I just visited the web site of a decades-old marketing agency. I was excited to learn about their offerings and who their staff were. They were located in the Northwest so I thought it would be worthwhile to tuck away their contact information for future reference. But then I saw it. It made me twitch. It made me realize that I’d most likely never want to ask this company to assist a client.
Do you put your shoes on before your pants? No, of course not. Things get a lot more difficult if you did, right? So why do you, mister and missus business professional, always insist on creating logos, graphics, signs, web sites, emails, and other business / product identifiers before you know who your target market is, what your best offer to them is and how best to reach them?
Committing to visual and messaging elements of your company’s marketing before understanding your market is much like putting your shoes on before your pants (or “handing a blind man a gun” or “the tail wagging the dog” if you love metaphors). You may be able to ultimately get your pants on but you’ll struggle, work really, really hard and look silly doing it.
Chris Brogan is a great resource of free flowing discoveries of what works, what doesn’t and new discoveries in business development and marketing. He just put up a quick post about how “his” cab driver (read the post to understand why I placed quotation marks around “his”) demonstrated incredible business intelligence, teaching “me more about business than most business books.”
I’ve ridden in dozen of cabs and only once, in Las Vegas, did a driver engage me as to my need for rides in the immediate future. And, like Chris, I too took advantage of the opportunity to call “my” cab.
Ask for the sale people. It’s right there if you’ll only ask.
It’s the greatest source of frustration for business owners. You pay a pile of money, provide a great valuable offer and you get little to no response from your advertising. Is it the advertising venue’s fault? Is it the wrong time to do this? Is it that you didn’t spend enough money?
It’s probably because your advertising did not stand out enough to be recognized as relevant to your target market. In short, while they may have seen it, they didn’t SEE it.
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.
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.
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.
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.