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Here’s a fun, but also thought-provoking, post – An ‘eye’ on aging – by Joe Pisani on

Read between the lines, and it reminds us of some important “physical” realities of the effects of aging for brand marketers to think about to win the business of boomers, e.g. implications of eyesight on advertising, the web, packaging, product delivery and customer care (these last three being most relevant here).

Takeaway, probably more than Joe intended, is that marketers shouldn’t fall into the trap of concentrating on marketing communication to the exclusion of other marketing mix elements. As aging is accompanied by a decline in physical condition, (including eyesight), designing marketing strategies around the physical condition of an 18-35 year old will increasingly be at odds with the needs of your market.

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Here’s a good post by Stewart Gandolf over at HealthWorks Collective – Watch, Feel, Share: How Emotion-Fueled Videos Propel (Viral) Engagement.

Confirming what we intuitively know but sometimes neglect to deliver as we get wrapped in our internal vs. external perspective – it’s emotions that make marketing campaigns get noticed, attract viewers and go viral, according to research reported by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Viral videos, HBR reports, “generate high levels of social engagement, sharing, and brand interaction, which can lead to sharp increases in digital brand advocacy.”

The HBR article goes on to make a very important point – if you don’t already have a large built-in audience, you must attract them from elsewhere. Viral marketing is hands-down one of the best ways to do this. Viral marketing:

• breaks through the noise
• creates massive brand exposure and free press
• generates high levels of social engagement, sharing, and brand interaction, which can lead to sharp increases in digital brand advocacy.
• massively improves organic search rankings
• increases brand engagement

Stop by Stewart’s post and the HBR article. Both are informative, enjoyable and use emotion (through video) to fuel engagement.

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The different ways we are able to communicate with consumers is evolving at a pace that is staggering. New tools emerge almost daily and others fade into irrelevance in the blink of an eye. But one thing is certain, the digital age has dramatically changed the opportunity to effectively engage, connect and inspire real action among our target audiences.

Content is king

One size doesn’t fit all in today’s fragmented digital world. We all consume content differently, yet we all look for what interests, informs or entertains us the most. And that’s less a function of the channel, than it is the type of content and delivery. Creativity, relevancy, immediacy and credibility play a key role. Think of where you turn to learn, share or simply smile – Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Infographics, Webinars – to name a few. Your customers are no different. Their choices are abundant. So remember, content is still king.

Mobile is transformational

With technology booming, we are always ‘on’. Literally, and figuratively. We sleep, eat and transact with our phones by our side. Gone are the days where multi-channel marketing required a visit to a store or purchase on a computer. Ultimate convenience and sales are a tap away. Currently there are over 115M smartphone users in the U.S., with 2012 spending exceeding $24B in mobile commerce sales – 11% of total ecommerce sales, and growing (source: Internet Retailer). Mobile presents a vast opportunity, as long as the experience is optimized. Mobile works best when integrated with social networks to deliver value and targeted offers, simply based on indirect user activities like check-ins or visits to a location. Consumer context is key – whether geo-targeted, user-preference based, or behavior driven. Additionally, the experience you create is paramount, from prioritizing information shown on the device to ensuring that the checkout process is seamless. Mobile is truly disruptive and transformational – and it’s in your hands.

Data is power

The world of digital advertising is based on sophisticated data collection and profiling. But digital advertising is no longer a science – it involves science. Data has revolutionized the way we reach our targeted customers and ensures that the content we present is relevant – from behavioral targeting, remarketing and look-a-like profiling – to the advent of real-time bidding on ad exchanges (also called programmatic advertising) – allowing every impression to be cost effective and placed in front of the right person, at the right time. This approach extends to RTB mobile and video as well to ensure advertisers have control over their entire advertising campaigns. But it’s not just the effective delivery of campaigns that comes from this rich data, but the insights gained once implemented. Data allows advertisers like you to see what variables are most effective – from content types and websites visited to location information and user interests. From this analysis comes the best targeting opportunities – who is likely to respond to specific messages at specific times. Data really puts the control back in your hands.

