What Some Marketers Don’t Want You to Know – Here’s One for the Customers

Caveat emptor is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”.  According to the Oxford dictionary, it describes the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before making a purchase.  So, for example, a potential used car buyer may look at a Carfax report to see if the vehicle has been wrecked or has any hidden problems.  carfax What Some Marketers Don’t Want You to Know – Here’s One for the CustomersIn other words, you’re doing your homework, and you should.  But what about that pill that allows you to eat anything you want and lose weight?  How about that water that prevents cancer?

Doing your homework should involve using credible, objective, third party sources.  Let’s take a look at a real life example.  (Names and products have been changed to protect the guilty.)

A friend of mine, “Constance”, wants to lose 30 pounds.  She heard about a pill that is made from a newly discovered plant from the Amazon and allows you to eat anything and lose as much weight as you want.  passion fruit What Some Marketers Don’t Want You to Know – Here’s One for the CustomersWhen I asked Constance why she believed this magic pill would work, she replied that Dr. So-and-So, an MD, had conducted research to verify the legitimacy of the pill.  His research determined that it did, indeed, work, therefore Constance believed she could now consume anything while watching the numbers on the scale drop.  Upon my investigation, yes, Dr. So-and-So was a real doctor with real credentials, BUT the good doctor was also heavily invested in the company that made the product and was one of the founding members.  While he may possibly be credible, he surely isn’t objective because he has a significant financial investment in this product AND he’s not a third party.  Of course he’s going to say the pill works!  To verify the legitimacy of this pill, another MD or research company that has no ties whatsoever with the manufacturer needs to test it, using accepted protocols, and come to the conclusion it works.  Jazzercise1533 1 300x200 What Some Marketers Don’t Want You to Know – Here’s One for the CustomersLet me stress the no-ties requirement…no sister company, no paid-for-testing money, nada.  Without this independent verification, all I can say is “Try working out and eating less.  You’ll get better results.”

But what if you can’t do any homework?  Take my friend “Rae Ann”, who is now drinking a special water that supposedly helps to prevent cancer.  This marketing angle works on the Fear Factor.  The claim is irrefutable, it’s impossible to disprove, but it plants a seed in your mind.  Do you want to be in the group that is actively trying to not get cancer (ie, the water drinkers), or do you want to be in the group that’s taking its chances as is?  The answer is obvious as to which group into which you want to be, so let’s use a little common sense.   The National Cancer Institute was established in 1937 as the principal agency in the U.S. for cancer research.  While I don’t have the historical budget stream, just note that over the last 6 years the agency’s budget has been approximately $4.9 billion per year.  Considering the longevity of the agency and the size of the budget, I personally am pretty confident that if treated water could cure cancer, the NCI would have figured it out by now.

So now you have some insight on what I call the darker side of marketing, and you’re also probably saying “that’s great info but I don’t have time to do all that research”.  Then let me suggest this.  snopeslogo What Some Marketers Don’t Want You to Know – Here’s One for the CustomersThe next time you’re approached with a miracle product, or your Facebook friend swears by some fabulous mecca rendering whatever, visit Snopes.com.  They do this sort of research as well as other myth busting so you don’t have to do it and they explain their findings in easy to read monologue.  This way you can change “caveat emptor” to “caveat venditor”, or “let the SELLER beware”.

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What is the Brand “You” Saying About Your Business?

Research shows that your first impression on a stranger happens within 7 seconds.  In a business situation, some common questions that are most likely answered non-verbally are:  Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Do you have status and authority? Are you trustworthy, competent, likeable, and confident?  Yes, your appearance and demeanor count more toward that first impression than what you say or what’s on your resume.  Right or wrong, people judge you by the way you look, act, and dress.first impression 1cpq5uj 300x279 What is the Brand “You” Saying About Your Business?

