I was just thinking the other day about Abercrombie. What use to be a big name in clothing for tweens and teens seems to have fallen by the wayside. I considered the fact that I was just too old to care about the brand, but then the news report on Abercrombie selling push-up bikinis for 7-year-olds confirmed my thinking.
In my opinion Abercrombie felt they were falling off the map and needed a publicity stunt to get their brand back in the news. The company has never been afraid of controversy, using half dressed models at their storefronts and in catalogs.
The news has broke about the retailer’s push-up bikinis and parents are appalled. Exactly what the retailer was probably hoping for as its target audience’s, tweens/teens, natural tendency is to rebel and do the opposite of what their parents say.
Abercrombie’s response to this attention was simply “We’ve re-categorized the Ashley swimsuit as padded. We agree with those who say it is best ‘suited’ for girls age 12 and older.” This certainly isn’t an apology, but rather appears a very calculated action. After all you can clean up a pig, put a ribbon on its tail, spray it with perfume, but it is still a pig!
Every relationship with a journalist is unique and specific to his or her preferences. However, no matter the situation, there are certain questions you should NEVER ask media. But that does not mean you can’t get your message across. It is all about learning how to say it better.
1. Did you get my news release?
Aside from the fact that this question does nothing but waste media’s time, it could turn out even worse when you get only a simple yes or no response. Just because a journalist confirms he or she received your news release there is no guarantee he or she will cover your story.
Instead try: We recently sent you a news release announcing [XYZ company did something newsworthy] and wanted to see if this type of news is of interest to your publication. This does two things: It provides an opportunity to confirm the journalist received your news and gives you a chance to find out if the journalist is interested in pursuing the story.
2. Since you will not cover my story can I speak with your editor or another journalist?
Even if you have an interesting and excellent story to share, the changing nature of the media business makes it difficult to reach the correct contact 100 percent of the time. If you feel your story is important or has another angle, do not give up, but don’t be rude to the person you first made contact with.
Instead try: Thank you for your feedback. Do you know of anyone else at your publication/station who might have an interest in this story? Not only does this establish you as a resource for future communications, but when you contact the new journalist, you can open with a referral from one of their co-workers.
3. Will you write a feature article about my product/service/company? When?
Unless you are launching the next generation iPhone, a journalist needs a relevant and timely context for your company’s story.
Instead try: We noticed several recent articles in your publication focusing on XYZ trend. Our company president can offer excellent insight as to how that trend is affecting the market and how specifically our company is reacting. Would you be interested in setting up an interview to learn more? This lets journalist know you are familiar with what they write, understand what is important to their readers and your company can add something new to the story. Once the interview is scheduled, it is your spokesperson’s job to communicate a compelling story about the company.
4. Can I review that article before it goes to print?
Some media will offer the opportunity to review articles or quotes for accuracy. If you get the chance, always take it and offer feedback only on content/accuracy – not the journalist’s writing style. However, keep in mind that media coverage is not the same as a paid ad and no one has the right to ask to review and correct a journalist’s work before it is published except the editor.
Instead: Prepare your message in advance and ensure accuracy. If it is a phone interview, develop talking points and keep them in front of you during the interview. For simple news announcements, triple check news releases and pitch letters for accuracy before distributing to media.
5. Can I get a copy of the story you wrote?
It’s a reporter’s job to write the story, not mail it to you.
Instead try: We are very excited to see the article you wrote. Can you tell me what issue you anticipate it will appear in so we can pick up a few copies? Often when you approach the question this way, a reporter will offer to send you several copies of the magazine directly or introduce you to a circulation manager who can do the same.
Our product is going to be featured on a national DIY show. How can we ensure we maximize this opportunity?
Getting national TV coverage is a major accomplishment and using that coverage to further your product’s credibility is an excellent strategy for continuing to maximize the opportunity.
There are a number of ways to take further advantage of the TV coverage.
1. If the segment hasn’t aired yet, ensure you get proper credit during the show. Ask if the DIY network will mention the website address, include the logo, show product packaging, etc. Sometimes networks have specific guidelines on what they can and cannot do. Therefore, talk with the producer to find out what you can do.
