Category Archives: Advertising

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency and High Heels

High Heel Blog ImageA great example of the Attribute Dependency Technique can be found at My Place Café & Bar at the Hilton Osaka hotel in Japan. Attribute Dependency is one of the five innovation methods called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of a product or its environment. And this technique is helping My Place increase their customer base in a surprising way by offering female customers a discount on their food and drink orders based on the height of their high heels. The higher the heel the greater the discount.

According to Fox News:

To qualify for the promotion, heels must be at least five centimeters (two inches) tall. But the higher the heel, the greater the discount on the bar’s select dining options, craft beer, organic wine and cocktails.

Discounts start at 10 percent off your order, with each additional two centimeters of heel height receiving a better deal.

Heels from seven to nine centimeters get 15 percent off, nine to 11 centimeters 20 percent, 11 to 13 centimeters 25 percent and 13 to 15 centimeters 30 percent. Anyone wearing heels above 15 centimeters (almost 6 inches!) will 40 percent off their bill.

My Place is running its “High Heels Ladies Night Discount” on Thursday nights starting June 15 and it lasts from 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

It’s true that anyone can learn to create by utilizing the SIT methods. If you would like to get the most out of the Attribute Dependency Technique, follow these steps:

  1. List internal/external variables.
  2. Pair variables (using a 2 x 2 matrix)
  • Internal/internal
  • Internal/external
  1. Create (or break) a dependency between the variables.
  2. Visualize the resulting virtual product.
  3. Identify potential user needs.
  4. Modify the product to improve it.

Segmentation is Killing Your Brand: Five Reasons To Find Your Unicorn Customer

by Deb Gabor

Brand deadA store is a place you go to buy stuff, usually out of convenience or habit. In contrast, brands inspire irrational loyalty and yes, even love. How does a company build itself into a brand that people can fall deeply, madly in
love with? The old model says segmentation is the key to business success. This involves strategically dividing your potential customers into groups based on who they are and why/how they’re buying. Segmentation is a fine marketing tactic, but it won’t help build a brand people can wholeheartedly rally behind. In fact, segmentation can even work against a brand by diluting the brand identity. In order to build the type of brand that customers can fall in love with, you must first create a detailed picture of your ideal "unicorn" customer.

Let me start with a real-world example of one brand that I personally worked with. This company is one of the world’s largest retailers of hookahs and hookah supplies. When I asked them who they thought their ideal customer was, they described an older Middle-Eastern man. In fact, their ideal customer – the person most likely to bring in the most amount of revenue for this company over time – was a young guy between the ages of 18-28, who wants to bring people together around the hookah. He is a discerning, curious, fun-loving hookah enthusiast who knows that the most memorable and fun hookah experiences start with the right equipment, accessories, and shisha tobacco. He wants to be the life of the hookah party. You can see why he’s the ideal customer.

This example clearly demonstrates how to define this ideal customer. First, start by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Who is the customer who will be worth the most over the long haul?
  2. Who will be the customer who is the most profitable and delightful to serve?
  3. Who will not only keep buying from you again and again but will recommend you to others?

Then, create an in-depth profile of this customer – the person who is most highly predictive of your brand’s success. Imagine the ideal customer in excruciating detail: What kind of car do they drive? What clothing do they wear? What’s their perfume? Every minute detail must be worked out in your mind so this person becomes as real as possible. To help you fill in the details, consider doing the opposite of segmentation. Think about what unites your customers, and create a singular brand that is for a singular customer archetype.

What are the benefits of identifying the ideal “unicorn” customer?

