Strategic Plan (Carpe Diem)

Strategic Plan (Carpe Diem)

We traveled safely from Washington DC to New York on the evening train on Tuesday, May 12th. The train immediately behind us was not so lucky. On hearing the news that we were unharmed I got an email from our client in DC with the sign-off "carpe diem."read more
Strategy Primer

Strategy Primer

Strategy is a very misused word. Marketing strategies are—if you look at how the word is used—any marketing activity that might possibly work. People talk about "strategies" such as "posting to Facebook more."read more
Visual Brand and 360 Brand: What's the difference?

Visual Brand and 360 Brand: What's the difference?

What is the difference between a visual brand and a true 360 brand? How do you get your organization to think beyond just the visual brand?read more
Bigger is better ... right?

Bigger is better ... right?

Hiring a big and flashy agency may seem "safe." But think about what they stand to gain by working with an organization of your size and budget. You may find that you're actually sacrificing the responsiveness, energy and focus on quality of smaller firms for the false sense of security that comes from going big.read more
The "Made in China" Brand

The "Made in China" Brand

It was only after I got home that I looked at the back label again and noticed three words that I had missed on the lower left hand corner. If you are familiar with the Face Screaming in Fear emoji, you may get a sense of how I felt when I read ”Product of China” under the bar code.read more
Empathy in advertising (and the need for differentiation)

Empathy in advertising (and the need for differentiation)

Empathy in advertising is essential but its expression should not be reduced to a formula. Think of it as a baseline requirement, but differentiation is even more important.read more
The Farmyard: Decision-making in Large Organizations

The Farmyard: Decision-making in Large Organizations

If you are like most institutions the pressure to capitulate to the requests of powerful factions within your organization is likely very real.read more
Moved Next to Brooklyn Borough Hall

Moved Next to Brooklyn Borough Hall

We don't have ants in our pants, but we did outgrow our space in the very interesting to be in Brooklyn Navy Yard, so we have moved to downtown Brooklyn. 50 Court Street.read more
Nonprofit Marketing Return on Investment

Nonprofit Marketing Return on Investment

Return on investment in a brand initiative is very important. Measuring the results of any initiative and doing proper goal-setting for a project is an essential part of good governance, of good strategic behavior. But how do you measure the return when you are not really selling widgets?read more
Music and Museums Undergoing Digital Transformation

Music and Museums Undergoing Digital Transformation

As the museum world undergoes its digital transformation, it might look to the music world, a field in a relatively advanced stage of digitization, for applicable lessons.read more
Collaborative Conversation

Collaborative Conversation

I was reluctant to join the conversation until I jumped in when it turned to race—then I could barely contain myself.read more
The Practice of Doing Nothing

The Practice of Doing Nothing

I can think of just once where I felt bored out of my mind. Boring beyond comprehension in my current life as a hustling New Yorker, the time was a much-needed boot camp in doing nothing.read more
"Meet Mary" Doing Its Job (Picturing Mary Outdoor)

"Meet Mary" Doing Its Job (Picturing Mary Outdoor)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts put street-level exhibition advertising signage on the building for the first time.read more
Marketing, Half-truths, and USDA Organic (A Follow-up to "Tell Them the Truth")

Marketing, Half-truths, and USDA Organic (A Follow-up to "Tell Them the Truth")

Examining the trend of marketing half-truths to the consumer. The USDA's Organic labeling provokes the question: has the government jumped on this bandwagon?read more
Zoo Brands, Conservation and the Future of Zoos

Zoo Brands, Conservation and the Future of Zoos

I asked my 11 year old son if he thought zoos were good or bad. His answer was immediate and unequivocal: "Bad," he said, "I don't like the idea of animals being held in cages." If there is another side to this story, and there is, zoos need to get busy telling it.read more
Branding and Sales: a Bank Brand Story

Branding and Sales: a Bank Brand Story

What happens when you attempt to take over a brand space that is already occupied by a strong competitor?read more
Burning Man and the Brand of America

Burning Man and the Brand of America

Does America have a brand? And if so, what can Burning Man tell us about it?read more
City Brands: Dealing with a Lack of Control

City Brands: Dealing with a Lack of Control

Cities have become important actors on the global scene. Metropolitan governments are among the best ‘glocal’ players, sharpening their global influence strategy and improving the management of their brand. International city branding has its undeniable challenges, however.read more
College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)

College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)

How strong is the average college brand? How well are America's liberal arts colleges able to meaningfully differentiate themselves from each other?read more
Millennials and Museums: Oil and Water?