Keep in mind that working with a television show compared to media is very different. Television shows/networks typically do not follow the same guidelines journalists do. For example, journalists do not accept product over a specific dollar amount, they have to deliver a balanced story, etc.
2. Ask the producer if you can get a video clip of the segment. If not, you can typically get a clip of the segment from a video monitoring company. Once you get the video clip include it on your website and post it to your YouTube channel, as well as distribute it to retail buyers, non-competitive media, your email database, and use it at trade shows.
3. Include a tag on your home page with the show’s logo and a date of the airing.
4. Tweet and post Facebook messages about your product being featured on the television show. Break up the messages into different posts throughout the process. For example, today the DIY network is filming our product for a June [show name] episode.
5. If you are on set for the shoot, take photos and post those on your website, Twitter and Facebook pages.
6. Ask while you are on set if they know any of the other producers at the DIY network who might also be interested your product. Get their name and contact information.
7. Let the producer of the show know about additional products you manufacturer that might be of interest. It is possible they would consider those for a future segment.
8. Write and distribute a news release following the airing of the show with a clip of the segment.
The benefits of national television coverage include your product achieves credibility with a third-party, you gain product awareness and continue building the brand of your company/product. So the more you can maximize the coverage, the more benefits you will achieve.
Problem based marketing is a very effective way of selling products to customers. This strategy involves knowing the problem your customer/prospect has, introducing a solution and effectively communicating that solution with your customers/prospects.
This seems like a simple marketing 101 strategy that almost doesn’t deserve a blog post, yet so many times the message falls flat. This can occur for a number of reasons, including: the problem is not clearly communicated, the customer/prospect doesn’t really see value in solving the problem or the solution doesn’t solve the problem in the customer/prospects’ minds.
Just this morning I came across Rubbermaid’s new Easy Find Lids, which is a great example of problem based marketing. Last night when packing lunches, I was fumbling around in my cabinet trying to find the lids to different size containers. No matter how organized I think I am, this is a nightly occurrence when putting away dinner leftovers and packing lunches.
So when I saw the name of Rubbermaid’s new product “Easy Find Lids” in a news article it caught my attention. I then went to Rubbermaid’s website to learn more. In just a few short sentences I was immediately sold.
“Tired of digging around for lids? Then the Easy Find Lids storage system is for you. Its lids snap to each other and to the container bases so you can find the right lid, right now.”
It seems like the message was specifically created for me and I will certainly be looking for the product next time I’m at the store. The Rubbermaid Easy Finds Lids is a great example of how knowing and understanding your customer/prospects and positioning products in a way that truly delivers solutions can help sell more products/services.
Look at this guy; even he knows he is cool.
This is the face of American entrepreneurialism at its very best.
Ron Rezek is an industrial design rock star. Perhaps best known for his contemporary light fixtures and ceiling fans, the likes of which make you weak in the knees. Like all great entrepreneurs – American and otherwise – Ron Rezek set no boundaries for himself.
While still a grad student at UCLA in 1970, he designed a lifeguard rescue device that is still in use today. He then turned his attention to decorative light fixtures and later started in on the ceiling fans. His designs broke barriers and offered relevance for commercial and residential applications alike. He earned degrees and took chances and won awards.
Best of all, rock star Ron Rezek didn’t just design stuff, he made stuff. He held patents for design and mechanical innovations. He created businesses and made them flourish… companies like Ron Rezek Lighting and The Modern Fan Co. and the Period Arts Fan Co.
You perhaps never heard of Ron Rezek, but you likely read about him or saw his work – in movies or on TV shows or in books and magazines – and you just didn’t know it.
Ron Rezek is the stuff of modern legend. He is a 21st century cowboy. And he is still riding tall in the saddle (or maybe he is riding a wave on his surfboard)… Either way, he is making our world a much cooler place.
Thank you Ron… you rock.
Industry awards and accolades can add credibility to your brand and establish your company’s position as category leader. While it is a nice surprise to be notified of an award or recognition without applying, many programs require a thorough application process to even be considered.
