2 Steps to Making Brand Transformations Stick

Brand transformations are like our own transformations — we shine a light on our salient qualities and then amplify that for everyone to see. Brands can make sure that as they transform, their strengths and most positive qualities are continually revealed.

My wife and I are big fans of the new “Queer Eye” on Netflix. We’re into the second season, and the guests have been a splendid variety of people from Atlanta and Kansas City. From an older, single, heavily-whiskered straight gentleman to a young, single gay woman redefining her space, all the people featured fit into the paradigm of a great story.

Like I wrote about in “5 Aspects of Storytelling,” the essential element of a story is a hero who faces a villain, meets a mentor, and then transforms. In each of the Queer Eye episodes, the Hero (the guest), has an internal villain. There’s a block or a weight that prevents the guest from moving on to the best version of themselves. Then through discovery, love, compassion, and talent, the Mentor (“Fab Five”) help to pull the person out of his/her funk through a Journey, and arrive at a visibly better transformation. It sure seems authentic to me, and the follow-up articles online seem to reinforce that the transformations seem to stick.

It’s a remarkable show about a fundamental, and beautiful, part of our human nature: an innate ability to transform.

We — all of us, at our core — want to transform to a better version of ourselves. Every healthy person I’ve ever known wants to get better. We often don’t know the path forward, are perhaps too scared to make a first step, or are possibly afraid of failing to transform. We frequently get in our own way.

Yet the keys to personal transformation — as evidenced in Queer Eye — is calling upon the best part of our nature. Each person’s backstory — and their struggle point — is revealed through the discussions s/he has with the mentors of Queer Eye.

And what is also revealed is his or her salient positive quality. Whether it’s kindness, tenacity, devotion, it’s there. Everyone has one. What the Fab Five do is artfully amplify that positive quality to push the transformation powerfully forward. At the end of the show, the person’s transformation — driven from their salient positive quality — is visible to their cohort, family, and friends.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe brands are like people. They have the same traits — personality, trust, a purpose — and are subject to analogous journeys. And one necessary journey that a brand will go through is transformation.

Since an Immutable Law of The Universe is that everything changes, brands need to adapt. Yet just like people, they need to adapt while remaining true to their core traits. So when a brand goes through a transformation, look at two simple steps that Queer Eye teaches us about personal transformation: Shine a light on Your Salient Trait … then Amplify.

Step 1: Shine a Light on Your Salient Trait

Brands like Coca-Cola have the challenging job of remaining relevant in a world that recognizes that Coke isn’t healthy. We all know it’s not physiologically good for you to drink it. It has syrup, carbonation, and a degree of unnatural chemistry. There isn’t a single medical professional today who would recommend that you exclusively drink Coca-Cola instead of water.

Coca-Cola has had to continually transform its brand to stay relevant. It does this by continually revealing its salient quality: people feel happier when they drink it. It’s fun. It tastes yummy and bubbly. It’s a pleasure and a treat. Coca-Cola’s purpose is not to make you healthier … it’s to make you happier.

If you search “Coca Cola Happiness” on YouTube, you’ll find dozens of consistent, focused ads that speak to what they’re about. This is an older one, but one of my favorites, and it’s all about Coca-Cola’s salient trait:

Step 2: Amplify

Every brand has something they do well. And if you’re transforming your brand, you need to make sure that everyone knows the transformation is real and authentic. Everyone you know who has made a real, deep, lasting positive change in his or her life proudly communicates that change one way or another.

Brands need to do the same thing when they transform. The best ones continually remind the market — and their audience — of who they are, what they do well, and why they should be remembered. They simply don’t let up.

Southwest Airlines does a brilliant job of amplification. While they had a run marketing low fares — which is helpful to most travelers — Southwest’s salient trait is that they treat everyone just like folks.

Their positioning and messaging reinforces that their brand is not about a luxurious, special, stylish airline travel experience. It’s about folks getting other folks to places to meet folks. Just us and everyone.

