Archive for December, 2009

Don’t Go Into The Marketing Dead Zone

December 18, 2009 1 comment

Unless you are a retailer who’s counting on the Christmas season to mean the difference between eating filet mignon or ramen noodles you should avoid what I like to refer to as the Marketing Dead Zone.  It’s that period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages trying to convice them that there’s still room on the credit card for some battery operated pet or “must have” sweater.

For B2B businesses it’s no different.  In addition to all of the retail messages your clients are hearing day in and day out, they’re also deep in the heart of the end-of-year brain checkout period where grey matter turns to grey mush.  Decisions are almost all pushed off until “after the holidays”.

So that means all marketers get to take the month off, right?  WRONG!

Now is the time for marketers to do several very important tasks:

  • Evaluate – Take a look at all of the campaigns and marketing tasks you did this year and figure out which ones worked and which ones didn’t work.  If you’re worth your salt as a marketer you would have done this as the campaigns were happening; but take the time now to step back a little and analyze the success or failure within the context of the totality of your efforts this year.
  • Appreciate – Thank everyone who helped you get your job done this year.  Vendors, peers, customers, the cleaning lady, the IT guy, whoever was part of your success this year.
  • Manage Up – What a great time to remind your boss of all the accomplishments you had this year.  Don’t skip over some of the challenges you had; address them and tell your boss what your plan is to fix them.
  • Use Your Critical Eye – Think back on all of the interactions you had with your vendor partners this year. Are you comfortable with your relationship with them? Is it a mutually beneficial relationship? Is it time to re-evauate the relationship and make sure there isn’t someone else out there who can do what they do better or more cost effectively.  While the grass may not always be greener, it never hurts to check it out just to make sure!
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5 Ways to Maximize Your Use of Promotional Items

December 15, 2009 1 comment

Anyone who has been in business for any length of time can probably open up their kids’ toy boxes and find remnants of ineffective promotional item campaigns littered in amongst various army guy body parts or broken game pieces.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been walking through a tradeshow and heard the phrase “my kids will love it”.

The problem is you’re not selling to the kids.  The kids aren’t the ones you want to have top of mind awareness of your company.  So what good is that pen with the fuzzy cap going to do your business?

Here are five ideas for you to keep in mind when adding a promotional item to a marketing campaign:

  • Make It Memorable – The last thing you want to do is spend money on a promotional product that will be forgotten, or never even picked up.  You want your promotional product to get the people talking about you and your company.
  • Make It Unique – Go to any tradeshow and you can walk out with your fill of random pens, mousepads or stress balls.  Now there’s nothing wrong with those things, but of the 1000’s of variations of any one of those items look for the ones that will make people do a double take.  For example, instead of a stress ball how about looking at the variation that includes an elastic cord attached to the stress ball so now it’s a yo-yo stress ball.
  • Make It Part Of A Campaign – If you would like a superhero-like bobblehead to give away then build a campaign around the concept.  Create email blasts with the superhero theme.  Redesign your tradeshow booth with the superhero concept.  Change the voicemail system to sound like a superhero.  By reinforcing the concept across multiple communication channels you will strengthen your core message in your customer’s head.
  • Make It Relavent To Your Business – Would it make any sense for a CPA firm to give away a stuffed monkey? Well, not without a compelling message telling people why a monkey accurately represents a CPA firm.  How about a calculator?  Now that’s getting much closer to what you do and you probably don’t need a lot of explaining about why you’re giving out a calculator.
  • Give Them A Reason To Put It On Their Desk – What’s one goal for using promotional items? Help reinforce top of mind awareness of your company so they call you first when they need your product or service!  What better way to do that then have it on their desk everyday?  But be careful, a desk is someone’s personal space that is guarded very carefully.  They’re not going to put just any letter opener out there!

There you have it.  Five ways to maximize your use of promotional items.  If you have a promotional items campaign you need help with visit!

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Taming of a Tiger

Recently I commented on a LinkedIn discussion regarding Tiger Woods and a morality clause that may or may not be in his contracts with his sponsors.  Essentially I said that Tiger’s not the first (and certainly won’t be the last) celebrity endorser to taint their reputation with some elicit behavior.  My guess was that sponsors won’t start pulling out until it hurts them where it hurts the most…the checkbook.

Of course this was when there were only two other women.  Now there are 9 or 10 women coming out of the woodwork with some pretty unsavory allegations.  Plus, Gatorade has made it public that they supposedly pulled a Tiger Focus drink a couple months ago.  Hmmm, seems the old checkbook took a left jab.

Oh Tiger, if only you could put some of that legendary ability to focus on your next shot on your ability to keep the driver in your pants and away from pancake house fairways.

But what can marketers learn from this?  How about letting your product speak for itself without the need for someone else to say how great it is?  How about going back to the tried and true method of crafting and communicating a compelling message in new and innovative ways?  Nah…just get somebody famous to hold your product and it will sell!

You know what is the scary part of this whole episode?  While there are teams of people trying to figure out how to get out of their deals with Tiger, there are also teams of people who are trying to figure out how long they have to wait to jump right back on the bandwagon.

