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.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ok, I admit I watched it!

Last night I watched Peter Jennings talk about UFO's.

Why, I dunno? I have always had an interest in science fiction and honestly, I just find the whole subject a little quirky and interesting.

Here's what I didn't expect to learn.

ABC in my opinion has become a pretty slick content provider these days. Somehow, they have me watching more television with some of the shows they have put on recently.

I've noticed they have targeted me. I've purchased things I've seen ads for and I didn't know it until the damage was done (this from a marketing person).

But what was really interesting to me last night was the ads that ran during the news special.

They were all direct response. They were all for products that were helpful/useless - affordable ab machines, storage containers, super spatulas, etc.

Here's my question? Did ABC know what their core audience was going to look like for this feature? Did they create it specifically to attract that audience and sell them stuff?

The products didn't appeal to me or my wife - we weren't the target. I have a basic hunch as to who they were targeted and I'd like to know how much of that stuff moved out of the warehouse last night.

If you know, let me know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Nobody Came to the Free Seminar

Here is an all-too-frequent scenario:

Really smart, ambitious, growth-minded company (or consultant or business person) decides to host a free seminar to attract new prospects.

She plans and prepares for the free seminar. She rents the conference room at a nice, respectable hotel. She prepares the course material and notebooks ... orders the appetizers.

She sends and invitation to many promising prospects and would-be customers.

On the day of the event (seminar), no one shows. Empty room. PowerPoint presentation loaded and LCD projector at the ready. Notebooks at every empty chair. Dazzling appetizers, piping hot, sitting untouched. Snappy marketing brochures arranged for no one to take.

She concludes that the seminar was a bad idea.

Has this ever happened to you? Regrettably, it is not uncommon.

So, what went wrong?

Was the free seminar a bad idea? I contend that it was not. Instead, I would suggest that it was poorly designed and promoted.

What could she have done better? How could it have been more successful?

First, we have to understand that our prospects--especially the really good, lucrative ones--are incredibly busy. Plus, they are absolutely bombarded with promotional offers of every flavor, including offers for seminars.

To make this seminar and business development event more successful, she could have designed and planned it differently. Instead of "putting all of the eggs in one basket," she might have split the event into three, smaller-scale seminars. Host the event on three distinct dates, at three different locations. One at the breakfast hour, one at lunchtime and one right after work. Give your prospects options and choices. Sure it is more work for you. And perhaps it costs a little more. But we are focused on a successful outcome, aren't we? Prospects present ... butts in seats, right?

Even the most well-intentioned prospect runs into jams, emergencies and unforseen problems. If that primo prospect planned to come but ran into a client crisis that forced her to work late ... or if she had to pick up a sick child from school ... you missed her if your event was a one-shot deal. Alternatively, if you offered the seminar three times, on three different dates, there is a much better chance that the same primo prospect would have come to your seminar at one of the alternate times.

From a promotion standpoint, she could have greatly increased the success of the event by sending the "invitation" multiple times, in varying forms. At the very least, the promotional message for the seminar should have gone out three times. Recalling that our prospects are bombarded with promotional messages, we know that the invitee (the primo prospect) may not notice our message until she's seen it at least three times. (This is the Rule of Three, which is fundamental in marketing and communications.)

The first two times our invitation gets overlooked or stuffed into a stack of items to be reviewed later. Perhaps ... just maybe ... on that third message, she says, "Hey - I remember something about this. I had better take a closer look."

So what does the three-part event promotional campaign look like?

The first communication is something in the way of a short message with an emphasis on "save the date."

The second communication presents more information about the seminar ... a synopsis and a benefit statement. "You need to attend this seminar because ...."

The third message is a brief, catchy reminder ... perhaps with a hook, or special offer of some sort.

The moral of this story? One-shot marketing tactics never work. When we place all of our eggs in one basket, we are bound to fail. And finally, we need to be smart and use the power of repetition to cut through the clutter in the overloaded, saturated environment in which we live.

Marketing is Poetry & Plumbing

Marketing consists of equal parts of poetry and plumbing.

Whereas graphic design and logos and Web sites are often poetic in nature, the marketing plan is plumbing. It is function over form. Poetry sure is great—but only when the plumbing is working, can we think about poetry.

A marketing plan is the “plumbing” (i.e., the foundation) of any successful marketing process. The marketing plan is rooted in research and based in fact. The marketing plan spells out opportunities, alternatives, costs and choices—and does so in such manner as to facilitate decision making with regard to strategy and allocation of resources. The marketing plan provides a clearly defined pathway to help a company move from its present position to the one that it desires to occupy.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Oprah and Daisy Fuentes

I just learned that Daisy Fuentes has a new line of clothing for women. How do I know this?

Did I see the merchandise at a store? No.

Did my wife mention it to me? Nope.

Did I see an advertisement in a magazine? No.

Perhaps I saw a TV commercial about the product line? Not.

I happened to catch an episode of the "Oprah" television show. I'm not a regular "Oprah" viewer, but I do happen to know that she has a huge following--millions of viewers, fans and loyal disciples.

You'd have to live under a rock not to have heard about the Oprah Book Club. Oprah is a maven, a trendsetter and a trusted source of information about a wide variety of issues, services and products. She publishes a magazine. She has a web portal, a TV show and even an Angel Network.

