it ultimately failed, there’s a simple distilled reason of its failure. A digital newspaper failed for the same reason that traditional newspapers are failing. It’s not about the platform, whether that be an iPad or newsprint. It’s about the content and the audience (and the revenue model)

tradition

freedom from wantI am a staunch traditionalist.

There’s a reason things have been done the same way for a long time. It’s because those things work. Ain’t broke, don’t fix.

Every year around this time, magazines and TV shows start to wear on my traditionalist vein.

“New and exciting recipes for Thanksgiving” is the call of the headline. The magazine’s test kitchen or the celebrity chefs are rolling out alternatives as they reinvent the traditional bird and sides.

And I ask why.

How often does the average American roast an entire turkey EXCEPT in November or December? Do people not crave the holiday feast since it’s such a rarity? People cook this meal so infrequently that there’s a hotline to help them with questions.

And yet, turn on the TV or open the magazine to find someone telling you that you should prepare “Fruit-Loop encrusted turkey drumsticks for a new and exciting taste”. “Forget the whole bird and impress your guests with roadside turkey sliders with a Sriracha cranberry sauce!”

Even as I write this, my wife is planning to abandon a traditional pumpkin pie for something called Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie which sounds like a November mashup concert between Queen and AC/DC. Doesn’t bother me though as I deem any sort of pumpkin pie as a cooled jiggly inedible jack-o-lantern leftover. That recipe came straight out of the pages of this month’s Southern Living magazine. Southern Living used to be a good barometer of the traditional South, but now has been taken over by hipster editors and writers who overly rely on tales of grits and football to fake true Southern credentials.

It’s not just food. “Traditions” are now created to sell things like Elf on the Shelf. The masses are hooked into a faux tradition that was only conjured in 2005 to sell a book. The value of holiday traditions have been replaced with marauding crowds and the economic effects of Black Friday.

Change is inevitable. We wouldn’t pick out the stuff on a Thanksgiving table even 100 years ago and certainly not the original feast with Squanto and Company. Change will happen to us like frogs in the boiling pot. One day, there will be questions of why more people don’t eat the traditional Fruit-Loop encrusted turkey drumsticks anymore. The folks who ask that question will be accused of being square and out of touch.

Who’s responsible? As with most things, I blame the media. The media’s daily job is to convince millions of people to abandon what they know from experience to be true/right only to be replaced with an idea created by a few fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings looking for a hip story or trend.

So I ask you to join the rebellion this year. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, try something truly daring and off the wall. Ignore the hipster media kids. Do everything that way it would have been done in your childhood. Tell your friends to have a Merry Christmas.

Tradition is the new black.

shutdown

I can tell there’s been a new training program shift for B2B cold call telemarketers. They’re now all asking the same self-deflating question to me.

TYPICAL CALL

ME: Hello.

TM: Are you the person in the business responsible for buying snow blowers?! I’m selling snow blowers  Your business needs one now! (plus 30-45 seconds more of non-paused script which, frankly, I don’t have the energy to re-create here in this fictional exchange.)

ME: We’re not interested, thanks.

TM: Can I ask why not?

ME: It doesn’t snow here.

TM: Oh.

The sales seminar down at the airport Marriott would advise you to ask questions to overcome objections which I assume is where this question is coming from.

But the reality is that, in sales, you should never allow the opportunity to paint yourself into a corner. The same advice applies if you are an actual floor painter.

(Full disclosure: It actually does snow here.)

tainted

I’m seeing it happen more and more.

As the cashier hands me a receipt, she draws a circle on it and says, “Please visit this link and take the online survey about your experience. Please make sure to give me all 5s.”

I was staying in a hotel in Cincinnati the other night (in the “quiet zone”). On the desk in the room, there was a high quality printed piece that had instructions on how to complete the e-mail survey I would receive from the corporate parent of the hotel. The manager had written on these instructions to “give the hotel all 10s or your response won’t count”.

And I could go on with real-life examples as I’m sure you could as well.

This is either dumb or crooked or both.

Why even conduct the customer response if you or your employees are tainting the results? Customer surveys are shaky enough without meddling interference.

If you’re doing it to avoid hearing bad feedback, then grow a thicker skin before you run yourself out of business.

If your employees are scared of how you treat them because of surveys, try having them improve actual customer service instead of numbers on a spreadsheet.

By the way, these attempts to influence the election could backfire.

moving on from feedburner

I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years and FeedBurner was one of the first services I used. It was a great way to analyze, optimize, publicize, and monetize the RSS feed of a blog. But the recent rumblings of news about Feedburner are scaring me.

So I am slowly letting the Feedburner feed address sunset/die.

This means a couple of things for you:

  • If you get my posts via email, I have already moved your subscription to the Subscribe2 plug-in for you. (You’re welcome.) The email may look different, but there are more options you can work with in your subscription. As always, there’ll be no spam and you can unsubscribe at anytime.
  • If you’d like to subscribe via email, you can at the new subscription page at http://shotgunconcepts.com/subscribe.
  • If you’re an old-school RSS person and get the blog via reader or other method, please make sure you’re subscribed to the site’s normal feed at http://shotgunconcepts.com/feed instead of the Feedburner one just in case Google dumps it in the river unexpectedly. The normal feed is still being redirected until I completely purge everywhere it’s posted. And I may keep it quietly in the background until Google kills it. (in an un-evil way, of course)

usa yesterday

In July, USA Today underwent a redesign. (For the rest of this blog post, I’ll try to avoid the phrase “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”.)

But while we could talk alot about the news / journalism implications of the redesign and even how the print design is meant to evoke more of a web feel, I’m stuck on the new “logo” (use “airquotes”)

USA Today’s new logo — a large circle in colors corresponding to the sections — will be an infographic that changes with the news, containing a photo or image that represents key stories of the day.

This “evolving logo, but not a logo” idea was tried by AOL back in 2009.  Basic business lesson: Don’t copy AOL ideas.

While logo does not equal brand, the logo is the main visual anchor of a brand. Visual brand identity does need to evolve with the brand, but it needs to be a gradual process, not a daily one.

The USA Today’s troubles run deeper than the logo. What if hotels stopped dumping them at guests’ doors? Circulation would go down by 97%.

Seriously, the USA Today still has the same 2 major brand problems it’s had since 1982. It’s a McPaper about a mile wide and an inch deep and it’s owned by Gannett.

In the end, I guess the real reason I’m a little disappointed in the redesign because it’s no longer “delivered by satellite” (cause that’s SO high-tech).

united loses daughters

Forget guitars. Dave Carroll should write a song called United loses 10-year-old girls. Apparently, United didn’t learn anything from the United Breaks Guitars fiasco.

While that story is deeply disturbing, Peter Shankman makes a good point. Your employees have to care to provide decent (or even minimally acceptable) customer service:

Customer service has to start at caring. No matter what employee of the company is approached first, that employee has to be trained to care. Because if the first person doesn’t care, the company doesn’t care.

How do you train someone to care? How do you instill empathy on the assembly line? I don’t think you can. It has to be central in the company culture and you have to beware of it in the hiring process. United and the other airlines will never have it.