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Maggie Bergin is a digital marketer and copy writer creating brand-aligned, creative, compelling digital content for her clients.

Filtering by Tag: brands

Brand Book: Brand is a Four Letter Word

Maggie Bergin

I'm taking my ass to SCHOOL. The first book on my syllabus is 'Brand Is A Four Letter Word' by Austin McGhie. The book is chock full o' useful branding/marketing nuggets and despite an early off-putting writing style, I learned a ton.

80% of the fiction and non-fiction I read is by female authors of all colors, sizes and sexual orientations. I'm way more interested in what women have to say. To my ear, McGhie writes a little like a frat boy, saying "You may not like [Fox News'] politics, but you have to admire it's marketing strategy." Um. No. No I don't. And he titles a chapter about the critical element played by a brand's shared mission "The Importance of the Missionary Position." He writes a little like if the character Stiffler from the American Pie movies* ended up running marketing companies. As the book went on, however, he either toned it down or I got used to it.

I learned approximately 27,000 brand-related terms that most brand mavens probably know, like 'differentiated advantage'. McGhie declares that without product differentiation, the greatest marketing campaign can't help. And having a unique product isn't enough, it has to be unique in a way that matters to the marketplace and the difference has to be built into the product from the start.

I was pleased to learn that awesome marketing campaigns are awesome, but without an awesome product from an awesome company that's got it's shit together, it doesn't much matter how awesome your marketing campaign is. Unless your product is super cheap. If your product is super cheap, price is your differentiation.

But what does McGhie mean by a company that's got it's shit together? He means a company that has a clear vision, an awesome product and an organizational structure and culture ALIGNED with and supportive of that vision and product. Because if customer's actual experience doesn't align with a marketing campaign's promise, your campaign and ultimately the company will fail. Good to know that shit brands don't have the edge and brands with their shit together do.

Last big learning I'll share here was also a relief to learn: data is critical to marketing, but if you don't talk to individual actual humans who use/buy your product (think focus groups or brand ambassadors) you are seriously missing opportunities and knowledge. This was a relief to me because analyzing data is someone else's gift, not mine. I want to take the analysis and get creative with it.

My next homework assignment is to read 'All Marketers Tell Stories' by Seth Godin

*(the original American Pie movies were written by Adam Herz, who—like me—was a member of the East Grand Rapid's High School Class of 1991's Homecoming Court LOL.)

Confirmation from the Universe

Maggie Bergin

I listened today to the newest episode of the excellent podcast, Design Matters, in which the host, Debbie Millman, interviewed the ridiculously talented artist/designer/potter Jonathan Adler. While asking Johnathan about his training and education, Jonathan explained he wanted to apply to RISD's MFA program but was told not to.

Adler's reflected on that moment, saying "In my heart of hearts, I'm very grateful...because ultimately one shouldn't get any approval from anybody." He went on to say, "I think that academics in art and design have a very particular vocabulary and ethos and approach that I don't really like. That whole crit[ique] model where people design stuff and critics come in and talk about it...if I had submerged myself in that kind of world, it would have been constipating. I'm very glad to have been homegrown...I think had I been in grad school, I would have been on a particular track and that would have been bad for me."

Please note: Debbie Millman is the co-founder of the Branding Masters program into which I was DYING to enter.

Universe? MESSAGE RECEIVED.