The MadAveGroup Blog
The MadAve Blog (315)
I was working with a copywriter a few months back, helping him develop some P-O-P content for a grocery store chain.
We were looking for a different angle on the store's produce department when an image of corn on the cob popped into my head.
Corn is a miracle, I remembered.
About eight years prior, I planted corn for the first time. With great anticipation, I pushed each seed about an inch below the dirt, covered them all with more dirt, and then watered my rows.
Within a week, the first signs of new life sprouted from the ground.
By the end of the summer, I was walking through stalks taller than me. And each one had real corn attached! It was thrilling.
All the beauty of my humble corn patch and all the corn it produced came from a little brown bag of dry seed dropped into dry dirt.
That's when I realized that corn is a miracle. A common, everyday miracle.
That understanding led to content that was different than “Hey, come buy our corn!” The message was about the abundance that we enjoy in this nation, and a reminder of just how lucky we are to have what we have.
And maybe, I thought, my words could help a few people enjoy their own moment of awe and appreciation.
From a marketing standpoint, that story always reminds me that there's more than one way to present a product or service to an audience.
As a human being, it reminds me that corn is far from the only miracle that we've been gifted with in this life.
In this season of miracles, I wish for you that realization every day.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Truly, it means a lot to me that you’re investing the time.
And if you’re a client of ours, thank you for allowing us to serve you, and for the trust you place in us. You are the reason we get to do what we love to do.
There are other ways we express our thanks, too. We train consistently. We improve processes frequently. We work to expand our outlook and sharpen our work every day.
We do that for you and our other clients.
As a way of saying “you made a good call when you chose us.”
As a way of reinforcing that we’re committed to your long-term success.
Now, as I often do in this blog, I’ll challenge you with a few questions.
How are you expressing thanks to your customers or clients? Is it a strong, company-wide commitment to literally say “thank you” at the point of sale? Is it a rewards program? Is it providing extra special added value to long-time buyers? Is it a simple, meaningful handshake?
Consumers have a lot of choices. A sincere thank you can go a long way toward earning their loyalty.
Have you heard the good news? There’s an amazing pillow you can buy that eliminates insomnia, sleep apnea, acid reflux, even cerebral palsy!
The only problem is it doesn’t fix any of that stuff.
So consumer protection officials in California slapped the makers of MyPillow with a $1 million fine for making those false health claims in their advertising.
It’s no secret that, over the years, more than a few marketers have stretched the truth a bit when describing the products they sell. But I encourage you to fight that urge should you start to feel it.
Here’s a quote from one of the internal training videos we produced for our new Creative Consultants - our writers:
“First and foremost - don’t lie. Don’t ever lie with your copy. Don’t even exaggerate. People will figure out very quickly when you’re full of bologna and when your copy is misleading just to get them in the door. We don’t want to be those folks. Instead, shine a light on what is real, what is unique, what is valuable about that client. We’re not here to try to fool anybody, because it’s just not going to work, and it’s going to come back sooner or later to haunt the client.”
That honest approach to marketing and communication will endear you to customers.
It may also force you to examine your company’s value. The reason: If you can’t develop a message or create content that paints an appealing picture of your product without resorting to wild assertions and hyperbole, you’ll need to ask yourself why that is.
Then, maybe, instead of spending time and money to advertise exaggerated claims, you can commit those resources to building a better product, process or experience that’s more likely to sell itself.
There’s a new video out of Austin, Texas that’s taking the Internet by storm.
It’s a campaign video that’s being watched and shared and celebrated unlike any other in recent memory.
And yet, what makes this new video so popular is something we’ve promoted for years.
Check out the piece here, and see why you might want to pursue the same type of marketing magic for your brand.
Can you recall the last time you overheard a member of your sales or telemarketing team calling a prospective customer?
Or the last time you dialed into your main number and navigated your Interactive Voice Response system?
Or the last time you mystery called one of your locations to see how well the front-line phone staff cares for callers?
Once you have systems and employees in place it's easy to take for granted that everything is running smoothly. And everything might be running smoothly. But is your team providing the type of caller experience that converts cold calls into customers?
Are your incoming callers treated so wonderfully and efficiently that they tell others about your company and look forward to calling back themselves?
Are your automated systems making it very easy for customers to get what they called for?
If you didn't answer 'yes' very quickly and confidently to all three of those questions, there are a few blog posts you might want to check out.
“Is Your Calling Style Costing You?” recounts a few bad phone calls I've received recently, and how similar approaches to outbound calling can hurt your top line.
“Why Telephone Etiquette Training is Worth the Investment” reinforces the idea that you have an opportunity to build customer loyalty with every phone call.
“IVR: Interactive Voice Response and The Human Touch” is a reminder that, as amazing as digital technology can be, it still requires thoughtful input to make it effective.
For all things related to caller experience, please call our BusinessVoice team at 800/473-9005.
There’s a very specific behavior that has puzzled me for years. You can see it for yourself in the video above.
When a plane comes to a complete stop at the terminal, a tone signals that it’s safe for passengers to remove their seat belts.
For many, it also means “stand up quickly and start unloading luggage from the overhead bins amidst dozens of fellow passengers who are doing the same thing at the same time in the same very confined space, and then stand there for 10 minutes not moving.”
