Dallas Diggs [dallasdiggs]
Up till now, what has been your professional career path?
Classic brand management for 8-9 years to learn how to run a business. Worked in the Tylenol, Breyers and Aqua-Fresh franchises. Then stints in beverages (Coca-Cola) and telecom during the broadband and wireless launch/growth years. Been pretty much on my own since.
Please list web addresses where one can see something about you.
What is your stance as a marketing professional? What are you good at? What differentiates you from others?
Marketing is about understanding and meeting the needs or wants of customers. Those who are really good at it know that they have to step outside their view and see the world from the customer point of view. In my view business is about building fans (engagement) and making profitable sales...marketing is the driver of fan building and therefore profits.
Humbly, I like to believe I am good at uncovering insights from data and at seeing the not so usual point of view. Learned this when working in frozen desserts and we essentially convinced the FDA to change rules on fat designations...the old rules were built around the idea that watered down milk products were a rip-off...new rules were fat carries flavor but I want my choice of 'lite' products.
I have worked in consumer, commercial and entertainment marketing, cannot say I've seen it all but have seen a lot that allows for making good decisions on how to increase sales.
A marketing strategy begins with an idea. How are yours born?
I was an economics major, so I often start with a form of an equation to describe and visualize consumer actions...then the fun part is figuring what are the variables that can be adjusted to meet customer needs. I know, sounds not creative, but I have found it to be a base of generating lots of ideas. We used this model once to knock off the leading brand when we were # 3. #1 launched a new product with an ingredient not approved in the USA. We could not get a better product made quickly. After reviewing the variables, we realized the FDA would want to know about this...of course we waited until they had 70% ACV distribution...not sexy but effective in saving our market share.
How do you determine what consumers think and feel? Is something more than qualitative research necessary?
I am in love with ethnographic research...following the consumer in their daily activity to learn what they really do. Behavior is a clearer indicator than most other tools...for example, most parents will paint the pristine picture of changing baby John on the changing table. Right...when that kid is crying the rules are changed. That's why the one hand baby wipe was developed. Hauls the past couple of Decembers have been a fun way for us all to learn about teen shopping.
On the commercial side it is a bit tougher and driving to have in-depth interviews about problems have been really helpful. We repositioned a division during the broadband run-up based on C-level execs' frustration with having to deal with multiple sales people versus 'one throat to choke'.
What differentiates your product/service from the competition?
As with most consultants, experience and style are going to be what makes a match with a client. However, since I have lived in the P&L world and was fortunate enough to not have missed a revenue target, nor exceeded an expense budget, I know what the pressures are and some of the nuances to get to desired results.
I love strategy and can talk it all day but strategy without implementation is only nice reading...smart implementation yields profits, or in the right web model, engagement, then profits.
What is a better way to communicate your product: emotional or rational?
Great question. We buy on emotion, if you are not a believer check out Martin Linstrom's book, Buy-ology. He explains how our brains react to different stimuli and how we often consciously try to defeat our emotions...to no avail in the end. So, we have to use rational approaches to reach the emotions that drive behaviors. The rational is well-reasoned copy strategy and positioning. The stuff that worked long ago is now scientifically proven to work!
In times of crisis sales of generic store brands rise. What should premium brands do or not do when faced with this?
As a friend shared with my recently...ignore your heavy users and they will spank you like you are a 5 year-old in Wal-Mart.
The point is, focus on your core users, your brand fans. If you really know them then you know what to do for them at the shelf or at the mouse or at the mobile. And if you don't know...it is time to go back over your data or get new data. I also believe every brand should have a life-size mock up of their brand fans in conspicuous locations so employees learn and remember who they serve.
Can you cite brands or well-known products that you admire for marketing brilliance?
I am on the Apple bandwagon and BMW also.
But I am also a fan of WD-40. It has kept its industrial feel and can you name another lubricant without struggling to do so? Moreover, they have an internal policy that keeps them building good people...cannot fire anyone until you have worked with them to improve. Real branding from within.
Van's (we can't call them shoes can we?) and Jones soda are excellent at viral development...check out their sites...hard to only stay for a minute.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about digital marketing in the last few years?
The same rules of having goals and well thought-out strategies apply. Getting fans for the sake of getting fans is a road to what end? I am surprised how many times I have heard about the Facebook page with no purpose other than someone on the board wanted it. Digital marketing is a tool to build fans and profits. Sometimes, as Shawn Fanning (Napster) proved, profits can be built if you have the runway (time and money) to create fans first and profits later.
Be a prophet. What phenomenon will revolutionize marketing in the next few years?
Like to think that making retail easier will be a trend...come on lower gas prices!
I spent some time working with companies on the silent sales person/handheld point of sales displays...automated selling at retail. The technology exists (and a few firms are fielding it) that allows for automatic check-in when entering a location...so you enter your favorite clothing store and your handheld gets a greeting that reminds you of your last purchase and what is in now that might match what you bought 6 months ago. Keep thinking and you can visualize downloads of self help videos and more. Virtual reality dressing is already happening...think of virtually trying on something at the desk at 4:45 and picking it up at 5:15.
One other area that is pretty exciting is game marketing. The mobile and social environment has given us a new playing field (pun intended) that makes it relevant to use forms of games with audiences from youth to serious investors. For example, investment firms have begun using game ideas (black, gold, platinum aka American Express card status) to help investors understand their status. In a digital world status, access, and power often trump the prizes.
Are you part of any professional networking sites? Has it served its purpose for you?
I limit myself to two because I have to have some down time: Linked In and MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group).
LI is great because of the ability to connect based on education, location, interest, previous employer and on and on.
MENG is a great place for idea exchange and learning.