The Night After Christmas

By branding, consumers hadn't been enticed,
reality required that the products get repriced.

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'Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the store
every employee was working an annual chore: 
The sale signs were hung by the windows aplenty,
in hopes that tomorrow the place wouldn't be empty.
The merchandise all piled high on every surface,
hung on hooks and on hangers, displayed for one purpose:
By branding, consumers hadn't been enticed,
reality required that the products get repriced.

When out on the parking lot arose such a clatter,
an employee sprang up to see what was the matter.
Away to the door, she flew in a flash,
happy to stop bemoaning the store's lack of cash.
The moon glow on pavement would eerily prove
as illuminating as a flickering video on YouTube.
As what to her inquiring eyes should appear
but the branding guru and his self-satisfied cheer?
Though the sales numbers had been far from triumphant,
a holiday sneer seemed to come from the company's consultant.
He was dressed all in black from his head to his shoes,
his clothes stylishly modern, a necktie refused.
A messenger bag of work samples flung on his back,
she could tell by his eyes that he'd never come back.
Armed with examples of what branding can do,
he was off to find other client budgets to burn through.
To this store staffer his intentions were quite plain:
a getaway with successful branding he would claim:
"Now Viral! Now Social! Now Awareness and Retention!
On Creative! On Catchy! On seeking only mention!
The brand was made memorable, I won't take the fall!
Didn't you know it wasn't supposed to sell at all?"

Sure, the views, shares and likes had flew,
but there wasn't much of anything they'd do.
Whether crossing virtual hill or finding faux dale,
no smart ideas replaced the dumb certitude of a sale.
Turning around, she saw a store haunted by vague hopes,
as the branding guru seemed to say, "adios, you dopes!"
And then, in a twinkling, she was aware of the silence,
no customers, no visitors, no interested clients.
Only the haunting echo of branding claims esoteric,
like the parting canon from the Church of Brands cleric:
"What if consumers didn't show they cared?
Paying for the brand attributes they weren't prepared!
Ev'ry abstract claim, all that clever stuff,
these tough economic times were a challenge just too tough.
Brands got them talking, having fun as they ought,
the fact that folks didn't buy was their own damn fault!"

But to her, on this night, this disconnect became clear:
Big ideas "out there" rarely do anything "right here."
There's no use for hype , since people don't buy air,
expecting them to magically arrive is always unfair.
So each year at this time a rebalancing occurs,
the process of matching wants and needs endures.
Giving consumers real reasons for them to buy
means that sale pricing emerges as the last chance to try.

The staffer returned to her merchandise,
mumbling a few choice words that weren't particularly nice.
Then the guru added, as if to her labor regale:
"Merry Christmas to all, and good luck with the sale!"

JONATHAN SALEM BASKINis president of Baskin Associates, Inc., a marketing decisions consultancy. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonathansalem. .
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