If you work in an office environment or something similar, you can strip off that power suit, ditch the high heels, take off that tie, and venture out publicly in a well-worn sweat shirt and torn Levis without damaging your image, once you’re off the clock.  However, do sole proprietors and small business owners have that same luxury?  With a few exceptions, the small business owner is an extension of the business and his/her image is a direct reflection of what that business is.  To maintain a consistent brand message, these individuals truly need to look-the-look and be promoting their brand at all times in public.  This goes beyond what you might initially think.

Debbie1 300x300 What is the Brand “You” Saying About Your Business?

Take Debbie Teeters, owner of Joli Boutique in Centerville, Ohio.  I visited her shop for the first time last week and found it difficult to describe:  beautiful, whimsical, elegant, earthy, fun, formal, casual, exciting, indulgent-priced, budget-priced.  Yes, these descriptors are diverse, so I asked Debbie how she came to the decision to open her boutique and what to sell.  Succinctly, some years ago she experienced terrible customer service, and came to the opinion that, generally speaking, customer service was going by the way side (more on this later).  She also had an idea to open a boutique with “a little something for everybody”, which was confirmed when she visited a boutique in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.  The woman who owned the Florida boutique took Debbie with her to France for a buying trip and Debbie knew that her idea for a career change was the right one.

On these shopping trips, Debbie doesn’t shop to see what others are buying.  She will observe what is popular in terms of style and color then buy with this, as well as the needs and tastes of her customers in mind.  She is more a fashion leader than follower with an unparalleled offering of clothing and accessories.   Additionally, her goal is to offer the customer an experience, not just cool fashion.  During my visit, I observed her chatting with a mother and daughter; the small talk that ensued was genuine.  Debbie truly DID want to know about their trip from out west.  Debbie DID want to know about the 4 month old baby that was with them.  She also joked about the sneaky tactics women employ to hide their purchases from their husbands.  By the end of the short check out time, these customers had truly received “an experience”.

Joli1 197x300 What is the Brand “You” Saying About Your Business?Many studies have shown an association between image, purchase intent, and sales revenue with image affecting not only sales volume but also the price that customers are willing to pay.  Whether she’s attending business and networking meetings or shopping at the local market, Debbie is always wearing clothes from her boutique, a testimonial for its unique offerings.  However, her brand extension goes beyond the clothes.  Outside of the boutique, Debbie is engaging, genuinely friendly, and cares about what the other person is doing, thinking, and feeling.  She is an extension of the experience of Joli, which is what she’s really selling, and an excellent example of true brand extension.  For her to act in any other way would do a disservice to the branding efforts she employs in her boutique.  It would send a mixed message to customers resulting in less than optimal returns.

If you are a sole proprietor or small business owner, is what is your brand extension saying?  Are you truly walking the walk and talking the talk with everything you do?  What is the brand “you” saying about your business?

 

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Birds of a Feather …Should Consider the Other Feathers

An article in PCMag recently listed the top 100 people you should follow on Twitter.  The authors broke down the list into a wide variety of categories including politicians, comedians, and sports figures.  As an expert in cultural marketing I found it curious that, of the Twitter Top 100 who had their photo on their newsfeed, the majority were Caucasian with a fairly balanced ratio of men and women.  Ironically, the authors of the article were Caucasian: one male and two females.  Birds of a Feather …Should Consider the Other Feathers

This is not the first time I’ve noticed such a scenario.  In fact this revelation was instrumental in helping me define my dissertation topic.  Approximately three years ago I came across a Twitter Top 100 list that had photos of all the nominees.  The author, again judging by his photo, was a Caucasian male around 35 years old.  The list he compiled was approximately 85% Caucasian males between 25-40.  The remaining 15% were, what I would call, token representation of women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, as well as a few other non-Caucasian ethnic groups.  Now, the US population is not 85% Caucasian males between 25-40, so I questioned how this list could truly be accurate.  Do we ALL follow individuals in this age, gender, and ethnic group?  I think not.  Do I think any of the authors mentioned here were being prejudicial?  No.  I do believe, though, that they did not have adequate diversity because of what I call the Birds of a Feather Principle.

