Is anybody out there?

I’ve used radio recently to advertise promotions occuring at the same time the ads were played. They were very successful at driving 30-50 year olds to the promotion. There was some print and direct marketing done ahead of time which hopefully helped create the success with the radio spots.

But even with such evidence to the contrary, I have to ask, is anyone listening to radio these days? I see my wife and kids plugging their music players into the car’s auxillary input jack all the time. And when home, their music players are their source of background music. I’ve noticed coworkers streaming Pandora and other music websservices for music at their desks unless they are using their music players too. I just don’t see/hear people listening to local radio stations any more.

So I put out a survey to friends on Facebook asking Continue reading

Fun Marketing Friday, July 8th

Local grocery retailer, Haggen, just completed a promotion built around Monopoly-branded game play. If my better-half is any indication, it is tremendously successful at making shopping fun and increasing visits. In short, when you shop you receive game pieces. These pieces are part coupon and part Monopoly game cards. So there’s an instant-win element as well as a ongoing game element. Collect the right combination of game cards as per the Monopoly game board layout and you can win life-changing prizes.

There have been many ways created to make your customers smile at checkout and/or on their way out the door. Continue reading

Fun Marketing for Friday – June 24th

I spent several years selling computer bits and parts to companies across the US. This meant very unexciting orders of circuit boards, cables, adapters and such would be picked, boxed and shipped from our warehouse. The owner of the company had a great sense of humor and awareness of the customer experience. Long before I came on board, he had started to include a cheesy cheap plastic toy in every shipped order. It might be a plastic frog, an inflatable alien doll, a paddle-ball, etc. I think he looked forward to hearing that supply was running low because he could justify the time spent mulling over the latest Archie McPhee offerings.

This silliness helped center us in a company culture where no one was to take themselves too seriously. It also had a definite impact on the customers’ experience. First-time customers would call and thank me for the “gift” they found in their order. It was an unexpected surprise that got them out of their monotonous daily routine and made them smile. I had customers tell me that opening our packages had become a group event since in bigger orders they’d find several “gifts” and would battle over who got what. How many companies get their package arrivals announced on the customer’s company intercom?

We started realizing how important these trinkets had become and our faxed fliers, emails and mailers began referencing the “included with every order” item. Customers would ask us to confirm that they’d be getting a glow-in-the-dark skeleton with their order. Sometimes they’d complain that they never got the toys since their receiving dock staff would take them. I’d send those customers a package full of toys direct to their desk now and again. After all, they’re the ones choosing to do business with us, not the receiving dock staff.

All this from $0.75 cheesy toys included with orders costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

I can’t tell this story without mentioning the one time when the response was not quite so positive. After doing a fax broadcast that mentioned we would be including one of several types of African Dart Frogs with every order, we got a very nasty fax back. The response was due to the absence of mentioning these were plastic frogs and the fax recipient thought it was actually possible we would toss frogs, live and of endangered species, into boxes being sent to our customers. It was a very colorful and scathing retort to our offer. So, much time was spent on and several eyes reviewed our response, ensuring no opportunity for confusion could exist.

But we did get a good chuckle out of it all the same. I still do.

 

Your company’s brand, it’s not what you think

I hear the term bantered around and I simply bite my tongue. “I’m just advertising to build my brand,” “It’s just for branding,” and “That brand is really strong.” Just to be clear, what is really being referred to here is logo and/or company name recognition or awareness. Market familiarity with a company name and or its graphical representation is a good thing, it’s much better than none.

But this has nothing to do with brand. Continue reading

Are your staff’s customer service priorities upside-down?

We’ve all been there. We’ve gone to a store, found what we want to buy and taken it up to the counter to hand over our money. And then nothing happens. Or worse, staff appear to have better things to do and walk right past or away from us.

In all likelihood, you’re not being ignored so much as the staff have been assigned what they interpreted as tasks of higher priority. They’re buzzing around doing all the busy work their boss has given them that MUST be finished before the end of their shifts. The company culture is all upside-down.

Continue reading

Fun Marketing Friday – June 17th

Image credit: Larson Gross web site

It’s been a busy day today. Prepping the house, yard and food for high school graduation celebration tomorrow as well as squeezing in a little mid-afternoon meeting.

But enough about me. This Fun Marketing Friday post is about a local company that is in an industry that, by any means of comparison, is usually considered as exciting as a popcorn fart. There are a lot of industries that could fit this description, banking, drywalling, collections, etc. But in this case, it is accounting. Continue reading

Reputation Management Irony

Gerry Kahrmann/Postmedia News Service

A short post today but an incredibly ironic one.

Yesterday, an hour’s drive from here, all hell broke out in the name of the Stanley Cup. Anarchists and miscellaneous other idiots took the occasion to crap in their own living room by trashing buildings, vehicles and whatever other property that didn’t fight back.

Today, the Internet is overflowing with loads of digital pictures and videos uploaded from phones and the like. Thus shining a bright and globally visible light on those responsible (probably the only time the term, responsible, is used when referring to them). Lots of sites and Facebook pages sprang up to match names with faces using the same mob mentality (uber-democratic) which exposes the effort to libel and slander claims but all-the-same interesting to watch.

And now the irony… Continue reading

Did the IRS just revoke your not-for-profit status?

153 Whatcom County not-for-profit organizations just lost their IRS-given tax-exempt status for “failing to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS for three consecutive years.”

Losing that status subjects organizations to paying taxes on future donations. But, upon closer examination, it appears the revocation is effective as of May of last year. This would put all donations received since then in the taxable income column of the organizations’ tax returns.

275,000 nonprofits across the nation lost their tax-exempt status this way. It is likely that many are no longer operating but this could come as a very big surprise to the rest.

 

Whatcom County organizations on the list Continue reading

Fixing the “Doom Loop”

My fellow marketer and press release writer extraordinaire, Dave Brumbaugh, recently reminded me of the “Doom Loop” that so many companies find themselves in.

“The marketing doom loop happens when you allow yourself to think that you do not need marketing when business is good and cannot afford marketing when business is bad.”

This adage has its cause rooted in fear. This can simply be a fear of making a mistake or even fear of success. I am complete empathetic to these feelings as I stake out on my own with Whatcom Marketing. So what is there to do about breaking free from the “deer in the headlights” or “doom loop” situations? Continue reading