Archive for product marketing

How much would you charge?

breakfast sandwichI just flew in from Sacramento, and BOY are my arms tired!

Sorry…I’ve always wanted to say that.

At the airport my bride purchased a “substandard” bagel and “okay” coffee for $6.04. The same counter was selling breakfast sandwiches for $11.

Realizing I’m in the wrong business, I pondered how anyone has the nerve to charge such exorbitant prices.

First thought: Greed. Airport dining options are limited and most vacationers, feeling expansive, don’t bring their own food.

Plus with millions of guaranteed customers, a “Take it or leave it” attitude is almost understandable.

Especially since airport meals typically fade from memory before the next suitcase is packed.

Then I considered my neighborhood’s gas stations. One at the freeway entrance consistently charges 80 cents more per gallon than the place across the street lacking ramp access.

Given the minor differences from one brand of gasoline to another, the price differential must be caused by the convenience factor; the station’s location.

Economics 101 dictates something is worth only what customers believe its value to be.

A bottle of cold water selling for 25 cents at Costco is worth $3 when sold on a hot day inside a football stadium. Customers willingly throw money for the same item due to its increased perceived value.

Meaning we’re witnessing the law of supply and demand in action. The gas stations, airport restaurants, and water vendors are all charging as much as their particular customers are willing to pay.

You too should be looking to bestow some form of additional perceived value on your business. Like the airport, gas station, and football stadium, you may have location as an advantage.

Carrying hard-to-find products, providing amazing service, or making something of significantly higher quality than the competition also helps.

Or just making the experience more pleasant than the competition does might make the difference.

Greeting customers with a cheery “Hello friends!” and playing classical background music for those enjoying a morning cup of coffee, for example.

Of course, the answer to business success changes based on industry, geography, customer demographics, and your definition of success.

But if you can find that one thing that makes both you and your customers happy, you may suddenly find you’ve become quite popular.

Right this way, Mr. Squinty

In September I found myself at a branch of my bank awaiting a receipt. My sd-sdreyer-1485458125-snap-phototime was spent perusing brochures, people-watching, and staring into space. Then the monitor behind the counter caught my eye.

As a marketing professional I’m naturally curious about every company’s messaging. So I watched their video presentation. Twice.

Finally I realized the problem. “The picture’s fuzzy,” I told the teller, who smiled noncommittally.

Last week I visited another branch of the same bank and determined the problem wasn’t my eyes, but the presentation itself.

This time the teller acknowledged the issue. “We said something to headquarters weeks ago and they promised they’d fix it,” she said.

Yet here we are, months later, and the problem persists.

When I started in business, my father advised me to be sensitive to customers’ needs. “People’s eyes start playing tricks on them around age 40,” he warned.

Truer words were never spoken! Shortly after I hit 40 my eyes started acting up, and they’ve only gotten worse with age.

So here I was observing a marketing presentation that was unfocused and giving me a headache.

And the bank’s marketing department apparently wasn’t very concerned about it.

Meaning the message meant to reinforce my warm fuzzy feelings for this bank instead irritated me.

Counter-productive? You bet!

Even if the bank eventually gets its act together, it’ll be quite a while before I’m watching that video again.

Translation: beyond the annoyance factor, they’ve lost a very visible, very cost-effective tool for communicating with me.

And a measure of good will has also been lost because they didn’t pay attention to my needs.

Now let’s consider your business. Do you:

• Know your customer’s profile and their preferred ways of being communicated with?

• Understand their needs to ensure they receive your message?

• Listen to your staff when they tell you there’s a marketing issue requiring attention?

Admittedly I’m not so annoyed that I’m moving my business elsewhere…yet.

Still, I’m now wondering which other concerns of mine they’re ignoring.

And should the competition hit me with the right offer, benefits, and messaging on the right day, I might be persuaded to switch.

All because some faceless person didn’t take the time to ensure quality control at the point of sale.

Got Original Ideas?

got-milkThis morning I drove past a truck that said “Got Tinting?” promoting a car window service.

Then there was a car saying “Got Cloud?” for computer storage.

In the afternoon I saw a shirt reading “Got Mary?” touting a church.

Tonight I saw “Got Debt?” campaign ads.

My question: Got Original Ideas?

These messages all reference a 1993 TV ad for California’s Milk Processor Board.

In it, a hapless history buff eating a peanut butter sandwich is called in a radio station contest to identify who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

He correctly answers “Aaron Burr,” but the peanut butter sticking to the roof of his mouth muffles his response.

Desperately he grabs a bottle of milk, only to find it empty. Our friend loses the prize as the commercial’s tag line appears: Got Milk?

