Archive for 'Advertising'

Don't Confuse the Message

One of the worst mistakes an advertiser can make is sending mixed messages. I’m always paying attention to advertising and marketing to see how others attempt to get their message across in 15-30 seconds. After-all, the human attention span isn’t getting any greater, and we’re overloaded with messages on a day-to-day basis so we weed out almost everything anymore. That’s interruptive marketing at its best. What happens when advertisers confuse the message and stray from the core of what the business actually does?

A prime example today of a mixed message campaign is Rally’s Hamburgers, a southeastern based burger and fry joint with dual drive through windows (one on each side of their facilities) which used to be headquartered in my backyard of Louisville, KY. They have since merged with Checker’s, and I believe they moved their HQ to Florida. Anyway, Rally’s true differentiator is their French Fries–great tasting fries with a unique flavorful coating. They attempt to compete with Burger King, McDonald’s, DQ, and Wendy’s among others.

Their current advertising campaign focuses on a toy-like figure named “Rap Cat.” In their ads they have two younger guys who supposedly work one of the drive through lanes at Rally’s. Frequently the ads discuss current specials and one of the guys will suggest your visit their drive thru window to get the special. Then the other one will offer the exact same special for their drive thru lane. The punch line usually has something to do with visiting one side of the drive thru instead of the other because that side features “Rap Cat.” Then the video snaps to some goofy looking stuffed animal that meows in a rap-like fashion with a bad voice over. Not only is the campaign poorly done, it totally mixes the core message of the chain’s business–selling tasty fast food at a very reasonable price. To me, a more effective message would be to capitalize on the popularity of their unique fries versus some stupid toy that likely doesn’t propel anyone to want to go to Rally’s over McDonald’s or Wendy’s. If I’m even remotely hungry and an ad comes on television at the proper time, I am much more likely to run out of my house to a particular chain if the food either appeals to my taste buds or something looks good. Rally’s fries appeal to most people’s taste buds if they’ve ever had them before, and they look tasty. Rap-Cat does nothing to inspire most people to want to seek out Rally’s. Kids may identify with the toy, but I seriously doubt it. I will give the campaign one bit of credit–it’s so bad it’s memorable, but I wonder if that’s what Rally’s is after. Do they want an advertising campaign that is so bad it becomes memorable to the point people are talking about it only because the advertising is horrible?

Since I don’t have access to hard numbers, I can’t project the true impact of this mixed message campaign, but I can dare Rally’s to talk to my company and its partners about fixing the message and driving revenue instead of wasting money on some hair-brained attempt at being cute. If Rally’s wants to be a toy store, get out of the fast food business and partner up with Toys-R-Us. They aren’t McDonald’s where they can have five or six messages proliferating the airwaves and still survive.

In the meantime, the takeaway is don’t confuse your potential consumer by sending mixed messages and poor attempts at humor or cuteness. Stick to your core and establish recognition first then when you become McDonald’s or Burger King, you can tinker with various messages.

If Rally’s happens to read this, an admitted long shot, they can find out more about my company by visiting I’m quite confident we can help them fix their message and possibly their company in the process.

By Derrick Daye on State Farm

The findings from our comprehensive brand equity study of the insurance industry has implications for many industries. Here is what we found:

•While there are over 100 insurance brands whose names people have heard of, few achieve widespread top-of-mind awareness (first recall).

•The insurance industry is highly fragmented with a low dominance of usage and preference by a few brands.

•Very few companies are aggressively claiming relevant differentiating benefits in consumer communication. The few that are, are rapidly gaining market share (witness GEICO which is claiming price/value leadership in auto insurance with substantial advertising support).

•Prices/rates are cited as one of the top differentiating benefits, suggesting that the category is commodity-like for many consumers.

•While behavioral loyalty is high, attitudinal loyalty is much lower, indicating a consumer’s propensity to switch companies when the switching becomes easier (something the Internet might facilitate).

•Emotional connection to insurance brands is very low. Less than one in five consumers say that their insurance brand has never disappointed them. (The top brand on this measure disappointed two thirds of its customers at some time. All brands below the top eight on this measure disappointed over 90% of their customers.)

•Our analysis of the most powerful differentiating benefits indicate that many of them lie with the way in which insurance agents/representatives and the claims adjusters interact with customers.

•Our data would indicate that the industry is ripe for consolidation or strong niche marketing.

