What We’re Watching: How a Brand’s Short-term Failures Can Equal Long-term Success

This article in Entrepreneur dives into how you can discover innovation success through a process of trial and error. In other words: don’t be afraid to fail. Failing fast and failing cheap can speed up the innovation process by providing much-needed lessons for improvement on future innovations. Try utilizing quick and on-trend research methods using Artificial Intelligence to gather “real life” consumer learning in a way that’s fast, easy and forward thinking.

Always be sure to develop an integrated sales and marketing plan to be sure that your brand message is consistent both online and off. The goal? Make sure that 1+1=3.


How does a brand root itself in consumers’ minds to become their go-to when purchasing? This article from Wharton details the human brain’s preference for the positive and gives insight into building your brand’s unique, memory-fueled “Connectome.” Here are our major takeaways:

  1. Strong brands don’t have to have one powerful idea or concept, rather they have to deliver on multiple “positive” associations.
  2. Addressing the positives is more effective than rebutting the negatives of a consumer experience.  This could be why “weight loss” messages are not seen as positive anymore
  3. Targeted consumer experience has more to do with the vehicles and environment you choose than the core brand message
  4. Multiple brand messages should be used provided they complement each other – this expands the brand’s meaning in the minds of different consumers.
  5. All brands have the potential to grow, no matter where they are in their lifecycle. Staying still and complacent will eventually lead to decline.  Keep moving!

Check out the full article here.

What We’re Watching: Gaining an Innovation Edge

Innovation is the fuel that keeps a company growing, especially in today’s fast paced marketplace.  Here is a link to a discussion around Apple and whether they are maintaining their edge with regard to innovation.  Here are a few takeaways on how this could apply to your business:

  • Invention vs. Innovation – your company needs to have both to really accelerate your business.  A unique invention comes to life with an innovative go-to-market model.
  • Innovation comes from multiples places: really understanding your customers and their needs, leveraging your company’s assets and organizational knowledge, and looking forward to anticipate future needs – skate where the puck is headed, so to speak.
  • A balanced innovation portfolio – to truly have a focus on innovation your organization needs to consider a variety of ideas with varying time horizons, cost to commercialize and likelihood of success:
    • Small, incremental improvements to existing businesses
    • New market innovations
    • Moon-shot projects

Only with a portfolio that includes a representation of all three will an organization truly develop an innovation eco-system.

  • Deep customer understanding – Successful innovation relies on a deep understanding of the customer and delivering against their “job to be done” – it’s a constant, but always worth emphasizing.


Creating value is always a hard task when developing and growing a brand in today’s crowded marketplace.  Focusing on the consumer, their “job to be done” and the emotional component of the brand all contribute to how much value the target consumer assigns to the product.  This becomes especially important for small and mid-sized brands as their brand’s value equation (and associated story) can help it successfully compete with larger brands in today’s omni-channel retail environment.

This article from Wharton discusses the hierarchy of such consumer values (from functional to emotional to aspirational), providing a “scientific” method to the art of marketing to your target consumer.

AI Learning – Sounds Scary – It’s Great.

We had the opportunity to run an online “AI” powered focus group last month on behalf of one of our clients. At every industry event we have been to this year artificial intelligence (AI) has been discussed: it’s imminent, intimidating and inevitable. When we had the opportunity to employ AI in a qualitative format with a quantitative sized group of respondents, we were both anxious and excited. The result was extraordinary.

Our client needed to assess and confirm their brand position and select a package design from four options to help them get to market fast. Working with our strategic research partner, Persuadable Research, we identified a new learning platform where we could gather 130 of our identified target consumers online for one hour. What made this especially unique was the use of AI to take the consumer’s verbatim responses and, using the program’s language learning software, immediately identify common themes and reactions to the package concepts. In a matter of minutes, we could see what resonated with consumers and, of course, what didn’t. We received thousands of affirmative responses to the winning concepts. Within 60 minutes we understood what resonated with consumers from a positioning standpoint (in their own words) and identified the preferred package design, which was NOT the one we’d thought it would be. And most importantly, we understood why they chose that design and the emotions it elicited.

