Author Archives: Mark

Marketing Plans or Preparation? There's a Difference.

finest laid plans

You plan for offensive operations, while you prepare to play defense.  You’ll find this concept in both warfare and sports, and it’s applicable in business as well.

I much prefer playing offense, because that’s where you score and generate revenues. A strong business offensive plan also limits the amount of places you’ll need to prepare to play defense, freeing up more resources for–you guessed it–playing more offense.

What’s an example of planning as opposed to preparations in a marketing context?

A great example can be found in the United States Postal Service and the annual postage increases.  If you’re using direct mail as a marketing channel, you can be sure of two things:

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I will never forget

Omaha beachToday is the 64th anniversary of D-Day. I am appalled that none of my daily mainstream media reads (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today) this morning had anything commemorating the event.

On June 6th, 1944, the brave men of the Western democracies began the liberation of occupied Europe in one of the most audacious and complex military operations the world will ever know. They beat back the forces of evil and tyranny and, through their sacrifices, helped give us the lives of peace and prosperity we enjoy today.

I was born over twenty-three years later, yet I will never forget.

There are countless stories of bravery and leadership, such as that of Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who insisted on arriving in the first wave on the beach to provide morale to the troops. He led men up the beach wearing a knit hat, supported by a cane and brandishing a .45.

Or Brigadier Lord Lovat, who together with his piper Bill Millen led his men into battle armed with bagpipes and a knife. You’d follow men like those into Hell itself.

What does all this have to do with Marketing? Only as a reminder that:

  • Things never go as planned. (So be well-prepared and know your mission cold.)
  • You can’t be too prepared, because of the things that will go wrong.
  • Personal leadership, at all levels, is the key to overcoming chaos.

Today, I’ll remind my children of the importance of this day and begin re-reading Stephen E. Ambrose’s terrific history of D-Day. I’ll also read Ronald Reagan’s famous speech at the 40th anniversary a couple of times.

What will you do?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zigar

What's the ROI on gold-plated customer service?

L.L. Bean boots.  By redjar, April 24, 2006, Flickr Today’s article is a reminder that customer service, when done correctly, isn’t an expense.  It can be your #1 marketing tool and put a wide moat between your business and your competitors.

L.L. Bean is the standard against which your phone support should be measured.

From their website:

Guaranteed.  You Have Our WordTM.

Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way.  Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise.  We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.

Unlike a lot of companies, L.L. Bean really lives by their guarantee.

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A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind…

Gretsch guitarOn a brief personal note, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bo Diddley. It’s hard to imagine how radical he sounded back in the fifties, when most of rock was either speeded-up country or blues, with some Gospel influence.

When you listen to the radio today, it’s amazing how frequently you hear the “shave and a haircut, two bits” Diddley-esque rhythm.

Bo was also one of the pioneers of rock-n-roll who never fully received the financial rewards he so richly deserved.  However, I’m sure that today he has “…a brand new house on the roadside.” Play on, Bo.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Anders Ljungbergdddd

Duran Duran, luck and marketing

Simon LeBonAt one point during my college days I wanted to be an A&R guy for a record label.  My reactions to smoke-filled clubs and early-to-bed habits caused me to rethink that career option.

But music, and the marketing of it, has remained a lifelong interest.

Last night, my wife and I saw Duran Duran at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.  This was her 11th or 12th time and my 10th time to see the band.

When you go to a Duran Duran show, you know you’re going to see a great performance, an enthusiastic crowd and hit after hit.

What I didn’t expect was a textbook example of creating and maximizing a marketing channel, and an example of how big a part luck plays in everything we do as marketers.

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An offer you can't refuse

1957 Dodge CoronetHow can you tell if an offer is good, i.e., is a strong consumer offer that makes money?

The answer is when the organization making the offer continues to use the offer.  The case in point is Chrysler’s “Let’s Refuel America” $2.99/gallon gasoline offer, which I wrote about recently.

