Brand Research & Strategy

Thank you for checking us out.  First-The-trousers-Then-The-Shoes Inc. is a brand research, strategy and innovation boutique helping uncover business-building insights and translating them into actionable strategies and tactics.

This year alone we’ve talked to and gathered input from over 750 customers, most of them senior IT executives from Fortune 2000 companies and most of them involved in selecting new Technology Service providers. In the process, we’ve learned what their strategic IT priorities for the next 12 months are and gained a better understanding of how they make decisions about new tech services. We’ve used this knowledge to help:

  1. Create a compelling and differentiated brand positioning platform and brand story for a global B-to-B software company that is now driving and influencing all its marketing activities.
  2. Reorganize a software client’s portfolio of products (grown through acquisition) around relevant customer needs and pain points moving the organization from a product-centric to a customer-centric organization focused on solutions.
  3. Design and optimize customer journeys in the B-to-B sector, identifying the touch-points that matter the most for these organizations to “win”.
  4. Track a brand’s awareness, familiarity, usage, and core brand equities in the US and Europe through a customer brand equity study, at a fraction of the costs and time compared to the large research firms.
  5. Improve a TSP’s onboarding process for new customers with the objectives increase NPS and to reduce the churn-rate while increasing cross- and up-sell.
  6. Identify the best name for a spin-off of a large software company out of a list of legacy names the company-owned.  

If any of these seem like relevant challenges your organization is trying to tackle, I’d love to talk to you. If the problems you’re facing are not covered above, I’d still love to talk to you.  

Who am I?

My name is Ulli Appelbaum. I am an award-winning marketing and brand strategy consultant with more than 20 years of experience. In 2014, I launched First-The-Trousers-Then-The-Shoes Inc. (FTT) in Minneapolis, a brand research, strategy, and innovation boutique with such clients as Siemens, Land O Lakes, Flexera Software, Outlaw Energy Drinks, Post Consumer Brands, L-Nutra, etc.. I operate globally.

I’ve contributed to 7 Effies and an ARF (Advertising Research Federation) Ogilvy award for Excellence in Research and my insights and strategies for Wrigley, Harley Davidson, Hallmark, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, and others have helped build these brands in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the US.

I am also the creator of the best-selling “Positioning-Roulette Method Cards” and the “Aha! the indispensable insight generation toolbox”

I am also a blogger for the Huffington Post, a contributor to various trade publications in the US and Europe, a regular podcast interviewee and speaker. Last but not least, I am a member of the Practitioner Council of the American Marketing Association.

Why chose First-The-Trousers-Then-The-Shoes Inc.?

  1. We are small, which means we are nimbler, faster and more cost-efficient than larger organizations.
  2. You get the full attention on the most experienced and senior strategists without the overheads.
  3. We always bring a unique perspective and insights that help shift perspectives and are actionable. We do that by always combining analytical rigor with a creative problem mindset.
  4. We don’t do execution, which means we focus on helping you solve your business problem not on selling executions.
  5. We see ourselves as an extension of your team. We’re basically sitting on your side of the table ensuring the full internal buy-in of our recommendations.
  6. Last but not least, we pride ourselves of our repeat-business with our existing clients, a sign of our ability to consistently add value to our client’s businesses.

Or in the words of Laura Luckman-Kelber, SVP & CMO at Flexera: First The Trousers is a resource that is always a half step ahead of me. If you want the consummate marketing strategist with an open, creative approach, this is the place for you. They keep pace with the complexity and intensity of today’s business environment and are always adding value. I would highly recommend them for any marketing strategy initiative you have.

To learn more about FTT and what our clients say about working with us which out

I’d love the opportunity to speak with you to discuss if we can help you solve your business and marketing problems. I am looking forward to talking to you,

Ulli Appelbaum