Sunday, December 30, 2018


At Fund-House our consulting strength is in Branding and Corporate Identity development. 

As a company's Brand and its vision/mission are one and the same, the process and discipline of design, development, and  management of the Brand is not only very important but requisite for success.Therefore for 2019 I will be authoring a series of posts  which address the how and why to develop and manage a Brand. The first topic is this series is Brand Positioning.

Brand Positioning -What IS IT?

A clear competitive brand positioning is essential to brand-building because it defines who you are selling to, what your business scope is, and how you create unique value for your customers.

Your Brand Positioning is one part of the strategic platform of your Brand.  It describes how you compare and compete against other brands. The other part of your strategic brand platform is your brand identity, which articulates what you stand for and believe in.

Brand Positioning Statement

For (core customer), we are the (competitive frame of reference) who does (unique value) because (reasons to believe).

Competitive frame of reference: the mental file folder you want your customers to put you in. Usually this is your industry category, but keep in mind that people don't necessarily think of products in terms of specific categories and in some cases you might be creating a new category so there is no obvious frame of reference. Plus, many purchase decisions involve 'indirect competition' in which consumers ask themselves: Water or soda? Dinner or movie? Vacation or new car?

The unique value of your Brand is what you do for people that either no one in your competitive frame of reference does as well, or no one does at all.  You should think about and articulate this in terms of customer benefit. Look at what you do from a customer's point-of-view.

Your Branding Experts

Developing Your Brand Positioning

1. What business are you in? Consider what you do for consumers instead of the product/service you produce.  Create a list of the possible businesses you might be in and identify the leading brands in each. The one that most directly reflects how your core customers think about what you do is probably your most effective competitive frame of reference.

2. Consider what life-stage your Brand is in.  If you are a start-up, you should define your competitive frame of reference more narrowly since your primary challenge is simply getting consumers to choose you over other existing companies.  Later in the life-stage of your brand, you should define your frame more broadly since you'll probably want to consider avenues for new growth through adjacent markets, categories, capabilities.

3. List key competitors in your competitive frame of reference and the unique benefit each delivers. Use industry research, analyst reports, review of competitors experiences and communications, and social media to help you understand each brand's points of strength and differentiation. Compile a description of each competitor's unique benefit.

4. Use competitive landscape maps to identify the competitive white space for your Brand. Start by drawing several charts, each with an x and y axis. For the first chart, start with axes that are standard for your category - for a snack food, for example, your axes might be low price vs. premium, sweet vs. salty, kids vs. adults. Plot on the chart the relative positions of brands in your competitive frame of reference.

On the next chart, use different axes that represent different attributes of your category. Continue to create new charts experimenting with different axes, especially those that speak to customer emotions or different usage occasions.  The more charts the better to define your competition specifically.

5. Identify the unique value of your Brand by evaluating the opportunities in the landscapes. In each chart, pinpoint where the competitive white space is and place your Brand in that white space. Then examine the positions and unique benefits of competitive brands and identify the unique value of your Brand relative to theirs in the context of that white space. After you examine the charts, the one that reveals the most compelling value for your Brand should become clear. It' the one with the most significant white space and the most differentiating benefit.

The process of Brand Positioning is both an art and science - but it works and will set your Brand apart from all others. And remember: all products or services can be copied. This only thing that can't be copied is your Brand!.

by Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Artificial Intelligence : Changing How Businesses Operate

The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was coined in 1955 by John McCarthy, a.k.a. 'the father of AI". Since then, AI has been on a non-stop journey (be it a slow one). But now, due to breakthroughs in computing power, the availability of big data, cloud hosting/storage, sophisticated software and complex algorithms, AI is now destined to fulfill its potential - with businesses being the most impacted benefactor.
Changing How Businesses Operate - We are at Level 1

What is AI and What is it Capable Of

- Level 1 Weak AI  Capable of demonstrating human intelligence to carry out specific tasks

- Level 2 Strong AI Capable of showing self-awareness, the ability to think and make decisions for
       itself to the same level as a human being

- Level 3 Super Intelligence Showing superior levels of intelligence to human beings and fully in
       control  of its existence.

For now, and in the distant future, only Weak AI is achievable and relevant

Weak AI is widely used by many different businesses. All of us have encountered some form of AI if you have a smartphone, watch streaming media, or order products online. Have you used Siri or Alexa? Have you searched for something and then received a slew of related ads and promos.

They are all using some form of AI software with the intention of bettering their customer experience, enhancing their financial opportunities, and improving their workplace efficiency.