Millennials and Museums: Oil and Water?

What chance does the museum world have with millennials? Are millennials and museums really oil and water? Let's hear the story from the horse's mouth.read more
Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?

Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?

With Museum Camp (now in its second year), Nina Simon is trying to find a way to infect our thinking long enough for it to dent our obstinate surrounds. We should be trying to help.read more
The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?

The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?

Can a group of diverse and interesting New Yorkers sit around a table for dinner and have a SINGLE sustained conversation for at least two hours—no moderator, no side conversations— just a single, contributive, collective, shall I say it ... civilized, conversation on a given topic?read more
Mascots as Brand Amplifiers

Mascots as Brand Amplifiers

Mascots—those lovable anthropomorphized characters who push cereal, chocolate milk, and tires—are more than just cute tools for marketing to children.read more
Om Marketing (Yoga and Marketing)

Om Marketing (Yoga and Marketing)

Yoga is about controlling your mind. Marketing is about trying to control other's minds. End of story, right? Not exactly.read more
Brand Power and Its Limits

Brand Power and Its Limits

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind." —Walter Landorread more
"Competitors are stealing my ideas."

"Competitors are stealing my ideas."

"...all strategies aimed at exploiting an innovation, must achieve leadership within a given environment. Otherwise, they will simply create an opportunity for the competition."read more
Museum Visibility: What's the problem?

Museum Visibility: What's the problem?

Within the museum world there seems to be some reluctance to engage with contemporary culture in a deep way. But if you take a look at the museums that are thriving, you will find a willingness to do just that. The museums that are flourishing now exhibit a conscious responsiveness to and engagement with contemporary issues and concerns.read more
Brand Strategy Basics

Brand Strategy Basics

Brand strategy gives McDonald's a 27 billion dollar advantage over Burger King. It's important that you understand how this happened, and how it applies to your organization.read more
Find the Pain: Business-to-Business Marketing

Find the Pain: Business-to-Business Marketing

Pain, fear, anxiety … these are strong emotions that drive behavior. This is true of life. Life is also, it turns out, the very stuff of marketing, even that most rarified and peculiar kind—business-to-business marketing.read more
The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Sales has the power to change conditions, to transform a situation through the skills of the sales person. Marketing however, generally does not possess such transformative power. Marketing needs to work with conditions as they are.read more
What is the Brand of New York? (Historic House Museums)

What is the Brand of New York? (Historic House Museums)

We don't always think of cities as having brands, but they certainly do. While some cultural institutions are actually strong enough to be active builders of the brands of their fair city, most are not, and most historic house museums are certainly not in such a position, but each institution's history and meaning in relationship with the existing brand of its city is a factor in its success.read more
You need a target: What makes a marketing plan strategic?

You need a target: What makes a marketing plan strategic?

Finding out what you need to know in order to have a proper marketing strategy is not easy or cheap, but I can pretty much guarantee that what's far more costly is executing a marketing plan without a strategy to guide it.read more
Museums and Race

Museums and Race

Does thinking about race make you racist? No. Does not thinking about race make you racist? Unfortunately sometimes yes. These are uncomfortable issues and hard to look squarely in the eye, but they are standing right in front of you. Time to say hello.read more
Goals & Goats (How do you set strategic SMART goals?)

Goals & Goats (How do you set strategic SMART goals?)

Strategy is born from deep inspection of the question Why? Why is this goal important? If I cannot get to a good answer to why this goal makes sense in the context of my strategic vision, then the goal is suspect (or the strategy is suspect).read more
Your Brand Idea: Who but Horton can hear it?

Your Brand Idea: Who but Horton can hear it?

If your brand idea is succinct, meaningful and consistently and coherently expressed, it will be able to break free. It will be hearable outside of your brand bubble, outside of Whoville.read more
Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?

Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?

The cessation of desire leads to the cessation of suffering. —Gautama Buddha (paraphrased). The implication of this, the second of the Four Noble Truths, is that the enlightened are generally not good marketing targets. Fortunately for most marketers this is a very small group.read more
What is marketing strategy?

What is marketing strategy?