Check out their ads. New digital ads show their employees in travel destinations. The walkways to the plane show photos of real, happy Southwest employees, with their names, who welcome you on the plane.

YouTube commercials that are focused on the trips we all take, and why we take them, are consistent with this. They continue to transform — some might say evolve or refine — their brand and continue to amplify their salient trait.

If your brand is going through a transformation — and I’d argue that it should be continuously transforming — remind yourselves what your brand’s salient trait is, and make sure you’re amplifying it. If you do, you’ll make your audience believers. As always, I welcome your comments.

Get Used to It: Your Customers Want Stories

Earlier this month I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, where the theme was “The World of Stories.” Who doesn’t love a good story? At our core, humans are storytellers, and we are receptive to them.

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing World disucssing storiesThat is … unless you’re marketing to the robots who might eventually become our overlords if Amazon doesn’t beat them to it.

Earlier this month I was in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, the very place that gave me the swift kick in the pants to launch this blog (and then later “What Were They Thinking?”).

The theme was “The World of Stories,” which sure, sounds quaint. Who doesn’t love a good story? Most of us were raised on them: the bedtime story, the stories our grandparents told us about our families, crazy stories about parties gone awry in college, bad date stories, weird work stories … we love them all (or maybe that’s just me).

At our core, humans are storytellers, and we are receptive to them. Story is the universal language … and remember, you don’t need words to tell a good story.

So this past week I heard about (and in some cases, saw), the stories GE produces. Learned about Death Wish Coffee’s brand story thanks to Jay Acunzo. Skyword’s founder and CEO Tom Gerace shared with us a story about Indian detergent-maker Ariel, and how it convinced husbands and fathers to #sharetheload.

I was blown away by the stories Casey Neistat creates using video and his wild imagination. Coca-Cola shared how their customers create stories around their brand (and fun ones at that!) Colson Whitehead — an amazing writer — shared his story of becoming who he is now, weaving together well-placed jokes, anecdotes and simple truths about what it’s like to really be a writer.

Scott Stratten shared the story of how he took down a Canadian telecom who was posting BS reviews of its app (all while not wearing pants — what a life!). And Hollywood actor, director and maybe the most adorable guy (aside from my boyfriend Johnny) Joseph Gordon Levitt shared how he created the HitRecord at a time when he couldn’t get hired, and how it has blossomed as a diverse community of artistic collaborators.

Yes, these were keynotes and sessions … but they were all stories. Stories inspiring the content creators in Cleveland to head home and tell more stories. To build connections. To entertain. To inform. To help their customers become even more successful at what they do.

At our core, we are all storytellers, from the Fortune 500 CEO to the copywriter, from the small business owner to the SEO strategist.

What’s YOUR story?

Programmatic Advertising Is Running Amok

Having spent many years in the direct marketing business, I’m usually amused by examples of target marketing gone awry. My personal favorite happened when I was on Amazon purchasing a cell phone bracket for my bicycle.

Target stock imageHaving spent many years in the direct marketing business, I’m usually amused by examples of target marketing gone awry. My personal favorite happened when I was on Amazon purchasing a cell phone bracket for my bicycle. Amazon’s algorithm generated this suggestion:

Amazon wants Chuck to be a pirateNow I don’t know how frequently the pirate boots and the tri-corner hat are bought together with the cell phone mount, but I have to say that the combination was tempting for a few minutes.

The fact remains that direct marketing is not perfect. Many years ago, I made a donation to my alma mater, Rutgers College. The student on the phone asked if I wanted to designate my gift to a particular part of the University, and when I said, “No,” he said, “Well I’m in the Glee Club and we could sure use the money. Will you designate to the Glee Club?”

“Sure,” I said.

For decades now, I’ve been getting mail addressed, “Dear Glee Club Alumnus.” One day, I will attend a Glee Club reunion, certain that many people will remember my contribution to the tenor section.

