Posts tagged ‘advertising’

Advertising 101: Know Your Audience

idhititEver seen this ad before? If you can believe it, it’s a McDonalds ad from a few years ago. In their effort to be really hip and cool, they accidentally offended and annoyed the very audience they were trying to impress. Unbeknownst to the out-of-touch marketing department, they were encouraging young men to copulate with hamburgers. Based on the guy’s expression, it appears that he was actually considering it. Those double cheeseburgers must be really good.

What’s the lesson here? There are far too many to list, but these are the ones that come to mind:

  1. Know your audience. If you’re speaking to a young, urban demographic, have some sort of knowledge regarding slang terms. Corollary: don’t encourage sex with your products.
  2. Know yourself. If you don’t have all the answers, it’s ok. Just don’t fake it, or you might end up looking foolish (and, in McDonalds’ case, creepy as hell).

Obviously, this was a big blunder, but McDonalds is so huge they were able to absorb the impact and not skip a beat. A smaller company, however, might not be so lucky, so unless you’re a behemoth like Ronald McDonald you should avoid these types of mistakes at all costs.

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June 17, 2009 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

Capitalize on your brand equity to gain market share

Frank Sinatra had a Vegas-inspired song called “Luck Be A Lady.” One of the lines in the song is:

“Stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.”

In many ways, marketing is like Lady Luck that ol’ Blue Eyes is singing about, especially when it comes to branding. This is one of the trickier subjects to explain to someone new to marketing. In a nutshell, branding is the sum total of experiences and perceptions that a company has with its customers, competitors, and marketplace. The tactical elements of marketing — websites, brochures, advertising, etc. — are physical manifestations of branding. There’s also something called brand equity, which is not only a perceived value of a brand, but it can also be a tangible value. In fact, many organizations carry their brand as an asset on their balance sheets, with an actual dollar amount attached to it. Google has the highest brand value in the world, which is estimated to be worth more than $100 Billion. Software giant Microsoft has the second highest rated brand in the world, worth over $76 Billion.

There’s a reason why I mention these two examples together. You’ve undoubtedly noticed the “Bing” logo at the top of the entry. You may also be asking yourself, “what the hell is Bing?” As it turns out, Bing is the newest incarnation of Microsoft’s search engine, renamed from Windows Live Search. In my opinion, Microsoft made a big mistake and squandered a golden opportunity. They took one of the most high-profile aspects of the Internet (search engines), went up against the 800-pound gorilla, and didn’t take advantage of the Microsoft brand equity. Even worse, when you go to the Bing home page, the Microsoft name is nowhere to be found, so they can’t springboard their new brand off the established Microsoft name. How can you realistically pit a $100 Billion brand against a brand with zero equity? Frankly, you can’t. Microsoft doomed Bing to the ash heap of history before it even launched, just like another one of their infamous failures. The rest is just an exercise in futility.

What’s the lesson here? The Microsoft branding team should have told the Bing team, “stick with me, baby, I’m the guy that you came in with.” The only thing left is a roll of the dice and the hope that Lady Luck is on their side. I wouldn’t bet on it.

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June 15, 2009 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

How do you define a hot lead?

“If you ain’t dialin’, I ain’t smilin’.”

“Fill the pipeline and sort it out later.”

“All leads are good leads.”

We’ve heard them all before. Most people (and seemingly all of my past bosses) equate number of leads with quality of leads. Go to a trade show, have a giveaway contest in the booth, collect 3,000 leads, and consider the show an unparalleled success. Unfortunately, once the smoke clears and the afterglow of the show has passed, you soon realize that those 3,000 leads were nothing more than “trick or treaters” looking for a freebie to take back home. After spending six months chasing down all 3,000 leads, you discover that only 35 of them are actual revenue-generating customers, and only half of them are ready to make a purchase decision. In the end, you’ve spent $100,000 on a trade show that netted 12 customers and generated $150,000 in sales. Take into consideration all the efforts to get the booth ready, manning the booth, and time that the salespeople were out of the field, and suddenly you find yourself in a conversation with your manager about cutting back the number of shows your company attends next year.

