If you're ordinarily selling a handbag for $3,300, is the Groupon audience really your target audience? If someone can afford to pay $2,412 for this item, can they not afford to pay $3,300?
Proponents of this offer will say that an $888 discount might inspire people to make the purchase. Others may argue there are presumably very few people on Groupon looking for $2,400 handbags, and in the meantime, they are acting as a discounter, which very few high end brands aspire to be. That disconnection between their brand positioning and their promotional activity might create brand confusion among the handbag shopping audience, which ultimately may cause them to shop elsewhere.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
One of your most important jobs as a marketer is to figure out who your audience is, and where they make their purchase decisions. THAT'S where you advertise. Advertising elsewhere may not be a total waste, but it's certainly a less efficient use of your advertising resources.
Where do you stand? Is this a valid promotional effort that can only lead to additional sales? Or is it an offer that's not even reaching the target audience and causing brand confusion in the meantime?
Advertising builds Brand Awareness. And you always need Brand Awareness. You need it when you're starting out and want to establish yourself, you need it when you're growing and want to steal customers from the competition, and you need it when you're the market leader (as Tim Hortons clearly is) and want to solidify your spot at the top.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
To stop advertising when you feel like you don't want or need more customers is to make yourself vulnerable to those businesses that are trying to steal the ones you have.
What do you think? Is it a waste?
Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs revealed their new logo for the upcoming season, which is its Centennial season. It is "inspired by" the version seen on the jerseys from the 40's through the 60's and makes multiple references to the team's history. There are 31 points on the leaf, representing the year the team moved into Maple Leaf Gardens. There are also 13 veins at the top, representing the number of Stanley Cups won (I guess we're just supposed to ignore the veins at the bottom... or assume those are reserved for future Cups, whenever they might arrive).
I can't decide how I feel about the new logo, since I believe they got part of it right and part of it wrong.
WHAT THEY GOT WRONG
It's old! They introduced it as their "new" logo, but it looks just like their old logo. Can they really call it new? A logo redesign is meant to inject vibrancy and excitement into a brand, but this logo does nothing, really, but regress to a previous version. No one will be excited or inspired. It won't lead to as many new apparel sales, since the older generation of fans probably still has an old version of the logo somewhere, and the younger generation of fans wants something flashy and cool. Some might even call this redesign... dare I say it... lazy.
WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT
Iconic, time-tested brands are not supposed to mess with their logo. It's too important, and it carries too much equity. The Gap got absolutely roasted when they deviated from their iconic mark, and some of the most established brands in the world, including Nike, Coca Cola and Ford, have recognized the importance of maintaining the design and heritage of their brand mark through the years. Toronto realized that if they came out with something that deviated too far from the brand mark that fans have come to know and love, they would do themselves a disservice. Interestingly, each of the "Original 6" NHL teams (Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Montreal) haven't really touched their logos, probably for the same reasons.
What do you think? Did they do the right thing, or miss an opportunity?
In my previous blog post, I listed the top 10 marketing highlights from 2015. In it, I (among other things) congratulate a brand -- Big Ass Fans -- that very cleverly poked fun at Kim Kardashian and her.... um.... well, let's leave it at that. Hoping that it might be an interesting post for business owners interested in marketing their business, I decided to post it on Facebook and boost the post with some advertising dollars. The image that I assigned to the Facebook post (shown above) was of her bare back (only!). According to Facebook's advertising guidelines, that was too much skin. I chose the image because my Facebook post described the blog post as "A look back at the marketing topics that are important...", and Kim Kardashian is looking back at the camera. See what I did there? Alas, the ad wasn't approved, and I had to change the Facebook post image to something far less clever.
It got me thinking, though, of the difference between Facebook and print media when it comes to marketing and advertising. On one hand you have Facebook who earned $16 billion in advertising revenue in 2015. On the other hand you have traditional print media (including magazines), who are suffering unprecedented declines in advertising revenue. This gives Facebook the flexibility and authority it needs to insist that advertising be done the proper way. This makes print media desperate for whatever ad revenue it can scrape together. Case in point: the Kim Kardashian image I am referring to is from a recent edition of Paper magazine who, as I'm sure you know, resorted to sexism for their cover photo and to full frontal nudity on the pages inside. It was clearly a desperate move to boost circulation, which would presumably attract advertisers.
Four thoughts on the matter:
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Am I too much of a Facebook apologist? Am I overly critical of print?
A lot of really interesting things happened in the world of marketing in 2015. If you read this blog or follow us on social media, we talked about most of them. But I'm under no illusion that you read every post, so now that we're heading into a brand new year, I thought I would take a look back and pick out the 10 posts that I really hope you read at the time. They are (in no particular order) important things to know for business owners and marketers alike, and they'll help you be the best marketer you can be in 2016!
Enjoy! Discuss! Debate! Comment! Share!