Oprah is huge ... and I am certainly not talking about her battle with weight control. Oprah is a very powerful customer evangelist. The stuff she touts sells like hotcakes, especially with women. Doesn't matter if it's clothing or books or nutrition or exercise programs.

Oprah IS a mega-brand. She conducts meaningful, trustworthy conversations with her audience. And I'll say that I respect her as an entertainer and philanthropist. She helps people and she gives. I like that.

Now, back to Daisy and the new line of women's clothing. Oprah had Daisy Fuentes on her show last week to debut Daisy's new clothing. It was so incredibly clever. The whole debut was packaged as "makeovers for housewives." Oprah's crew found three friends from the Chicago suburbs, fixed them up, took them shopping at Kohl's and decked them out in Daisy's stylish duds. In addition to the housewives, Oprah allowed Daisy to bring professional fashion models onto the set to display more of the merchandise. It was a soft sell, but mostly it was all about the clothing. I lost count of the number of times that Daisy and Oprah mentioned that "you can purchase the clothing at Kohl's Department Stores."

Oprah has a following of millions of women. By having Daisy on her show, she gave a huge endorsement to the new line of women's clothing. The value of this 10-minute segment on Oprah was worth millions.

You just can't buy that kind of publicity! Kudos to the marketing geniuses, Daisy Fuentes AND Oprah Winfrey!!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Bowl Ads

Like many people, I wonder what we'll see today during the big game. I've been studying and covering Super Bowl ads for the past five years.

Remember last year's ads?
No? That's okay. Most do not.

Here's a little refresher:
* The donkey who wanted to become a Budweiser Clydesdale
* Pepsi launched its free iTunes downloads promo
* Frito Lay's sassy grandparents battling over the last of a bag of chips
* Controversial public issue ads (, PETA, etc.)

From what I've seen, here's what to look for:
1- Something big from McIlhenny's Tabasco
2- A big pop from Bubblicious (talk about old school)
3- Something out of this world from Volvo
4- A big push from AmeriQuest (online home lender)
5- Frito Lay will drop the hammer (as in M.C. Hammer)
6- More of Jared from Subway (to me, this is getting a little stale)
7- More humor from Anheuser Busch
8- Good, entertaining material and more celebrities from PepsiCo

Missing are Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Burger King and Staples at least so far. Hopefully, the Viagra, Cialis and Levitra commercials will be missing, too.

Finally... why all those movie promo ads? It seems that movies that are promoted during the Super Bowl do 40% better at the box office. That certainly explains the ever-growing number of movie promos.

This year's game (Superbowl XXXIX) takes place in Jacksonville, FL, and will be broadcast on Fox. The audience should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 million sets of eyeballs--just in the United States. This year, a 0:30 spot costs $2.4 million (new record high).

I will be curious to see which of the Super Bowl ads America will be talking about around the watercooler tomorrow morning?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Sweepstakes Junkie

Confession #1: I am playing the Publishers' Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. I mean really playing it. Hook. Line. And sinker. It's been hyhpothesized that Sales*Marketing Types, like me, are highly susceptible to clever, compelling pitches. I am living proof of it.

For me, watching the sweepstakes unfold is like watching Brett Favre or Joe Montana lead a game-winning, 4th quarter scoring drive. They don't go for the touchdown all at once. They accomplish progress in chunks. Take what they can get. They work the clock. They keep moving ahead.

The Publishers' Clearinghouse process is much the same. It draws me in with mesmerizing, odds-defying momentum. Its power, force and sheer magnitude is a weird sort of beauty.

Confession #2: I have ordered something at nearly every round of the sweepstakes--and there have been at least 5 rounds that I can recall. Why do I order? Complicated thing. It is NOT because I hold any hope of winning anything. It is certainly not because I want to receive more magazines than my family can possibly read. No ... it's almost out of respect for the wickedly clever structure and relentlessness of the campaign. My quirky brain thinks, "Let's draw Publisher's Clearinghouse out. Let's see how far they will take this thing!"

From a marketing perspective, there are levels of cleverness - like an onion.

1. Huge cash prize (fortune)

2. TV & other media exposure (fame)

3. Multiple chances to say "yes" or "no" (repetition)

4. Systematic process appeal, which engenders commitment and deepens the crediblity. [Place sticker "A" on spot "14" and your "Extra Bonus" sticker on its designated space.] (sly sales tactic)

5. They learn more about me based on what magazines I order; then susequently present more of the stuff I'm inclined to like (psychograhic targeting)

6. The offers and headlines are so carefully worded with sneaky disclaimers and waivers. "May have won." "Now qualified to be entered into a drawing." Actually this is really slimy stuff that I do not condone in any way shape or form. (ad*sales copy)

7. Timing of the offers. The campaign starts at approximately the time when magazines subscriptions are starting to expire. The spacing between offers is cleverly calculated to hit just often enough to leverage the repetition effect--but not overly frequent. (frequency & timing)

Publishers' (we're on a first name basis now) recently informed me that I have attained VIP customer status. Pardon me, while I straighten my ascot. In fact they called me last Saturday morning to inform me that they are sending me 10 more magazine subscriptions, free of charge for one year, no strings attached. They picked the mags, and their selections weren't half bad. (In case you were wondering... yes, I do recycle.)

I wonder ... I just wonder what comes next. What if I purchase again? Hmmmm.

(To Be Continued)