uspop 300x153 Birds of a Feather …Should Consider the Other FeathersThe proverb “Birds of a feather will flock together” means that people of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together.  Clearly the authors I’ve mentioned are identifying with other individuals of the same ethnic group.  However, considering that the percentages of the top three minority groups in the US (Hispanic, African American, and Asian America) are growing, we marketers need to recognize the growing importance of diversity in marketing.  Ethnic marketing, though, goes beyond just having, for example, a spokesperson of a targeted ethnic group.  Successful marketing under this umbrella taps into unique cultural nuances without stereotyping.  When marketing to a specific population, the campaign elements should demonstrate an understanding of, and respect for, the culture, as well as how the product or service supports that culture…and it needs to be genuine.  An astute marketer will invest time to understand the language, wants, needs, and fears of its target audience, then adapt the product or service accordingly, as needed.

Diversity Profit Center 300x199 Birds of a Feather …Should Consider the Other Feathers

Now I’ve used ethnicity in this discussion of diversity marketing, however, diversity can also be applied to age groups (i.e. Generation X, Millenials, Baby Boomers) as well as sexual orientation. The same basic rules, as mentioned above, still apply.  The values, experiences, expectations, and ways of interacting can be quite different depending upon the sub group…and the marketing should specifically address these.  Adapt the message to the market, not the market to the message.

Diversity marketing is fundamentally about communicating with people who aren’t like you—and who aren’t like you in a variety of ways.  Birds of a feather may flock together, but realizing that different feathers exist may be a start to opening untapped opportunities into new markets.

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Reviews, Revenue, and Reputation

A colleague of mine, Ed, was kind enough to invite me out to lunch recently.  Since my husband and I work out of the house, we tend to go out for lunch virtually every workday, and I feel like I know every restaurant within a 20 minute driving radius.  I also consider myself somewhat of a self-proclaimed dining critic.  So when Ed mentioned a place of which I’d never heard, I was excited to experience some new cuisine.  The place was downtown and located next to a parking lot, which, for Dayton Ohio, is definitely a plus for location.  The décor and ambience were trendy and upscale, the food was fantastic, the staff was friendly and courteous, and the prices were reasonable.  Considering the large number of people who work downtown, I was shocked that the place wasn’t packed.  It has all the qualities of a great restaurant, so what’s the problem?DinnerParty 300x204 Reviews, Revenue, and Reputation

Doing a little investigation, the restaurant is a sole-proprietorship and only has the one location.  According to its Facebook page, which has a professional cover photo and is updated fairly frequently, the venue hosts live music, parties, food and drink specials, and again, has all the qualities of a successful place.  So what gives?  It turns out that, while I had a phenomenal experience, several patrons over the past couple years did not and expressed their disdain on Yelp.com and Urbanspoon.com.  Now, just to be clear, the restaurant received more excellent reviews than poor ones, but I wondered if these few shared negative experiences could make such an impact.  The answer:  Yes they can.Disdain 300x225 Reviews, Revenue, and Reputation

According to a 2011 study from Harvard, a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.  Independent restaurants drive this effect; ratings do not affect restaurants with chain affiliations.  Additionally, consumers respond more strongly when a rating contains more information and these online reviews are becoming more influential for a business’ reputation.  Considering that some of the negative online reviews were a bit lengthy, it appears that they could be inhibiting my newfound restaurant’s success.   So what can be done to fix this?

For starters, the restaurant owner should implement a policy of regularly checking these sites, or find someone who will, and address any negative comments promptly by contacting the poster via email.  95% of unhappy customers will return to your business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.  In this email, the patron’s complaints should be acknowledged, addressed professionally, and then offered a free meal or other reasonable item with an invitation to “see how we’ve changed” or similar wording appropriate to the circumstances.  Make sure to put an expiration date; people are generally driven by deadlines to act.  happiness 300x225 Reviews, Revenue, and Reputation

Secondly, restaurant servers should start encouraging patrons to write a review on Yelp, Urbanspoon, and the restaurant’s Facebook page….and the servers should be explicit with naming the actual sites.  Research shows that 71% of people agree that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product/service and that 70% of people consult reviews/ratings before purchasing.  Finally, the owner should NOT worry about those few negative reviews.  Why?  Because it’s likely that every business will, at some point, get a few negative reviews–in fact, a couple of these in a large pool of good ones lends credibility. People generally understand that everyone makes mistakes every now and then.