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Be a Marketing Mixologist

Many people are aware of the term “mixologist”.  Some people mistakenly think  it’s a synonym for “bartender”.  Not so!  A true mixologist is a bartender who tinkers and plays with the various elixers at their disposal to come up with the next Alabama Slammer, Sex On The Beach or Singapore Sling.

In a tight economy such as this, no – forget that – in ANY economy, business owners and marketing professionals need to become Marketing Mixologists.

Traditionally the Marketing Mix has consisted of the four P’sProduct (what are you selling), Price (how much are you selling it for), Place (where are you selling it) and Promotion (how are you telling people about it).  OK, so I’ve over simplified the definitions of the four P’s a little, but you get the point.  With that basic understanding of what a marketing mix is you can now start to tinker.

Some of the four P’s have more room to tinker than others.  For example, there may be a very limited number of things you can change about your particular widget to make it better or more competitive.  But the point is have you done everything you possibly can, looked at it from every angle, understood how you match up to your competitor down to the smallest detail.  Is there something about your product or service that you can tinker with to give yourself a competitive advantage?

Similarly, what can you look at from a price perspective?  And be careful here, I’m not just talking about lowering your price or cutting your margin.  Yes, that is certainly one solution to examine, but maybe there are other options.  If your widget or service is quite frankly the best widget or service in town why not charge a premium price?  Sometimes coming in at a higher price can set you apart from the muck of all the bottom feeders who have an inferior product or service.  You certainly make your messaging more challenging because you have to spend time explaining why you’re so much better, but it can be done.  Case in point…BOSE!

Place is another of the four P’s that has less tinkering room than the others.  But that doesn’t mean there’s no room to tweak things either.  For example, would it be more cost effective to regionalize your distribution rather than have it centralized?  Or vice versa?  Or maybe you can do like Walmart does and reduce your warehouse needs through more efficient “just in time” delivery methods.  Again, look at it from every angle to see if there are things you can tweak.

Finally, you have promotion.  Here’s your most stocked side of the marketing bar.  The promotion channels you have at your disposal are vast and diverse.  And make no mistake, I’m not just talking about the different ways you can advertise, I’m talking about all the ways you can communicate your message to your target audience.  Advertising just so happens to be one of those ways.  Beyond advertising you have event marketing, all of your sales and marketing collateral, the way you answer your phones, how your sales and support staff dresses when they’re out in the field, what your invoices look like, the interactivity of your website, and on and on and on.  Now start thinking about the combinations of all of those things that you should be considering and your head might just pop right off.

Hopefully you can understand that marketing is not just throwing an ad in the paper.  It is a science.  And if you don’t do it right you might just take a swig of that tequila/rum/lemonade/cherry juice concoction you just made and burn more that just your throat when it goes down!

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Is LinkedIn Dying?

In the beginning LinkedIn was a wonderful way for professionals to connect with each other, share ideas, collaborate and build this Utopian world known as thought leadership.  It was great!  But as I flip through the many emails that contain the “discussions” that are happening within some of the groups I belong to I’m seeing a disturbing trend.

For every true thought provoking discussion I see, there are easily 10-15 let-me-sell-you-something or make-money-fast “discussions” out there.  Now this is not the case for every group I belong to.  And maybe it’s because I belong to many of the Marketing groups LinkedIn has to offer.  I don’t know, but it’s disturbing.

I long for the days when as a marketing professional I could post a discussion about redefining the concept of the marketing mix and get a good, solid debate about the virtues of broadcast media vs. outdoor, print, online or gorilla marketing.  Instead. there’s a very real chance that I would get essentially spammed with junk that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic.

Let’s be honest, we have no one to blame but ourselves.  We’re all out there trying to keep our current job, find a new job or start our own thing and we see LinkedIn as the wonderful communication tool that it is.  But then in our greed for results we take advantage of the system.  If we aren’t careful LinkedIn will start looking like that well known list website that doesn’t exactly have the Mercedes of reputations for providing valuable information.

That’s how I see it!

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Promotional Items Use Poll

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Just because you don’t need a Marketing Manager, doesn’t mean you don’t need Marketing

Many small businesses are in a position of not being able to have a full-time Marketing Manager or Director of Marketing on their payroll because let’s face it, they can’t afford the $50k – $100k it’s going to take to get a decent one on board. So what do they do? They have their well-meaning assistant play with Word or PowerPoint to create an ad for the local newspaper that they have been told will be “the best $300 they’ve ever spent” by the newspaper Account Manager of the week.

A week later the phone still has cobwebs on it and the front door is rusted shut from lack of use. Why? Because the ad was filled with clipart, ill-conceived messaging, no branding and a confusing call to action. And the ad for your “off-the-hook” dance club ran adjacent to the announcement of Mrs. Jensen’s passing in the obituaries.

Now you’ve just wasted $300 and more importantly, you’ve got a sour taste in your mouth because you now think that advertising doesn’t work.

In reality if you’d had a true marketing professional involved you would have had a compelling professional ad designed and you would have paid a lower rate for that ad with much better positioning. Your club would be packed, booze flowing, profits soaring, music pumping and you’d be sitting at your computer finalizing your plans for that Tahitian vacation you’ve always wanted.

OK, maybe it’s not quite that easy. But my example does illustrate the difference having a marketing professional as part of your business can make. Plus, you don’t need to bring them on your payroll. Outsource it and pay for it as you need it.

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