Maximize Your Marketing Mix with these Two Things

Maximize Your Marketing Mix with these Two Things

Product, price, place, and promotion. The 4 P’s of marketing. The “classic” marketing mix. And then someone added positioning, packaging, and people. An additional 3 P’s of marketing to round it all out. But is that all there is to successful marketing? There has to be something more to marketing to differentiate the brands that make it and brands that don’t.

While these elements are important in your marketing strategy, 2 more P’s could elevate your brand even more – Personality and Purpose. In our everchanging world of tech and automation, consumers are searching for that human touch. [See our previous blog post here on how these two things interact]. Having a personality connected to your purpose-driven brand could be the power duo that even outdoes Jim and Pam!

the office love GIF

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As brands dive into social media and marketing mediums, they inherently develop personalities. Each “P” in the 7 P’s filter into the personality of the brand. Is the brand a know-it-all brainiac? Is the brand fun and outgoing? Or is the brand down-to-earth, save all the puppies, have a plan to achieve world peace type? What you share about your business, in all communications, determines your brand personality – something that should be unified across platforms.

How do you determine what your brand’s personality should be? Two places to start are your company values and mission statement. If your company values security and stability, then you probably don’t want the personality of Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl. If your company’s mission is to make the world happier and safer, you probably don’t want a sassy personality that could give Honey Boo Boo a run for her money [and crown].

Understanding your brand, company values, and what you want to be remembered for as your company matures shapes the way your brand is “raised” and the personality it “grows up” with.

We’re also in a time when you can’t just be in business to make money. Consumers want to connect with brands that have a deeper purpose. Again, this is a chance for brands to looks back to their values and company mission. Your purpose is driven by your values, and a personality driven from your values makes your brand all that more authentic.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your why. Why are you in business? Why did you start this mission? Why are you passionate about a certain cause? Lead with your purpose when you are marketing to people. When you understand your why and tell people about it, they will begin to understand and relate. They will start to align with your brand and be the most loyal ambassadors. When your purpose aligns with your personality, and your product, price, place, promotion, people, positioning, and packaging are all on the same page, your branding and marketing will be at its strongest. All your P’s should definitely be in the same pod.


Focus Groups: Yes!

Focus Groups: Yes!


Marketers are always talking about focus groups and how learning information from them is extremely valuable. Most business owners are rolling their eyes as they envision large conference rooms with two-way mirrors and product testing where the participants mostly just complain about the product and the business owners have to endure a torturous hour or so.

In today’s digital environment, and the age in which everyone is very vocal about their likes and dislikes it may seem like a focus group is unnecessary. The thing is, that’s not entirely true.

The part of the focus group that matters is the feedback you get from your prospective customer- in a third party environment. That’s not to say that the standard, old style two way mirror setting is the way to accomplish this. We’ve found that more casual, fun networking style events have a larger appeal and garner more interesting and ultimately helpful results.

For an example, read about a focus group event we hosted for one of our clients.


Regardless of the style of focus group you host the feedback is the most important. Many business owners have products that they love, and their family loves and they come to us stating that “everyone they have given it to loves it” Of course they do. When you are passionate about something you have created and you ask those close to you what they think of it, regardless of what they may actually think, they want to support you, so they tell you everything they like about it. Put simply, it’s a biased opinion, and no business owner will get an unbiased opinion from anyone they know personally, or otherwise, so long as they know you are the business owner.

Hiring a third party to host and discuss your product in an environment in which they feel safely protected from hurting the business owners’ feelings, however, changes the outcome quite a bit. Marketers use this feedback in a number of ways, including finding nuggets of truths from your potential customers about the advantages and disadvantages of your product, brand and message. Discovering that your new energy drink tastes terrible to your prospective audience, gives you the advantage to make changes to the formulation to improve the taste. Finding out that no one understands what your product does or how it works, gives you the opportunity to find clever ways to include that educational piece in your messaging. These are the things marketers need to know in order to help you sell your product to your target audience and that’s why we keep insisting that focus groups are something you need.

