by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
Recently in the business news, Palm is finding itself in trouble. They have pinned their comeback hopes on the Pre and the Pixi. Unfortunately, for Palm, the comeback never materialized. As a result, they fired their advertising agency, blaming it for the 29% slide in sales. According to industry analysts, “Palm has problems no advertising agency can fix.” Yes, many people have hated the most recent campaign calling it “creepy”. Also, the Palm executives thought they were like Apple and could deliver a high-concept campaign and gain marketshare, just like Apple. One problem, they aren’t Apple. The real core of the matter is Palm doesn’t know who they are, so they don’t know who their customers are and how to communicate to them once they find them. Here are a few take-aways from this situation:
• You’ve got to know yourself – no amount of marketing is going to save you from yourself. You may experience some measure of success, but eventually, a non-existent identity will catch up with you and render you irrelevant or, at worst, bankrupt. Palm dominated the PDA and was the forerunner of the smart phone, but they relaxed and lost their way. They forgot who they were and forgot to evolve with their core customers, the business community. If you don’t know who you are, how are you going to know if you are attracting the right customers? And, if you don’t know your brand identity, how do you expect your customers to know?
• Anything done bad, doesn’t work – I can hear it now, “Marketing doesn’t work, so that’s why we don’t do it.” The real truth of it is bad marketing doesn’t work. Great marketing does. To make a generalization that marketing is a waste of dollars is both short sighted and stupid. If your company books are in disarray, does that mean accountants are a waste of money and time? If your laptop crashes, does that mean your business is going back to paper and pen to correspond? Of course not. Great marketing isn’t easy nor just anyone can do it. Not even your wife’s brother, who took a few classes about web site development and design, can deliver great marketing. No company gets it right 100% of the time, but the great ones get it right a higher percentage of the time than most. This is why marketing is more art and not science.
• Marketing works, if you let it – When the marketing campaign launched the Palm Pre, it became the most talked about smart phone without an “i” in front of it. It gave Palm great awareness and pushed the stock up to $18. The campaign had gone viral. The Palm executives got nervous and pulled the campaign and watched as the stock price crashed to $3 per share. Often, great marketing never achieves its fullest potential because of various reasons such as controlling executives who don’t know much about marketing or expecting a campaign to instantly ring the cash register like it was on QVC. Marketing is a long-view strategy that helps make sales possible. If you want instant sales, then offer 2 for 1 or 50% off.
• Marketing is a partnership with you and your agency – If you don’t hold up your end of the deal (great products, great internal systems, wonderful people who live the brand) then no marketing in the would can keep you from failing. On the other hand, not everyone can do great marketing, so find an agency partner who has a solid track record in achieving the goals you need to accomplish.
Marketing is not a waste of money. A lack of identity and direction is a waste of money.