Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How legacy infrastructure can negate marketing and features

This one is just a short whimsical observation. The advent of flat screen TV's ended the need for the same type of entertainment centers for the home. Yet millions of homes have these as either stand alone's or wall built. My folks have been talking about replacing their TV in the living room with a flat screen HDTV. My father measured the space. Only one Brand, Sharp, can offer a 42" screen size to fit that space. So instead of Brand Name, Quality, Features, or Price...it seems luck is how Sharp will win this sale.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Individual Irrationality

I was recently exposed to Personality Typology. I instantly found a parallel with Advertising in trying to determine how people generally behave. And if a marketer can predict certain behaviors to a large enough degree it should be able to tailor products and marketing styles to be successful.

But I am always reminded that individuals do not always behave as predicted. There is a large enough percentage of sales from irrationality and pure luck to prove this. These are impulse sales for right place, right time, right price. You are on a business trip and the restaurant for dinner is two blocks from your hotel, the menu prices were within your per diem budget, and you don't have to wait to be seated.

Brands can capitalize of Individual Rationality by creating Ad Campaigns that promote it. Luxury Brands and Upscale Services can benefit when people splurge even when they shouldn't due to their lack of spending power. The object though is to figure out the right channel for the right price. Why waste your Ad Dollars on fringe sales. But a campaign message can be crafted for the Advertising done on more Mass Channels such as local publications. If your forced to make a Media Buy just to support your Presence in people's minds use the opportunity wisely. And yes every Media Buy is an Opportunity and should be viewed as such.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Danger of Brands Launching Celebrity Products

The safe way to market your products is through celebrity endorsements. This is when Brands sign up a celebrity representative who will use/wear the products and be involved in the Advertising and Media Campaigns. If a Celebrity does something negative you can always end the relationship. Usually just the announcement of severing ties is enough to mend the damage to the association with your brand. On occasion this will backfire. Kellogs recently severed ties with Michael Phelps over the photo of him using marijuana where quite a few people vocally called for boycotts of Kellogs products. But usually it is just the celebrity who becomes damaged.

But when a Brand actually develops a product with a Celebrity such as the Air Jordan sneaker a brand risks being left with a ton of inventory and a waste of resources developing the product that could of been used elsewhere.

Sometimes the celebrity can actually do nothing illegal yet a Brand can get left holding the bag. A great example is Nike just launched a Men's Sneaker co-developed with Kanye West who is a music entertainer in the Hip Hop Genre. The same week of the launch unwittingly to Nike, South Park a cartoon on Comedy Central had Kanye as the focus of an episode ridiculing him for not being heterosexual, for being vain and self focused, not very bright and that he has sex with fish.

It doesn't take everyone to watch the episode but word of mouth could damage the celebrity brand. Brand's beware!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beware using Social Networks can harm more than help

Brands need to be careful regarding the use of social networks to promote products and services. Most people do not want advertising or corporate intrusion into their social lives. I still can not understand why Brands or Advertising Agencies are pursuing this so hotly. It is very illogical.
Obviously the lure of social networking makes sense. But it only works in my opinion if you can have people themselves sharing with friends. NOT you pushing advertising.

Let me start with some perspective. Advertisers want your attention and eyeballs. So they follow your eyes. Their goal is to have products and service advertisements follow you everywhere. If they could blast ads to the back of your eyelids to view while sleeping the would. With so many eyeballs on Social Sites it is logical to want product placement or ad placement on those web pages. That is no different than buying the space behind home plate at a baseball stadium knowing everyone watching on TV will see your Ad behind the batter when he is being pitched too.

The deficiency of the Stadium Ad is that really you can show a product or a business name and not much else. On a Social Network like Myspace if you place a banner Ad you hope for a click through to your website. But the person on that social site could care less. They are there to socialize. They already see your ads everywhere. So in effect just like the baseball game the value on that web page is the same as the Ballpark. You can show the company name and whatever benefit you get from that is about all you can ask for. In fact the click through rate for Social Networks has been shown to be half the rate of regular non-social site web pages.

Now lets discuss a little recent history. The problem is clutter in peoples lives. Every Brand/Company has a web site. Most offer email updates for special offers, new products, promotions etc. Since you already have your Brand with national advertising and product exposure and your website address everywhere people can and will sign up for the email updates. But eventually when you sign up for so many of them a persons inbox and spam box get filled.

I myself receive a ton and I only read a small percentage of them because of the volume and the fact a person only cares when the subject is a right fit. An example is you begin planning a vacation and now you will start opening emails for travel companies.

So if all these tools are there for people and they still aren't using them like a Brand would like, you can't force yourself on people. It turns them off. People will wear designer gear and friends will see and want the stuff themselves. But they do not want advertising forced into their personal space. Try standing forehead to forehead with a stranger or even a friend. See what happens!

This gets me to Twitter. Twitter has some great attributes. But it can be a very bad place for advertisers. If I already sign up for email offers from a Brand and do not take advantage of most, or even view most why would I want Brand updates on Twitter on my computer or phone? It doesn't make sense. Nothing is that urgent!

Now where Twitter does make sense is such times as a product recall. Like the peanut butter or pistachio recalls to get the word out for people's safety. Or if I buy a new car and the dealer says they will send me reminders for service. Though SMS Texting works just as good. But do I want my phone filled with updates from Keebler that a new cookie is on sale this week at Safeway? No freaking way.

There is nothing wrong with Brands chasing eyeballs. But there is a wall/line of personal space that people do not want crossed. So say yes to Brand Champions online and off line. But I feel that forcing your way into someones personal space is the wrong way to go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Engagement does not equal sales!

Often the Advertising World discusses Consumer Engagement and how important it is. I think Brands need to take a step back from this assessment and think about what they are advertising, how they advertise, and who their target demographic is.

If you are launching a new product that is revolutionary and unique like when the I-Pod came out, you want consumers to interact and test the product. Whether that is online, in person, or if a friend has it. If your a beer company and your promoting Bud over Miller/Coors you want people who drink Miller/Coors to try Bud and hope they buy on taste not on price.

But the Marketing/Advertising people who come up with the Ad Campaigns like to use Engagement with the advertisement as a measurement of success for their campaigns. There is a ton of engaging advertising out there especially on TV that people love to watch but yet they will never buy the product for various reasons. I will not buy Bud/Miller/Coors because they are mass market bland beers with no taste. Yet I am engaged with all their ads and always watch them because they are hilarious. They even create positive views towards the makers of the product because I like that they entertain me.

So the marketers would claim success reaching me and engaging me and the sales folks will claim a failure because I bought zero product.

So the fact is if your product is mostly purchased based on price and not the actually product attributes stick with promoting your price points because no matter how much you engage people they will still buy your competitor if they are significantly lower in price.

The only way to trump at this is by spending money to go above and beyond to win loyalty. But they want something from you in return beyond your product. Like some schwag.