The Best Brand Ever Built

Who was the strongest brand built over the last 50 years?

Apple? Tesla? Amazon?

Not even close.

Tobacco companies. No, that is not a typo. Let me explain why. Strap in, you’re gonna hear me talk about some stuff some of you think I’m too stupid to actually talk about. (yeah, I see your back handed compliments that fool no one.)

There’s 3 parts to the buying process.

Pre-Purchase: This is Advertising, PR, all the stuff we think of when we think advertising and marketing. This has been too heavily invested in, and because of that, it’s starting to lose it’s worth.

Purchase: This is where you buy the product. The product in this case being cigarettes. This is distribution, and retail stores. This is where Steve Jobs spent all his money. Building out stores.

Post-Purchase: Customer Service, what you do after the sell, and things like loyalty and reward programs.

Now what did this mean for tobacco companies, and what can you pick up from it?

Advertising has been massively overspent on. We’re immune to it at this point because we’re so inundated with it, every single day. So, what did tobacco companies do? They re-allocated their money from the Pre-Purchase ad spend, to the Purchase part. The stores.

The reason they did this was because people caught on to the fact that cigarettes were killing them. So the government said “no more advertising on tv.”

So they re-brand. Some use a super cool camel, some use a tough cowboy “real man” type, and they invest heavily in in-store experiences and purchases.

And this worked super well for a while. Then the government said once again “nope, no more cutesy camel or tough cowboy persona. Gotta pull your stuff with that on it. It’s misleading.”

Then, they went on to build one of the best CRM’s the world has ever seen. As soon as they think you might quit smoking, what do you get in the mail? Marlboro points. A discount on cigarettes if you buy 2 packs. Something, to get your loyalty back, and continue the cycle.

All of this, from an industry who’s main product benefit, is death.

Rarely do people ever think about what to do AFTER the sale. All the money is spent upfront to get attention. What’s left over is spent on the actual product. And very little, if any is spent on making sure those customers are actually satisfied.

If you’re reading this, and you run an online only business, meaning you have no retail locations, that makes the decision even easier. Even more of a reason to invest in the post-purchase game, rather than the ROAS game. This is how real brands get built.


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