The problem, of course, is not the show. Rather, it’s the way you pre-define prospects, leads, and customers. For every marketing program — whether it’s a trade show, advertising campaign, webinar, etc.— you need to have a game plan before, during, and after the event. You need to take the time to fully understand the customers, the needs of those customers, the sales process (see my “Lily pad” marketing entry for more info on nurturing a prospect into a customer), the messages that will resonate with customers in a differentiating manner, and the most effective medium with which to communicate. Complicated? Absolutely, but not on the rocket science level. Effective? Without a doubt.

I’ve helped many companies and clients with their lead generation needs (here’s a success story from my website), so if you’re looking for someone to help you, give me a shout.

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May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm 5 comments

“Field of Dreams” marketing

Build it and they will come.

If only that were true.

Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.

I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:

  • A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
  • A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
  • A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.

You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.

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May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

New Coke – worst marketing idea ever. Don’t repeat it.

How many of you remember this?

Most people agree that this was the worst marketing idea ever. After all, how many other marketing blunders are actually on Wikipedia because of their significance? Yet this is exactly what happened back in 1985, when Michael Jackson and the Pepsi Generation were all the rage. Coca-Cola found itself in a dogfight with Pepsi, and they were losing market share rapidly. Instead of acting like the industry leader — assessing the situation, taking advantage of their market presence, coming up with a game plan, and executing on the plan — they decided to do something a little… different. They changed the 100 year-old formula of their flagship product and renamed it New Coke. All the Jello-flavored smirks of Bill Cosby couldn’t undo the damage from this fatal error in judgment.

Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences. Instead of Coca-Cola gaining traction and buzz from this huge announcement, Pepsi was able to capitalize on the change by announcing it had won the cola wars. They claimed that Coke knew it couldn’t win, so it stopped competing and created a new product instead. A lot of people believed that, and after a very short-lived bump in popularity New Coke continued Coca-Cola’s slide in market share until they brought back the old Coke, which they curiously called Coke Classic (probably because pride didn’t allow them to fully admit they were wrong).

What’s the lesson here? Well, hindsight is always 20/20, so I won’t belabor the point any longer. However, it’s important to stay true to your company, your products, your strengths, and your mission. If you have a marketing consultant or new marketing director that wants to come in and rebrand your company, ask the question “why?” Be critical in your assessments and judgments. Take the time to understand the situation and make the best decision based on sound knowledge and a prudent vetting of ideas.

There’s an old saying: act in haste, repent at leisure. Even Bill Cosby can’t argue with that logic.

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May 12, 2009 at 10:20 am Leave a comment

“Blue” marketing – is it a good idea?

You may be familiar with “blue comedy,” which is best defined as comedy that’s edgy and offensive. Eddie Murphy (before he spent every waking moment in a rubber fat suit), Chris Rock, and Artie Lange are all great examples of comedians using this type of humor. That said, I’ve noticed there are several current TV commercials using what I’d refer to as “blue marketing.” From a blue comedian’s perspective, they’re pretty tame, but they are fairly edgy by TV standards. Here are two examples:

 

Hilarious? Absolutely. Creepy? Yes, but in a good way. “Herding cows the size of schnauzers”… pure gold.

The question is: does blue marketing sell? Personally, I love the idea of moving outside the safe zone and creating content that is both memorable and controversial. How many times have we seen a nice, safe commercial with a company’s CEO acting wooden and speaking monotonously? Maybe it makes the CEO look respectable, but does it help accomplish the #1 goal of advertising and promotion: selling a company’s products and services?

If you’re looking to shake things up in your company, maybe you want to consider using blue in your marketing efforts. It’s fun, interesting, and stands a better chance of being the subject at the next water cooler gathering. If you’re not ready to move in that direction yet, that’s ok. But do us all a favor and stay away from another shade of gray. We could all use a little color right about now.

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May 5, 2009 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment


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