Marketing strategy allows you to use pathways and footholds that apply your limited marketing budget more effectively (everyone's marketing budget is limited). Marketing strategy facilitates your ability to apply marketing money to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—the half you are not wasting on audiences who do not value your message.read more
Focus Group Testing Ban (and Some Better Alternatives)

Focus Group Testing Ban (and Some Better Alternatives)

Focus group testing is appealing. I really do get it. In theory, it's a quick and efficient way to find out what you need to know about what people think or how they use your product or service, but in fact it isn't quick or efficient, and it has a dangerous inclination to lead you down false pathways.read more
Is the museum brand god dead?

Is the museum brand god dead?

In a postmodern world—the one we live in now—the AUTHORITY, the curator, the author, the expert—anyone whose charge it is to create grand classifications and assign meaning—has been demoted. This is our Internet paradigm, is it not? The authority is now just one voice among many. What does this mean for museum branding?read more
When FedEx Slew the Giant: Sell Value Not Price

When FedEx Slew the Giant: Sell Value Not Price

When you think overnight courier, what comes to mind? I'm guessing FedEx is probably at the top of the list. This was not always the case. Let me take you back to the moment when a budding company called Federal Express slew the Goliath of its industry—Emery. Let's take a look at what happened and what you should learn from Emery's horrible death.read more
What if museums were run like successful companies?

What if museums were run like successful companies?

If you are not marketing and innovating, you will be eliminated from the market place. In business this happens all the time. More than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies from 1955 no longer exist. Maybe this sounds like an entirely different world from yours. I'd suggest that it is not.read more
In praise of boredom

In praise of boredom

Nothing is not nothing, but something essential that we should be careful to preserve in our lives.read more
Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains

Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains

You think you are in control. "You"—your sense of self—your highly developed, amazingly capable conscious mind, housed in the big wrinkly hemispheric thing that we most often associate with the brain: the neocortex—is not really in control as much as it thinks. It's just easier for all of us to carry on with this delusion.read more
Marketing of the Bronx Museum

Marketing of the Bronx Museum

Museums exist in particular places. The Bronx Museum exists in the South Bronx; it's a contemporary art museum located right in the middle of the poorest community in the continental United States, a community that could not be more distant from the stereotype of the whitewall, high art tradition underpinning much of the aesthetics and behaviors that permeate the world of contemporary art.read more
Marketing is Not Optional

Marketing is Not Optional

"There are only two things in a business that make money – innovation and marketing, everything else is cost." —Peter Druckerread more
Museums and Motivation (Trouble with Gamification)

Museums and Motivation (Trouble with Gamification)

How can museums use motivation more effectively to engage visitors and other constituents? What are the dangers and opportunities of the "gamification" trend, and what can museums do with insights obtainable from the motivational factors within games?read more
Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation

Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation

"Virtually every type of expected tangible reward made contingent on task performance does, in fact, undermines intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, not only tangible rewards, but also threats, deadlines, directives, and competition pressure diminish intrinsic motivation because, according to cognitive evaluation theory, people experience them as controllers of their behavior." —Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deciread more
Tell them the truth.

Tell them the truth.

"Tell them the truth. First, because it is the right thing to do, and second, they'll find out anyway." —Paul Galvin. Ahh the truth. That thing to be finessed if you want to succeed in marketing ... NOT.read more
Consumer Insight: Singles (Family Life Cycle for Museums)

Consumer Insight: Singles (Family Life Cycle for Museums)

Singles, age 18-35, are a very large and growing population, particularly in metropolitan areas, even relatively small ones. This makes them a very desirable consumer target. They are also important because the habits formed during one's single life are tenacious and strong.read more
SEO and the Art of Internet Dating

SEO and the Art of Internet Dating

Is your content useful, timely, relevant, needed? Is it adding something valuable to the MASSIVE conversation that is the contemporary internet? It should be.read more
Customer Personas: What Sally can show you.

Customer Personas: What Sally can show you.

A persona is a kind of mental model—an imaginary person with a name, history and story who has a way of doing things. A persona should have enough psychological detail to allow you to conveniently step over to the persona's view, and see your products and services from her perspective.read more
Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset

Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset

Is it better to have a unique name like Kinko's or a more descriptive one like Staples? Is it better to have a name that's actually a person's name like Lowe's or something that really clues you in to the core business promise is such as Home Depot? International Business Machines or just a feel good symbol like Apple? There is danger and reward everywhere.read more
I want a new website!