Some things haven’t changed

We know it’s easy to get caught up with all the new shiny digital tools at our disposal – to entertain, involve, educate, share… But it’s important to remember that the backbone of great content and creative remains the same as it was before the advent of all this technology. Truly understanding your customers and the emotional connection that is key to reaching them. The specific channel is less important than the relevance of the content that inspires them. So as you start to think about your next brand or marketing program – think less about the tool or platform, and more about who you’re trying to reach and what’s important to them. Then let old-fashioned consumer insights and creative thinking guide the way.

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It happened again. I got ‘that’ direct mail piece in the mail. How many times will they mail to me before I am flagged as a perennial non-responder (aka not-interested, at least not for now). It’s one of the few pieces of actual direct mail that I did NOT opt-in for ­– unlike my Bloomingdales and JCrew catalogs and offers, as these companies know that I’m actively engaged with their brands and in turn reward me with relevant information that I look forward to receiving.

Now back to ‘that’ direct mail. As you may have guessed, it is habitually sent to me from AARP – the largest non-profit advocacy group serving people 50+ (who themselves rebranded to evolve their outdated identity: American Association of Retired Persons). When I turned the magic five-0 (which I was proud of), my membership packet magically appeared. Not requested, wanted or needed. Or so I thought.

This was still my parents’ American Association of Retired Persons. I thought they just didn’t get ME – and I guess I just didn’t get THEM. Maybe some of that relates to my perception of AARP’s past brand marketing and brand image. But more importantly, I didn’t want my ‘milestone’ (age) to define who I was and what was important to me. But we’ll get back to this…and why it is so vital to create marketing strategies and messages that connect with the boomer generation of today. People like me!


BOOMERS ROCK: 50 really is the new 40

As a baby boomer myself, I relate to the real power (economically, socially, culturally, politically…) of the largest generation in history (over 77 million), born between 1946 – 1964. While many brand marketers have ignored them to focus on the “sexier” Generations X and Y, boomers are actually the most influential and affluent group, constituting about 1/3 of the U.S. population, with discretionary purchasing power of over $2.1 trillion per year. Boomers are redefining many aspects of American life, as they re-imagine their own. They are not to be ignored.

And we don’t. Fifty really is the new 40 to us at Trajectory! We understand boomers are multi-faceted, vibrant, informed and super active – and that 50 is only someone’s chronological age. We have been working with clients across health, wellness, personal care, and leisure who understand the reality of this generational shift – and what its real implications are. Because we (and our clients) understand FICTION vs. FACT as it relates to marketing to boomers. If you care about capturing the vast expenditure generated by some of the most affluent members of society, you should too.



  • Boomers are all alike

How can they be when they span so many life stages and lifestyles. One size (one very large age band) certainly does not fit all. Today’s boomers are as contemporary as they are diverse, raising kids, becoming grandparents, taking care of aging parents, getting (re)married, retiring, going back to school, finding new hobbies, giving back, starting new careers, and much more. Boomers (like me) can’t merely be defined by age alone.

  • Boomers don’t have money to spend 

Not all boomers are wealthy, but they control most of the wealth in the U.S. – which means more money to spend on your products and services, if you understand how to connect to them. In fact, the median net worth of $112,048 for HHs headed by someone 55-64 is about 15x greater compared HHs under-35 at $7,240. Those 50+ represent 65% of the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households. And in terms of spending, they outspend younger adults online 2:1. So why are you neglecting them?

Sources: U.S. Census, MetLife Mature Market Institute, U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, Nielsen, Forrester Research

  • Boomers can only be reached through traditional methods

Boomers grew up on TV and print, but have also embraced electronic and non-traditional marketing methods. It is important to note that 96% of boomers are active with word-of-mouth (WOM) and viral marketing by sharing product or service information with friends and family – as brand recommendations from trusted sources are important to them. We’re actually in the midst of developing a unique WOM program now for a healthcare client who wants to facilitate more meaningfully connections among this audience.

Boomers also have a major impact online – constituting the largest group on the web at over 30% (of 195.3 million U.S. Internet users) ­– spending an average of $7 billion annually. Convenience, coupled with easy comparison-shopping, reviews and relevant online offers, are contributing factors.

