Your Marketing’s Not As Cool As You Think It Is

Ahh…the marketing lessons that one can learn by watching The Apprentice…

Last night, 4 of the little kiss-ups got fired because they created a sales promotion that made sales go DOWN 34%. The reason? They fell in love with their plan and not the results. They marketed to entertain themselves and forgot the focus was to win customers.

Businesses do this all the time. A business owner thinks “Oooh, this would be a funny/cute/etc ad”. And maybe it was a good marketing idea in the beginning. But during execution, it disintegrates into making the funny/cute part work INSTEAD of making the marketing work.

You see ads/direct mail/etc like this all the time. There are currently 2 car dealerships doing it here in the Southern Kentucky market. One has some of the car salesmen pretending to be Italian mobsters (thank goodness, there’s not a large Italian population here to offend). The other has the dull-witted salesmanager talking about why his huge head won’t fit on the TV screen. As you can imagine, both these spots make me want to run down and take a test drive.

And while it does happen more with local small business campaigns, it happens with large corporate marketing as well. But instead of the owner coming up with the idea, an agency pitches it so they can win an Addy.

[Past Post::Wasted Opportunities]
[Past Post::Yahoo! & Apprentice]
[Past Post::UPDATE – Wasted Opportunities]
[Past Post::Apprentice Ad Secrets]

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I hate Alltel

Normally, I try not to spew hatred in a general non-focused sense…but I truly hate the company Alltel on all levels.

In a business sense, I have to deal with their Yellow Page con men in the Alltel Publishing division. (Full disclosure::I’m not a huge fan of 99.9% of all Yellow Page publishers…but Alltel takes the cake for bad business practices.)

Today, I have general vitriol against them with my personal lines. I spent some time in Alltel’s “All of our customer service associates are busy” purgatory today. It turns out that Alltel charged some things on my bill that I’ve never subscribed to. They signed me up “for my convenience”. The “customer service” rep tells me that I did use these services that I’m not subscribed to. (how did that happen?) She won’t remove the charges and pretty much says I’m lying.

We also have a heated discussion about charging me for the privilege of having long distance service along with the toll charges I do make.

Here’s the best part…
At this point, I’m fairly irate on the phone…and she trys to upsell me additional services. Of course, this is not her idea…some marketing moron higher up is telling all these reps to ask “Would you like fries with that?”

This is akin to me finding a severed finger in my meal and the restaurant asking me if I would like to purchase dessert as well.

The traditional telephone business is dying everyday. It looks like Alltel would be looking for ways to IMPROVE the customer conversation…not make me mad.

But here’s the thing….This happens daily in thousands of other businesses. Some corporate schmuck is handing down “big ideas” to improve the bottom line. It sounds good in the boardroom. But when they execute the idea on the ground…it winds up ticking me off.

Link::http://www.alltelsucks.org

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BR not PR

Tara and Steve have some excellent posts about PR folks “not getting it” in the blogosphere. I love Tara’s new lingo of “BR”. It’s definitely going to become a major player in marketing.

And while both of their posts deal with blogs, these lessons are true even in a traditional PR campaign. Bloggers and traditional media don’t want to place your advertising for you…they want good useful content for their readers.

Write press releases from the reader’s point of view of “what’s in it for me?” Don’t just hammer out PR that no one cares about. Before you hit send on a press release, ask yourself, “Is this News or is it an Ad?”

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Word of Mouth Lies

Burger KingWithout a doubt…Word-of-Mouth is the best marketing there is…hands down.

Of course, the trouble with WOM has always been how to influence/control/monitor it. In the past few years, strides have been made in this aspect with real world and online “buzz” campaigns.

These campaigns walk an ethical tightrope. Is this person giving me a glowing recommendation about a product doing it because they really like the product…or are they being paid/influenced to do so?

I think the ethical problem will continue to grow until we see a “payola” type scandal like that of the music/radio industry in the 60’s…and laws will then be written. The only thing that will stop it now is for marketers to police themselves….(yeah right)

Seth Stevenson has a great article about Burger King using shady buzz marketing to sell Halloween masks of their freaky Burger King mascot (who is an entire post unto himself)

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MGMA Meeting

Thanks for the great response at the MGMA conference in Nashville yesterday. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm and really great questions and comments from the 150 attendees. Hopefully, folks learned how to create a marketing plan and got some extra marketing knowledge as well.

I had offered a little added value with a bonus handout of a Press Kit guideline. If you didn”t make it to the front before I ran out, you can download it by clicking the link below.
Items to include in a Press / Media Kit

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Sherman’s Branding to the Sea

Apparently, I have not captured the attention of civic leaders with my rants, ridicule, and general hatred of the fallacy of “re-branding” a city/ state /or any product

Another city has jumped on the branding bandwagon…Atlanta.

The slogan behind their new logo is the 3 “O’s”…Opportunity – Optimism – Openness

I have a few other suggestions for slogans…
–Atlanta – You’ve connected in the airport. Try staying longer
–Atlanta – Come to Peachtree Street. No, the other one. No, the other one…
–Atlanta – Come for the traffic. Stay for the congestion.
–Atlanta – Coke & CNN
And of course..
–Hot-lanta

The My-Lanta Blog has some neat/funny variations of the logo that represents “all the best that Atlanta has to offer”. (Family friendly warning – some are slightly vulgar)

Link::“Official” Atlanta Brand site

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Hard to Dance with Fruit on Your Head

I was perusing the Sunday coupons and saw that Chiquita has launched a brand extension called Fruit Bites….cut apples in bags that the kiddies can take to school.

Questions…
1) Apples are pretty portable in the natural state…why is this product needed?
2) What happens to apples when you cut them?…How many preservatives will they throw to the natural apple to keep it from turning brown?
3) Why do companies brand extend themselves to death?
4) Why will consumers grab onto this?

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Healthcare Marketing Plans

A week from today I’ll be presenting at the annual conference of the Medical Group Management Association in Nashville, TN. I’ll do a breakout session entitled “How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Healthcare Organization”.

“Officially” we’ll be doing this….

Despite the fact that a well-conceived marketing plan can save budget while broadening reach, many healthcare practices do not have one in place. During this hands-on session both beginning practitioners and established organizations will take away a step-by-step process for creating an effective, long-term strategic marketing plan. You will be able to use the sample marketing plan and information provided to explain the importance of marketing in the medical field, identify the business applications involved, and begin the process of developing your own plan.

If you’re in the Nashville area and want to know more about Healthcare Marketing, please sign up for the conference.

And as always, if you or your group need a marketing keynote or other presentation, I travel the country presenting keynotes, breakouts, and seminars about the need for great marketing across several topics. For a list of those topics and how to book me, click here.

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Blogs are not Mainstream

One caveat to my previous posts on open source marketing…..

To buzz along in the blogosphere, you have to wonder who DOESN’T get all this? Obviously, the inmates have taken over the prison. Bloggers and open source marketing are exerting control over corporations. All the information is there…why not just shut down all other marketing projects and other media exposures and go whole-hog online?

Because while blogs and bloggers are getting a lot of attention, they are not mainstream yet…not even close.

Don’t believe me?

In almost every story about the influence of blogs, you’ll see a sentence similar to this…”Blogs, short for Web logs, are easy-to-publish websites where…”

How often do you see a sentence like this?…”TV, short for television, is a medium where programming is broadcast for…”

Or one like this?…”Newspapers, which are a printed periodical…”

When the “blogs, short for Web logs” phrase is eliminated from news stories, we’ll have just started to climb the steep part of the adoption curve.

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