Monday, March 9, 2015

But My Category is Different...

Since 1999, I have helped well over 160 brands. They represent at least a third as many product/service categories. When being considered for a project, I am often asked, “Have you done work in XYZ category?” “Ours is a different category. We are only interested in consultants with experience in our category.” I have had this question asked about B2B, heavy industrial, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), retail, pharma, federal agencies, professional firms, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, medical devices, financial services, senior services, church-related organizations, hospitality, luxury products, municipalities, colleges and universities, celebrities, nations and I am sure there are some others.

My answer always is, “You are the experts in your category. I am the branding expert and I am also a quick study. It benefits you that I have experience across a myriad of categories.  I will be able to bring ‘out of the box’ insights and ideas to the project.”

Are there differences between categories? Sure. Are they differences that would stymie a brand consultant? No, not unless he or she didn’t have much mental horsepower.

What categories have I found to be different?
  • B2B because of the decision making process and the marketing tactics used
  • Pharma because of the regulatory issues and insular nature of the industry
  • People (especially celebrities and famous people) because there is a self-analysis and personal coaching component to the project
  • Places (municipalities, regions and nations) because of the diversity of the stakeholders and the complexity of the decision making process
  • (Sometimes, but not nearly as much as one might think), not-for-profit organizations because of the lack of budget and sometimes the lack of a marketing counterpart in the organization
  • FMCG because one has to understand retail, POS data, category management and other issues specific to FMCG
Having noted some differences, brand consultants are called upon because of their customer insight and brand strategy/positioning expertise, not their expertise within a particular product or service category. Our branding processes, templates and criteria work across all product/service categories. They haven’t failed us yet. But then again, we have not yet done work in the ‘QRS’ category. 

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