Marketing Trends 2008

Alternative title: A funny thing happened on the way to the review

One of the most strident criticisms of Fashion-Incubator over at Problogger has been lack of branding. While it’s true reviewers failed to understand that F-I is a business to business site, from this morning’s Working Knowledge (Harvard Business School) comes a bit of iteration (emphasis is mine).

Many business-to-business (B2B) CEOs view marketing as the domain of consumer goods brands. They are wrong. Among Interbrand’s 10 most valuable global brands, we find Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and GE. All generate far more B2B revenues than sales to end consumers.

Consider these points:

  • The CEO understands that building brand reputation reduces commercial risk, insulates the company in a crisis, and provides the common purpose…
  • Efforts are focused on a single, global corporate brand rather than individual product brands.


  • Intel is the ultimate ingredient brand. It makes zero sales to end consumers, yet Intel built a consumer demand pull for its chips that required every PC manufacturer to incorporate them and to advertise Intel Inside on their products and in their ads.
  • Would Dupont’s shareholder value be the same today if it had not made consumers aware of nylon, Lycra, and Stainmaster and linked these innovations to the Dupont name? Definitely not.

So what does this mean to the average B2B business owner like you? As Miracle has often said, there’s a big disconnect in the ways that entrepreneurs market their product lines. If you’re selling wholesale, you must have a two prong approach. First you must know how to cogently market to retailers in ways that are meaningful to them. Second, you market your product to consumers through assurances and stories on your hang tags (mostly). Miracle says that many of your marketing efforts are a work around; you’re not targeting the buyer but trying to go around them to get to the consumer. Bad approach.

A related article is Authenticity over Exaggeration:The New Rule in Advertising (HBS). Only obliquely mentioned was consumer fatigue (and you know I’ve long been exhausted by spurious marketing claims). Trendwatching newsletter describes a strategy to consider as “Brand Butlers” whilst being mindful of “Crowd Mining”. The latter link will expire, here’s the pdf which won’t. More briefings are here.

Class dismissed, nothing new was added. Just some previous entries Miracle had written that always need airing and some recent trends in marketing. that I never know where to stick.

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  1. Sandra B says:

    On the one hand, you’ve often mentioned that a lack of fancy signage is more likely at the business end of the apparel industry, most recently in the “textile manufacturing” post, but on the other hand you’re being urged to brand yourself. It seems contradictory. I read a lot of the comments at the problogger site and thought that what they considered blogging to be – a form of entertainment that is competing with many other possible distractions in order to extract the most money from the punters – missed the whole point of Fashion-Incubator. I come here for the content and the discussions. In so many respects our culture has devolved into an intellectual junk food culture, with the sizzle taking the place of the steak (to paraphrase one problogger commenter) and to find somewhere that values and encourages depth and substance is rare, and worth fighting for. I understand that you need may need to brand yourself to attract the attention you need to keep this blog working for you, but please tread carefully. And don’t put more pictures than necessary to illustrate your point. I’m visually overfed, and find it such a relief to use the other side of my brain instead.

  2. Babette says:

    Most people on the web are selling stuff. Their problem is getting people to come back. I wander through department stores in my lunch break and this sometimes triggers a purchase I wasn’t otherwise considering making.

    I don’t usually visit websites unless I have already decided to buy things (like everyone I surf from time to time but not in the same way I wander department stores where I can pick stuff up and touch it). The challenge of the website is to get you to come back from time to time anyway. Hence the email newsletter full of pictures and links which usually represent more of an annoyance.

    Your site is the only one I come back to repeatedly and regularly and that is content driven. You could sell me stuff. Even your content. You are my lunch time department store wander.

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