• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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The Tom Dougherty Blog

CMOs realize they must steal market share

Well, this isn’t much of a surprise. According to survey of chief marketing officers, only 5% said they were confident in their agency’s performance.

The survey, conducted by the CMO Council and Ebiquity, was focused on how satisfied CMOs were about receiving the right kind of data from their agencies. More than 80% said they were looking for usable data that helped marketing positively affect the bottom line.


Stealing market share is the only goal of marketing.
Stealing market share is the only goal of marketing.

We at Stealing Share have longed preached that advertising agencies are creative, but not strategic and rarely data-driven in any important way. Oh sure, they may conduct usage and attitude studies, but they are not useful in developing strategies that, ahem, steal market share.

You see, the dirty little secret of advertising agencies is that they want to build long-term relationships with clients, so they end up with data and strategies that mean the most to the client. Not to the target audience they are trying to persuade.

That’s the reason why most advertising has become a waste of time and money. It’s the reason why you see so much TV advertising, for example, that is basically a 30-second skit with the company’s logo appearing at the end. Those ads may win awards and go viral on YouTube, but they do very little to improve the bottom line.

Interestingly, the survey showed that CMOs are having to be more accountable to the company’s bottom line, which means that CEOs are sensing that they are foolishly spending money on flashy campaigns that don’t really steal market share.

Some advice to CMOs.

Now, you can read all about how Stealing Share makes this happen on our site. But I’d like to give CMOs some advice.

Look from the outside-in and not inside-out. Conventional wisdom is to identify something important about the brand and give life to that importance. That’s inside-out thinking and results in messaging that is identical to your competition.

But brand is never about you. Instead, it’s about the beliefs and needs of the people you must influence. Not in the things you make or your company itself.

That means you must ask more of the research you conduct. Your research must go beyond usage and attitudes, and more into switching triggers and precepts, the values that actually move audiences.

The strange part of that approach is that many companies and CMOs don’t want to hear that because they may find out that what they consider important about their brand is actually not important at all to target audiences. You have to slay the sacred cows and look at things objectively.

It’s no surprise to me that CMOs are getting more pressure because the state of advertising has been overtaken by those looking to win awards, affirm what CMOs already believe and entertain an audience.

The simple truth is those goals are not important. Stealing market share is the only goal.

Tom Brady and the culture of cheating

There are more scenarios to play out for final judgment, but it sure is becoming difficult to believe that Tom Brady didn’t direct balls to be deflated for last season’s AFC Championship Game and that he did cooperate with the ensuing investigation.

That’s where were are at the moment with Deflategate.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the four-game suspension after Brady’s appeal, charging the NFL star with destroying his cell phone the day before or the day of him being questioned by investigators.

It's getting hard to believe Brady.
It’s getting hard to believe Brady.

That’s the main sticking point when it comes, not in federal court where the players’ union will sue the NFL over the appeal process, but in the court of public opinion. The NFL said “Mr. Brady knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to equipment managers to deflate the balls. That means the phone was evidence and the timing of its destruction is suspicious at best.

Brady says he always destroys his old phone when he gets a new one (he switched from an Android to an iPhone 6, so he’s acquired good taste). But the timing makes that hard to believe. (And the NFL says that Brady still has an older phone he didn’t destroy.)

Once the lawyers have had it (and who knows how long that process will take), many of us will start to wonder about the brand of Tom Brady. I’m not talking legacy because I still see this as a minor offense and I believe Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, regardless.

But the story of Tom Brady has always had its underdog charm. He shared the QB position in college with a baseball prospect, was drafted alarmingly low (sixth round) by the New England Patriots, become the Lou Gehrig to Drew Bledsoe’s Wally Pip by winning four Super Bowls and married a supermodel.

That’s the American dream, isn’t it?

Where we go from here.

Now, with the shadow of Spygate (the Patriots were penalized for filming opponents’ signals in 2007), we wonder if Brady and the Patriots foster a culture of cheating. For the fanatic anti-Patriot fan, that’s a no-brainer yes.

For the rest of us, who fall in the middle, there will always be that cloud of suspicion, whether Brady wins the lawsuit or not. The damage has been done.

We probably expect our sport idols to be perfect too much and for them to ignore their competitive nature when we deem it appropriate. But if the brand of Tom Brady (and the New England Patriots) is shadowy, then to repair the brand means being the opposite of that. To be transparent.

