Archive for the ‘marketing tips’ 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.

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When I make a statement like that I mean that people (and by extension business entities of all sorts) have memories longer than your current message/campaign. They remember your position on an issue that affected your industry and they remember how adversity and prosperity were handled when they arrived at your doorstep. These are not the things of messaging and campaigns. These get to the core of your corporate integrity. This is what resonates with other people.

The actions taken when these events occur do more to define a business and its leadership than any campaign. Examples both good and bad would include Tylenol and BP (British Petroleum). Tylenol’s initial troubles were met with taking their product off of the shelves. They put people ahead of profit. (It only made business sense, so don’t think they were overly altruistic. Although others later would fail this test. See:Firestone) BP’s handling of their massive oil spill in the gulf was not something anyone should emulate. If anything, their recent spate of commercials trying to reinvigorate tourism to the gulf remind people of their lack of responsibility. People in that area that have already had to close their businesses because of the spill have nothing to smile about.

So, when events conspire with, or against, a business, they may wish to bring the marketing team in to consult instead of just hiring spin doctors. Evidence of responses are recorded more thoroughly now than ever before. Choose wisely grasshopper.

This just goes to show that any business cannot afford to depend on just one technology or social media strategy. (Yeah, even if it’s Apple.) People forget while they are waiting for Steve Jobs to run the world that there are many that will take his products/platforms and run with them. Sometimes counter to what has been established. You can never stop looking for new marketing channels or delivery methods.


Publishers are going to have to take a page from the social media strategy used by advertisers now. Engage your audience. You can’t monetize the content. Use the content as a magnet and categorize that audience with demographics and psychographics. Use this as the basis for approaching advertisers and fixing rates. It works for broadcast and has for decades. Hulu seems to be doing a good job to translating it to an online experience. As well, there’s a nice industry in some major cities for free weekly newspapers, both as a published and online entity. (The published versions have been in existence since the 70’s, so I’d say there’s a good track record for giving your publication away and still making money.)

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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.

Cloud computing was pushed pretty hard (mostly by Google) in late ’08/ early ’09. It’s starting to pick up steam again as Google finalizes more apps for it. (Along with other items in their business suite in an effort to compete with Microsoft.)

For those that may have forgotten, the pitch goes something like this: Don’t use up hard drive space. Do all of your work online and save it there. You can access it anytime from anywhere and not have to worry about using laptops or netbooks that customarily have smaller drive spaces than PCs or Macs.

It’s an interesting service concept aimed mostly at road warrior business types. One could see students or people on an extreme budget (Don’t have a computer, just go to the library and use theirs??) climbing on board. Could be used as a collaboration tool. (Use it with Google Wave,…once it finally goes public. See the synergy?)

The problem is, many businesses have a form of cloud computing going on already with shared drives. Your work station may only have a limited hard drive, but that’s OK. You’re supposed to keep all of your work on a shared drive that is maintained by the company’s IT department.

Until, of course, when it isn’t. The server goes down and the required back up wasn’t performed because the department was cut short by the recession and they’re overworked. IT or another person with drive access accidentally overwrote the drive or deleted files. Worst case: You’re a big company and a hacker target.

I work at such a large company and have seen all of these scenarios transpire despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions. (Hey, they won’t even let anyone upgrade IE or be able to use an alternate browser because of the hassles involved. What are the odds they’ve covered all the bases on the above mentioned possible computer disasters?)

For this reason I’ve learned to keep additional copies of important work in other drives and, yes, on the main hard drive. Many co-workers keep important work on memory sticks they carry around.

That’s the other unaddressed part of Cloud Computing. Storage space is at an all time low in terms of cost and getting lower all the time. It used to be a TB was housed in a rack of networked drives. Now it’s an external drive so small that it sits atop my PC at home waiting to be filled with videos of my 3-year-old. Any IT department that’s not buying that kind of space to archive important data is inviting disaster to come knocking.

Let’s not forget that Google is a big target already for those with a grudge and idle time or just some kid looking to make a name for himself. (Yep, you’re the top Internet gun slinger Google. Welcome to all that comes with that.) So, sure, let’s add the incentive of disrupting, or worse, hacking countless businesses and individuals because they’ve opted in to your service.

