Monday, April 28, 2008

Blank check for mischief?

Citibank doesn't seem to think it's a problem to send out blank "balance transfer" checks so its credit cardholders can write a check to, as its marketers say in the mailer, pay bills, do more on vacation, have a night on the town, or put extra cash in the bank.

Even if I wanted more cash, the terms aren't very attractive--there's a 3% fee on balances transferred from another card ($5 minimum, $75 maximum). Ouch!

Years ago, I wrote Citi on several occasions insisting that it no longer send me blank checks for any purpose, since it's so easy for someone else to come along, steal mail from my mailbox, and stick me with the bill for a spending spree. After I wrote the CEO, things quieted down for a while. Now the checks are back in my mailbox.

NO MORE BLANK CHECKS. How clear is that message? Blank checks in the mail are a blank check for theft (or at the very least, mischief).

---Follow up: Just a couple of days later, I got a letter from Citi, saying my monthly statement was posted on the Web site and I could log in to see it. This, because I'd signed up for electronic statements to prevent theft of my credit card number from my snail mailbox. Oh, and the letter included my entire credit card number. Not just the last 4 or 5 digits, but the whole thing. Who thinks up these things?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Searching for Citizen Marketers

Citizen marketers? My Google search turned up lots of results, from a book to video to blogs galore. Here are a few of the most interesting:
  • Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, a book showing how ordinary citizens use the power of online media to influence public perceptions of corporations by "creating content about products and services whether companies like it or not."
  • "A Citizen Marketer Hater," video posted on YouTube, featuring David Jones of Euro RSCG talking about consumer-generated content (he's not crazy about it--this is an Advertising Age snippet).
  • "The New Brand Ambassadors" on Adweek, an article that takes off from the McConnell/Huba book with examples.
  • "What Makes 'Citizen Ads' Work" on Business Week, an article examining consumer-created Doritos ads in the context of citizen advertising and citizen marketing.
My take: We're all citizen marketers, whenever we talk or blog or communicate in any way about a product experience . . . comment on someone else's story about a product experience . . . give a company feedback about its product . . . and--most important--vote with our buying power.

Friday, April 18, 2008

ID Theft Test

Today's challenge is to see how much you know about ID theft. Try this simple test, courtesy of the U.S. government. And don't forget to check your bank/credit accounts and credit reports regularly, just in case.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Change is good . . .

Change is good. Logos change, packaging changes, ads and slogans change, products change, sometimes to get your attention again or to highlight new attributes or benefits. Web sites are no different--styles change and sites must change with the times.

So, like P&G, Amazon, Pepsi, Apple, and all the other big-time marketers, I've decided to update my Web site with a new and improved look. And one of these days, I'll move this blog onto my site. But not today. Thanks for tuning in!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Thank you Terry Gannon, Peggy Fleming, Dick Button, Peter Carruthers, Susie Wynne, Paul Wylie, and ABC

Dear ABC Figure Skating Experts and Execs,

Your TV coverage of competitive figure skating has always been superb and you've set an incredibly high standard for NBC and any others who follow in the future.

I especially enjoyed this year's Worlds coverage because of the tributes to your long-time on-air experts.

If only there were enough profit to keep you tied to championship skating for decades to come!

Thank you, one and all. May the Great Zamboni smile on you!