Three opportunity areas emerged for insurance companies:

1.Reinventing the process by which they interact with their consumers.
2.Claiming a highly relevant, unique point of difference (focusing on a product category, a consumer benefit or both).
3.Increasing emotional connection with their consumers.

The study provides the following lessons that are applicable to other industries:

•Strong, recognizable brand names and logos are important, but the brands behind those trademarks must stand for something unique and important in consumer’s eyes. What does your brand stand for?

•When price becomes the major point of difference in an industry, consolidation will occur. The companies that are most likely to succeed in this environment (other than the acquirers) are those that aggressively take ownership of relevant points of difference and redesign themselves to consistently deliver against those points of difference.

•The importance of the customer points of contact to strong brands can not be underestimated. Aligning these with your brand’s promise is critical. This may require redesign of your hiring, training, performance management, recognition and rewards and other HR practices. It may also require a redesign of your customer service processes.

•Companies that are market driven, truly caring about their consumers and constantly changing their products and services to meet changing consumer needs, will succeed at the expense of companies that are purely sales driven.

Planning And Starting An Online Business

You will find that the basics and logic of business remain the same, regardless of whether it is an online business or offline. The difference lies in the fact that, to run an online business successfully, you will need to know the fundamentals of any business and have an understanding of the dynamics that drive web-based businesses.

Let’s break this up. To start a business, you will need to have:

• A great business idea

• A solid, realistic business plan, including the financing aspect

• Understand legal issues

• Understand accounting and taxation issues

• Construct a marketing strategy

• Create and maintain a customer base and plan customer service

To start an online business, you will also need to:

• Make sure your business idea works for an online business

• Decide whether or not you need to start a website

• If you do need a website, you will need the technical skill to know how to start, run and manage one

• Understand online marketing and advertising tactics and tools

• Find new and creative ways to drive traffic to your start up online business

• Understand dynamics of customer interaction for an online business

So start with your business idea – try to do a SWOT analysis, i.e. an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that face your concept. Be sure it will work as an online business by thinking – will people buy this product or service online and what value can I offer online that a customer does not get offline? Find out about legal issues surrounding your product or service before starting anything. Determine your start up’s business model – do you want to sell on eBay or start a site or extend your offline store?

Next, come up with a business plan –

Include all costs, all means of possible financing, how you will achieve the financing, logistics of how to procure the product and how to deliver it, and keep in mind that an online business needs to have realistic projections of future income, just like an offline one. Websites can be expensive to start and maintain. Make sure you really need one and account for the expenditure. Be sure that you find reliable service providers – such as the right web host and pay channels. Consider accounting and tax issues in your analysis and planning phase, so you will be realistic in your projections.

Build a comprehensive marketing strategy –

Understand the concepts of internet marketing like search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, and other ways to increase traffic to your website. Finding a great name is important – something short and simple. Further, make a plan that includes effective and efficient customer service and builds a database or mailing list of customers. Remember that this is an ongoing process for any business and in the case of an online business, it is even more crucial to stay ahead of the game. An online business does not have face time with the customer so it’s important to maintain a healthy communication with all customers.

Keep the above pointers in mind and start planning your way to a successful online business.

William King is the director of UK Wholesale Drop Shipping Trade Supplies, Wholesalers Suppliers & Drop Shippers Products Directory, and Drop Ship & Wholesale Drop Shipping Directory. He has 18 years of experience in the marketing and trading industries and has been helping retailers and startups with their product sourcing, promotion, marketing and supply chain requirements.

Don't make a speech. Put on a show.

By Garr

Arden “Don’t make a speech,” says Paul Arden, “put on a show.” Paul Arden is author of It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be. Arden’s little book is not long on expanded content, but it’s a very visual book and for most who read it, it’s quite inspirational and even provocative as well. There are definitely good nuggets of wisdom inside. The images in the book may even give you some ideas for combining text with images. The author’s background is in advertising so creatives and marketing people, etc. may find the book especially worthwhile. Here’s what Arden says about presentations on page 68 of the 127-page book:

“When we go to see a lecture, we generally go to see the speaker not to hear what they have to say. We know what they have to say. That’s why we go see them.

How many speeches have you heard? How many of them can you remember?

Words, words, words.

In a song, we remember firstly the melody and then we learn the words.

In stead of giving people the benefit of your wit and wisdom (words), try painting them a picture. The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it.

And more importantly, they will remember you.”

— Paul Arden


Arden goes on to say that “…even a Financial Director’s speech does not have to be boring.”

