Monthly Archives: June 2006

Crazy Marketing

As we near the 4th…here’s a little marketing bit to think about.

Fireworks businesses and packaging seem to have one of two branding angles….
1) Patriotic – Red/White/Blue – Etc
2) Insanity – Craziness – Etc

I can see the first, but why the second?

Why would I want to buy packaged gunpowder and explosives from someone who is “crazy”…or from an establishment that claims it’s owned and operated by psychotic clowns?

I’m sure the first roadside fireworks stand that tried the crazy/psychotic look was very successful. Why? It was different. It made them stand out from the Boy Scout Troop selling the same thing in the ODGreen tent a mile down the road. It didn’t have anything to do with the product, but it made people look up.

And every year, the local fireworks stand just accepts that he has to be “crazy” because that’s the way fireworks stands are marketed. But as with all unique marketing angles, the 1st one works and the copycats beat it to death until it’s more of the same old same old — like this recent familiar example.

“Yeah..well that’s just some guy who only works in June in a tent…what does he know about marketing. We’re a big company. We don’t do that.”

Really? What is your business doing with marketing that once seemed unique…but is now just boring…and you’re doing it because “that’s what works for everyone else”?

Just because your marketing plan goes beyond just plain commercials and print ads, it doesn’t mean you’re “out there” on the cutting edge. It seems simple and trite…but lots of businesses don’t get the simple idea that…To be unique, you must be…unique.

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The Hotel Restaurant

As I travel around the country speaking at conferences and meetings that take place in various nameless hotel/conference centers, one thing is always the same. It’s the hotel restaurant.

I’m sure you’ve eaten at this one restaurant that’s scattered around the country. Sure, it has different names…depending where you are….
In Denver, it’s called “Rocky Mountain Grille”.
In Chicago, it’s named “Windy City Grille”.
In Boston, it’s the “Patriot Grille”
Etc.
Etc.

The idea is the same in each spot. The chain hotel’s corporate “gourmet chef” has developed a menu that sounds fancy and high-priced. The entire experience and pricing is built around the idea of the corporate expense account. The trouble is that it’s iceberg lettuce…not mixed greens. The waitstaff’s last job where they learned the meaning of “service” was a fast-food place…not a white-linen steakhouse. Most of the food came off the same food service truck that just visited the local schools and prison.

And yet people flock to it.

I currently sit writing this in the lobby of one of those Holiday-Marriott-Sheraton conference hotels (at least they’ve figured out the need for wi-fi). People are scurrying into the hotel restaurant. You can see on their faces that they think they’re going to a fine restaurant and will truly get a great experience of the local taste.

I dare say there’s better BBQ in Memphis than at the “Blues Grille”.
There’s better crabs in Baltimore that at the “Chesapeake Grill”
I bet the key lime pie is better at Kermit’s than at “Hemingway’s Grille”
Etc.
Etc.

So what’s the attraction? Simple. It’s the marketing. Marketing to a captive audience that’s too busy, too ignorant, or may be too scared to get out and walk 2 blocks to get the real thing. After a 9-4 day of conferencing and continuously seeing the menu in the elevator and seeing the menu laying on your pillow, you convince yourself that the Chicken ala St. Louie is the best thing next to the Arch.

The next time you think that marketing isn’t worth it, then remember this. If someone can convince intelligent world-traveled businesspeople that the “Golden Gate Grille” is the best option in one of the world’s best food cities, you can market ANYTHING.

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Silence is Golden

It’s summertime and the bloggin’ is easy.

My posts have been light over the past few weeks as the humidity reached 188% and frankly, I have nothing to say.

The trouble with much of the blogosphere is that people think they have to post all the time. It’s hard to have good content all the time. I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that mandates you have 8 posts a day, check your technorati ranking every hour, and do nothing but blog and go to conferences (or “un”conferences) with other bloggers. I think bloggers forget there’s other voices that are still being heard (although not as much as they used to be)

Mack Collier has a great post about the mainstream and the fact that the reality of the blogosphere and the reality of the rest of the world are still pretty far apart. It reminds me of a one of my posts from last October.

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Mac Vs PC

I’ve been meaning to post about the new Apple TV campaign. The one where a cool guy (the Mac) and a nerdy guy (the PC) stand in front of a white screen and converse about their differences.

I like the ads…and dislike them too. With such mental dichotomy, it’s been hard to craft the proper blog post. Luckily, I didn’t have to. Slate writer Seth Stevenson and his Ad Report Card sum up almost everything I have thought about the ads.