While these harmless examples of imprecision are humorous, there’s nothing funny about the current exodus of major advertisers from the Google ad network and YouTube. Programmatic ad placement is a boon to target marketing, but like most direct marketing, it’s not perfect.

Major advertisers are in a tizzy over how to control where their ads appear … and the Google ad network is scrambling to get control over placement, as they should be. Advertisers need to protect their brands from appearing in an environment that can harm them.

Just a few examples: Ads for IHOP, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Chips” and others have recently popped up among nude videos from everyday users or X-rated posts from porn-star influencers. Ad Age 3/6/17

A Nordstrom ad for Beyonce’s Ivy Park clothing line appeared on Breitbart next to this headline: NYTimes 3/26/17

Chuck's take on Nordstrom appearing on BreitbartHere’s a great attempt at an explanation for this juxtaposition:

“What we do is, we match ads and the content, but because we source the ads from everywhere, every once in a while somebody gets underneath the algorithm and they put in something that doesn’t match.  We’ve had to tighten our policies and actually increase our manual review time and so I think we’re going to be okay,” Schmidt told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. Fox News 3/23/17

Appearing next to hate speech is particularly problematic for brands:

Google-displayed ads for Macy’s and the genetics company 23andMe appeared on the website My Posting Career, which describes itself as a “white privilege zone,” next to a notice saying the site would offer a referral bonus for each member related to Adolf Hitler. Washington Post 3/24/17

The Wall Street Journal reported Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dish Network Corp. suspended spending on all Google advertising, except targeted search ads. Starbucks Corp. and General Motors Co. said they were pulling their ads from YouTube. FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox Inc., said it was suspending all advertising spending on Google, including search ads and YouTube … Wal-Mart said: “The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our company values.”
Ads for Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Toyota Motor Corp., Dish Network, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico unit and Google’s own YouTube Red subscription service appeared on racist videos with the slur “n–” in the title. Wall Street Journal 3/24/17

And as difficult as it is for the ad networks to control, brands have their own challenges trying to protect themselves from undesirable placements. Different departments running different campaigns with different agencies cause ads to appear on corporate blacklisted sites. BMW of North America has encountered that issue because its marketing plan does not extend to dealerships. While the company does not buy ads on Breitbart, Phil DiIanni, a spokesman, noted that “dealerships are independent businesses and decide for themselves on their local advertising.” NYTimes 3/26/17

Clearly our technology’s ability to target has outstripped our ability to control it. And while it remains to be seen what controls will be put in place, it’s likely that, as always, target marketing won’t be perfect.

Sensory Appeal, in Video Form

In a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

VideoIn a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

With all of the media consumers consume daily — about 11 hours a day, for all channels combined — we’ve become dependent on interactive digital experiences that take little more effort than listening and watching. And we don’t even like doing that for more than two minutes. Our media usage has changed our interest levels, or maybe its our willingness to read or watch long documentaries — as we are now used to getting news, and now possibly the State of the Union, in Twitter posts.

Rising to fill the gap from our changing media consumption is video — short, entertaining snippets of two to three minutes that entertain, inform and, hopefully for those who produce them, inspire us to engage, inquire and buy something. It’s working.

HubSpot shares some powerful statistics showing how video is impacting consumer behavior and why you need to jump on this bandwagon, too. Here are just a few:

  • Videos in email lead to a jump in clickthrough rates of between 200 and 300 percent
  • Videos on a landing page can help your conversions increase by 80 percent
  • Videos combined with a full-page ad can boost engagement by 22 percent
  • Videos can increase likelihood of purchase by 64 percent among online shoppers
  • Videos included in a real estate listing can up inquiries by 403 percent
  • Video inspires 50 percent of executives to seek more information about a product
  • Video inspires 65 percent of executives to visit a marketer’s website, and 39 percent to call a vendor

I could go on … but I think the point is clear: You need to create videos if you want to engage customers and sell more products. And because YouTube is the second-largest search engine, next to Google. Enough said.

