Tag Archive: advertising


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.).

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?

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!

Spotify – Fail

Really, I don’t know how many times I can talk about designing personalized ads for folks if you have enough information to do so!

Moreover, I don’t know why companies haven’t yet gotten this through their thick skulls.

Today’s offender is none other than Spotify:

I was doing my morning workout with my Spotify “Angry Workout Playlist” in the background (This playlist is a tasteful arrangement of compositions by artists such as Rise Against, Linkin Park, Slipknot, Static-X, Mudvayne, etc [Don’t judge!]), when an ad came on.

Now, I understand that I’m going to get advertisements (as I have a free account), but this was no ordinary ad: This was an ad for Pier One.

Now, I believe that, if you met a person on the street who was listening to the type of music on my workout playlist, you would not offer them a pamphlet from Pier One (you’d probably be more likely to offer them a Guitar Center magazine).

Why, then, is it ok for Spotify to do this when Spotify has this same knowledge of me (and even more, as Spotify knows my facebook account in addition to my listening preferences, so they should be certain that I am not in Pier One’s target demographic).

I suppose what irks me the most is that ads like this are nothing but destructive. They do not make any additional sales for Pier One and they do not increase my customer satisfaction with Spotify.

If you have the info – Customize!

Barnes and Noble – Fail

It grieves my heart to post this, especially since they were doing so well

Today, I received the following in an e-mail from Barnes & Noble:

Yes, that’s right, I received an e-mail featuring “Oprah’s Book Club”.

Barnes & Noble, you know me better than that!

I have bought many, many books from you; from Blink to The Tipping Point, from  Positioning to Imagine to Made to Stick…so what on earth would make you think I’m interested in Oprah’s Book Club?

You have more than enough personal information from me to construct a personalized e-mail for me containing the things that I actually like (Amazon.com does this all of the time; it’s not that hard)!!!

Barnes & Noble, you’re abusing your e-mail privileges by spamming my inbox with these  generic weekly e-mails.

Autoforward >> trash. I’m buying all my books from Amazon.com from here on out (…unless, of course, I need it really, really quickly).

Hidden(?) Hitch

Really? I can see it right there!!!

I was following someone with a “Hidden Hitch” this morning, and it got me thinking…

If your name is “Hidden Hitch”, and you put your name on the hitch in contrasting colors, and I can read your name while I’m driving behind you, it’s not a very hidden hitch.

Now, I understand that they have other models for other vehicles that are pretty well hidden, and that Hidden Hitch needs to advertise somehow, but it is so distracting to me that I can see the “hidden” hitch so easily and that it actually sticks out even more with the company name on it!

I think a window sticker (or the like) provided with the hitch would be a good option. It would draw attention to the hitch while not making the hitch stick out (as people would notice how much they didn’t notice the hitch until they saw the sticker and then looked for the hitch). I get that you wouldn’t have 100% involvement with a sticker, but it is another approach to consider.

Perhaps, if Hidden Hitch were to focus on their SEO, they wouldn’t need much advertisement on the product at all (after all, a hitch isn’t something that you necessarily buy “just for the fun of it”; typically you’d have a need and search for a product to fill that need). If Hidden Hitch came up first on Google (and on e-commerce sites like Amazon.com), they wouldn’t have to worry so much about ensuring that their name sticks out on their supposedly “Hidden” hitch.

(I know, I know, I’m just being picky, but this kind of stuff bugs me!)

At the company I work for, not unlike many other companies nowadays, they are really cracking down on people printing in color.

We’ve had several rounds of e-mails from executives (…or the executive’s secretaries, anyway), fancy graphs (in color) of how much more it is costing the company  every time we print in color, and some people have put fancy tag lines on their e-mail signatures, but people continue to print in color.

The solution is NOT that we need more e-mails and threats from the folks who make much more money than us, the solution is actually quite simple: Change the default setting!

That’s right, this printer is currently set to print in color by default. This means, any time anyone hits print, they print in color. To not print in color, they have to go into the settings and change them such that they will only print in black & white. While this simple task does not take much time (just a couple of mouse clicks), it does take effort, and people are, by nature, resistant to expending any additional effort beyond the base that is required to complete their intended task.

