January 7, 2020

The best marketing lesson from The Princess Bride.

This ridiculous & clever, slapstick & intelligent, goofy & hilarious story is probably the last place you’d look for a brilliant marketing lesson.  And yet there’s a hidden gem in there too good to miss.

If you don’t know The Princess Bride (book published in 1973, movie debuted in 1987), it has thoroughly earned its fanatical cult following.  The movie has an absurdly all-star cast, and they do a magnificent job of bringing to life this (at its most basic) plot:  peasant boy tackles numerous obstacles on a quest to rescue princess from evil prince and achieve true love.

Here’s the scene all marketers should worship.  In this scene, Westley (blond dude and the story’s hero) is just brought back from the dead by a pill from a Miracle Man (duh), and he’s instantly tasked with figuring out how to storm the guarded castle.

Click the image to watch:

Westley and Inigo solve a problem

Here’s the line that matters:  Why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?

See, in problem solving, it’s human nature to reach for the tools we know best and the ones most commonly employed for that job.  It never occurred to Inigo to list “wheelbarrow” or “holocaust cloak” among the available assets because in his mind, he pictured the solution to the problem as a typical one:  three men storm the castle using their own personal strengths to fight their way inside.  His version of problem solving has this anchor:  we use the tools we know how to use, and hope for the best even if there’s only a 50/50 chance of success.

Westley’s version of problem solving is:  what’s a solution that will DEFINITELY work, and then how do I acquire the tools to make it happen?

Here’s why marketers often solve problems more like Inigo than Westley:

  • We’ve made assumptions that tools aren’t right for us, even if we actually know very little about them other than their existence.
  • We’re unaware of the existence of tools that could be useful to us because we’re not always on the hunt to learn about new things.
  • We’re in a hurry, so we choose the easy (known) path instead of taking time to apply strategic thought and creativity to pursue possibly-unfamiliar options.
  • We are wary of risk-taking…and in general, we prefer to do things we’re good at because it feels unsettling to act with uncertainty.

But as a marketer, it’s your responsibility to inject a bit of Westley-like thinking into your approach on a regular basis.

This doesn’t just mean embracing new tools (true, a TikTok strategy may not be the right fit for your brand, but how do you KNOW that unless you understand how it works and how other brands like yours are using it?)…it also means looking beyond the traditional approach and usual tools.  Launching a new restaurant and want to get the locals to become regulars?  Inigo toolbox:  local newspaper/online/radio ads, start an Instagram/Facebook/Twitter, send a press release.  Westley toolbox?  Go door-to-door at local businesses with baskets of free food and special offers.  Send personal invitations to individuals in the community for complimentary tastings.  Offer a different item on the menu free each night for the first month of opening.

Do those things cost money?  Yes.  Is that just a different way to spend your marketing budget?  Yes.  But in certain circumstances, initiatives like that might be a more effective way to reach your goals.  At the very least, they’re worth considering.

Traditional and familiar tools will always have their uses, so don’t throw them away entirely.  Just remind yourself to look beyond them constantly and learn more about what you don’t know.  Then you too can find true love in marketing and live happily ever after.

December 20, 2019

Marketing: it’s about time.

Recently, I saw a stat in Marketing Week that gave me – a marketing counselor – a headache:

More than half (54%) of digital commerce projects are deemed unsuccessful.

Further details on this stat turned the headache into a migraine:

The main reason for this is a lack of customer alignment (34%), poor logistics (29%) and insufficient investment (29%).  Some 51% of digital commerce leaders don’t believe their organization invests enough in commerce, while 28% say digital projects move too quickly and lack strategy.  (Source: Wunderman Thompson Commerce)

Know what all of that fancy-stat-reporting really means?  People are not spending enough time thinking about, researching, and planning their marketing efforts before taking action.

