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Beware the Face of the Brand

August 31, 2010. Posted by johnf

A business partner and myself were talking about smart phones yesterday. Our Blackberry’s have seen better days and they’re beginning to drop calls, lose emails and the quality of the phone calls has also been declining.

“I want to buy a better smart phone,” he said, “and I considered an iPhone.” And then he stopped and looked at me sheepishly.

“But what?” I asked.

“But I just don’t want to give my money to Steve Jobs ,” he finished. “I know it’s crazy, he doesn’t need my cash, but there’s something about that guy I don’t like.”

We talked more and my friend said that Apple’s founder presented himself as “too smart for the rest of us” and “more cocky than confident.” Sure, the iPhone has great business applications, and would help him view websites, update social media and do everything else you wanted – I heard that the phone can also cook dinner.

But it kept coming back to Steve Jobs.

“That’s why I’m buying a Droid,” he said. “Just like an iPhone, but that guy doesn’t get my money.”

“But the corporate overlords at Google and Verizon do,” I said.

“Yeah, but I don’t know who they are, so I don’t care as much.”

There it is. The Apple brand and Steve Jobs personality are so closely aligned (and why shouldn’t they be?) that my friend decided to give someone else the business. Someone he admitted to not even knowing.

Brand recognition and power are two of the Holy Grails of any business or individual. Money, time and loads of effort are brought forth to create a brand, nurture it, and grow it to where people immediately recognize it, and equate it with a service or product. When a personality, or person, becomes associated with a brand great events can occur.

But in the case of my friend, Apple and Steve Jobs it was the direct opposite.

500 Reasons to Smile

August 26, 2010. Posted by johnf

Frizzera Ink loves music of every kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s polka, punk or opera – we’ll give it a listen.

Lately, we’ve been bored with what’s our our iTouch, so we took a look at Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time.

Just when you think you know it all, you find out you don’t know anything. Paging through this article, we found albums and artists that we didn’t know existed.

Our current favorite is Wild Gift by X – if we had a time machine it would be set to settle down in Los Angeles, two minutes before John Doe, Exene and the rest of the band got up on stage.

Sure, we might have racked up a hefty bill over at iTunes, but that’s a small price to pay for having a new world at your ears.

How To Market Via Email

August 25, 2010. Posted by johnf

Email has made it easy to send out your marketing message to a database of possible clients. The only problem is that everyone markets via email, you’re masterpiece of marketing can become another annoyance if it’s not done properly.

Here are a few tips that can help your email marketing campaign find success.

Audience – ask yourself, “Who needs to receive and act on this message?” Comb through your database so you can select the right group of recipients.

Subject Line – Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. “CHANGE YOUR LIFE NOW AND MAKE TONS OF MONEY” is probably not going to attract any attention. Brevity is another goal, no more than 30 characters total is the way to go. That includes spaces between the words.

Photos – people like photos more than they like to read. Placing a photo at the top of your email, and embedding a link to your site, is an excellent way to generate traffic. The photo should be clear, interesting and colorful.

Links - embedding links in your email is key, but make sure they’re going to the right places. They should be relevant to the subject matter AND the audience. Don’t be afraid to link to sites other than your own. Providing resources for your audience is beneficial.

Call to Action – what do you want your reader to do? Call? Email? Run to the window and dance? Provide clear, concise instructions.

Tracking - most mass email programs provide extensive tracking data. Review the data for each email you send, and document it. Over time, you’ll determine what works, what doesn’t, and what you should try in the future.

Email marketing can be an inexpensive and quick method to spread your marketing message. It takes time to determine what works and what doesn’t, but by paying close attention you can reap the benefits of this medium.

Buy Or DIE!

August 24, 2010. Posted by johnf

Quick history lesson: G. Gordon Liddy was the mastermind behind the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, which led to Watergate, which led to President Nixon stepping down.

Liddy served almost five years for his role in the entire affair – he’s been portrayed as a super conservative tough guy who advocates firepower over negotiating.

Sounds like he’d make an excellent pitchman for buying gold. Right? Yup. Hold on.

Liddy has a strong personality, which comes across on camera. And he’s talking about buying gold because the economy is going down the tubes and anarchy is right around the corner – along with the apocalypse.

The target market – older people who have retired – are easy targets for the pitch. The commercial runs on a network known for its conservative stance, so viewers are probably more likely to forgive Liddy’s past.

So he is the perfect fit. I personally find the commercial hilarious because it’s so over the top and Liddy appears to be on the verge of a psychotic episode that’s going to result in broken cameras, a destroyed set, and probably a few minor injuries to the poor camera man and his crew.

