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Insight #166 - BIRDS

What began as a simple holiday newsletter suddenly got really complex.

Last week, I said this issue would be about birds. I would identify four bird personalities, and you could decide which portrays your brand marketing. Unfortunately, my plan quickly unraveled, and the process created an epiphany for me.


Full disclosure: My original thesis was to only focus on three bird personalities.


The Eagle – Bold and majestic. The eagle will attack its prey and usually win. It will attack its competition with the same energy. Its idea of market share is nothing less than 100%. It will throw all its resources at conquering a market. And when its conquest is complete, it begins seeking a new target market. If your marketing approach is aggressive, raise your hand, but keep reading.

The Dove – the opposite of the eagle. It’s cute and moves slowly. It nods its head with every step. It probably would rather stay safely on the ground foraging for its next meal than taking flight. It’s the symbol of peace. In marketing speak, it represents business as usual. You may be comfortable, but your brand may have to go on suicide watch in 2020.

The Owl – My favorite. Steady. Great eyesight to capture data on its hunting ground, aka marketplace. Thoughtful; processes data and knows when to engage. Its head swivels giving it a wide range of vision to watch not only its marketplace but its competition, as well. It’s stealthy; attacks silently in flight until its prey has no chance – in marketing speak, it creates content and creative unmatched by competitors and compelling for buyers. The ultimate marketing bird. A survivor.

Then, I made a horrible mistake. Last Sunday, I had breakfast with a longtime friend who is responsible for strategy and communications at a major healthcare firm, I asked her what bird would best describe their marketing. Without any hesitation she said, “A SKETCHY PARAKEET.” After I composed myself, I asked why. She replied that they are constantly scratching around the market, looking for the next nibble. With regard to their marketing, she noted that we flap around when we fly, and it’s not always pretty. And we squawk a lot.

I should have ended this quest for finding the perfect bird, but that would be too easy. The next person I asked suggested a robin. It’s beautiful and graceful in flight. It builds sturdy nests and nurtures its young. It walks around using its feet to sense a worm and makes quick work in capturing its next meal. This bird is not going to get out of its comfort zone. When it gets cold, it flies south to find a warmer marketplace to find its next meal. It has an innate sense to keep moving to avoid missing the next worm.

Finally, my last inquiry was to a director of a small non-profit counseling service. His bird was a goose. His rationale was that geese fly in a tight formation, rotating leadership in flight and taking care of other geese in the flock that may not be able to keep up. Geese always know where they are going and know where their next marketplace is. On the ground they are bold and demanding. Be a goose.


INsight #1: Everyone has their own bird, with each having its own unique set of characteristics. 


This became a fascinating exercise and very insightful. Every brand has its specific marketplace challenges, whether its marketplace is B2B, B2C, or D2C. However, as I work with clients to simplify their marketing and take the complexity out of complex, I stay focused on helping everyone understand there are only three primary marketing initiatives:

  •  Get new customers (Acquisition)

  •  Keep them (Retention)

  •  Grow them (Growth)

INsight #2: My epiphany. Everyone has a different definition of marketing, as demonstrated by their choice of birds. 


I believe we already knew that, but as we wrap up 2019 and prepare for the new Roaring 2020s, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that the goal of every marketing initiative is to emotionally influence the next sale. The bird you select to represent how you get it done defines your marketing approach. But the primary objectives do not change.

Next week we will close out the year and the decade with a recap of prevailing winds and shifting currents and try to set the tone for 2020.


I’ll close by wishing everyone a joyous holiday week. Ring the bells and light the candles. Gather family and friends and reaffirm what’s important in your lives. Happy holidays.


The EndGame: New thinking. New vision. New energy.©

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