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If the Shoe Fits: How Mature Is Your Company

Friday, March 6th, 2015

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

kg_charles-harrisHave you ever been taken aback by the dichotomy between a company’s excellent product and its amateurish website or product sheets?

If you have, you are face-to-fact with an immature company.

And while important for consumer sales, M&S maturity is absolutely critical when selling to business — no matter the size of the enterprise.

This immaturity has nothing to do with years in business and everything to do with an immature business process with regards to sales and marketing.

If a potential customer meets something that’s immature, i.e., incompetent, in M&S, they will jump to the conclusion that the company is also incompetent in other areas.  

That’s why look & feel are so important — we Americans, unlike most other countries, have grown up in a society where marketing is central, so in many ways looks are more important than substance.

Young companies are often immature; they hire sales people, but turn a blind eye to the need for doing the product marketing work first.

The shrug off lead generation/creation, lead nurturing, sales process, sales collateral that fit the process, key selling points against competitors, target user profile, target influencer profile, etc., and, worst of all, customer service.

These are the real underpinnings for success.

A lot to cover; a lot to do, but the payoff is significant.

After all, you don’t want your target customers to dismiss you because you look immature, do you?

Looking to Learn

Monday, July 14th, 2014

How much can you learn from this video beyond the obvious?

The obvious lesson is that texting while driving can get you killed.

But there are more general take-aways that you can use in any business.

  • The unexpected is good way to make a point.
  • Being startled forces people to focus.
  • A negative can be used to drive home a positive.
  • Covert education through entertainment.
  • Pictures are worth a thousand lectures.

What other lessons did you find?

YouTube credit: MadOverAds

 

Hello Flo: Hilarious = Sales (Second Edition)

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Every so often I see an ad campaign that I find truly impressive; when I do I like to share them with you.

One of the best was the initial ad for a very old product, tampons, sold in a brand new way, subscription, and perfectly focused on new (in every sense) customers.

Even the product name, Hello Flo, evokes laughter.

The first ad was hilarious and the follow up is even better.

I have others worth sharing and will do so on and off on future Wednesdays.

Image credit: Hello Flo

When Hilarious Equals Sales

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

What’s the holy grail of marketing in these days of multiple media channels?

Viral.

No matter the medium, every marketer’s dream is to have everyone talking/sharing/tweeting/liking whatever they did.

Viral is four million views in four days.

That’s what happened to a startup that applied a proven subscription model to a very old product and made one of the most hilarious, irreverent videos ever.

How great was the effect?

“What [revenue] took me a month, I now do in an hour,” said Hello Flo founder Naama Bloom.

Here’s the video; what do you think?

(I recently wrote posts here, here and here, with links to more information on creating something viral.)

YouTube credit: Hello Flo

Doing Well by Doing Good: Scooping Up Creativity

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The ‘me first’ attitude so prevalent today makes everyday living anywhere ever more difficult.

That ‘me first’ is especially obvious when poop isn’t scooped.

“In the worldwide battle to get dog owners to clean up after their pets, enter Brunete, a middle-class suburb of Madrid fed up with dirty parks and sidewalks.”

Brunette’s mayor wanted a more creative solution that didn’t rely on substantial fines, because in tough economic times that fine could be the difference between eating and going hungry.

With the creative help of McCann Erickson, Brunete’s mayor tried a totally new approach to the poop—along the lines of ‘return to sender’.

Instead, this town engaged a small army of volunteers to bag it, box it and send it back to its owners. (…) Delivering 147 boxes of the real stuff seems to have produced a far more lasting effect in this town of about 10,000 residents. The mayor guesses a 70 percent improvement even now, several months after the two-week campaign.

The campaign wasn’t done as a surprise;

At first, Ricardo Rovira, who was part of the design team at the agency, worried that the mayor would not have the courage to go ahead with its direct marketing idea. But he did. McCann also made an amusing public awareness video, produced by Juan José Ocio, largely using actors. It was shown around town before concerts and community meetings.

According to Rovira, the campaign also netted McCann some real clients with serious money to spend.

This has been a fun little doing well by doing good story on a summer Wednesday that, hopefully, will inspire you/your company to DIY.

YouTube credit: McCann Worldgroup Spain

Entrepreneurs: More On Viral

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Going viral is every marketer’s goal, especially entrepreneurs with a new product/service/experience that needs to rise above the noise in order to be noticed.

Going viral requires some luck, as do most successes, even if it’s the serendipitous kind (right time/right place), but it’s mostly method, as discussed previously.

Research by Thales S. Teixeira, an assistant professor in marketing at HBS, identified “four key steps: attracting viewers’ attention, retaining that attention, getting viewers to share the ad with others, and persuading viewers.”

“The challenge lies in getting the best mix of all four ingredients and baking them into your ad.”

Read the article if you’re planning any kind of video/social media campaign; Teixeira’s insights and explanations will give you a much better shot at that success.

One of the problems is that entrepreneurs are so enamored with their products that they want to tell the world about it, so the world will love it, too.

But in a time of instant information availability and short attention spans, the world doesn’t care much about your product—it wants first and foremost to be entertained.

The research shows that if sharing an ad will somehow benefit the sender as much as it helps the advertiser, then the ad might go viral.

