Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘campaign

Put a face on that

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vinceshamwowEvery so often, I come into contact with a business or a business’s ad agency that wants to explore the idea of a pitchman or spokesman. They see others doing it in their advertising and they think it must be a great idea.

It can be…or it can be a critical and expensive disaster.

Before going down this road, let’s think for a minute what you’re actually doing by adding a spokesman to your marketing. You are hoping that the equity from this famous person will translate into legitimacy for your business and product. This immediately rules out one class of spokesman: the infamous.

How big is your business? Are you currently local with hopes of going regional? Are you on the cusp of reaching into new national markets? This will also help you determine how much “celebrity” to bring on board. Why pay for a top dollar famous actor when you’re just reaching into a local market? This may seem like common sense to some, but believe me, it’s come up in conversation with business owners.

On the reverse, is the person you’re considering really a celebrity with all of your prospective clients? This comes into play often when using a professional sports figure. Recently I was part of a discussion as to using players from the local women’s college basketball team. The client loves women’s basketball. The sales rep loves this particular women’s college basketball team. Neither is part of a good reason to select a spokesman from this pool. Additionally, unless you’re grabbing one of the best off of a team, even at the pro level, it’s not likely going to be a hit.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is this spokesman willing to be on your team? Is this person in it for the check or your success? Most celebrities that I’ve worked on commercial shoots for are in it for the quick buck. They’re pros and they walk in, do what’s expected of them, and walk away. I’ve also been attached to projects where a celebrity clearly loves the client. They want the product to succeed. This invariably translates well into all of the marketing components.

Here’s another thought…create a character instead of using a spokesman. They don’t even have to be a fictious character. Dave Thomas from Wendy’s was a classic example of someone that was an immediate successful face on the business. Until his death in 2002, Dave served as a steller face on the brand and brought success to the organization not seen since the Clara Peller “Where’s the Beef?” campaign.

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Of course you’re important, but…

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8020ruleI’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before. It’s been applied to so many things in so many ways. Here’s the context in which I’m exploring it this week.

You will spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of your clients.

Some people just need more handholding. Some people need more coaxing. Some people know they need help, but are unsure about getting off the fence and moving forward with a marketing campaign (for example).

I love those people in the same way that I love vegetables.

The bottom line is your bottom line. There are times in which we find ourselves in a place where we might have to pull back on the attention that we’ve been giving a client simply because they’re receiving too much of our resources. In the past, I’ve been with companies that have made the difficult and unfortuante decision to “fire a client.” It’s not a decision that we ever took lightly, but was forced on us if we wanted to be able to continue to grow.

I’d love to hear if you’ve been in this type of situation and had a successful outcome that we can all learn from. Was it simply a function of better educating a client and turning them into one of the better 80 percents or was there another method you used to rectify the situation?

Written by Jeff York

December 1, 2008 at 1:12 am

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

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If you’re in business, it’s highly likely you either have some form of competition or you are reading this while sitting on your private beach located on your own private island.  If you’re like the rest of us, you have to keep an eye on the competition in much the same way as they are keeping an eye on you.

So, what are they doing?

From a marketing standpoint, are they doing anything different from you?  Are they doing it better?

There is true value in being the first to market with a new idea or concept.  However, not being first doesn’t preclude you from making an effort.  You might need to just to keep your current pace.  But this is also an opportunity.  Is there a way that you can capitalize on your competition’s efforts that would make your situation better?

For example, they may be starting a new campaign.  Maybe it’s a smart campaign, but they are missing one big component.  You know you can do it better.  Then do it…BETTER!

Is there another twist you can add to the campaign or concept that makes it appear original?  Sometimes the best ideas are variations on someone else’s original thoughts.

But then again, are there really original thoughts any more?

Written by Jeff York

August 18, 2008 at 3:24 am

Beware of your own success!

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Before embarking on a marketing campaign for your business, you have to have set defined goals for what you hope to achieve. Typically the broad idea is to generate new business and revenue for your company. This is obviously an excellent expectation, however with it comes a hidden danger. What happens if your marketing campaign is too successful? What happens if you have opened yourself up for so many new customers and clients that your current infrastructure can’t handle it all? What will you do then?

Before investigating new marketing strategies for your company with your marketing partners, make sure that you take the time to honestly evaluate your current ability to handle new business. If you suddenly get overloaded, new customers will see your business as unable to satisfy their needs. You can garner a bad reputation quickly and your best efforts at marketing will end up being your undoing.

It’s wise to have a set metric in mind so that you can best gauge if you are coming up short in your marketing efforts or if you are about to become overwhelmed. Hopefully, your marketing partners will have this conversation with you before the implementation of a campaign, but if they don’t, make sure to raise the idea yourself. They should be well prepared to scale back the campaign, or even put it on hold altogether, should you start to approach critical mass.

Clearly, this would be a great problem to have, but it is still a problem. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you started to become too successful? Do you have any horror stories you can share that we can all learn from?

Written by Jeff York

June 21, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Advertising Media – Part 6: Outdoor

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Your name should be in lights.

Of course, by that I mean, your business name should be spread across yard after yard of billboard space where hundreds of people traveling about 65 miles per hour can glance at it for a total of about 2 seconds…if they bother to look up at all.

Then there’s the bus. Ever thought about putting your logo on that smelly crosstown bus that drives the same route everyday driving by the same people day after day? Or what about on the bus stand itself.

How about the side of a blimp? Or a panel truck? Or a cab top?

There are so many ways to buy outdoor, many of which you might not even heard of, that you could go crazy trying to examine them all. You can rent a cycling team to drive through downtown areas carrying a flag with your logo. You can rent street crews to give out flyers. How about buying the top of pizza boxes from a popular pizza restaurant?

Really, the question is who are you trying to reach? Which do you think is more effective, flying your banner behind a biplane over the 50,000 in attendance at game 4 of the World Series or the millions watching on TV? Are you trying to reach the one person walking down the street coincidentally at the same time a truck or van with your logo goes by, or the thousands that are reading the newspaper at the same time?

Hitting scores of people at once is always inferior to hitting thousands at once. After all, the whole idea of mass media messaging is to reach your potential new customers in a memorable way. Like sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people you hit, the better the chance those people are looking for your goods or services.

It’s been my experience that outdoor advertising is the definition of clutter. Like a bad TV ad, it’s just part of our daily environment and our brains have been trained and conditioned to tune it out. I’ve never really considered outdoor as a viable cornerstone to a marketing campaign nor have I recommended it to my clients. However, there are a substantial number of companies that specialize in outdoor advertising. They must be successful for a reason. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any experience in outdoor advertising. What’s worked for you? How have you cut through the clutter and done something that’s memorable? Was it part of a bigger campaign or was it your campaign? What would you recommend to others that are considering the same avenue?

Written by Jeff York

May 25, 2008 at 1:08 am