Frontier, I love ya. Your fares are rock bottom which is often times my first criteria for travel planning. But your email marketing during this pandemic…. well, it sucks. You clearly don't care about me. You don't seem to care what's going on the world. It appears you only care about making a sale (when no one is buying anything). I understand it — you want people to think positively, start planning to travel again, and start with flights from your airline. But in the fine print it says we need to travel by October. Who knows what the world will look like in October!! You can say whatever you want about cancellation policies — you're just hoping the oblivious or the blindly optimistic will jump on this deal which helps you, almost exclusively.
IHG, on the other hand, is creating a strong brand association by genuinely recognizing what's important to their audience. We're not travelling right now. We're not travelling any time soon. And they recognize that. They're thoughtful enough to understand that if anything, all we could really hope for right now is that when we plan to travel again (whenever that may be), the flights, cars, and hotels will be clean. They've come right out and said just that, and they've even demonstrated HOW they're achieving that. Not only have they recognized what matters to us and drawn attention to it, they've demonstrated their true commitment to this promise with evidence.
This dichotomy is easy to spot in such a drastic environment like a pandemic. But it's also a lesson for marketing in any environment: Show that you understand your audience and what concerns them, offer a solution, then demonstrate its worthiness.
Do you give Frontier a pass because most businesses are trying to do whatever they can to generate any kind of revenue right now? Or do you agree that brands need to do better at understanding the audience?
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?
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)?
Did no one look at this and question the graphic treatment of the name of the restaurant? Or maybe they did tit.... oops - typo... IT on purpose to attract a certain, um, segment of the population?
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
I have always encouraged clients to show new marketing materials (or digital marketing assets) to anyone - even friends and family - just to make sure nothing stands out in a detrimental or embarrassing way. It costs nothing and you never know what you missed!
Did you see it right away? Or am I the one with the dirty mind?
So today I happened to notice as I was browsing through sporting events on television that the Nascar Sprint Cup Series race this weekend is the SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
No, that's not a typo. Yes, that's the official logo of the event.
This one has me scratching my head.
I have always said that one of the most important strategies for marketing success is to 1) define your target audience, 2) figure out where they make their purchase decisions, then 3) market to them there.
For example, I recently noticed an online ad on autotrader.ca for a used car dealership. Perfect! The target audience in this case is people shopping for a used car. Those people make purchase decisions based on what they see on that site. So the used car dealership advertises there! Brilliant.
Presumably, the target audience for Nickelodeon is children. Presumably, the audience at a NASCAR event is primarily adults. In fact, according to this NASCAR demographics study, 100% of fans describe themselves as at least 18 years old.
So why on Earth would Nickelodeon sponsor the race??
My guess is they believe the general brand awareness will trickle down to the children through things like merchandise, commercials on television, and so on. But that's an expensive approach to awareness building to kids...who probably aren't watching the race!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
With every marketing tactic, think about the proportion of the audience (for the tactic) that will closely resemble your target audience. Start with the marketing tactics with the highest proportion, and work down from there.
Using the examples from above, the proportion of children at a NASCAR race is close to 0%. The proportion of used car shoppers on autotrader.ca is approaching 100%. Dollar-for-dollar, the autotrader.ca marketing spend is clearly the most efficient.
What do you think? Why would they possibly do this?
Despite what you might think, the title of this blog post is not sarcasm. I actually think it's brilliant.
Recently, Red Lobster decided to change it's menu and offer more seafood and specifically, more lobster! Sales are slipping slightly and they believe getting back to their core business - lobster - will reverse that trend (read more about it here).
I couldn't agree more.
In many posts and with many clients I URGE marketers to concentrate on their brand position. Social media, peer review sites and instant-communication apps make your brand position that much more important as part of your marketing strategy. You are now less and less able to rely on advertising and promotions to communicate a message. Instead, you rely on the online community to talk about you. What they say about you, and how readily they say it, has the most profound impact on your marketing success.
