Tag Archives: Marketing

Conditional Love

Maturity can be measured by our abilities to change our minds, admit mistakes, and/or see flaws, even in those we love.

I have for some time trumpeted the merits of Apple products and their life changing (and society changing) impact. But that love is not unconditional. This NY Times article makes the compelling case that Apple, so far ahead of the curve on so many things, is falling behind the times.

In an effort to keep people buying more, needing the newest gadget, even if it means throwing away a still viable older model, Apple chooses to make their products some of the least repairable, hardest to even open of any of the major smartphone competitors.

Lots of tech geeks who salivate over the newest gadget will look past this. The growing green movement should eventually rebel.

I still love my iPhone. And I’m fascinated to see what the next generation will deliver. But more and more I’m hoping my phone will last me a few years, as I see no great reason to add to the trash heaps for no better reason than that I can’t change the battery on my perfectly functional phone.

(Side note: ifixit is a website giving home fix it guidance for all of your broken phone needs.)

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Personal Appeal

In 2009 I created a low budget campaign to get my book, Be the Hero, onto the bestseller lists. And it worked. Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller. #19 in all books on Amazon.

The question is – why did it work?

The answer is – the personal appeal.

Marketers have fallen in love with email as a cheap way to reach the masses. Send out a million emails. It costs virtually nothing. Some of the recipients will act. A small percentage of 1,000,000 is still a big number.

Problems occur when people with only a few people to email fall into the same trap. I received a donation request with the opening line, “Hi Everyone.” This immediately made a few things very clear.

  1. I’m not special. I’m one of the masses.
  2. The sender expects no specific reply from me.
  3. My action or inaction will go unnoticed.

If you have contact info for a million people, by all means, send out mass emails. However, when you need action from a high percentage of your contact list, it requires a personal appeal.

  • A blast email asking people to buy Girl Scout cookies from my daughter would get almost no response. A phone call from her is irresistible. 100% close rate.
  • A blast email from me asking people to participate in the best seller campaign would have had almost no effect. My approach took more time. I called a couple hundred people to ask them to take part. The result was a national bestseller.

You may not have time for a personal appeal in everything you do. You’ll have to choose. But if you want people to act, show them how much you care in how you reach out to them. Their response will reflect your approach.

$1 Per Customer

What if you could run a marketing campaign that was less expensive, more effective, and made you look great in the public eye?

If you haven’t seen it, Macy’s has invited kids to drop off their letters to Santa at special mailboxes in their stores. For every letter dropped, up to 1 million, they will donate $1 to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Oh, and while you are in the store, if you happen to see something you like, we’ll be happy to ring you up at the register. Brilliant.

This isn’t to say that Macy’s campaign is devious. It is wonderful. More companies should do likewise. Connect yourself to what people are already doing. Barnes and Noble put Starbucks in their stores. Brilliant again.

This is the opposite of the advice given by baseball player Willie Keeler who famously said, “Hit ’em where they ain’t.”

Who Are You?

I was told a story about a Jewish man working in America who removed his yarmulka each day for work. He didn’t want his Judaism to be others’ first impression of him.

When I first started my company I did work for a political lobbying organization. I consider myself to be an independent partly because I don’t agree entirely with either party and partly because I believe that party politics are a big part of the reason our country gets into the messes we do.

I’ve spoken to people who work in industries from pharma to finance to advertising to energy, all who have had misgivings about the dark side of the industries or companies they serve.

Most people compromise in some way in pursuit of their work. So here are some questions for you.

  1. Where have you compromised?
  2. What would you refuse to compromise?
  3. Where have you refused in the past and what happened as a result?

Wi-fi Landing

I’m at Starbucks searching for wi-fi. Generally, when I look for wi-fi my search is for the fastest possible path to the content I had in mind before I started my wi-fi search.

Today though, something caught my eye. It was a big, bold “Free Wi-Fi” on the Starbucks landing page. Apparently, starting July 1 Starbucks will offer free wi-fi in all its stores. That’s great to know, but it also got me thinking about landing pages.

When you log onto wi-fi at a coffee shop, bookstore, hotel, airport, museum, or wherever, you are just about always required to go through 1 or 2 pages of the location’s content, clicking that you accept their terms of use and so forth, before you actually reach your goal of internet access.

What struck me about the Starbucks landing page is that in about 0.2 seconds it captured my attention with something I wanted to know about.

I’ve logged onto more hotel wi-fi networks than I care to count. Every single one is the same. Boring page about the hotel. Nothing about me. Nothing I actually want to know. I’ve never stopped on those pages. Think about how likely you would be to stay on the hotel site if the headline were one of these:

  • FREE Weekend Stay
  • Top 10 Hotel Room Activities
  • The BEST Hotel Stay Ever
  • How to Get Hotel Freebies
  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know a Concierge Would Do for You

Wi-fi landing pages are a perfect opportunity to capture an audience. It is a shame so many accept the boring every day and don’t dare to be different.

Simple and Fun

Your marketing message doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be crafted on Madison Avenue.

The MIT Index is a brilliant example of a simple and fun presentation of facts that absolutely sells me on MIT.

A Suitable Reward

I love my printing company. They are awesome. They are quick and inexpensive. Their product is high quality. Their service is great.

A few weeks ago they sent me a thank you gift for all the business I have done with them. It was a baseball cap with their logo stitched into it. Wow! What a ridiculously useless free gift. I can’t imagine the circumstances in which a grown person with lots of printing needs would say, “A hat with my printer’s name on it? Awesome!”

I will never ever wear this hat.

By contrast, my wife shops a fair amount at Macy’s. Our doorbell rang today and it was a delivery person with a free gift for her. Macy’s had sent a travel mouse and USB hub with a nice carry case (all Macy’s branded) for the computer user on the go.

Hmm. Macy’s figured out that shoppers who spend a lot on mid to high end fashion and household goods probably also use laptops. They gave my wife something that actually fits who she is and what she might use. She was thrilled.

In the world of business gifts (or any gifts for that matter), the recipient must be the focus. Perhaps my printing company wanted to show off their ability to print on clothing. Who cares? The gift shouldn’t be about them. It should be about me.

So question. If you had $10 to spend on a gift that you wanted to be universally well received and have your name/logo on it, what would you give?