Oh wait… did you just gloss over that last sentence without stopping to really absorb what it means, and what you should do about it?  As if that was just another piece of blah-blah advice from a marketer?  “Spend more time thinking about your marketing before taking action.”  Duh.  Of course that’s good advice, you say.  So basic.  I knew that.  Give me something REALLY meaty to chew on, like something I didn’t know before.

Folks…there’s a difference between knowing and doing.  As a rule, we humans aren’t that accomplished at just sitting quietly and thinking for extended periods of time.  If we have a marketing plan to write, we want to sit down and “just bang it out”… hopefully in the 93.5 minutes we’ve allotted in our schedule for it. The moment we sit down to just think, we get antsy about wasting time…and so our fingers seek out the keyboard so we can feel productive.

But just look at those stat percentages above, detailing the reasons why digital programs were deemed unsuccessful.  ALL OF THEM could be solved by spending more time planning… even “insufficient investment,” because more time up front can help you 1) spend the same funding with wiser choices, 2) figure out how/where to get more funding, or 3) decide NOT to spend in that arena and invest the money elsewhere to get a better return.

Sitting down and thinking for an hour is not wasting time.  Taking a full day off email and away from work to mentally explore strategy options, while curled up in a comfy chair, with your favorite snacks, beverages, and – dare I suggest it? – pajamas… is not wasting time.  Blocking an entire half-day each week to seek solitude and reflect on marketing progress is not wasting time.

Carving out time to just be still and think is never going to be easy.  Never. The business world moves at a fast pace, and we have colleagues, supervisors, and clients/guests who actively and passively demand our attention.  But if we don’t find the fortitude to MAKE the time, we’ll all be doomed to live with some pretty sucky stats forever.

December 3, 2019

Seven terms they didn’t teach you in budgeting school.

budgeting meme from elfIt’s budget season, y’all.  This means many of you are armed – or are scrambling to get armed – with that pristine, oh-so-buttoned-up spreadsheet that will guide your marketing spend choices for 2020.  And while it may be pretty and precise enough for your mom to put on her refrigerator, there’s only one thing that should matter to you:  is it sound and will it work?

Here’s how you can ensure that it is and it does:  be aware of the silent – but often deadly – influences that shaped the foundation for your choices.  Here are seven vital budgeting terms that will help you evaluate your budget’s potential for success with a realistic eye:

The Plus Ones.  Marketing plans and budgets have history, and the longer the business has been operating, the more opportunity for a budget to be sabotaged by plus ones.  These are things invited to be on the budget by someone else – perhaps someone who was in your shoes years ago, or perhaps YOU years ago, when you had different priorities or goals.  They are not relevant to the current marketing party you’re planning, but it’s the path of least resistance to keep them…and maybe even bend your plan a bit to accommodate them, even if that’s not really the best move for your goals?  Tip:  identify your plus ones and if they aren’t a good fit, show ‘em the door.

Shiny New Toy Syndrome.  Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I watched a tactic, initiative, or direction get added to a plan/budget because someone in charge (of marketing or of the company) read an article or attended a workshop at a conference on a hot new “thing” emerging in marketing.  “THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER AND WILL SOLVE ALL OUR PROBLEMS!” Er, no.  It won’t.  Because Shiny New Toy Syndrome is cousin to Get Rich Quick Syndrome and Lose Weight Fast Syndrome, and we all know how THOSE work out.   There is a place for adding shiny new toys to your efforts, but unless you integrate them properly into your overall plan and – in many cases – adapt your entire culture to make them a success, they’ll just throw your money and time out the window.  Shiny new toys just don’t work when you dabble.

The Invisible Sledgehammer.  There’s no line item called “time” on your spreadsheet, but it’s an invisible force best not overlooked.  Lack of time to do things properly has destroyed the effectiveness of many immaculate budgets.  For each line item on your budget, do you have enough staff/time/bandwidth to perform research, decision-making, planning, setup, execution, follow-through, evaluation, and evolution?  Because if not, you should reduce the number of tactics you’re planning, and redirect those funds into the remaining ones.  You’ll see a greater ROI both short- and long-term with this choice.

