Managing editor-digital- Columbus Business First
TourismOhio picks new branding and media planning agencies
TourismOhio Director Mary Cusick said on the agency’s online newsletter that Columbus-based Cult Marketing LLC would take over branding and creative services work, while Cleveland’s Marcus Thomas LLC would handle media planning and ad placement.
The agency put the two-year contracts out for bid in December, looking for ways to “establish a distinctive brand for Ohio tourism” through at least three seasonal campaigns. Tourism is a $38 billion industry in Ohio, the agency said.
“I am encouraged by the level of interest we received during the selection process and am ready get down to work on identifying an emotional and head-turning brand that will take Ohio tourism to a new level,” Cusick wrote. “We have a fast-paced timeline to begin rolling out a new brand and now have the partners in place to make it happen!”
A TourismOhio spokeswoman said representatives from Cult Marketing would present initial plans for marketing the state Thursday afternoon at a meeting at Experience Columbus’ offices in the Arena District.
The marketing and branding piece is part of TourismOhio’s PlantoWin long-term strategic blueprint.
Healthcare Executive of the Year: Kara Trott, Founder & CEO, Quantum Health
Healthcare Trailblazer: Quantum Health
When Quantum Health approached Cult Marketing seeking help connecting with its clients in the health-care navigation industry, Quantum’s leadership team wondered if the idea of a guardian angel might be appropriate for a sales and marketing campaign.
Researchers at Cult went to work finding out how clients and consumers perceived the company, which provides health-care coordination services to self-funded public and private employers throughout the country.
What they uncovered surprised everyone. Health-care consumers who used the company’s services saw the Quantum employees as protectors fighting on their behalf.
Those insights shaped a marketing plan that has led to double-digit growth and created a brand story that permeates the entire business.
The success of the plan correlates to the quality of the information Cult Marketing gleaned during its research phase, said Quantum Health CEO Kara Trott…
Innovation Spotlight: Cult Marketing relies on research to deliver results
One of Cult Marketing’s philosophies is to strategically disrupt markets. This is critical in getting attention with your target audience and is step one of any successful marketing effort – you must breakthrough the clutter. How do you decide where the boundaries are? When has a disruption strategy gone too far?
Most recently Urban Outfitters got into hot water with a vintage sweatshirt design featuring the Kent State logo and what appears to be spattered blood. Kent State officials publicly decried the tactic. “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” Kent State wrote in a statement on its website on Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Urban Outfitters have struck before with items including a “Ghettopoly” board game; a T-shirt that resembled the clothing that Nazis forced Jews to wear; and a hat that labeled vomiting as “Irish Yoga.”
Other retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch have been famous for disruptive tactics. A&F featured naked teenagers in their catalogs, a t-shirt that agitated the Asian community (“Wong Brothers Laundry Service — Two Wongs Can Make it White”), and had guest articles written by porn stars offering advice on oral sex and other sexual techniques. As expected, many conservatives and members of the religious right were outraged.
So where do you draw the line on disruption tactics?
The Cult view on disruption is based on one primary factor – a keen understanding of a company’s target audience and their attitudes, desires and motivations. One of the reasons that the A&F tactics worked so well is that it appealed to the teenager and college target audiences, not the religious right. In fact, the disapproval of the religious right gave the tactics validity with its target audience. And, while it was considered edgy and inappropriate, it was just about sex which is a hot topic among all consumers, especially the younger consumers experiencing those emotions for the first time.
In terms of the Kent State sweatshirt, our question would be to their millions of consumers that loyally shop the store: Were you outraged by the Kent State sweatshirt design? Will it stop you from shopping there in the future? Our guess is that while the sweatshirt itself may not sell very well, the publicity will create enough curiosity to actually increase traffic. After all, don’t most Americans love a good scandal?
As I look out my office window in the Arena District in Columbus, more than 15,000 women are streaming out of Nationwide Arena. They are part of the annual national convention of a company called Thirty-One Gifts.
Thirty-One Gifts is a super-fast growing direct-sales company that has achieved explosive growth – and cult brand status. It began modestly in 2003 in the basement of founder and CEO Cindy Monroe.
Cult Marketing was engaged in 2010 to develop a deep understanding of the 31 Gifts “Consultant” as they call their independent sales representatives. At that time, the company had 23,000 consultants – now they have over 120,000.
Sales are projected to reach $1 billion in 2015. So, how has 31 Gifts done it? What are their secrets? Cult Marketing’s 13 Laws of Cult Branding can shed light on some of the keys to this phenomenal growth. Here are a few that apply:
Cult Law #1:
The Point Of View: Based on a strong story/rigid ideals and beliefs, often in opposition to some other “enemy”
The company was based on one immutable goal: to empower women. Even the name Thirty-One Gifts is based on a biblical proverb that “celebrates hard-working women who are compassionate, gracious and inspiring to their families and the people around them.”
The target consultant for Thirty-One is a woman who wants to improve her life and the lives of her family, while having the flexibility to maintain her traditional family role as mom and wife.
Who is the enemy here? During our interviews, the consultants told us that Thirty-One has given them a sense of self-worth, achievement, and the pride that comes with financial contribution and business success. The Thirty-One enemy is lack of self respect, low confidence and a diminished sense of personal value.
Cult Law #3:
The Community: Strong sense of belonging within the group. Members define themselves by this association.
Founder Cindy Monroe cites that Thirty-One provides two key benefits to consultants: community and relationships. These are powerful drivers in creating strong emotional connections to an organization.
Cult Law #4:
The Visionary: Defined leadership/Prophet/Visionary/Hierarchical structure
Many cult brands (think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney) are based on the vision, power and personality of its leader. Cindy Monroe is the highly visible founder and vision-keeper of Thirty-One. She has deflected offers from financial investors because she wants the purity of her vision to remain intact, not to be influenced by ROI and other objectives. She claims she did not do this for the money – and she and her claim are authentic and believable.
Cindy is also the front person on the website and at their events, and has almost legendary status with the consultants.
Cult Law #7:
Love Bombing: A network that is supportive, uplifting, and forgiving
Celebrate. Encourage. Reward. These are the core values that Thirty-One embraces. These three words are critical in delivering the company mission to empower women. These values have helped develop a strong culture that supports and encourages women to achieve their dreams.
During the annual convention this cult law is seen in full force. Achievements are wildly applauded, consultants are encouraged to succeed, and prizes and awards are publicly given for special recognition.
Cult Law #11:
The Buzz: Built virally, largely on word of mouth
For many years, cult brands like Starbuck’s and Harley-Davidson never advertised. They grew organically through the most credible of all marketing techniques – word of mouth. This is not surprising when you consider that cult brands create brand evangelists who are passionate about their affiliations and want to spread the word to others. Thirty-One is a perfect example of a brand that is spreading virally.
How can your company use some of the Laws of Cult Marketing to grow the business? We’d relish the opportunity to help you figure that out. Contact Cult now.
Miley Cyrus is wearing her Durango Boots! If ever someone lived out the Outlaw Fun archetype Cult defined for Durango Boots, it’s Miley! Get Your Durango On!
Check out the full article here.