Sources: ThirdAge, JWT Boom, Jupiter Research, SeniorNet, Pew, Forrester

  • Boomers are always brand loyal

Not the case. In fact, boomers are more willing to experiment than their younger counterparts (maybe by virtue of experience), and are actually predisposed to trying new products. Over 50% believe “In today’s marketplace, it doesn’t pay to be loyal to one brand.” Remember, boomers are transitioning through many life stages, with needs changing along the way (health, family, careers, personal, etc.) – providing brand marketers with a great opportunity to address changing behaviors, goals, and life perspectives.

  • Boomers only care about themselves

Boomers, by way of circumstance, are probably the most caring generation, both in terms of their time and resources – caring for their aging parents, children moving back or still living at home (over 1/3 still have children <18), and always giving of themselves (socially conscious).  They define what it means to give back.

  • Boomers don’t adapt well to new technology trends

Boomers were on the front lines for the first computers (working on a PC and booting up DOS), e-mail (which was mostly used internally) and the Internet (which was the wild west, no interfaces or organization). They were really the first to understand how technology would change our world, and lives. Now, more than 80% of boomers routinely use the Internet – for instant messaging, downloading music, videos, financial activities, and gaming. In fact, 44% of smartphone owners age 50+ access the Internet or check email daily from their phones, and adults 45+ account for 34.7% of current tablet users.

So it’s not hard to believe that the top four website for people 60+ are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube. Of boomers 50+ on the Internet, 82% research health and wellness information (as well as travel and leisure), 65%+ buy from e-tailers, and 65% engage in social media ­– and these numbers are only growing.

Sources: AARP, Pew Internet and American Life Project, (WSL/Strategic Retail), comScore TabLens

  • Boomers are all slowing down

Only about 10% of boomers will actually stop working entirely when they reach retirement age. And it’s not because the majority of them have to, but they want to stay actively engaged. And engaged they are, with the typical boomer regularly involved in at least ten activities, and over 66% planning on spending more time on interests and hobbies than they do today!

So this is a ‘heads-up’ to leisure marketers – with disposable time and income comes the desire to be adventurous. In fact, adults 50% make up 80% of all luxury travel spending, over 50% take one trip annually, and those 55+ spend half of all vacation dollars in America. And we can’t forget that over 22 million of them attend live sporting events each year.  So it is not surprising that 55-64 year olds outspend the average consumer in almost every category including, entertainment, gifts, eating out, shopping, and even personal care.

Source: ICSC, Pew Internet and American Life Project, US Government Consumer Expenditure Survey


BOOMERS: A Big (Missed) Marketing Opportunity

So, let’s get back to me.  Boomers are big business! And while so many branding and marketing strategies have failed to connect with them, companies in every arena are course correcting and trying to figure out how to make that lasting emotional connection. From beauty companies like L’Oreal and Revlon, to packaged goods leaders like General Mills and Procter and Gamble, financial services like Wells Fargo and Fidelity, luxury car companies like Lexus and online providers like Amazon (with their new 50+ Active & Healthy Living Store).

The most important, and indisputable, fact that brand marketers need to come to grips with is that a consumer’s age alone is of little use in determining their marketing strategies (unless there is substantiating evidence to the contrary). Rather, values, beliefs and behaviors matter most. The sooner that marketers change their perception and approach –– the sooner that those serious about growing their business will be able to do so.






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Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 8.29.25 AMWhether your a CPG brand marketer, personal care or beauty marketer, leisure marketer, or healthcare marketer, your sweet spot is increasingly someone who wants to feel better, look better and play better, and a brand that fulfills these aspirations and goals.

It’s a growing market fueled by consumers of all ages on the lookout for products and services that promote healthier lifestyles and a better quality of life. And it’s demand spans all demographic segments and cuts across all sectors of the marketplace.

Case in point, consider the boundary-pushing feel better, look better and play better benefits of these exemplary cross-category brands.

1. Nike+ Fuelband (single universal way to track your active life)
2. Philosophy (products that inspire you to live a better life)
3. Nestle (nutrition, health & wellness)
4. Nestle Fitness – International (eat right, stay active – and by the way, good tone/burn videos)
5. Zumba (spreading fitness and happiness across the world)
6. Nature Valley (from natural ingredients to encouraging getting out and enjoying nature)
7. Intercontinental’s Even Hotels Brand (delivering health and fitness to wellness-minded travelers)
8. Zico Coconut Water (get the oomph you need, naturally)
9. Lululemon (cultivating an athletica community)
10. Walgreens (reinventing the pharmacy by being at the corner of happy & healthy)

Implications for Brand Owners

1. Seize the day. People are fired up about living better and healthier lives. Make your brand more relevant by inspiring and supporting them in their quest to do so.

