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Distinction vs. Differentiation: It’s Time to Stop Asking for the Impossible

(This article previously appeared on LinkedIn.)

Last weekend, the American Quilter’s Society displayed hundreds of hand-made quilts at the Lancaster County Convention Center. The show was visually overwhelming, featuring craftsmen (actually, mostly craftswomen) from around the U.S. and abroad.

Each of these artists could rightfully claim their works were one-of-a-kind – yet, that distinction alone carries no financial value. All handmade items are unique. It is the level of craftsmanship that differentiates one quilt from another, and the details of that craftsmanship can raise the value of a quilt by thousands of dollars.

Though the words “hand-made” and “one-of-a-kind” will be spoken innumerable times at such an event, they do not constitute a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Read more

George Wurzel, blind carpenter, stars in Subaru ad

Advertisers Awaken to Blindness: Audio Description in Advertising

George Wurtzel is blind. But that doesn’t stop him from teaching woodworking at Lighthouse San Francisco and Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. And why should it?

“Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it,” laughs George. “I can’t run a four-minute mile. There are some people who can, but don’t tell me that I can’t do it. Give me the tools. Give me the opportunities. Give me the education. Give me the accommodation that I need and let me try and fail on my own.”

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2018 Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen’s New Brand Strategy: “Becoming Less German”

Writing for Campaign Magazine, Simon Gwynn revealed, today, Volkswagen’s new brand strategy: to become “less German.”

On the surface, one might wonder whether being perceived as “less German” is, as far as strategies go, about 73 years behind history. Let’s not forget that Volkswagen once made the transition from “the German people’s car” to a friendly global brand in the wake of Adolf Hitler’s demise. Read more

Motocross racek doing extreme jump

Our Extreme Culture: Is There a Way Back?

The language of extremes has become commonplace.

How many times can we be told a movie is “the most poignant drama of our time” or an actor has given “the best performance of his life”? Is there any reason to believe people who tell us an event is “unprecedented,” or a tennis exhibition features the “perfect match-up,” or a piece of jewelry is “one-of-a-kind?” What turned frisbee into “extreme frisbee,” and what distinguishes kickboxing from “ultimate” kickboxing”?

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Your Ad Ignored Here

Your Ad Ignored Here – Tom Fishburne (Pasternak)

Who said learning can’t be fun? YOUR AD IGNORED HERE exploits the humor hidden in every corner of the Marketing world, while answering the questions that burn hottest in every businessperson’s mind. Want to learn the real secret behind “growth hacking” (p. 118) …how to overcome the fear of letting go? (p. 94) …why your branded content isn’t taking off? (p. 131) …where your next VP of Marketing is coming from? (p. 203) It’s all in here. Tom explains the promise of big data (p. 201) …why there’s a disconnect between marketing and sales (p. 196) …the folly of loyalty programs (pp. 62, 115) …which social media strategies will work and which won’t (p. 81) …and much more. In fact, you’d better buy two copies of this book – since it’s printed on both sides of the page, you’ll need a spare to hang the cartoons printed on the back of the ones you’ve already hung!

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075D9MY2S/

Your Ad Ignored Here

Your Ad Ignored Here – Tom Fishburne (Zimmerman)

Once in a genre, an artist comes along with a special gift for humanizing our world. In the world of business books, that artist is cartoonist Tom Fishburne. YOUR AD IGNORED HERE is a tome of delight – 200 pages of Marketing wisdom that will make you laugh, make you think, help you appreciate your world, and help you escape it. This is a self-help book for everyone who sells a product or service, a compass for entrepreneur, intrapreneurs and managers alike, a hard-to-put-down break from the daily grind, guaranteed to leave you yelling, “Sequel! Sequel!”

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075D9MY2S/

Cup of coffee beans sitting on a bed of whole coffee beans

Every Touchpoint Affects Your Brand, Starbucks®

We’re big fans of that down-home feeling you get when you visit the original Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle. And nothing helps carry that down-home feeling through the stores better than the hand-written signs that describe their products.

But which, we ask, is a greater risk to your brand: losing that folksy, homespun look, or losing your credibility among your customers, the vast majority of whom have at least graduated from high school? Read more

Net Promoter Calculator

Be Skeptical of High Net Promoter Scores

Recently, a “leading provider of civil and criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring” published a press release touting a Net Promoter Score of 82. If you think that’s incredible, then I think you may be on to something.

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sailboat navigate research

A Sailor’s Perspective on Research

Sailors carry charts to help them avoid the shallows and find the channels – or seek the counsel of local captains and fishermen when they enter new waters. Coaches and managers of professional sports teams spend countless hours reviewing videotapes of their next opponent. Generals need to know their opponents’ strength, their numbers, their locations and their political aims before waging battle. Read more

Good, Fast, and Cheap

Just last month, a colleague shared an old saw commonly cited by manufacturers. “I like to tell customers,” she said, “we can make it good, we can make it fast, and we can make it cheap – pick any two.”

Aphorisms, like this one, are memorable partly because they are pithy, partly because they are delightfully clever, and partly because they are true – or in this case, they were true when they were coined. Read more