Saturday, February 24, 2007

The iPod's packaging is clever marketing . . . but too much of a good thing

The iPod's package is a clever marketing tool, as I discovered when I was gifted with one this week. The compact, black-and-white packaging features a full-size rendition of the iPod inside. Actually, two renditions, front and back of packaging.

If you haven't already seen "Pirates of the Caribbean," one side of the box shows Captain Jack Sparrow smiling out from the new larger iPod color screen, inviting you to download the movie. (Presumably, the featured movie will change as Apple makes deals to showcase other movies and TV shows on the box. Take a look at the featured programming on the iPods on Apple's site and you'll see what I mean.)

The reverse side of the box features the Red Hot Chili Peppers album with a song "playing" exactly as it would look on the iPod in use. Great suggestive selling and brand reinforcement.

What's not so clever is the overpackaging. After I popped the iPod out of its nest, I still had to unwrap countless pieces of plastic, open plastic envelopes, and figure out how to pull the earbuds and connectors from their snug hiding places. Remember how 12 clowns used to pop out of the tiny clown car at the circus? That's what it's like to take the iPod packaging apart to get at all the accessories, instruction booklet, etc.

Apple, you know how to make fabulous products. But please rethink your overpackaging to make it more environmentally-friendly!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sustainable marketing

If you haven't heard about sustainable marketing, you will--and soon. It's attracted more attention, especially in Europe, in the past year.

Definitions vary, but basically, sustainable marketing is intended to meet the needs of customers and the organization while protecting the natural environment (and, in fact, supporting sustainability on a number of levels).

Clearly, sustainable marketing is essential for eco-tourism, for instance: unless the marketing effort is an asset to the preservation of the local ecology, tourists will stop coming because the destination will lose the unspoiled atmosphere that made it so appealing in the first place. In other words, sustainable marketing is a kind of balancing act.

Here are links to three recent company reports on sustainability:

SABMiller BP Vivendi

And two links to more information about sustainable marketing:

Smart: Know-Net (practical information about many topics, including sustainability in product marketing, etc.)

Patrick E. Murphy (academic overview of the history of sustainable marketing by a professor at Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Hint to Symantec: Fix Your Customer Service and Support

Bad customer service can undo all the goodwill in the world, as I've said in my marketing planning books. Case in point: Symantec, which triggered an 11-day PC crisis that seems to be at an end.

The whole thing started when I downloaded and tried to install a new version of Symantec Norton Systemworks, which crashed my Windows XP. I called Symantec, paid $$FEE to talk with a tech, and got nowhere because the solution he suggested was to wipe my drive by reinstalling XP. Of course I said no.

After speaking with Dell tech people on and off for more than 3 hours (I have a so-called service contract), I was no closer to a solution. So I called Microsoft and paid $FEE to speak with a series of Windows XP experts for days and days--literally. Finally I got an appointment (appointment!) with a top-level expert who fixed the problem by guiding me through the download of a Symantec removal tool! Too bad Symantec didn't suggest this at the outset, especially since I paid plenty for technical support.

Getting Symantec to change my fee from a repair fee to an installation fee has been a big challenge, to say the least. One of the reps, "Mary," refused to let me speak to her supervisor. The Symantec tech expert who helped me successfully reinstall the Norton software (thanks, Craig!) suggested I call in again to talk with the front-end people about adjusting the fee. Later, perhaps, when I'm prepared to spend another 57 minutes on hold waiting to get someone on the phone. Symantec, your customer service and tech support leave a LOT to be desired. My phone's battery nearly went dead while I waited to talk with a live human being. Goodbye brand image.