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The Morning After

(Part 1 in a 4-part Series)

I didn’t necessarily mean for it to happen this way. I always try and mix up my blog posts a bit so they don’t bore the reader. But lately I have been noticing quite a few examples of the same subject matter, so I have decided to put together a 4-part series on the subject. And instead of boring you, I’m hoping it will excite you!

I’m speaking of sexual innuendo in marketing.

Lately, there seems to be a lot of sexual references in both marketing itself as well as in new product development. Whereas in the past, sex was just hinted at, today’s companies seem to want to hit you over the head with it, and aren’t afraid to put it right on out there for everyone to see. At the same time, consumers aren’t afraid to purchase these products after the marketing penetrates their psyche.

Today’s product is a prime example of a company selling sex, and targeting their message to theMillennials and NetGens.

N1533913875_30174313_5979 I'm talking about The Walk of Shame Kit (I can’t make this stuff up; I’m not that clever). Due to the fact that while I was in college, I was never quite so lucky to have this problem, I’ll allow the company to explain their own product:

What is the walk of shame you ask? 
It is the act of going home the next morning and being embarrassed in your clothes from the night before. There is no longer a need to be embarrassed by doing the "walk of shame", all of your problems are solved with the Walk of Shame™ Kit. It's everything you'll need to walk home with your head held high.

And for you guys, aren’t you tired of her taking your favorite tee-shirt the morning after to walk home in. Your problem is now solved, keep a Walk of Shame™ Kit in your house and you don’t have to worry about calling her to get your favorite tee back again.

Among other things, the kit contains a dress, a pair of sunglasses, a pre-pasted toothbrush, over-all body wipes, and a “Leave-behind” note that says either “Call” or “Don’t Call”. In addition to their website, the company has a Facebook page that has over 765 fans, most of whom think this is a GREAT product! As if all that is not enough, I believe that they are going to be featured on the Today Show this morning.

I’m telling you, I obviously grew up at the wrong time, and in the wrong generation. There is no way that I would have ever needed to have a supply of these kits in my apartment when I was single. Seriously! My idea of a hot Saturday night was playing with Ms. Pac-Man for three hours. (ohhhh….the way she ate those blinking dots! Such late-night memories).

"Walk of Shame"…never in my vocabulary. But "Walk of Video Game", now those were some wild times.

Does sex sell? Let me know what you think of this product idea. 

(Thanks to Chasidy for submitting this product idea. Follow her on Twitter @chasidyatchison.)

Dialogs are not One Person Yelling at Another!

This is only for the people who are looking at ways to incorporate Social Media into their integrated marketing plans. I’ll anger the rest of you with a subsequent post.

If you read any business publications, you can’t help but come across a plethora of consultants who have written articles that talk about “building communities” online. These same experts also talk about “engaging” with your customers and prospects, and they point to all of the tools that exist to execute this engagement.

There are daily references as to how Facebook can be used to build a fan-base, and how Twitter can be used to stay in touch with your customer. And as the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of marketing people who have become recently unemployed and now have decided to call themselves Social Media Consultants will tell you, there are ways to build your online community, or your Twitter followers FAST!!! And they have the formula to show you how.

Here is my professional response. Enough already!!!! (It was stronger but the censors stepped in.)

The technology, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc., is just that, it is technology. It is a tool, no different than a machine or an instrument, like a telephone. It isn’t going to build your relationships with your customers.

You have to do that.

Images-3 Twitter has 9 million users, and it seems as if 8.5 million of them don’t get it. You can’t talk at your prospects and customers; you want to have a dialog with these people. When people post on Twitter with an opportunity to get “A Special Offer on Our Product” or a “Free Sample”, how is that any different than a telemarketer calling you on the phone, interrupting your dinner, and asking you if you want to purchase a cemetery plot? It isn’t, so I suggest you stop it!

Twitter and Facebook are great tools allowing you to start a dialogue with your customer. And to do that, and this is going to be really difficult, you have to be interesting. INTERESTING!!! No one cares all that much as to what you do, ("I changed my socks today…first time in 3 weeks") but they do care about what you think, but only if your thoughts are interesting. So try it. Try and only tweet when you have something really interesting to say, or something really interesting to share. Trust me, people will start to engage with you simply because they want to.