Considering my experience with this restaurant, I think I’ll have to go back and share my thoughts with the owner.  Who knows where it might lead…a consulting job or just making a good connection…either way it’s an excuse to enjoy some delectable cuisine. Reviews, Revenue, and Reputation

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Super Bowl – Watch It for the Football or the Commercials?

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events on television.  In fact Forbes claims that it’s the most valuable sporting event in the world, worth $464 million.  This year over 100 million people are expected to tune into the rivalry between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.  Needless to say, this is a prime advertising opportunity time….and what a price to pay for it. Doberhauhau 300x181 Super Bowl – Watch It for the Football or the Commercials?

During Super Bowl 1, a 30-second spot cost $45,000 to broadcast.  This year, a 30-second spot reportedly costs $4 million to air.  That figure doesn’t include the additional expense of production, casting, and actor/spokesperson fees.  This year Lawrence Fishburne, Scarlett Johansson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bob Dillon are just a few of the stars featured in this year’s clips.

The big question is, are these commercials really worth these huge investments?

For a growing company in an expanding market, a well-conceived ad can bring on a big payday.  Some research I encountered while investigating this question indicated that Super Bowl commercials for emerging, unknown companies can be a great investment because they lend “credibility” to the entity.  Possibly, but I doubt that is what GoDaddy was shooting for with its 2005 Super Bowl commercial.  Regardless, the commercial did help launch the company’s blossoming success pattern.

While ROI is a challenging, elusive figure when it comes to measuring the success of marketing efforts, Budweiser appears to be receiving quite a bit of exposure for this year’s commercial.  Personally my social media feeds are going a bit wild with friends and colleagues sharing this heart-warming tear-jerker.  I wonder how this online sharing compares to verbal sharing around the stereotypic office water cooler, which is definitely an elusive activity to measure.  According to Rob Siltanen, founder and chief creative officer of Siltanen & Partners, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, Super Bowl ads are one of the safest bets a company can make when it is part of an integral marketing effort that includes such pieces as social media blasts, in-store displays, direct mail and print advertising, contests, and giveaways (all depending, of course, on what the particular product or company is).  He’s measuring the success of the collective marketing efforts, including Super Bowl commercials, by the continuing sales growth of his clients.  It’s all simply part of a well-conceived puzzle.  (See my previous blog, Explaining Marketing to the Non-Marketer through Cake, for further explanation.)

So enjoy this year’s marketing investments by Budweiser, Chobani, Cheerios, and more.  Here are a few sneak peeks.

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Mission Statements – Functional or Futile?

A company’s mission statement may be the most important component that drives marketing activities, yet oftentimes is unknown or misunderstood by company employees.  A common misconception about mission statements is that they are lofty, philosophically deep statements that really don’t apply to day-to-day operations.  Strategic planners and high priced consultants develop these astute, profound proclamations, but really, they are useless.  In reality, a good mission statement will be anything BUT useless.  It should be the driving ideal for everything a company does.mission statement Mission Statements   Functional or Futile?

An effective mission statement should provide all employees, from the president to the entry-level worker, with a shared sense of opportunity, direction, significance, and achievement.  It represents a vision of what the organization currently is or what it is attempting to become…and should be easily understood by everyone in the organization.  The following are characteristics of a good mission statement:

  • Founded more on customer needs and satisfaction than on product characteristics.
  • Reflects core competencies of the organization and skills of the people.
  • Narrow enough to provide direction, yet broad enough to allow for unforeseen, yet complementary, business opportunities.
  • Flexible and updated as needed to reflect changes in the company and the business environment.
  • Easily understood by everyone in the organization (yes, it was worth repeating).