Now, what can this failure teach us about how to reach success? Make the “default” lead to your desired outcome! 

Another awesome example of this involves organ donations. In full text, it can be found here. Summarized, this study goes as follows:

When you renew your driver’s license, you have a chance to enroll in an organ donation program. In countries like Germany and the U.S., you have to check a box if you want to opt in. Roughly 14 percent of people do. But behavioral scientists have discovered that how you set the defaults is really important. So in other countries, like Poland or France, you have to check a box if you want to opt out. In these countries, more than 90 percent of people participate. This is a gigantic behavior difference cued by one tiny and costless change in procedure.

These examples should be more than enough evidence to demonstrate that you need to design your website, booth, product, marketing plan, etc such that, when a customer acts in the manner of least resistance, they are accomplishing your desired purpose. If you require any extra effort, you are losing sales and you are losing customers!

This post was inspired by upsidedownturtle – please keep the suggestions and ideas coming everybody! I really appreciate your thoughts/feedback; that’s why I started this blog in the first place!!!

My wife keeps getting phone calls from Western Michigan University’s Alumni Association asking for money; even though she’s asked to be removed from their calling list several times.

Upsidedownturtle’s husband keeps getting phone calls from the University of Michigan’s Alumni Association, first engaging in spurious small talk, and then asking for money (they’ve even gotten these calls on Sunday nights)! They have also asked several times to be removed from the calling list, but to no avail.

There are a couple of trends I’ve noticed when discussing telemarketers with my friends:

  1. No one that I know of has actually taken these folks up on their offers
  2. Everyone has tried to get removed from the associated calling list
  3. Very few folks have actually been successfully removed from said calling lists
  4. Every person feels as if their privacy has been invaded by these phone calls

Now, I understand where telemarketing came from. For a while it was the only option for any sort of “personal” contact with customers, but, with the options available today, why the heck are telemarketers still as prevalent as they are?

Nowadays you can send a custom e-mail to your customers with ads, sales, and features which are custom tailored to their specific interests. When this is done well, your customers will actually thank you and look forward to your e-mails (Etsy does a good job of this; my wife actually looks forward to getting her weekly e-mail from them, and she even makes an event out of going through the e-mail and adding new items to her wishlist).

The mind and expectations of today’s consumer has also changed. We don’t want you to invade our privacy; we want you to work for our attention, and we want to look at your ad on our time (if we look at your ad at all). Yes, this requires more effort on your part; you can’t just read us a script and expect us to invest our  money in you. You need to invest some time and effort into crafting an ad that is tailored to us, as individuals, and design it and deliver it in a way that makes us want to play along.

Yes, you will have fewer views (more people may initially answer their phones than click on your ad), but the customers that you get from this form of advertising will undoubtedly spend more money and time with your company (and not actually be turned off from your company by your mode of advertising)!

…and, just for fun, here’s another blog from Seth Godin about Permission Marketing!

This post is written on behalf of my loving wife who noticed something odd…

So, I’ve heard from friends that being the person who dresses mannequins for clothing stores (I believe they are called “Visual Merchandisers”) is quite a prestigious role in the fashion industry. I even had a friend venture to New York City in the hopes of going to school and securing one of these such roles.

It’s  not uncommon to see the sales people at the mall scrambling around, with papers and random clothes in hand, trying to dress the mannequins as they are instructed from the corporate offices.

That being said, I assume that quite a bit of thought goes into this process…which then made me surprised to see this:

Let’s take a closer look at those pants…

Needless to say, if I had thighs like that, I wouldn’t be caught dead in those pants! Seriously though, who thought that looked like a good idea?

Hot and Ready

Hot and Ready.

It’s not just an ad/marketing strategy: it’s a promise. Once you say it, you have to do it, or your trustworthiness is shot.

A friend of mine recently shared his most recent Little Caesars experience: He wanted to pick up a Hot and Ready pizza, but, when he showed up, there was no pizza ready (…so it goes without saying that it also wasn’t hot).

I’m afraid that his story is not unique. I’ve actually had it happen many times.

Yet another lesson in keeping your promises (and what happens if you break them).

Don’t let your marketing guy make a promise that you can’t deliver on (pun fully intended),  and don’t fail to live up to your promises!!!