5 Basic Questions To Help You Determine Whether Your Marketing Partner Actually “Gets It”

5 Basic Questions To Help You Determine Whether Your Marketing Partner Actually “Gets It”

AUGUST 31, 2018

A marketing firm that “gets it” is one that realizes that the reason you actually hired them really boils down to just one thing - their purpose for being there, ultimately, is to help you increase your business' profit-position...period. They get that every idea they conceive and every strategy they develop is only as good as it is in helping them accomplish this singular objective. While this may sound obvious enough, there are a lot of marketing firms that just don't get it. They tend to get a little too caught up with the excitement of the prospect of utilizing the latest and most innovative marketing tactics like virtual & augmented reality marketing, interactive-content and AI-driven marketing, etc., that they loose focus on the fact that, as cool as these new tactics are, it's not about the tactics or even what the tactics themselves can do. It's about whether or not the using of those tactics results in a direct line that leads to the business making more money and increasing its profit-position.

So every once in awhile it makes sense for clients to ask themselves a question, does my marketing partner really “get it”? Because if they're not getting it, not only might your business  potentially be missing out on opportunities to increase its profitability, your business is also likely throwing away good money via whatever fees you're pay to that marketing partner. To that end, here are five very basic, but somewhat telling, questions you should consider asking yourself to help you determine whether your marketing partner actually gets it or not...and whether you might want to consider making a change or not.

  1. Do they understand the difference between increasing profitability vs. increasing revenue, and of the two, which one is most important for your business?
  • Many marketers love to say that they help businesses increase that classically famous dual called “Sales & Revenue.” And while this is certainly important, increases in sales and revenue alone is is not what helps a company ultimately become successful on a sustainable long-term basis – it's the increases in profitability that accomplishes that. We've all heard of those companies that continually have revenue that is off-the-charts and who consistently generate quarterly and year-over-year sales increases, but who's businesses still suffer.
  • However when a company's profitability steadily increases, that is a positive barometer of its true financial health and that it is doing things right. If profitability is increasing it means that, in similar fashion to increasing sales and revenue, marketing must talking to the right people at the right time and compelling them to exercise a desired behavior. However each of these elements is likely to be just that much more targeted, better positioning the business to be able to hold or even increase profit margins, thereby increasing profitability.
  1. Are they more focused on producing vanity metrics than they are on producing results - AND - are they are more focused on producing results than they are on producing outcomes?
  • Vanity metrics make all of us, marketers and our clients, feel good. You know, having traffic to the website consistently increase, seeing upticks in Likes and Followers, and of course experiencing a campaign or marketing push go viral.
  • While being seen is great, and having people know or even talk glowingly about your business feels good, most marketers would agree that these things alone are not money makers.
  • Most marketers would also agree that producing results that yield profits are what marketers should be focusing on.
  • But a different and albeit better way of thinking about this would be to focus on producing outcomes rather than producing results. That's because results, although a great thing to aspire to achieve, are really just snapshots of something at a specific point in time in comparison to a snapshot of that same something at a previous point in time. Outcomes on the other hand suggest the permanency of a sustainable new state.
  1. Do they believe in your product, service or solution and support your vision?
  • In order for a marketing partner to effectively market your product, service or solution, they need to believe in it, as well as support and share your vision. They cannot simply see your account as fee-generating opportunity for their firm.
  • However, this does not mean that they cannot and should not push back and challenge your thinking and assumptions, instead just the opposite, as your partner they should do so to drive excellence.
  • They should also try out and experience your product, service or solution. Obviously in certain instances doing so will be a bit more challenging, but this should be done whenever and wherever possible.
  • ...when was the last time your marketing partner spent the day at your place of business (or even entered it for that matter) and not just saw, but truly experienced, first hand what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for?
  1. Do they say that they will know or learn your business, or do they say that they will understand your business?
  • If your marketing partner says that they will know or learn your business, that's a sign they don't get it. If they say that they will understand your business, that's a sign they do get it.
  • These are not semantics, these are critical differences. Think about it, given the years of experience you have in your business and/or industry (not talking about it, writing about it, or marketing it - but actually doing it) what marketing company is able to come in and in a number of weeks or months be able to know or learn your business with any degree of effectiveness.
  • Understanding your business is more about “getting it”, understanding where the challenges come from and where the opportunities might be. It's understanding why a certain customer segment tends to be more fickle, or when the market tends to slow and what can be done to keep the business correctly tracked during those periods.
  1. Is your marketing partner bringing you ideas that stretch you, but that will also result in achieving positive-profitability outcomes for your business?
  • As marketers we love the big idea. We love looking for it and we love bringing it to our clients. But sometimes marketers tend to be more focused on what the big idea is and what it can do than they are on what the big idea will accomplish as it relates to increasing profitability....again a marketer that gets it, understands that any idea they bring, (no matter how “big”) is only as good as it is in helping your business ultimately increase its profit position.
  • Bearing this in mind however, a marketer that gets it will also bring you ideas that stretch or challenge you. As your marketing partner works to continually understand your business, their questions (and questioning), research and critical thinking should help you better understand and see your business in ways you never did before as well.
  • Part and parcel that indicates this happening will be the big ideas that your marketing partners brings you that stretch you, but are, once your hair is no longer on fire, ideas that you are able to understand will help your business increase profitability on a sustainable basis.

