Posts Tagged Michael Crooks

Promoting Something To Death

The question ignited a discussion that absolutely exploded with insight. “What promotional products would be good to carry an anti-gang message for middle and high school kids?“, asked a member of the online discussion group.

Are you kidding me? ……… NONE!

I believe I put it best when I wrote, ” … might as well hand out bulls-eyes imprinted with “Gangs Suck” for children to wear on their back.” Seriously, putting an anti-gang message on something for children to carry around or wear – is a bad, bad idea. The good news is, the discussion brought to light a couple of insights we as marketers should keep in mind in order to keep the government, advocacy and activist groups out of our business.

1) When we take advantage of marketing opportunities, we must also recognize our tremendous responsibility. While we may have responsibility to shareholders, bottom line and market share, we must also remember that we have a responsibility to our industry and to the publics that are affected by our marketing efforts.

2 )Place emphasis on message not product. In the example above, the question, “What product do we put an anti-gang message on?” is product focused. However, had the question been, “What do we want to accomplish?” the focus could have been placed on promoting good as opposed to gang-bashing.

In an effort to not paint bulls eyes on the backs of non-gang children, many of us agreed that before worrying about which products would be appropriate, that it would be best to first change the focus of the thinking. Instead of thinking anti-gang we felt that the focus should be more along the lines of pro education, pro safety, pro future, pro self esteem or something else that doesn’t threaten the gangs.

One line of thinking is be, “Want to keep kids from joining gangs? Give them something else to join.” Now you’ve got the seed of an idea that could make for a campaign that could involve parents, band and athletic boosters, the school, school clubs, businesses, scouting, 4-H, social and civic organizations … the entire community.

For marketers, the question is, “Want to keep consumers from buying from your competitors? Give them a reason to buy from you.” Give them something to belong to.

Finally, as a public service, I want to re-emphasize the responsibility we shoulder as marketers. To that end I share with you a thought I cannot shake since I first read, “What promotional products would be good to carry an anti-gang message for middle and high school kids?

That neat, fun, do-dad with the wrong message on it … could get someone killed.

Have a nice day:)

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The Distance Between Good and Great

Without regard for budget, the distance between good and great is largely the distance between your brain and your fingers. Often, marketers develop a good idea and execute it perfectly. They congratulate themselves and move on, perhaps never realizing that with just a bit more thought they could have hit a giant home run. A perfect example of what I mean stems from a recent 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruise.

Once aboard the ship, we could buy a soft drink card that yielded unlimited soft drinks while on board.

We also received a 16oz tumbler emblazoned with the Coke(r) logo and a small Princess(r) Cruise logo. Coke had its name in front of 3000 travelers for 10 days playing an integral role in life aboard the ship. Good promotion, no question.

Now that I’m back home, however, there sits these four tumblers on my counter. I see the Coke and the Princess logo …. so what? I am motivated to do exactly …. nothing.

For starters, it would have cost no more to imprint a website on the tumbler and perhaps a message that said, “Visit (website) to continue your cruise experience.” Since the tumblers were shrink-wrapped, it wouldn’t have cost much more to add an interactive component to the mix. Perhaps an ultra-removeable sticker affixed, inserted inside or shrink-wrapped onto the tumbler. The sticker would say, “Affix this sticker to the inside of your suitcase to remind you to visit (website) at home when you unpack.” When people got home and unpacked, that sticker would remind them to visit the website.

Another thought would be to encourage people to take photos of themselves in ports of call holding their tumblers – and email them in. Once they send their photo in, they would have reason to check back on the website to see if their photo was up. And you know as soon as they see it, they would tell all their friends and family to go to the website and see it.

With a little more thought, Coke and Princess could have leveraged something that I had to purchase in the first place … to their benefit! No kidding. Think about that. I paid money for the tumbler and drink card, giving them the opportunity to market to me during the cruise and interactively after the cruise. Now that’s brilliant! But they didn’t take it far enough.

Instead, I have a tumbler that (yawn) passively reminds me of my vacation.

If you are in the midst of developing a promotional campaign, perhaps now you have a bit more to think about. Ask yourself, “Is simply having our logo on an item good enough?” “Can we do more? Can we go further?” “How much more will a call to action really cost us?” Seriously, a great idea can be no more than another thought away.

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How To Make Employees More Productive

Most companies are extremely aware of their external markets such as clients, customers, distributor networks and even vendors. But many fail to realize that employees make up an internal market. There are plenty of organizations that bend over backwards to get feedback and input from customers and clients. Far fewer work as hard to get feedback and input from employees. I sincerely believe that any organization that doesn’t view its employees as an internal market is shortsighted. And if you think the majority of your employees are happy campers – I’ve got news for you.

In a report released January 5, 2010 by The Conference Board based on a survey of 5000 U.S. households, only 45 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied with their jobs. 55 percent are not satisfied with their jobs! According to Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board, “The downward trend in job satisfaction could spell trouble for the overall engagement of U.S. employees and ultimately employee productivity.”

What the report doesn’t tell us is WHY 55 percent of employees are dissatisfied. And while specific reasons for dissatisfaction vary by company, job and employee, I believe it can pretty much be summed up as a disconnect between those in the ivory tower and those in the trenches.

One of the best books I ever read on management and problem-solving is an 80 page book called, “I Know It When I See It” by John Guaspari. In the book, the Boss demoralized his employees by telling them that the key to increasing the quality of their product is to, “Try Harder! Do Better!” It had the same effect as unfunded government mandates – no one was given the information, tools or ability to accomplish the edict. What followed was employee frustration, job dissatisfaction and further loss of market share.

If your company is large enough, consider an undercover operation to include the top echelon. In disguise either shop your company or get a job with your company. See first-hand what affect your policies and directives are having on those who must deliver your product or service. In smaller companies, I encourage bosses and managers to get out of the back room. Run the cash register. Load some trucks. Ride and work the route. Stock some shelves.

The easiest dollar made is from a happy, repeat customer. But that’s a lot harder to achieve when employees’ are hampered by decisions based solely on numbers made by people sitting behind desks who are out of touch with reality.

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