AI can be summed up this way: Data is like crude oil. Valuable but unrefined. It has to change into something else before it can be profitably used.  Only 20% on available data is currently being used to generate profitable (usable) end products. The other 80% is held inside companies and not used.  This is where AI can be very useful, in: HR management, sales & marketing, best use of funds for capital outlays, analysis of new markets penetration, after-sales service are areas where AI will reine supreme.

As consulting firms, like Fund-House, exploit AI software capabilities within business suites, enterprise applications, infrastructure support services, the customer experience, and branding they will place your business on new footings and catapult it to greater growth and profits.


by: Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Fund-House is approached with more requests for assistance from retailers than any other type of business. These 'retailers' can take any form: restaurants, apparel stores and boutiques, service providers from software developers to spas,and, although diverse in product and market they all have one,major thread in common: The Customer Experience or CX .
Apple Music Session

As we have discussed many times in this blog,to succeed in today's business environment:it is not just small companies and start-ups but the biggest, most established firms with great brands that know they must 'engage' to prosper.

A perfect example is Apple. About 18 months ago, Apple launched 'Today at Apple', a program designed to enhance its retail outlets by 'enriching the lives' of their customers. Note the words 'enriching the lives' which is the ultimate customer engagement.

 'Today at Apple' offers a slew of new training sessions designed to deepen customer knowledge of Apple's products. Currently Apple offers over 60 sessions, which include courses on: music, design, walking tours, video and photo labs, just to name several. It's the focus on content and creating experiences that stands-out and resonates with the retail community. Apple is the greatest brand in the world, but the concept of 'Today at Apple' can be applied to any retailer, of any size.

By developing workshops and experiences that attract customers into the store, Apple is creating a reason, other than to shop, to visit their outlets. The act of buying or pushing product gets a back-burner, and instead customers come into the store to learn and engage. And that process, inherently leverages the very products/services they are selling.

Let FundHouse assist in developing your retail CX  
Additionally, these sessions give local creatives a platform in their community - so it's a triple win: Apple, the artist, and the customer all win.


Retailers need to create a compelling reason for customers to visit their outlets - reasons that extend beyond making a purchase. We see examples of retailers creating co-working spaces, utilizing special events to draw in crowds, and are beginning to offer educational sessions to get foot traffic into their stores.

Fund-House has assisted many retailers in developing these non-traditional events and sessions which have and will be the 'new normal' in the retail marketplace. Sales are the goal, but creating a sense of community and becoming a destination rather than a quick-stop has far greater long-term value. 

Talk soon,

Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC

Sunday, December 23, 2018


The top concern of Social Marketers is to find out the ROI on their marketing outlays. Polls tell us that over 55% of social marketers want to know what their marketing ROI is.  Unfortunately, this financial measurement is still very illusive. 

Only 14% of social marketers are able to quantify the revenue generated from social media. So, if you do use social media to market your business look for non-financial criteria - specifically, such things as brand awareness, community engagement, upping web traffic, and increasing sales/leads.

Also, many polls have demonstrated that consumers are looking for content that feels authentic to the brand and not just an ad to push product.  So produce content that educates, tells a story, or inspires. To that end you need to have ads that: push discounts/sales, showcase new products/services, and/or videos that instruct. If consumers, on social platforms, feel they are being 'sold to' they are much less likely to watch your content/ad. 

Reach Out:

Consumers are weary of ads, so it is imperative that brands have a firm grasp on the story they are telling in their ads. Social videos shouldn't be self-serving or laced with sales jargon, but offer real stories, people and situations.

Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC

Marketing: The Emotionally Intelligent Experience

The Customer Experience (CX) is all the current rage in boardrooms and in tandem with CX is a new training criteria called 'Emotional Intelligence' (EI). 

EI training is aimed at heightening staff awareness to customers' needs and is required for all levels of management, but particularly upper management and marketing staff.

EI focuses on six core skills: vulnerability, self-belief, connection, anticipation, authenticity, and perseverance.  The purpose is to alleviate customer anxiety by responding to and anticipating the  stress-points people can experience when dealing with your business.

By properly using EI,  management becomes better at recognizing cues in customer behavior and uses this knowledge to foster natural and authentic connections with customers.

Customers want and will return to a brand not only because the products or services are good but because they feel that they are understood and have a sense of belonging. Customers are far more likely to continue using a service and to praise it if they feel this connection.

Reach Out:

EI is also being used in business negotiations.  No longer a battle of the wills and who blinks first, business negotiations are now nuanced. EI builds relationships of trust, anticipating feelings and providing sensitivity for productive feedback.

Think of EI as an adjunct to your eMotive marketing strategy and branding components.

by:  Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC