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Why my pony tail ain’t my brand

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from February 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

One day last week, I tweeted the message you see to the lower right because I was tickled by the email that came in. In my haste, however, I added a snappy hashtag and thereby made the same common mistake I often accuse marketers — even branding experts — of making.

The prospect who sent me that email remembered how I look. I will be the first to admit that a red — okay, rapidly greying — pony tail, full-but-tidy beard and what used to be a curly moustache do tend to set me apart from the average corporate consultant, even in the less-buttoned-down realm of marketing. Based on how I look, he was able to easily remember who I am.

He wasn’t, however, looking for a pony-tailed, bearded guy; he was, in fact, looking for a PR firm. And, because of whatever impression about my abilities as a PR guy that I had left with him during a past engagement, he immediately thought of me.

In that nutshell, then, you have the difference between branding and visual identity, something that, as I said at the opening, many marketers and not a few so-called branding experts often confuse.

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House renos and the art of customer service

By Francis Moran

Regular readers of this blog will know that we have something of an obsession with customer service. At first glance, it might not seem obvious why a technology market blog might be so preoccupied with this. Except, as I have written many times, customer service is based on what I have come to call my first law of competitive differentiation, the proposition that, in an age when almost any technological or cost advantage will rapidly and inevitably be eroded, the only sustainable competitive differentiation for most companies is to treat their customers like the centre of the universe, which they are.

Based on recent experience, I have to say there’s nothing quite like doing a major round of house renovations to expose the good, the bad and the carpet layers of customer service.

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Everyone has competition

By Francis Moran

Last week, I tackled the assertion I all-too-frequently hear from technology executives that everybody could benefit from their product, and so the whole world is their target customer. This week, I’d like to demolish an equally hoary shibboleth that isn’t really a corollary statement but that goes hand-in-hand with the everyone-is-our-customer myth so regularly that maybe it ought to be.

It’s the notion that you have no competition.

“Nobody does what we do,” is the proud boast of every self-respecting technology venture. And they may well be correct. That doesn’t mean they don’t have competition — probably even fierce, well-entrenched and irresolute competition.

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‘Everyone’ is not your customer

By Francis Moran

I love working with young technology companies, and that’s part of the reason I volunteer as a mentor at startup accelerators like Montreal’s Founder Fuel. I was there yesterday, putting on a session I do for each cohort that teaches these budding entrepreneurs a framework for the strategic planning of their marketing function.

I was reminded yesterday of a conversation I had with a Founder Fuel CEO a couple of cohorts ago. It was just a few days before Demo Day, that high-pressure moment when each cohort company presents its investment proposition to a room full of angel and VC investors. I had been working with the CEO on his messaging for his investor deck, and the revised deck he was reviewing with me and another mentor reflected some of that work.

Then the other mentor said, “You know, this is too high level. Half the people in the room aren’t going to understand what you’re talking about.”

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Fiction: Media relations is ‘free advertising’

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from July 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

At the time my PR agency,inmedia Public Relations, was founded, I worked out of a large integrated agency in the city and some of the account executives there loved to push my buttons by declaring that media relations was free advertising. They especially liked to do this in client meetings because they knew it would prompt me to mount a fevered defence of the merits of PR and all the ways in which it differed from advertising.

I knew they were only kidding. I knew they really knew better. I knew it was all a bit of harmless fun.

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