Tag Archives: Advertising

Can’t a Toothbrush Just Be a Toothbrush?

In their constant effort to out-innovate their competition, toothbrush manufacturers have just gone too far. The bristles of the brush are not just bristles, but “rubber massaging arms” designed to stimulate the gums. The arrangement of the bristles is to maximize the ability of your brushing to get into every nook and cranny of your mouth. Your life is improved because we took the time to arrange these bristles in just such a way. Who’s job is it to come up with this stuff?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer in oral hygiene and take it very seriously.

Granted, from a marketing perspective, it is always good to be improving your product, but this has gone too far. Now the handle is “ergonomically” designed to fit your hand better. Now I don’t know about you, but even though I brush three times a day, I don’t spend more than a couple of minutes in this process. Why in the world does the handle need to fit my hand better, when its total daily use is 6 to 8 minutes? Do they really think that a more comfortable handle will make me brush more times, or longer each time? And all these fancy designs mean that now your toothbrush doesn’t fit into the hole of your toothbrush holder. They’ve actually made it less comfortable and more of a hassle.

Now many of you may say, David, is this really a battle worth fighting? Aren’t there more important marketing issues you should be addressing with your blog?

My point is this: Once all of the toothbrush manufacturers jump on the “ergonomic handle” bandwagon, then what choice will I have? I can’t not buy a toothbrush. Somewhere, there needs to be a consumer’s voice that says, quit improving something that doesn’t need improving.

Or, maybe I’m just in that kind of mood.

What are your thoughts?


Being Treated the Right Way

I continue to appreciate the great creative coming from the folks at Ebiquity in their TV ad campaign for Discover Card’s Late Payment Forgiveness. Using the concept of “we treat you like you treat you,” we see various individuals who, like anyone reading this, failed to get a credit card payment off in time to post by the due date. As an alternative to the irritating practice with most credit cards who charge a late fee, raise your APR, and lower your limits, Discover offers forgiveness if you use their “It” card.

What makes this enjoyable to me is the way it’s done, with the customer service person who looks, sounds and talks just like the customer calling in. Here’s an example:


There’s so many messages going on here:

  • First, wouldn’t any one of us prefer talking with a customer service representative who is just like us, who gets us? Duh.
  • Secondly, forgiveness for being a human and making a mistake is always in good taste. We’ve all been on the wrong end of bad customer service.
  • Thirdly, these ads are always good for a laugh.
  • Fourthly, it’s easy to recall these ads and what they’re about – awareness of Discover Card’s new “It” card.
  • Lastly, there is unlimited variations that could be used, keeping the campaign fresh and new for a longer period of time.

As I have said on many occasions, good, solid creative can make the difference in an ad campaign’s success and long-term viability. Good marketing will always win out.

Can you think of other ad campaigns that you’ve enjoyed?

I’d love to hear,


Live by the Data or Die by the Data


I know that there are hardly enough hours in the day to take care of your customers and run the business, let alone, study and correlate all the customer-centric information which is now available at your fingertips. But, it’s never been more important than now. As Mr. Dave Frankland, an analyst with Forrester espoused, 2010 and beyond is the “age of the customer.” Customers are in more control than ever, and they are wielding that power by responding to companies that understand them and their needs.


Natalie Zmuda, with Ad Age talks about the obsession with “understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers,” as the only real differentiator that many companies have. I would add to that, the intelligence to predict behavior as well.


Never in history have business owners had such a vast amount of information available to them about their customers’ behavior, which can be a strong predictor of a “potential” customer’s behavior.


Facebook can tell you how many people in your area have expressed interest in what you do based upon specific terms? Google has reams of information available on what people are searching for. There are software companies that have created social media dashboards that provide the ability to see what conversations are taking place about you, whether you “follow” them or not. And just as important, there are your own sales statistics that you keep.


It is not only important to track sales, but also to be able to know the source of the sales lead. Those lead sources should be broken down sufficiently to understand what action the interested party initially took to become a lead. What products were purchased from what lead sources? As an example, if you only track that a sale of product A came from the Internet, what you don’t know is what action was taken. Did the lead fill out a “contact me” form or did they pick up the phone and call you? Did they ask a question through Facebook or were they referred by one of their LinkedIn contacts? Did they click on a QR code that you had on a print advertisement or did they come to you from your YouTube video?


Being able to tie sales back to a very specific lead source allows you to calculate which kind of lead results in the highest likelihood of a sale. Where should you spend precious sales resources to get the highest return? Where should marketing dollars go to stimulate these high value leads? What kind of message is successful in generating quality leads? Would extending that message to other sources for leads generate the same kind of quality lead there? Would it be better to focus on those products that generate the highest margins?