2. To do #1, you need to re-think your purpose. Re-focus your story. Re-work your value proposition and priorities. Re-energize your customers and you’ll re-energize your business.

3. Understand what fuels your different audiences. Attitudes, motivations and behaviors vary by age. Young people are into fitness, competitive sports and weight loss (but not into eating as healthy). Parents and beginning boomers are into health, with activities focused around social and recreational activities. Middle boomers, with more “me-time” on their hands, engage in activities around health, recreational sports and increased attention to diet. Older boomers activities revolve around health and leisure.

4. Look beyond your current borders. See the world from the vantage point of your customers and their changing, needs, aspirations and preferences. Consider new partnerships and platforms that allow you to create new and greater value and help consumers to become more active participants in improving their health and quality of life. With who? What Action? Where?

5. It’s the little things. Which together, can add up to big gains. And they’re easier to put into practice. So think in simple ways. How can you help people to reach their health and wellness goals by saving them time, making it easy, making it fun, making it a shared experience.

The brands that help people to reach their full potential – to feel better, look better and play better – will be the brands that will win their hearts, minds and loyalty.

Where do consumers place your brand in their interconnected world of health, wellness and leisure?

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How is a book written over two hundred years ago still relevant to brand marketers today?

‘Twas the year 1813 when Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice first hit the bookstands and danced its way into the hearts of many a young woman (and man).  Two hundred years later, Pride and Prejudice has become one of the most popular books in English literature and spawned countless film/TV show adaptations. Truth be told, it’s actually my mom’s favorite book and we watch every series that’s ever been made or adapted.

How is it that a book written over two centuries ago, can still be found at the top of “most beloved books” lists today? It’s enduring power lies in its relevancy and recipe plotline. Human nature hasn’t changed, the characters you meet in Austen’s novel are people that can still be recognized today. They are relatable, and the reader forms an emotional connection with them. Similarly, brands that want to endure, must find that classic formula to stay relevant and form an emotional bond with their customers.

Making Your Brand Relevant To People’s Lives

Be Purposeful. Have a purpose, tell a compelling (but still genuine) story and deliver on it. Like Jane Austen via her classic novels to her readers, get your customers to become emotionally involved in your brand – to fall in love with you, to feel connected to your purpose and what you are trying to accomplish. Whole Foods – more than just a grocery store, has a greater purpose in mind:

Our motto—Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet — emphasizes that our vision reaches beyond food retailing. In fact, our deepest purpose as an organization is helping support the health, well-being, and healing of both people — customers, Team Members, and business organizations in general — and the planet.

Be healthy? Help the world? That’s something I can and want to support.

Be Useful. Be a brand your customers can’t live without. Cliched, but Apple comes to mind for this one. Personally, I’m not an avid fan of the brand (can get into this another time), YET, for my tech needs, I own mostly Apple products – MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod, iPhone. Why is that? Because Apple’s products are durable, they offer seamless integration, they are simple to use and make my everyday easier. I like anything that makes my life easier.

Be Unique. Show some personality. One that people can connect to and get passionate about.  Zappos always comes to mind for me – getting an email that says, “Your shopping cart is empty, and it’s a little sad,” never fails to put a smile on my face and I like a brand that can make me smile…emotional connection, see where I’m going with this?

Offer an experience like no other (brand). And make it uniquely yours. Walt Disney doesn’t just offer a unique experience, they offer customers an opportunity to enter another world. From media entertainment (movies, TV shows, radio channel, video/computer games) to theme parks and resorts, Walt Disney takes children, adults, families on adventures unmatched by any other brand. It’s no surprise they made the number one slot on APCO Worldwide’s Top 100 Most Loved Companies.

