Mangled Message: I Never Sausage a Bad Mascot

Mangled Message: I Never Sausage a Bad Mascot

Our latest Mangled Message™ illustrates the messiness of “sausage-making.” Actually, in this case, it is a big mess caused by sausage-mascot-making. Denny’s recently introduced a new mascot that is intended to be a sausage—a more humanized, hat-wearing sausage. Much of the intended audience—at least the loud subset of the audience which is active on Twitter—has interpreted it otherwise. Let’s just say that their descriptor rhymes with “bird.” Or “absurd.” And there are a lot of bathroom references. And hashtags such as #literallypoop. ...

Steph Curry and Nike’s PowerPoint Blunder

“Find” and “Replace” would have saved millions for a particular group of Nike executives.

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Mangled Message: Three Airlines and One Collective Message Fail

Our latest Mangled Message cannot be limited to a single organization. This time it’s a three-headed monster from the airline industry.

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Mangled Message: Some Pictures Are Not Worth 1,000 Words

Mangled Message: Some Pictures Are Not Worth 1,000 Words

Our latest Mangled Message isn’t necessarily offensive or damaging, mind you—but it struck one reader as an odd waste. I agree. ...
Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte is In Too Deep with this Mangled Message

Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte is In Too Deep with this Mangled Message

This one was almost too obvious—yet, you have spoken. Despite a few challenges (including a green, algae-laden diving pool) the Rio Olympics were defined by outstanding performances by athletes such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Biles. Then Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte came along. ...

Mangled Message: The Rockets’ Red Glaring Error

“Oooh…aahh…wow…hey, wait a minute!” Something wasn’t quite right about one of America’s most-watched fireworks displays.

Across America, millions of TV viewers were watching the annual PBS live special “A Capitol Fourth”—which includes the huge Independence Day fireworks show over the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn. Onscreen were brilliant fireworks bursting against a clear sky, even though it was cloudy in Washington, DC on the night of July 4th. And there was another clue: some footage of the supposedly live fireworks showed the Capitol dome without any scaffolding.

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5 Marks of a Mangled Message

As the late Stephen Covey demonstrated during presentations of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we often can best understand a concept by studying its opposite. So, in the spirit of understanding what it means to effectively “manage the message” all the way from strategy to real customer conversations, let’s look at the characteristics of a poorly managed message.

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When the university flunks marketing research

As I prepare for a guest lecture to a group of MBAs I am reminded of a lesson in Marketing Research 101 from Drake University. It wasn’t the kind of case study that Drake University would want to brag about, however. As a reader told me a few years ago when the story broke, “I thought it was something from The Onion. I couldn’t imagine that a university would use ‘D+’ as its marketing message…at least not with a straight face.”

Well, there are some things you just can’t make up. Drake–a very solid institution, by the way–managed to violate some basic tenets of strategy and research and, in the process, tick off much of its faculty, staff members and alumni.

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Customer Conversation Challenge 4: Culture

Does your company’s culture enable a great customer conversation?

“Culture” can seem like such a big, squishy concept that it’s (1) nearly impossible to define, (2) difficult to connect to daily behaviors, and (3) an imposed force which can’t be changed. My experience is that none of these are necessarily true.

I like the pithy definition of culture from Alan Weiss: “that set of beliefs which governs behavior.” That means culture is something that can indeed be changed, and not just by the founder or CEO. Essentially, if managers or teams can change some pieces of the belief system then the culture will change over time as well.

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Two Out of Three is Bad, Part 1: When the Message is Missing

While doing interviews for a new client, I spoke at length with one of the company’s highly decorated, A-player-type sales people. He was no fan of his company’s website. “I steer prospects away from it,“ he admitted. “It has a lot of words but doesn’t say anything.”

I asked him for specifics. He showed me a section that actually read, “our platform facilitates world-class solutions for our customers’ business 

problems.” Yikes—he was right. The company’s self-focused and vacuous message only served to make them sound like everyone else.

While working with many different types of companies, I have discovered that three components—Message, Messengers, and Management—contribute to a company’s success (or failure) in customer conversations. Some organizations are strong in two components but need to address weakness in the third. In a case when the Messengers and Management are in place but the Message itself is weak, the result is commoditization in the eyes of potential buyers.   ...

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