Brady has responded on Facebook, refuting the NFL’s claims, but it doesn’t quite hold water. (For one thing, the explanation for destroying the phone is hard to believe.)

The courts will take over now but it would behoove Brady, if he is interested in repairing his public image (and he may not), to be candid, open and honest. He will no doubt be lawyered up for the moment, but he’s still got some work to do.

Gordon Ramsay may flame out

There once was a time when Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares was my favorite show on television.

But then Gordon Ramsay, like dandelions, started popping up everywhere. This is terribly unfortunate because, just like dandelions, the first few Gordon Ramsay shows were pleasant enough, but after a while they were as annoying as weeds.

I’m not going to bash Gordon Ramsay. I like the guy. There have been times in Kitchen Nightmares where you can see a deep level of earnestness and compassion in him. He cheers on the underdog and praises the hard work of individuals who might not always receive it. He also, as we know, tells it like it is.

But why is he everywhere?

Gordon Ramsay should be cooking more. 

There’s this video circulating on Facebook of Ramsay cooking the “perfect steak.”

It’s intoxicating, isn’t it? Watching it makes me feel like I am viewing a master who can effortlessly achieve his goals. That’s a special thing to behold.

Why then isn’t Gordon Ramsay treating his brand as carefully?

Instead, we are inundated with formulaic shows where Ramsay is yelling all the time about scallops not being cooked (Hells’ Kitchen) or of him making cliche restaurant changes (the Americanized version of Kitchen Nightmares) or, his most commendable foray, leading a competition of home cooks (Master Chef).

Gordon Ramsay is overexposed.

The flames are metaphorical only.
The flames are metaphorical only.

Stealing Share has written a great deal about repairing an ailing brand. Sometimes, the process involves brand repair. In this case, Ramsay is overexposed and will eventually flame out at this rate. It’s time to step back.

Gordon Ramsay and his management team should consider his brand clearly and fix permissions that limit acceptance or create barriers. Limitations like television shows that expose him as a cartoon-like hot head and have the same outcomes, year in and year out.

It’s time for Gordon Ramsay to cut the fat. Here’s what I think he should do: have one first-rate show doing what he does best: cook.

Fiat Chrysler hack disturbing in many ways

Now this Fiat Chrysler hack is a little scary. Fiat Chrysler is recalling its new Jeep Cherokees after the company found that its Internet connectivity can be hacked.

The uConnect system, which allows drivers to control their entertainment and navigation abilities while driving, is being recalled to update the software.

The pitfall of all this technology.
The pitfall of all this technology.

This is only the beginning. Auto sales are rising in 2015 for several reasons. Cars that most of us have kept going longer than we normally would have are now being turned in for newer models, consumers are getting savvier about buying online (and dealerships are getting smarter about how to transform that into on-lot sales) and new automobiles are being outfitted with new technology.

Sales had dipped over the last decade, primarily because the manufacturers gave consumers few reasons to trade in their own vehicles that were running just fine. Messaging, as we’ve seen in our latest automotive study, is all so similar that consumers can’t distinguish one brand from another. (Which is why there is little brand loyalty and some inertia.)

Technology, having a vehicle that’s as tapped into the Internet as your laptop, has been the driving force for new trade-ins. Now, consumers have a reason to upgrade from their technology-less vehicles.

The problem with all this new technology.

But there are two issues looming that automakers must consider. For one, as the Fiat Chrysler hack has shown, security will become an initial differentiating force as consumers want to make sure that their information and control are protected. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads in the coming months that hit on the idea of Internet security.

That’s all fine and good. But, eventually, technology and security will become table stakes, i.e., what you need to even play in the market. Pretty soon, all new brands will have up-to-date technology and powerful security. Those values will become as common as low gas mileage is today.

That means automotive manufacturers will be left in the same place they were heading into this year: Having nothing that provides a true choice among all the competition.

McDonalds all day breakfast is a Band-Aid

McDonalds has released an internal memo to its franchises saying that they should prepare for the possibility of an October rollout of a limited-breakfast all-day menu. It is no secret that McDonalds has been struggling the last few years as consumers move to other options in a never-ending sea of fast food and quick service options (as well as healthier options). McDonalds has, at least in my estimation, also done a poor job in marketing (anyone need more lovin?) and positioning its brand as both relevant and important.