And to those people who have linked their Twitter accounts to their Facebook status updates, and then have decided not to build in any filters so you are now clogging up the News Feed of Facebook. How narcissistic can you possibly be? How can you think that your “friends” on Facebook want to see your photo 30 times in a day along with your incessant tweets? Have you not figured out why this might be a mistake from a marketing point of view?

My rage against annoyances in Social Media is just beginning. Please stand by….

Or better yet, if you agree, please join my community [sic].

Schick Quattro Not Trimming Marketing Budget

When we look at major brands that are willing to take risks, we have to admire them even if the risks they take don't necessarily pay off. Or for that matter, if the risk they choose to take simply goes too far, you can't fault them for trying.

For those people who have been a long-time reader of this blog, you will recall that in the past, I have written about personal care products that are for the "really personal" parts of the body. One of the products that struck my fancy in the past was the Philips Body Groomer for men. They market the product as a way to "achieve that extra optical inch." It is a product that allows you to shave "even when you run out of face."

Images-2 Not to be outdone, there is a television advertisement that has been developed for the Schick Quattro TrimStyle for Women razor, with bikini trimmer. The first time I watched the ad, I missed some of the 'changing' nuances. But I did get it the second time around. (I'm a bit slow)

Hey, no matter what you think of the ad, or the product itself, you have to give Schick credit for pushing the envelope. We love marketers who are willing to have fun, and take some chances. It gets people talking about the brand.

Think about that the next time you are planning any campaign regarding your product or company. Ask yourself if you are taking enough risks to stand out amongst the clutter.

Enjoy the video!

I Give 7:9 Odds That This Won't Make It

I wasn't going to write about this because, a) I didn't have anything overly clever to say, and b) I didn't want to give this subject any more credibility than it deserved.

But I guess it is too bizarre for me to pass it up. 

Aecbd148c8ea7320_lindsaylohantanner 1. Why is Lindsay Lohan coming out with a self-tanning spray? Don't we have enough?

2. How can she think that this is a good career move? Will it make us think she is a better actress?

3. Why is Sephora agreeing to carry this on an exclusive basis? Do they think it will drive traffic?

4. Have I missed something? Do people still respect Lindsay Lohan?

5. Why do celebrities think that because they are well-known, people will buy their products simply because their name is on them?

6. Doesn't she think that people will make jokes about the product, along the lines of "when you are stuck in a windowless cell, but still want to keep that summer tan" product?

7. She has named it Sevin-Nyne because 7 and 9 are her favorite numbers. HOW CLEVER!!!

8. Instead of a self-tanning line, wouldn't she have more expertise selling self-destruction spray in a can? (see what I mean, not overly clever)

I think the 7-9 stands for how long the product might remain on the market. Between seven and nine months. If she's lucky.

Happy Freaky Friday!

Grease is the Word!

If I were a hamburger chain, and I was not #1 or #2 (are you listening Wendy's, Hardees, etc.), I would embrace this guy, sponsor him, and have fun with it.

Because the fact is, truth in advertising is better than ignoring the truth. And I bet a fast food chain could get some great mileage out of this. If they were willing to take the risk.

Just my opinion. Enjoy!

The End of Inky Fingers

In various tweets, and in conversations with people face to face (I still do this), I have asked people how they feel about newspapers going out of business in rapid succession. The Rocky Images Mountain News-gone!, the Seattle Post Intelligencer-gone!, the Chicago Sun Times probably won’t make it, etc.. While I think it is sad, I have to say that there are a lot of people who just don’t care. They don’t feel that newspapers have any role in their life, and in fact have been a non-issue for some time.

Before I comment on this, I need to share my personal history and love with newspapers.

  • When I was in 3rd grade, I started my first newspaper (W News W), which I wrote, my mother typed, and I sold it for a nickel to other kids in the neighborhood.
  • In 4th grade, I started delivering the Southeast Economist, a twice-weekly “real” newspaper.
  • When I was 15, I had my first byline in a newspaper, and was paid for my work. I had a feature photo and article in the Skokie Life, a Lerner newspaper.
  • At ages 16 – 20, my photos and bylines would end up in both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.
  • At age 21, I became Editor and General Manager of the Campus Daily News, a daily newspaper start-up on the University of Illinois campus. At our peak, we had a circulation of about 10,000.  We were written about in the Chicago Daily News, Chicago Today, and Time magazine.

I thought I would end up as a photojournalist and maybe win the Pulitzer. Didn’t happen.