How can you quickly identify which awards are worth your time and which are just worthless? Below are key questions to ask when deciding if you should devote the time to applying for an industry award or recognition.
1. Is the award credible? Consider how long this award has been around, which company is sponsoring it and how important it is to other industry leaders. Check the website for past winners; are they brands you recognize? Admire? Aspire to be like?
2. Do my customers care? Take some time to do a bit of research. Are competitive past winners calling attention to the award on their website, in a news release or in ads and other marketing materials? Are customers in your target audience talking about the award, the ceremony or past winners with merit on blogs, forums, Twitter or Facebook?
3. How does the focus of the award align with my marketing goals and key messages? Perhaps the focus is on innovative product design, and your goal is to position your product as such. Perfect fit, and it sounds like you will be a contender. But don’t waste time applying for eco-friendly awards when the best idea you can submit is a corporate recycling program. Ask yourself if you can make a strong case as an entrant and whether winning the award fits into your larger marketing plan.
4. Will the award support additional business objectives? Will winners have the opportunity to network with potential customers at a ceremony or event? Is the recognition something key consumer and trade media outlets would be interested in? Can this accolade act as a key selling point in a sales presentation?
5. Is there an entry fee? It is common for a reasonable entry fee to be associated with an award application. In fact, nominal fees may indicate a certain degree of formality – like a third-party judges panel – that add to an award’s credibility. Extremely high entry fees for awards that fail to deliver any tangible benefits should raise a red flag. On the flip side, a free application shouldn’t be an automatic invitation to throw your hat in the ring. The key is weigh the benefits you will achieve with a win versus the cost of entry.
While there is no exact combination of correct answers to the questions above, they should all factor into your final decision of whether to apply for an industry award. Ultimately, the decision is about whether the time and effort you put into the process will yield results that add value to your business.
Hello Diet Coke! Goodbye Pepsi.
Hello traditional media! See you later online marketing.
According to the Wall Street Journal: “PepsiCo made a big bet in 2010, when it didn’t market its flagship cola on the Super Bowl or in other TV spots. Instead, it launched the Refresh Project, an online charitable-giving program that disbursed $20 million in donations “for refreshing ideas that change the world.”
Here’s the bottomline: when it comes to marketing there is no silver bullet or magic potion, let alone an effortless solution or easy answer.
The most effective product and brand marketing campaigns involve a mix of traditional, digital and social media strategies that feature connectiveness as a priority characteristic. Not just integrated marketing strategies, but interactively connected tactics that enable consumers to participate through all the media and in all the channels they prefer – TV, websites, newspapers, blogs, magazines, text, e-mail, snail mail, blogs, coupons, mobile apps, telemarketing, outdoor, in-store, events, exhibits, seminars, webinars, podcasts, in-game, etc.
Or get used to being #3.
Earlier this week I was at the International Home and Housewares show where 2,000 exhibitors displayed their hottest products for 21,000 U.S. and international retail buyers and 60,000 professional attendees. The show is packed with innovative products from LED light bulbs to green cleaning products, modular furniture, trashcans, coffee makers, reusable grocery bags, wine accessories and everything in between. What caught my attention this year were cupcakes and Spanish influenced shopping carts.
The cupcake trend continues to live on with everything from fashionable cupcake wrappers like Bella Cupcake Couture to baby cupcake makers like Babycakes Cupcake Maker. What’s not to love about a cupcake!
Shopping carts are not something I was expecting to see at the Housewares show. These trendy, eco-friendly shopping carts are originally from Spain, but there were a few manufacturers at the show including Playmarket. These new shopping carts feature trendy color fabrics, are lightweight, compactable, functional and help reduce the use of plastic bags. The only downside is these shopping carts are mostly targeted at urban dwellers. Being a beach bum myself, I would love to see a version for the beach with wheels that would easily glide over the sand.