Mission statements should not be holier-than-thou postulates with phrases such as “a total quality supplier and partner”, “exceeding customer expectations”, or “provide high quality, low cost (widgets)”.  Would any company want to be only a partly quality supplier and partner?  With regards to customer service, well, if you want to exceed my expectations, how about throwing in a new car with my purchase.  That would exceed my expectations.  Finally, high quality and low cost rarely go hand-in-hand.  Pick one, not both.

JeannePorter Mission Statements   Functional or Futile?

Jeanne Porter – Founder WiBN

Women in Business Networking (WiBN) is a local networking group with a mission to “…provide forums for building relationship so women will achieve career and personal success through education, resources and recognition.”  It has all the qualities of a good mission statement and the organization has experienced phenomenal success and growth.  What started out as a hand-full of networking opportunities, such as luncheons and morning coffee meetings, has grown into a monumental resource on multiple levels.  Their Leadership Mentoring program pairs experienced local mentors with selected mentees to help with career guidance.  Their Entrepreneur Group provides opportunity for business owners to share, confidentially, their challenges and successes with one another for support and guidance.  In fact in 2013 the Dayton Better Business Bureau nominated WiBN for their Eclipse Integrity Award.  Not bad for an organization that’s approximately 5 years young and still following its mission.

Writing a mission statement for the first time can seem like a weighty, or even scary, undertaking.  It is, but don’t over think it.  In closing, the following are some more excellent mission statements that may help with this idea.

“To be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience.  Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”  McDonalds

“It is the mission of Advance Auto Parts to provide personal vehicle owners and enthusiasts with the vehicle related products and knowledge that fulfill their wants and needs at the right price. Our friendly, knowledgeable and professional staff will help inspire, educate and problem-solve for our customers.”  Advance Auto Parts

“To build shareholder value by delivering pharmaceutical and healthcare products, services and solutions in innovative and cost effective ways. We will realize this mission by setting the highest standards in service, reliability, safety and cost containment in our industry.”  AmerisourceBergen

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What Drives Success? Passion

Steve Jobs said “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me.  Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful..that’s what matters to me.”  While money may initially be a strong motivator, it is rarely what sustains one’s drive in one’s career.  To truly be successful AND happy you need to be passionate about what you do.

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Dustin Bergeron and Staff

Take Dustin Bergeron, head chef at Park Ave. Pub in Breckenridge Colorado.  When he took over operations at the pub, the establishment was serving bar food that arrived frozen that was then heated in the microwave.  The business was staying above water, but not by much.  Dustin has a passion for the culinary arts and saw the potential to turn this dive into a true gem of Breckenridge.  It’s located at the bottom of one of the ski slopes, which is prime real estate.  If you’ve never been skiing before, let’s just say that, once you get off the slopes, you want great food and great beer right away.  Microwaved bar food just doesn’t cut it.

Recognizing the customers’ true needs, Dustin pushed with upper management for a complete change for the restaurant.  It was a pricey and dicey one, which included expanding the minute kitchen into a small yet workable facility that would allow him to create signature sauces and gourmet pizzas that partnered well with the unique beers on tap.  While management was reluctant to invest so heavily in this turnaround, it is paying off.  I don’t know how many hours Dustin works, but I got the impression that he is at the pub virtually all the time, and that he personally, physically handles most of the operations beyond serving food and drink.  As the saying goes “he’s working his butt off”…and he’s happy, very happy.

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Dr. Seuzz enjoying Dustin’s creations

From a marketing standpoint, Dustin recognized a consumer need that he could fill while fulfilling his dreams and following his passion.  This pairing was lucrative enough to provide Dustin an economically feasible standard of living with potential for growth.  And as long as the current operational responsibilities don’t overwhelm him, he’s poised for a promising future.  He’s sharing his passion and putting all his energy into something that’s going to be better for everyone, not just for himself, or “the company”.  This is the type of business where word-of-mouth advertising has great potential.