  • Build a stronger brand identity. If a brand can clearly define who its biggest brand champion is, then more doors will open than previously imaginable. The creative process will become easier, and everything the brand does will be more thoroughly informed by this one anchoring concept. The brand purpose becomes unified and less fragmented, making it stronger and more appealing to customers.
  • Create a brand that your team can rally behind and be truly passionate about. When you build a brand with a strong identity and purpose, you can then recruit people to be part of the team who also feel strongly about the brand purpose. It’s much easier to inspire the team to put in extra work when they feel like the brand is something worth working for. In fact, it starts to feel less like work and more like plain old fun.
  • Make the brand more human. Thinking about the ideal customer as an actual person will help you think about the brand in more emotional terms. The result is a brand that people can relate to on an emotional level.
  • Inspire irrational customer loyalty. A strong brand identity makes for a strong company that instills customers with confidence. This means that people come back even if they’re dissatisfied simply because they love the brand and they know the brand will redeem itself.
  • Help to better inform segmentation. Without a clear brand identity, segment marketing is like driving around without a clear destination in mind. You might find some interesting things along the way, but you’ll waste time and gas, and you will probably find yourself getting a bit lost. Build a brand first, and then use segmentation to help spread your awesome brand identity far and wide.

Is Segmentation Dead?

Segment marketing has its place, and identifying the ideal customer archetype shouldn’t replace segmentation practices. But if your boss has asked you to go out and segment the market, you are probably putting the cart before the horse. First you have to identify the ideal customer, and then you can think about segmentation. Remember, you’re building a brand for ONE and segmenting the market to get your actual product or service in front of many.

If you want to make yourself more attractive to the man or woman of your dreams, you don’t start off by researching all the people in the world who might find you attractive. You focus in on that one person – your ideal mate – and learn everything you can about them – their favorite flowers, what TV shows they like, what they do on Friday nights. In order to build a brand, you have to approach your customers in a similar way. Learn more about the ideal customer and let those insights inform the brand identity. Segmentation can help in marketing, but it’s not going to help build a brand that customers can fall in love with. Finding your "unicorn" customer will.


Deb Gabor is the author of Branding is Sex: Get Your Customers Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything. She is the founder of Sol Marketing which has led brand strategy engagements for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Microsoft, and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger, HomeAway and RetailMeNot, and dozens of early-stage tech and digital media titans. For more information, please visit and connect with Deb on Twitter, @deb_sol.

Contagious: How to make products, ideas, and behaviors catch on

Notes from a keynote speech from The Market Research Event By Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Berger starts the keynote session by playing a game, Which is Tastier? Where two images are shown: broccoli and a cheeseburger. The vote is cast: the majority vote, you guessed it, for ...

Valentine’s Day: Creative Gifts and Most Popular Picks

Valentines 3
A new national study by Pollfish [], reveals this year's most coveted brands, products, and restaurants for Valentine's Day 2017. According to the Pollfish Valentine's Day National Survey, the world's leading self-service mobile survey and market research platform,  men are 1.6x as likely as women to buy expensive gifts for Valentine's Day. Other notable findings include: 

Q: Which types of products would you like to buy for your significant other on Valentine's Day?
        1. Dinner or drinks (58%)
        2. Chocolates or candy (54%)
        3. Flowers (40%)
        4. Greeting cards (38%)
        5. Clothing or accessories (31%)

Q: Which chocolate brands would you most like to buy for your significant other on Valentine's Day?
        1. Hershey's (50%)
        2. Dove (40%)
        3. Russell Stover (36%)
        4. Ghirardelli (34%)
        5. Godiva (32%)

Q: From which store would you most like to buy jewelry for your significant other on Valentine's Day?
        1. Zales (37%)
        2. Kays (37%)
        3. Jared (29%)
        4. Pandora (23%)
        5. Tiffany & Co (20%)

Men are 1.6x as likely as women to buy expensive Valentine's Day gifts. 55% of men and 33% of women intend to spend $50 or more on their significant other this year.


Q: How likely are you to recommend eating at this national chain restaurant for Valentine's Day to a friend or colleague? Net promoter score, aka NPS, measures customer satisfaction and brand perception on a scale of -100 to +100. (A positive, high score means consumers actively recommend the brand; a negative score could mean consumers actively dissuade friends.) The majority of national chain restaurants received a negative NPS, indicating that most Americans might prefer to dine out at an independent restaurant for Valentine's Day.
        1. Red Lobster: NPS of 1
        2. Olive Garden: NPS of 0
        3. Outback Steakhouse: NPS of -1
        4. The Cheesecake Factory: NPS of -4
        5. TGI Friday's: NPS of -22

In addition to choosing from one of these popular favorites this Valentine's season, you can learn creative gift ideas for that special someone via my interview on Fox 19 HERE.

