Category: Marketing


Don’t get me wrong…Anticipation can be a good thing, but, as with everything, it must be treated as a calculated risk.

I often think of the long lines that form outside of Apple stores before the release of the latest and greatest iDevice.

Once the doors open, two things are guaranteed to follow in a very short time:

  1. Apple is going to make a lot of money in a very short time.
  2. The internet is about to be abuzz with news links and blogs detailing the disappointments experienced with the new device (What do you mean the maps aren’t accurate?!?!).

It seems like, once some people get their hands on the newest iDevice, they focus their entire energy on finding every flaw with it.

Now, this may be an extreme example, but it is played out everyday (albeit, on a much smaller scale) whether you realize it or not:

It starts with the first add or the first media leak…basically the first time someone hears about a new service or device: they start dreaming about it. 

The danger in dreaming is that people start to imagine their use of the device or service. They start ‘dreaming-in’ features that may not exist, they start ‘dreaming-in’ applications for which the actual device/service may not be acceptable, and they may even ‘dream-in’ a level of usability that the device/ service may not have yet achieved.

When they receive or experience the new device/service, it is already under scrutiny: being compared against the perception that the individual has had ample time  to bake up in their minds.

There is a reason that unexpected gifts make us happier than expected ones (When you get an unexpected bonus you are happy and surprised; when you are expecting a certain dollar amount, you just get upset at how much the government takes away from it and lose focus of the extra money you have received).

So, if your goal is to make a lot of money in a short time (like a new movie), you can use audience anticipation as a great tool to achieve your goals, but, if you want to avoid criticism (or focus on maintaining a lasting seller-customer relationship), you must approach anticipation more delicately (ensure product/service features are explicitly laid out to prevent ‘over-dreaming’, etc.).

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Marketing the Fringe

Here is a picture of my trusty bag of protein powder; what is the first thing you notice?

What really stands out to me (as they’re in bright bold colors and big font) are the “5lb. value size” and the “New & Improved Flavor” banners…even before I realize that it’s protein powder!

Actually, if you scan the bag, there are many references to the flavor (The top of the bag says “New & Improved BETTER TASTE!”, and, if you look closely, that medal at the bottom is also referring to the taste).

So, why so much hype about the taste? After all, the main point of the protein powder are the nutrients which cause the results, not the taste…

The answer is simple: because protein powder is protein powder. If you want people to buy yours vs. the other guy’s, you need to market the fringe.

If you walked into a store and had to choose between several identical containers of protein powder, each from different manufacturers, and they all only boasted about the nutrients in their protein formula and not about any of their peripheral traits, you’d be much more hard pressed to make a decision as to which one you would buy.

Now, the beauty here is that this same principal can be applied to a plethora of other situations:

  • What makes your fertilizer better than the competitors’ fertilizer? People expect fertilizer to be fertilizer, so saying “our fertilizer makes your lawn greener” is often a futile attempt. Is your fertilizer safer for the environment, your kids, or your pets?
  • What makes your restaurant better than your competitors’ restaurant? Again, folks expect your food to be good, so “our food is better” is seldom effective. Is your theme or atmosphere better? Is your method or approach to service better?
  • …and what makes you better than your co-workers? Your boss still expects you to get your work done, so what is it that really makes you different? Do you have a positive attitude that can’t be defeated? Do you have a knack for drawing people together? 

What is your fringe that needs to be moved to your advertising forefront?

…pretty please make it this one!!!

So I’m hijacking my own blog a little bit because I thought I’d have some fun:

A couple of days ago, I discovered Quirky.com.

Basically, you can submit an idea to Quriky, with a 140 character tagline and a bunch of pictures/drawings, and, if you get enough votes within 30 days and they like your idea, they’ll actually produce it (and you can get some royalties)!

 

 

Well, it sounded like fun, so I submitted my Flexible Spatula!

So, here’s my CALL TO ACTION: Please go to this link: http://www.quirky.com/ideations/275496 , and vote for my idea!!!

Now, let’s be clear about somethings before you all think I’m delusional:

I know that I will not get rich off of this idea. I also know that, if this idea is chosen for production, Quirky will get a little richer off of it…and that’s all fine to me.

I love the idea of their site because it brings to market a bunch of products that would otherwise not see the light of day: I didn’t mind devoting the ~40 minutes to draw my design or the ~20 minutes to submit it to Quirky, but I would mind the huge monetary investment into developing materials, creating mold plates, and establishing a good working relationship with China!