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Diet Coke Says “Drop Dead” to CGC

In yet another example of companies that “just don’t get it”, Coke is giving a chilly response to some free publicity as some Diet Coke and Mentos fans have used the two products in tandem with some entertaining results. The video of this phenomenon is spreading virally across the internet.

Here’s what the Coke old spokes-fogey Susan McDermott said in the article…”It’s an entertaining phenomenon. We would hope people want to drink it more than try experiments with it.”…McDermott also said that the “craziness with Mentos … doesn’t fit with the brand personality” of Diet Coke.

Let’s see. Some of your loyal customer base is generating free publicity for your product and spreading it virally. Those people and others they inspire are buying OVER 100 2-LITERS each of your product to pull this stunt off. This CGC has reached over 800,000 people so far FOR FREE. But you’re acting like a strict mother at the dinner table saying “Quit playing with your food and drink it” If some of my customer base is helping me to sell over 100 bottles of my product at a pop AND generating free ad/PR value…..I wouldn’t care if they bathed in it.

And by the way…the “brand personality of Diet Coke” could use some freshness anyway. Yet another example of what I beat my head up against the wall saying everyday…You are not in charge of what the brand stands for. You can nurture and help shape the brand. But in the end, the consumer dicates the brand.

The WSJ article compares the actions of Coke to that of FedEx when they cease&desisted themselves out of the free publicity they were getting from the FedEx Furniture guy. The comparison is straight on. It looks like Coke would have learned from the bad PR that the FedEx incident generated. When will companies start learning the lessons of the new marketing framework from other companies’ mistakes?

Mentos is embracing this, encouraging it, and riding it for all it’s worth. Good for them. (The Fresh-maker!)

Coke is not it. (The Stale-maker!)

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UPDATE:: Sorry. I got so carried away with the rant that I forgot the fun part. You can view the original video here. It’s supposed to simulate the water fountain show in front of the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

If George Carlin were an ad copywriter

This week, I’ve seen lots of blogs point out and comment on an article from the June BusinessWeek about the Five Words to Never Use in an Ad. The article’s writer thinks those words are: Quality, Value, Service, Caring, and Integrity.

The article makes really good points about each word. I agree there are words that have lost alot of their power because marketers have used them so much and backed them up with empty promises. And while I’m glad someone is preaching a little common sense to battle the all the web “consultants” and spam advice about “magic ad words”….I don’t think you should ban certain words and never use them in your copy. You should use the best words in your copy that will sell the product.

Here’s a scenario that I’m almost positive that happened at some organization this week: The owner/CEO/manager of some company read the BusinessWeek article…looked at his own company’s advertising…saw one of the words….(Ask about our 24-Hour Service policy!) and then showed his great marketing knowledge by having all the ads redone. (And then think about the poor marketing schmuck at True Value Hardware….or ServiceMaster)

Instead of banning words to use in ads, I’d rather see companies start doing RELEVANT advertising. How about developing ads that attempt to sell the product? Oddly, those types of ads are the ones that are missing as I flip through the paper. And if I found a relevant ad that used the word “quality” in the proper context?…I might let it pass.

Words are important. You need to carefully weigh EACH word in every touchpoint you have with consumers. If one of these 5 words (or any word) doesn’t fit, delete it. But if it makes the ad work, use it.

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Secret of My Success

Follow-up to my Pontiac Apprentice post::
The http://www.pontiac.com/apprentice link now forwards to a page that has the following text…

“The “Raise the Roof” promotion was a resounding success and has officially ended.”

450,000 visitors short of your goal is a resounding success?!

Meanwhile, AT&T is calling their “delivered” campaign that raised the ire and the eyebrows of the blogosphere a “success”. (via AdJab)

“With awareness tracking registering at 80 percent, the brand campaign’s new tagline “Your world. Delivered.” looks to be quite a success at five months into its run.”

You mean to say that 80% of people recognize a brand name that’s been in existence for 121 years? No Way!!

Tracking and effectiveness are sometimes the hardest things to deal with in marketing. Luckily, there’s an easy two step process to determine the success of any marketing campaign…
Step 1 – Look in the cash register.
Step 2 – Is there more money in there because of the marketing?
If the answer is ‘YES”, then you have a success. If the answer is “NO”, then it was a failure.

Customer traffic and sales are ALWAYS the clear indicators of marketing success. Now with a “branding” campaign like AT&T’s, you can cut a little slack because the ROI on branding will trickle in over the next several years…but still, there should be an immediate uptick in sales/inquiries.

Pontiac and AT&T have to sugarcoat the results of their marketing to placate investors and others in the organization. But with your marketing, make sure that you’re not fooling yourself with your “success”.

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