Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Poorly Timed Price Increase

We're getting started with a new client this week, one who's been on our "dream list" for as long as we've been in business. This is one of the larger independent, retail merchants in Charleston and one of the most respected companies in the region. The owners are community leaders in every sense. Any marketing firm in America would give their right arm to have this company as a client.

So how did we get in the door?

It seems that about five years ago, their advertising agent tried to push a 15% price increase on them. His request came at a very inopportune time. The client's business was down, store traffic was down at the time and (in their estimation) the advertising program had failed them. Imagine their umbrage when this guy came in demanding a higher retainer for his services!

In the words of the owner, "That must have happened about 4 or 5 years ago, but I still haven't gotten over it. He blew it that day."

Today, store traffic has sagged again. This time the guy's gone. Now's our time chance, our time to shine!

Thankfully, the owners called us and said, "Traffic is down 30%, and we need help. What can you do for us?" [You'll hear more about our program for them in the weeks and months ahead!]

There are several key lessons to be learned from this case for those of us in marketing and sales:

1- Watch your timing on requests for price/rate increases. Take time to assess what the view looks like from the client's side of the table, before you ask for more.

2- Customers are emotional creatures who hold on to things. Our new customer still feels the emotion and insult that stemmed from the ad man's attempted price increase from five years ago.

3- You can blow it and never even know it. It may take a while for you to find out why; you may not ever find out what you did to lose the business.

4- Persistence pays off. We've courted this client for four years, sometimes gently - sometimes more directly. They weren't ready ... the timing was not right ... until this month.

Who's that prospect that's been on your "dream list" for years? Have you contacted them lately? If not, give it another run. Now might just the time for you to get your shot.

Go get 'em!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Brand Damage - When Push Marketing Goes Too Far

My computer got hit with some malware recently, not a virus or a worm, but adware. One day mysteriously, my Internet Explorer user interface looked different. Some strange, extra toolbar had appeared. The unwelcome program had also taken hostage the part of the browsing process that happens when a page is not found or when you mis-type a URL address, sending me to its website instead of allowing the Windows message DNS/Not Found screen to display normally.

I struggled for days to get this annoying crap off my laptop. See if you can sense the frustration I was feeling when I sent a series of messages to the purveyor of adware.

Here's the excerpted exchange below. My comments are in plain text. The malicious adware vendor's comments are in bold text.

I cannot remove your promo program from my computer. I did not request it. There is no icon for it in Programs, no Uninstall ware, plus your adware has disable the Add/Remove capability for your registry in my Control Panel function--it simply takes me to your website when I click 'Remove.'

Come on, give me a break. Let go of my computer, please.

Name -- Skip Lineberg
Username --
MemberID --
Email --
Subject -- Spam Complaint
Browser -- MS Internet Explorer 6.x
Internet Connection -- Cable TV connection
Processor -- PC - Pentium IV
Operating System -- Windows XP
RAM -- 128-256 MB
Session Cookie -- on
Permanent Cookie -- on
JavaScript -- on
User IP --
User Browser -- Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; Q312461; .NET CLR 1.1.4322

Dear Customer,

Thank you for contacting us. We have looked into your issue and have
determined that an adware program(not owned or operated by our company) has
installed promotional material for our product. We have taken measures to
see that this company cease from promoting our products.

The adware that has infected your PC is called i-search and we recommend you
visit to remove this adware from your pc.If your still
having trouble here are some contact numbers you can call.

Customer Support

You think there's a snowball's chance in hell that I'll ever buy their product. How many other folks like me do you think they have caused to hate the name "ISEARCH." Their brand is histy, it's Ghandi, it's toast.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Great Insights on Selling

Have you ever been in a sales situation where you offered the most logical solution to the customer's problem, yet the order went to someone else? Of course you have! All of us who sell joined that club years ago, and we all know its motto by heart: "When you win, you earn. When you lose, you'd better learn." To understand why the sale that should have been a certainty went weirdly astray, what follows a science lesson that I hope will explain, biologically speaking, the hard-wiring that can lead customers to reject the most logical choices. (Michelle Nichols, "The Crazy Logic of Sales", Business, June 4, 2004).

