Archive | May, 2011

Engagement is just the beginning

24 May

Johna Burke, of BurellesLuce addressed WWPR last week (recap by Joan Coyle here). She talked about social media measurement and provided lots of useful information about web tools and marketing strategies.

One thing, more than anything else Johna said,  struck me as crucial:  she talked about engagement and marriage. Engagement, Johna said, is just the beginning. It’s when everything is all promise and excitement (isn’t that ring all shiny?) Marriage (which most times follows the engagement) takes a lot of hard work and commitment.

In social media, people talk about engagement all the time. You have to “engage” with your followers. What does this really mean? Why are you engaging? The answer is simple–to build a lasting relationship (the “marriage”).  If you are engaging just to engage and not to follow through, then you are just breaking promises. If you get caught up in getting Twitter followers but don’t provide any substance or reason to “stay together” then you are looking at social media (and any marketing) as being all about the excitement of it rather than the substance (which should be your marketing goals and strategy).

Engagement is just the beginning. It is your starting point to a marketing/communications strategy that seeks to accomplish a goal (e.g. establish thought leadership, increase sales, etc.).

Are you getting engaged all the time or are you working on your marriage?


Repetition and frequency

17 May

In advertising, most media buyers are trying to find the holy grail of how much repetition/frequency you need to get your target audience to hear/understand and act on your message.  The other aspect is reach. Are you reaching the target audience through the channels you have chosen?

It occurs to me that some companies, namely the ones that have the MOST customer service issues (telecom companies, power companies and airlines) and some degree of monopoly, are the same ones that advertise the most aggressively.  In any given hour, you will see many spots for Comcast/Xfinity or for Verizon FIOS. I wrote here last year about the intense amount of direct mail FIOS sent me. These companies are hammering away repeating their message with a scary frequency.

Why? Because they have to. Nothing else is going to speak as loudly as lots of loud advertisements. Certainly not the customer experience or their “stellar” customer service.

A few months ago I had a appliance repair person come to the house. He was great: fixed what needed to be fixed, and charged a fair price. He does NO advertising. His business, which is doing well, is strictly word of mouth.

Can you imagine Comcast or Verizon having no advertising? On the other hand, you have few options when it comes to Internet, cable and phone providers. You will have to persuaded over and over and over.

I am suspicious about any company that feels the need to advertise ALL the time.  It seems to me that high repetition and frequency, which are expensive to maintain, are the only way they will  retain any top-of-mind share.

What do you think?


Brilliant and not so brilliant

16 May

Free tacos, just for me!

This is brilliant, and it is part of California Tortilla’s clever (and as they would say, spunky) online direct marketing campaign.  Let me explain: CalTort has a loyalty card (the “Burrito Elito” card), which allows you to accumulate points toward free food. To use it, you have to register it online. Every week, CalTort sends out a special of the week or some such to its database (which I am sure is sizeable). And every once in a while they send out a private note to card holders, such as the one I got today, which says, under the subject line “We Miss You. And We Can Prove It”:

Where the heck have you been? To show you how much we miss you, we got you a little something–but we can’t give it to you unless you come in. So here’s the scoop: we’ve just put a FREE TACO on your Burrito Elito card. All you have to do is visit any Cal Tort, with your card, within 2 weeks of this email to get it. After 2 weeks it goes away–so hurry!

We’re holding our breath until you get here. 1, 2, 3…

Why is this brilliant? Because it has a personality ( slightly irreverent),  it is personalized and gives me a REASON to go to CalTort. It also shows that a bit of creativity and some work can earn you customers and loyalty. Kudos to CalTort for knowing how to use direct email effectively.

This is boring. Gen Y thinks this way.

On blog posts, in newspaper articles, on TV and in ads everywhere there are sweeping generalizations and assumptions that undermine your message. You (the blogger or copywriter) assume that if you find something boring, that everyone else finds it boring. You are a member of a generation, therefore you can speak for the entire cohort. No and no.

It is not very brilliant to assume that the world sees things EXACTLY like you do, like there is a universal key and you hold it. For instance, not everyone found the humor in Pineapple Express funny (I didn’t), so if you start a movie ad with the line “As funny as Pineapple Express,” you will automatically lose people.

Be mindful of what you are assuming and saying. Generalizations and stereotypes that are cast too wide will turn away more people than will be brought in.

