Archive | July, 2009

The best marketing

27 Jul

The best marketing is positive word of mouth, no doubt about it. Think about it: If  a trusted friend raves about something or someone, you are more likely interested. Even if your friend just gives you a name without a rave, you are more likely to check it out.

Companies do not seem to grasp the importance of positive word of mouth and instead rely on expensive ad campaigns. Take Comcast for instance. They spend mucho dinero on all sorts of  print and broadcast messages, but everyone knows someone who has had a bad customer service experience with Comcast. In fact, Comcast probably NEEDS to spend that much money to overcome all the negative reviews out there.

On the other hand, no company should rely solely on word of mouth. For instance, near me there is a pizza shop. It is always jammed at lunch, which is a good indicator. However, the store does not list its hours. It doesn’t have a website, or provide menus, or have flyers in the local coupon book. Unless you are in the know it seems, you don’t know.

What are your thoughts?

Customers don’t want work

23 Jul

Work to find out who you are,  is what I mean.

Yesterday, I was perusing the various coupons in the ValPak mailing. Along with the usual assortment of restaurant discounts and bathroom re-fitter ads, there was a simple coupon for $10, $15 or $20 off (depending on the amount of purchase) at Finish Line.  I am pretty certain Finish Line is a sporting goods store, but short of their website URL, there was no other information. No tag line. No locations. Nothing other than a logo with what could be interpreted as a runner, that would indicate what this store is.  In fact, for all I knew, it’s online only.

I went to the Finish Line website and discovered they are indeed an athletic equipment purveyor. They are located in many states, so perhaps that explains the lack of specificity in the ad.

Here’s a note to the Finish Line marketing department: customers don’t want to work to figure out why they should patronize your store. It is YOUR job to tell them. For sure, give them your Web address, but don’t expect them to visit without a reason.

There was no headline or tagline on the ad. And unless you were familiar with Finish Line, the simple enticement of money off is not going to attract you unless it is something that you want to buy.

In any case, this is an example of narcissism in marketing. Everyone knows who I am therefore I don’t have to tell them. There are a few brands that can do that–Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds. But Finish Line is not one of those brands.

Ads need to motivate customers to buy. That is the intent. A savings coupon for something I don’t know I want is not going to do the trick.

Product shots, headlines, taglines are all used in advertising for a reason. You know?

What’s it all about?

20 Jul

This post is about “about” pages. You know, the pages that describe your organization. On blogs, the about pages gives a sense to visitors who the author is.  I would say this is crucial information. It helps us judge the trustworthiness of the content. Say that I am a student of public relations,  at the PhD level, and I say so on my about page. You may surmise that my content has a scholarly bent based on my research. However, say that I am a student, in high school. And I write about public relations.  You may conclude that I am still learning and that my blog is an attempt to explore social media.

I have come across many blogs lacking an about page. That is a mistake. A big mistake. Your about page does not have to be long and fancy. Just tell me who you are and what you are doing. That’s it. Use it to build your credibilty.

Just today I came across this blog: It purports to be a monthly ezine about PR. It gives some rather dubious advice and info (like PR took a backseat to advertising in the 90s, really? says who?). In any case, I want to know who is behind the blog, and guess what, the about page is blank. Immediately, I think these people do not know ANYTHING about PR if they don’t even have any basics about themselves.  So, their credibility is challenged.

Take a look at your blog, your website, your LinkedIn. What have you done in the about sections? Have you communicated who you are and what you do, at the very least?


So, did the celebrity make you buy it?

16 Jul

William Shatner pitches Priceline and Catherine Zeta-Jones represents T-mobile. They are just two of the many celebrities that are paid big bucks to endorse a product or appear in advertising for the product.  The question really, is does it work? I think it works to gain attention but not necessarily to stimulate sales.

There was a poll, sponsored by Adweek, on LinkedIn, to see if celebrities make people likely to buy a product or not. The overwhelming response (78%) was that it made no impact at all.  You can access the poll here.

Are you swayed by celebrity?

Name changes

15 Jul

Electrasol  is now called finish. Brinks Home Security is now Broadview.  My question is why? Why would two established brands change names?  And in this case, the new names are a whole lot more generic than the originals. Electrasol has a lot more stand-alone recognition than finish. Finish, after all, is a verb. It is not a name. Same with Brinks. Every one knows Brinks–why would you become Broadview? That is one of those meaningless marketing names that doesn’t really separate you from the crowd. It’s as if Hertz changed its name to Roadview.  Makes it less memorable.

Brand or company name changes should be few and far between. It is confusing and dilutes your brand/name recognition. Obviously, sometimes a personnel change makes it necessary, as in the band Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, which added/lost Young.  But when you have a time-honored name, such as Electrasol (or Cascade, its largest competitor) you make  it harder for the consumer who has been using your brand for years to find you if you change your name. And, I don’t think in this case “finish” is going to attract any younger/new consumers.

Perhaps you want to be “cooler” or more in step with the times. We know AT&T stands for Atlantic Telephone and Telegraph, but clearly, they had to lose the Atlantic and the telegraph parts if they wanted to be known as a national telephone company. So they used their initials. Same with KFC. They have not changed their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken but they wanted to be known for more than fried food, so they use their initials instead.

Ownership changes bring about name changes as in the case of New England Telephone, which later became Nynex and now is Verizon.

In sum, some name changes are necessary and some are just gimmicky and maybe even plain stupid. In my eyes, finish and Broadview fall in this category.

What do you think?

More thoughts on personal marketing

14 Jul

Last week, I was working at a conference. I was hired to write reports about several workshops. Two other women were hired in the same role. One of these women was warm and friendly. She wanted to chat and have lunch. She swapped business cards. The other was very reserved. She did not seem interested in having lunch, chatting, or even the conference itself. The friendly woman has her own business. She says it’s going well. The second woman had recently been laid off. She was searching for work and was using the conference as an additional source of income. She had business cards from her previous employer, which obviously was not the correct contact information.

Here are a few lessons on personal marketing this second woman could learn:

  • Friendliness can create connection. Connection can lead to other opportunities. Also people will want to help if they can, but not if they don’t like you.
  • Business cards are important. If you have been laid off, use an online service like Vista Print to get cards printed cheaply or free. Print pertinent contact information on the card.
  • Look beyond the current opportunity and be future oriented.

It is hard to gauge how you are presenting yourself. However, why not try and see how people are responding to you. Are they smiling, interested in what you have to say? Or are you sending signals that you are not interested?You never know where the next opportunity could come from, or what you can learn from other people. Closing yourself off is not a good path to expand your opportunities.