At Black Rhino Marketing Group, we get it. We prove we get it everyday, and the day we stop proving it is the day we no longer deserve our client's business.

3 Ways to Tell if Your Idea is a Good One

3 Ways to Tell if Your Idea is a Good One

AUGUST 27, 2018

Allow me to give this some context. This is about how to tell if your communication idea is a good one. I mean the communication concept behind a marketing campaign. Not an idea for a new business. Not an idea for an article. Not an idea for what to do next in your life. Those are for another blog.

This is specifically about when you’re racking your brains for that central IDEA that’s going to make the marketing program or ad campaign you’re creating really pop. It could also be the idea for the core branding. Just what is it that really makes this thing special? That will make it stand out…be memorable…be lasting.

I’ve found over the years that three things seem to occur when the right idea emerges:

| Your heart sings. I mean you get excited. You get happy. You feel really good about this idea—something about it just feels right. You feel like maybe you’ve never seen it before, not quite like this. You believe in it…in your gut.

| Which then might make others feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe the newness and “differentness” of it is disruptive. That’s a good thing— you want to stand out don’t you? But it can make some people uneasy. Speaking of “gut”…Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink” tells the story of the infamous Aeron Chair by Herman Miller. Arguably one of the most successful products ever by them…definitely the most aesthetically pleasing, most intensely engineered ergonomic chairs ever. And the most comfortable, desired office chair of all time. Unfortunately it was so revolutionary that it performed poorly in research. I mean viewers despised it! Because participants weren’t really being honest about how they truly felt; they were unconsciously expressing their prejudice against something too radically different (the “locked room” concept). It was nicknamed “the Chair of Death”. But the designers and engineers believed in it, continued to research it (with only modest improvement) and it was finally launched. And oh boy, talk about a marketing idea as innovative as the chair: they “placed” it in TV and movie sets with design firms. Designers, architects and artists noticed it (classic early adopters of the “new and different”). They wanted it. Sales started slow, but the chair performed: when people sat in it for hours they loved it… and talked about it. The rest is history.

Well, that was just a bit of a departure... but you get the idea about a good idea being uncomfortable.

| The third thing that always happens when you find a good idea is that it has “legs”. That means the idea seems to grow. To give birth to other executions of the idea or related spinoff ideas. In other words, it somehow just keeps generating more ways to express itself. Clever ways bubble up to execute it in different media to different audiences. A story develops easily around it. For some reason you can really play with it. Another way to say it is that the idea both suggests a story and moves the story forward.

A good idea just makes everything you do more fun and interesting. It’s truly what “makes the world go ‘round”. That’s all there is to it.