But I’ve never seen any of those passengers who jump to their feet make a move for the door in order to be first off the plane. They seem to respect the unwritten rule of “no cuts.”
So, why stand up right away?
Do people stand because everyone else is standing? Do they not want to “miss out” on establishing their place in line? Do they really think that what they’re doing will move them forward any faster?
Now apply those same questions to your marketing efforts.
Are you doing what everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it? Investing time, for instance, in all the social media channels? Talking about the things you “have” to talk about in the way you “have” to talk about them?
Is there any value in what you’re doing, marketing-wise? Or are many of your efforts akin to standing around in a crowd, not moving forward?
Do you have a Pavlovian response to whatever “tone” it is that signals you to react? (“It’s December, so it must be time for our winter promotion because that’s what we do in December.”)
If you could ask every one of those people in the video why they stood up at the tone, what reason do you think they’d give?
And if you asked every member of your team to explain the reasons your company markets the way it does, would their responses leave you wondering why?
Ann Coulter’s performance on Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe was more uncomfortable than an iron couch.
Regardless of your politics or any thoughts you may have of Ms. Coulter, it would be tough to disagree with the widely held opinion that her set didn’t go well.
But she’s not a comic. Not a comedy writer. Not an experienced roaster. So, really, who would expect a different result?
The question is this: why did she book the gig in the first place?
And the marketing-related takeaway is this: do what you do well. Find or define your niche, master it, own it, be it, and sell it. Then, let other people do what they do best.
I just spoke with a long-time client of ours yesterday. He admitted that his company does "five things really well.” But over the last several years, the company had added far too many ancillary items to their product line. As a result, tracking inventory has become a nightmare, and their focus has become watered down. For the systems and people they have in place, they were trying to do too much - and not doing it well enough - to be seen as unique experts.
Marketing your new skills is admirable. Expanding into new markets is often necessary. Just be sure you're ready to perform at a level at least as high as those who are already established pros.
(Photo credit: Comedy Central)
Yes, that shop window in the photo is real.
It’s hard to imagine a more unfortunate name for a business these days. Nazi Death Camp Bar and Grill might top it. The Lee Harvey Oswald Daycare Center comes close.
Removing the word Isis from your company name might be an easy call for most, but it’s not always as obvious as to when you should re-name or re-brand a product or company.
While there’s certainly more to a brand than a name and logo, both are key determinants of how a company is perceived.
Terry Lesniewicz is the Chief Branding Officer for Design2Influence (d2i), our advertising and design agency that specializes in re-branding. In a recent interview he talked about logo changes specifically.
“When a logo is a heritage logo, like Coca-Cola’s for example, it needs very little modification. Maybe a clean-up now and then,” Terry said. “Heritage brands, like Hershey’s, don’t change their packaging, while a newer candy or energy bar may change their look quite frequently.”
“But the tech industry, for instance, hasn’t been around long enough to have that heritage, so they’re not beholden to the past. Plus, the tech world views ‘new and fresh’ as good.”
“These days, brands are simplifying their logos. Freshness is always a positive. And a logo change can suggest that you have new products or a new focus,” Terry said. “So, if you have a great reputation and are widely known, consider freshening your logo. But, in the same breath, I’ll say that you have to protect an older logo and the value that it represents."
“Changing a name or logo can be a tough decision,” Terry admits. “There’s history there and equity and even an emotional attachment to consider. So, before we do any design work, we walk our clients through that process of deciding if it’s time for a change or re-fresh.”
About a week ago, I took care of a small printing project for the school music boosters group that I volunteer with.
I sent the job to a well-known online printer.
But here’s the thing: our agency provides printing services.
I didn’t even think about the fact that our team could have done the work. It never occurred to me.
Now, printing is a new service for us, so that could explain why it wasn’t at the top of my mind.
But I’ve been in several meetings about our printing, and I’ve even created a few marketing pieces to promote the service.
Yet, I wasn't reminded of our own agency’s ability to do the job until I saw a nice comment about our printing work from a client earlier today.
And I care! I have a stake in this service! I have a reason to remember it!
But I didn't.
Now, your potential customers - who don't have a stake in your success: think of how much they don’t know - or don't remember - about your capabilities.
I love stories like that! And not just because of all the earned media and impressions they can generate.
I love this type of story because it's about people recognizing a need and fulfilling it. It's about combining two seemingly unrelated interests and both sides coming out better as a result.
A high school cross country team takes a bunch of shelter dogs for a morning run.
The dogs get exercise and fresh air they might not normally get.
The kids have a fun experience and the joy of helping the dogs.
The Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter receives free publicity for their cause.
Readers enjoy a heart-warming story.
And a few families may even end up with a new pet.
All of that happened because of someone's authentic desire to help a few pent-up puppies and find a way to make it better for them, if only for an hour.
The story blew up in a very positive way because of its sincerity; because of its emotional power; because it inspires people to wonder “what can I do to make this life better?”
What CAN you and your company do?
Whatever it is, don't do it for the press, the likes and the shares.
Do it because it's important to you. Do it because it needs to be done. Do it because it does, indeed, make this life better.
Everything else is gravy.
(Photo Credit: Luis Escobar)