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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: masters

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.)