1) Stop using social media to talk about yourself. Look at your posts. Would you really say those things?
Look back at your social media posts from the past year and imagine that you were actually saying those things, in real life, to real people. My guess is you probably won't like what you hear. Social media is real conversation with real people. Keep that in mind with every post. Mashable, if you know them, is really good at this. Click here to read more.
2) Web design has changed. Drastically. It's gone minimalist!
It's almost like web designers across the globe are in a secret contest to see who can create the home page with the biggest image and the fewest words. For good reason though! Hubspot is bang-on with their analysis of the latest design trends (read it here). How does your web site compare?
3) Advertising that taps into the social conversation has much greater reach and impact.
Advertising used to be about saying to people what you wanted them to hear. It's still about that to some extent, but if you can, instead, tap into the social commentary at all, it not only resonates better, but it makes you look like you're connected to your audience (rather than spewing ad copy that was written in some ivory tower). Case in point: this Salvation Army ad that connected their message to the craze that was the "what-colour-is-the-dress?" debate. Well played.
4) Simpler is better. If you can't explain what you do in really simple terms, you won't get anyone to listen.
Einstein once said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough". This is so true, especially as it pertains to your offer. How do you expect to get anyone to talk about you if you can't make it easy for them to understand what it is that you do? Read more about this here.
5) Social media is better for listening than for talking. So few businesses know this.
Businesses are notorious for talking about themselves on social media. That's fine to a certain extent, since it raises brand awareness and leads to purchase consideration. But social media is a more valuable tool for listening. Nowhere is it easier to listen to what people are talking about. People like your customers, your competitors, industry experts, business partners, subject matter experts, and so on. Are you listening (and learning) at least as much as you're talking? Listen to what Marketing Profs has to say about this topic (here). They are so wise!
6) The more clever you are, the more memorable you are. Just ask Big Ass Fans.
Big Ass Fans won the internet in February when they cleverly poked fun at the Kim Kardasian Paper Magazine cover which accentuates her prominent... well... you know... posterior. I had even more to say about their brilliance in this post, but the point is that they were really clever. Now that you've seen this, I dare you to forget it (you won't be able to). I also dare you to forget the name of their company.
7) Brilliant design also makes you memorable. Just ask Sonos.
Check out the logo below from Sonos, a company that makes speakers. Notice what happens when you scroll up and down. Pure genius. Now I dare you to forget the name of this speaker brand.
8) Superbowl ads are a bargain at $4.5 million per 30-second spot. Yes, you heard me right.
Alright, alright. I know you don't have $4.5 million for ONE TV ad. But the point of this post is that advertising is mostly a numbers game. Once you've identified who your target audience is, figure out where they spend their time. Then find all the advertising opportunities in that area and calculate the cost-per-impression. For the sake of illustration, let's assume there are 5 different magazines that are circulated to your target audience. For each magazine, what is the circulation, and what is the cost to advertise? That's your cost-per-impression. The magazine with the lowest cost-per-impression gets your advertising dollars (the same logic applies to cost-per-click advertising). With advertising, especially digital advertising, the math is simple, so use it to your advantage and optimize your spend (rather than spending on whatever advertising opportunity happens to be in front of you that day). In the case of Superbowl advertisers like Coca-Cola and Budweiser, they know their target audience is watching the game, and they know how many of them will see their ad. For them, $4.5 million is a bargain at twice the price (the math is explained in the post).
9) Target was destined to fail in Canada, because nobody had any good reason to shop there, really.
Sadly, Target folded after a very short stint in this great country of ours. But the reason for their failure was simple: they offered consumers nothing that Walmart didn't already offer, and Walmart was already here. We, as human beings, are fundamentally resistant to change, so why would we change where we shop when there's no difference between the shops? Target, in their arrogance, didn't fully understand this before making their decision to expand. Click here to read more about the importance of having something different or unique to offer.
10) To close out our list, just remember to be interesting! Especially on social media. Boring sucks.
Marketing Profs (them again!) wrote a great piece about social media strategy for businesses. In it, they implore you to stop being boring! I couldn't agree more. And it's really that simple.
What do you think are the big marketing topics from 2015? I'd love to hear them!
Every day in every business a customer asks for something to which the business replies "no".
There are lots of reasons why that response might be valid and appropriate, but this post is about the value of understanding which questions were answered that way that should not have been!
That retailer should be tracking how many times someone asks for a water softener. That recruiter should keep track of how many times a job candidate is presented to them from an industry outside of the ones in which they specialize. That tracking will identify trends that could lead to product and service diversification that opens up new revenue streams!
Why bother? First of all, if you start selling water softeners when otherwise you didn't, you'll make more money! Second of all, and perhaps more importantly, if the market thinks you might sell something that you don't, you should. If it's perfectly reasonable for a customer to ask for it, you should sell it. Of course, if someone asks a car dealership if they sell waffle makers, that's not reasonable and not worth considering. But if the market requests it of you and it's a reasonable request based on the brand positioning you have established, your answer should be "yes".