Finding the right pitchman is critical to delivering the message, and if you can reach more members of a smaller audience, why worry about what the rest of the viewers think?

Yellow School Bus

August 23, 2010. Posted by johnf

I’m seeing yellow school buses around my community – doing test runs for next week when schools open.

Like it or not, summer is drawing to a close, which means fall is on the way and then the holidays.

Are you ready for them? Three months from now we’ll be in the middle of the holiday selling season, so it’s critical to have all of your marketing and sales plans ready for launch.

So before those buses get back on the road, here’s a checklist to help you get started:

  • Review last year’s records and trends so you can make adjustments to your marketing plans
  • Does your social media plan support your marketing strategy?
  • Inventory sales and marketing collateral so you’re not caught short
  • Review and confirm incentive plans, contests, and giveaway campaigns

Of course, these are only a few steps to take in order to prepare for the last months of the year – a review of your marketing plan is also a great idea.

Social Media is Forever

August 20, 2010. Posted by johnf

Whenever you post on Facebook, send a Tweet, shoot out an email – remember that once it’s out there it’s out there. Someone is going to see it, even if you delete your latest missive.

One great example is Sarah Palin – her latest Tweet about sensitive racial issues, might have sunk her bid to challenge for the next presidential election. Did she actually write and post the Tweet? It doesn’t matter, it was published under her name, so it’s her responsibility.

If your business has a Facebook or Twitter page, and you’re not doing the posting, make sure you review the copy before it goes out to the masses – if it’s a sensitive subject.

That’s the big difference between oral and written communication – you have a better chance of taking back what you said versus what you write.

So let’s be careful out there.

Consistency & Creativity

August 19, 2010. Posted by johnf

One of the first lessons I learned in the marketing biz was that your message had to be consistent – from the logo, to the packaging, to the slogan.

“That’s boring,” I thought, “marketing is supposed to be creative and fresh.”

“You need to be consistent or you’ll confuse your established audience, and have a hard time bringing in new business,” they said.

We were both right. Creating a marketing strategy is challenging work, and it demands creativity be used in the content, layout, graphics, and every other piece of the puzzle.

Once that step has been accomplished, that’s where consistency begins. Wherever that message appears, it has to be the same as before – that’s one of the ways you build brand recognition. Consumers get used to the idea, service or product you’re marketing – and trust follows, hopefully.

Creativity and consistency are integral parts of marketing – the challenge is remembering the roles each plays.

BlackBerry Fails Again

August 18, 2010. Posted by johnf

BlackBerry continues to reach out to the youth market with their new television ads for their group text service called BBM.

One spot features a couple of guys in a car club who text other members about vintage cars they’ve seen on the road.

The other is a surfer who talks about how easy it is to alert his friends to when the surf is cranking.

The riders in the car are Latinos, the surfer is Asian.

I guess BlackBerry is going after some very targeted markets – or are they merely trying to show they’re also for the young and hip?

When corporations try and shed one image to appeal to another market, the results can be tragic.

In marketing and business, it’s best to play in your own sandbox and build bigger and better castles.

Glowing – And Growing – In the Dark

August 17, 2010. Posted by johnf

My son brought home a big bag of Silly Bands and I noticed they glowed in the dark.

Ah, the memories. When I was growing up in the 70′s everything was glow in the dark: the head of my Creature from the Black Lagoon plastic model; my Ricochet Racers; Crazy Balls; and every other cereal toy that came out of a Captain Crunch box.

So what was the big trend back then for making and marketing kids’ toys? Most likely some weird trend from that time – or maybe a left over idea from the whole space craze.

Whatever the case, I remembered that all of those things were cool – glowing in the dark gave them an extra dimension of use. Once it got boring in the light, turn off the lights and away we go! Pretty smart work by the toy makers.

Adding an extra dimension to a product or service can give it added value, but be careful of what you add – it can grow old quickly and seem trite in retrospect.

Now excuse me as I go hunt on eBay for that Creature from the Black Lagoon model . . .

New Day Rising

August 16, 2010. Posted by johnf

Yup, that’s my favorite Husker Du album and song – but it’s also the chance for me to make an announcement.

Starting this week, I’m blogging every day. It might be three sentences or a full blown blog entry with pretty pictures, links and, as always, scintillating commentary.

Here’s something to think about: how many times a week do you see a business, website, bumper sticker, etc., rip off the Dairy Association’s “Got Milk?” campaign?

Imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but in advertising and marketing, it makes you look dull, boring and unable to create original ideas.

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