Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shopping Too Soon

Yesterday I went to the local mall with my holiday gift list in hand. Macy's, however, refused to honor a coupon that goes into effect today. Since JCPenney and Sears are also in the same mall (along with 100s of other stores), I left Macy's and flashed my plastic elsewhere.

Contrast this experience with what happens at Bed Bath & Beyond, which will not only take competitors' coupons, it will honor its own outdated coupons as well.

Message to marketers: cater a little to customers because we have LONG memories and SO many choices.

Speaking of coupons, a bit of browsing can turn up all kinds of discounts for online and in-person shopping at sites like Val-Pak and Yahoo Shopping. Happy hunting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tactful Targeting?

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story about how some online retailers vary pricing and offers depending on an individual shopper's behavior (which key terms you use to search for products, what time of day you browse, whether you've shopped there before, etc.).

In other words, you and I might see a different page/price/offer when visiting or Delightful Deliveries. Do I really want to find out that I paid shipping fees for that MP3 player I bought when my sister got free shipping for buying the identical product on the same day from the same site? What happens to the retailer's reputation once word gets out? Ouch.

As a marketer, I'm all for targeting. As a customer, I want targeting that benefits me. Tactful targeting might be a compromise: the idea that based on my real-time behavior (such as switching back and forth between two products before going to the checkout page), a site would offer me something to encourage me to buy now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ask Someone Why They Love Their BlackBerry

That's the headline on the full-page add appearing in the New York Times this week. I don't mind staccato sentence fragments (such as these gems in the body copy: "Every day. All around."). They add. Something. But I do mind ignorant grammar. A product as sophisticated as RIM's BlackBerry should have intelligent advertising.

Here's an easy fix: Ask People Why They Love Their BlackBerry.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to School as an Adult

Have you seen the ads for One Day University educational seminars? Each full-day program is a series of one-hour lectures by great professors. There are some very good subjects (like history of the Supreme Court) and highly knowledgeable professors but . . . as fascinating as this concept is, I can get lots of great lectures absolutely free in my local library.

How? By borrowing any of the Modern Scholar series of lectures. Here's a link to one series of 14 lectures that my husband and I enjoyed just a couple of months ago, an indepth look at fantasy literature like Lord of the Rings. The range of subjects goes on and on, from history (like the surprisingly fascinating Wars That Made the Western World) to almost everything you'd ever want to know about Darwin and his influence on scientific thinking.

So instead of spending my day in a classroom or hotel ballroom, I take the CDs in my car and listen to very articulate professors as I drive. Each set comes with a course guide summarizing the highlights of the lectures and offering additional reading ideas (plus questions if you want to quiz yourself). Highly recommended and free for the borrowing from my wonderful public library, thanks to the generosity of the local Friends of the Library.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Hello from Toronto. . .

UPS's "brown" branding applies even to the uniforms, socks and shoes worn by its pilots, I discovered when I spotted a UPS pilot one row over on my flight from Toronto yesterday. Pilots aren't usually seen by UPS customers, but the company puts them in brown anyway--great touch.

Watching SkateCanada on Canadian TV, I saw a quick BMO (Bank of Montreal) commercial geared specifically to skating fans: a BMO credit card "skates" across the ice, spelling out "Tokyo" (which is where the World Figure Skating Championships will be held in 2007). The ad invited viewers to check the BMO web site for a chance to win a trip to the Championships. This is a wonderful way to involve viewers who care about the program in which the ad is embedded.

BMO does something else interesting: Its web site includes a "Newcomers" guide to settling in different areas of the country. Not only is this public-spirited, it gives immigrants a very positive view of the bank just at a time when they're likely to need financial services.