Archive for the ‘marketing (general)’ Category

As we know, there are plenty of niche products that actually embrace a sophomoric approach to their marketing. Usually this is a product targeted towards young men. They sometimes engage in a sexism not seen since the 60’s. The spots are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Think about the new-ish Dr. Pepper 10, trying to avoid the stigma of a diet soda but still depicting itself as a reduced calorie refreshment. They chose the 80’s action movie stereotypes to make a loopy attempt to pass themselves off as a macho option to diet drinks. (“I’m manly enough to handle 10 calories!”) It’s a grey area for launching a product, to be sure, but at least the campaign doesn’t offend anyone.

Old Spice was fairly successful when Mad Men was just breaking as a hot entertainment topic by producing a series of spots featuring Bruce Campbell. Campbell, a B-Movie Icon and co-star of the long popular Burn Notice, spoofed up the smoking jacket wearing, smug, hero of old. They were fun but the appeal to a younger audience probably didn’t materialize. Old Spice has since moved to Terry Crewes as a spokesperson and taken things in a more outrageous vein to bring in that younger market share.

So, for the most part, we expect a certain attitude in marketing in regards to certain products and we acknowledge or ignore them depending on where we fall in the net they are casting. I think we agree that frat boy humor integrated into your product marketing is not something that would be seen in something aimed at women exclusively or a general audience. Then why would you decide it was exactly what’s needed in promoting your ice cream product?

Apparently Klondike thinks so. They have a nationally televised spot where a husband has to listen to his wife describe her day in order to win a Klondike Bar. It’s played up to the hilt in a way you probably haven’t seen since Al Bundy trudged on-screen in Married With Children. (With a history that goes much farther back though.) I’ve seen this spot elicit a chuckle from some men and universal groans from women. Why would you alienate half or more of your potential customers? They’re not trying to say this is a niche product from the company just for men. It’s part of their overall and somewhat long running series of “What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?” media spots. They are usually outrageous but bring about a smile at best. Merely an impression garnered so that when you actually see the product you’re hopefully more enticed to pick one up. For the company to actually get more than a cursory reaction to a spot is probably rare and of all the ones to have show up on people’s radar.

“Any publicity is good publicity” is not a reality any longer. (Just ask BP or Rupert Murdock.) While Klondike is hardly in any trouble, it’s enough of a tipping point to show a sales shift. Do you want to be the one to own up to having a treat enjoyed by a general audience passed by merely because your competition didn’t offend half the population? There are places you can be edgy or even sexist. Ice cream is not one of those places.


When the economy tanked a new synergy was born in the office. Controllers and accountants smiled as marketing cut down and integrated with other business office processes.

First, let me be clear: Marketing has to prove its worth in a business environment. Whatever metrics a business uses to qualify success has to be embraced by marketing as well. A direct correlation has to be made between a program or strategy and what impact it makes on the balance sheet.

But, the methods employed to get to the impact can’t be boxed in. Offices are great for regimented tasks, which are the backbones of businesses, however, marketing is not a regimented task. Ideas may strike at any time and an environment that encourages them should be striven for. Considering there are always deadlines, the constant flow of ideas should be of paramount importance. Professionals know how to cultivate the space in their head and still touch base with their immediate superior.

Just because the CMO is attending more meetings involving financing and IT infrastructure doesn’t mean that everyone in marketing should be handcuffed to a desk and fluorescent lighting. That’s what labor hierarchies are for. The CMO is depending on the marketing manager who is in turn depending on project managers. While these people are creative, they have to look at bigger pictures and provide direction. Any of these will provide valuable insight at a spitball meeting to hash out details. At some point it will fall to someone to actually make something though and that person needs the freedom to bring their A game.

It’s possible to have it both ways in marketing. Creative and business accountability, (Which can actually bring about more freedom if used correctly in proving wins for the department) it just may mean management does a little extra juggling.

To give you an idea of what the most creative people sometimes go through to produce works that have been proclaimed genius, take a look at this:

This Tract is a site that used Census data from 2000 (currently) to give the demographics of neighborhood communities. Great data for marketers trying to target areas for specific products and/ or services.

Gapminder screen capture

Gapminder Chart chock full of goodies

Gapminder is a site with tons of potential info for Marketers following international trends. This would enable one to also make educated guesses as to the future. Check out everything on the site and be sure to click on the ‘how to use’ button on the graph to get the most out of it. Happy hunting.

Wikileaks has turned much of the world on its head. Exposing information, documentation and communication that many thought was secure.

The main target has been the US Government and how it deals with others. However, the next group in the site’s crosshairs is rumored to be big business.

Whatever your opinion of the site, you have to ask why everyone wasn’t more prepared for this. Business and Marketing in particular has undergone a change with the advent of the Internet and Social Networks. Transparency and engaging prospects in meaningful dialogues has become the way to success (continued or newfound).

Why wouldn’t that become expected (or forced in this matter) for everything? People don’t like to be kept in the dark or treated in a non-professional/ unequal/ condescending manner.

So, with that in mind, Marketers should take stock of themselves or the way their business deals with people.