Net: in just 60 minutes using AI, we were able to get quantitative data in a focus group setting, giving us confidence in the choices we are making to launch the brand. And importantly – its cost is roughly 1/3 of the cost of in-person focus groups, while yielding both qualitative and statistically significant, quantitative results. It’s not so scary after all. In fact, it’s amazing.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with us here.


As January comes to a close, we’re looking into new and continuing marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2018.  High on the list is the unexpected transformation of competitor into potential partner.  In 2017, we saw Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, a partnership that rocked the foundation of grocery retail (a category which will likely be pressured even more in 2018 to turn to e-commerce).  With the continued expansion of Amazon, brands might take note and look to join together in their efforts to innovate in the marketplace in 2018.  This trend could create several interesting, unexpected partnerships and cause brands to think outside the box.

In this enlightening video, L2 discusses this and other trends of the last year, as well as what we might expect in 2018.


A primary element of a solid brand strategy is package design – it’s one of our favorite “P”s in our Brand Check Up process.  It is important for all brands but even more so for small and mid-sized brands to differentiate themselves on the shelf (often where they are most visible) from the competition.  Packaging can also be one of the most important marketing tactics a brand can use when working with limited budgets.  A couple of things to keep in mind when designing or redesigning a brand’s packaging:

  • You must clearly understand your target consumer’s “job to be done” and be sure that your package design communicates to their need.
  • You may be able to differentiate your product on shelf through a new form or product delivery system. Seek to be different.

In this article, our partner The Goldstein Group discusses the package redesign they did for heritage Skin-care brand Dr. Smith’s.  It’s worth the read.

Provisor News: Provisor Attends P&G Alumni Global Conference

We had the opportunity to attend the 7th bi-annual P&G Alumni Conference held earlier this month in Cincinnati.  We enjoyed returning to the city (which has seen a great revitalization since last we were there) and re-connecting with former colleagues and friends.  The conference spanned three days and covered topics like innovation, global market trends and more.  Through CEO roundtables, best practice presentations, and lots of networking, we enjoyed every minute of the conference.  Here are our “big takeaways” from the event:

Julie’s Takeaway:  Innovation is the cornerstone of any brand’s growth plan, regardless of its size.  In fact, the principle of innovating when a brand is winning was a key theme at the conference.  Many brands wait to innovate until their business stalls as a way to turn the brand’s business around.  In fact, the best time to generate new growth ideas is when the brand is healthy, giving you the opportunity to build on forward momentum and shape the brand’s future.  Fortunately, this innovation culture favors small, nimble brands.  With a focus on speed, agility, a culture that rewards new ways of doing things, and an authentic story, small brands can utilize innovation to successfully compete with larger brands in today’s marketplace.

Kate’s Takeaway:  It’s still true: No matter what product or service you sell, now more than ever the consumer is the driver.  The difference today?  We can no longer tell the consumer why our brand is better, we must listen to what our consumers want and engage with them on their terms.  Those who do (Intuit, Mondelez, Google, etc.) succeed.  Fortunately, with new technology and AI there are many new and innovative ways to hear what the consumer is saying (or typing).  Online listening posts and fast product learning models allow us to listen, learn and react quickly to changes in consumer perception of a brand.

Provisor News: Julie McPeek Gives Marketing Lecture at Cornell University

An active alumni of Cornell University, Julie McPeek is no stranger to paying the campus a visit for reasons both personal and professional.  Her youngest daughter Kiley is currently a senior at the university and both Julie and Kate have returned to campus several times since founding Provisor Marketing as guest speakers for Professor Deborah Streeter’s entrepreneurship class. This September, Julie will not only be speaking again in the AEM 3340: Women, Leadership and Entrepreneurship class, but will be a guest lecturer for the class Marketing for Non-Majors.  Julie will draw from her extensive career in the industry where she has advised over 80 different CPG brands.   “I’m looking forward to sharing my passion with such a large group,” Julie said.  “My greatest challenge will be narrowing down the curriculum.  I could teach a whole semester of this class and not run out of material!”  Julie’s guest lecture will take place on September 9, 2017 in the Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall.


what has happened to the Whole Foods model

Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget takes a look at what has happened to the Whole Foods model since Amazon took over and what it could mean for the grocery industry at large.