Category Archives: Value Propositions

Mark Cuban is a “Market Culturist”

I’m a fan of Mark Cuban. I like the enthusiasm he brings to his basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks, and to the NBA. I like watching them play. When I was dominant on NBA Live ’03, the Mavericks were my team. I appreciate the rebel spirit he brings to his team and NBA referees, and the way he goes after what he wants, like the Chicago Cubs.

So when I saw a post on his blog about one of my other favorite topics, music, I had to dive in. And wouldn’t you know, he a “market culturist!”

A little over a week ago, Mr. Cuban talked about a movie’s official soundtrack. A few get really popular – these days the hype is for Juno – but most just languish in the final end credits that no one watches long enough to read anyway. So if most of them aren’t really doing much anyway, and they cost so much to publish and record, is there any other way they can be used to provide value to a customer? Yes, says Mark Cuban, give it away for free to whoever buys the movie ticket.

That’s where the real Hollywood money is made anyway, right? Ticket sales. And as prices for tickets approach $10 apiece, I do, from time to time, wonder if seeing the movie in the theater is worth the money. I mean, thanks to bit torrents and Quick Silver Screen, I can see a lot of movies for free at home. Legality questions? Try Usenet.

So, back to, “why would I want to pay $20 to see a movie with my gal, when we can see it at home for cheaper and not have some idiot’s cell phone go off in the middle of important plot developments?” Because I’m a music fan and the ticket will give me access to a free copy of the sound track. And as a music lover, if I’m made aware of one more band that I’d like, or a new version of a popular song, that’s really valuable to me. Some people are writers, or like to chop up movies on Fan Edit. Mr. Cuban says give them access to the script. As he summarizes,

“Bottomline, is that anything that can be delivered digitally as a download could be bundled into the value of a movie ticket and delivered from the ticketing site, the studio or from the theater’s website. The cost to deliver a song, script or even video (like what you might find as extras on a dvd) digitally is nominal relative to the marketing investment required to get people to the theater”

Mark Cuban: Visionary, business “maverick,” and a true “market culturist.”

Confusing the brand message with what the customer wants

A colleague tipped me off to a branding effort in the financial services industry.  Ameriprise is the former American Express Financial branch which is trying to stake its hold in the consumer finance sphere.  You may have seen their ads where Dennis Hopper clearly speaks to the Baby Boomer generation.

Chronicled in a Star Tribune blog, a young professional wrote this comment:

“Oh goodness, that dreams stuff is just a bunch of tripe. My wife and I were looking for a financial advisor, met with someone from Ameriprise, and the guy just kept asking us about our dreams, which we made abundantly clear wasn’t our interest – we wanted to talk numbers and percentages, but this guy just kept blabbing about the dream book.“It’s probably fine for less-than-financially-literate boomers, but they’ll need a different approach if they want to get in early on the 25 and under crowd…” 

Seeing their ads on TV there’s no doubt the company is shooting for the Boomers who (1) identify with the rebel spirit, (2) are focused on financial results over the specifics of how they’ll get there, and (3) are about to retire.  Fair enough, that’s good marketing:  clear targeting and positioning.  But I wonder about this sales rep who wouldn’t change his tune when this younger, financially-savvy customer showed up.  Why didn’t he change?  Are Ameriprise uninterested in the under 25 age segment? Was the sale person unable to adapt the message? 

Translating the brand message into a sales message can sometimes be challenging particularly if there is not good alignment between the brand message and a certain customer segment as it appears to be in this case. A good sales person should be able to translate the brand message or value proposition into customer terms and adapt to what the specific customer in front of them is saying. In our training course, “Creating Effective Value Propositions,” we work with clients to identify the range of segments that may respond to their product/service and to develop a multi-faceted set of value messages that speak to which ever customer comes through the door. I am sure Ameriprise would benefit from our course as it requires the marketing professionals to think deeply about the type of customers they have and how to address their specific needs.  Although as a non-Baby Boomer, Dennis Hopper’s thoughts on the power of dreams does not resonate with me, I am sure it could be a powerful message for its intended audience. The question for Ameriprise is how do they more effectively manage their unintended  customer segments?