What are you passionate about?  What will drive you to success in 2014?

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Bad Financial Service Negates Good Customer Service

denver skyline 150x150 Bad Financial Service Negates Good Customer Service Talk about Friday the 13th.  My family and I arrived in Denver last week for a business trip/Christmas vacation.  Upon arrival we visited “Company H” to pick up our rental car as we had made reservations to have a mid sized car ready for us.  As we walked into the rental office, we heard through the gossip in line that the company had run out of rentals and that wait time for a car, even though we had made reservations, was about an hour and a half.  Fortunately we did manage to acquire a car in less than an hour and, for the circumstances, the customer service reps did well.  The person who took care of the financial transaction and told us the fee was $335 and some odd change. 

The same day we checked into our hotel, “The I”, which is an upscale, beautiful place.  My husband’s company was paying for our room since this was a business trip, however the hotel needed our credit card for any room service, restaurant, or other charges that my husband’s company was not covering.  Fair enough.  We provided the desk with our credit card information and off we went. 

Now, please note that in both of these interactions with Company H and I, company reps made NO mention of any “cautionary fees” that we would incur. Thankfully I checked our bank account a few days into the trip.  H charged us an additional $200 antrashedhotelroom 150x150 Bad Financial Service Negates Good Customer Serviced the hotel charged us $250.  When we contacted these companies, they informed us that these are cautionary charges in case something happens like we ding the car or trash the room.  If we keep our noses clean this money will be refunded within 3-5 business days after we return the car and leave the hotel.  When we explained that we were not told about this, both company reps responded that it was in the contract that we signed.  Really? I’m confident that most people know these contracts have clauses about customer consequences for being irresponsible, but to have some hidden statement saying I, the customer, am going to give you, the company, an interest free loan for $200-250 is not right. (Not to mention that I would have preferred to spend that money while on vacation!)

Legal experts have begun to share a voice with this in regards to the solidity of legal grounds for these hidden terms because: 1) most people don’t read these purposely, overly lengthy legal speaks, and 2) unreasonable terms are not legally enforceable.  The legal piece aside, let’s look at this from a marketing standpoint.  The poor financial service provided by both companies completely negated the high quality customer service…and I have to tell you that the customer service at Company I goes beyond the front desk.  Housekeeping brought up  Bad Financial Service Negates Good Customer Serviceextra coffee and tissues within minutes of my call.  The valet parking was spot on speedy, and so was the hotel shuttle.  These acts of undeniably fabulous customer service, though, just don’t matter because, in the grand term of “the company”, they screwed us out of a collective $450 that we had planned to spend on vacation enjoyment.  Had a company rep told us about these charges up front, I would have been fine with paying it.  I understand that companies have to protect themselves from unsavory customers, however not disclosing this information up front is, in my opinion, shady business.  It’s unfortunate because I would much prefer to be blogging about them by name and sharing examples of above-and-beyond, truly genuine, excellent customer service.  Instead they get a nomination for a raspberry award.  The bottom line is a shame on you to the management.

Next week’s blog will return to a positive, uplifting tone.  Enjoy the holidays.

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The Name Says It All

What does your product or company name really say to your customer?  What kind of image does it invoke?  I was recently asked to be a subject matter expert on a panel to evaluate presentations for some local entrepreneurs who were seeking institutional funding.  While the product ideas definitely had merit by fulfilling a defined customer need, the names did nothing to tell consumers what the product benefit was or why they should buy it.  So here are a few thoughts to consider when you name your product.

awesome2 498x441 150x150 The Name Says It All

What do you think they sell?

Consider what problem it solves or what benefit the customer will receive and dub your product with a creative name that conveys this.  Endust furniture polish helps you end dust.  The Ove Glove is a potholder with finger slots like a glove.  Oven -> Ove -> Glove = Ove Glove.  A local dance studio here in Dayton is called FunkLab.  Any idea what type of dance they do?  This also works for online businesses.  What do you think ShoeDazzle.com sells?  I think you see the point.

