Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Secret to Successful Marketing and Goal Achievement

Jay Conrad Levinson is known as the father of Guerrilla Marketing. The essence of Guerilla Marketing is making a big impact using unconventional marketing using minimal resources. Guerilla Marketing is perhaps invaluable during this contracted economy and is a useful strategy for small businesses and sole traders to adopt.

However, the secret I'm about to share about successful marketing and goal achievement does not come from a guerrilla marketing strategy. In its first year this marketing campaign cost $18 million - a lot of money.

This campaign came resulted in what has been described as the best marketed brand in history. It is a brand that you probably know of even if you don't use the product. It is also a place you may have heard of even if you've never visited.

The brand is Marlboro and the place is Marlboro country. So whether you're a smoker or, like me, a non-smoker who abhors smoking, stick with me because this is an interesting case study from which much can be learnt and applied to beneficial campaigns and projects.

In 1954 Marlboro cigarettes were the thirty-first largest selling cigarette. Marlboro was perceived as a feminine brand even although men smoked more cigarettes.

Jay Conrad Levinson was part of Leo Burnett's team which was commissioned to change the perception of Marlboro being feminine and, of course, boost sales. After some brainstorming it was agreed that the cowboy was perceived as very masculine and macho. So a team was dispatched to a Texas ranch to get some natural rather than posed photographs of what real cowboys do.

The resulting photographs were brilliant. They truly captured the beauty and ruggedness of the outdoors as well as the rugged handsomeness and masculinity of the cowboy. Marlboro Country - "where the flavour is" - was born. The adverts were everywhere - on billboards, in magazines, newspapers, on the radio, etc.

People loved the Marlboro concept and by the end of the year Marlboro was the thirty-first selling brand of cigarette in the country.

That's right. They had not moved even one place over the year the campaign was introduced, compared to the sales of other cigarette brands. Jay Conrad Levinson admits to being "red faced" but Joseph F Cullman III, then the CEO of Philip Morris, the parent company of Marlboro, was more philosophical.

He said he hadn't expected instant results. He knew that these things sometimes take time. He was patient and remained committed to the Marlboro campaign. I guess it did help that while their market share had not increased the sales of Marlboro cigarettes increased significantly following the advertising campaign to re-position Marlboro as a more masculine brand.

In 1971, Marlboro became the number one selling brand of cigarettes worldwide. Other macho images were experimented with but, in essence, the advertising for Marlboro remained the same.

In a recent interview, Jay Conrad Levinson said,

"Too many people in marketing are expecting instant gratification and for a lot of them, instant gratification isn't quite fast enough which is why so much marketing fails but the Marlboro campaign didn't fail because of his [Joseph Cullman's] knowledge of the necessity for patience. And that brand is no smoking mirrors. It's just straightforward patience and commitment."

The same can be said regarding goal achievement. Too many people start a goal but give up if the desired results do not come almost instantly.

The term overnight success is generally a fallacy. Some people may hit the big times quickly but this success is generally preceded by the application of diligent and consistent effort that can sometimes take years.

Some may get promising results from using tactics but tactics are short-lived. In the long-run, you want to use methods that stand the test of time. You want to be strategic and hang in there when times are tough and progress seems slow.

"Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience."

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"Doing at once what needs to be done, will increase the possibility of success."
Leland Val Van de Wall


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