The offer was supposed to expire in early June, but based on early results–including 25% more web traffic and a 34% increase in Internet leads–the promotion has been extended through July 7th.

Apparently Chrysler has re-crunched the numbers and found the financial results worth continuing making what’s turned out to be a very strong offer.  This is good news for the car buyer looking for a deal, the dealers who like the floor traffic and is good for Chrysler, as far as “moving the metal” goes.  (Overall, though, Chrysler is still in trouble.)

The takeaway is that Chrysler’s promotion has, once again, proven the old direct response maxim: If you want to dramatically increase your response, dramatically increase your offer.

When was the last time you looked at your offer? How might you reallocate your offer cost to create a more exciting offer that’s a true consumer benefit?
Creative Commons License photo credit: epicharmus

Make your mantra "make it easy"

Getting up close with my dinnerGuy Kawasaki, who is one of my favorite regular blog reads and speakers, is the author of The Art of the Start, which is a quick and worthwhile read for anybody thinking about starting up their own company.

One of the 10 things you should do, according to his book, is “Make Mantra.” I absolutely loved this, because it accurately describes what all truly innovative companies are doing and, more tellingly, what a lot of big companies are not doing.

I think that Papa John’s has “Made Mantra” with their focus on making it easy for the customer to order.  They’ve sold over $1 billion of pizza via their online ordering tools.  According to the CNN article, it’s just the start of likely dozens of new ways a Papa John’s customer can order.

Now that’s a mantra–make it easy to order.

So what are you doing to make it easy for your customer to buy more of your products?  Or more often? Or more efficiently?

Guy Kawasaki talking about “Make Mantra” is below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ronnie44052

Step up your marketing

Octane Fitness Q37ce elliptical trainerIf you’ve gone through the hard work of developing physical products for customers, why not take advantage of the low-cost and free Web 2.0 tools available to help increase adoption of your product and reduce your sales cycle?

A perfect case in point is Octane Fitness and their line of elliptical trainers.

We were in the market for an elliptical trainer for about 6 months, when we finally pulled the trigger in early April on an Octane Q37ce trainer.  Since then, we’ve been extremely happy with the investment.  I’ve found that a six-day-a-week workout routine is easy to maintain and have seen marked improvements in my level of cardiovascular fitness.

So why did it take 6 months to purchase a product that I; a) really wanted; b) really needed; and c) is a terrific product that fits my needs exactly?

After reflecting for a month and doing some additional research, it’s clear that Octane could have cut the sales cycle down to under a month.  Here’s how. Continue reading

Seth Godin and common sense marketing

Purple CowSeth Godin and I have, unsurprisingly, a similar attitude toward marketing.  Compare, for example, his post What Do You Know? with my People Don’t… post of a few months ago.

Both basically remind the marketer that your “targets” (and this probably isn’t a great term) really don’t care about you and that the rules have changed in the Web 2.0 world.
Creative Commons License photo credit: psd

Free samples!

SamplingAre you using sampling in your marketing efforts?  Ad Age had a quick article on some of the sampling efforts being undertaken by major marketers this summer.

What’s old is new again.  Is it better to hit a prospect with 3 to 5 impressions and tell them about your product or is it better to put the product in their mouth or on their skin and show them how great it is?

If you think about it, the Web 2.0 technique of giving away your entire product dates back to the days of the local shopkeeper.  

Back in the day, the general store owner would give you a taste of what was in the barrel to get you to purchase the product.  Now, digital products and services providers allow you to use virtually all of their services free of charge, with the hope that you’ll come back repeatedly and purchase the premium (paid) product or generate pageviews to generate advertising revenue.

Sampling’s an old marketing technique, but it’s taken hold in Web 2.0 products and, with the advent of more granular tracking tools, is becoming more popular with traditional CPG.

As Winston Churchill once said, “The further back I look, the further forward I can see.”  What other “old” marketing techniques can you think of that can be resurrected in your marketing efforts?