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Market !NC Blog

5 Lessons from JC Penney’s Marketing Strategy

5 Lessons from JC Penney’s Marketing Strategy

Why should we ever be able to learn anything from JC Penney?  After all, their sales fell 20% in a single quarter and their CFO literally dumped 10 million shares into the market.   I think that Penney’s marketing strategy followed top level market trends and failed to follow their customers.  They forgot rule #1 of marketing.  Customer is king.

In Kentucky we have a saying that sometimes a person is “too big for their britches,” and I think the same can be said for businesses as well. As one of the oldest clothing brands in the U.S. (over a century), it’s a shame that JC Penney has been experiencing recent hardships. […]

Thank You Leadership

Thank You Leadership


Good managers say thank you.  Great leaders figure out how to create teams who are consistently worthy of  praise and appreciation.

We all know that a simple thank you has amazingly powerful impact. So easy… yet so often overlooked. I suppose that’s why Harvard Business Review chose to write an article to emphasize the critical importance of recognition and praise.

I think we should take it one step further. Why don’t we manage, train, and lead our employees to that land of the heartfelt thank you. Our leadership objective should be to educate, mold and transform people into people who earn the blue ribbon, the pat on the back and / or the public accolade.

Most people come to work every day aiming to do a good job (even if my one bad boss didn’t believe that). And most people—and, as a result, most organizations—actually do pretty well. What should they get in return? Cosmetics entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash put it this way: “There are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.”

Now, I’m not Pollyannaish. My colleagues can vouch for my toughness. But what’s wrong with recognizing a job well done? Why not say thank you more often—and mean it?

via The Two Most Important Words – Harvard Business Review.

Influence the Influencers

Influence The Influencers - Market IncWant to get your message heard?  You don’t have to influence everyone.  Gain the support of the influencers.   To do that you need to understand the best way to engage them and get them to trust you.

This infographic outlines the marketing/ business community.  Your key influencers may be different.  But, the concept of targeting them to efficiently get your message out there is a powerful concept.  If you’re interested, call me and we can work on your influence map together.

If You’re Not Your Own Worst Enemy, Who Will Be?

If You're Not Your Own Worst Enemy, Who Will Be?

15875809_sOne of the most dangerous things you can do in business is to fall in love with yourself.  You sit behind your desk and pat yourself on the back.  You’re just so smart.  You know it all.  Isn’t it true that no one else really understands the business as well as you do.  Isn’t it true that your competitors just copy everything you do?   Isn’t it insane how ignorant your customers are?   Ahhhh!  You are the font of knowledge… the queen of all that is good… the all-seeing and all-knowing.  HA!

Right about now is when the sky opens up and the supreme order of life showers rolling gales of laughter upon your kingdom.  The harsh reality is that you are not your business.  Your business cannot sustain itself without a network of employees, partners, customers, and competitors.  It’s your relationship to this network that truly differentiates your business potential. Do you respect them?  Are you willing and able to learn from them?  Are you able to read between the lines and develop insights into the market?  Are you create enough to weave new solutions from your learning?

Once you start thinking you are the infallible genius who predetermines the success of your company, your industry and your customers you open the door to a slippery slope.  But, here’s the harsh reality.  The next great idea will not spring forth from inside a walled off mind.  The seeds of that next great idea are likely to come from your customers or employees.  Or perhaps it’ll come from a competitor or a completely different business.  Maybe it’ll come from that movie you saw over the week-end or a trek through a local park.  The most genius thing you can do is to open your thinking to the world.

Don’t think that you know it all.

Don’t believe that you are the best at what you do.

Don’t think that you’re the only one who can do what you do.

Don’t believe your own press releases.

DO keep an open mind.

Branding? We Don’t Need No Stinking Branding!

Branding? We Don't Need No Stinking Branding!


What is a brand?

Here’s a hint.  Don’t check Wikipedia.  Their definition (and many others) is wrong!

Wikipedia: “Brand is the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”  However, they go on to include the following in their definition – “name, logo, tagline, graphics, shapes, colors, sounds, scents, tastes, movement, and customer relationship management.”


We don’t know what a brand is…but we can’t afford it!

I hear it all the time.  “We’re a small company.  We don’t have money to brand our products.  We don’t do branding.  We don’t need it. “  Too late folks.  If you’re in business and interact with anyone in the real or virtual world, you are branding.  You may not be doing it intentionally and you might not be doing it well…. But, you’re branding.  In fact, I’ve seen people who are developing great brands without even knowing it.


A few years back, I was working with a multi-billion dollar multi-national.  Markets were changing faster than we were and, although the company was involved in a broad range of products, they were largely known for only one.  A conclave of key executives met to develop a new strategic plan.  I was new to the organization but surprised that branding wasn’t part of the plan.  I raised the issue and was quickly shot down with “we really don’t have the money for big ad budgets”.  Heads were shaking with the smirk of “she doesn’t get it”.  In spite of explanations that I was talking about branding and not advertising, I was unable to change the group’s thinking.  I must admit I was pretty shocked that this highly regarded organization didn’t get branding.


Brands live everywhere

On Day 3 of the meeting, I made my last impassioned plea.  When countered with the “we don’t have money for big ad budgets”, I responded.  “Brands exist without advertising.  When Sam the Salesman meets with the buyer of Mongo Mart and spends an hour explaining the new fru-fru technology … that’s branding.  When Rita the Receptionist gives an astoundingly warm welcome to each person who crosses the threshold of our corporate offices… that’s branding.  When Carlos the Customer Service Rep helps someone figure out what’s wrong with their product…. that’s branding.  And, when Cheryl in Collections screams at a customer who’s past due … that’s branding.   Our brand exists at every touch point in the company.  Brands do not just live in logos, brochures and advertising.  Brands live in people.  The way we interact with the world defines our brand more deeply and more honestly than any advertising will.”  I took a deep breath and sat down.  I turned around to sit down and heard the applause of 150 executives who, only days ago, thought I was crazy.  Life was good.  We refocused the corporate brand from the inside out and then embarked on one of our most successful advertising and branding campaigns.

Brand is evoked by the things you do, the way you behave and how those actions are perceived.  Although you can create symbols and messages that communicate what you believe to be your brand, you need to be true to who you really are.  Advertising, PR and social marketing can communicate a brand.  They can’t change the reality of your brand.


Brand is the world’s reaction to the perceived truth of your company.

It is created and re-created every day by everyone affiliated with your organization.  It evolves with the intention communication of advertising, PR, social marketing and even product development.  It is ever changing.  Nevertheless, in this world of transparency, your brand cannot live as a figment of someone’s imagination.  Branding done right can help shape your future in a consistent, persistent way that ads, tweets, press releases, logos, videos and Facebook pages cannot.


“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.”
David Ogilvy

What Are People Saying?

Working with Susan was an absolute pleasure. She is an astute marketer who had an unerring sense of her brand’s DNA and worked with us to ensure that the programs we created and executed together delivered against our common goals and objectives. As a brand steward and marketing partner she was about the best I have worked with.

-B. GinsbergRainmaker/ Director/ Growth CatalystEmanate

How We Can Help You.

We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.