Not only does Steve Cone know the secrets behind making a brand, product or service a success, he also knows how to quickly and humorously share those secrets with the world. After the few hours it takes to read Steal These Ideas!, a reader can close the book knowing what kinds of thoughts pass through the mind of the head of advertising at Citigroup Global Wealth Management when he is coordinating brand management for all of Citigroup’s businesses and their 200 million customers worldwide. The rapid-fire marketing tidbits that overflow from Steal These Ideas! deliver hundreds of pertinent insights directly, accurately, and without hesitation.
For example, on the first page alone, Cone presents the three essentials of a successful marketing campaign: excitement, news, and a compelling call to action. Then, without missing a beat, he explains why these three elements for promotional success cannot be forgotten, delivering 10 examples that show he is right on the money. These include the ad placed by Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1913 to recruit volunteers for his dangerous South Pole expedition, direct mail copy from the ’50s extolling the attributes of Playboy magazine, and American Express’ Travelers Cheques TV ads starring Karl Malden — all of which benefitted greatly from all three essentials.
Unique Selling Proposition
In the second chapter, Cone delves into explaining the concept of a brand, what makes it successful, and how it should be managed. He writes, “Simply stated, a brand is a recognizable person, place, or thing.” Brands that are truly great, he adds, are inspirational, indispensable, dependable and unique. Although the first two qualities on his list are the most difficult attributes for a marketer to deliver, he emphasizes that every marketer must rally around striving to make his or her brand dependable and unique. This includes combining a compelling unique selling proposition with strong visual brand imagery, innovative and reliable products, as well as memorable and integrated advertising.
What does Cone mean by a unique selling proposition? Think Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Cone writes that Harley’s head of marketing summed up his company’s selling proposition in this single sentence: “We allow overweight middle-aged white guys to dress up in leather on the weekends and ride a Harley through small towns and villages scaring the hell out of the locals.”
Other companies that have created unique selling propositions for themselves include Federal Express (“When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”); Coca-Cola, with its one-of-a-kind bottle design; and BMW, otherwise known as The Ultimate Driving Machine.
Cone writes that if you want to create a unique selling proposition for your product or service, you must start by picking three of its most compelling features and bringing them to the forefront of all of your promotional programs. Focus on ease of use, dependability, and convenience of service. He writes that marketers must “zero in on a basic product fact and make it come alive as a compelling point of differentiation.”
Choosing a Personality
Cone writes that the personality who represents a company can have a tremendous impact on its bottom line. Whether he or she is a celebrity or a company employee, the choice of who will stand before the cameras and pitch the product in advertisements can have a significant effect on the performance of the brand. Cone writes that no matter who that person is, he or she must genuinely like and understand the product or service being promoted, must be comfortable in social situations, must be exclusive to your company, must appeal equally to men and women of all ages, and must be agreeable to a fully integrated media role. To find the perfect spokesperson (if he or she is not a company employee), Cone writes that firms should seek the services of a top commercial agent. When a candidate has been found, Cone writes that marketers must meet with that person face to face since personal chemistry is vital.
The rest of Steal These Ideas! contains many valuable keys to creating a profitable advertising campaign. Tips on color choices, readability issues, ad placement, tag lines, customers, loyalty programs, the Internet, public relations, and even political campaigns fill its pages. Through many examples of highly successful campaigns and photos of print ads that work, Cone covers everything that the master marketer should know to compete today.
Why We Like This Book
Steal These Ideas! offers readers a well-rounded collection of marketing advice and tips that are backed up by examples proving every lesson it teaches. Marketers and consumers alike can enjoy Cone’s insightful observations about the advertisements that fill their periphery. Providing an inside view of an industry that effects and influences everyone, he reveals many tricks of the trade. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries