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Knee High By The 4th of July

  • B2B Marcom

  • On my buccolic commute home last night I bisected numerous plots of farm land. The smell of ripe strawberies on a steamy summer night was beyond description. I was surprised to see how tall the corn is. It is already beyond "knee high" and it is still June (the weather has been perfect for corn crops). The old saying (and gauge of crop progress),"knee high by the 4th of July" has held true since I have been paying attention, and was created centuries before that. In olden times people needed sayings like these to remind them of important facts - things they needed to know to survive.

    Thinking about this I was reminded of "slogans" in our B2B Marcom arena. Don't they serve as benchmarks for things we need (want) to know? For example, "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight". That's critical information for some people - and FedEx gained considerably when they made this slogan so pervasive.

    When a B2B or B2C marketer creates just the right slogan with just the right product/service with just the right need - it can be very helpful to the customer, and to the purveyor of the product.

    Katie Muldoon, president of DM/catalog consulting firm Muldoon & Baer Inc., Tequesta, FL, has written a great article, called Unforgettable Branding = Memorable Slogans , on this topic. She lists several unforgetable slogans and discusses the value of weilding a truly meaningful phrase. She says, "Some slogans are so well-liked by consumers that they become a part of the culture: "Just do it" and "Where's the beef?" didn't just explain their brand, they epitomized the way a generation was thinking, locking those customers in big time."

    A counterpoint is offered in an interesting BusinessWeek article by Steve McKee called What's In A Phrase. In it he says, "Slogans aren't magic, and in most cases consumers don't pay that much attention to them anyway."

    Hey, they're both right. Steve says, "If a good turn of phrase happens to capture the essence of that identity, use it. But don't expect a catchy expression to make up for a lack of value. Even the best motto in the world won't stop your customers from asking,'Where's the beef?' " Driving his counterpoint home using a slogan.