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Customer Manufacturing Group
In This Issue
Ingredient Branding
Power to the People
It's a Global Market
Any PR is Good
What Do You Celebrate
More Information 



Ingredient Branding

Gore Tex logo

Branding is all the rage in marketing today (again). While complex, the actions a brand marketer should take to build brand value with products or services directed to the end-customer are well documented. However, a substantial number of products and services are never sold directly to the end-customer. Can marketers of these "ingredients" take advantage of brand marketing? This month's paper discusses this issue. Read Ingredient Branding.

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Customer Manufacturing Update
August 2011

Dear Mitchell,


Here is your August Customer Manufacturing Update. We're trying something new this month, let us know what you think. We have many new readers joining us each month and most are unaware of our library of white papers. We usually include a new one with each Update. Since it's the Summer and we're feeling a little laid back, we decided to feature a prior paper that has been popular, based on downloads from our website. Assuming you don't revolt, we will do this again in December when we don't normally publish a new paper anyway. This month's paper from the archives is on ingredient brands.
Power to the (front-line) peopleUnited Airlines logo


Most experts on customer service agree that empowering the front-line people to effectively deal with most of the issues that arise with customers is a key to loyal customers. Providing the training and guidance to do that can be difficult, especially when these "front-line" people may be located thousands of miles from your company.


Mitch was reminded of the power of this simple truth again last year in dealing with United Airlines. He is a 1MM+ mile flyer with United (making him a permanent Premier Exec). This sometimes gives him perks, though not as good as a 1K or Global Services flyer. He was planning on going on vacation and had booked tickets for his wife and him. He had booked them many months before using award miles, so the trip cost $10 each. (His wife says there has to be some perks to him being gone all the time.)


Unfortunately their dog had been diagnosed with cancer and only had so much longer to live so they decided to cancel their vacation plans. (We are not sure if the couple they were traveling with found that a plus or a minus, but we digress). Mitch called United to cancel the flights and have the miles re-deposited into his account.


Shocked was he when the agent informed him that it would cost him $600 in cancellation fees to have his miles re-deposited. (Two travelers on two one-way tickets at $150 per ticket.) He asked the customer service person if he could just forgo the miles and not pay a fee because the policy was unbelievable and he would rather lose the miles (and then work to earn new ones on a "sane" airline) than pay $600 to keep his miles. She quickly offered to only charge him $300. He forcefully said no, that he would prefer to lose the miles than pay for them, even though he would be "pissed."


She said she had to charge him. He stated that he understood it was not her policy and she was just enforcing idiotic rules from others. He also asked if he could just not fly and lose his miles and be pissed. She asked if he was likely to make this same trip within the year (good suggestion), but not viable. She said she did not want him to be pissed and she would just re-deposit the miles into his account.


Shocked was he, but happy. He thanked her for helping him and returned to his earlier belief that United, like many airlines, has idiotic policies designed to piss off their best travelers, but at least they have some empowered front-line people who are willing and able to work around them.

It's a Global Market ... Except When it Isn't 

 Shiseido cosmetics

One thing I've noticed about marketers (and probably many other people too) is that they pursue efficiency ... often to the point of being ineffective. A place where this often shows up is trying to make messaging or product global. While many larger companies have field marketing people in various countries that work to localize the message, often the product is just not the best solution for their market. The better solution is to change the product or not focus on that market.


An Advertising Age article made this point using Shiseido cosmetics as an example. The article sub-head makes the key point:  Chinese Women View and Use Beauty Products Differently. (Gee, I am neither Chinese nor a woman and that sub-head seems obvious to even me.) The opening paragraph/sentence sums up the problem: "The definition of beauty has become homogenized by the globalization of media, but there are cultural and societal differences that affect the way women in different countries view and use beauty products, especially in China." (I like writers who write even longer sentences than I do.)


Shiseido has capitalized on understanding the unique needs of this HUGE market and is the leading provider of products. Some of that comes from their Japanese origins and some comes from a purposeful focus. All that being said, if you are going to invest in a market make sure you are effective first, then worry about being efficient.

They Say Any PR is Good PR


 Drake University

When we first heard about Drake University's D+ campaign we had the same reaction as the The Awl and Adweek bloggers who ripped the campaign for aligning a really poor grade as the brand identity of the University. Drake got a lot of unanticipated publicity from this campaign. But before you ask "what were they thinking," let's look at who the campaign targeted and how if fared.


They designed the campaign to increase interest from high school students in attending Drake University. They ran the edgy campaign as a direct mail piece to high school students with the intention to first get their attention (good idea) and then deliver an effective message. By all accounts, it worked. Campus visits during the summer were up 23% over the previous year.


By survey and by results, the campaign attracted the target market. The fact that some over-wrought bloggers did not like it just got the University even more publicity ... and some quick apologies from the administration to faculty and alumni for running the campaign without explaining it to them. In the famous words of Ricky Ricardo, "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do," and they did.


If you are the client it's not about awards it's about results. The sooner agencies figure that out, the better off clients will be. Who is your target market, and how are you or your company going to stand out in THEIR minds?

Meet Your Objectives Before You Celebrate


Too often in business we find ourselves celebrating "milestones" or outputs rather than results. Too many marketing activities are tied to achieving an output and not an outcome tied to a business objective.

A good example of this is shown in this short penalty kick video from a Moroccan soccer match. Know what your purpose is and that you accomplished it before you declare victory.

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Mitchell Gooze

Customer Manufacturing Group, Inc.


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