Words are important, of course. And good and appropriate content is crucial. But these are rarely sufficient. Especially today. We should be continually asking ourselves how we can “think different” and do things differently, even when asked to do a presentation. Given the chance, why not be remarkable?

Your story with narration, text, and images
Masterplan This video presentation was released last month and is generating a lot of buzz on the net. You can see the lower-rez version on YouTube below, or download the video in high resolution in various formats here on the Master Plan website. This may give you some ideas for combining your own (verbal) storytelling with text and images. Like any 2-3 minute presentation, the “whole story” can not be told here. This “Master Plan” presentation leaves you with more questions than answers, which I am guessing was the point. I can imagine a presenter showing this video first and then beginning a longer presentation and discussion that goes deeper.

The Secrets of Selling

Saturday, March 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

1. “Understanding Media” by Marshall McLuhan (MIT Press, 1964).

I have no idea who might be the smartest human ever, but the most brilliant marketing mind of all belonged to Marshall McLuhan. “Understanding Media” is a timeless analysis of how language, speech and technology shape human behavior in the era of mass communication. The book is a cautionary tale for marketers today who hear the Web’s siren call and ignore the power of the spoken word. Whether heard onstage, over the phone, or on radio or TV, McLuhan says, the spoken word is ultimately much more powerful than the written. Part anthropologist, part psychologist, part behavioral scientist, McLuhan ponders many other aspects of how we connect, such as the persuasive powers of typography. He was a genius who understood why mass media holds us in its grip and never lets go.

2. “Brand Sense” by Martin Lindstrom (Free Press, 2005).

Of all the books I have read on marketing, “Brand Sense” is the most dog-eared. Martin Lindstrom makes a strong case that engaging the five senses is crucial to selling a brand. Whether marketers are trying to persuade consumers to buy a particular car or soda or shirt, they had better be aware of the role that each sense plays in the selling process, Lindstrom says, or they are working with only half a deck. Lindstrom displays much original thinking here, particularly with his “authenticity test” for brands. Does the brand feel real? Does it smell right? Does it tell a story that stirs emotion? The final payoff in “Brand Sense” is Lindstrom’s checklist to help marketers build maximum brand loyalty in their customers.

3. “Reality in Advertising” by Rosser Reeves (Knopf, 1961).

Rosser Reeves is not as well-known as the advertising giants of his era, such as David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and Bill Bernbach, but he was every bit their peer. Reeves originated many of the concepts–including what he called the “unique selling proposition”–that make the difference between marketing success and failure. Reeves was immensely talented, and he expected to be paid commensurately, which led to an incident that has become something of a legend in the advertising world. When a client demanded that he justify his fees, Reeves asked him to take two quarters out of his pocket and hold one in each hand. Reeves then explained: “You pay me to tell the consumer why the quarter in your left hand is absolutely fantastic and the quarter in your right hand is not.” Reeves chose exactly the right title for “Reality in Advertising”–all the marketing theory in the world means nothing if it can’t be translated into specific techniques that make a product or service stand out among all the others in its category.

4. “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill (Simon & Schuster, 1999).

So you go to the mall, pop into a handful of stores and walk out with a few shopping bags–mission accomplished. Understanding how retailers can facilitate that experience is the particular talent of shopping-pattern researcher Paco Underhill. He and his trusty band of young sleuths have studied all age groups and looked at every angle of how we behave as shoppers. More than 70% of the purchases made on most shopping expeditions are unplanned, Underhill notes. He then explains shopper psychology and the techniques that retailers should use to maximize their chances of snagging our unintended expenditures. From describing how to create the most effective window displays to analyzing optimum shopping-basket placement, Underhill is unrivaled in his ability to dissect the countless variables that are essential to a store’s success.

5. “Branded Nation” by James B. Twitchell (Simon & Schuster, 2004).

James B. Twitchell begins “Branded Nation” by asserting that “the secret to great brands is that they are often nonsensical.” After all, what’s golden about McDonald’s? What’s real about Coke? Among the endless number of books churned out each year that try to explain brand success, this is the best overview of the rules of the road. It also provides an in-depth look at the often overlooked marketing strategies of churches, universities and museums. Twitchell is unusual among college professors in that he teaches both English and advertising, two disciplines that make perfect sense together.

Mr. Cone is a senior marketing executive at Citigroup and the author of “Steal These Ideas: Marketing Secrets That Will Make You a Star” (Bloomberg, 2005).

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