Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

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.


Seth Godin recently had a blog post titled “Fifty is the new thirty“. In it he validated his claim by offering up evidence of longer life spans and career activity. The point he made was that those that follow demographics were still ignoring older consumers, instead choosing to accept stereotypes perpetuated by those very same erroneous statistics. Bottom line: businesses that use age demographics to base their marketing on were missing out on potential customers by outright not addressing them.

If your marketing is based on psychographics this would not happen. Psychograpics targets Needs/Wants/Fears/Desires. It is attitude and viewpoint oriented. It can be used to inform and shape impressions of a product or service. There is no age or gender boundary. (Unless, of course the product/service is specifically designed that way.)

Pull your head out of the demographic rut and widen the marketing approach. Nobody succeeds by limiting themselves right at the beginning.

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:

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.

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.