If you're interested in learning more about branding fundamentals, please see my online course through

Learn to Gain a New Perspective

Through lens cropDuring my career, a lot of my senior marketing colleagues would come to me and complain about some of their newest staff members. They were frustrated because these new marketers just couldn’t seem to get the right perspective of the market and translate that back to their day-to-day actions.

It’s a very common problem, especially for less experienced marketers, but it can affect just about anyone. Like everything else we’ve discussed in this course, it’s a big challenge because you’ll miss critical insights if you don’t have this skill.

I’ve put a name to this skill. I call it zooming out and zooming in. Zooming out is when you change your perspective to see the big picture, the whole market from a very wide angle. Zooming in is just the opposite. You zoom in to a new perspective, right on the ground so to speak, very close to the customer and the buying journey.

Think of it like the lens on a camera. The photographer sees a completely different view of the subject when the lens is changed by zooming closer in or by zooming far away. Changing the view triggers new insights on how best to take that shot. You can do the exact same thing when trying to understand a market.

Here’s an example. Imagine you work for a pharmaceutical company, and you want to introduce a drug that treats diabetes into the Chinese market. China is a very big country with around 1.4 billion people, almost 20% of the world’s population. Should be a great market, right? So where do you start? How do you get your drug from the plant in the US to the people with diabetes in China? From this perspective, it’s overwhelming.

Let’s change our perspective and see if it helps. Let’s zoom down to just one city in China, like Shanghai. It’s a big, modern city with about 14 million people. For me, that’s still too big. Let’s zoom down again to a very small town in the middle of China with no more than 50,000 people. In fact, let’s zoom into just one neighborhood. In that neighborhood, let’s find one home with one person with diabetes, let’s say a man in his 50’s. Got it?

Now let’s ask ourselves the same question: how do we get one dose of our diabetes drug from the plant in the US into this man’s body? Here’s why this helps. If you can’t figure out all the things that have to happen to get the product to just this one customer, it’s hopeless to consider how you would do it for all of China. But if you do figure it out, you created a model that can be scaled up to other customers.

With this model in mind, we’re going to zoom out, and imagine other homes in this neighborhood, then zoom out to other neighborhoods, then to other towns around the region, and so on. Before long, you’re back at the level of the entire country to see the big picture. With each change in perspective, I get the insights I need to create a successful marketing campaign.

So look at your markets and train your eye to see new perspectives. Zoom in and zoom out to find new ways to grow.

Innovating to Attract the Multi-Brand Loyal Customer

MultibrandFor many categories of products and services, consumers buy from a number of brands. Take the clothing category, for example. I’m willing to bet that every item of clothing you’re wearing right now came from a different manufacturer. The same is true of most food categories and many others. It’s just the nature of these fragmented industries that consumers will buy from many sources.

We call customers in these categories ‘multi-brand’ customers. They already buy products from you, and they also buy from your competitors. The good news is they understand the category, and they understand your products and brands. So they’re a great source of new sales growth if you can increase your share.

Like most strategic marketing opportunities, the key is how you spot multi-brand customers and what you do once you find them. Let’s dive into it.

The first question you have to ask yourself is: why are my customers also buying products from my competitors? There could be many reasons for that. Perhaps customers want more variety than what you can offer. Do they like the competitor’s pricing in certain situations? Maybe they just saw a new advertising campaign that made them stock up more of your competitor’s products.

There are too many reasons to list here, but you still have to ask...and answer...this very important question. In fact, this question is so important that you may want to consider investing in marketing research. It’s probably best to find out the reasons right from the source. 

So let me give you some guidance on ways to tap into this important source of new sales growth.

One of the most effective ways is to create new products. Think about a clothes manufacturer like L.L. Bean. Once they have you hooked on their footwear products, they continue to grow in sales with you by offering outerwear and other clothing items.

Another way to boost sales is to provide a new feature to an existing product or service. Once customers are familiar with your product, they appreciate when you keep it updated and fresh, especially with a new feature that meets one of their unmet needs. Think about online networks like LinkedIn. It continues to add new features and offerings causing customers to stay satisfied AND spend more time on the site.

