This month’s column offers divine inspiration from marketing expert Al Ries. Although he wasn’t the first to observe that attractive people “tend to be perceived as more intelligent, more successful and more popular” than the usual run of humanity, he placed this phenomenon – known as the “halo effect” – within the context of marketing and discovered that the same holds true for brands.

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Ries observed that companies such as Apple and Motorola selected one product to promote heavily – the iPod and Razr cell phone line, respectively – and the success they enjoyed cast a golden glow over their other products in the eyes of consumers. Each company achieved more bang for their marketing buck by focusing on a single product or line and creating a strong brand identity based upon that focus – rather than dividing the advertising/marketing budget to promote every individual product or line.

Ries also offered Sirius Satellite Radio and Howard Stern as another example of this principle at work. Of its more than 130 channels, Sirius aggressively promotes only Stern. “Results have been phenomenal. The day they announced the hiring of Stern in 2004, Sirius had just 660,000 subscribers.” By April, 2006, Sirius numbered 3.3 million subscribers.

But not all those 3.3 million pairs of ears tune in to hear Stern’s R-rated antics. “Probably half of the new Sirius subscribers will never listen to his channel,” Ries wrote. “But the focus of Stern has generated enormous PR and created a halo over the entire radio system.”

So while we contemplate the mental picture of King of All Media Howard Stern with a shining halo, we leave you with these enlightened words from Al Ries:

“To cut through the clutter in today’s overcommunicated society, place your marketing dollars on your best horse. Then let that product or service serve as a halo effect for the rest of the line.”

Presented by EVOK Advertising, an agency specializing in consumer electronics. To learn more, visit us at Ideas. Work. Results.