What this is always going to come down to is: Can you (or your business) afford to lose or inadvertently share data? Because if you can’t (and I’m assuming that is the case with 99.9%) then step up and take responsibility.

If you think Google is a trusted brand and this wouldn’t happen, then think again. How many Gmail outages have there been in the last couple of years? How is it that Adobe Acrobat can be transformed into a virus carrier? Microsoft is constantly battling parts of their OS and browser that hackers exploit and even Macs are not as immune as once previously thought.

Marketing-wise, anyone currently offering Cloud Computing needs to demonstrate considerable security before people embrace the offering. Everyone is in an ongoing security war and you can’t afford to not perform due diligence on any Internet service. Google needs to address those fears and be prepared to show testimonials from recognizable names that laud the successful deployment of their service.

I’ve noticed a big push in Dunkin Donut sites openning lately. I’m sure you’re wondering why that’s a big thing? Easy, the two product lines that Dunkin serves (Donuts & coffee) have retail leaders that have had a hard time the last few years. Both Starbucks and Krispy Kreme have actually reduced the number of retail sites and are floundering in creating an upswing in sales.

So, how does Dunkin do well in a market that looks problematic? Strategy, both in operations and marketing. They have looked at the leaders in their respective sectors and found the flaws. They came up with products that addressed them and then used marketing to place themselves as viable alternatives in pricing and quality.

In short, they figured where they were in the scheme of things and took advantage. This is something many businesses need to do. You could be anything from a new entrant in a market to an established presence looking for renewed interest.

If you are a new entrant in a marketplace then potentially, the world is your oyster, as far a marketing goes. You are blazing new territory, but be careful. Just because you are a pioneer;it doesn’t make you impervious to marketing problems. You still need to perform due diligence in your marketing efforts and find something sustainable. (At least until your product has a history and becomes established.You’ll want to change tactics after that happens.)

If you are established and looking for renewed interest you need to look at the current market leaders. What kind of place have they carved out for themselves? How can you compete with that? (Price, quality, service?) Find out what it is and start a new campaign addressing those issues.

Remember the timeline from new adapter to mainstream is growing shorter all the time. New trends can increase marketshare, but external factors (use a STEEP analysis) can change things quickly. You have to remain flexible to address external issues regardless of where you are in a life cycle. So, figure out where you are and keep doing it. Don’t become complacent and you’ll remain competitive.

We’re in economically difficult times, so the prevailing business strategy is to batten down the hatches and cut as much as possible to increase the bottom line, right? Yet, I don’t see market leaders doing that. Google is the acknowledged leader of Internet search and they have a product in Beta right now called Google Wave. Plenty of people are pretty excited about it and can’t wait for it to go public. This is good because Microsoft is taking their shot at the Internet search game with Bing, promoted more as a decision engine. That’s not to mention the countless others formulating or debuting new products or services at a time when the majority are trying to shore up their core business offerings and consumers.

The thing is: these market leaders are looking to what we’ll need tomorrow or beyond. (Even if we don’t realize it quite yet in some cases.) Some take the current economic situation in hand, (which has helped in the shaping of the business offerings) while others  look past it, anticipating what will be required to function with the lessons we’ve learned.

This is not an exclusive club and everyone should have an idea of an offering that will extend their business, regardless of what it is. Fear cannot guide markets. Thought can though. There’s plenty of businesses both large and small that could benefit from just making an attempt to become contemporary. Integrating social networking, finding alternate channels of engaging potential consumers, rethinking their marketing plans. (It’s not just push/push anymore and it’s gone beyond push/pull for most. Now it has to be an active dialogue.)

It’s time to take ownership and instead of hoping to maintain what has been achieved, get aggressive and adapt new methods to market existing offerings or find the piece that needs to point the way forward. Either way you need to engage the consumer. When was the last time you asked one,”Describe your perfect transaction/product/service”, or “What do you need that we’re not offering?” That’s where these ideas come from. Talk to your employees. They use all sorts of services and products. They’re consumers. What sets them off? What makes them happy? What do they long to see that isn’t out there? Get those answers, then apply it to your business. See what you can do/afford and scale accordingly. This is as relevant to Microsoft as it is to the local owned small business. What can you do to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and thinking about what your consumers need. (Product or service? Improve/increase existing ones or create anew?) These are the answers you existing customer base is looking for and it’s what will sway potentials your way.