A third way to increase market share is to boost the performance of an existing product or service, even if it’s a minor feature. For example, a grocery chain in a highly competitive market might focus on getting people through checkout lanes faster than other grocery stores. Even a small advantage could yield a big swing in share. If that advantage lasts for a short period of time, it’s still worth the gain in revenue.

And finally, you may want to target the multi brand customer by offering some new service around your existing product. For example, Best Buy, the electronics retailer, has their famous Geek Squad that comes to your home and fixes all of your tech products. They do it for any product even if you didn’t buy it there. That makes customers more loyal.

So look at your customer base and think about why some of them buy from multiple sources. They already like you and your products or they wouldn’t be buying from you at all. Go in there and get them by creating new sources of value.

Innovation Sighting: The Subtraction Technique in Amazon Go

by Darla Wilkinson

Amazon: it’s practically a household name in today’s world of online shopping. And their innovation efforts don’t stop short of brick-and-mortar retail. This week the online giant unveiled via video their newest creation called Amazon Go. Using what is called Just Walk Out Technology, Amazon has removed checkout lines and registers from the shopping experience. Utilizing the Amazon App, buyers walking into the beta store in Seattle simply check into the app, select the items they want off the shelf, and walk out. Amazon’s app detects what items were purchased and charges them to the customer’s Amazon account. It's that simple.
CNN Tech explains: By eliminating much of the staff needed to operate a store, Amazon keeps costs lower than traditional competitors. It's also in a strong position to bring together data on its customers shopping habits online and offline to make better suggestions in all situations.”
It’s a perfect example of the Subtraction Technique, one of five in the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It’s also a great example of the Closed World Principle. Here’s how it works:

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:
  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept (no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?
Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate on demand.

Keep Brand Chaos From Eroding Your Innovation Platform

Order-chaosCreating an innovative brand is a great way to build loyalty with your customers. For many companies, brands are the single most valuable asset. But once you’ve created a brand, that’s where the challenges kick in. And it can be a real headache if you don’t manage brands correctly.

These challenges come from both inside your organization as well as outside. For example, one of the most common problems marketing leaders have with brands is what I call brand chaos. It happens when new brands start popping up almost out of nowhere. And sadly, they have no consistent look or feel to your other brands. Then, one day, you’re flipping through your product catalog and see a mish mash of products and brands that having nothing to do with each other. Your brand architecture is in a state of anarchy.

How does it happen? Well, marketers love to create brands. It’s fun and exciting, and they like creating ones that are distinctive and unique. Let’s face it, they want to put their mark on something.

So they get together with their design team and branding agencies and throw a lot of money creating the next big thing. If left unchecked, you’ll experience brand chaos. It’s expensive to fix, and it can really confuse customers on what your brands mean.

Another common brand problem is when employees take one of your brand marks and create their own adapted version of it. In other words, they make it look different than the official version. A sales rep might put an altered brand mark in a presentation, or a marketer might change it slightly to fit on a package. The sources of this problem are many.

Brand chaos can also stem from things outside the company. If your competitors start attacking your brands by depositioning them, you have to fight back. For example, a competitor might begin an advertising campaign telling consumers that the benefits of your brand just aren’t that important. This type of depositioning strategy can lower your brand equity.

Another common problem is when some company copies your brand and creates counterfeit products and services. Consumers don’t know the difference, so you lose a sale each time they buy a fake product with your brand on it.

So how do you deal with these challenges? First, you need to create a Brand Book. Just as the name implies, the brand book is the complete story of the brand and all the elements that go into it.

It establishes strict guidelines on every aspect of how a company’s brand will be managed. This affects everything from how the logo can be used, the look of a website, how social media is used, advertising, product design, and so on. For details on how to create one, see the course, Branding Fundamentals.

Second, you need to appoint a strong brand champion, someone who is senior enough in your organization to regulate and monitor brand compliance and stop anyone who violates standards in the Brand Book.

And finally, you need a strong legal team, internal or external, that will go after counterfeiters or anyone that hijacks your brands for their own use.

Great branding is about making and keeping promises in a consistent way. That’s why great marketers do whatever they can to prevent brand chaos.