Secret of My Success

Follow-up to my Pontiac Apprentice post::
The http://www.pontiac.com/apprentice link now forwards to a page that has the following text…

“The “Raise the Roof” promotion was a resounding success and has officially ended.”

450,000 visitors short of your goal is a resounding success?!

Meanwhile, AT&T is calling their “delivered” campaign that raised the ire and the eyebrows of the blogosphere a “success”. (via AdJab)

“With awareness tracking registering at 80 percent, the brand campaign’s new tagline “Your world. Delivered.” looks to be quite a success at five months into its run.”

You mean to say that 80% of people recognize a brand name that’s been in existence for 121 years? No Way!!

Tracking and effectiveness are sometimes the hardest things to deal with in marketing. Luckily, there’s an easy two step process to determine the success of any marketing campaign…
Step 1 – Look in the cash register.
Step 2 – Is there more money in there because of the marketing?
If the answer is ‘YES”, then you have a success. If the answer is “NO”, then it was a failure.

Customer traffic and sales are ALWAYS the clear indicators of marketing success. Now with a “branding” campaign like AT&T’s, you can cut a little slack because the ROI on branding will trickle in over the next several years…but still, there should be an immediate uptick in sales/inquiries.

Pontiac and AT&T have to sugarcoat the results of their marketing to placate investors and others in the organization. But with your marketing, make sure that you’re not fooling yourself with your “success”.

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G6 Flops….Again

My main keynote, “Big Picture Marketing”, is built around 3 main points. The first, which is…

Marketing begins with the Product

…usually elicits a big “DUH” across the room until I start showing examples of how often this step is skipped. The main example I use in the speech to show the disconnect is how the boring “vanilla-ish-ness” of the Pontiac G6 killed/negated the Oprah PR effect when she gave 276 of them away on her show. (You can get a condensed version of what I talk about in this post.)

And now I have another angle to add to this story.

pontiac apprentice screenshotPontiac was the product placement for the season finale of The Apprentice. The new Pontiac Solstice and the new G6 convertible were featured. Pontiac also sponsored an online element. They bought spots during the shows instructing viewers to go to http://www.pontiac.com/apprentice to “Raise the Roof” of the new G6 convertible. When they did, they would have the chance to win a new G6 and Pontiac would donate $1 to one of around 300 charities of the consumer’s choice up to a maximum of $500,000. You could only vote once. There was a tally on the page to show how much had been donated so far.

This promotion ended last night. Guess how many people came? Only 50,000. That’s 450,000 short of what Pontiac was expecting.

Couple of thoughts….

1) Viewers are tired of The Apprentice. As discussed in this post, product placement is a very dangerous marketing tool. If you place during something that’s got buzz, you’re golden. If you place during a season finale that the network took out of May sweeps to avoid the stinker, you’re sunk.

Pontiac was golden when they first appeared on The Apprentice in season three as the teams created a brochure for the Solstice. It was one of the highest rated episodes of the season and created buzz about the Solstice marked by a 1,400 percent jump in traffic on the Pontiac website with the first 1,000 Solstices selling in just 41 minutes….And then you have Sean and Lee.

–Maybe “Shaguar” should have sponsored it…I thought Austin Powers had won when Sean drove off in the Pontiac saying “I’m the Apprentice, baby, yeah!” (verbatim)

2) The website was a thinly disguised ruse to collect a database for Pontiac. It had a very lame premise of clicking on the G6 and “raising its roof” (whoopie!) and then filling in your contact info. You had to be careful not to opt-in to any Pontiac spam. Consumers are leery of online data collection forms. They’ve been burned too many times.

3) As sad as the results of the promotion were…I think they could have been MUCH worse had it not been for something that Pontiac had no control over….the Charities. I received a couple of emails from the boards that I sit on for local chapters of national charities urging me to go vote and choose the charity to get the buck. While researching this post, I found that several of the charities had highlighted the link on their websites or had blogged about it. When Pontiac evaluates this promotion, they’re going to have to consider that some of the 50,000 came from neither The Apprentice nor from Pontiac.

4) Don’t put a tally board on your website to highlight your failure. Because occasionally, you’ll have a flop.

5) It all goes back to the 276 G6 cars that Oprah gave away. Why should I be interested in this car? Is there anything about it to make me look away from my multitude of daily distractions and explore it further?

Compare that to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Chevy SSR, all the hybrids, and many other types of vehicles. The marketing story is written INTO the product. You can easily tell me a story about a Hummer. You can easily tell me a story about someone who drives a hybrid. What’s the Pontiac G6 story?

You have to stop spending gads of money on marketing to push something that people are indifferent about buying. Spend money wisely upfront by developing a product/service that people can have a conversation about. Then cultivate that conversation through your marketing. It’s MUCH easier and more productive.

Like I said last week, Marketing is best built in…not slapped on.

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Product Placement is HOOOGE

DONALD TRUMP: (reading off cue cards)
“The product placement industry is Hooooge. It’s an $8 bajillion dollar a year industry. And I should know. People pay plenty to have their products placed on my show “The Apprentice” which is the #1 show of all time…beating out all Super Bowls and the series finale of M*A*S*H. “

Not quite.

