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Customer Manufacturing Group
In This Issue
Marketing & Sales Check-ups
Why Some Brands Are Losing Relevance
If You Get the Products Right
Find a Difference and Leverage It
And the Goal Is?
More Information 

Marketing/Sales Checkups: Have You Done Yours?


Are you focused on fighting fires or proactively improving your marketing/sales results? We recommend you perform a Customer Manufacturing Check-up of your Marketing/Sales processes. This month's paper discusses this issue.

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Customer Manufacturing Update
May, 2011

Dear Mitchell,


Here is your May Customer Manufacturing Update. How are the health and performance of your marketing and sales processes? Do you do a check up on those processes? This month's white paper considers this issue.
Why Some Brands Are Losing Relevance

Costco logo

Consumer brands are designed to create floor traffic for retailers (because the consumer wants the brand) and value over private label products because the branded products are innovative and worth the increased price the consumer pays.


Over the last 15 years two changes have conspired to decrease the relevance of some brands in the consumer market. First, the big boxes have so much floor traffic it is difficult for many brands to have an impact on that floor traffic, and simultaneously, many branded product suppliers have decreased their investment in creating innovative products, which are actually more valuable than their private label counter-parts. And, oh by the way, some of the private label suppliers are getting more innovative.


The result is decreased brand value, and whining by some branded product suppliers that the big boxes are squeezing them so they cannot maintain their brand value. A case in point is non-stick cookware.


The holy grail in non-stick cookware is easy release (highly non-sticky) and long life. Since abrasion is the enemy of the non-stick surface, getting great release and long-wear has been the trade-off the creators of the materials have struggled to overcome. Recently the innovation leader in this technology, Whitford Corporation of Pennsylvania has created a true breakthrough in this product category with their Eterna product line. I know you think DuPont Teflon is the innovation leader. Actually no. They own a very valuable ingredient brand. Whitford did not follow an ingredient brand strategy, choosing instead to invest in continual innovation; thus becoming the innovation leader in the category.


You would think that this breakthrough coating would first appear on high-end brands in high end stores such as Williams-Sonoma. Or perhaps in mainstream retailers like Macy's. Actually no. The first user of this new coating was Tramontina who is supplying Costco. They have been selling a LARGE number of pans which use this breakthrough coating. And as is Costco's policy, selling them at low prices, thus providing amazing value for their customers.


If you want to know what is causing brand value erosion it's not price, it's that the WalMart's, Costco's and Home Depot's of the world are becoming more willing to be innovative with their private label and private brand suppliers like Tramontina, while the so-called branded product suppliers are becoming more cautious and less innovative.


How are you making sure your innovation is appropriate for your market?

If You Get the Products Right... 

 Buick logo

It's no secret that Buick car sales and the Buick brand have been on a downward slide for over two decades. This performance notwithstanding, Buick was selected as one of the surviving brands in the GM portfolio.


Buick has a very limited line of cars, but they are very good cars and people are buying them. Buick decided to position the brand up against higher-end cars such as the Acura. In addition, they (for the most part) have gone to great lengths to make sure the Buick models are not simply rebranded Chevys or stripped down Cadillacs.


Big surprise, make a unique product that meets a need and people buy it. Wow what a concept. Buick sales were up in 2010 over 2009 more than any other brand. And the cars are getting rave reviews from the industry and from buyers. It is also the #1 brand in China.


Their marketing communications efforts are also in sync with their new younger customer focus (the dropped their sponsorship of the golf tour and Tiger Woods). However, if you don't get the products right, all the advertising in the world won't really help. (If it did, GM would not have needed a government bailout).


Get your product or service offerings right for your market and the marketing communications efforts are a whole lot easier ... and less expensive.

Find a Difference and Leverage It


 Four Barrel Beer

The world does not need another Wal-Mart. In truth it would not have needed Wal-Mart if Kmart had executed.


Too many companies try to emulate a leader or compete head on in a market. Unless the leader has slipped, this is a risky strategy because you are not filling a need. Southwest Airlines is different from the other airlines. You can like them or not like them, but there is no question they are different.


The L.A. Times published an article noting that some coffee houses, such as Four Barrel Coffee, are specializing in NOT providing WiFi services. In other words if you want a quiet place to relax, not a "third place" or a remote office, they are the place for you ... assuming you are a coffee drinker. Starbucks offers free WiFi and a "third place." If that is what you want, they are tough to compete against. Why would you try? Why not offer something different?


What is your point of distinction? Without one, you are just going to sell on price until you can't make any money.

As I have told people for years, if you want to get people talking about you, make yourself, your product, or your brand remarkable.

And the Goal Is?
Positioning The Battle For Your Mind

Our friend and master storyteller, Abe Walking Bear Sanchez, shared a story recently that I think bears (no pun intended) repeating.


There once was a warrior who prided himself in being the finest archer in the land. One day he came to a village and saw a bull's eye on a tree with an arrow sticking out right from the center.


"Whoever shot that arrow must be a fine marksman" said the warrior to himself. He hadn't gone much further when he saw another bull's eye, and another, and another - and all of them had arrows right in the center of the target.


He found the village elders and said "Whoever that marksman is I must meet him, ask him to meet me today, in one hours time by river." He waited by the river but the only other person there was a small child playing on the bank. She came over to where he was standing and asked "Are you waiting for someone sir?"


"Run along little girl, be on your way," said the warrior. The little girl continued, "I was told to meet someone here and you look like you are waiting." The warrior looked at her and said, "It is true I am waiting to meet the great archer who is responsible for shooting all these perfect shots I see all over the village."


"That would be me," said the little girl. "I made all those shots."


The warrior looked down at her and said, "Tell me how exactly you got a perfect shot every time?" "That's easy" replied the girl "I just point my bow very straight and let the arrow fly then I draw a bull's eye where it lands."


Do you have a goal or are you just on a walk? Can you measure what matters, or do you just declare victory? As our Principal, Bayard Bookman likes to ask about goals: "Are you getting closer to the goal or just further from the beginning?"



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Mitchell Gooze

Customer Manufacturing Group, Inc.


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