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Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

New respect for advertising in Groupon horror stories!

In Just Thinkin', The Marketing Microscope on November 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I came across an interesting post at mashable.com discussing the electronic coupon voucher program Groupon.  Apparently, the tough economy and stiff Groupon pricing requirements are putting a squeeze on some small businesses, who feel they have to try it, but wind up getting buried, losing money, and regretting the decision.

In one example, a London bakery owner was really, well, frosted when she was forced to hire extra help to bake 102,000 cupcakes to satisfy the Groupon demand, and wiped out her year’s profit in the process. Some surveys cited in the story claim that 70% of small businesses “hate” Groupons!

One has to make all kinds of wild assumptions to draw conclusions on this, of course, but I have seen claims (even by business owners themselves) that had they invested the same money in advertising instead, they could have drawn enough new customers at full or nearly full price to deliver more incremental profit, and have a better chance of converting new customers into loyal, long-term ones.

I find this a fascinating discussion. It seems intuitive that Groupon users (and I’m not talking down here – I have used them and will continue to do so) are looking for deals. And unless you really present some incredible experience during their visit, they are likely to go somewhere else to use another deal rather than come back to your establishment and pay full price next time.   On the other hand, as some point out, it is your job as a business owner to provide them an experience special enough to change that equation.

I agree with both positions. (I KNEW I should have gone into politics.) I do know that, as a consumer, I feel a bit awkward when using Groupons, although I know it was the merchant’s decision to offer them. As an advertising professional, I feel as though the discussion is a bit “apples and oranges.”  A well-strategized ad campaign (based on a real point of difference that matters to the consumer, of course) is the best way to attract the kinds of customers you are most likely to keep. A Groupon-type promotion is likely to generate larger numbers of customers in the first place, but most of them will continue to ignore your business as they did before once they’ve gotten their “deal.”

It’s just a very intriguing discussion. What do you think?  Is the answer a Groupon “Light” service that offers a bit less of a deal so business don’t risk bankruptcy when they try it? Would a different type of promotion – or advertising – attract the customers who are willing and able to spend the money your product or service is worth in the first place, for a better chance at long-term success or survival?

Let me know what YOU think about the whole thing – I’d really like to know!  And for the next 14 days, I will allow you to post two comments for the price of one!

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Thanksgiving for FedEx – and clients who “get it.”

In Ad Creative, Memorable Marketing on November 23, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Those of us who have been in the advertising industry for a number of years know the many things that stand in the way of great advertising. Often, poor strategic direction or an undisciplined creative brief is at fault. And more often than I’d like, it is simply a case of creative people who themselves don’t understand how to be strategic, engaging and memorable all at the same time.

But often, the blame is heaped on a client, for not recognizing a good creative concept, or for failing to have the courage to embrace advertising that does what ALL advertising SHOULD do – stand out. This year, I’d like to pay homage to one client that, for as long as I can remember, has not only tolerated, but apparently insisted on, memorable advertising; campaigns that not only carry the right strategic message, but also present it in a way that gets noticed.  Thanks, FedEx, and credit to you, BBDO – the agency of record for 20 years or more.

When I first entered the business, FedEx and agency Ally and Gargano were doing great commercials, some with a director named Joe Sedelmaier who was known for ‘over the top” productions, most often humorous. (You’ve laughed at many of them, trust me.) For FedEx, fast-talker John Moschitta starred in an early spot you may recall.

Ever since, FedEx  has kept the bar high, with many commercials you would remember and laugh at today!  In one of the latest, FedEx Office promotes its printing and copying services by making it simple for a guy in the witness protection program to become a very visible  icon for his hardware store. He’s a bit unclear on the concept, of course, but it’s very funny stuff.

A lot happens at a company in 20 or 30 years, including many changes of the guard, new CMOs and  other transitions. But in the case of FedEx, the company has never lost its commitment to unique, watchable advertising campaigns.  Oh, the tag lines haven’t always been much to write home about. But the quality is consistently high, with very few turkeys.

Thanks, FedEx (and your agencies) – keep up the good work.

Hitting “refresh” on an old complaint.

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

Two things: this topic is nothing new, and people have been complaining mildly about it since my childhood, probably. And secondly, full disclosure, my current position makes me more sensitive to things like Veterans Day.

But since I “liked” Petsmart on Facebook or something like that, I am on their email list. And today it came -an exciting message about their “Veterans Day Sale.”

Sorry to be overly sensitive, but in this day and age, shouldn’t there be some connection – no matter how strained or tenuous? A 10% discount for veterans? A small part of your ad devoted to thanking them? SOMETHING?

In our town, we are completing a Military Appreciation Week leading up to Veterans Day. Many  merchants are arranging discounts or other forms of “thank you” for service members and veterans. So Veterans Day means a little more than a closed Post Office and a lame, tiresome sales theme for car dealers and other retailers.

Presidents Day? Okay, fine, be superficial. I’m sure George Washington or Abe Lincoln won’t mind you moving a few Monte Carlos on their annual celebration. Or even a few catnip mice or pooper-scoopers. But Veterans Day should be different. Lots of real living and breathing heroes out there worth remembering and thanking for what they’ve done for us, in past wars and enduring the unique stresses of our current conflicts.

Remember that today, one percent of our citizens volunteer to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. And to paraphrase a quote I recently heard, no one who deploys to a war zone comes back unwounded.

Can I just ask all retailers out there to think of Veterans Day a little differently?  It’s not an opportunity to get people into our stores. It’s a reason to take people into our hearts.