Half-Pregnant.  A spreadsheet of tactics and costs is only half the picture, and yet I can’t tell you how often I ask new clients – sometimes multimillion-dollar businesses – for their marketing plan and get handed a spreadsheet, full stop.  Folks, this is “half-pregnant” … it ain’t gonna give you that ROI baby you so deeply desire.  You need marketing goals (aligned with your business goals), and a thoughtful strategy to achieve them, carefully selected for the purpose, and integrated to produce results.  A spreadsheet just details how you’re going to pay for it all.

Approval Purgatory This one’s not easy to combat because its origins vary dramatically by business (too many cooks, indecisive owner, cumbersome process, etc.), but there’s a good chance that several tactics within your plan/budget won’t move forward because no final decision will be made…and you probably know this in your heart from the get-go. Approval purgatory is the bane of a plan/budget’s existence because 1) you waste an absurd amount of time talking about things with no resolution, 2) stuff sits on your budget/plan falsely creating an expectation of results, and 3) these items weigh you down by injecting negativity into the mix AND distracting you from focusing on the good stuff.  Tip:  scratch items likely doomed to approval purgatory off your list.  When they’re ready for baking, I guarantee they’ll resurface on their own.

JOMO.  You’ve heard of FOMO?  How about you embrace JOMO, the Joy of Missing Out?  You can’t do it all… truly, you can’t.  Your budget probably isn’t unlimited.*  So if you try to cram too many things into your plan/budget, you’ll end up scattering all your resources for little ROI.  Tip:  deliberately choose to NOT do certain things, until you can devote the labor and financial bandwidth to do them properly.  You will not go out of business by doing fewer things well, and you will be pretty giddy at the success that comes from deeply harnessing the power of the tactics you choose to deploy. Choose wisely, for sure, but I hereby bless you to strike a bunch of stuff from your plan AND FEEL GREAT ABOUT IT.

Initiative Envy (healthy & unhealthy).  It’s healthy – and smart – to look at what your competitors and colleagues are doing in marketing, and to evaluate if such things could benefit your business as well.  It’s not that you identically copy their effort, but rather, you see how well an initiative is performing for them and you explore the use of that tool for your own purposes.  What’s UNHEALTHY – and yet happens sooooo often – is adding an initiative or tactic to your mix (summarily and without strategic thought) just because a competitor is doing it…and you don’t want them to have an edge on you.  If your competitor is getting tons of press (for example), that’s not your must-do cue to go out and hire a PR firm.  Your business culture and operation may not be currently well-suited to handle a PR effort, and therefore, without adaptation, you’ll be disappointed in the results.  So, be thoughtful:  get ideas from what others are doing, but don’t automatically assume those things will work well for you too.

Lastly… a bonus tip, pulled from our way-back blog archives, but still as true as ever today.  The scrumptious dumplings at Buddakan taught us that you can’t find love on a spreadsheet.  And love – the hospitable magic that endears us to guests – is essential in travel and hospitality marketing.  Make sure your plan/budget isn’t so tight that there’s no room to give love to guests.

* PS – if your budget IS unlimited, here’s my email: miranda@redpointspeaks.com. Have I got a marketing agency for you. 😉

June 8, 2017

Bathroom branding…it’s a thing.

When you’re walking (hurrying?) into a public bathroom, your mental focus is probably pretty singular:  get in, get relief, and get out…with minimal engagement to the actual bathroom itself.

Unless there is a clever sign on the door.

Then…you smile, and even if just for a brief second…you think about the brand that “owns” the bathrooms. Maybe you even take a picture of the sign and post it on social media.  You might even tag that brand, and give them a shout-out for being fabulous.  Or text it to a friend.

