Marketing Hat Trick

Hats off to Nomacorc 
During my ritual fall cleaning exercise where I take everything out of the front hall closet and try to find things I no longer need, I stumbled upon my collection of baseball caps and hats. Sitting on the shelf are hats from my Slim Jim days, Nomacorc, Wrightsville Beach, NPR and a favorite hat that my sister Diane bought me with the name Jack’s Brew on it. Jack was my Dad’s name and I like walking with this hat on to remind me of him.

Amarone Dreams
While going through the collection, I realized how many hats I have worn in my marketing career. I thought I would mention a few common hats that marketing professionals have to wear to excel at their work. 

Nectar of North Carolina 
If a marketing professional has one main job, they need to tell a brand’s story. Customers understand businesses, products and services through the stories that they tell. It is even better when customers tell their stories as testimonials. Marketers have to help everyone in their organization stay on message and deliver a similar narrative about who you are, what you do and where you are going. The stories could be written in white papers, developed into brochures or part of exciting videos that all have an arc leading you through a clearly described theme. At Nomacorc where I wear the hat of Global Director of Marketing, we created a DID YOU KNOW video that tells our story in a fun and engaging way. I think it is a great illustration of how to tell a story and it has been very successful at delivering our message. (We did this in 5 languages in case you are curious to see how it works globally) Click here

To illustrate my point, let me tell you another story...

During my career, I worked at a soft drink company called Cheerwine. It is a very well-known local brand in North Carolina that had quite a tribe of followers. My role was to get their voices heard and to build credibility in the market. My story telling job was to provide a platform for the passionate loyal Cheerwine drinker to share their quirky love for the cherry flavored soda. My favorite question to ask Cheerwine consumers, to facilitate story telling, is to ask...
 "What role (or job) does Cheerwine play in your life? 
Kids who consumed Cheerwine by the gallon would reveal personal stories of the role that the brand played in their lives. It is a little like anthropology. You find this culture (consumers drinking Cheerwine) and you want to understand what makes them tick. 

The "job" that Cheerwine served for them was to help them through their day as they enjoyed the nectar of North Carolina. It was that moment to pause and catch their breathe. The Cheerwine consumer loves to tell stories about being part of a special tribe that loves the special 'badge of honor' that drinking it gives them. Cheerwine consumers like to be different- not drink the typical cola like Coke or Pepsi and the discovery process of finding the drink is part of the adventure. 

Listening to stories about your brand told by consumers/trade who use your product can help you understand how to build your business.  Facebook is an extraordinary platform for story sharing. Today the Cheerwine page has about 80,000 fans who tell their story. Hats off to my friend Tom Barbitta who now runs their marketing. 

Snapping into a hat filled with fun
Sumo enchanted evening 
Another critical role for a marketing leader is to develop amazing events that bring a brand to life. I love events because it is a chance to build a brand personality through all the senses. In my past life as VP of Marketing for ConAgra Foods Snack Division, we had a challenge when we wanted to find a new way to bring our irreverent Slim Jim brand to life. Through a series of brainstorming session, we decided that we should create a music event but one that was unlike everything in the market. It had to be different and it was targeted to a young male teen (about 14) who was at the heart of our demographics. For those of you who know 14 year old boys, they don’t like to say much and getting them excited about a music concert needed to have just the right edge and be just for them. It also helps to be loud, a bit obnoxious and over the top funny. 

King Kong vs. Godzilla
We opted for an event called Rebelliache- (tag line: Can’t keep it down). It played into the teenage, sophomoric humor that we wanted to connected with our brand. Our target audience were bored with everything so we needed to be a bit rebellious. We found garage bands that were up and coming and not well known but who were creating a buzz. We used to say that if too many people knew the bands, it wouldn’t be cool yet. In addition, we created a carnival like event that included projecting old Japanese Godzilla movies onto a few giant screens while various crazy games were going on in different parts of the venue. We had kids in those sumo wrestler costumes too. Our MC for the event was our spokesperson Macho Man Randy Savage. (RIP) Keep in mind this was about 11 years ago so what was avante garde and off-beat then would probably be mainstream today. I tip my hat to my friends (Good Steve, Bad Steve, Joanne, Dave and Brit) and our in house team (Shannon, Tina and Robin) that made this a great event that helped drive awareness, passion and ultimately sales for the brand. By the way, this whacked out event, along with other marketing activity help build double digit growth and significantly increased velocity at retail for the what we affectionately referred to as our greasy little meat snack.

Reminding me of my Dad
You can't go home again hat
Marketers have to be copy writers, photographers and bloggers. They need to be strategic and tactical during each and every day. You need expertise in public relations that is both external and internal to make sure everyone is aligned with what you are communicating to the world. It is necessary to be up on the latest technology and to have a great memory for old fashioned marketing techniques that by being ‘old school’ become hip again. (Think of the incredible impact of a hand-written letter versus an email).

Lazy Susan 
My marketing day is like being on a Lazy Susan spinning around and around and around as the day goes on. This hat needs to be flexible and easy to reconfigure at a minutes notice.


My hat from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina 
When it is time to get away and go on vacation, it is really important that marketers can put on their Dad (or Mom) hat. It focuses you on your children and spouse. There is no more important hat to wear. 

Hat bought by my parents for me
at Walmart when the girls
were very young
My cooking hat

Hats off to the marketers!

Some additional hats I have worn in my life

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