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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fear Factor?

Fear has long been a successful marketing tactic. Example: If you want consumers to buy sunscreen, show them a picture of a leathery sun worshipper at 65.

However, a new campaign from Volkswagen takes shock-value to another level. The TV ads show a family riding in their Jetta carrying on as usual when – WHAM! – they’re t-boned in a horrific-looking crash.

The ads are extremely effective in their mission to jar viewers and get attention quickly. (And in today’s overcrowded marketing environment, that’s a feat in and of itself.)

But my concern is the timing.

We live in a world where movies about 9/11 are on the marquee, soldiers are dying abroad, and pedophiles live right next door. If I want to be afraid, I’ll pick up a newspaper.

Volkswagen should know better. Consumers are tired of feeling anxious - and skyrocketing sales of “new luxury” goods is proof that we’re all trying to drown out the fear by spoiling ourselves a little. (This is why I’ll buy a $7 sandwich from Panera Bread everyday for lunch, but protest bitterly when gas hits $3 per gallon.)

Only time will tell if Volkswagen’s fear campaign sells cars. If it does, well, that just might be the most shocking thing of all.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tracking the Effectiveness of Your Marketing

There is one simple way to track the effectiveness of your marketing program. It will bring insights to your business. It's not fancy, by any means. In fact, all that is required is discipline. And oh, by the way, this process will work, no matter what industry you are in -- high tech, low tech, product or service, for-profit or non-profit.

Are you ready for this sure-fire, five-step process?

OK - Here goes:

Step 1 - Commit to do this.

Step 2 - Every time you hear from a new person, ask them this question: "How did you hear about us?" (Also known as the six most important words in marketing.)

Step 3 - Create a log of the answers you get to this question.

Step 4 - Analyze the trends/patterns and discuss it within your work group.

Step 5 - Do more of the marketing tactics that are showing up on your log as the source of customer inquiries. Stop doing those marketing tactics that are missing from the log.

Repeat forever.

So, my fellow marketing geniuses, I ask you: How did you hear about this blog?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Less Than Optimized Search Engines

So I go to the world's leading search engine, Google, and type in the following search phrase: "search engine"

Guess which search engine comes up as the #1 result. If you said "Google," you were wrong. That search phrase on Google returns a competitor, Dogpile, as the number one result. Google ranks itself 5th, interestingly.

Now try AltaVista. Same process. Type in "search engine" in the search box. Its lists nine other competitors before it presents AltaVista in the search results. This is amazing to me!

On the Lycos search engine, Lycos comes up as the 4th listing.
On the Dogpile search enginge, Dogpile comes back 13th.
On the Excite search engine, Excite comes back 69th. You have to go to the 4th page of search results.

Yahoo and are the only search engines that I studied which returns its site first among listings of search-engine Web sites. Come on--you have to be kidding me!

I guess the old adage about the shoemaker's kids having the worst shoes holds true here.

I challenge all of our marketing geniuses to overcome the shoemaker's paradigm. Practice what you preach! If you are a marketing expert, have great marketing. If you are a Web designer, have a great Web site. If you are a fashion consultant, dress yourself like you believe it. Walk the talk! Business author Harry Beckwith has a great way of articulating this. Stay tuned for Harry's advice.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Secret to Direct Mail?

Hint: It’s not a compelling sales message (although that helps).

It’s not terrific design either (but, again, that helps).

It’s not even hitting the same people more than once.

Give up?

It’s the list.

I was reminded of this yet again at a meeting last night where the organization’s marketing committee spent three hours(!) going over a website full of pre-designed postcards wondering which one to put their logo on.

Now, despite the fact that I work in a marketing agency full of genius designers, I’m not opposed to pre-packaged design. (Example: It’s convenient, fairly cost-effective and some of the designs are pretty slick.

What I’m opposed to is spending more time on the postcard than the mailbox it will go into. So if you’re planning to launch a direct mail campaign anytime soon, start with the list first. Because even if you have the world’s greatest coffee-grinder, it won’t make a bit of difference if your sales materials land in front of a tea-drinker.

Have a great Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hey Marketers – What Color R U?

Last night I attended a Toastmasters meeting where the speaker gave a fascinating presentation on the persuasive effect of color. Did you know that people are more likely to argue in a yellow room than a green one? Or that blue is the wardrobe color that makes the best first impression? It seems that the color business is more than just aesthetics – this is powerful stuff.

I daresay that most of the time design choices are made based on the whims of the graphic artist. But what if you took a research-based approach to color in your ads? Example: Studies show that red is the most eye-catching color in the spectrum. (This is why stop signs, fire engines, etc. are red, i.e. they’re designed to be noticed immediately.) So if you want your advertising to stop people in their tracks, why not create a full bleed, vixen-red ad that screams, “Hey consumer - look at this!”

That might be extreme, but do take note of the colors used in your marketing. You may be communicating more than you think.