The point is…you notice, and a connection is formed between you and that brand.  If the bathroom doors are simply marked “Men” and “Women,” you don’t even spare them (or the brand) a brain cell.  But when they’re unexpected and distinct, you pay attention.  Case in point:

At the Timber Lounge in Halifax, Nova Scotia…a bar at which you can enjoy a spot of axe throwing:

Timber Lounge

At Weylin B. Seymour’s glamourous event space in Brooklyn, NY, the wheelchair accessible bathrooms inspire festive attitudes:

wheelchair

At an Irving highway rest area in New Brunswick, Canada…the LEAST likely place you’d be inspired to care about a brand:

At the Hotel on North in Pittsfield, MA, which boasts a sophisticated-yet-funky-retro vibe (psst… Redpoint designed these):

Hotel on North Bathroom

The point is, bathroom signs are an easy, inexpensive and non-intrusive way to make a connection with your guests.  You’ve got to put signs up anyway…why not let them help further your marketing goals?

And if you ever need to set up port-a-potties…take a page from the Rochester Lilac Festival and GO ALL IN:

Lilac Bathrooms

Lilac port-a-potties, people.  I rest my case.

August 26, 2014

Surprise! Creating guest surprises is harder than it looks…

Last Christmas, the Canadian airline WestJet surprised a plane full of arriving passengers at baggage claim by delivering fully wrapped gifts they had just specifically requested from “Santa” only hours before at their departure gate.  (If you haven’t seen that video, grab some tissues and watch it here.)

To date, the WestJet Christmas Miracle video has received nearly 40 million views on YouTube, making it the envy of hospitality marketers around the world.  Marketers – and their CEO bosses – watched longingly as the media attention spotlight on WestJet grew brighter and the video view count grew higher, and they all had the same thought:  I want a “WestJet video” for MY brand.

Alas, most of them are likely to retire with “I wish I had a WestJet video” still on their career bucket list, and here’s why:  surprises – especially of that magnitude – are bloody hard work.

Pulling off a surprise like that requires precision timing, which requires a recipe of planning, staffing, money, creativity, and problem solving.  You cannot fumble at the goal line.  You cannot plan a “partial surprise.”  You can’t get the timing “almost right.”  You get ONE SHOT.  So you have to make it count, or every bit of investment you put into it is a big ol’ waste.

This leaves no wiggle room for indecision, executive in-fighting, budget paralysis, miscommunication, or distraction from the focus.  And that’s a lot to ask of ANY brand, at ANY size.  That “little” five minute video required four months of singular planning attention, 150 WestJet employees, an extraordinary budget, and extensive marketing resources in two cities.  Such a level of orchestration deserves every bit of brand-envy it receives, because marketers worth their salt know it’s a rare phenomenon.

To determine if your brand has what it takes to successfully leverage the magic of surprise – at any level – ask yourself…

  • Do we embrace fun?
  • Do all our in-house departments work together harmoniously, and if not…can they?
  • Are we comfortable taking risks?
  • Are we willing to spend unanticipated money if needed to protect the surprise all the way to the finish line?
  • Do we complete our regular, non-surprise-oriented projects on time, and with precision?

If the answer to any of those questions was “no,” then you should think twice before investing a ton of resources into planning a one-shot-deal surprise for your guests.  You will save yourself a lot of misery (and money) by using other tools in your marketing toolbox instead.

Parting tip:  If you ARE planning to create a big surprise, keep this in mind…the bigger and cooler the surprise, the higher the bar is set for next time.  Case in point:  for my keynote address at the Vermont Travel Industry Conference in April, Redpoint surprised the audience of 250 people with beer, pretzels, costume accessories, and a New Orleans style jazz band (watch the trailer).  Two months later, the Vermont Ski Areas Association wanted a similar surprise for their annual conference…but what fun would it be to orchestrate the same surprise?  So Redpoint cajoled the kind folks at Ben & Jerry’s to create an exclusive ice cream flavor – Vermont Powder – just for that conference, and we delivered it to the audience in a surprise moment punctuated by a song we “wrote.” (Watch the Hot Sardines perform that song here.)