Green is still the new black at the show with companies like Replenish, GreenPan and RuMe promoting eco-friendly cleaning products, pots and pans and reusable bags respectively. However, most manufacturers promoting green products realize their products are not going to sell just because they are green. While consumers would like to say they purchase green products to save the environment, it is necessary to promote a more prominent benefit like convenience first with the environmental benefit coming secondary.
And finally, I had to laugh at the good old guerrilla marketing one manufacturer was using to get buyers’ attention at the show.
The Super Bowl ended about a month ago, and the Housewares Show ended on Tuesday, but the sentiment for Made in America products continues to grow.
Unfortunately, it appears to have nothing to do with protests against a communist government or a swell of nationalist pride or even a return to safer, higher quality products.
It’s about the money.
As reported in the Chicago Sun Times, “China’s labor is creeping up,” said John Armaly Jr., president of Armaly Brands, which makes Brillo Pads in Ohio. “Their middle class wants what you and I want. They want more money, and the Chinese government is going to raise wages.”
Maybe he’s right, maybe manufacturing will come back to America because it is more affordable or less complicated. Either way, it would be good to see a new manufacturing revolution take hold in the United States. Not a return to what was, but a cleaner, smarter form of manufacturing. Anything is possible… especially in America.
First and foremost, if your website doesn’t have analytics installed, it is a must do. Analytics allow you to see important statistics about your website, including how many visitors are coming to your website, how long visitors are staying on your website, how visitors found your website and much more exciting data.
And the best thing about web analytics is you can get it for free. Simply go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ to get started.
Once your website analytics are installed, start reviewing and assessing the data on a regular basis. We recommend reviewing your website stats at least once a month and begin to identify trends and opportunities to enhance your website. While there are endless ways to drill down into the data, we have provided eight website statistics you should be reviewing.
1. Unique visitors: The number of unique visits will give you a true understanding of how many people actually visited your website in a given time period. This means if I visited your website 20 times in one month, I’m only counted as one unique visitor for that month. However, “visits” can include one person visiting your website multiple times.
2. Average time on the site: If the average time on your website is low (less than a minute), this means visitors are not finding your website content valuable. Take a closer look at the stats and determine why this might be occurring. Ways to increase the time visitors spend on your site include adding video, articles, whitepapers or blogs that feature relevant content.
3. Bounce rate: The bounce rate is the number of visitors who come to your website and then immediately “bounce” or leave. If your bounce rate is high (50% or more), take a closer look into the stats and see why people are immediately leaving. A high bounce rate can reduce your search engine rankings.
4. Visitor loyalty: For most businesses, it is important to keep bringing back customers and prospects to your website. If visitor loyalty is important to your business, determine how many returning vs. new visitors are coming to your site.
If the number of returning visitors is low, brainstorm ways to increase visitor loyalty. For example, if you sell cookware, post recipes on a regular basis or develop and distribute an e-newsletter that brings customers/prospects back to your website.
5. Traffic sources: There are three ways visitors can be coming to your website – directly, through a search engine or through a link on another website. If you have a high percentage of visitors coming directly to your site, kudos to you. This means you have good brand awareness and either the visitor is typing your URL directly into his or her browser or your URL is book marked.
Drill down into the referring traffic to find out what sites are linking to your website. Look to see if there are any types of sites (blogs, media, etc.) that do a good job of driving quality traffic to your website and determine a way to get other similar sites to link to your website.
6. Keywords: Take a look at what keywords are driving traffic to your website. This will be particularly important if you are conducting search engine optimization.
7. Content: Drill down into what pages are getting the most visits, what pages are being ignored, at what pages people are entering the site and at what pages people are exiting the site. This will help determine what content is most valuable for your visitors and ways you can increase the time spent on your site.
8. Goals: You can set up tracking on your analytics to identify when visitors complete a “goal”. For example, you might set up a goal for an ecommerce purchase or a goal for when a contact form is submitted. We highly recommend adding “goals” because it will enable you to track these “goals” over time and determine how tweaks to the website or marketing campaigns are affecting the achieved goals.
Once you start reviewing your website analytics regularly and get comfortable with the data, you can start drilling down even further. The fun never ends!