Thursday, May 25, 2017

Marketing Red Nose Day USA

Today is Red Nose Day in America, a day of fundraising to support children's charities and combat poverty.

NBC is broadcasting a telethon tonight in support of Red Nose Day, along with special programming featuring celebrities who are involved with the charity efforts. This high-profile media attention is a big part of the fundraising effort.

If you don't already have your Red Nose merchandise, hop on over to the local Walgreens and buy a nose or another item where the purchase supports the charities. Walgreens is the official retail partner and its stores are doing their part with signage, enthusiastic employees, etc.

Charity partners are also marketing Red Nose Day. Save the Children, for instance, has its website and social media sites promoting the event and urging donations.

And Red Nose Day USA is extremely active all over social media. Its Twitter account has 60,000 followers and is posting videos, images, and other content to engage and energize people. Go ahead, put on your red nose and get funny for money (to support serious causes).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Are QR Codes Still a Viable Marketing Element?

Techcrunch https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/31/website-snapcodes/
Remember QR codes? They're sprinkled through the latest edition of my Marketing Plan Handbook and they therefore date the book to a period when QR codes were everywhere. Then apps became ubiquitous and many experts declared QR codes a thing of the past.

Not so fast. In fact, QR codes have new life among social media sites! Snapchat, for instance, invites businesses to create Snapcodes that are QR codes. Updating the QR code for the Snap generation, in other words.

Pinterest is also updating the QR code idea, with its object-recognition lens that can understand a QR code and then open the website associated with that code. No special app, just use Pinterest.

Facebook recently tested a QR code reward program, geared toward retailers and their customers.

Google Allo can also work via QR codes to quickly expand a user's friend base or share chat functions. QR scanning is easy and convenient.

So the answer is YES--QR codes are not only viable, they're trendy. Again. Watch for creative marketing with QR this year.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Customer Satisfaction and Your Marketing Plan

If you're writing a marketing plan, you need to understand customer satisfaction with your products, with your brand, within your industry (and of course, your competitors). Sometimes you can find secondary data that will give you some ideas as you scan the external environment for your situational analysis.

For instance, are airline passengers satisfied with their flying experience? Which airline earns the highest marks from customers?

Click to the American Customer Satisfaction Index and find out. The latest surveys indicate that JetBlue, Southwest Air, Alaska Air, and other budget carriers are ahead of the pack, and price is one reason why. And while you're there, take a look at other industries to see what U.S. consumers think.

Also click to J.D. Power, which ranks brands within industries according to customer satisfactions. Dyson, for instance, is on top in the latest U.S. vacuum satisfaction survey.

Search for customer satisfaction by industry, and you'll find industry-sponsored surveys like the one undertaken for Airlines for America. The most recent survey indicates that more Americans are flying and more are satisfied with flying. Of course, this research was completed well before the highly publicized problems with overbooking and passengers being forcibly removed from jets.

Other groups conduct customer satisfaction surveys to provide consumers with input as they make buying decisions. Insure.com looks at the "best car insurance companies," as an example.

So when you are developing a marketing plan, dig deep to see how consumers view your industry, your competitors, and your company or brand or products.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Marketing, Innovation, and Growth

Chief Innovation Officer & Chief Growth Officer

Coca-Cola just announced the creation of a senior-management post, Chief Innovation Officer. Coke's new CEO wants innovation not tucked away in R&D but visible and reporting to the top, leading the way with brand ideas for future growth beyond the company's current brand/product portfolio.

A current Coke innovation exec says: "We scan the broad spectrum of trends, and get inspiration from -- not trying to solve specific business problems because that is incremental - but where we have to go." So Coke is investing in promising startups that will help it innovate marketing (new products, new processes, new communications) more quickly through partnerships. 

Coke also has a chief growth officer, replacing the chief marketing officer (CMO) with a broader leadership position. The CGO role is to streamline marketing across brands and divisions with a global view and responsive marketing. Coke's president explains: "To keep up with the fast-moving consumer landscape around us, our organization has to be ready and willing to change at a faster pace probably than at any time in our history." That's what the CGO will do for Coke.