It was all great fun, and we had a blast doing it.  But now people start to salivate the moment they hear that I’m the keynote speaker, and (sorry, mom) it ain’t because they think I’m pretty.  Lesson learned:  human nature = “oooh, what’s next?”

Ah, well.  Redpoint is up to the challenge.  Save your pity for WestJet…they have to top way more than beer and ice cream.

July 3, 2012

The golden rule of using social media for business.

Beware of the new illness that’s catching among marketers…and their bosses.  It’s called  irrational fan base envy and when it infects you, poor marketing decisions are bound to follow.

You can catch this illness from even the briefest exposure to ANY social media channel, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  The infection is often triggered by media reports that sensationalize the wildly positive impact of social media as a marketing tool.  Symptoms, which mirror the frenzied fever associated with a gold rush or get-rich-quick-scheme, include:

  1. Obsessing over how many fans/followers your brand has vs. other brands in your competitive set
  2. Setting arbitrary-yet-super-high fan base targets based on absolutely nothing realistic
  3. Spending money to increase your fan base numbers without spending money to sustainably enhance the quality of your messaging content

Interestingly, social media novices are the most susceptible to irrational fan base envy and they also succumb the hardest.  The more immersed you become in marketing through social media, the greater your immunity becomes.  Why?  Because you discover that having a zillion fans does not impact your bottom line unless you engage them…and engaging them takes time and money, just like any other marketing initiative.  And it doesn’t matter if your competitor has triple the number of fans that you have…what matters is how YOU interact with YOURS.

The golden rule of using social media for business is this:  the success of your social media efforts are in direct proportion to the amount of love you put into them.  If you treat social media like a pesky item on your to-do list (“make post to Facebook today…check;  pin something to Pinterest board today…check”), you can’t expect social media to love you back.  It simply doesn’t work that way.

The only cure for irrational fan base envy is to change your thinking.  Stop focusing on QUANTITY and start focusing on BALANCE.  Engage your current fan base, so that a high percentage of them are liking, commenting, sharing, re-tweeting, re-pinning, and in many other ways becoming a messenger for your brand story.  If you achieve that, it means you’re on the right track to harnessing your fans.

Then…as you add more fans to your community…they have the potential to become more than just empty numbers that look good on a stat sheet.  They can become your brand evangelists, returning the love to your bottom line exponentially.

Just remember…as you start to change your thinking and infuse a little more love into your social media efforts…be mindful of the other golden rule, shared by Redpoint in a previous post:  You Can’t Find Love on a Spreadsheet.  Who knew you could learn so much from ordering dumplings at Buddakan?

June 29, 2011

You can’t find love on a spreadsheet.

Who doesn’t love free dumplings?

While dining at Buddakan recently, I ordered the Cantonese spring rolls appetizer and mischievously asked the waiter if I could possibly try one Szechuan pork dumpling…just because I couldn’t decide between the two dishes.  He winked conspiratorially at me (which I took as a hopeful yes) and went off to the kitchen.

When the food runner came to the table with my spring rolls and my companion’s tuna tartare, I was a bit disappointed.  Did I misconstrue the wink?

But then…the waiter himself appeared at my side, bearing – not one – but an entire plate full of pork dumplings.  As he set them in the center of the table, he said:  “Enjoy these with my compliments.  I know you will want more than one when you taste them.”  (side note:  he was right) 

Now…if you own a restaurant, hotel, or even retail shop, did that story make you cringe?  Were you thinking, “Damn.  If my staff gave away free stuff to every customer who asked for it, I’d go out of business tomorrow.”

But would you?  Let’s do the math.