Our Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

AUGUST 17, 2018
Every business owner knows you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience is. This is usually developed by thinking about who you had in mind when you created your product or service offering. Then, you think through what that person looks like, where they live, how much money they make, their age range and so on...

It's Just Domino's

It's Just Domino's

AUGUST 17, 2018

Sometimes I watch television (ok, “sometimes” in this instance is more like “all the time”) and I catch several commercials- intentionally. On occasion, I notice commercials and ads by companies and wonder if there is something else going on behind the scenes that they are trying to fix- and trying to fix it through advertising. In one such case, recently, I can't shake the idea that something is wrong with Domino's Pizza’s advertising campaigns. Let me explain.

I have nothing against the pizza franchise's choice of ad agency, CP+B is one of the best, and they have created several ads I've loved or wished I had created. But, something stands out in the work they are doing for Domino's- it's almost as though they are trying too hard. This isn't a knock against the agency, as I expect they are doing everything they can within their power to create engaging, PR pushing ads, which is technically working- since here I am writing about it. It's more of a sense that something inside Domino's is amiss and they are trying to fix it through advertising. There are several "red flags" as far as I can see- but remember, I'm only looking at this from the outside, only seeing the ads placed in front of me. I do not claim to know anything about the inner workings of the business.

Red flag #1: They changed their name- from Domino's Pizza to just Domino's and they updated their signs.

Image result

Red flag #2: The new (IMHO awful) tagline: Oh,yes we did. Oh yes we did what? It's not clear, and when it's presented at the end of the commercials, it's confusing.


Red flag #3: Ad campaign for Hot spots aka running with scissors


Red flag #4: Paving for Pizza- now they are fixing potholes


None of these red flags are particularly concerning individually, but when you add them all up, it makes one wonder what is going on with the Domino's business. Generally companies change their names for a few reasons, one such reason could be simply refreshing the brand, which is how Domino's expressed the change reason, but it seems that perhaps they are trying to appeal to the audience who is being lured in by other pizza franchise competitors. The new tagline is meant to express that not only have the refreshed their brand but that they are now serving more items than just pizza. And, now they have added new "locations", and an attempt to engage their audience through paving potholes. When a company is in trouble, these are the tell tale signs- they refresh their brand, they add new products/services, they try to show their reach (ie: new "locations") and they try to get their audience to engage them more.

Domino's commercials have done all 4 of these things in short order begging the question- has the pizza giant lost market share or are they simply trying VERY hard to hold on to the number 1 spot? Maybe they are just playing with several ad options, trying to recapture the advertising success they had once upon a time with the "30 minutes or free" campaign. Who knows? All I can say is that these commercials may not be terrible, but they aren't necessarily a good sign either- and maybe the executives of Domino's should take that into consideration.

Never Underestimate the Power of Silly

Never Underestimate the Power of Silly

AUGUST 6, 2018

Blog. Buh-log. Blogblogblog. Beluga. Baa-LOOOOO-gah!

Okay…everybody pause reading, to view this animated classic by The Vestibules, courtesy of YouTube:

(You can thank me later as you ponder how you made it this far in life without these words bouncing around in your brain.)


Are you back? Did you watch the whole video? Let me know how many other people you forward it to before the end of the day.

Now, down to business. The power of silly can work, not just in squiggly animation, but in advertising. Consider Aflac Insurance. Although the company was founded over 60 years ago, prior to the introduction of the Aflac Duck in 2000, brand name recognition was less than 12%. Today brand recognition is over 90%. And I know you hear that duck quack inside your head while you were reading that information!

Another case of effective silliness, also in the insurance industry, is the commercial theme for Farmers Insurance. Oh, what a pretty penny I’d have paid to be sitting in the board room when the advertising agency presented their idea for a new jingle: “We are Farmer’s!  Bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-BUM!” Simple, silly, memorable genius. You gotta love it!

So be serious when serious is called for. Be professional whenever professional is advisable. (Yeah, yeah, I know…most of the time.) But look for mirthy opportunities. Sometimes, when and where you’d least expect it, silliness is exactly the doctor (or duck) ordered.