In the context of intense competition among beverage marketers, and ongoing changes in consumer attitudes and preferences concerning soft drinks, Coke wants these two new positions to jump-start growth on a global basis.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blurring the Lines Between Marketing and PR

A new study finds increasing overlap between public relations and marketing. One of the study's co-sponsors, Paul Holmes, says:
PR has the opportunity to move aggressively into paid content, an arena long dominated by advertising but that will require investment and training. The bigger challenge for the profession and for society is what happens when consumers no longer know the source or the nature of the information they receive, and how that impacts the credibility of that information.
And that's both a plus and a minus for marketing in general and society at large. 

The three key developments fueling this trend are (1) social listening, (2) digital storytelling, and (3) real-time marketing.

As a top official of ANA states: "Digital has put PR front and center, as it allows immediate outbound communication and inbound feedback."

PR's traditional function has been to "listen" to the interests and concerns of an organization's publics (consumers, community members, and other stakeholders) and allow for response through programs or other means. PR also explains the organization's position to the publics and helps protect reputation, both reactively and proactively. So in a real sense, PR has been an integral element in the marketing plan from the beginning.

With the rise of product placement and influencer marketing, among other techniques, consumers are increasingly surrounded by content that they can't as easily evaluate in terms of source (paid? spontaneous? stunt?). This is where transparency becomes critical.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How Walmart Keeps Reinventing Itself

Walmart is the quintessential store-based legacy retailer, offering vast product selection at low prices. It continues to innovate to attract foot traffic, such as by seeking out made-in-America merchandise, particularly local goods, that are distinctive and appeal to local or regional shoppers.

But while Walmart was growing into the world's largest store operator, along came the Internet, and with it, Amazon. Walmart's retail dominance continues in the world of bricks and mortar, but it's still working on a successful strategy to achieve big gains in online retailing. And that's where Jet.com comes in.

Walmart acquired Jet.com last year, to gain not only the site and its customers but also the e-commerce savvy of the founder, Marc Lore, who now heads all of Walmart's e-commerce operations. Lore recognizes the power of omnichannel marketing, saying: "If you don’t want to let another business cannibalize your customer, you have to let them shop whatever way they want to."

Not only is Walmart reinvigorating its online operations, it's also offering inducements to bring online shoppers into stores. Similar to the way Jet.com offers discounts for those who can wait to receive items, Walmart will offer discounts to shoppers who pick up their purchases in one of its nearby stores.

Quoting Lore: "Now they [shoppers] can either pick up and save even more money, or ship two-day for free to home, without paying for a membership." Fighting words as Walmart battles Amazon. In fact, Walmart is looking for a patent on a system to compete with Amazon's Dash buttons. Here, the hook would be automatic replenishment, without even pushing a button.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Theme Parks Leverage Global Brand Franchises

https://www.usj.co.jp/e/attraction/
Harry Potter, as a brand franchise, is helping Universal Studios up its attendance in Florida and Japan (and it's doing quite well in Japan). Minions, as a brand franchise, is also giving Universal a unique draw in Japan. And guests are actually spending more per visit, even as Universal experiments with outdoor events during winter months.

Disney--traditionally the market leader--is expanding its brand franchises as competitive tools to keep attendance growing. Star Wars is a tried-and-true draw. Now Disney is also opening Avatar attractions. For an infographic illustrating the evolution of Disney's theme park/movie brand doings, see here. Interesting, Disney Tokyo is both popular and crowded, which is affecting foreign tourist attendance (not in a good way). For an unusual look at Disney and theme parks (namely, what didn't get built), see here.

More theme parks are opening year after year to satisfy international interest in exciting rides, water parks, and entertainment with branded elements. Warner Bros., for instance, is partnering to create a theme park in Abu Dhabi, featuring two brand franchises: Gotham City (Batman) and Metropolis (Superman).

In the high-stakes world of theme parks, where attractions run into the millions of dollars to design and develop, companies are competing with some of the most fascinating new rides ever. Brands are a key way to bring in fans who know and love the franchise...but the rides have to deliver if the parks are to enjoy all-important word of mouth.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What's Next for Legacy Retailing?

