Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

CVS’ $2 Billion Marketing Gamble

February 18th, 2014

'Cigarette Packets - Chesterfield, Peter Stuyvesant Extra Mile, Dunhill Superior Mild, Lambert & Butler Special Mild, Dunhill,  Royal Standard, Embassy Number 1 King Size' photo (c) 2011, Sludge G - license: I was amazed to learn about CVS’ $2 billion tobacco gamble. Is it financial gain or financial ruin?

CVS will no longer carry cigarettes and other tobacco products effective October 1, 2014. Analysts have estimated that the loss of revenue will be $1.5 Billion in tobacco products plus $500 million in impulse sales from smokers choosing other tobacco outlets.

Is the Decision Good or Bad?

Let’s take the decision in the proper light of day. $2 Billion represents about 3% of retail pharmacy sales. And retail pharmacy sales are less than 50% of CVS Caremark annual revenue. Call it 1.5% of overall revenue.

  • For all intents and purposes CVS Caremark is a healthcare company. Is selling tobacco is contrary to good health?
  • There is a definite halo effect. The free publicity must be worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • CVS can redesign how the area behind the cash registers appears, especially compared with other pharmacy chains.
  • About 18% of adults now smoke, down drastically over the last 30 years.

On balance, I applaud the CVS move. The Surgeon General has told us since the 1960’s that cigarettes cause cancer. Raising taxes has helped diminish the sale of cigarettes. Could CVS start a trend toward limited availability of cigarettes?

If I was a marketing executive at CVS I would be jumping for joy at the news.  Stay tuned to see how it ends.

The Takeaway

Bold marketing decisions can be nerve wracking. Big risks lead to big rewards.

Those are my thoughts. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you think other pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid will follow suit?

2. Is CVS really improving its corporate image with this change?

3. If you were a CVS executive, would you have made the same decision?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Failing Customer Expectations

September 17th, 2013

'Spoon Me - Green Tea Frozen Yogurt with Coconut and Chocolate chips' photo (c) 2011, Calgary Reviews - license: Folks in business like to talk about exceeding customer expectations.  Enter the search  term, “exceeding customer expectations”  into Bing or Google and you will receive thousands of hits.

So why would businesses want to set customer expectations  and then fail them?  Let’s look at an example.

Kiwiburst Frozen Yogurt

I stopped into this Yogurt Shop before a client meeting.  I never had heard of them before.  The particular location was only open a couple of weeks.  The name sounded enticing to me.  Coincidentally, I had just finished listening to a book that featured a kiwi character –a New Zealander.  So, I went in.

What did I expect to find?

  • Signs with “G’Day mate” on them.
  • New Zealand flags or at least the colors of the flag.
  • A cute story about the origins of the name.

What did I actually find?

  • No New Zealand anything
  • No “Kiwi” flavor yogurt
  • A rather sad looking bin of cut up kiwi fruit in a back corner of the toppings section.

Vive La Difference!

The yogurt was no different than anywhere else.  I was disappointed in the interior.  With so many yogurt and ice cream stores around, why would I patronize the chain or this location in particular?

The Takeaway

If your company is setting customer expectations, then you must meet and hopefully, exceed them.

Over to you.  What do you think?  Please comment below.

  1. How often do you exceed customer expectations?
  2. How do you measure customer satisfaction?
  3. Does your company mission statement address meeting or exceeding customer expectations?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

August 5th, 2013

'WebRTC Announcements Week' photo (c) 2012, Tsahi Levent-Levi - license: Releases must work or else there would not be millions of them each year.  I am reminded of the old saying attributed to John Wannamaker.  “I know advertising works half the time, I just don’t know which half.”

If you are not swayed by my general point about Press Releases working, then consider these benefits of Press Releases.



1.    Search Engine Optimization

Build links back to your site to bring new visitors.  Links help with your credibility as a website.  Thus, the more credibility the higher you arrear in search results.

2.    Provide News on Social Media Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook

We are constantly looking for status updates.  A Press Release is a perfect opportunity to briefly describe the situation and provide a link.

3.    New Content for Your Website

Spiders on search engines like Google and Bing are always looking for new content.  Oblige them by adding the press release to your website.