Also, they do well playing on the fact that most people are good initiators (they can come up with a plethora of great ideas), but most are awful ‘finishers’ (as this is the part of the job that takes MUCH more work).

On top of all of that, I could, and may, also do a separate post on their website design because it really is top notch (it’s easy to use and it even has a countdown clock for your 30 days that gets as detailed as the seconds until your idea is closed for voting to add to the sense of urgency)!

So, are you feeling inventive? Submit something to Quirky!!!

Why only 7?!?

Recently, my wife and I picked up some new Brita filters from Sam’s club. Now, while 7 filters for $30 is an amazing deal, what I couldn’t help but think is why are there only 7 filters?

You see, when you open up the package, you’ll find a very commercial looking box which looks like it could be sold as it’s own separate unit containing 4 filters, and another box with the same amount of detail, but only containing 3 filters.

…and then you’ll find the plain white “filler” box, which you can see in the picture.

This plain, white box does more than just serve as a placeholder so the 3-filter box doesn’t slide around, it also serves to be quite an eyesore and a reminder that, while you could have had two fancy looking boxes with 4 filters each, you get  one less filter.

Brita, why would you not just put 8 filters in the package and raise the price a tiny bit?

If you’ve optimized your price point with 7 filters, why do you not do something more crafty or creative with your “filler”? Make the package a different shape, or at least decorate the filler box in some way instead of including this eyesore in the package!

The Circles of Marketing

Another awesome reminder form Seth Godin that there is more to Marketing than advertising!

There is so much more depth, art, and skill required, which is honestly why I love it so much.

It is certainly a great though-provoking read!

 

My wife and I were walking through Sam’s Club, and we came across an AWESOME salesman. How do I know that he was awesome? Because he was annoying and pushy as heck!

In all seriousness though, I think we can analyze his approach and tactics to improve our ability to influence others and make ourselves more persuasive.

Let’s start from the top…

  1. “How are you doing today, folks?” – You have to get people’s attention. It seems like the part of sales that most people dread: You just plain have to get people’s attention. I’ve seen so many “sales people” who seem like they’re afraid to stand out or get your attention. Plain and simple: if you don’t get my attention, I don’t buy from you.
  2. “Would you like to try a sample?” – You have to be proud of and/or stand behind what you’re selling (or at least give that appearance). I’m actually on the fence about free samples because I’ve seen them misused quite frequently (for example: the farmer offering free samples of blueberries in front of his  stand at the farmer’s market…everyone knows what a blueberry tastes like, and your blueberry isn’t going to draw hordes of customers away from your competitors). What I like about his free sample approach is that he waited for the “That IS good” that follows tasting the free sample, and then he promptly presented the bag “Yeah, and can you believe that it’s frozen?”
  3. “Just heat it up and you’re ready to eat!” – Explain how your product/service is beneficial to your customer and/or makes their life easier. I know, I know, this is the usual salesman stuff, but he wasn’t just saying this as an ‘end all’ statement to close the sale; he was using this to lay the groundwork:
  4. “Ma’am, how would you prepare this for dinner?” – Get your customer to start dreaming of using your product. Oh man…we’re working with a master here… By asking this question, he’s putting you on the spot to start visualizing, start daydreaming, and start responding and taking an active role in the sales pitch. “I’d probably put it in stir fry” my wife said, and I could instantly taste it. Audience participation is a powerful thing.
  5. “Are you ready to pick up a bag?” – Give a ‘call to action’ statement. This part of the pitch is so often overlooked, but it is what actually puts the pressure on and closes the sale! You cannot leave off the call to action statement!!!
  6. “We’re only here for a limited time! – Give a sense of urgency. This deflects the ‘I’ll just pick it up next time’ response and activates the natural human response to act on something when we only have a small window of opportunity.
  7. “Most people are picking up at least two bags!” – Use the crowd mentality to gain credibility and make the customer feel justified. He peer pressured us…with what was most likely a slight un-truth. Well, if everyone else is getting a couple bags, I suppose I’m justified to get two bags too! People draw credibility from what the crowd is doing, and he knew this and played it well. Of course, you can do this differently (through statistics, etc), but playing the numbers is a pretty effective approach/tactic.