This memo to its franchises, though not definite, just feels like McDonalds doing more of the same – grasping at anything with no sense of direction for its brand.

Offering the Egg McMuffin all day will make the sales of McDonalds rise?
Offering the Egg McMuffin all day will make the sales of McDonalds rise?

Based upon some success in San Diego and Nashville, the McDonalds all day breakfast menu will be offered, citing that “Our customers love it — they’ve been asking for it for years…”

McDonalds hopes this new menu will help its sagging sales but this kind of thinking is exactly why McDonald’s is failing to regain its lost traction. Think about what McDonald’s is saying when it rationalizes this step by saying, “Our customers love it — they’ve been asking for it for years…”

McDonalds is saying that people, its customers, have been asking for it for years – the people that already are choosing McDonalds. So I ask you, are those people who are asking for it going to a competitor for fast-food breakfast at lunch or dinner? Likely not.

Breakfast all day is a temporary fix.

Locally, Sonic is the only all-day full menu breakfast drive-thru restaurant and, while it has some success with breakfast items later in the night, its focus on lunch and dinner is certainly on traditional items with emphasis on shakes and beverages.

I guess McDonalds’ customers could go to a Denny’s, IHOP, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel or the like but that would mean no drive-thru. My hunch is that most of those asking for it are coming in at 11 am, trying to order an Egg McMuffin, or the late night crowd who want an order of fries and a breakfast burrito.

While a move like this will certainly give McDonalds a marginal boost in some markets, it will not rescue McDonalds from its sagging sales. When you throw in the operational complication, this is a recipe for failed expectations on the part of McDonalds management. The problems of McDonalds are deeper than offering breakfast at other day parts. The once vital McDonalds brand has failed to remain relevant, vital and important. Breakfast at lunch or dinner will not make the brand.

Spotify mixtape a fear-based decision

I’m one of those people who must have his music playing whenever I’m working, driving or lounging around the house.

I feel connected with the music I listen to; it makes me feel a bit more lucid and creative.

Spotify, Tidal and now Apple Music have all been a part of my listening experience.

As of now, I am sold on Apple Music. It’s fully integrated with all of the devices I use, the catalog is extensive and the musical suggestions it offers (playlists and albums) just keep improving the more I use the service.

Has Spotify become reactionary?
Has Spotify become reactionary?

Spotify once held the throne for me, but no longer. And my hunch is a lot of folks are starting to feel just like me with its services.

Spotify is making fear-based decisions. 

This isn’t a left field statement. Yesterday, I read that Spotify was making a weekly, personalized mixtape for its users.

The idea behind the Spotify mixtape is to provide users with a tailored list of songs that will appear every Monday. The songs might be similar to those you are already listening to or they might be a slight stretch in a certain direction of your taste preferences.

This is a great concept, but I can’t help but think it’s in reaction to the wonderful preference algorithm Apple Music has in place.

Here is the problem. Spotify has 75 million users worldwide. Even with such lofty numbers, it hasn’t been able to pinpoint user preferences the way Apple Music has.

Fear-based decisions are often decided when one company is seeking share from the market leader. You would expect Spotify would envision itself as the market leader, but its actions suggest it believes that Apple Music is about to become the leader. Hence, the copying of Apple’s preference built playlists.

The writing isn’t on the wall for Spotify, but a re-thinking (a rebrand perhaps?) seems to be of the utmost importance in response to the market changes.

Trump presidential bid nonsense

I’ve been avoiding writing anything about the Donald Trump presidential bid because I thought his run would quickly burn itself out. I still think it will, but polls suggest he is still leading the Republican Party nomination in this early stage.

Trump has always been a self-promoter of the highest order and his blustering comments (on immigration, the Iran deal and now John McCain) are part of his brand. What his son, Eric, recently said was that The Donald “is fed up with the nonsense.”

Who he appeals to, a loud minority.
Who he appeals to, a loud minority.

It’s easy to say that Donald Trump himself is nonsense, but fringe candidates (and, yes, Trump is a fringe candidate) appeal to a relatively small segment that are angry about being ignored.

Remember, Ross Perot? He was an independent candidate in 1992, a media darling who captured the attention of the economically disenfranchised who thought a billionaire could fix the country’s economic problem.