AdJab alerts us to a MediaPost story about the falling value of the product integration placements in “The Apprentice”. The price is down to between $1 and 1.5 million from a high of $3 million.

Product placement can either be a fabulous success or a very dangerous marketing move. It depends on how well you can integrate and control your product’s image in the entertainment.

Take the example of “The Apprentice”….
–Expect one of the teams to totally decimate the product’s brand image during the course of the show.
–Company executives who are featured as a part of the product’s integration come off as either unexciting or wierd.
–It’s a craps shoot. The episode that your product is featured could come during and very exciting point in the season…or it could be a dog. And there’s no way to know when you place the buy.

Product placement inside of entertainment vehicles is where alot of ad dollars have moved. I also think we can expect more money to be spent on advertainment in the future. But in order for it to be successful, we’ll have to get over product placement’s big problem. There’s currently a certain feeling of fakeness with the placement. The ad is not being inserted into the entertainment. The entertainment is being created AROUND the ad. Consumers pick up on this both on a conscience and sub-conscience level. The worst offenders are “The Apprentice” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (a.k.a – “Ty’s weekly trip to Sears”)

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That Smarts

The Mensa brand is getting beat up right now.

Mensa, of course, is “that thing for smart people”. In the Ries branding example of “owning” words…Mensa owns the word “smart”. If someone is a member of Mensa, then you probably naturally assume that they are very intelligent.

But you may be having doubts about Mensa after watching this season of The Apprentice. One of the contestants, Tarek, is a card-carrying member of Mensa. From the start of this season, it’s the one peg that he has always hung his hat on.

The trouble is he doesn’t seem very smart. He is the classic example of a person with lots of “book smarts” with absolutely no common sense. In addition, he seems to have absolutely no people/social skills and is a bit spiteful. Add his unlikable personality to comments from Trump like…”Did you take your test?” and “I think the Mensa people should change the test because there’s something wrong”…and Mensa doesn’t seem like such a positive thing to be a part of.

I haven’t seen any response from the Mensa organization about Tarek’s apprearance on the show. Their strategy is probably to hang low and hope he gets fired soon. That’s what a lot of companies do when their brand is attacked…and it’s the wrong thing to do.

The brand is changing while you’re waiting. In this instance, I already equate Mensa with “tarek from the apprentice”. That branding is now a part of my worldview…and always will be until something comes along to change it.

You should be pro-active when dealing with brand attacks. Mensa should be doing damage control by trying to define the conversation. They should put some of the more outgoing and interesting members out in the spotlight…showcasing them on the locally produced shows of NBC affiliates…making local appearances…doing anything except just sitting there.

It’s important to remember that you don’t always have complete control of your brand image. The actual “brand” is developed in the minds of the masses where you have no control…but you do have influence…so do something to influence your brand whether you’re in trouble or not.

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Apprentice ppt

Here’s a Columbo “oh yeah, one more thing” post….

While at lunch, I remembered there was another point I wanted to make in my Apprentice Marketing post. (I need to start taking notes while watching TV)

Point 4) – If you have nothing to say…then say nothing. Don’t create a Powerpoint to convey that nothingness.

Not that I would ever wish to be Donald Trump…but while sitting in numerous bad Powerpoint presentations, I have wished for the ability he showed last night to tell the bad presenter…”Is this really necessary?…Just sit down!”

A much more effective communication strategy was shown by the other team with the simple prop of the baby carriage…(after all, Charmaine is a WKU Communications grad.)

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Apprentice Marketing

I thought there might not be any teachable moments in marketing with this season of The Apprentice. But then last night, the tide changed with 3 good marketing points.

1) I preach to clients and speaking audiences all the time about one of the most recurrent marketing sins that I see…the novel on a billboard. With a billboard, you get one thought and one thought only. It has to be straightforward and so simple that a child could comprehend it without thinking. What you see so many times are billboards and other outdoor media that have the old mentality of “we paid for this space so we need to use all of it“.

2) While designing their losing billboard, Andrea said…”Well, I do most of the graphic design for my company.” At that point, I thought she’d grab Quark and get busy. But instead, she sat behind the graphic artist, pointed at the screen, and said things like “more colors” and “more fonts”. That’s not graphic layout. That’s micro-managing someone who knows more than you do.

3) Anytime you get 3 or more people get together to design an ad, it’s a disaster. Marketing by committee is always a losing proposition.

Bonus Point 4) People from KY are both empathic and strong leaders. Way to go, Charmaine.

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From Cherry Hall to Trump Tower

If you’re a long time reader of the Shotgun Marketing BLOG, you know that I like to pull teachable moments in marketing from the NBC “reality” show “The Apprentice”.

Season 5 starts tonight and I’m already interested in one of the candidates because she’s from KY. Charmaine Hunt is originally from Madisonville, KY and graduated from my alma mater, Western Kentucky University.

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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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