Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Margaritaville And The Four Ps Of Branding Magic

Jimmy Buffett margaritaville
( First off, let me point out that, no, this post is not coming to you from Margaritaville, nor is it being written with toes in the sand and drink in hand. Instead, know that you're reading original, first rate blog material, fresh from the beehive of activity that is the Home Office of Ph Communications.)

For one week in May of 1977, Jimmy Buffett hit Number One on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart with his song Margaritaville. Though he would have lesser hits on the charts before and after, Margaritaville was Buffett's only number one song. However, instead of becoming what many would call a "One-Hit Wonder," Buffett turned Margaritaville into a multi-billion dollar brand. How? By selling the dream of Margaritaville.

When questioned about the lyrics behind the song, Buffett defined Margaritaville as a state of mind where one can always find a warm beach, blue skies, and a cold drink to help wash your cares and troubles away. And today, millions of people spend millions of dollars each year to have their little piece of the dream Buffett is selling. (DISCLAIMER: In a more innocent, less cynical age, I too once dreamed of living the Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville lifestyle. However, finding out that Buffett was more interested in selling the lifestyle than he was in actually living it was one of the greatest disappointments of my life. See also: Santa Claus, There Isn't A)

Today, everything Jimmy Buffett does is geared to sell the "dream" of Margaritaville. His concerts (often outdoor shows) are setup as beach parties and his music relies heavily on the themes of high times and low tides, beach barbeques, boat drinks, and bar stools. If you want to take a little bit of it home with you, a Buffett concert merchandise stand offers a variety of Margaritaville-themed hat and clothing options (he even has his own line of Margaritaville apparel and footwear). And, if you get hungry or thirsty, there's Margaritaville brand Chips and Salsa, frozen seafood, a Frozen Concoction Maker, Chicken Wings, margarita mix, tequila, and Margaritaville branded LandShark Lager (which sucks, btw). You can enjoy it all while lounging on your very own Margaritaville Outdoor and Beach furniture. And, if you want to find your own Margaritaville, you can visit a Margaritaville Cafe, Margartaville Casino, Margaritaville nightclub, Margaritaville airport lounge, or Margaritaville beach resort hotel. There's also the Radio Margaritaville channel on Sirius/XM satellite radio, which plays Jimmy Buffett's music, concerts, and others artists from the same genre, 24/7/365 and, if you only have a few minutes, there's even a Margaritaville iPad and Facebook online game (though maybe not everyone was excited about that). Oh, and just in case he doesn't have enough money, his greatest hits album is among the Top 200 selling albums of all time and his Margaritaville inspired books have sold millions of copies!

Now, with all that in mind, think about your company and your brand and ask yourself how you cover the four Ps of branding:

• Promise If a brand is defined by the promises a company or organization makes to its audiences, what promises or dream does your brand offer your customers? Jimmy Buffett sells the dream of Margaritaville. Identify what makes your brand special and make sure everything you do is focused on selling that dream and fulfilling that promise.

• Position Does your brand make you stand out from your competition? What makes your brand unique? Though many have tried to glom on to Buffett's sound and style (Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, et al) no one has been able to top the dream of Margaritaville (or write a song half as enduring). How do you position your brand in your marketplace? What makes you stand out from the crowd? What do your goods or services offer that the other guys don't. The key to successful branding is to not only know those differences but to also know how capitalize on them.

• Promote How consistent is your marketing in promoting your brand? Through his music, his concerts, and every bit of branded merchandise he sells, Buffett reinforces his brand, the dream of Margaritaville. How does your marketing and advertising fare in comparison? Make sure every marketing message you put out, be it radio, TV, direct mail, print, email, blog entry, tweet, or Facebook post works together to promote your brand.

• Patience The Margaritaville brand and all its' extensions didn't happen overnight. Just as Jimmy Buffett continues to tour and sell his brand, branding your product or business doesn't have a finish line. Establishing your brand is one thing, but it takes work, and an ongoing, concerted effort to build on your brand equity as your customers evolve.

You don't need a hit song to build a successful brand. Instead, just remember the Four Ps of Branding. And if you think you need help building your brand, just call the fifth P...Ph Communications, and let's talk about it over a margarita!

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