Two Problems: One Calls for a Fix, One Called for a Plan

Two Problems: One Calls for a Fix, One Called for a Plan

Unfortunately for airplane manufacturer Boeing, it has a problem right now. Correction:  Unfortunately for airplane manufacturer Boeing, it actually has two problems right now. One of those problems is one that nearly everyone around the world in developed countries, as well as in somewhat undeveloped countries is probably well aware of – the issue with Boeing's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software on its new 737 Max airplanes. This problem has been identified as the cause for two tragic crashes involving the 737 Max jet within five months, and resulted in the March 13, 2019 grounding of the aircraft by the FAA. This of course followed the grounding of that same particular aircraft by several other countries including China, India, Turkey and South Korea, to name a few. This is a problem Boeing must fix. They know it, and they are currently working on that fix.

The other problem that Boeing now faces is one that not as many people will readily identify. Although for those of us in the field of Marketing and PR, we know it is a glaring problem. It is the damage these tragic incidents have done, and will do, to Boeing's brand. This is a problem for which Boeing should have had an executable plan, (but appears may not to have had.) They know, and they are currently working to execute one. Because as tragic as the two crashes are, any damage that has been done, or will be done to Boeing's brand, is not solely the result of these two unfortunate incidents alone. A major factor in furthering or limiting any damage to the brand will not only come from what Boeing does as company to address and quickly fix the MCAS issue, but will also come from how well and how soon they communicate those fixes to the flying public and its airline customers. Important also will be the scope of the message as well as the manner and tone in which that message is delivered. In short, they will have to work extremely hard to earn back the trust and belief that its airplanes are safe to fly, and fly on.

This is entirely possible however. One of the most famous cases of company overcoming what might have been long-term or even a permanently damaged brand as a result of a PR crisis, is the case of the tragic Tylenol murders that took place in the Chicagoland area in 1982. In that tragedy, 7 people who took Tylenol Extra Strength died shortly after ingesting the medication, due to the product having been tampered with and laced with Cyanide. The nationwide scare was on an unprecedented level, and as can be imagined, the consumer's trust in the safety of the product was nil. However, Johnson & Johnson the company that produced Tylenol received positive coverage for its handling of the crisis, and as was reported by the Washington post at that time, "Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster". The Washington Post article went on to say that "this is no Three Mile Island accident in which the company's response did more damage than the original incident", and ultimately applauded the company for being transparent with the public. Although Johnson & Johnson's market share collapsed from 35% to 8% during the scare, in less than a year's time it rebounded, an increase that was credited to the company's prompt and aggressive reaction. In November of 1982, the company reintroduced capsules, but did so in a new, triple-sealed package, coupled with heavy price promotions. And within just a few short years, Tylenol had the highest market share of any over-the-counter analgesic in the US, and still enjoys solid market-share to this day.

In contrast however, in the days immediately following the 2nd crash involving its 737 Max jet, and in light of the growing concern around the similarities between the two crashes and increasing evidence pointing towards a glitch in the MCAS software, Boeing unfortunately was slow to respond. And when it did, it took the tact of defending itself, going so far as Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg reportedly calling President Donald Trump personally in an attempt to delay the FAA's grounding of the jet. These missteps by Boeing, as well as many others that have been reported in the weeks following the 2nd crash have not served Boeing or its brand well. It has also underscored what appears to have been Boeing's lack of a plan that could be, and should have been, executed immediately in the event of such tragic occurrences. To be sure, this is not an indictment on Boeing or an attempt to “pile on” during a difficult and trying time, but rather an illustration of the impact a crisis, and how that crisis is handled, can have on a company's hard-earned brand reputation.

The final score of what ultimate impact all of this will have on Boeing and its brand going forward, remains yet to be seen. However, what companies can learn from this right now, is the importance of having and executing flawlessly, a crisis management strategy and plan, to protect the integrity of their company's brand.

Black Rhino Weighs In: Big Brothers' Re-Branding

Black Rhino Weighs In: Big Brothers Big Sisters' Re-Branding

OCTOBER 26, 2018

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program recently issued a press release to roll out their re-branding and volunteer recruitment campaign. Their new website can be found here.

Here's what the Black Rhino Marketing team had to say on the matter...