But today, I read the majority of my news online, whether it is on my computer or on my iPhone. I still am a news junkie, but I have stopped my subscription to the Chicago Tribune, I most likely will drop the print edition of the Wall St. Journal, and while the Sunday NY Times still gets delivered to our door, it too is on the bubble. While I’m still a news junkie, and read more than ever, the print editions seem less and less meaningful to me.

It’s sad. What is even more sad is that the newspaper publishers, who knew this was coming, did not figure out fast enough how to adjust their business model. How does someone like Perez Hilton figure out how to make money delivering Hollywood gossip online, and the Chicago Tribune can’t? How does TMZ generate the traffic that they do, or the Huffington Post, or the Onion, and traditional news companies bemoan the Internet?

Someone screwed up badly, and as much as I love newspapers, it is hard to feel sorry for these companies who had their head in the sand for so long.

Which leads me to ask these next questions.

How about your business? How are things changing in your industry? Is your company adapting to these changes, or is there more “head –in-the sand” decision making.  What about your personal life? Are you adapting as well? Change is inevitable, and the sooner you are willing to accept the speed in which change is happening, both to your business and personal lives, the sooner you and your company will thrive.

For me, I’ll do my part to keep supporting newspapers as long as it makes sense. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will make sense for too much longer.


Duck & Cover

I was thinking about our current tax dollars, and how the government is spending our hard-earned contributions on bail-outs, stimulus packages, etc. You always want to believe that the government knows best, right? You want to believe that they have everything under control, and they know what is best for the well-being of all Americans.

Which got me thinking....

Images When I was in grade school, we constantly trained for a nuclear attack. I'm serious! In school, along with our recess and lunch period, we had nuclear attack drills. All of the time!

And people wonder today why I am so emotionally scarred...

This is a film that I recall from grade school. It was paid for with taxpayer money, when the government felt they knew what was best for us. My favorite part is when they compare a nuclear attack to a bad sunburn. Government marketing dollars at their best.

Life was so much simpler then. Enjoy!

A Marketing Refresher

I normally assume that people in business understand the basics of marketing. Then things happen that remind me that I am wrong. There are some people who simply don't get it.

Over the weekend I had one of those occurrences.

Images-1 On Saturday, I received a message via Linked-In that was a LONG, drawn-out offer for some money-making, earn $7000 in your first month, type offer. It went on and on about a proven system, we are in on the early stages, yada, yada, yada. You know what I'm talking about. No big deal, I deleted it.

Then a few hours later, I receive another message via Linked-In from the same individual, apologizing if he offended anyone with his previous email. He proceeded to say in this message that he had received a number of emails back, blasting him for spamming people's in-box, and as he said in his apology, he did not feel it was spam because a) the people to whom he sent the offer were connected to him via Linked-In, and b) his message "was a good message and had value."

So I wrote him back, explaining that being connected does not give him the right to send emails to people unsolicited unless he has their permission (fundamentals of Permission Marketing), and also the fact that just because he thinks the message was of value, does not make it valuable. Who cares what he thinks. (Okay, it was a slow Saturday and no one else seemed interested in listening to me).

He went nuts on me in a subsequent email telling me that I know NOTHING about marketing, I will fail in all of my businesses, and I'm probably a communist. (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Images Therefore, as a service to my new-found friend, and at the sake of being too basic, here are Joel's 10 suggestions as to how to be a better networker / marketer.

1. If you send a mass email to people, and you do not have their permission, it is Spam. No matter what value you think the email has. Try to do this as few times as possible, if you have to do it at all.

2. When you meet someone for the first time, talk less about yourself and your company. The more questions you ask about the person or company with whom you meet, the more interesting you will seem to them.

3. Never sell on the first meeting, unless you're asked. Always suggest a follow-up meeting, call, visit, etc. People don't want to be sold to, they want to buy. But people don't tend to buy without being sold to. (Think about it)

4. Stop selling on Twitter! Stop selling on Twitter! Stop selling on Twitter! (Do I need to say it again?)

5. If you provide people with something of value, they will seek you out again and again. Always think about what you can do to help others. It will come back to you in multiple ways.

6. Be interesting. About things other than your business. It will make you more memorable, and will cause people to want to work with you.

7. Be sincere. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you are behind schedule, confess to it. And if you don't know something, admit it, but tell them you'll do the research. People prefer sincerity.

8. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever stop learning. Learning is hard, it takes time, and discipline, and sacrifice. But you'll like yourself better as you get smarter. And you'll be more valuable...to everybody.