Buddakan lost out on the $10 or $12 it would have earned from me for the dumplings.  But, on the flip side:

  • I ordered an extra glass of champagne, which I wouldn’t have, sans dumplings ($18)
  • The following week, I told a friend that story and she went there two weeks later with 6 friends ($200 at the bar…$500 at the table)
  • A month later, I took an out-of-town guest to Buddakan because I had told her the story and she wanted to try it ($175)

So that $10 or $12 expense turned out to be an investment that earned the restaurant nearly $1,000…and that’s just the ROI I know about.  Who knows how many people this positive incident actually drew into Buddakan?  When you pay it forward like that, it’s impossible to trace the exponential positive effect on your bottom line.

And there lies the problem the hospitality industry has faced for the past few years.  

The recession has forced us all to become obsessed with spreadsheets, numbers, and tangible-only spending.  If the ROI can’t be traced, tracked, maximized, or guaranteed, we’re not spending that precious dollar.  We’ve had to cut staff, cut hours, cut amenities, cut benefits…all for the sake of making those spreadsheets jive and surviving a brutal phase in the hospitality industry’s life cycle.  And guess what inadvertantly disappeared with all those cuts?  Much of the love, fun, warmth, and graciousness that puts the “hospitable” in hospitality.  We can’t translate them into tangible revenue streams on our spreadsheets and so…they simply don’t get factored into our decisions.

Well, friends…it’s time to bring them back.  People are tired of hearing “no,” and businesses that de-commoditize their experience with fresh infusions of positivity will attract guests with enviable magnetism.  And in this age of social media…when word of mouth is more powerful than ever…creating a pool of evangelists is never a bad thing.

Be inspired by the dumpling incident.  Regain your faith in the power of goodwill and invest in finding ways to make your customers feel loved.  And if your CFO balks at any modest investments you may make, just add a new line item to your revenue spreadsheet:

The Dumpling Effect:  Priceless.

May 5, 2011

Your mom was right…mind your OWN business.

Remember when you were a little kid and your litany of excuses to get what you wanted included things like…”but Jenny has one” or “but John’s mom lets him do it” or – classic – “every single kid in school owns one but me”…?  Your mom’s response was likely some variation of:  Don’t worry so much about what Jenny is doing…worry about what YOU’RE doing.  Sage advice, mom, and after you repeated it a zillion times during our childhood, most of us embraced at least some part of this philosophy.

But apparently, not the folks who handle the advertising for Tasti D-Lite

Pinkberry should send Tasti D-Lite a thank-you note for this ad.

I’ve walked past this ad on Varick Street at least a dozen times now, and damn if I didn’t think it was an ad for Pinkberry, the yummy frozen yogurt company.  But while waiting to cross the street this morning, I actually read it, and was startled to realize it’s really an ad for Tasti D-Lite, one of Pinkberry’s competitors.

Click on the image to enlarge it and you’ll see what I mean.  Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that this ad is obscured by the pole from a street sign.  What’s more damaging is that the very first, and biggest, word in the ad is “Pinkberry.”   And the logo for Tasti D-Lite is a teeny-tiny thing on the lower right hand corner (right behind the pole, actually…brilliant).

Tasti D-Lite is trying to show why they’re better than Pinkberry, but they forgot that we humans are a bit lazy and hard to engage.  So, when glancing at this ad – even every day for 30 days –  what will stick in our minds will be the picture of the frozen treat and the word “Pinkberry.”  (And why they also decided to make the ad’s background pink will remain a mystery to me forever.)

The lesson here is simple.  Don’t spend your money advertising your competitor’s brand.  Even including a small mention of them helps raise their brand awareness…and in fact, you could actually be introducing them to consumers who had previously never heard of them.

So the next time you’re tempted to call out one of your competitors in your marketing efforts, just pick up the phone and call your mom for the “don’t worry about what THEY’RE doing…worry about what YOU’RE doing” lecture.  Even when it comes to advertising…on this point, Mother Really Does Know Best.

And to all the moms out there…especially our own… the gang here at Redpoint wishes you a very happy mother’s day and a grateful THANKS for all you’ve taught us over the years!

April 27, 2011

PR 101: “Spin” is free…6,000 red capes are not.

