Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sell More Meat

Guy Kawasaki calls it “making mantra". It is a guideline for employees to do their jobs. It is a company’s North Star, Greenwich Meantime, or simply put a guiding principle. It is a short phrase that sums up all that the company is about. It is a three-word abbreviation of a mission statement. Examples? Here are a few company mantra's that Guy shares in his book Art of the Start:

Authentic Athletic Performance (Nike)
Fun Family Entertainment (Disney)
Think (IBM)

But what about a mantra for an advertising or marketing agency that provides a service for clients? Can an agency adopt a client mantra? Not if they want their own identity. Can they make their own? I think so. I call it "Selling More Meat"”. What is it? It is a singular focus that should drive all the decisions you make for your client. And clients want one thing -– to make more money by selling more of their goods or services.

It is simple. It is to the point. It is the one thing you must always follow to ensure you are staying on track. It is the way in which you are trying to make money. For an agency it is what you do to make money for your client, their shareholders and employees. If you do it right you will also make money.

It is a lesson that I have carried with me from my early days with Oscar Mayer.

Life as a Hotdogger begins with an intense week of training & education on all things meat related at Oscar Mayer'’s Corporate Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. All new Hotdoggers attend this training period, affectionately known as "Hot Dog High"”.

The week is spent learning everything you need to know to be a successful Hotdogger. Driving skills, vehicle maintenance, media relations, store calls, how to write an effective press release, working with sales team, travel guidelines, proper dress, etc., are all covered at Hot Dog High. There is even a tour of the production facility so that the new recruits can say with conviction "“I'’ve seen how they make hot dogs, and it really is a very clean process. I love hot dogs!" Which is actually quite true for me. Only Oscar Mayer for my family!

At one of the last meetings we attended that week, Russ Whitacre, the Director of the Wienermobile program, was wrapping up all that we had learned that week and was getting us ready to hit the road. Before he handed over the keys he asked the group why a car in the shape of a hot dog existed? What was its purpose? Was he getting existential on us? Not really. He just needed to make sure that before twelve kids hit the road for a year, without ANY direct, day to day supervision, that he was sure he had instilled in us the information we needed to be successful ambassadors for the department, company and brand.

A few of the answers he got included "“To bring miles of smiles to children of all ages", "To reconnect a generation of kids that missed out on the Wienermobile while it was off the road for all those years"” or "To get positive media coverage for the brand". All of these were correct to a degree, but they did not touch on the fundamental issue of why a hot dog car?

I answered, "To sell more meat." That was it. No matter how much fun we might have going to Super Bowls, getting an article placed in the Wall Street Journal or applying some guerilla tactics to get on the Today Show, our job was ultimately created to help sell more meat. It does not exist solely to get media impressions. Nor just to make kids smile. The single reason the Wienermobile exists is to help sell more meat. When it can no longer help sell more meat it will be taken off the road.

Don't get me wrong. I love to see it driving down the road. It makes me smile every time I even think about what it was like to drive around. But if I am in charge of the marketing budget or even just there to make recommendations, I need to take a hard look at where it is being spent and cut out programs that are not as effective as others in accomplishing the single issue that the company needs the marketing department to help deliver through the tools to which it has access and influence.

So if you are an agency and a client, marketing partner or coworker suggests something for the brand or company that seems off track, unusual or a waste of effort - just as yourself one question. "Will this help sell more ________?"” It should. If it does not then you are not properly using the funds you have at your disposal and it is up to you to tell your client as much as stewards of their money.

Now that you'’ve got that, don't forget the second part critical part to consider. Will this just move units or will it actually help your client be profitable. If the idea has merit and will help sell more meat that is good. If it sells more meat and costs too much that is bad. Not too complicated.

What is the fundamental question you ask when making decisions about your brand or company marketing efforts?

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