Stores have been closing as the full impact of consumer behavior shifts is felt by legacy retailers from coast to coast. The head of Urban Outfitters notes: "The U.S. market is oversaturated with retail space and far too much of that space is occupied by stores selling apparel."

Of course, this "over-storing of America" theme is nothing new: legacy retailing has been grappling with so many stores and so many malls for decades--literally. By one account, the number of shopping malls increased twice as fast as population growth between 1970 and 2015.

Lots of malls means lots of stores--yet with the ascendancy of online and mobile shopping, how many stores do legacy retailers really need?

The over-stored phenomenon and shifts in buyer behavior are leading to "zombie malls" and retail bankruptcies. Wet Seal is only one of many retailers to close its doors in 2017 alone. Some retailers are trying to reorganize as smaller chains. Is that how legacy retailing will survive?

Meanwhile, Walmart is buying smaller online businesses like ModCloth in a bid to attract their shoppers and broaden beyond its legacy customer base. Is that how legacy retailing will survive?



Monday, April 17, 2017

How Not to Handle a PR Crisis

Right now, if you do an online search for "United Airlines crisis," more than 1 million results pop up.

That's an indication of how serious a PR crisis United Airlines is facing after forcibly removing a passenger from one of its jets to make room for crew.

The flight from Chicago was fully booked and even offering up to $1,000 in vouchers for future flights didn't bring anyone forward to volunteer. Airline employees said they would have to randomly select passengers to leave the plane.

Three passengers reluctantly agreed when they were asked to leave their seats to make way for United crew members. One refused. And so United's employees brought in the aviation police to forcibly remove the passenger. Things did not go well.

Others on the plane began to video the encounter and post to social media. Soon the entire planet could see how this passenger was being forcibly dragged through the aisle, his face bloody and his body limp. Millions of people viewed and reposted the videos. Many news media posted the videos and their comments. Social media memes popped up in the wake of the incident.

How did United react? Well, despite its stated commitment to customer service (see top), the airline simply didn't do a good job here.

Its CEO didn't know how or when to apologize and try to make things right. At first, he talked about "re-accommodating" the passengers--and that phrase was, of course, widely ridiculed. He then blamed the passenger for being belligerent, which not only contradicted the videos but also made the customer the bad guy in this situation. Wrong.

Finally, the CEO began issuing apologies and saying that all passengers on the plane would receive refunds. By then, United's stock had dropped and even competitors were taking some jabs at the company.

Now all of this is on top of the famous #UnitedBreaksGuitars video, when a musician couldn't get United to pay for a guitar it broke. He wrote a song, did a video, and posted it online. Yes, the hashtag and video went viral. United got the message.

Once again, United Airlines is in the midst of a PR crisis.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Marketing Paints Named with Emotional and Experiential Appeal in Mind

White isn't just white in the marketing world of paint. As Consumer Reports notes, it can be "Simply White" or "White Dove" (both Benjamin Moore). Taupe isn't just taupe--SherwinWilliams says that "Poised Taupe" is its color of 2017 (see above).

In the May issue of Consumer Reports, the color marketing manager for Behr explains how that brand's paint names work: "Names can typically be sorted into four descriptive categories: visual, geographical, emotional, and experiential."

In fact Behr's website presents "Color Trends and Inspiration," where you can see its 2017 trends organized according to three categories: Comfortable (muted), Composed, and Confident (more adventurous).

Behr's Instgram account has nearly 30k followers examining its many paint and decorating idea photos, covering all the rooms in the house and the outside too.

Benjamin Moore has 122k Instagram followers and uses the hashtag #PaintLikeNoOther to identify its creative and colorful idea images for consumers to consider and enjoy.

SherwinWilliams has nearly 76k Instagram followers and uses #SWColorLove to identify its images that inspire and encourage consumers to express themselves with color.

One last thought about color: It seems that consumers tend to prefer paints with fanciful names, such as "mocha" instead of "brown," as more pleasing to the eye. Then there's the sheer marketing appeal of paints with personality-plus names. Why market "white" when you can market "White Dove," for example?