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6 posts from November 2007

How to Play the Game

071105y This holiday season, it seems what people really need is a deal. A few years ago, Best Buy famously fired its most aggressive deal-seeking customers, some of whom were loading up on loss leaders and selling them on eBay. So now the winning retailers are making a better effort to understand and support deal-seeking behavior without letting it undermine their profits. Every retailer will use discounts to attract traffic and move stale inventory, and the retailer that makes customers feel thrilled that they got a great deal will benefit most. Competitive discounting has to be a part of every retailers' long term strategy.

NY Times: Instead of Fighting Ad Leaks, Some Retailers Embrace Them. 2007-Nov-21, by Michael Barbaro

With consumers uneasy about the economy, the only thing worse than having a retail circular leaked to the [discount-tracking web] sites, it seems, is not having it leaked to the sites, whose popularity and influence have soared since they first materialized in 2003. When, the most popular of the Black Friday sites, did not immediately post a circular from Pacific Sunwear earlier this month, an employee at the clothing chain made clear how important the site was to the company....

Brad Olson, who runs, said Web-savvy retailers now see sites like his “as free advertising.” For regional stores, Black Friday Web sites provide a rare chance to compete head-to-head with bigger chains.

How to Touch the Imagination

071113wFirst I have to eat one of my words. A couple of years ago I was sitting in a meeting, talking about an email newsletter, and the owner expressed a desire to include video clips. I'm ashamed to say I didn't just roll my eyes, I also said "never."

Although it's still not technologically feasible to include a video clip in a newsletter, a strong, inviting link to a fun clip may be just the way to touch your audience and get them to take action, as the florist is this story from Marketing Sherpa found.

MarketingSherpa: How to Add Video to Email on a Shoestring Budget & Double Conversions: 6 Steps + 6 Lessons Learned, 2007-Nov-13 (Case Study #CS809) Showing a video lessens the copywriting burden. Instead, work on the quality of the video, converting the format if need be. This MarketingSherpa story will be for subscibers only after Nov. 20, 2007, but it contains a large number of good technical details on how to make video clips a part of your regular email campaigns.

How Words Struggle to become Viral

071119t No marketing concept has become corrupted as quickly as "viral marketing." My introduction to the idea was through a Fast Company magazine article called Network Effects (August 1999). This marketing system was originally mentioned in an article by Steve Jurvetson and Tim Draper which was written in 1997 as a result of their experience with Hotmail and other internet startups. However, the person who really disentangled the "marketing" issues from the "internet startup" issues was Seth Godin, who clarified the concept in his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus.

Godin pointed out that the miracle of Hotmail was that the email message was its own advertisement, and the opportunities for the product or service to be its own advertisement are rare. He also pointed out that traditional word of mouth decays. For instance, I'm thrilled with my experience at a restaurant and I tell every friend I run into for a couple of days, but they are removed from the experience and are unlikely to tell anyone unless they actually go and buy a meal for themselves.

The secret to getting people to spread the word about your product (whether by mouth or by mouse) is to have a message that's enjoyable to share (an ideavirus, according to Godin). Sumit Roy wrote a terrific article for Inc. magazine in November 2000 about simple things you can do with your business to encourage people to talk about it.

  1. Don't expect people to repeat an advertising slogan, but do supply them with the everyday adjectives that correctly describe the experience you want your customers to have.
  2. Choose a brand name that's unique, memorable and easy-to-say, so that people can both remember and recognize it. (Oops, Amazon and eBay are taken.)
  3. Unique experiences are what people want to talk about. "I got a theater ticket from my dry cleaner on my one-year anniversary as a customer!" "The feed store had a little petting zoo for the kids in the parking lot."
  4. For this type of marketing system to actually bring you new customers, your business must also be accessible to the people who hear about it. This issue is why Godin says that truly viral marketing comes in the product or service itself--the advertising is an experience of the product. That's why a good "viral email" must get you to click back to the advertisers' web site. Retail operations can benefit from word-of-mouth coupons, and restaurants can generate buzz with off-menu items.

Viral marketing is actually the toughest way to market, with the investment of time, energy and commitment way overshadowing the advantage of not having to buy advertising.

How to Ask Questions, Revisited

In developing more conversational marketing, it's important to use language that resonates with your customers and reminds them what is special in their relationship with you.

Think Customers, The 1to1 Blog: Measuring Great Service071125z . 2007-Nov-1, by Jeremy Nedelka

The short questionnaire had only 4 questions, and each made sense based on what I’d experienced during my three days there. The hotel wanted to know “who created a wow experience” (every staff member I met gave me their business card), “how the experience could be better next time” (I would have a hard time coming up with anything), and “will you return” (which also asked for an explanation), were three of the four. The last, asking for a 1-5 rating of the overall experience, was very unique and caught my eye most. Instead of the typical excellent, great, etc…, the 1 to 5 were labeled “not so fab, ehh, ok, good, and fabulous.”

How to Lure a Better Audience

071127x As the pace of change accelerates, we don't always get a chance to consider some opportunities thoughtfully. If you haven't looked at Google Adwords recently, check out their new site-targeting capabilities. Now you can specify exactly which online publication will carry your ad. You don't have to let Google pick the sites (although it's a good way to discover sites you might not have considered.) For those of us who aren't working for a "quick sale," attracting an audience from somebody else's content to our content makes a lot more sense.

It used to be prohibitively expensive to test an ad in something like Business Week and nearly impossible to draw readers of that publication over to try your publication or to read more about your offering. Now you can limit your exposure with Google's budget management tools, test different headlines and compare how your ads are performing across publications. Who says advertising is getting harder?

I caught up on these possibilities in a subscription-required MarketingSherpa article: How to Get the Most Out of Google AdWords - 8 Strategies to Maximize ROI, 2007-Oct-23. One of the most popular presentations at their recent Demand Generation Summit was by David Szetela of Clix Marketing. He presented this system for finding the best sites for your advertisements by using Google's Placement Performance Report. I will not "re-publish" the system here but was pleased to see that he recommends finding a few strong keywords and sites to attract your audience rather than use lots of keywords running all over the place.

If you want to take advantage of some of the best marketing research being done, you should visit MarketingSherpa's home page every day to see what's being shared "open access for 7 days." That would be doing your marketing calisthenics!

How to Make Advertising News

071130z To turbocharge a new product announcement, Timberland is recycling their advertising materials, amplifying the message that the product is made from recycled materials.

Boston Glob: Timberland ads aim to cut carbon footprint. 2007-Oct-13, by Diedtra Henderson

To rekindle interest in the flagging boot market, the Stratham, N.H., company has created a leave-few-carbon-traces campaign with the help of Arnold, the Boston-based ad agency. Carbon dioxide emissions associated with running the Earthkeepers commercials on television, radio, and the Internet will be offset with power credits purchased from the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort wind project in Hancock, Mass. The company is purchasing additional offsets to cover a portion of emissions due to the campaign's production and distribution. When the promotion ends, its billboards will be transformed into tote bags; print materials will be recycled.