Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chris King is smarter than you and me.

Chris King, the component maker, is smarter than you and me and a lot of other folks.

Not only has King Cycle Group quietly built a reputation for creating innovative and lust-worthy parts since the first headsets in 1976, but King has also been very successful in building a very, very loyal group of happy customers who have become evangelists for the brand. This cult will spend hours telling you how smooth the bearings are, how precise the freehub mechanism is or how sturdy the hub shells are. Give them the chance and they will talk to you for days. King is unapolagetic about the fact that their parts cost more than most. They back it up with the fact that the parts are so reliable and nearly infinitely rebuildable. Amazing products actually.

It isn't the parts that makes them so smart though. King has a reputation for giving their followers what they want- great product and a reason to love and support those products. That is the magic.

This week, my inbox had an email in it from Chris (The CD) DiStefano. Chris used to be the official voice of Shimano, another parts maker (some would say THE parts maker since they control the bulk of the world market for bicycle parts). Now Chris plies his trade for King Cycle Group. Chris sent me an email about the fact that they will be hosting daily viewings of Tour de France race action all the way through the event. This is the third year that King has done this and is likely not going to be the last. Not only are they hosting the daily coverage review in a local Portland favorite brew pub, but they are taking donations for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and matching those donations "dollar for dollar up to $3,000". How cool is that? Combining a great way to give a little something back to the local cycling community and King fanatics with raising funds for a great cause. Pure genius!

This is precisely the kind of community building that helps King remain as strong as they are in the market. It isn't just about the incredible products they make or the very "green" way they run their business. They make smart choices when it comes to building a reason for the loyal followers to remain loyal. They have a very cult-like following and they reach out to that cult and do good things.

Here's the lesson in all of this; marketing isn't all about why your product is better than your competitor's product (because they likely have an equally solid reason for why it isn't), but it is very much about building community. A community of loyal fans who will go out and support your product and get other people to do the same. Give them a reason, whether altruistic or otherwise, to support the product and then embrace them for doing it. Sounds like common sense maybe, but it isn't always so easy to understand or execute.

The folks at King are doing a great job of it though and deserve to get a little recognition for it.

Kudos King!

Tim Jackson'
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

(Editor's note; it should be pointed out that Chris DiStefano is a friend of mine. He isn't paying me to speak highly of King or even asking me to do so. In fact, he hasn't even sent me that set of red road hubs I have lusted after for the past 10-12 years. Now that I think about it, he hasn't done a darned thing for me at all... and now I'm starting to reevaluate that whole "friend" thing.)

Posted by Tim Jackson at 8:50 PM 1 comments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shameless self-promotion and thanks.

I was trying to add some new outbound links to the site tonight and realized that I also owe some serious thanks to some of the folks who've been added to the link section on the right. I hope you will check them all out and see why they are recommended reading, in my opinion.

You can start with some of the following reading... nice segue, don't you think?
Michael Wagner is one of the best writers I have encountered recently. He can take a small story from day to day life and turn it into a fantastic parable on Brand Ownership. I highly recommend giving his site a read.

Toby Bloomberg, the Diva of Marketing, is the bomb. I don't know how else to put it. She has also become a great blogging friend and has been very generous to yours truly.

The Blog Business Summit is a great read. The team of bloggers there is pretty amazing and the posts there range from Marketing to Technology to both. I frequently find myself nodding my head in agreement or writing notes when I read their posts. It's great stuff...

I've mentioned the Media Orchard before here. Many times actually. The Kool-Aid Krew has been lucky enough to be selected as a Pick of the Orchard more than once. Each time was a real honor too. Hands down, this site is one of the funniest sites you could hope to ever read about Marketing. I laugh my ass off on a regular basis.

The Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog is one of my new favorites, and not just because I got a nice write-up there either. Ann Handley has assembled a team of bloggers that reads like a virtual Who's-Who of the Marketing consulting elite. This is a braintrust of serious talent. Both Toby and Michael are contributors to the site, which is how I learned about it, but the other authors there are pretty darned amazing too. I hope you'll give them a read.

Lastly, my old blogging buddy Jonathan Maus has done an amazing job of "building community" with his Bike Portland blog. It is an amazing resource for cyclists of all kinds in Portland. Jon is a pretty amazing guy and his site is pretty amazing too. Give it a read; if you live in Portland, this should be required by city law...

Anyway, I hope that you'll give these fine folks all a read and discover why I find them all so fascinating. More updates to the links will be coming over the next few weeks.

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 11:09 PM 3 comments

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Latest Masi magazine ad.

Since we are already on the topic of good magazine ads, I thought I would share the latest Masi ad, as seen in the current issue of ROAD magazine.

I don't know about you, but I really love this ad. Just to clarify- I still love my domestic team (Abercrombie & Fitch/ Inferno), but this photo was just too good to pass up. The rider is on the team we sponsor in Canada (Masi-Adobe), via our distributor there- Norco. The rider is Scott Goguen and the photo was taken by Greg Descantes- an amazingly good photo at that.

I have to give the bulk of the credit for this amazing ad to Rick Ortiz. Rick is one of our Graphic Gods at work. He and I worked on this ad for a long time to get it where we wanted it and I am really happy with the final product. In previous discussions about Masi ads, I've mentioned the difficulty in coming up with something that you really feel good about, when trying to create an ad. This one is a homerun though. I love this ad and I am excited that Rick and I are working together to create the next Masi catalog as well. This ad is a sign of good things to come...

Tim Jackson/ Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 9:21 PM 9 comments