I’ll Say More

Another reason you must include video in addition to all of the above is most of your competitors are doing it and that can leave you out in the cold if you are not. Okay, so more stats from HubSpot:

  • 87 percent of online marketers use video content
  • 22 percent of small businesses in the U.S. plan to use it
  • 96 percent of B-to-B organizations use it

Most importantly, 90 percent of video watchers say they help them make purchase decisions and 92 percent of those viewing them on mobile devices share videos with others.

The one challenge is that there are a lot of videos competing with each other, as evidenced by yet another statistic: On average, users are exposed to 32.3 videos a month, or roughly one a day.

So how do you create videos that build your business and use them effectively in your marketing mix?

Like all things you do in any medium — print, digital, mobile — your content needs to have value, and that value can be improving someone’s circumstances, inspiring them to live a better life, or guiding them to do their jobs better, so they achieve their goals and advance their careers. Your videos need to create an emotional reaction that drives them to contact you for further information.

Here Are Some Tips

Regardless of your business genre, keep videos short and to the point. This is not your attempt to produce a Hollywood blockbuster. It is simply a way to tell your story with a medium that appeals to our senses and makes your brand come to life. Your videos should not be more than two to three minutes long. Go more only if your content justifies it.

Before you debut your videos publicly, test them. Ask non-employees and even non-customers to sit through your videos and give you feedback. Good questions to ask include:

  • Did it keep your interest?
  • What was the main message you took away from this video?
  • Did it inspire you to inquire more about our product or service? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • Was the length appropriate?
  • Did you think the production quality of this video was in line with other brand videos you have watched?

Like any marketing communications, always include a call to action and a response mechanism. Stay away from promotions, as they’ll expire before you’re ready to stop using the video. Make it clear how to contact you for more information through your email, website, phone numbers and social channels.

Keep your videos short. No one wants to spend more than two to three minutes watching a video that they know is intended to sell them something. Use their time and yours wisely, and keep your content on-task.

Use professional footage and images. Your video can be a slide show, with text fading in and out, or it can be a true video with all of the moving parts. Regardless of the format you use, use the highest resolution and quality possible. Your reputation is on the line, per the quality you project. If you are a high-tech company and you use low-tech video, that transfers to the perceived quality of the products you sell.

Create a YouTube channel to house all of your videos. You can archive videos on YouTube and on your website. For either option, include a transcript of your video to help you achieve higher SEO.

For B-to-C, you can add a little more fun and focus on life messages, not just brand messages. Coca-Cola does a great job of this. Its channel has more than 1.2 million subscribers and its views have topped more than 22 million for a single video. Coke’s “Happiness Truck” video, which shows a Coke truck dispensing gifts to people on the streets in Rio, has more than 1.6 million views — another inspirational message that worked to build the emotional equity of the Coke brand. Interestingly enough, its video with 22.3 million views as of this writing is about spending more time offline and enjoying the journey of life in the real world.


B-to-B Video Tip

For the B-to-B world, here are some tips:

  • Create product demo videos to showcase the features that set your products apart.
  • Show how your products compare to competitors, when applicable, and how your products fulfill the needs of your viewers.
  • Include statements from your company leaders to show their vision and help tell your brand story.
  • Include customers talking about their experiences with your product and your team. Video testimonials are powerful, because viewers can see the body language, the smiles, the looks of relief and hear the excitement in voices that written testimonials do not provide.

Again, consumers like to see brand stories in which they can see themselves. They want to be the proud father, or the mom being thanked by her Olympian child as shown in Proctor and Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” ad series that makes many moms cry, no matter how many times they watch the videos. Consumers want to be the vacationers on the beach, the newly engaged couple, the happy family.


Find ways to associate your brand with what matters most to your consumers and then get creative and start writing video scripts that tell your story in conjunction with the goals they have for their lives.

Can Brands Really Make Us Happy?