And did we mention the graphic design fees?

I would love to have been in the room (with a gong) when Workforce Central Florida decided that creating the cartoon character “Dr. Evil Unemployment” — and spending $14,000 on red satin superhero capes to hand out to the unemployed — was a fabulous idea.  True, hindsight is always 20/20, but how on earth could they have not forseen the misery this PR stunt was going to unleash upon them?

Unemployment is a serious issue that does not lend itself well to frivolity.   Sure, some people who collect unemployment are just lazy slackers abusing the system.  But for those people truly desperate to get a job…you’re looking at folks who are stressed out, struggling to feed their families, plagued by feeling unworthy, and seeking avenues to earn back their self respect.  Are these people likely to don a red cape in the hopes of “vanquishing” Dr. Evil Unemployment and take a picture thusly attired for the website photo gallery?  I think not.

Other elements of this $75,000 program include a Facebook contest and quiz (no joke:  “What Superhero Are You?”), photo opps for the unemployed with life size foam cutouts of Dr. Evil himself, billboards, and more.  Is it any wonder the campaign faced such criticism that they had to cancel it after the first week?  (For more details, here’s the original Orlando Sentinel story from April 15, and the Orlando Sentinel blog post from April 20th announcing the cancellation.)

The PR lesson to be learned here?  Do not use goofy, comical PR stunts to draw attention to grave issues…even when you’re the good guy who’s trying to solve them.  Now…if you’re a hotel company trying to showcase your fun side, and want to offer programs like, say…dogs cutting a record at a famous music studio in Nashville or learning to surf in San Diego…well, THAT’S ok.  Even the Today Show would approve of that (click here to see the clip…and yes, Redpoint masterminded this crazy – but successful – program).

But this doesn’t mean that serious issues like unemployment are off limits to PR people.   They just need to be treated with respect.  Take McDonald’s, for instance.  They made headlines in early April by announcing their intention to hire 50,000 people in the U.S. on April 19th.  Sounds amazing right?  Well, guess what?  They hire that many people every April anyway.  But some enterprising PR person in the McD’s food chain looked at that statistic and said, “Hey!  If we link this annual hiring spree to a specific day in April, we could probably get some positive press out of doing our part to reduce the unemployment rate!”  And voila:  they did.

Brilliant.  No cost, confessing to a little spin in their campaign (preventing the media from “exposing” it), and repackaging something they’re already doing to make it sound fresh and unique.  I love it.  Way to go, Mickey D’s.  You’ve done my profession proud.

Want a laugh?  Check out more examples of crazy but successful PR campaigns – including the Instant Gourmet Kitchen, the launch of the Department of Romance, and Playing Dirty During Mud Season – at redpointspeaks.com/results/case-studies/.

November 19, 2010

What potato chips taught me about marketing.

My Great Aunt Pauline taught me a saying as a child that has served me well as a marketing counselor.

Enough is as good as a feast.

It simply means that as long as you have “enough” of whatever it is…you don’t need more than that. 

Now, while I believe she imparted these words of wisdom in response to my plea for the ENTIRE bag of potato chips instead of the – to my mind – miniscule bowl she was offering…it’s handy as a guideline when designing marketing programs.

There comes a point when fleshing out an idea or concept that there are “enough” elements to make it successful…and anything added after that just becomes:

  1. More logistics to manage without adding to the ROI
  2. A distraction of resources from the core focus and objectives
  3. An added cost burden
  4. Too confusing for your audience to effectively “get it”

So, whenever you are tempted to just add that one more thing to whatever program or concept you are developing…think of my Aunt Pauline and ask yourself “yes, this idea might be COOL…but will it be helpful or harmful to the overall objectives?”  Use that checklist above to evaluate each new idea, and if it puts the desired results at risk, either table it, swap it out to replace a less effective element, or toss it.

As to the potato chip debate, however, I still stand by my original retort:  You just can NEVER have enough…so bring on the feast!