4.    A Quick Way to Touch a Customer

Send the press release to a customer to keep them current on your firm’s activities.

5.    Send it to Top Prospects

Similar to the idea of keeping customers in the loop it may be even more important to let prospects know your good news.  Prospects are still forming opinions about your firm and whether they should take a leap and partner with you to meet their needs.

6.    Create and Reinforce the Habit of Writing Press Releases

The Takeaway

Press Releases are beneficial.  They have many uses which might just land you a coveted interview or press exposure.

Over to you.  What are your thoughts on these questions?

  1. What other ways to you use Press Releases?
  2. What has been your experience with Press Releases?
  3. What advice would you provide to someone just getting started with Press Releases?Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

6 Techniques to Re-Purpose Customer Success Stories

August 3rd, 2013

'80% of success is just showing up' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: success stories should be proof of success. The fact that you have satisfied needs and exceeded expectations makes you feel good. These stories were great in the Sales Process , Communications Vehicles and when Working with the Media . Here are a few other places to utilize them as well.

Industry Awards Entries

When you apply for awards you need to demonstrate your success. What better way than to detail a customer challenge and how your firm met it.

Non-Profit Fundraising

Non-profits require funding to provide their valuable services. That funding is only derived in a few ways. Foundation or government grants are really spiced up when they are personalized to how the funders dollars have been effectively put to work. The same approach works well with fundraising campaigns.

Annual Reports

We traditionally think that only larger, public corporations issue annual reports. Not true! Non-profits often create them to give to funders. Smaller firms can create them to use as marketing collateral to share with current or prospective clients. It is your document and your chance to show what makes you different.

For-Profit Fundraising

Share your successes when you pitch a Venture Capital Fund, Economic Development Fund or your bank. Your reason for funding is to continue to create more successes. Funders want to go and grow with a winner. Show you are a winner.


Usually, you are trying to reach someone when you call. But what if that was not your strategy? Call after hours solely to leave a message. What does your message say? Start with the basics, who you are and what your company does. Then, share a quick success story and indicate how you can do the same for them. The person getting the voicemail will either call you back or be more inclined to take your next call during business hours.

On-hold Messaging

Similar to the voicemail approach above, tell customers or prospective customers how successful you can make them. You compose a message that will appeal to most callers. Invite them to a special offer or to speak to a specific person about your success story.

Bonus Techniques

I have written 4 other posts on Customer Success Stories. Click below to read them.

The Takeaway

Customer success stories are little treasures. Don’t bury them. Rather, share them with anyone and everyone who can help your organization.

Those are the ideas. Over to you. Please comment below:

  1. How else do you use customer success stories?
  2. Have you successfully used any of the above techniques?
  3. Will you value your success more in the future?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Should Companies Donate Goods and Services For Fundraising?

April 26th, 2011

Sainsbury's local charity of the year nomination cardphoto © 2009 Howard Lake | more info (via: Wylio)
Many businesses are approached multiple times per year to donate products, services or cash to support various causes. Schools, PTOs, non-profits, religious organizations, scouts etc are looking for help from the business community. Civic-minded businesses are interested in helping, but are confused about how to proceed. Companies would like to assist while also creating a positive marketing and branding opportunity.

Here are some guidelines to use in the decision making process.

1. Set a percentage of sales, profits or a fixed amount available to donate to worthy organizations.

2. Determine if you will donate cash, goods, services or a combination thereof.

3. Create a written policy governing your approach.

4. Designate which personnel are authorized to offer donations to organizations.

5. Document what types of organizations with which you will and will not get involved.

6. Draft wording you would like used as attribution for your donation.

7. Create a plan for what organizations you will proactively contact about making donations.

8. Create a plan to generate positive word of mouth and publicity for your contributions to the organizations.

9. Consult with your accountant about your policies, procedures and documentation to ensure the tax deductibility of your donations.

10. Require a written request on organization letterhead to help authenticate the validity of the request.

The Takeaway

Businesses should always be seeking positive marketing and branding opportunities. One great opportunity is through making donations to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Those are the guidelines. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you make charitable contributions?

2. Do you have a written policy?

3. Have you received additional revenue or positive PR from your donations?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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