Eventually, he burned out and Bill Clinton won over incumbent George HW Bush because Perot’s appeal – while strong – simply didn’t appeal to enough people. (And many just thought he was a kook.)

The Republicans (and media) are at fault.

Trump’s advantages are that he is well known (even if not particularly beloved) and the race for the Republican nomination has an absurd 15 candidates. (Or is it 16 now? I lose track.) It is a scattered Republican market, if you will. That means few, if anyone, knows what the Republican Party stands for today. It looks lost with so many candidates running, suggesting that no candidate thinks the other is worthy of the nomination. There’s simply not one voice representing the party.

In essence, the other Republican candidates are trying to be for everyone, while Trump is saying who he is for and not for.

Trump then speaks to a minority (even if he says he represents the “silent majority) because there is no majority in the Republican Party. There’s just fractures of populations.

Trump is the loudest here, and his brand has always been about being the loudest and most extravagant. It’s there in his hotels, casinos and other real estate ventures. They are loud, with gold trimming and big lights with the name TRUMP blazed everywhere.

Sanity will eventually prevail and we’ll look back at Trump’s run as the mainstream media getting hoodwinked into playing his game. How many times can he go on the Today Show? Even The Huffington Post announcing that it will run Trump news in its entertainment section is playing into Trump’s hands so he can say that is nonsense and people are out to get him.

Trump will not win the nomination and his comments will continue to be offensive. But he’s doing exactly what he’s always done. Playing up to the brand of Donald Trump.

Netflix Amazon movies coming to you

A new report states that live TV viewership has dropped 6% over the last year, which comes as a surprise to no one. Most of us just have to look inside our own homes to see that much of what we watch today is recorded, streamed or downloaded.

TV networks have joined the game by offering most of its shows online, either through on demand services or their own websites. The fact that those between the ages of 18-24 watched live TV 16% less than they did a year ago just proves that our entertainment habits are quickly changing.

In light of that, I’m beginning to wonder if streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are going to become the largest content producers in the landscape.

Netflix's first foray into the movie business.
Netflix’s first foray into the movie business.

Hear me out. It’s not just that both streaming services are producing their own TV shows, but they are also getting into the movie business. Netflix has already announced that its first feature, Beasts of No Nation (directed by True Detective Season 1 director Cary Fukunaga) will be shown in theaters and on Netflix on the same day later this year. It is only the first of a slate of movies Netflix will roll out the same way in the future.

Amazon may be even more aggressive in the movie department. It announced yesterday that Spike Lee’s new movie, Chi-Raq, will be released in theaters, followed a month later on Amazon Prime. Like Netflix, it will be the first of many to come.

What interested me most about these maneuvers is what Ted Hope, who leads Amazon’s film division, told the Hollywood Reporter.

“We’re looking to make visionary work by visionary directors. I would say The Imitation Game, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel are all totally in the zone. Prestige titles, the kind of movie that isn’t for the teenaged audience.”

Hope explained that audiences interested in prestige films are also the ones most likely to buy from the Amazon website (and become Prime members) so the movie push goes hand in hand with its retail business.

Why Netflix and Amazon are becoming movie studios.

The trend of Netflix Amazon movies is a smart move for both for different reasons. For Netflix, its business model is all about acquiring and producing content to attract new subscribers. (And Netflix is apparently doing very well with that.) For Amazon, it’s to prompt Prime members to buy more products.

In addition, they fill a hole in the movie landscape. Superhero movies have taken over our movie screens. So much so that last week’s Comic Con was treated as an important industry event along the lines of the Oscars and this weekend sees the opening of another Marvel product few have ever heard of: Ant-Man.

What's playing at the multiplex.
What’s playing at the multiplex.

To get people out of their homes to watch a movie at a theater, the studios have to make each movie an event. Just like when, in the ‘50s, studios trotted out a host of biblical epics to combat the onset of television.

That kind of thinking leaves many of us out. It’s not the big budget or, really, the low-budget movies that make up most of the classic films we adore. It’s the middle-budget ones that aren’t targeted to a 16-year-old boy.

That’s where Amazon and Netflix are coming in. We are fast entering the period, if we are not already there, where we can simply cue up just about anything we want to see, including original content, at home.

To be a powerful brand, you have to state who you are for and, most importantly, who you are not for. In that sense, Netflix and Amazon are becoming even greater successes.