9. Be confident without being arrogant. Its a fine line, but one that most people notice once you have crossed. (I have a great group of people who remind me regularly).

10. LOVE what you do. If you love what you, if you have passion about your business, your service, your product, it will show through. People want to do business with other people who have passion. It is hard to fake love!

Okay, my lessons for today. Hope they help.

What You Talking About, Willis?

What happens when you change the brand name of your product? Will people still identify with it?

This does happen every now and then. Some people might recall that Nissan cars use to be known as Datsun automobiles. When I was in high school, you could not have been any cooler if you drove a Datsun 240Z.

256px-Sears_Tower_ss FedEx used to be knows as Federal Express, until consumers forced the brand name change when they refused to use the longer name.

CVS used to be known as Consumer Value Stores, but the named was shortened to the more market-friendly CVS.

The above brands are great examples of instances when changing a brand name has worked, and the consumers continue to identify with the product under the new brand.

Which brings us to yesterday's news.

It was announced yesterday that the Sears Tower in Chicago, North America's tallest building, an icon in Chicago since it was built in 1973, will be changing its name to the Willis Tower later this year. A London based insurance company has purchased the naming rights that Sears lost in 2003 when it vacated its space, and Willis Group Holdings has decided to rename the tower Willis Tower.

This just doesn't seem right, does it?

Images-1 When I hear Willis Tower, all I can think about is a scene from Different Strokes, where Arnold uses the catch phrase "Whatchoo talking about, Willis?". While it is true that Gary Coleman (Arnold) is originally from the Chicago area, should we really name our iconic tower after his catch phrase from 30 years ago?

And maybe it isn't that. Maybe it is a PR stunt for actor Bruce Willis. First they name the tower after him. Then they announce the newest Die Hard film, Die Hard 7:Demi-God. In the film, 

Images Ashton Kutcher plays an evil-doer who takes over Willis Tower, and Bruce Willis has had enough. First his wife, now his tower; it is a fight to gain control and be named the true Demi-God. Kind of a reality based feature film, with a fight to the finish. 

But the Willis Tower as a Chicago tourist point. It just seems wrong!

Would You Like a Spot of Tea?

I love it when a company does something right, and its marketing is right on target. I further love it when the CEO of the same company gets it. It gives me hope that companies will thrive and prosper.

So let's talk tea.

CIMG5553 I grew up with tea in my house at all times. My mother, who is now a spry 81 (that is NOT her in the photo), has NEVER had a cup of coffee in her life! She has never tasted coffee, never had a desire for coffee, and even though she would make a pot for my Dad, she always enjoyed multiple cups of tea throughout the day. And still does.

I'm not a big tea drinker, but I do have an occasional cup now and then. And I have to say, when I do want a cup of tea, I tend to lean towards Celestial Seasonings, not because of any particular reason, other than I always thought they had great marketing and clever tea names, and to me, tea is tea.

Until now....

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a YouTube video that showed the President of Bigelow Tea, a third generation Bigelow, walking around the streets of New York, asking people if they drink tea, and if yes, what brand do they drink. It was a great use of inexpensive video, and a great example of how to engage with the customer, and turn it into a marketing piece. What was even more special, was the fact that the company did not edit out the New Yorkers who did not drink Bigelow, or if they had never heard of the brand. It was natural, real, and it gave renewed personality to a tea company, and made its president into a mini-celebrity. (The video is posted below).

CIMG5555_2 Fast forward to last week when Chasidy and I were attending the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim. As we were walking the aisles, there in front of me was Cindi Bigelow, the President of the company, and the star of the video. I just had to get my picture with her, because in my mind, she is better than any movie star in Hollywood; she is a company president, who gets marketing, who is passionate about her brand, and one who will tell her story to anyone who will listen.

But okay, that still didn't mean I was going to write about her. Until this morning.

IMG_0519 I had a breakfast meeting with a client, and because I have a bit of a cold, instead of coffee I ordered tea. And the waitress brought me Bigelow. ALRIGHT ALREADY!!! I get it. The tea gods are suggesting that I blog about Bigelow, so here it is.

First the video, then the trade show sighting, and then the restaurant server. All in 2 weeks! Man, this Bigelow tea lady is really good at her job! We can all learn from her passion. And how she made sure that I would get a cold so I would order tea, I still haven't figured it out.

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