IS YOUR NICHE BRAND MAGIC--OR MAYHEM?
No, not like Mayhem, the Dean Winters character from the Allstate TV commercials.
That particular Mayhem does not represent a niche, but in some ways does represent magic in a brand.
(Research suggests it would be more magical if more people who recognized the Mayhem character could link him to Allstate. But that's another screed.)
No, we're talking about the idea of a niche brand--a small, specialty brand with in-depth knowledge catering to a small, especially interested market.
It's safe to say that you're reading the product of a niche brand. Slow Burn Marketing specializes in big-brand thinking for small business marketing.
AND IF YOU'RE READING THE SCREED, IT'S SAFE TO SAY YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE A NICHE BRAND
Among the Hot Shots readership are:
- a travel agent specializing in the golf tourism market;
- a relocation resource specializing in serving the wives of professional athletes;
- a consultant specializing in women competing in the pageant circuit;
- a consultant specializing in making dental practices more profitable;
- a beauty brand that specializes in serving holistic- and health-conscious women interested in a premium product;
- any number of radio account reps who specialize in serving a niche in which they've decided to become an expert.
IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT THIS IS A NICHE-Y SCREED FOR THE NICHE-Y PROFESSIONAL
And we've certainly seen potentially potent niche brands derailed by a lack of understanding about the niche being served.
For example, a health & fitness brand came to us for consultation.
The employees had gotten in touch and were lovely and enthusiastic. The brand needed help.
They convinced one of the owners to take a meeting with us.
We had a phone conference with that co-owner, who was delightful and excited at the idea of what we could do.
Then, based on that conversation, we prepared a formal presentation and had a second phone conference with him and his business partner.
IT WAS MAYHEM
The business partner was headstrong, opinionated, and adamant that the brand was about one thing and one thing only--which should be good.
But it was about one thing that nobody was buying. Which is bad.
And the business partner didn't care. Which is worse.
It was the business partner's way or the highway.
You either liked what the business was selling the way it was being sold, or see ya later.
The business was not flourishing.
And there was nothing we could do about helping it.
Flaming egomania in the brand was causing mayhem.
AND NATURALLY, EVERYONE BUT THE PROBLEM CHILD COULD SEE IT
Once upon a time, back in my radio days, we were helping to promote a cancer treatment center.
We produced potent testimonials from patients who had been there for treatment and were singing its praises.
We knew this was good stuff. It was filled with power and pathos. The work even went on to win a major national advertising award.
One day, the account rep walks into my office.
"The cancer treatment center says that in the last month, they've received only 47 phone calls."
Hold on. We're promoting a specialty health clinic for people who think they're going to die, and they're complaining that they're getting only one to two calls a day on average?
I asked, "How many of those calls have they closed?"
THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A SIGN OF MAYHEM IN THE WAKE OF A MAGICAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
I was reeling.
We were delivering high-quality leads from acutely interested prospects.
And not one of those prospects had been willing to go there?
I told the account rep, "Find out how they're answering the phone."
So he did.
And they weren't.
Cancer patients in a life and death struggle were listening to the radio and hearing powerful tales of survival against the odds.
So they were picking up the phone, calling the number--and were being greeted by an answering machine.
TALK ABOUT BEING UNABLE TO LIVE UP TO THE PROMISE OF THE ADVERTISING
When you're desperate, and someone offers you a bright and shining better reality--only to dash your hopes by playing you a recorded message?
That is beyond inexcusable.
You've taken your magic and cut it off at the knees, infusing your brand with mayhem.
Often, a brand can solve the mayhem.
For example, the cancer treatment center could easily find a warm body with the ability to talk to prospective patients and put that person on the other end of the phone line.
But sometimes, the brand mayhem is beyond a business' ability to do much about it.
LAST WEEK, WE TALKED ABOUT MEDICAL TOURISM IN PUERTO VALLARTA
We had been down there and met with a warm and caring and personable doctor.
He was helping patients from the US, UK and Canada have orthopedic surgery they otherwise couldn't afford at home.
It was an eye opener for us. This man was extraordinary.
And in last week's screed, the parting thought to you was: what is your perception of Mexico as a healthcare destination?
One respondent presented an impassioned argument for never, ever going to Mexico for anything until it stops being a narco state.
"Recently, a newly elected female mayor was murdered the day after she took office... Any support of this country in its current state should not be considered by anyone in the US."
The two of us had a lengthy exchange, proving that, at least for some, the Mexico brand is riddled through with the mayhem of narco-state evil.
THIS SAME RESPONDENT OFFERED AN ALTERNATIVE NICHE BRAND WITH ZERO MAYHEM AND A DEGREE OF MAGIC
"I would probably choose the Cayman Islands and their brand-new Health City."
Admittedly, while the idea of medical tourism is nothing new to me, this was the first I'd heard of the Caymans as a medical tourism destination.
And who doesn't love the idea of the Cayman Islands?
It's a tropical paradise!
It's a British territory!
It's an offshore banking haven!
The Cayman Islands brand is mayhem-free!
Our good doctor south of the border?
HE CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT THE OUTSIDE MAYHEM AFFECTING HIS NICHE BRAND
The best he can do is work in spite of it.
His brand is a magical island in what, for many, is a sea of narco iniquity.
Like having the Sotheby's real estate franchise for Detroit. Only worse.
Interestingly, virtually all the responses avoided the question about Mexico's brand entirely, instead singing the praises of the medical tourism niche.
One respondent spoke of his wife having her wisdom teeth removed in Cairo.
It happened about the same time his two sons had their wisdom teeth taken out at home.
"It would have been less expensive to send them both to Cairo to have the procedure done than it cost me in Dallas, Texas.
"It may well turn out that medical tourism is what finally puts the brakes on runaway health costs in the US.
"Or not. Seeing a taxing opportunity, our friends in Washington may slap a tariff on any medical procedures performed overseas....
"Is that cynical?"
WELL, IT'S DIFFICULT TO NOT BE CYNICAL ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE & INSURANCE MESS HERE AT HOME
Forgetting the challenges wrought by the Affordable Care Act (which many are finding not at all affordable), the RAND Corporation estimates $272 billion in fraud annually across the U.S. healthcare system.
Not to mention that the system that is supposed to be about helping people get better can be adversarial when one chooses alternatives with which it doesn't agree.
For example, one respondent talked about having her daughter's cancer treated in India.
She had made the choice at the recommendation of a veteran US oncology nurse who had been there and witnessed extraordinary successes firsthand.
"We sought healthcare outside of the US to avoid the 'one size fits all' approach as well as the complete disregard of therapeutic approaches that don't involve Big Pharma."
BIG PHARMA. THERE'S A BRAND. SOME FEEL IT TO BE SINISTER.
She says, "We bucked the system" and went "rogue."
Instead of radiation and chemo, they addressed her daughter's health "through nutrition, homeopathy (which cost approximately $55/month), hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the rarely discussed emotional connection that impacts the health of the body."
As for the US clinic to which she didn't disclose the rogue approach: "I don't have a lot of friends up there, but I do have a healthy and thriving child."
And none of this accounts for the legal threats made to her because of her choices in curing her child.
"I'm all for heading outside the border and have a very nice list of physicians in several countries that are providing great care... Should I become ill, my first call is to the travel agent. I only have a couple of physicians in Mexico on the list but I would definitely consider them."
Magic. Mayhem. Mexico and medicine. Oh, my.
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.