Category Archives: Marketing

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?

Now that's an offer!

gas-pump-closeup-comp.jpgChrysler’s guaranteeing gas for your new vehicle will stay under $2.99/gallon for the next three years.

Talk about a great offer that addresses a couple of problems:

  1. Chrysler has too many large vehicles to sell, with lousy gas mileage.
  2. Gas at $3.00+/gallon is putting a crimp in the budgets of potential buyers, slowing down overall sales.

Rather than go the traditional route of putting cash on the hood of the trucks, in the form of rebates and/or lower interest rates, Chrysler whipped out the calculator. It doesn’t really matter where the “offer cost” goes from a P&L perspective (neglecting any GAAP requirements for the moment), but it does matter from the consumer’s psyche.

The glow of a low price on a 12 mpg truck fades pretty quickly when faced with $3 or $5 gas. Now the customer can at least put a cap on how much they’ll spend for gas over the next few years and take that worry out of the purchase equation.

Summary and takeaways

  1. Think creatively when developing incentives. Don’t restrict yourself to the traditional BOGO, “X% off”, “FREE X with purchase” offers. The more complex the purchase equation, such as a motor vehicle purchase, the more opportunities you have to create interesting offers.
  2. Use your calculator. Once you’ve got that great idea, make sure you do the math carefully. In the case of Chrysler’s offer, it could get expensive if gas rockets to $8/gallon. On the other hand, if it drops to $2, this could be one of the best offers of all time. (Assuming it helps sales.)

Don't move your billing forward to take advantage of the postal rate increase.

Penny Black postage stampIf you’re mailing Standard Rate, you’ve got until Friday to present your material for entry at the USPS at the current rates. I hope you’ve been getting ready to mail at the old rates.

Is there anything you shouldn’t try to get in the mail at this point?

I can think of a couple things.  While it’s temping to get your billing out under the current postage rates (typically by accelerating a few bill cycles from next week to this week), my test results have shown that it’s not usually worth it.

For every cycle you push into this week (using an example of daily billing cycles and 6 day-a-week payment processing) you reduce the time for the customer’s last payment to get into the billing run.

Believe it or not, a lot of customers wait for the last minute to send in payments and they have a very good sense of the time it takes for a payment to work through the USPS.  Customers have a sixth sense about their payment cycles and changes to that timing tends to create problems.

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CRM, BBQ style

BBQ ribsI’m not normally one to carry on about my experiences with fast casual dining establishments, even though we frequent them as a by-product of having two children who are connoisseurs of the category. The food quality can be variable, as can the staff attention to the customers.

But that’s all changed after Saturday’s experience at Famous Dave’s restaurant, where I had a terrific customer experience which doubled as a strong CRM effort on the part of the chain.

My wife and I had the luxury of a few minutes without the kids and, while driving by the restaurant, decided we should stop for lunch. We’d never been to the restaurant, although we’ve driven past the place every weekend for the past several years.

On entry, we were greeted by a smiling young man who welcomed us and held the door. His co-worker, equally welcoming, promptly seated us and informed us that our server would be with us shortly.

The CRM magic started when Chris came by our booth.

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Co-op coupon cornucopia

MailboxFor the first time in a long time I took a few minutes to run through the Valpak co-op mailing I received last week.

After a few minutes of looking at the offers, I came up with a short list of things to consider if you’re using Valpak (or other co-ops) as a marketing channel.  The short list is powered by my own past experience and might stimulate you to think of some other ideas.

Before I get started, here’s a rundown of what I found inside.  There was a total of 43 inserts inside the envelope (which featured, bizarrely, a promotion for the television program CSI: NY on the OE and which distracted me from the 1:50,000 possibility that there might be a check for $100 inside).  I sorted the inserts into three categories:

  1. National advertisers (19, 44% of the total).  These included Netflix, DirecTV, Verizon, Omaha Steaks and others.  Of those, 4 (27%) of the inserts did not use the standard 8 1/4″ x 3 1/2″ format and instead paid additional for a heavier and/or different stock insert.
  2. Regional/franchise (8, 19% of the total).  Included here were ads for the local Gold’s Gym, Kaiser Permanente and Molly Maids.  Of these, only 1 (12%) of the inserts deviated from the standard insert.
  3. Local advertisers (15, 35% of the total). These ranged from local dentists to home improvement providers to Anthony’s, a restaurant down the street–which included some coupons that might finally get me to take the family there!.  Only 1 insert (7%) strayed from the Valpak standard format.

Valpak ran one house insert, promoting an offer of $350 to target 10,000 homes for new advertisers, a CPM of $35.

We can immediately see some ideas, just from this basic sort.

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ProFlowers email of the day–how to make a strong offer

Every once in a while, I get a great email from one of the many companies I do business with online. Today’s great email is from ProFlowers and contains both an outstanding offer and some great strategic thinking.

Unbeknownst to me, ProFlowers suffered from some serious downtime yesterday. And with it getting close to Valentine’s Day ordering season, that’s a huge problem. The good news is that their website is fixed.

The better news is that I’m saving 15% off my wife’s Valentine’s Day flowers! Continue reading

Decommoditize your offerings

My first post of 2008 comes as the result of a fairly normal activity that many of us–if we listen to the financial gurus and our financial advisors–undertake every year.  Namely, double-checking our financial records, investment portfolio allocations, life insurance and so forth.

During this year’s analysis of my bank accounts, I found that a teaser rate from Wachovia bank had expired and the interest rate on one of my money market accounts had gone down from 4.75% to the standard rate of 1.75%.  As the result of a couple of phone calls and some quick online banking, Wachovia lost a large chunk of my business that they needn’t have.

And they could have prevented it all by taking a lesson from Willams-Sonoma.

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People don't…

Over the years I, and my clients have labored mightily at our marketing efforts. Hours of careful thought about our marketing objectives, followed by more hours of careful analysis of past test results. And even more analysis of our lists and target audiences, followed by hour upon hour of agonized copywriting and creative development. Lastly, double- and triple-checking test emails, lettershop insertion samples and testing our telemarketing scripts in every imaginable way.

After all that careful planning and analysis, what could possibly go wrong?

Just three simple things:

  1. People don’t read.
  2. People don’t think.
  3. People don’t care.

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Focus on the Four

Humans and chimpanzees have a match on about 96% of their DNA.  That’s not a lot of difference between you or I in our automobiles, sipping a Starbucks latte while chatting our cell phones and our pan troglodytes relatives in the rain forests of central Africa.

And that 4% is about the difference between dramatic marketing success and dramatic marketing failure.

How can you avoid being a marketing chimpanzee?  Just Focus on the Four.

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