Can brands really make us happy? If you ask any brand marketer, the answer is clearly “yes.” And even more so if you ask marketing staff from Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Dove and now LuLuLemon, all of which have spent substantial marketing resources on associating their brands with “happy.”

Can brands really make us happy? If you ask any brand marketer, the answer is clearly “yes.” And even more so if you ask marketing staff from Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Dove and now LuLuLemon, all of which have spent substantial marketing resources on associating their brands with “happy.”

But do consumers consciously purchase products with the sole purpose of achieving happiness? And if so, it is a conscious drive or among the 90 percent of our thoughts that drive our behavior from our unconscious mind?

According to Steve Quartz, professor at California Institute of Technology, we do, but mostly unwittingly, as emotional purchases are often unconscious. Quartz, a one-time believer that consumerism or the drive to buy stuff did not generate happiness, changed his tune after creating a consumer neuroscience project to further explore the psychological impact of buying. As stated in his article, which appeared on PBS.org, here’s what he learned:

We found that asking people to merely look at products they considered “cool” sparked a pattern of activation in a part of the brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex.

Quartz continues to explain that the brain activity resulting from seeing something deemed to be cool, and contemplating owning that coolness, is similar to how the brain responds when we receive a compliment, or feel that someone else values the brands or they have gone up in social status or peer approval. These are the same feelings we get when we anticipate love or rewards, or feel connectedness as we actually experience hormonal rushes of dopamine and oxytocin.

If the above is true, then it makes sense that adding visual and social coolness to your product packaging will increase attention and sales to even failing products as the cool score can actually trump other decision influencers. A case in point is that this very approach made big dollars for Proctor and Gamble when it redesigned the packages for Clairol Herbal Essences, a failing brand it bought in 2001 and decided to reinvent, per its packaging appeal in 2006.

P&G added a total happy appeal to its product, replacing the clunky dull pink rectangle bottle with vibrant-colored, shaped bottles that actually nestled together, making the purchase of the shampoo and conditioner pair more attractive – visually and emotionally. In addition to creating a more energetic shape, they added fun, happy language and changed the names of each product to reflect that new, inviting energy. P&G also uses fun language that reflects the persona of its target consumers and added riddles to the bottles. If you wanted the answer to the riddle on the shampoo bottle, you needed the conditioner, too. Post-repackaging, with a more vibrant, fun, shaped bottle and adding elements of happiness through language and interaction, sales soared. Products like Color Me Happy and Hello Hydration rose to the Top 10 products for shampoo sales in 2014, according to research from Statista.

In recent years, McDonald’s jumped on the happiness bandwagon with its 2014 Super Bowl advertisement, “Pay With Lovin.”Instead of focusing on its products or building appeal for new products, the entire 60-second TV spot showed cashiers surprising customers by telling them to pay for their purchase with gestures of love toward another instead of money. The impact of happy customers doing happy dances and calling home to say “I love you, Mom” produced some happy results for McDonald’s, as well as happy customers. In just two weeks of running the ad, the McDonald’s brand perception rating went from 30 percent positive or neutral to 85 percent positive or neutral, per a March 2015 article on adweek.com.

Aligning with happiness seems to be working well for Coca-Cola, too. It has a website dedicated to happiness quotes, music and tips. Its corporate social responsibility program is built all around giving people free gifts out of Coke vending machines at shopping malls, the Happiness Truck in underprivileged communities worldwide, and so much more. I’m pretty sure the marketing team and shareholders alike are happy with the brand’s 96 million likes on Facebook and sales of more than 1.7 billion servings of its product daily.

How you can add happiness to your brand’s marketing:

1. Learn What Moves Your Customers: Every personality has style, color, energy, art and more preferences. What are those associated with your target consumer? I was working with an agency that creates ads for auto dealers. We did a psychology-based marketing audit of its customers for a specific car and learned the creative was spot-off in its ads. The psychology profile for potential buyers was bright colors, high-energy visuals, and action/adventure-oriented themes. Its ad featuring a white car, sitting still in a parking lot, was doing nothing. We changed it up and changed response.

