Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Mag than Log (Remember Magalogs?)

clipped from
Online Connection
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In one of my early textbooks, I mentioned magalogs, catalogs that included magazine-style editorial content to draw readers through the pages. Lands' End did some of that, as did other retailers and catalog merchants.

The Costco Connection is more mag than log--in fact, an editorial in the September issue notes that it's a general interest magazine, not a catalog, but it does have ads (minus prices, because buyers negotiate up till the last minute for the best bargains).

Every month I read about the featured books (mystery fan that I am). This month's issue has a great cover story; another article asks and answers tough questions about Costco going green all over. If you haven't seen this magazine, it's worth taking a minute to click and browse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

WOMMA vs Stealth Marketing

clipped from

The WOMMA Ethics Assessment Tool (also known as the "Ethics 20 Questions") helps marketers identify and eliminate unethical word of mouth marketing tactics before they are implemented.

This document is a first draft of questions marketers should ask before initiating a word of mouth campaign. It is designed for easy implementation in the beginning phases of a campaign and is intended to help determine whether or not a proposed effort adheres to the standards set by the WOMMA Ethics Code.

The tool is simple to use:

  • Provide a copy of the 20 Questions to staff and agencies, along with a copy of the WOMMA Ethics Code.
  • Ask the questions when discussing any new campaign (and ask agencies and their subcontractors to provide written answers).
  • Stop any program that raises concerns.
  • blog it
    The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) suggests that marketers answer 20 questions to be sure their w-o-m marketing activities are ethical. The purpose is to keep businesses aware of ethical issues, give them a tool to determine whether their activities will be above board, and prevent sneaky stealth marketing that gives w-o-m a bad rap.

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Allow Discounts or Maintain Minimum Pricing?

    clipped from
    [price control]
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    Today's WSJ has an excellent article about the tug-of-war between manufacturers and retailers over pricing. Some brands want to cut off retailers that do not stick to a minimum MSRP. Some retailers complain that this is price fixing.

    A 2007 Supreme Court ruling said that manufacturers' price restraints should be evaluated case by case. Meanwhile, some state AGs are urging Congress to make "resale price maintenance" illegal.

    The battle is not just in the courts--consumers are in a great position to influence the outcome by voting with their wallets.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Netflix Stays in Touch

    clipped from

    We’re sorry to report that since Tuesday we’ve been experiencing issues with our shipping system, so many of you have not received DVDs in a timely manner and many of you have not received emails letting you know we got a DVD back from you.

    We pride ourselves in delighting you, and we’ve let you down. We apologize and are working around the clock to restore normal operations. To all of you whose shipments have been delayed, we’ll be automatically applying a credit to your next billing statement. Or, if you are new to Netflix and your first shipments have been delayed, we recognize that this is not a good way to begin your Netflix membership and we’ll automatically extend your free trial.

    Our goal is to ship DVDs as soon as possible and to keep you updated. Again, we are sorry for the inconvenience we’ve caused you and thank you for your patience.

    The Netflix Team

    Click here to hide

     blog it
    Netflix is having some kind of problem in its shipping department and has been doing a great job of communicating with customers, as you can see from this notice. Having DVDs delayed is an inconvenience, but being alerted to the problem and having the company apologize shows unusual transparency. Thank you, Netflix, for staying in touch and working hard to earn and keep my trust.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Big Olympic Win for WIN

    Stubborn Odors

    Most liquid detergents do not target embedded odors and even after
    gym clothes are washed, these odors stay entrenched in the fibers.
    After a few workouts, even the best high tech fabrics typically develop
    a musty odor. This is caused by bacteria attracted to sweat soaked
    fabric. Innovation

    Bacteria causes odors
    blog it
    Who even knew that the US Olympic Team had an official laundry detergent? Well, it does, and WIN is winning over athletes and skeptics, thanks to a special formula for washing sweaty odors out of high-tech sports clothing. Today's Wall St. Journal also has a story about WIN. Small company, big Olympic bet, big payoff for smart marketing.