And from that moment the phrase “Got Milk?” became part of the popular culture.

The ad is generally considered one of the best commercials of all time. It is even parodied in the Broadway musical Hamilton.

Here’s the thing; I recognize that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Churches, computer firms, and others are obviously trying to leverage the Milk Board’s success into their own.

Regardless of what you’re selling, though, people expect you to address their concerns.

But if the best message you can deliver is a blatant rip-off of someone else’s ad campaign, that doesn’t say much about your ability to provide original solutions.

In fact, if you’re incapable of generating original ideas and the next guy can, shouldn’t I just hire him instead?

Because even if his ideas aren’t a home run, at least he’s making the effort. Just saying “Got Shoes?” or “Got Chocolate?” tells me you’re just phoning it in.

Please don’t misunderstand. You should be watching other marketing materials looking for ideas. Someone may have a great concept for photography, typography, or copy and you can use it as research.

But research and outright theft are completely different. Research Good. Theft Bad.

Get it?

So the next time you think it’s clever to just say “Got Whatever?”, think again. You’re NOT being clever…you’re being a “Me Too!”. And you’re fooling nobody but yourself.

One might even argue your marketing efforts are being counter-productive.

Donuts and Business

saturnMy 2002 Saturn’s starting to show its age. First the AC died…then the battery went…or was it the alternator?

Either way, my bride’s been after me to replace the old girl, but I like her. With only 129,000 miles, this vehicle should be good for years to come. Plus she’s already paid for.

Still, things sometimes need to be replaced. So while the wizards at Poway’s 5-Star Automotive patched up my car this morning I munched on donuts, read magazines, and chatted with other customers.

Good thing, because I discovered someone who recognized she needed marketing to grow her business. And she understands that quality services cost money.

We talked about her desires for growth, audience, and what makes anyone want to buy from her.

Which transformed a 2-hour car repair visit into a sales call. A contract should follow behind shortly.

Woo Hoo!

I’ve met people who refuse to attend networking events because they cost money or take away from personal time.

These same people complain their business isn’t growing as much as they want it to.

However, since selling is a numbers game, talking to more people automatically improves your chances of making a sale.

That’s why you’ll find me trolling chamber of commerce events, filling in for friends at BNI, and visiting a wide range of organizational meetings.

I figure the more people I talk with, the more people I’ll meet with marketing needs.

From there it’s just a matter of persuading those prospects I walk on water and the deal is done.

Now, realistically, you can’t do business with everyone. But the opportunity I had this morning didn’t take me out of my way or cost me anything.

Just by my being open to listening to someone else’s needs, I was able to show her a potential solution. She saw I actively listened to what she was saying and decided I could probably help with her problems.

And so a sale was born.

Regardless of what you sell, you’re constantly surrounded by people who might buy from you. The trick is helping them self-select as potential customers.

If they sense you’re only interested in selling to them you’ll turn them off. But if they believe you’re interested in providing answers you’ll close the deal.

Beer: A Community Service

copy-Color-RBF-Logo-Web-Banner-2015I have two weeks to raise $1,250, and I need assistance.

This isn’t an email claiming I’m broke and lost in India. It’s a request to help our local community by drinking beer.

We’re obviously talking about Rancho Beernardo, the county’s only IPA festival. It’s sponsored by RB Sunrise Rotary and URGE Gastropub.

Full disclosure: I’m a club member…hence this plea for help.

It seems some genius decided everyone in the club must raise $1,500. Mrs. Marketing agreed we’ll cover $250 ourselves.

As for the rest…HELP!

The club expects to raise $100,000 this year, pouring it into scouting, YMCA, schools, and senior activities. We’ll build houses for the homeless, distribute dictionaries to third graders, and provide medical services to the poor.

We’ll financially support 20-30 organizations, plus provide hands-on help to Ronald McDonald House, PoVa, and others.

But we can’t do it all ourselves. You can participate in three different ways:

1)    Join us in Webb Lake Park on October 22, 2-5pm, for 50+ craft beers, savory foods, entertainment galore, and guaranteed fun.

2)    Market your business to 1000+ visitors. Six sponsorship levels are available, where $100+ will promote your name to very upscale attendees.

Sponsor benefits include free admittance, recognition in print, online, and at the event itself.

Oh yeah…did I mention you can be brewmaster for a day?  

3)    Send a donation to the RB Sunrise Rotary Fund at the San Diego Foundation to help wipe out polio.

Rotarians take the concept of “Service Above Self” QUITE seriously! All funds generated support local youth and community programs.

Now were I with another non-profit, I’d probably be ruffled by this request. After all, every group thinks their fundraiser is the most important one out there.

