Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

How memorable are you?

July 17, 2009

A local gym in my neighborhood produces some of the most memorable and wittiest offline messaging I have ever seen. We get so carried away with the latest and greatest online tools like Twitter, that we forget about holistic marketing and forget to use offline channels in addition to the new media channels. If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you especially need to blend the two.

compensateOne of the guys who works in this neighborhood gym puts out a funny new slogan on a chalkboard right outside, every single day. Each and every day, it’s different and funny and almost always a bit edgy. Please see the picture to the left for this morning’s slogan. The guy who writes the messages saw me taking this picture and ran outside to introduce himself. We chatted briefly, and he asked me if I have a blog, and I told him that I was going to tweet and write about his messaging, because I thought it was very catchy. This type of messaging would translate very well into a medium like Twitter, because it’s short, pithy, funny and a conversation starter. I certainly hope that I can help him at least set up his social media presence.

The moral of the story is: be memorable and be everywhere. It sounds really simple, but most fail in executing on at least one of these points. Being memorable should be defined by your target demographic and the touchpoints at which they interact with your message. In this example, busy customers rushing to the train will likely not remember anything longer than the message from this picture. This chalkboard message successfully cut through the clutter, which is not an easy feat: these days we have as much clutter online as we do offline. Moreover, the catchy, witty messaging is just right for the young male demographic that they are targeting. As far as being everywhere: remember to be online and off. The temptation is to go chasing the latest tools, but communication with your customers is not about the tools, it’s about the message. Engage them where they are, in a way that they will remember.

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Your Brain is Not Normal

May 27, 2009

No, you don’t have anything to be afraid of, so no need to go running to your local brain surgeon. Your brain is just fine. But it is not normal, contrary to the belief that we all hold. What I mean by that, is that we have come to normalize what we see from our vantage point: “I feel this way, I think think this way, my experience is XYZ; therefore it’s normal and everyone feels and thinks this way.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Based on our experiences and education (formal and informal), we develop a certain prism that we apply to all subsequent events to help us understand them and place them within context of what we know. It is how we process and organize information. To add a level of complexity, our prism is constantly evolving, as we add more and more experience and education to our arsenal. Because my prism is different from yours, the same exact event can make us feel quite differently about it.

Ability to understand this nugget is the key to being an effective human being, whether it’s in personal or professional interpersonal communications, or in marketing to consumers or businesses. It’s really at the foundation of all communication. Before having a discussion with your significant other, writing that intraoffice e-mail, putting together that powerpoint deck for a presentation, writing that blogpost or sending that customer e-mail update, do a quick reality check. Try to step outside of yourself and say “Ok, I consider this normal, but does the person receiving my communication feel the same way? What prism will he / she apply to what I am communicating to him / her?” I know this sounds beyond elementary, but this is one of the biggest failures in communication. We all do it. I, for example, get so wrapped up in the social media world, that I assume that everyone blogs, tweets, podcasts, creates video content, mobile / web widgets and apps. Not so! Most people have no idea what any of those things are. However, I have come to normalize it, because those things are my reality. We are creatures of our respective environments, so please take a minute to try to extrapolate how other people’s environments and experiences have shaped their views, habits and responses to stimuli.

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Will Twitter Moms Ever Buy Motrin Again?

November 18, 2008

Any blog talking about social media and traditional marketing in consumer products companies would be remiss if it didn’t address the recent fiasco of the Motrin “babywearing commercial”. By now, the ad has been taken down, so I am not going to link to it on YouTube. If you missed it, it basically was a throwback to Babywearing Week, which is happening right now. Babywearing week celebrates wearing your baby in a sling or a similar device vs. in a carriage or stroller. Motrin created a web ad, which I believe was put on their own website, as well as YouTube (not sure about other web video sites). This ad, while meant to commiserate with the physical pain in women caused by babywearing, in an “I feel your pain” kind of way, didn’t stay on message. The goodness of the original intent was paved over by a condenscending tone, delivered in a “valleygirl” fashion, as well as by an almost mocking first sentence that referred to babywearing as nothing short of a fad. Now, I personally didn’t think it was the most offensive commercial in the world, albeit somewhat insensitive (judging by the voluminous outcry on Twitter, one would have thought that Freddy / Fannie failed again. It IS only a commercial) . However, it doesn’t really matter what I thought, as I am not part of the target demographic (babywearing mom). Which brings me to my next point.

Oftentimes, marketers, despite their best efforts, have a hard time getting “outside of themselves” to really “walk a mile” in their customers’ shoes. I saw it all the time during my career with CPG brands. Oftentimes, focus groups get conducted within geographic proximity to the market research office. Hmmm… That is bound to produce muddled results. You know, birds of a feather…. Just because everyone in your high school, college, workplace, city, etc. thinks a certain way, does NOT mean that all of America thinks this way. I fall into that trap myself all the time, and forget that the whole country is not using Twitter and is not on Facebook. What? You are not on Twitter? That’s preposterous! In short, Motrin should have done a better job of testing this ad with social media moms.

The great thing about tools like Twitter is that advertisers / brands have an almost-immediate feedback loop about their product / ad / PR effort, etc.  Smart marketers will figure out how to utilize it. Tools like Twitter Search (you can search for a term and watch the conversation in real time) or Tweet Beep (like Google Alerts for Twitter – it emails you each time a keyword is mentioned), can be used to understand what the users are saying about your brand / effort. Even though Twitter is not mainstream by any stretch of imagination, it can at times serve as a proxy for understanding a certain demographic. Twitter users tend to skew towards the more sophisticated / cutting edge / educated of the population. The moms on Twitter felt offended by the Motrin commercial talking down to them. These are thoughful, educated women, and they don’t need to be “talked at” in a condenscending tone. You can see their angry responses in the video below.  My understanding from following these conversation threads, is that Motrin didn’t respond fast enough to the Twitter backlash, and when they did respond, the angry Twitter Moms didn’t consider it a sincere apology written by a real executive.

If the insensitivity of the Motrin commercial may have gone unnoticed among some moms, the highly-educated social-media-consuming Twitter Mom demographic was certainly going to recoil in horror. This is classic segmentation gone bad. You have to talk to your consumer segments via different channels, while adjusting your message and voice  to that particular segment. You simply can’t carry over the same commercials from one channel to another. The web allows for much more granular targeting and segmentation vs. TV and print. So it’s up to the advertiser to change the message for each segment and subsegment.

As far as the impact that this snaffu will have on Motrin, it is hard to predict. I have no idea if anyone outside of Twitter Moms and YouTube Moms was as enraged. But I do know, that there are a lot of “influencers” who hang out on Twitter, so making them unhappy is not a good thing. Myself and other marketers will certainly be watching how this story develops, and if Motrin can figure out how to use social media to be authentic in their apology.

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