    It Takes More than Two to Tuangou

    "Team buying" has been around for several years, fueled by the Web and by mobile phone communications. The idea of tuangou, as it's known in China, is that groups of consumers who shop together will get better bargains because of their buying power.

    An MIT Sloan Management Review article by Dr. Christopher Tang notes that early Web companies like Mobshop tried to get consumers excited about group online buying, but not enough people participated to achieve the lowest prices. Another problem: Groups didn't instantly form, so people who wanted to buy were kept waiting for days or even weeks until more people signed up to buy and both the price and the shipping date were set.

    Yet tuangou is growing in China, where crowds arrange to meet at a specified store to shop in person and receive big discounts for volume buying. Now some Chinese Web sites are reviving online tuangou. Ultimately, popular social networking sites like Facebook may be the key to tuangou's long-term success around the world.

    Thursday, August 7, 2008

    MG Comes Back to Life

    FRESH START: The new signs outside the factory at Longbridge.
    READY TO ROLL: Two of the first MG TF LE500 cars at Longbridge Q Gate, which will soon be rolling off factory lines. Ref: NT06017

    FRESH START: The new signs outside the factory at Longbridge.

    READY TO ROLL: Two of the first MG TF LE500 cars at Longbridge Q Gate, which will soon be rolling off factory lines. Ref: NT06017

    MG makes its marque again

    8:22am Wednesday 6th August 2008

    IT was an historic moment for Longbridge last week as full car production returned to the plant following a three-year absence.

    The gates closed for what many believed was the last time in 2005, but the restarting of full-scale production represented a key milestone last Friday.

    The first new limited edition MG TF LE500 will soon be rolling off factory lines with most set to hit the plant's 55 UK dealer's showrooms, by the end of September.

    Rover's owners, Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) say it has sold 70 per cent of orders for its new model and around 700 MG TF's, which cost nearly £16,500, will be produced by the end of the year.

    blog it
    The first box example in my Marketing Plan Handbook 3rd edition is about the Chinese car company Nanjing Automobile Group buying the factory and name of Britain's MG.

    Now Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) has bought out Nanjing and put the first MGs into production in Bromsgrove, UK. Watch for the new MGs to hit dealer showrooms by September. Wonder what recession pressures will do to MG sales?

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    Made to Stick - for SUCCES (leave off the last S)

    clipped from
    The Book
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    Chip and Dan Heath write that an idea will "stick" in your target audience's mind if you follow these principles:

    S for simplicity (KISS, remember?)
    U for unexpectedness (grab their attention)
    C for concreteness (the less abstract, the better)
    C for credibility (make the message believable)
    E for emotional (make 'em care)
    S for stories (stories stick long after a slogan fades)

    I especially like the "clinic" sections, where the authors critique messages for particular situations. Plus the book's cover and marketing are clever and "made to stick."

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    Big Gulp: Food Marketers Spend Big To Target Kids

    Technology: The business and culture of our digital lives, from the L.A. Times

    Kids get a taste of food-related advertising online

    Food A new report out today revealed some unsurprising information: Marketers spend a lot of money trying to get kids hooked on foods such as Shrek cereal and Pirates of the Caribbean waffles. What's a little more surprising is that they don't spend much money marketing food to kids where so many of them hang out -- on the Internet. In 2006, the time period that the online-spending portion of the report covered, food companies only allocated 5% of their youth marketing dollars online. (Of course, the online advertising market is growing by double digits every year, much faster than overall ad spending, so the percentage has probably increased since 2006.)

    blog it
    A new FTC report says that overall, $1.6 billion was spent in 2006 to promote food and beverage items like soft drinks, fast food, and cereal to kids. This is the first study of its kind--worth at least a quick look.

    Online promotions are a small part of marketers' budgets. It doesn't cost that much to put up a kid-friendly site with product- or brand-related games, prizes, competitions and more.

    I just hope parents are looking over their kids' shoulders and reinforcing ideas about good nutrition and healthy habits.