2. Know Your Data: Skip the transactional data and focus on behavioral data that is aligned with emotions. As mentioned earlier, we learned from neuromarketers that 90 percent of our thoughts and subsequent actions are driven by emotions, not conscious thought processes upon which our past transactions are based. Invest in programs that help you understand patterns, attitudes, emotional needs based upon behavior science, generational and cultural influences.

3. Share the Love: Remember, customers are people with strong emotional needs that go far beyond the products they purchase. And they are more than a name on a data field with a dollar value assigned to it. Create customer journeys that provide joy, relief and comfort along the way with your brand, and put in place return policies and customer service protocols that make them “Happy” when working with you vs. frustrated or anxious.

Most importantly, have fun creating opportunities for your customers and speaking with them on their terms, and from their own persona. When you have fun and create happiness on the job, it is simply contagious. And that’s a good thing to spread.

Millennials, Music and Marketing

Music is a powerful marketing vehicle that fits neatly into the social media space. Big brands have aligned with celebrity artists to reach Millennials in their native social media milieu. Taylor Swift is the face of Keds and Diet Coke. Impresario JayZ has a multi-million dollar deal with Samsung, and Katie Perry is on board with H&M to name just a few. Music festivals have become mega-marketing events with a complex web of social sharing opportunities.

Music is a powerful marketing vehicle that fits neatly into the social media space. Big brands have aligned with celebrity artists to reach Millennials in their native social media milieu. Taylor Swift is the face of Keds and Diet Coke. Impresario JayZ has a multi-million dollar deal with Samsung, and Katie Perry is on board with H&M, to name just a few. Music festivals have become mega-marketing events, with a complex Web of social sharing opportunities.


This relationship between big brands and celebrity musicians is symbiotic: For the brands, music can be the relevant tie that binds them to an audience that’s skeptical of traditional advertising. For celebrity musicians, brand endorsements are not only a lucrative revenue stream, but also an important platform for extending their reach.

But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s, most boomers would have called a rock star who endorsed products a sell-out. You would never see anything like The Grateful Dead endorsing Fritos back then, but now we even have Bob Dylan on TV for IBM’s Watson.


The evolution of music into a marketing vehicle has been a long, strange trip. Music has always been a shared experience, but there’s a huge difference in the way young people share between Millennials, the current largest generation, and boomers, the previous largest generation.

From my teens through my 30s, it was cool to have a high-fidelity stereo system (tuner/amp, three-way speakers and turntable) to play vinyl records at high volume and fill a room full of friends with music. Music listening was a social thing, something to be shared live and in-person. The listening unit was an album side, usually start to finish, but occasionally someone would take the trouble to play an individual cut, carefully using the turntable lever to drop the needle in the space between the grooves of the spinning vinyl platter. These precious vinyl disks were handled very carefully to ensure that they didn’t collect oily fingerprints, or God forbid, noise-producing scratches.

Back then, creating a playlist was not a drag-and-drop task. It was a longer-than-real-time event. Using a reel-to-reel or cassette tape recorder plugged into the same amplifier as the turntable, the playlist maker would push the record button, drop the needle for each track, play it through, pause the tape, carefully change out the vinyl record, and then record the next track. The advent of the compact disc made this a bit easier, but it was still a real-time event.

For Millennials, music is still a shared experience, but it’s shared on social media rather than in-person. Rather than being an onerous task, the easily generated playlist is now a common unit of listening. People share playlists through Spotify and Pandora, and can instantly share snippets of music they’re listening to on Spotify or Apple Music using Facebook Music Stories. And music consumption is high. A study by Vevo found that Millennials spend an average of 25 hours per week streaming music.