Andrea, Managing Director

The idea of new branding is a positive step into the future. The Big Brothers Big Sisters brand has been somewhat stale for a while now, and has needed a fresh new look. Considering that they are focused on recruiting more diverse volunteers, the old purple and people logo wasn’t appealing, nor was it assisting them in their goals. However, something still feels off with the new brand. While it is fresh and new and lends itself to an ethnic interpretation, and the logo is “clever”, it doesn’t appear to match the organization’s mission and values. To me, it feels like it’s too blatant and trying to hard to convey it’s “hipness” if hipness is even a thing. It feels like a vast departure from what they do as an organization, as the colors, fonts and overall design are too graphic, too sharp and too boxy. That doesn’t convey the message of being a welcoming, safe haven for youth, and volunteers alike.   It’s a step in the right direction, but there is more work to be done.

Laurie, Communications Director

Exciting, provocative and impactful new branding that says “Now” and represents the diversity of their participants. The logo is outstanding and has meaning. Brilliant way to transition from old site to new site (that’s obviously still in the works)…i.e. they give a taste of the new branding on the old site, which directs you to the new transition site, which is essentially a scrolled landing page…while they complete the new site.

HOWEVER—the copy font is really unfortunate, as it’s virtually impossible to read the copy—it has been far too compressed to be legible, and it’s only worsened by the fact that it’s reverse. Works fine in the big headlines, but not in the small copy. The branding launch video is powerful: simple powerful people images and simple powerful words.  That’s all you need to convey the new image and message (We Defend Potential).

Soulmaz, Graphic Designer

When I checked the website, it did not mention that Big Brother is a “youth mentoring organization” (I’ve never heard of them before). The color-palette, the logo and the website, reminds me of something related to the music industry. The logo is too solid, bulky and very boxy! It is a nice logo, but not for this purpose. It needs to give you a feeling of mentoring, not dictation. It needs to be freer with more room for creativity.

I understand their concept, but it does not tell me what they have mentioned as a concept. And it is about the overall design, logo, color-pallet, and web design. It is good to update the brand, but in my opinion, this new transformation is too modern for this matter.

Jeff, Project Manager

More proof that we’ve entered an era of re-branding. But this is an example of re-branding gone right! I find the logo to be fresh and inspiring. I love logos that subtly, but strongly convey the message of the business, similar to the “secret” FedEx arrow. The “lower b” and “complete the B” aspects tell you exactly what Big Brothers and Big Sisters is all about. This to me, is an improvement from the old logo, less succinct in its message yet, at the same time, too on the nose with the imagery.  The font could use some work, as I had no interest in struggling to read such skinny text, but besides that, I think this will be a very good business move. Especially considering that the Big Brother program has been on the decline in the marketing/awareness department for some time now.

Dane, Strategy Director

Smart that they realize they need to evolve, however they still need a strategy to address the following:

It's not just volunteers that are needed, they also need the young people - and unfortunately they can't sign themselves up, but need their "parents" i.e. mothers to do it. And it will most likely be "mothers" signing up the young people, not "moms" - there's a distinct difference. Or grandparents will be signing up the young people, they made no mention of that. They are going to need an effective message to resonate with these 2 distinct groups, as well as with the young people in order for them to really want to participate - as much they are with the volunteers

Not sure of the average age a little brother/sister comes in (thinking it might be between 10 - 13), but they may also need to consider changing the language from referring to them as "Littles" to Young People, especially if they want them to stay in the program between the ages of 14 - 18, which is age-range where young people if they do drop out are most likely to derail their potential

As far as messaging, I hope they talk to schools and even the police, as both audiences are on the front lines of seeing what happens when unguided youths don't have anyone helping them realize their potential, and likelknow what types of messages a young person who spark to to turn that around.

What are your thoughts on the new look?

America Runs on Donuts!

America Runs on Donuts!

SEPTEMBER 21, 2018

I have been noticing a trend starting, particularly in the service industry.  Businesses are looking to re-brand to generate social buzz and avoid pigeonholing themselves. Sounds like a bold claim, right? Hear me out first, I have three examples for you.

Exhibit A:

Image result for ihob

Now, we've already discussed the IHOb stunt in a previous post, but it is indeed a strong start for my argument.

