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We all have favorite products that we buy time after time. Either we can't find their features in other products, or the products we buy serve ours purposes and we have no desire to try anything else.

Of course, not everyone agrees with our preferences, and a product could disappear for good. But some products keep on trucking. Think about products that have been around for over 20 years.

For example, Food Network recently told the story of The Clabber Girl baking powder. Originally called Clabber, the product was renamed The Clabber Girl because people referred to the image of a girl on the label. Since its re-branding in 1923, little has changed about the product. A simple name change may keep a product alive for decades.

Some products need do little to nothing to stay alive. Others suffer a undeserved fate if their company tries to do something different (remember New Coke?). Since not all products are blessed with a strong loyalty and reputation, most companies need to do something to revitalize their product's life. Read on for ways to keep your brand alive.

Current Marketing Challenge

Shaking life into a product at the end of its lifecycle 

My product brand is an old brand in the eyes of consumers, and no proper branding campaign has been carried out. Even with loyal customers, sales have dropped since competitors appearing on the market are sharing the cake. In fact, young people do not know about the brand at all.

I know when products reach the end of their lifecycle they either retire or renew. We aren't ready to send our product out to pasture. How can I reposition my brand and increase sales? 

—Samantha

Here are three ways to resuscitate your product:

  1. Encourage participation
  2. Make old new again
  3. Get inside or outside help

Next Marketing Challenge

Hire experience or motivated and intelligent?

Click here to offer your advice or here to ask a question.

Encourage participation

What better way to save a product than go to your customers and involve them? In some cases, you may find a new target market for a product. When you involve a new target market, your company has the opportunity to get to know the new market better while finding ways to better communicate and connect with it. Mary Baum, chairman of Mary Baum Creative Services, supports that approach:

I'd refresh the identity graphics and packaging to be as bold and as young as you can. Then, relaunch with a contest: What can you do with product Z? Use online media heavily, plus special events with heavy doses of community involvement—schools or campuses if your product passes the wholesomeness test; other causes, especially environmental or social justice, work well with youth, too. Spread print collateral and guerilla teams far and wide, be locally relevant, and do everything else you can possibly think of to get as much publicity as you can—with an old brand, your budget is probably not unlimited.

Spend as little on traditional media as you can: maybe youth-targeted cable shows (Laguna Beach? Miami Ink? That's what the teenage cook in our house watches) and regionalized, fractional pages in celebrity mags. These should be DR all the way—drive the viewer/reader straight to the contest site to learn about the product, the promotion, the people and PARTICIPATION.

Dan Soschin, director of marketing with Nimaya, Inc., explains how to work with a new target market:

1. Do a profile of your target customer (personality, interests, income, age, demographics, education, etc.).

2. Bring in someone from that group to help you understand the group's habits and interests.

3. Form an informal focus group composed of members of this group to help you identify current trends.

4. Make a list of the top interests of that demographic and what it responds to, and infuse these types of interests into how you brand your product.

5. Bring in someone familiar with that demographic to work with your sales and marketing team. Having an insider might help you highlight where you need improvement.

Jack, a marketing director, recommends: "Build buzz surrounding your product or service by showing why it's contemporary and successful."

Get inside or outside help

Dan Soschin advised hiring an insider who can help highlight areas for improvements. Wah Lee believes that hiring an outside agency or building an internal team can also help reposition a brand:

If you want to hire an outside agency, whether you find it through networking or online, be sure the agency can show you several examples of how its branding efforts have directly increased product sales. If you don't have the budget to hire an expert, build an internal team solely for the purpose of rebranding your product.

Invite representatives from management, public relations, marketing, sales, and your product development team to a brainstorming session. Prepare for the session by researching how other companies have built megabrands. Check out household names like Apple (iPod), Nike, Coke as well as the most popular brands in your industry. Read books and visit blogs on branding like What's Your Brand Mantra? Attend Webinars on branding. In the brainstorming session, the most important things to think about are:

    • Your product's current image
    • Your product's desired image
    • The new message you want to deliver
    • Your goal in rebranding your product
    • Any persons, processes or technology tripping up your brand
    • How to counteract these challenges
    • Ways to build a campaign to call attention to your new brand
    • How to integrate this campaign into all aspects of your business

Make old new again

Leggings, flats with bows and bubble skirts have managed to find their way back in style whether we like them or not. If '80s clothing can make a comeback, almost anything can, too. A reader says, "The trick is to make it seem new."

This could be giving it a new look, label, or name. Find new uses for your product by holding a contest to see who can come up with the best way to use the product. It's a great way to build buzz. Kitsch appeal works.

A reader cites the Pillsbury's Bake-offs as an example. They're not new, but every year they generate lots of energy and free advertising. Take advantage of the Internet's power by creating a blog, email newsletter, or other online information resource.

"Just because new goodies come along isn't a reason to say no to the brands we've trusted and known. Oldies have a following all their own," says a reader.

A product worth sticking around can survive with a little help from customers, consultants, and a revival. If you find yourself in this situation, your company may simply need to cut back on production to save on costs, but then again... the product could become your profit center again.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?

Hire Marketing Experience or Potential? 

My business partner, Susan, and I will soon add staff to our marketing consulting firm. We have different ideas on the qualifications required. Susan thinks that we should only add people who have marketing experience. I, on the contrary, believe that people without marketing experience but who are highly intelligent and motivated can be molded to use our methodology and is the better way to go.

People can learn our business and that of our clients. Of course, experience also has some benefits. What do your readers think—marketing experience or willing and able?

—Peter W., partner, company withheld

If you have a general situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 180,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to deliver their thoughts to resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.