browned ground

There are lots of big problems in the world. Most of them are caused by or have been exacerbated by social media.

This is the one I’ll make my moral stand on.

As you scroll through any feed, you often see cutesy time lapsed recipes like this:


Most of these are awful. They’re either too complex or overly rely on combining pre-processed foods which is not “cooking”. But I will not devolve here into the wild frontier that are online recipe comments.

Many of these posts involve ground beef. Invariably, just like the one above, the stop motion has them adding garlic, onions, salt, etc before or with the beef. They then drain the grease and LOSE ALL THE FLAVOR from those items. (Or they don’t drain which is even nastier.)

Brown ground beef first. Drain the fat. (Maybe even deglaze pan at this point.) THEN add your aromatics, spices, etc. Add ground beef back to the pan. Then continue with your madness to add your cream-of-soup, rice krispies, or whatever.

treat disease, not symptom

There have been lots of P.R. disasters lately (United, Pepsi, Fyre, etc). While the lesson in corporate communication on how to offer a proper apology is important, there is a more important takeaway from these dust ups.

Don’t have the disaster.

Sure, that’s easier said than done. But looking at most of these meltdowns, you can trace it back to violating one of the primary tenets of good marketing: Treat the customer right. Empower your employees to do the right thing instead of blindly following procedures.

Simple steps. But steps that can’t be slapped on with a press release. They have to be baked in to corporate culture.

Corporate marketing apology

Twitter chats

There’s the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch with William Shatner appearing at a Trekkie convention and imploring them to “Get a Life!”.

I now feel the same way every time I poke my head into a Twitter chat.

Several years ago, I participated in several chats on Twitter, especially when I was starting to promote Brand Zeitgeist. There were (and still are) several chats related to branding, marketing, and media. I found them interesting and found several followers and people to follow.

But… Somewhat then, and especially now – I find them vapid echo chambers.

Several reasons why I feel this way:

  1. It’s the same ten or twenty people in every chat – echoing the same blurbs over and over. (I’m guilty too.)
  2. They are all experts on “personal branding“.
  3. There’s no conversation among the group – but may be side conversations that take you away.
  4. Some chats post questions every 2 minutes. Some chats take the 1st 20 minutes to do “introductions”.
  5. Sometimes there’s a “guest” who is supposed to be an biz or internet celebrity (or “rockstar” as the social media kids say). This is the worst as it’s just two people talking on twitter and everyone else watching. This is a chat?

Even in this social media blurb world – surely we can have meaningful discussions that are more in depth than this – or at least some new topics? What are your opinions on Twitter Chats? Is there a better way?

taco bell routine republic goes up against mcdonalds

This “Routine Republic” ad campaign by Deutsch for Taco Bell is amazing. Ad types love it because they love dystopian ads reminiscent of the ad they all worship. But the Taco Bell ad actually works too. It takes the value propositions of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu against McDonalds and hits the nail on the head. It’s not subtle or hard to get.

Too bad my local Taco Bell doesn’t open until 7am and the clown dictator lets me in the door as early as 5:30a. I’ve stood outside the door at 7:05am at Taco Bell while the employees inside stared at me.

I guess the ad campaign is a waste if customers can’t get inside to buy.

I’ve said it time and time again. Operations, logistics, and customer service have a bigger impact (positive or negative) on branding and marketing than most ad campaigns do.

It is a good ad though. Reminds me of 1984.

grocery marketing

Good stuff (as always) in a few paragraphs from James Lileks about how a regular shopper in a grocery store has a better grasp on consumer behavior than someone with a doctorate in Marketing.

It’s a good point.

I love to travel and one of my stops (especially in a foreign country) is always a grocery store even if I don’t need provisions. It’s one of the best gauges of the culture of the area.

Doing is better for learning than learning is for learning.

you’re disappointing the kids

Last Friday, Barnes & Noble (tagline: We still sell books!) hosted a nationwide “Cool off with Olaf” event that was centered around the characters and songs in Disney’s Frozen.

We went because someone in our house (not me) is a major Frozen fan. There was minor disappointment in Bowling Green as the crowd (parents & kids) figured out that there was no Olaf character. Rather, it was a cardboard cutout that you could take your picture with.
Right. Fun times.
Actually, aside from the fact the 7pm event started at 7:15, it was still a decent time with singalongs, stories, craft, etc.

bad elsa frozenBut as life teaches you, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone else has it worse. The inter-webs are alive with this week with this picture from someone who waited in line for two hours at another Barnes and Noble to meet Elsa and Anna. Yikes.
(Compare this to the Florida teen who is also burning up media channels and launching a career as Elsa’s doppelgänger.)

What’s the lesson? If you’re going to do something, do it right. Many events I attend are poorly put together and you can tell there was little planning and no common sense.