You must be able to answer this question

10 May

In my new favorite movie, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,  filmmaker Morgan Spurlock goes into a meeting to pitch his movie to Ban Deodorant. Apparently, Ban is not a top-tier deodorant, and the company is pretty interested in alternative ways of expanding their presence, thus the meeting with Spurlock.

During the pitch, Morgan Spurlock asks the Ban people to describe their product. There is a long moment of silence that follows, and then the marketing people put their thinking caps on.   The audience laughed at this interval because of how ridiculous the scene was–and yet, I bet it plays out every day with businesses of every size, everywhere.

You must be able to answer this question: what is your product/service and what makes it different from any other product/service in the category.

If you can’t describe your product/service and its attributes, you are in deep trouble. If you don’t do any other marketing, you must work on that description and pound it in to your marketing and salespeople’s heads. Can you imagine a Coca Cola salesperson being asked to describe his/her product and not being able to do so? All he/she has to say is “Coke is it! ” (Just kidding, but they would probably say something to the effect that Coke is one of the world’s top selling soft drinks, and it is a carbonated, sugar loaded “delight.”)


“Faction:” learn what this is

9 May

Perhaps if you studied politics, like I did, you think faction is a party or group that is usually causing some trouble. However, if you watch Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, you will learn that a “faction” is a combination of the words fact and fiction. Meaning that it is neither fact nor fiction. Perhaps it is a fictionalized fact, or fact-based fiction. Sounds like many of the memoirs that are making the rounds these days.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a faction, and it is a must-watch movie if you are even remotely interested in marketing. Spurlock, who is previously known for his documentary Super Size Me, has blown open the world of product placement and movie funding.

This movie is funny and it is pure genius. To see Spurlock go pitch this movie, about product placement and movie funding, to people in marketing is just about as humorous as any parody can be. But what is truly genius, is that it is real. This is how things get done in the world of marketing. Celebrity endorsements are real. Advertisers are looking for new ways to reach more audiences. And everything is for sale.

I can’t do this movie justice here. There was too much stuff that struck a chord, from creating a pitch, to finding the brand personality, to how to market a movie.

Here’s a the official trailer:


Do you speak Jargonese?

6 May

Chances are you do…especially if you are in marketing, or the government.

I just came across the article “How to ‘unsuck’ you jargon” on Ragan’s PR Daily. The key seems to go to and type in the offending phrase or word, such as “above the fold” or  “leading edge.”

The issue is that most people who are fluent in Jargonese don’t really realize they are speaking in Jargonese. It seems perfectly natural to say things like: “We are currently working on aligning our values with our mission,  while creating storytelling capacity in case there is a barrier to entry and we need to create synergies to boost the bottom line.”

But hey, may only be a stop-gap measure. You may need to restructure your language skills.


Two different offers from one service provider

5 May

I was away for a few days and had to wade through a pile of mail on my return. Among the “important” mail that I received, were two envelopes from the Automobile Association of America (AAA). One was a co-op  with USAirways (with which I have frequent flyer miles) and the other was a garden-variety membership solicitation.

I used to be an AAA member but had let my membership lapse years ago when I discovered my car insurance company provides roadside assistance as part of my fee. What I like about AAA is that you can usually get good deals on hotels, so I read the I started reading the USAirways/AAA offer first.

The USAir/AAA offer included “free enrollment” ($15 initiation fee was waived), free second membership, free extra month and 750 miles. To find the total cost for the year, I had to read through it twice. It was hidden in the billing certificate. The total cost would be $65.50.

The offer from just AAA is the following: Free enrollment, free second membership, a savings of $25 on membership and a savings of $5 on automatic renewals.  Again, it was hard to find the total cost of $40.50.

Basically, I would save money just having a regular AAA membership. Why would USAirways agree to send out an offer that when compared to the regular offer is more expensive? Remember, miles do not cost the airline anything and you can’t get anywhere with 750 miles.  Why would you, the consumer, pay $25 for 750 miles? Remember, the actual service is being provided by AAA. The toll-free number for both offers is the general AAA number.

And, why make the total cost so hard to find? As I wrote about a few days ago, it is a bad idea to hide crucial information.  Consumers need to make decisions with the facts in front of them.

I am not sure where to point the blame here: at AAA for not de-duping their mailing lists? at USAir for agreeing to have an offer sent out that is more than AAA’s own offer, with similar timing? at AAA for thinking customers don’t care about details?

My bottom line: if you are going to have different offers, make sure that one is not cannibalizing the other.

Your thoughts?