Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thank You Cards

As a brand new customer, I recently purchased an eye exam and new contact lenses from a local optometrist.  My experience was easy, convenient, the employees were friendly and overall I was very satisfied.  Having done everything right, I even received a card from them in the mail a couple of days after I received my lenses. 

Thank you cards are a great but much under-utilized marketing tool.  They're a sincere way for marketers to follow up after a sale - a very critical point in the transaction.  Additionally, thank you cards are so under utilized that the marketers who do employ this tactic, are remembered well. 

However, the card I received from the optometrist didn't take full advantage of the tactic.  The card was handwritten - a great touch - but the squiggle-mark signature makes it impossible to decipher who sent the card.  Also, the card doesn't take to opportunity ask about the product I purchased or what I thought of the service but simply says "thank you for choosing Wing."  I was immediately struck by how little is written on the card that I got the impression that it was rushed. 

Marketers - or anyone for that matter - cannot haphazardly go the extra mile.  The impression you're hoping for won't be the one leave.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Suspicious Slogan at Starbucks

Awhile ago, I said on this blog that Starbucks has been losing focus on their brand - again.  This week, I heard an advertisement for Starbucks Refreshers with the tagline "it tastes nothing like coffee."

That slogan is a real head-scratcher for coffee brand. It's also further evidence that Starbucks is taking another step away from the beverage the brand is famous for.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Such Thing As A Safe Cloud

Recently, an article in AdAge questioned consumer knowledge of the pitfalls of cloud computing, after a senior reporter at Wired magazine had his cloud hacked.  The author John McDermott suggests that most cloud users know so little about the risks of using a cloud system that if they did, they would have a public relations crisis on their hands.

You won't get any argument from me that users probably don't fully understand the cloud.  Stop to think about it and it's really scary how little most people actually know about the products and services they employ.

But this is not unique to the cloud system.  Most users of social networks know they're putting their privacy at risk - but likely not the details of how exactly.  Most motorists don't understand how the car they drive works but they know we all understand we're at risk every time we driving them.  Or if you take prescription drugs, you won't understand how they work but do know that taking them will have side effects.  How many of these industries focus their marketing campaigns on educating consumers of the risks involved?  None.      

According to McDermott, it's "irresponsible" for these companies to not mention the "inherent security issues of storing data" in the cloud.  But do inherent dangers of product usage really need to mentioned in marketing campaigns?

Inherent dangers are not hidden.  They're already known.  For example, of course the McDonald's coffee was hot - it's inherent trait of coffee.  Similarly, the internet isn't always so secure.  However, if gaps in their security system are to blame for the users loss, then their product isn't living up to it's marketing message. 

If that's the case, then it's lofty message isn't saving the cloud industry but rather going to kill.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Signs Suggest Hyundai Is Still Going The Wrong Direction

South Korean automaker Hyundai has experienced a steady rise in the American car market, particularly in the face of a deep and lagging recession.  Hyundai was heralded (and deservedly so) for innovative recessionary marketing tactics such as the Assurance program - its job loss protection program where car buyers could return a car if they lost their job.  In addition, a pioneering 10 year warranty reinforced its value strategy as a smart buy to cash conscience consumers. 

In January, I wrote about Hyundai shifting it's focus on value with the 2011 introduction of the Equus, a high-end automobile priced at $60,000 and expected to compete with Cadillac and Lexus.   As expected, consumers didn't go for it.

This week, I noticed Hyundai running an ad for its signature Elantra model.  The ad sarcastically apologizes to consumers for building two more apparently irresistible Elantra models.  The ad is dubbed "Miss Decisive" and it clearly reflects a strategy that has failed both Hyundai and competing automakers in the past.   

As Hyundai continues its strategy to build something for everyone, the brand will eventually mean nothing to anyone.    

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Playing A Game No One Wins

A couple of hours ago, the collective bargaining agreement between the owners of the thirty National Hockey League teams and the players officially expired.  With no agreement in place, the labor force is locked out and the work stops.

Obviously, when the work stops, so does the revenue.  That money is lost forever because with each passing day, the opportunity to play expires. Consequently, all involved parties will lose play by these rules.  

Author Seth Godin made this exact point during the National Football League's labor dispute last year.  His solution is to change those rules.

Instead of a system where all stakeholders will lose something, Godin suggests that they keep playing and put all money earned into an escrow account that no one gets to touch.  The money earned piles up and motivation to come to an agreement grows.  Finally, when that day comes, the money is divvied up accordingly.

Option A is to keep playing this game of chicken where everyone loses something.  Option B is to keep playing and both sides will realize a windfall at the end.

It seems like a easy choice.  Yet, for the third time in eighteen years, the NHL finds itself once again playing in a game where absolutely no one wins.   

Friday, September 14, 2012


In a world where information (perceived knowledge) can be accessed instantaneously, it's easy to forget that acquiring and perfecting a skill only happens with repetitions.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Work In Progress

The key word of course, is progress.

A few months ago I shared some initial t-shirt prototypes that I was working on.  The focus of the line is hometown pride.  However, unlike many of the styles that share this concept, the line I've been working on takes a different approach.  Rather than many dramatic designs printed onto a shirt, the line I am working on downplays the design for a retro looking shirt.  But these shirts are anything but simple. The embellishments are individually cut and sewn by hand, which is a very unique style as compared to the vast amounts of screen printed t-shirts that can be found almost anywhere. 

Several months after I began working on this project, I would like to again share my progress.  I have four working designs that I am beginning with.  While I already know I will be making changes to them (they're working), I am offering them for sale online on the website Etsy.  Even the name of the line is a working title.    

That's how these things go.  However, since my shirts are a work in progress, I've decided to offer these early models at a discounted price of $28 because delivering is critical to keeping any project alive. 

Be one of the first to represent your hometown with this look.  Or you can help by being a critical person to future success of this project by sending your feedback or sharing with your friends.

As always, thanks for reading and keep on grindin'  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No Girls Allowed

Word from the popular toy brand Lego is that they will start producing Lego's for girls.

If Lego can get little girls to play with Lego's, then their potential market doubles.  However, if little boys see girls playing with them, will they still want to play with them?

I'm not so sure.  That's because the children's toy category is perhaps the best example of strong product and attribute focus of any category - and most toys have and will continue to reinforce the traditional roles of boys and girls.  Many are upset that Lego is doing the same thing most toy companies have done for generations.     

In the short-term, this classic line extension strategy from Lego that looks like a win - the move is credited with a 24 percent increase in revenue.  But make no mistake that this new piece to the Lego brand could drastically alter its strong foundation.

Splitting your demographic, especially in the highly-focused children's toy category, is a very difficult thing to ask of your brand.