The biggest question is whether or not a product or service would be (reasonably) expected of you by the marketplace ("Do my customers really expect that I would sell water softeners?"). The best way to determine what is expected of you is to listen when they ask!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Start keeping track of what people are asking for. It matters not what YOU think you should sell to the market, it matters what the MARKET believes you should sell.
Any examples of businesses that unexpectedly answered "no" to you?
Social media costs money.
We get it.
By now we've all come to realize that social media isn't "free". There are many costs, such as staffing and advertising (which this insightful infographic demonstrates) that marketers and business owners need to consider.
What I LIKE MOST about the infographic is that it goes on to list all the BENEFITS of an investment in social media, most of which are immeasurable. They (Social Media Today) list these benefits (which were gathered via an eMarketer survey) as a way of illustrating that marketers have dismissed "low cost" as a real benefit. A valid point to make, and an important one for their purposes. But to me, the most important point of this whole infographic is the fact that there are MANY benefits of social media, most of which are immeasurable, and all with considerable impact on the success of a business. Sure, we may not be able to calculate a numeric ROI (since we can't measure the total return), but the length of this list of benefits makes it hard to justify NOT investing in social media.
IMHO, there are a few missing from the list! Notably:
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
The case for investment in social media is compelling (perhaps overwhelming). The real question is whether or not you're taking advantage of all the benefits.
Any benefits that I missed? Don't forget to also check the ones in the infographic.
Too many businesses forget that social media is.... wait for it.... SOCIAL!
Social media is (supposed to be) a collection of real conversations between real people. They just happen to take place on a screen, rather than in person. Too often, though, businesses use social media as a channel to talk about their business, their offers, their events and so on. They treat social media as another channel for promotion. In other words, they talk about themselves.
With that in mind, look back at your posts, read them in succession, and imagine that you're saying all these things, in person, to real people. How do you sound? Do you sound like that annoying guy who only talks about himself? Are you saying anything that would be interesting to real people? My guess is (based on what I see every day on social media), NO.
You need to dedicate a considerable portion of your social feeds to interesting dialogue about things that have nothing to do with your business, just like you would in a real social setting! Real life conversations include all kinds of dialogue about current events, pop culture, and...wait for it... interesting topics! Eventually, the conversation may turn professional, but if you compare your social media feeds to what you talk about in real life to real people, there are surely vast differences in tone. And there shouldn't be.
The best example of real social engagement on social media is Mashable. They talk about all kinds of interesting things that have nothing to do with them. In the illustration above, I captured three recent posts: one about a nasty sea slug, one about the Paris attacks, and one about the Biebs. None of those posts are about about Mashable, a digital media website which describes itself as a "source for news, information and resources for the Connected Generation". They started in 2005 as a site focussed on technology and new media, but they quickly realized that when it came to their social media activity, they needed to be... wait for it...you know what's coming...SOCIAL! They talk a LOT about things that are interesting, regardless of how closely they relate to their business or their offerings. Slugs have nothing to do with tech. The Paris attacks have nothing to do with the Connected Generation. They talk about these things because they are interesting, and people listen. A LOT of people (they currently have more than 6 million Twitter followers).
THE LESSON FOR MARKETERS
You want to be interesting on social media, not self-promoting. Why? Because people listen to interesting brands. And the more interesting you are, the more likely you are to be remembered when those people need to buy a product that you just happen to sell. Social media's not for inspiring a purchase. It's for engaging in dialogue that makes you memorable. It's that brand awareness that will lead, one day, to purchase consideration.
How will you know if you're doing it right? Go back to your social media feeds and pretend you're saying what's in your posts to real people in real life. Do you like what you hear?
How much of your social media activity is dedicated to interesting conversation that is unrelated to what you sell?
Jared Fogle, the ex-Subway spokesperson, did some really bad things. I'd rather not talk about what they were. Yesterday he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
None of that deserves any of my time or attention.
I am, however, interested in whether or not this scandal changed your opinion of Subway.
They of course did the only thing they could do. They severed all ties to him when the scandal broke.
Since then, though, have you eaten at Subway less? Or the same? No one would blame you for continuing to eat there. They hired him before any of it started, and they distanced themselves from him once it did. The question is: did the scandal have any impact on your consumption of Subway products? Consciously or otherwise.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Your BRAND is the collection of thoughts, opinions and impressions that the consuming public has of you. It is formed through every interaction they have with you. You must be vigilant in your efforts to keep the promise you make to them, in every area of your business. We will never know the impact Fogle's scandal had on Subway's brand. The point is that your brand is your most important asset. It's precious and must be protected.
Did Subway's brand take a hit? Or are they absolved of responsibility (and therefore protected from any brand damage)?
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!