Let's use Red Lobster as an example. With items like tortilla soup and pork chops on the menu, they were confusing their audience. Consumers aren't sure what to make of them any more. Are they a seafood restaurant? Or are they something else? More importantly, though, when people are deciding where to dine, Red Lobster has a weak and blurred position in their mind, which undoubtedly leads to slipping sales.
Conversely, by going back to being THE destination for seafood and specifically lobster, they create clarity in the mind of the consumer. If people want to dine out, and are craving seafood, Red Lobster will be top-of-mind, and that's what brands need. Not only will consumers choose Red Lobster more readily, but they will talk about them with others (online) more readily as well.
Nice move, Red Lobster. It was your best play.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Figure out who you want to be... in the minds of the consumer. But also, make that position simple, compelling, and easily sharable.
Do you agree? Or do you think removing that diversity from the menu shrinks their potential audience?
I noticed that my last few blog posts have been on the negative side. My intention is not to be simply mean, but to point out things that I don't necessarily like so that you can each decide if I make a good point or I'm off my rocker.
In any case, I thought it was time to showcase some marketing brilliance.
McDonald's is in the spotlight today.
This bit of creativity, very similar to the creativity I commented on in a previous post (hey, maybe they stole the idea and it's not that creative after all?), makes them memorable!
The ability to create something that's unquestionably memorable is a rare feat in marketing, since so much of it is noise. Kudos to the golden arches for coming up with this gem.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
We must remember that marketing is noise and we need to stand out from the noise. Uniqueness does that. McDonald's could have chosen a simple (typical) billboard with a (typical) image of hot, delicious-looking coffee which might have registered slightly in the subconscious of the passerby. In this case, each passerby notices -- really notices -- this marketing tactic.
Do you recall an outdoor tactic that you remember because it was truly noticeable?
Today's marketing 'fail' comes courtesy of Alliance Films, who released The Hunger Games on DVD yesterday.
When I opened the disc I was immediately impressed (I'll get to their failure in a minute). They obviously thought hard about how to convert fans of the movie into consumers of other products. They inserted an invitation to read two chapters of the next book in the series and and promo for Jennifer Lawrence's next movie, House at the End of the Street. They're catching the attention of both fans of the book and fans of the actress. "Well done", I say to myself.
I enthusiastically scanned the QR code to read the two chapters of the next book, and...
"We're sorry, this player is not enabled for HTML5 delivery".
The marketing team at Alliance worked so hard to capture the excitement of the moment and promote complementary products, and I was ready to praise them for their thoughtfulness and creativity.
Sadly, they forgot the most important part!
Now it may be that I don't have the appropriate technology on my phone, but I doubt it. I have an iPhone 4S and had just updated all my software. It's not an old, obscure device by any stretch. My worry is that they didn't adequately test the QR delivery on an iPhone!!! All that effort, wasted.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
Nooooooowww, it helps to have the money that Sprite has to do stuff like this, but I post this because the point is, we can all think of things to do differently from the usual marketing noise.
Don't do the same thing that everyone else is doing. The best example of this is the auto industry. If you flip through the paper (Toronto Star has a "Wheels" section, for example) and all the ads look the same. Same emphasis on lease/financing rates, same emphasis on awards they've won, same emphasis on fuel economy, blah, blah, blah. But to do something like this is much more memorable. And isn't that the biggest battle?
LESSON FOR YOU, THE MARKETER:
Think of really cool or different things to do. If not, it's just noise. Sounds simple enough, right? Try it.
I work mostly with small businesses. They don't have the marketing budgets that the Nikes and Apples of the world do. It's often times a harsh reality when they're trying so hard to be competitive. So when they venture out into marketingland and try to stand out from all the noise, they need to spend their money wisely. They need to do something like this, which is 100 times more effective and memorable than, say, a billboard, for probably 3 times the cost of said billboard.
It's creative, and that's why it counts!
LESSON FOR YOU, THE MARKETING PERSON:
If you're going to spend money on marketing, please, spend it wisely. Do something about which people will say "You should check out this _____ I just saw."
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!