Be Real. We’ve become much more interested in doing business with (rather, in striking relationships with) companies and brands who we feel share our same ideals and values. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why should we care? Give us something real to believe in and that we want to be a part of, and demonstrate this through your actions. As our company focuses in the health, wellness and leisure industries, brands like Lululemon, Walgreens (on the corner of health and happiness), Philosophy Skin Care, Chobani and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Products pretty quickly come to mind.

Thanks to Jane Austen. I bet she never could have imagined the context in which we’d be talking about her book.

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Many companies still haven’t figured out how to market to boomers, including P&G and its corporate, faculty and student partners in its Live Well Collaborative innovation lab – whose goal is to research and develop product ideas for consumers age 50 and over. While they’ve completed 37 projects, they’ve yet to commercialize a single product.

This article on – Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Aching for $15 Trillion Prize – underscores the enormous (though still untapped) opportunity available to brand marketers who can crack the code on this still underserved segment of 50+ consumers.

Dimensioning The Opportunity

According to Nielsen, more than half of the U.S. adult population in 2017 will be 50+ and they will control a full 70% of the disposable income. By 2050, there will be 161 million 50+ consumers, a 63% increase over 2010. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to translate into a pretty sexy market. In spite of this, only about 15% of all ad dollars are spent against this demographic (though they account for almost 50% of CPG sales).

And beyond the sheer size of the market, consider just a few media consumption and spending statistics:
• Boomers watch 174 hours of television a month, 63% more than Millenials
• More than 50% are on Facebook
• They’re almost equally engaged to the same level of younger generational groups on all major social media platforms
• They spend $7 billion online annually, and this is quickly rising

So What’s Missing?

Existing 50-plus targeted products aren’t creating a lasting emotional connection with older consumers. Case in point is that nobody aspires to own products like adult diapers and denture adhesives. While some need to spend their money on these essentials (and they are, to the tune of $600 million annually on Depend), they have the dollars and the desire to spend (and splurge) on the things they truly want – the products and services that help them to not only feel better, but to look better and play better. That’s where companies so far have failed.

Cracking The Code

The challenge (and opportunity) is for brand marketers to make their brands more relevant to this massive market. But to do this, marketers need to view this market with a fresh set of eyes, and let go of some common misconceptions.

First. Even a discussion about the 50+ market in general can lead you down the wrong path, as it’s comprised of multiple lifestyle and attitudinal segments. Working or retired, in good health or in need of care, kids at home or empty nesters – these are just a few of the variables that distinguish these sub-groups and impact the relevancy of your marketing.

Second. Older consumers buy the same brands they always have. If that was true, says Ken Dychtwald, a gerontologist who’s been studying seniors for 40 years, ” I would still be driving a Chevy Impala and wearing English Leather.” On the contrary, Baby Boomers might just be the single most vibrant and exciting consumer group in the world.

Third. Boomers and seniors are cheap. Wrong. Boomers spend more than any other group on leisure and lifestyle. Same when it comes to their pets (their kid and grandkid fill-ins). And a survey of 3,000 60+ consumers by consulting firm A.T. Kearney found they’re not particularly price sensitive. Reinforcing this point, consider that more than 40% of Apple products are bought by boomers, according to Nielsen.

The lesson to be learned is that getting caught up in the stereotypes that surround the 50+ market are detrimental to your business. Rather, to your great financial benefit, learn how to cultivate the relationships with these people who have many more years of living and spending ahead of them. Do this by moving beyond their “must-haves” and reminders that time is winding down to creating experience-rich products and services that respond to their wants and aspirations.

Can you fill the elusive sweet spot and be the friendliest 50+ brand in your category? You only have a global market worth $15 trillion by the end of the decade as your prize.

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By 2016 the organic personal care sector is expected to reach over $11 billion in global sales, according to Organic Monitor and Mintel Research.  Why the vast growth?

Consumers Seek Healthier, Environmentally Friendly Options

The organic and natural personal care market continues to flourish as consumers seek out products that are deemed to be more natural and environmentally friendly – reflecting aspirations for better personal health and growing consumer awareness about the hazards of synthetic chemicals.  The cause for concern –  60-70% of the products we put on our skin are absorbed, and most contain chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and aluminum salts that are not only bad for us, but the environment.