However, given the number and range of other groups this money will help support, your participation will help us AND them.

Furthermore, this is a golden (or amber) opportunity to target hundreds of local customers with disposable income. They’ll reward your business’ participation in the community with their patronage.

And I’m willing to venture the lifetime value of each new customer is significantly more than the cost of your sponsorship.

So for a good time, and to grow your business, plan to be part of Rancho Beernardo 2016.

—————-

Want to join us for some beer? Get more information about the festival, or buy your tickets directly.

Interested in being a sponsor for Rancho Beernardo? Here’s all the information you’ll need:

Still have questions? Talk to me and I’ll get you fixed up.

Are you reading the room properly?

crowdMy bride and I recently borrowed a friend’s timeshare.

The location was nice and the facilities adequate, yet we knew there’s be a sales pitch the moment we announced we weren’t owners.

We weren’t disappointed.

Checking in, we heard of the many benefits of ownership. Then we were offered a free breakfast, an AMEX gift card, and a vacation.

Were we seeking a timeshare, it might have been tempting.

Sadly, neither of us gets vast amounts of vacation. Both of us dedicating a half-day to a hard core sales pitch was unacceptable.

Plus we don’t travel enough to make timeshare ownership a logical investment. It was the wrong opportunity for us.

Searching for their next sales commission, the staff never left us alone.

We encountered more pitches, videos in the lobby, and daily fliers under our door.

They misread their audience, and early on crossed the fine line between friendly persuasion and obnoxious hard sell. At that moment I crossed the line from pleasant “No, thank you” to a snarling “Get OUT of my face!”

It’s possible your organization also has potential customers who don’t respond to your sales pitch.

Regardless of your industry, repeating your message in hopes of making the sale is a given.

But it’s also important to recognize the wisdom my father provided when he advised me that you can’t do business with everybody.

Sales prospects might not like your offering, pricing, quality, service, or location. Or you just may not be a good fit for their lifestyle.

Learn to read the room and understand your customers’ needs. Talk with them about their objections or concerns to see if there’s a way to adjust what you’re selling to what they’re potentially buying.

Then, as part of your sales funnel, adjust your filter to recognize some people should just be written off.

And remember: Just as “No” means “NO!” in the dating world, so too should it carry significant weight in sales scenarios.

Because regardless of the reason someone doesn’t want to work with you, showing respect for their decision will help you avoid alienating them.

Then, should the seeds you planted during the conversation ever actually take root, they’ll think positively of you and potentially become a live sales prospect.

Has poor taste become the norm?

mbt pottyToilet humor is popular with children thrilled by flaunting cultural taboos about waste excretion.

This perhaps explains why one of my favorite movie bit is the sophomoric, way-over-the-top, hysterically funny campfire scene from “Blazing Saddles.” It’s my inner child striving to escape.

But introducing effective scatological humor into print advertising is difficult.

Consider this headline: “Tiffany, why did you…dookie…on Eric’s pillow?”

This copy stares at me from a coupon insert from a kitty litter company. I’m hard-pressed to see how cat poop on someone’s pillow passes for good messaging.

“Cats are complicated. Great Litter is simple,” the ad concludes.

My friend Lori Frank observed, “Litter IS simple. Buy, pour, clean up. DUH.”

As a dog person and finding the ad flawed, I know I probably didn’t have the right mindset.

So I asked cat owners on Facebook for their thoughts. Their unanimous response: It’s a stupid ad.

My conclusion: Great advertising is complicated. Bad taste is simple.

I won’t surprise you saying your business must market itself to be successful.

But effective communications combines thorough market intelligence, good strategy and sufficient budget.

Since children don’t typically buy kitty litter, this marketer apparently appeals to middle-aged women with 10-year-old humor.

Perhaps the advertiser didn’t properly understand the product or the audience. They didn’t do their research.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Okay, I’m not Fred Astaire and I don’t reek from elegance at every turn. Over the years I’ve been known to say and do things that weren’t as refined as I might’ve hoped in retrospect.

Still, in my mind’s eye I’ve got a certain amount of class and expect to be treated accordingly.

I want my movies to have more clever dialogue than raunchy jokes. I’ll listen to classical and jazz over disjointed electronic thumping.

And I expect advertisers to deliver tasteful messaging that speaks to my image of myself. If they feel they need to talk to the lowest common denominator to make a sale, they’ve lost my attention.

I’m suspecting I’m not alone with this attitude.

Assuming I’m correct, brands should be combining class, style, taste, and good-natured humor to raise customers to a higher plateau. Appealing to lowest common denominators will drag those brands into the gutter.

We deserve better than that.