But rather than filling a room with music, much of music listening today is a solitary activity, using earbuds and mobile devices. High-fidelity systems are a thing of the past – people 18 to 34 are about half as likely to own a receiver/amplifier as those 55 to 64 according to MRI+ data. And while 11 percent of 55 to 64 year olds still have a turntable, only 2 to 3 percent of Millennials own one. Meanwhile, Millennials are about 50 percent more likely to own an mp3 player docking station (with tiny little speakers) and 40 percent more likely to own earbuds than their older counterparts.

The biggest change, however, has come in the area of music festivals. Last year, 14.7 million Millennials attended music festivals. Face-value for Coachella tickets was $349. The festival grossed over $84 million. And brands like Coca Cola, Red Bull and TMobile pony up about $1.4 billion annually in festival sponsorship money. Why? A study by live promoter group AEG and branding company Momentum Worldwide found that 93 percent of those surveyed stated that they liked the brands that sponsor live events. Eighty percent said that they will purchase a product following a music festival experience, as opposed to 55 percent of those who were not in attendance, and those who attended a music festival with brand sponsorship walked away with a 37 percent better perception of the company.

By contrast, Woodstock, the watershed music festival of 1969, was attended by about 500,000 people. Not all of them had the three-day festival ticket that sold for $18. Corporate sponsors? Really?

4 Tips to Get in the Mobile Mindset

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done. Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology … Mobile is about your customer. Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical. Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

We’ve talked about SMS, mobile websites and mobile email. But, as you may know, those are just tools to get your job of marketing your business done.

Yes, building these into your strategy are the core foundations of mobile success, but mobile is more than technology …

Mobile is about your customer.

Now, I’m not here to shout out stats, because I’ve provided those before. And, frankly, you’re here … so you know adding mobile to your business is critical.

Your customers are mobile … therefore, your business needs to be.

Now, before you go and plan your strategy and determine the appropriate tactics to reach your goals, you need to put yourself in the mobile mindset.

I recently attended Mobile Marketer‘s Mobile FirstLook event in New York in which many brands, such as Coca-Cola, Sephora, MillerCoors, Nissan and JetBlue discussed their strategies.

I noticed that all of these individuals work within their entire organization to help them think differently about the mobile opportunity.

Making sure you have the mobile mindset and your organization is on board and you’re more likely to succeed.

Here are four tips I learned from the top brands on getting in the mobile mindset:

1. Think about your mobile opportunity across your organization.

Mobile isn’t just about marketing. Can mobile enable your sales team to sell more effectively? Can mobile optimize tasks to save time? Can mobile save you money by cutting down on transaction fees?

Before you think SMS, QR Codes or apps, think “How can mobile add value to all of the other parts of my organization?”

2. Stop making it complicated.

Believe me, I know it’s super complex and overwhelming to keep up with the latest and greatest technologies.

Coca-Cola focuses on six aspects of its mobile programs. Those are the six that work for THEIR business. They may not be the same for your business, but you can’t worry about ALL the possibilities of mobile. Focus on the handful of things that will most impact your business.

3. Work with the right partners. Ones you can trust.

Luckily, we don’t have to do all of this alone. In fact, if you try you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up. Aligning yourself with the right strategic partners and technology partners is important.

Again, every business is different, so you need to make sure that the workflow and process of your partners matches the style of your business. You most likely want to enjoy working with them, too. Make sure personalities mesh well.

Finally, I don’t care how big your company is. Mobile is no longer a “nice to have.” No matter the size of your business, you can find someone who knows more than you do and who is able to offer services.

4. Stop waiting.

This was probably the most powerful statement of all. So simple, but it needed to be said.

With technology advancing so fast, some businesses find themselves waiting for the next great thing in order to start. Guess what? When you do that … you never start.

Listen, nobody is going to do it for you … it’s on you to dive in and get the process started.

If you’re dilly-dallying and finding excuses to wait just a little bit longer … quit complaining and start taking action.

Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine. But what you learn from those mistakes will be an important part of your growth.

Starting now is the only way you’re going to learn what works for YOUR business.