I want a new website!

"I want a new website." There is a certainty in the eyes and voice that pushes back my objections. "That's what we need. Here is what we want it to do. How much will it be?" This desire and clarity of purpose is supported by the belief that a new website will make things all better, like a mommy's kiss.read more
Consumer Insight: Find Your Trim Tab

Consumer Insight: Find Your Trim Tab

What can you do that will be effective at getting the word out, but will not break the bank? Is there a relatively inexpensive tactical shift can you make right now that will yield significant long term results? The answer is yes. It's just a matter of finding it. It will not be obvious or easy.read more
Historical Game Characters for Museums

Historical Game Characters for Museums

We have had to create a few historical game characters for games targeted at kids. Along the way we have acquired some insights that may be useful to others doing the same or similar things.read more
Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime

Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime

If your mission, your reason for being in the world—regardless of weather you are a nonprofit, a for-profit, a museum or an educational institution—is good, then you have no excuse not to market yourself.read more
Optimism Bias in Marketing

Optimism Bias in Marketing

The warning label which works contrary to our tendency toward optimism and self-indulgence misses the potential leverage point because the possible event of a future consequence can be set aside, rationalized away, and, most importantly, simply ignored because we (most of us) are biologically wired to pay little attention to such warnings.read more
Museum Marketing: Think Like a Consumer

Museum Marketing: Think Like a Consumer

Odds are you already deliver on what people need. The trick in museum marketing, as in any kind of consumer marketing, is to think beyond what you do or how you do it, and focus on why your target would want it.read more
Call me trim tab.

Call me trim tab.

So what do you call this thing that does NOT take massive effort, but has the potential for great positive effect far beyond its seeming capacity? I think one very good answer to this question was was provided in 1972 by Buckminster Fuller when he said the following in an interview ...read more
Museum Marketing for Non-Marketers

Museum Marketing for Non-Marketers

Marketing is a big term. What is it in the context of a public-facing institution like a museum? What is it when you do not have a large or consistent marketing budget or even a dedicated marketing department?read more
The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

What is the difference between marketing and branding? In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told, "I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales." Hold it. How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?read more
Apparent Failure Focuses the Mind

Apparent Failure Focuses the Mind

Probably the two most valuable things that have happened to me as a business person were: 1) Being laid off from a corporate job and having to start a business on my own, forcing the question of how to survive and support a family without a regular salary, benefits, or anything to rely on but myself. 2) My former business partner's choice to walk off with all our clients, leaving me with the company debt and virtually no business.read more
Brand Fatigue

Brand Fatigue

My concern with brand fatigue is not that people become tired of a brand, but rather that businesses and nonprofits become prematurely tired of their own brand presentation and, as a result, push to change it before it has had the opportunity to fulfill its mission or even fully register and build power in the minds of their brand consumers.read more
Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales

Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales

How do you get new clients? If you sell B2B, the short answer is probably “relationships.” Almost.read more
Strategy Workshops

Strategy Workshops

Get answers to these and other key questions: "Who is our most natural consumer?" and "Why should they care about our product or service?"read more
College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)

College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)

How strong is the average college brand? How well are America's liberal arts colleges able to meaningfully differentiate themselves from each other?read more
Brand Strategy Basics

Brand Strategy Basics

Brand strategy gives McDonald's a 27 billion dollar advantage over Burger King. It's important that you understand how this happened, and how it applies to your organization.read more
What is marketing strategy?

What is marketing strategy?

Marketing strategy allows you to use pathways and footholds that apply your limited marketing budget more effectively (everyone's marketing budget is limited). Marketing strategy facilitates your ability to apply marketing money to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—the half you are not wasting on audiences who do not value your message.read more
Is the museum brand god dead?

Is the museum brand god dead?

In a postmodern world—the one we live in now—the AUTHORITY, the curator, the author, the expert—anyone whose charge it is to create grand classifications and assign meaning—has been demoted. This is our Internet paradigm, is it not? The authority is now just one voice among many. What does this mean for museum branding?read more
Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains

Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains

You think you are in control. "You"—your sense of self—your highly developed, amazingly capable conscious mind, housed in the big wrinkly hemispheric thing that we most often associate with the brain: the neocortex—is not really in control as much as it thinks. It's just easier for all of us to carry on with this delusion.read more