Things that tickle your funny-bone or touch your heart are always shared faster and longer than product facts.

YouTube video credit: EvianBabies

Entrepreneurs: Don’t Hope for Viral

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/seanrnicholson/6450168613/

I hear the viral thing from a lot of entrepreneurs; it has practically achieved Holy Grail status when talking about marketing.

Not just from entrepreneurs, but from companies across the spectrum of size, industry or any other category you can think of.

Ask anyone directly or indirectly involved about their latest marketing campaign and you’ll likely hear someone say, “we hope it goes viral.”

I’ve also heard when something went viral that it was “more luck than brains,” but I never believed it.

I assumed that, like most thing that succeed, it was mostly brains with a dollop of luck that made it happen.

Now Jonah Berger, a Marketing professor at Wharton has proven my gut instinct was accurate.

Berger did the research and just published the results in Contagious: Why Things Catch On; not only the proof, but some good guidance on increasing your viral chances.

Word of mouth isn’t random and it’s not magic. By understanding why people talk and share, we can craft contagious content.

He found six key drivers that shape what people talk about and share; he calls them STEPPS, an acronym for

  • Social Currency,
  • Triggers,
  • Emotion,
  • Public,
  • Practical Value, and
  • Stories

So, the next time you craft a marketing scheme that includes a desire for viral think about STEPPS and even luck, but forget about hope.

Flickr image credit: seanrnicholson

Entrepreneurs: Going Viral

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Ask an entrepreneur how they are going to move their product and they’ll tell you that they are doing something “really cool” that will “go viral” and sometimes it actually does.

But why?

Why does one cat video garner a million views, while hundreds of others have only a few dozen?

Is there a silver bullet that assures your video will go viral?

Or at least a way to hedge your bets?

No to the first, but yes to the second.

A new book helps; it’s Jonah Berger’s ‘Contagious’: Why Things Catch On and I recommend it to anybody working to be heard through the noise.

Berger talks about six key steps that drive people to talk and share that are listed and explained.

I especially like the story of George Wright, a new marketing hire, who saw the potential in his CEO’s obsessive efforts to break the companies product.

But there’s a great example of a company, Blendtec, that actually made a blender video that’s gotten more than 10 million views…. They have a series of videos called “Will it blend?” — which has over 150 million views — where they stick all types of different things in a blender.

Not bad for what you have to admit is a pretty bland product.

This may be one of those times when the book is actually worth buying.

YouTube credit: KnowledgeAtWharton

Facebook is NOT Your Friend

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

2391747442_eaedaa1ff4_mUnless you’ve been living on another planet or alternative reality you’ve heard that Facebook is going public.

Facebook loves to position itself as users’ friend, with only their best interests at heart.

In his founder’s letter Mark Zuckerberg said “We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

Huh?

There is far more truth in the editorial comment, “This also seems disingenuous considering that Facebook’s biggest triumph is to help advertisers by mining user data to target ads and to train them to treat corporate brands like friends.”

The exception is the 845 million people who log in on Facebook’s mobile app, “We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven.”

But I’m sure they’ll find a way.
How much personal data does Facebook collect?

Consider the disk sent to Max Schrems, a 24-year-old law school student, a Facebook user since 2008, who is spearheading a protest against “Facebook’s illegal practices of collecting and marketing users’ personal data, often without consent.”

The disk contained 1,222 pages of information.

That’s a very rich vein of ore for any marketer to mine.
Privacy is a far bigger deal in Europe.

Europeans demand more privacy than Americans and the EU is far more willing to enforce that desire than the financially beholden US Congress.

That makes international monetization more difficult.

The drive for monetization underlies everything Facebook does—but that’s not what’s bad.

What’s bad is their pretense that it isn’t true.

Facebook as a social force isn’t going away, but you would be wise to remember that Facebook is not your friend.

Flickr image credit: marcopako 

Brand Management and Teflon

Monday, July 12th, 2010

brand-onionBranding. The term is everywhere. No longer reserved for a product it refers to the organization itself.

Creating a great brand is an understandable and, at times, even worthy goal, but after creation it’s necessary to care for the brand, AKA, brand management.

Sadly, more and more effort is being made to ‘Teflonize’ brands and brand management has morphed into brand spin.

Anyone who watches TV knows that Toyota is spending a million dollars a day improving quality and, hopefully, fixing a culture that lost its way.

Then there is BP and its so-so-sincere promise to stay in the Gulf until they make it right—yeah, sure. Business Week offers an excellent view on the impact of the spill long before the oil even got near the shore.

Then there is the most Teflonized brand in the world, the Catholic Church, which I wrote about from the perspective of leader vs. manager a few months ago. The oldest and richest organization on the planet seems to be impervious—a true master of spin brand management. After all, what other brand could withstand the global sex scandals that are rocking the world and still see revenues (donations) increase since January 2010?

The purpose of brand management is to keep a positive image in the public eye, no matter how egregious the actions involved.

This is more easily accomplished than you would think, given the vast majority of the public has a short attention span, poor memory, a greedy nature—Louisiana already wants to resume off-shore drilling—and that’s when they are paying attention.

The question, then, is who will win?

The Teflon brands or us?

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shalabhpandey/4117173190/

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