Meeting Consumer Demand, Building Trust

After several years of challenges, including misuse of the term “organic” in brand names and product labels, things are taking off again thanks to new retail policies, formulation advancements, and product regulations.  Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand as we continue to see many startup companies and established category players moving into this sector – and skincare is leading the way with a 32% market share, followed by hair and color cosmetics.

So what should brand marketers consider when entering the organic personal care sector?

• Seal the deal.  Consumer trust is essential if you want your product to be part of the consideration set – over 50% of safety minded consumers want to see independent certification marks on organic products.  And, they’re not alone as retailers are taking a stance.  For example, Whole Foods Market implemented its organic personal care policy in September 2012, requiring brands making organic claims to obtain USDA Organic or NSF/ANSI 305 certifications. As a result, companies wanting to sell at Whole Foods had to either drop organic or become certified.





With this, brands have begun to take different approaches to certifying their products – it’s not a one-size, fits-all approach:

– Nourish Organic and classic Dr. Bronner are leading the way, providing body care that meets the same USDA Organic standard as food, using exclusively agricultural ingredients.

– And others, such as Pangea, aren’t choosing just one certification – they are certifying different products to the appropriate label, a growing trend we see in the industry.

• Clinically validated organics.  The science behind the brand has become more critical.  Looking beyond the seal, personal care manufacturers are creating higher-performance products that are backed by clinical research giving them the ability to make active claims –again, reinforcing consumer trust and market buy-in.  Juicy Beauty is one good example of a skincare and beauty brand that touts their clinically validated products.

• Packaging true to brand values.  As organic products continue to multiply and become more upscale, brands are using package graphics, structures and materials to differentiate from both conventional products and their organic/natural counterparts.  Ample consideration is being given to consumer preference for packaging that stays “true” to core organic values (as revealed in a recent EcoFocus Worldwide survey) – over 73% of natural and organic shoppers try to buy products in packaging that’s refillable or reusable, and 78% try to buy products in recyclable packaging.

• Alternative Distribution Channels. Up until recently, it would have been unheard of for a distributor like Vitamin World to have luxury personal care products such as Organic Doctor on their shelves.  But times have changed, and for the better.  Distributors are taking a broader approach to health and wellness and are stocking their shelves to support their customers overall lifestyle needs.

Lessons Learned

Organic/natural leaning consumers have become evermore sophisticated, and understanding their need for brands that demonstrate transparency and integrity is key. They are looking for straightforward, honest answers from their brands, and can easily see through a brand fabricating a story vs. telling a true brand story.  Following these basic, but important principles will help your brand get the attention and following it deserves…and possibly the shelf space too!

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Who would have thought that our healthcare branding work would make it to prime time? Not featuring our advertising, but for our branding work for Orlando Health.

We had the good fortune to partner with the organization on its system-wide rebranding a few years ago. So who would have thought that settling in to watch Parks & Recreation this past week, we’d see our logo – adapted for the fictitious Montesian Memorial Hospital.

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I’m hoping that one of the director’s from the show can give me the name of one of the senior executives from Montesian, as they really need a new logo

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Do your prospective customers deserve better marketing? Only you know the real answer.

Step back for a moment. If you were on the receiving end of your healthcare marketing –– would it matter to you? More specifically, would it teach you more? help you do more? help you distinguish, believe and trust more? inspire you to act?

Consider all the “must-do’s” that find their way into your organization’s marketing and creative process. Do they really reflect what people want and what your brand can genuinely do for them? Are they the things that lead you to making ideas that people pay attention to, are motivated by and inspired to act on – that build value for them and your organization.

Here are ten ideas that are guaranteed to get more people wrapped more tightly around your healthcare brand:

1. leverage a killer consumer insight (like Dove)
2. do more, talk less (like AmEx OPEN forum)
3. be more involving and engaging (like BUD Light)
4. be more useful (like Nike+)
5. be more interesting and exciting (like AXE)
6. deliver a better, branded, experience (like Zappos)
7. create ongoing surprise and delight (like Sharpie)
8. encourage conversation and sharing (like AXE)
9. let them see behind the curtain (like Zappos)
10. be more purpose-driven, and find ways for everyone to participate (like Tom’s Shoes)

The key to winning is creating marketing that matters. Unearthing what people need to feel better, look better and play better and then giving it to them. Are you?

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