Archive | November, 2009

We still need editors

28 Nov

Perhaps we have been lulled into thinking that our writing is OK because we have spell-check on our word-processing programs. Or perhaps we just think that we make no mistakes. But we do make mistakes, and some are just awful.

Here’s a paragraph from a story posted on the WJLA website, today, about Virginia’s smoking ban:

For the first time, patrons will walk through the doors without smelling smoke for the first time in15 years at Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington. Friday morning, work started before dawn.

How many mistakes can one short paragraph have? Apparently, WJLA does not believe in copyediting or editing of any sort. I have seen more mistakes on this one website than on any other major news website I visit. You know what it does? It makes me think that they don’t check ANY aspect of the stories they post. How can you trust what they say if they can’t even say it right?


Advertising is not enough

23 Nov

Say you want to sell something. You think: I’ll place an ad to get buyers. Buyers will come, see the item and pay for it. Deal done. For simple transactions, this simple paradigm works. Take note of all the individual ads for used furniture, bikes and other stuff on Craigslist.

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However, there must be more thought put in when you are trying to market for a large store, retail operation or national distributor.  First, you are selling more than one item. When you are advertising for a larger operation you are trying to accomplish at least two things. One is to move product and another is to get people in your store. The idea being that if someone is there to buy 2-for-1 widgets, he or she may also buy some gidgets.

So your ad agency created a great ad, the pricing is great both for the customer and for your bottom line, and you’ve done a comprehensive media buy. All you have to do now is sit back and wait. Right? Wrong!

Retailers, from the smallest to the largest, have to be a bit more proactive. First, they have to make sure they have enough stock of what they are attempting to sell. Second, they have to have contingency plans if the demand is too large. Are you going to honor the same price when a new shipment arrives? Are you going to give rainchecks?

In short, advertising must be connected to your operations and customer service policies.

Let me share a misadventure I had at a well known office supply store (email me if you want the name).  They had advertised a certain desk chair on sale. On the second day of the sale, I showed up at a store and wanted to buy said desk chair . The store was “out of stock.” In fact, most every store in the area was out of stock. I had to ask the manager to locate stores with the chair in stock and both had only one chair. At no point did he offer to call and have the other store hold the chair for me. The manager also did not offer to give me a coupon or the same price on a similar chair.  In fact, the whole experience was illustrative of terrible customer service, but also of the disconnect  between advertising and operations.

The store had advertised a sale for an item that it did not have in stock. Perhaps it was bait and switch and perhaps it was the fault of the advertising manager.Whatever the reason, it did not result in a sale, quite the opposite, it resulted in an irritated potential customer who will think twice before going to this store for anything, much less anything advertised in the weekly circular.

Advertising gets people to the door but it does not make the sale.  Customer service and sales staff make the sale.

The truth is advertising alone is rarely enough.

It’s not you, it’s me

17 Nov

Have you ever wondered why some ads work and some don’t?  Some ads don’t work because they are missing crucial information or they are too convoluted or weird. Some ads just don’t stimulate interest or excitement. And some ads miss their target completely by being placed in the wrong medium.

Yes, sometimes, it is the marketing effort that is to blame. Sometimes the creativity wasn’t there or the strategy was not the best.

But (of course there is a but), sometimes it is what you are selling, your offer, that is to blame.  In other words, your marketing is fine but your offer is not.

Many times I get dozens of emails advertising an event. The event is posted everywhere. All the correct information is there. Perhaps there is a great headline. But the date conflicts with something else. But the price is too high. But you just bought something similar. The offer is off.

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Sometimes, what you are offering is not what the customer wants.

For instance, a local marketing association is having an event about LinkedIn. Another organization in town had a similar event just a few weeks ago. Furthermore, the event costs $60. It is too much for me.  There was nothing wrong with the marketing for the event except the offer didn’t entice me (in this case it was the cost).

If you are failing to bring in people to your event or buyers to your store, examine your offer. Is the offer fair? Is the offer special? Do people like the offer? Don’t blame your marketing until you make sure you have a good offer.

Sometimes you have to think, it’s not you, it’s me.

Do you have examples of an ad with a bad offer? Please share!!!