Consider this idea too, if you plan to be a consultant.  For example, Brock and Associates, or Brock Consulting Firm means nothing because it tells the consumer nothing about what the company does.  Old school thinking says you should use these terms because you appear to be more than just you.  Well, these days, it IS ok to be just you.  You just need to have a solid team of experts in areas where you are not the expert.  Collaboration is the key and if you’re really going to be a consultant, you should have a solid base of these peers before launch.

killsbugsfast 150x150 The Name Says It All

If you really do need to have Brock and Associates, or for some reason, your product name can’t adequately describe what you’re offering, consider using a tagline:  Miller Lite – Tastes Great, Less Filling …or… BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine.  My personal favorite was an ad for Porsche that borrowed the tagline for Raid:  Porsche – Kills Bugs Fast.

 

How about sensational spelling?  You can also put a creative spin on a word.  Again, the name tells something about the product that is relevant and meaningful.

Dr. Seuss 150x150 The Name Says It AllFantastik does a fantastic job cleaning kitchen counters.  Trix are for kids and so are tricks.  Mortal Kombat is a video game about…well…  And finally, my name is Suzanne and I’m a doctor of marketing so I am Dr. Seuzz (like Dr. Seuss) and yes this is a shameless self-plug (insert snarky grin and wink)

Finally, if you’re going to market your product in countries that speak a different language, then do your research.  Pepsi’s tagline, “come alive with Pepsi” didn’t exactly hit the mark in China, where some took it to mean “bring your ancestors back Heavy Metal Zombie Apocalypse by MAGGOTDETH 150x150 The Name Says It Allfrom the grave.”  HMMMM, zombie apocalypse?  Ford had a tough time marketing their Pinto wagon in Brazil since the term Pinto is a slang term for male genitalia in their language.  Another way to look at this, Iranian Paxam Company produced a laundry soap called “Barf”, which means “snow” in Farsi.  If you speak English, would you wash your clothes in a product labeled barf?

 

In closing, think of your product name like you would if you were naming your child or your pet.  Choose something meaningful, unique, and indicative of what the essence of your product is.  Use a tagline, if needed, to enhance or clarify your product offering.  Your product name, and tagline if necessary, need to convey to your customers what they will be receiving from it, whether it be the tangible benefits, the experience, or the status of what you are providing.

Do you have any favorite hits or misses when it comes to product names or tag lines?

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Controversial Comedy

Joe Boxer’s Jingle Bells TV commercial this year had me in stitches.  Six attractive young men, donning those unique briefs and calling attention to them with a little hip shake has gotten more media exposure than the marketing execs at Kmart probably expected.  It’s fun, flirty, and definitely differentiates Joe Boxer from their competition.  However, critics have been vocal on Kmart’s Facebook page calling the ad “disgusting” and some threatening to never shop at Kmart again.  All I can say is “Really”?  Have you seen the Toys R Us Field Trip ad?  That’s the one about which you should be upset.

raspberry 150x150 Controversial ComedyA Toys R Us rep dressed like a forest ranger, explains that he’s taking the kids on the best field trip they’ve ever had.  At first the kids believe they are going to the forest to experience the great outdoors. However, they are surprised, once they are on their way on the bus, to learn they are going to Toys R Us instead, which is really the best field trip ever.  So, parents, remember that materials goods and toys trump nature and healthy outdoor activity when it comes to your kids.  For this message I would like to nominate Toys R Us for a raspberry award.

While sometimes advertisers miss the mark with their messaging, in the spirit of this Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for the humorous creatives in my profession.  So this blog post is a salute to the funny commercials that make marketing such a joy for me.  Here are a couple clips that I hope you enjoy.  Happy Thanksgiving.

~Dr. Seuzz


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  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Controversial Comedy