We only ended up getting one bag (I have willpower like an ox!), but I felt that his sales approach and style was worth some analysis.

Some frozen Asian food company got their money’s worth out of that sales guy!

Stuck on you

70% Better No-Stick?

First of all, I don’t know if that’s correct grammar or not (but I’m guessing that it’s not…).

Secondly, how the heck did you determine that you’re 70% better at no-stickability? (My best guess: “Hey Earl! Only 3 of my 10 chicken nuggets stuck to the pan!!!”)

Thirdly, I don’t know if this makes your current product look awesome, or if it just makes your old product look like it was really, really bad…

70% is quite a jump in quality…How does that even happen?

What about the Sprouts?!?

So, Jimmy John’s…I heard about your ‘sprouts’ issue; the only issue is how I came to find out about it.

The article which I linked to above clearly states that Jimmy John’s is dropping sprouts from the menu, but, as you can tell from their own website, sprouts are still very much on the menu.

Yes, in its current state, Jimmy John’s has sprouts on the menu, but, when you order, you do not get sprouts on your sandwich. This would lead the average consumer to say “Where are the sprouts?”, which then leads to a very awkward situation.

Jimmy John’s is currently living in a state of false promises: what you see on the menu is not what you get, and they’re also flaunting the fact that they’ve had several salmonella outbreaks linked back to their food.

To put this issue behind them, Jimmy John’s needs to simply remove the sprouts from the list of ingredients on their menu items! It’s not that hard!

Yes, there will be some costs associated with updating all of the menus in every franchise, but how have they not even updated the website yet?!? The article I linked to was from February for goodness sake!

Awwww Rats.

Holy Cow! It’s going to come alive and try take over the world!!!

Actually, it’s  just the R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse, but I think Mad Catz has done a TON of things correctly with the design and marketing of this mouse, and their work is worthy of a quick case study.

As a side note, anyone who knows me knows that I’m addicted to computer peripherals, and that my love for mice is almost unparalleled (I’m currently rocking this baby and loving it).

So, let’s dive right in!

  • The features. This goes without saying, so I’m not going to dwell on it.
  • The look. Does the mouse need to look like it does in order to perform its function? There are some requirements (It needs to be in a shape that works well with a hand, with buttons somewhat located near where your fingers will end up), but nothing says it has to look like a cyborg hunter. The fact of the matter is that this mouse is made for gamers, so it needs to look like something that would appear in the next episode of Star Wars. Mission accomplished.
  • The website. CHECK IT OUT HERE!!! Again, you’re marketing to gamers who are intimately familiar with the webernetz, so you cannot skimp on the website! Once again, Mad Catz delivers. They have links to their products, blog, downloads, support, and contact at the top (which is somewhat expected, but the blog is a nice touch); they have a header that scrolls through pictures, they have an interactive 360 view of the mouse also in the header, they have their awards displayed, they have nice, big pictures, they have a sub heading with features, tech specs, a photo gallery and a “buy now” button (NICE!). Everything is clear, concise, bulleted, and perfectly aimed at the target audience.
  • The video. The piece de resistance. Watch it here. How many mice do you know with their own awesome video?!? Again, perfectly aimed at the target market, and well produced. This video was an excellent touch (it almost makes me hit the ‘buy it now’ button every time…)

What do you think of Mad Catz’s job with the RAT7 Gaming Mouse? What could they have done better?

I wish…

Our wants are insatiable, but we live in a world with scarcity.

This is the basis behind every economic text ever produced, and it’s a very true statement.

So, what are we to do? …we are to wish, of course!

This is where I have to again step in for Amazon.com for the inclusion of a wishlist on their site  (I realize that they’re not the only company to have done this, but theirs is a great example).

From their website, I can easily add items which I want, but can’t yet afford, to my wishlist. By adding things to my wishlist, what would be fleeting remains concrete and stored – I may have forgotten about a book that I wanted to read, but it would still be sitting there on my wishlist, waiting for me to make my move.

I can also share my wishlist with friends, who will then most likely use Amazon to purchase the items (this is because, again, the wishlist is incorporated into Amazon’s site). On top of that, I recently received an e-mail from Amazon with a ‘reminder’ of the items on my wishlist – clever on their part: innocently pushing me to make my purchase.

Double thumbs up, Amazon! Even if you don’t make a purchase today, you’re working hard to secure one in the future!