Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Avis Tries Blander.

New CMO.  New agency. New campaign. Same old meaningless justifications - this time reported in AdAge.

"Consumer-centric brands must always evolve in order to keep pace with ever-changing customer needs and preferences." She added that "Avis is evolving as a premium brand to better meet those needs." The new tagline, she said, is "reflective of [Avis'] ongoing mission to be a customer-led, service-driven company, and presents the brand in terms of the customer experience and the advantages inherent in renting from Avis."

Me neither. So let's move on to something I think I do understand - the removal after 50 years of the one thing people associate with Avis. Something I doubt will ever fall out of the list of customer needs and preferences regardless of how much they evolve. Something that reeks of that brand equity thing that marketers are always banging on about, and something that can't be explained away with this rationale:

"We firmly believe that after nearly five decades, 'We Try Harder' is fully embedded in the Avis DNA, and defines the spirit our employees embody to deliver superior customer service."

Well, it's not in the DNA of new employees, it's not in the mind of new customers and it's not going to remain in anyone's consciousness without regular reminders. To think otherwise is to subscribe to the homeopathic school of marketing.

It doesn't have to be at the heart of their marketing, but to remove it completely is to jettison heritage and authenticity for fear that those aren't modern attributes. It's what Coke did with New Coke and, just like old Coke, I'd imagine that We Try Harder will return. If only because evolving from distinctive to bland in one CMO is just not trying hard enough.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Start Up With Your Customers.

Outside the realms of tax efficiency, nobody starts a business in the belief that it will fail. However, a recent visit to a start-up incubator revealed mindsets that ignored the possibility while putting the cart before the horse and making some basic marketing mistakes.

1) What you've done in the past is of very little relevance to your future customers unless they were your customers in the past. The most bizarre example of this was the proclamation that their CEO is a biathlete and their COO a fencer. Egoes should be checked at the door.

2) Your marketing focus should be on what the customer perceives to be the problem, rather than on what you deem to be the solution. A dating site that was promoting itself as a place where you could be honest rather than having to lie was missing the fact that its selling point was verified profiles that other users could trust.

3) Being funded doesn't mean you've proven your business case. You've just convinced some people who are not your customers of the veracity of your hunch.  The "pivoting" vogue isn't a get out of free jail card and it over-values the idea of doing something, indeed anything rather than thinking rigorously about whether you have identified a genuine problem.

As always, it's not about you and your self-proclaimed entrpreneurship, it's all about your potential customers. Barriers to entry may have fallen, but the barriers to success are as high if not higher than ever.