4 Marketing Mistakes Start-ups Can’t Afford to Make

This article originally appeared in the CNBC “How I did it” column on March 5, 2015 through TopRight CEO Dave Sutton’s membership in the CNBC-YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) Chief Executive Network.


plantTopRight Strategic Marketing was founded in 2006 by a group of former chief marketing officers and marketing strategists from companies including McKinsey and Booz & Co. In the early years, we experienced modest success in the market, but the business was difficult to scale, with our growth limited to leveraging our existing client relationships.

Simply put, we refused to take a spoonful of our own medicine, and we botched our own marketing plan. We overspent, under-delivered and implemented inefficient and overly complex solutions.

It wasn’t until 2011 that TopRight began to practice what it preaches. That year, we rethought our digital marketing strategy and over-weighted investments in emerging marketing technologies. The result: […]

Un-Happy Hour

imagesThe industry’s biggest players, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, whose mega-brands have dominated America’s tap handles and supermarket shelves for decades, are being battered by a new wave of competition from inside and outside the beer market and starting to lose their grip. Liquor brands are share stealing, especially among the coveted young-adult demographic. As a result, beer has seen its piece of the total alcohol market fall below 50% last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

Beer brands have become far too one-dimensional and reliant on TV for driving consumer awareness and consumption. What we call lackluster advertising. For a category once known for some of the best TV ads, hits over the past few years have been too few. Only one beer campaign has achieved pop-culture acclaim in recent years —

The Chevy Love Story

General Motor’s Chevrolet Division has been making headlines this Summer with advertising for their new return policy for 2012 and 2013 model year Chevys.

The marketing spin: If you don’t love your new Chevy, you can return it.

Be sure to pay close attention to the fine print in the offer: the return policy only applies to those “Summer Lovers” who purchase a Chevy between July 10th and September 4th, 2012. Buyers must keep the vehicle for at least 30 days before filing a return claim, then have only an additional 30 days to file; once 60 days pass, time’s up, you’re married. To file a claim, heartbroken buyers must provide Chevrolet with the original bill of sale, driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. […]

From Brand to Reputation

If you really think about it, a brand is nothing more than a container for the promises and benefits that your company makes and delivers to your target audience. Therefore, branding is really about managing your company’s reputation. If you make a promise, you better deliver on it. Break a promise and your reputation will suffer. Just like a personal reputation, a brand reputation is formed based on the behaviors and actions of the company (or a person within the company) and how those behaviors and actions are perceived by the target audience. Since most people understand what a personal reputation is, it makes it easier to understand what “branding” is all about.

In today’s socially-networked world, it is imperative for brand owners to actively monitor Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well […]

ROI Bowl 2012?

Well, it’s that time of year again… advertisers are ponying up for a chance to win over the hearts and minds of the 100-million-plus football fans who will be tuning-in for this year’s Super Bowl featuring the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The price of admission?… A cool $3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. As in year’s past, I’m shocked that this level of spending continues to go unchecked.

During the last 45 Super Bowls, Budweiser has been the most visible and memorable advertiser – routinely winning the “Monday Morning Water Cooler Chit-Chat Trophy”. From the halftime Bud Bowls, to the iconic Clydesdales, to the True “Wuzzup” guys… the Budweiser brand has left an indelible mark on the Super Bowl and the advertising world.

However, a

Marketing FAIL: RIM Blackberry Playbook

Research in Motion (RIM) had it all:  they were the leading suppliers of cell phones to American businesses and had the lion’s share of the Smartphone market. But that was not enough for RIM, they wanted a slice of the consumer market too and developed the Blackberry PlayBook tablet to join in the competition with Apple and a plethora of Android-based competitors. But delusions of grandeur and targeting the wrong market have led RIM to land on our Marketing FAIL page.

Since its launch in 2003, the BlackBerry Smartphone led the way in business communication with its QWERTY keyboard and ability to give users access to their corporate email. The BlackBerry had RIM riding high by 2009 as Fortune Magazine named RIM “the fastest growing company in the world with a growth of […]

Social Media and Changing Retail Dynamics

While many retail professionals may be tired of the hype surrounding social media, there is no denying that the retail industry is facing a game-changer. This is not to say that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have turned retail businesses completely upside down, but such sites are changing the customer engagement game enough where retailers who ignore social channels place their brand and customer loyalty at significant risk.

Furthermore, it’s very clear that social media is not just a passing fad.   A recent survey by Nielsen showed that social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity, even more popular than personal email. And users are not just “tweeting” and blogging about their everyday lives; they are sharing details on their personal shopping and […]

Social Innovation

Social media and social technologies have already had a transformational impact on business models across many industries. Now, market leaders are moving to mix “social” capabilities into their innovation agenda. True “social innovation” goes well beyond customer engagement and ideation, it requires a coordinated, cross-functional team to source socially generated innovation, to evaluate, scale and implement it. And, as innovations are launched, real innovators monitor socially directed buying behaviors and closely manage online reputations for clues to the next innovation cycle. Dave Sutton recently addressed the Stryve Executive Forum on the subject of using social media and associated technologies to drive product and service innovation – get a copy of the presentation here (it’s a rather large file so please be patient with the download!). TopRight and Stryve have partnered to conduct a research program in 2012 focused on putting social media to work. […]

SharpMart Grand Opening

TopRight has been pleased to assist in the development and launch of an entirely new retail concept: SharpMart.  SharpMart is dedicated to serving people interested in buying, selling and trading great products by offering them the best place right in their own neighborhood.  With SharpMart nearby, customers don’t need to go online to find great deals, they don’t need to post items for sale on eBay or Craigslist to sell, and they don’t need to haggle with strangers to trade.   SharpMart is the new place to Save, Swap & Sell.

SharpMart carries a huge inventory of new merchandise for customers interested in buying great products – including items they’ve seen at other stores.  The Company gets great buys from other retailers and manufacturers, and then offers customers “Sharp Deals” […]

Get a (Social) Life

Many companies today are struggling with understanding social media and the potential impact on their business.  New technologies and “social media experts” are in abundance – but deciding what is right for your business and your customers is tough.

At the Call Center Executive Forum held today in Atlanta,  I presented TopRight’s unique perspectives on how to generate a productive and profitable social life for your business.  Our approach starts with the  formulation of a sound social strategy for your business – a strategy that is aligned with your competitive strategy and the structure of your industry, that identifies specific trade-offs that you should make in social marketing activities (i.e. what you don’t do) and that optimizes the “fit” of your social marketing activities with other value-adding activities going on […]