Did it create buzz? Yes.

Did it sell burgers instead of pancakes? Definitely.

Did it work? Well...

The problem is, now that the campaign has ended and all the IHOb talk is over, I feel I can safely assume that no one is running to IHOP for one of their crazy burgers. That being said, if the objective was just to get the word out, I'd consider this, albeit temporary, re-branding stunt a successful idea. Which brings me to-

Exhibit B:

Logo of Domino's

I'm sure you've already read our article covering Domino's recent marketing antics. Rather than roll out the new brand with one marketing campaign (i.e. IHOb), Domino's ran several campaigns. None of them were very good.

But did it create buzz? Meh.

Did it sell something besides pizza? Possibly.

Did it work? Technically.

Dropping the "Pizza" was kind of a no-brainer because I'm pretty sure everyone was already calling them "Domino's" so there's very little room to backfire.  Moving on to our final example...

Exhibit C:

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a fresh label on an old business. It's a great way to stay relevant and up to date with a growing industry. This, however, is the first example of a re-brand that I believe will fall flat on its face.

Dunkin' Donuts is considering dropping the "Donuts" and testing it out on about 50 stores across the country. They have yet to make a final decision, but I have a feeling America will be running strictly on Dunkin' come next year.

Now, I understand that Starbucks is a big competitor of theirs and I like that the name "Dunkin'" does better associate with coffee, however, I don't believe any one is going to stop saying "Dunkin' Donuts" simply because everyone appreciates alliteration.

Furthermore, Dunkin' Donuts is the oldest company to use the phrase "donut". How many people don't know how to spell doughnut because of Dunkin'? That's a pretty valuable word to toss away.

I refer to this recent re-branding spree as a trend because I really do think this is only the beginning. Before you know it, we'll be ordering pizza from Hut and eating burgers from King. I suppose only time will tell.

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.

Guerrilla Marketing: Is the b for bananas?

Guerrilla Marketing: Is the b for bananas?

JUNE 15, 2018

IHOP recently announced that they will be changing their name to IHOb (flipping the P upside down). After leaving everyone to speculate what the "b" would stand for, the International House of Pancakes revealed that they will now be the International House of... Burgers.

A bold, yet brilliant move. Bold, because not a lot of people eat burgers for breakfast. Brilliant, because it is an impressive use of guerrilla marketing.

Guerrilla marketing can be defined as an unconventional ad campaign that generates enormous social buzz for little to no money. Examples range from breaking a world record to creating your own holiday. But how does it work? And does it work?

It is important to note that all guerrilla marketing campaigns, like all marketing strategies, have a risk of failing. What worked for one company, may not work for you. In fact, it could backfire entirely. In 2007, Todd Davis, the co-founder of a fraud protection company called LifeLock, advertised his social security number to prove his company could protect him from identity theft. Todd's identity was promptly stolen thirteen times.

There is a such thing as bad press. This is why primarily bigger businesses find the most success with guerrilla marketing. Successful companies can afford to step out and take that risk. The purpose of IHOb's campaign was to promote their new line of seven Ultimate Steak Burgers which includes: The Mega Monster, The Big Brunch, and The Classic with Bacon.

So, was this publicity stunt a success?

Let's take a look at some of the results thus far. One IHOb customer had only good things to say about his experience.

Reviews like that, are signs of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign because now consumers are praising a product that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Although, there can be some backlash-  people have been suggesting that even the critical acclaim is part of the stunt.

Other companies, such as Burger (formerly Pancake) King, tried to jump on the bandwagon, and IHOP got it right with the response. Their competition is noticing, and other major brands are wondering if they should adopt a similar campaign, or just participate as much as possible through association while this continues to create a viral sensation.

All of this attention only enriches IHOb's campaign, exactly as intended, and we all know that attention is the first stage of a good communication campaign.

But was this media grabbing, re-branding idea worth it in the end?