Marketers who have a technical or analytical bent will find this article particularly eye-opening. I certainly did!

The rest of this insightful article by Michelle Nichols can be accessed via the hyperlink below.
BW Online | June 4, 2004 | The Crazy Logic of a Successful Sale

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Exceptional Ability to Face the Facts and Adapt

In the words of one industry analyst: "Pepsi has an exceptional ability to face the facts and adapt ...."

Do you have such ability?

You see facts, figures and data every day. What do you do as a result of new information?

It's uncomfortable the first time something jumps out of the screen and says to you, "I am an impossible-to-ignore trend/change/shift.
I'm real ... and I'm not going away. I will sooner or later tear down the way you've BEEN doing things, and I'm going to demand that you change or else."

We've all been there. We've all felt it. So, what matters is how you react ... what you do.

Do you adapt? Or do you shrug off the data as an aberration... as some statistical anomaly. Maybe you hope THE NUMBERS will change, reverse course or simply go away.

Nimble, smart, successful companies adapt. They don't ignore or rationalize data. Sure, they question, verify and research--it's imperative to do so--but when facts are facts, they have the courage to face them. This isn't about spare-bedroom start-ups or "fast" companies. What's great about this story is that it's about a company as large and long-running as Pepsi!

From Business Week Online--

How Pepsi deftly adapts products to changing consumer tastes

Few companies seem as pained by the thought of missing a customer as PepsiCo (PEP ). Every year, the food and beverage giant adds more than 200 product variations to its vast global portfolio -- which ranges from Quaker Soy Crisps to Gatorade Xtremo Thirst Quencher. Steven S. Reinemund, chairman and chief executive officer, believes that constant quest for change, more than even quality and value, is what has driven the Purchase (N.Y.) company to consistent double-digit earnings growth. As Reinemund has put it: "Innovation is what consumers are looking for, particularly in the small, routine things of their life."

BW Online | June 14, 2004 | Pepsi's Thousand And One Noshes

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Are you sure?

We recently conducted one-on-one interviews with a core group of professionals in a midsize WV city.

Our objective was simple: determine what kind of product our client should sell in the market.

The interesting thing about our findings was the apparent disconnect between what the market thought was occuring and what actually is.

The market perception was that a product for sale in the market was selling 5-10% higher than it actually was.

Secondly, the higher price range market was very thin and only made up 15% of total sales in the market.

My point is that if our client listened to the market without the substantial qualitative and quantitative research we conducted, he would have sold his product for too high a price to a market segment that was small.

Instead he will be selling a right priced product to more than 75% of the market.

Our research diversified the sales options and will create stability in his business plan.

Why did I tell you this?

The next time you base a business decision on your perception, your perception may be incorrect.

Don't guess. Use research and know. It's priceless.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Nifty Idea for Trade Show Marketing

I attended a trade show recently and ran across this gem of a low-cost marketing tactic. For any of you who do trade shows, this one is worth emulating!

Several of the exhibitors had formulated a marketing cooperative for the event. These eight companies printed a one-page flyer, similar to a "dance card" or one of those free-dozen-donuts cards. This flyer had a brief description of each of the participating companies, a map to show their respective locations & booth numbers ... and a blank checkbox.

Each of the partners handed out the flyer from their exhibit booth and explained the rules of the contest to interested newcomers. Of course you could also get your card stamped in return for visiting one of the participating booths. Anyone who visited all of the partners' booths and earned all of his card stamps became eligible to win one of several really desirable prizes. They were giving away a mountain bike, a set of Callaway golf clubs and a computer memory backup/storage device... really hip, valuable stuff.

By collaborating on a program like this one, each of the participants became BIGGER than any one of them could have been individually. Bigger, better prizes. More buzz. Nicer, glossier flyer. More traffic ... and more sales leads.