But, wasn’t it just stated that Marketers have changed for the better if they want to succeed? Sure, but that still leaves plenty of leeway to use people who don’t know better.

Let’s look at talent. You’d think Marketers would want to deal with talent justly, in order to have them produce a constant stream of quality material to support programs. That’s true of in-house talent.

Many have found ways to exploit outside talent. Especially those that want to break into the business or are trying to secure a new client. Often this takes the form of ‘contests’ where the talent submits an ad (be it video, audio or print) for free as an entry into this contest. The business will post them on a website and encourage voting, with the idea that the entry securing the most votes winning an opportunity to work with the company in a creative capacity.

This is great stuff for the Marketer. They have effectively quadrupled their budget for nothing. People created ads for free and they’re directing others to view them. So now, there’s essentially a viral team exposing your brand for free as well. Even if the contest is on the up and up, resulting in an unknown plucked from obscurity,it’s still just paying for one ad. There’s no guarantee for the talent of continued work. (Technically never offered in most contests, but it’s implied that this is the start of a new career/ new client nevertheless.)

There is also a website that allows designers to essentially work for free on jobs as a ‘pitch’ to various clients. The same thing is going on here with a company getting the ad fully formed before the talent even knows if there’s a job or what the pay is.

Let me make it perfectly clear: Professional talent does not do anything for free. If you are talented and want to work on something to promote yourself as a showcase, then fine. Once there’s a client involved then there should be contract negotiations as to what’s expected and what the payoff is. Then work commences. No one will respect work that’s given away.

These are desperate times for some and that means others will prey upon perceived weaknesses. Marketers should be more self-aware of how this may reflect upon them and their business, but there is no law or morality clause that keeps them from taking advantage of gullible people.

In the spirit of Wikileaks though, think about how this might look to others. Follow your own path and hope it’s not one that will come back to bite you on the backside.

The current business model’s measure of success is the launch of an IPO. Once there, some continue to grow and innovate (Apple or Microsoft, for example) while others may stagnate and stall.

What if the current business model is not the measure of success that it has been anointed as? A recent article in Advertising Age showed that some businesses do better staying private. They can even maintain idiosyncratic business behavior and continue to operate with a profit. How is this possible?

Without shareholders to worry about, these businesses can follow their own path to growth and profitability. There is no erratic decisions based on making a quarterly dividend. They can actually develop and maintain 5-7 year business plans. (And stick to them!) There is no hired gun CEO (Hired because they need those dividends.) or second guessing of plans. Many would say that because they are not public they don’t have the funding to make big moves, but that money comes with an unseen price, one that usually stifles big moves to begin with.

For marketers, these companies are potential creative gold mines. They don’t have a huge network to run ideas and campaigns through to get approval. They are more likely to go out on a limb and embrace new ideas, both in concept and execution. They are probably going to be more protective of their brand, as they have had to grow and maintain it the hard way. That’s a good thing though, because their feedback is based on vested interest and not just profitability. (New Coke, anyone?)

One other good thing about private companies for marketers is that they know their customers. They are certainly open to the attraction of new demographics, but not at the sacrifice of existing ones. In brief, they are less likely to shoot themselves in the foot. As a marketer, you’re much more apt to figure out if there’s a good match between the two of you quickly. They are usually not trying to be all things to all people. (And that’s good, because niche offerings continue to grow.) Serving the public is still different from being beholden to the public. The first still allows a lot of latitude while the other brings more limitations than may be tolerable.

Much has been made recently out of Twitter leveraging their feed to search engine providers with Facebook making a similar play. (Though not as successfully.)

Once Facebook figures out how to get its members to opt in to this. (*Hint* By providing a separate public feed apart from their regular status updates that go to friends. *Hint*) There will exist a phenomenal opportunity for marketers. It’s their own virtual marketing research lab.

As a marketer, how would you like to get immediate feedback from the public on how a business strategy, service or product offering will be taken? That’s the potential here.

Of course, just because the opportunity exists and your business concern exists doesn’t mean that this is a slam dunk. You need to have established a history of cultivating an active consumer base and engaging them in meaningful dialogue. You need to be trusted and be prepared to weigh in on issues that may affect them even if it doesn’t translate into sales. (Not immediately anyway. Trust = preferred brand and that definitely translates into sales, so be patient and cultivate away. You’re savvy and understand how to engage social networks. The consumer driven market doesn’t scare you and you don’t try to shoehorn old marketing tactics into new technology.)

Once the ground work is done between you and the Internet you’ll be able to get consumers to opt in to marketing research. With the correct phrasing they will play an integral part in shaping the future of your business concern. More importantly, they’ll give you information to help figure out needs that they may have that they haven’t even articulated yet. That’s the real synergy in participating with social networking.

Once you establish that there may be a need for something, the benefits of a real-time Internet could go beyond the initial market research of your network. Now you can query a word or term and tap into feeds to find what the untapped potential of your business proposition is.

You can be the Kreskin of your business and present psychographic/ demographic data to support a business direction. How do you think that will affect your marketing budget and the general POV a company takes towards the department? Looking good? Yeah, I thought so. Use this effectively and you can be a hero to both the business and its consumers.