So, your business can prosper by paying attention to the data that’s available or not, it’s up to you. And, if you need some help with this, let us know.


All my best in your “data mining”




How Much Do You Trust Advertising?

Wise Old Man

The trusted advice of an age old sage has been the stuff of many a story, from those seeking the meaning of life, to the love lorn wondering whether cupid’s arrow has struck true.  There’s something comforting in the gray-haired wise man whose experience and insight make us feel good that what he tells us is the truth and can be trusted.

The stigma that age carries in our society is a very complex issue and even varies from region to region and country to country, however I think everyone can agree that as we get older, we view things in our surroundings in a different light.  Our experiences color our perception of what our senses tell us and we in turn draw conclusions that may differ substantially from what we once thought when we were younger.  This is especially true when in comes to the kinds of marketing messages and advertisements that capture our attention, and according to the results of an Ad Week/Harris Poll study, it is our age that is a large factor in whether we believe and trust those ads.

This caused me to think again of the importance of segmenting your target market, particularly by age.   This would include your email and direct mail lists, allowing you to take full advantage of the differences in perceptions to adjust your marketing communications accordingly.   Since Ad Week’s research indicated that one in five adults age 55 or older never believe that advertising is honest, versus one in ten adults age 18-34, it is imperative that you find a meaningful way to build that trust relationship so your message will be believed.  Otherwise, you stand the distinct chance of wasting your precious marketing dollars.

I attended a webinar recently about how you can improve your marketing Return On Investment by combining the data you gather through your email marketing efforts and the information you have in your Customer Relationship Management system (or CRM).  For those of you unfamiliar with the benefits of CRM, some would refer to it as a sales automation tool, which is certainly true, but is really only a tip of the iceberg.  Your CRM can be an absolute gold mine of information about your customers activity which can in turn help you in predicting the behavior of those who are currently not a customer but could be.

Your CRM system can be instrumental in helping you segment your lists as well as your target market.  What caused your current customers to trust you enough to believe your message and buy from you?  What incites can be harvested from the notes taken by your customer service representatives helping with call-in inquiries?  What feedback can the sales team provide on leads that have been sent to them to be worked?  How can you use this information to tailor your marketing message so not only is the timing correct, but the message is believed?  How can this data be useful for real-time testing to drive better results?

This is just a brief look at CRM benefits which could be a post all by itself.  If you feel you lack the time or expertise to explore this critical business tool, drop us an email, we’d love to help.



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Local Pride Can Influence Purchasing

Local farmer's market produce

It’s very vogue right now, buying produce that has been locally grown.  Nutritionists say that we should definitely eat locally grown and produced food, something to do with the bees and the effects of their pollination on the fruits and vegetables that grow from their efforts.  In Europe, it is customary to only prepare foods that are in season and in fact when my wife was living there and wanted to prepare a meal using squash, her hosts looked at her incredulously and said, “Squash is not in season now.”

As a country, we have grown accustomed to eating whatever we wish whenever we wish, regardless of where it came from.  Those days may be numbered, as the amount of energy required to ship produce all over the globe may make this practice untenable as the price of that energy goes up.

I can’t say that it hasn’t been this way in the past, depending on events, but we are seeing a definite trend in this country to purchase products that are “made in America.”  According to Jack Loechner, writing for The Center for Media Research, in his article “Made in The USA Influences Buyers,” a recent Harris Poll survey suggests that a sense of national pride is manifesting itself in how people part with their money.  As a percentage of all US Adults, 61% indicated that they would be more likely to buy a product with the label “Made In America.”  And if you look regionally, here in the Midwest, that percentage jumps to 67%.  Age is also a determining factor, however there is no doubt that we Americans like products made and produced right here at home.

I believe this same trend exists on a local basis.  Small local farmers are beginning to see real success in marketing their produce at farmers’ markets.  People want to do business with someone from their town as a way of supporting the local economy.  I recently attended a gathering of bright innovators who were demonstrating their technological creativity to a large group of people.  I found the pride I had in Kansas City grow as I saw with my own eyes these very bright people showing the results of their labors.  I wanted to find a way to do business with these burgeoning entrepreneurs.

The takeaway here is this: if your geographic area is local, be sure you are emphasizing where you come from.  Make it a part of your marketing communications so your target market will know.  Being a “hometown” company could very well give you the edge you need over your competitors.

I would love to know your thoughts.  Drop me an email.  Thanks.


The CMO Outsource