On a larger scale, businesses are now trying to talk to a savvy-CGI-iPad-polished media consumer — from the old folks right down to toddlers. On one hand, it’s sad that we’ve lost some of the suspension of disbelief that made things like this fun. On the other, the old Willard Scott Ronald McDonald doesn’t cut it in a promoted event. It has to look slick and produced or many times it just won’t work. If you can’t do it to the level it needs to be done, step back and rework it on a level you can.

social is a marketing tool, not a strategy

I often make the analogy that social media marketing is like building your house on land that you don’t own. To be certain, social media marketing is an essential element in today’s marketing plans, but to put all the marketing eggs in that basket is crazy. You have no way of knowing how the social platforms will change and how those changes will affect your strategy. Two things have popped up lately that have reinforced this point to me both as a user and as a marketer.

A few weeks ago, I was in Nashville at a speaking engagement and was shocked to discover that I could no longer check-in on Foursquare. They have split the app and now are forcing me to download a second app called Swarm to check-in.

I could easily go on for paragraphs on why this is a stupid idea (check the dreadful iTunes reviews for Swarm to get an idea of the backlash). But the main reason it affects me is that I don’t use Foursquare “to easily see who’s out nearby and who wants to hang out later” as Swarm promises to do. I used Foursquare as a diary / travel log, restaurant discovery tool, and coupons. (free chips/salsa at Chili’s!)

Unless Foursquare reverts to something similar to what it was before, I will abandon Foursquare much like Peter Shankman did.

Life devastating occurrence? Of course not. As the hipsters like to say, it’s certainly a first-world problem. But all my check-ins are there. If I stop using Foursquare, they’re gone. My personal history wiped because a few people I don’t know changed an app. And the potential for destruction lies in wait elsewhere such as my personal travelogue currently presented as TripAdvisor reviews, all my tweets, etc.

The Foursquare debacle is from an (angry) user standpoint. Marketers using social media have much more at stake with adjustments and changes to the platforms. This Facebook post from a blogger I follow shows the foolishness of how the social platforms are killing their golden goose.

don't trust facebook

And I agree with Matt. Good content always wins, but you need to gain control of your list. If your marketing strategy is just to get more Facebook fans or more Twitter followers, or whatever, then you are ensuring your eventual failure when you no longer have access to those consumers you worked (and maybe paid) to get.

Your goal (every marketer’s goal) SHOULD be to gain more audience who is dedicated to consuming your relevant content. Use social media as a tool to deliver that content, but own your list.

Always remember, especially with social media, that if something is “free”, then YOU are the product that is being sold.

airquote marketing

Dear small business whose ad is featured in this photo…social media done wrong
Firstly, you’re not “using” the right term for people to “like” your page on “Facebook”.
I further “suggest” that you actually take a step back with your social marketing “strategy” to find actual “fans” and “customers” to connect with through social media than using a short-sighted “bumrush” to win something that has a $99 “value”.

the takeaway is to annoy them

This graphic popped up on my LinkedIn feed today. Many people were amen-ing and high-fiving the content in the post’s comments.  I suppose it backs up why I’m a horrible salesperson and why I dislike so many salespeople. Apparently, the key to successful sales is to annoy people to death.

sales

I’d rather people buy things from me because they have said “this is something I want and need” rather than “alright, I’ll take it to get you off my back”. I think that leads to the 2nd sale.

are you a spammer?

People tend to think of spammers as shady dudes sending emails about questionable manhood pills and Nigerian fortunes, but there are lots of ‘legitimate’ business owners who are email spammers.

It’s because of one of the primary marketing sins of many business owners — “I think my business is interesting, valuable, needed, etc — so therefore everyone does.”

A few weeks ago, I had answered an inquiry from an owner of a speakers’ bureau about my speaking services. We traded a few emails. It didn’t go anywhere. I thought we were done. This morning, I crack my email open and find I’ve been added to their email newsletter that I had never asked for. Looking back through the correspondence, I now think this woman just trolls LinkedIn looking for people to add to a list.

Do you have an email subscription list? Here’s the simple rule:
If you add someone to a email list and they haven’t specifically asked to be placed on that list, then you are a spammer.

The basic definition of SPAM is email that you did not ask to receive.

If you’re adding people to the list who don’t care – or even worse if you’re buying names to add, then you’re wasting time, attention, and money and slowly destroying your reputation. Don’t do it.

An email list that is not opt-in is like sending pizzas to people who didn’t order one.

This is not a hard thing to understand. Permission marketing works better than force feeding. It’s better to have an audience of 50 that want to listen than to have an audience of 50,000 that don’t care and never will. It’s not about numbers; it’s about the relationships.