Simply, it's a gamble. The executives at IHOP knew that, and signed off on this stunt with the hope that it pays off in a big way. Ultimately what matters to IHOP executives is seeing an uptick in sales on burgers and other items, preferably as a long term growth strategy vs. just a short lived spike that eventually falls flat, or worse, drops off completely.  So far, the stunt has been successful at achieving step one: attention/awareness. Will this lead to a strong enough conversion from awareness to adoption to make a big impact for the restaurant chain?  That remains to be seen. And don't forget that depending on the outcome of the next 3, to 6 months, IHOP executives will have to review the data and also ask themselves, "would a simple commercial have accomplished the same results?"

It's difficult to predict the future in marketing, and IHOP took a big chance. So far the awareness stage is paying off and they have gained significant recognition from their customers, competitors, and marketers. Let's hope for their sake that it continues to be a positive move.

One thing's for sure, it did inform people that IHOP sells more than breakfast. Which is exactly what you thought the b stood for- be honest.

Overlook “This” And Your Brand Will Eventually Suffer

Overlook “This” And Your Brand Will Eventually Suffer

Ask any Marketer what it is that they do, and although I can't say what number it would be placed at, you can bet that “Developing Brands” will be somewhere on that list. And if you say to that person, “Hey that's sounds pretty interesting, how do you do that?”, they'll tell you all about the research that they do, the various analysis and studies they conduct, the creative that they test, and the many other processes and steps they take. All very important, all very necessary to developing a company's brand.

The one thing they may or may not say though, is this: “We ensure that every employee in the company and every person who is not an employee, but represents the company and has contact with the company's clients or customers, lives the brand”. Ironically, this living of the brand is probably one of the most important aspects of developing a brand. And it doesn't mean that all a person ever wears is company-branded clothes, or uses the company's jargon and code speak at all times.

It does mean that they realize, as any good Marketer will tell you, that your brand must be consistent across all touch points, at all times. So how does this translate into people living the company brand? Simple, it means that everyone in the company, from the person sweeping the floor to the President, delivers on the company's brand in their own way. That means that when a visitor is seated in the waiting area of the office, it's everyone's job who passes by them to just simply smile or give a hello, a good morning, or a good afternoon. If it's an area where no Receptionist is staffed, it's asking that visitor if they've been taken care of, or if they've been offered water or coffee if that's available. Because no matter what a company's corporate “brand” actually is, I don't know of any company that wants to be known as an unfriendly place with people who are cold and impersonal.

But the fact is, this happens – innocently so, but it happens. In many offices in the haste of doing business, a person will see a seated visitor and say to him or herself that that person isn't here to see me, or that's not my client or customer, and will walk right by. Maybe they give a slight nod. But what does something like that say about or do to the company's brand? Especially if that visitor is seated directly under the company's posted Vision and Mission Statement that talks about how much the company values people and its customers – as many statements oftentimes do. That has actually happened to me...more than once. The thought may be that not giving a visitor a greeting and simply walking by doesn't diminish or tarnish the brand, and maybe it doesn't, but on the other hand, it certainly doesn't enhance or improve the brand either.

Now, ask those same questions about whether giving a greeting to a seated visitor, who is not your client or customer, diminishes or enhances the company's brand. The clear answer without a doubt is that it enhances it. And here's the real kicker, it does so for free, just the cost of a few words!

This “people living the brand” also extends to non-employees who engage with a company's clients and customers on behalf of the company. And because of this client/customer hand-off, having assurance that they are living the company's brand is even more vitally important.

Consider that Company ABC manufactures widgets and uses a 3rd party company to deliver them. That delivery person has direct contact with Company ABC's client, and more importantly, has the last in-person touch with that client. If that delivery person is rude, salty, late or any other such thing, Company ABC's client may not distinguish or even care that that company is a 3rd party vendor, they will simply say that Company ABC's drivers are rude and salty. And that will certainly diminish Company ABC's brand.

So at Black Rhino Marketing Group we realize that for every client we are honored to serve, when it comes to developing their brand, there is an external marketing effort that needs to be achieved, as well as an internal one. And while the external effort we develop will certainly result in increasing Sales and Net Earnings, and in improving Profit Margins and Cash Flow for our clients, not developing the internal one in conjunction would, over time, slowly work to erode those gains – you can bet on that too! Fortunately that scenario is an eventuality that clients of Black Rhino Marketing Group do not have to ever worry about.