So you’re planning a grand opening in a new market. Market research, media announcements, ground breakings, local sponsorships, advertising, hiring events, community breakfasts and luncheons, celebrity spokespersons, ribbon cuttings and tours. So little time and so much to do with such small budgets.
And through it all, you wonder: What is the impact and value of all this new market promotion?
Well, if it is any consolation, you are asking the right question. Getting results is paramount, but measuring, interpreting and learning from them is equally important. Of course it all begins with objectives – preferably crystal-clear, detailed objectives. It’s great that management wants you to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to the store and generate sales, but what does that mean? Increase sales from what to what? Drive how much traffic and from which demographic groupings over what time period… and what if they go online instead of into the store? And how much sales of which product categories over what time period?
So, yeah, before you even get started, you need to know where you want to end up. Then you need to survey or at least audit the marketplace to determine awareness levels, perceptions and behavioral intent. You also need to understand market dynamics (how many competitors, locations, likelihood of their marketing response, etc.). Then you need to design the right campaign strategies to achieve your goals in light of these market conditions.
And please, PLEASE do not forget about execution. Every little thing you do AND the way you do it conveys your brand to this new community. Execution must be flawless – appropriate, timely, consistent. It takes a village of dedicated workers marching in unison.
Finally, you must measure and evaluate the hell out of your results. Learn what worked and what didn’t, examine all the possible reasons why and determine – going forward – how to use this new knowledge.
From the outside looking in, it is all ribbons, princesses and balloons. But from the inside looking out, it is a lot of work – strategic and creative execution – that ultimately has the ability to add value to the bottomline.
This is one of my all-time favorite questions; it is usually asked by everyone except the one person who didn’t see the proverbial train coming. It is what made America’s Funniest Home Videos so popular, not to mention YouTube: average – and even above-average – people doing obviously stupid things.
Like the guy on his cell phone who walks over an open manhole cover and falls into a sewer… or the fat lady who can’t see the sidewalk in front of her and steps on the banana peel, falling onto her well-padded behind… or the guy telling his associate what an idiot his boss is while his boss is standing right behind him. Classic stuff. And let’s be honest, more often than not it is pretty darn funny – and could earn you $100,000 in prizes (ask Tom Bergeron)!
But do you know what isn’t funny, yet is totally predictable? People like Gordon Gee and Roy Hibbert and that California kid who licked the Taco Bell taco shells.
Overpaid administrators, overconfident athletes and underpaid, semi-moronic, post-pubescent fast food workers.
Maybe we’ve changed as a society or maybe the prevalence of traditional, digital and social media is simply forcing all of us to see what’s always been there. But while TV shows like ABC’s What Would You Do? with John Quinones gives us hope that not everyone is a disgusting idiot, there are also shows like World’s Dumbest and Tosh.o and Ridiculousness that would indicate there is no hope at all.
We’ve got politicians tweeting their wieners, restaurant workers urinating into coffee carafes, bankers embezzling their customers’ money, skateboarders jumping off rooftops, drunken college students falling off balconies, Bayou boys catching live gators, ax men dropping trees on each other and housewives of New York and Atlanta and 10 other metro markets making total asses of themselves. It is seemingly endless.
And to make matters even worse, when it all goes bad – as it inevitably does – these knuckleheads seem surprised and even indignant (reference Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia). As for Gordon Gee (who got retired) and Roy Hibbert (who got dusted) and the Taco Bell licker (who is being investigated), they have yet to respond to being caught in the act of stupidity, but they most certainly will. It’s just a matter of time.
Remember that classic Seinfeld episode in which Java World offers Kramer free coffee for life to settle a lawsuit? Poor Cosmo had no idea they were also prepared to give him $50,000.
And eventually the effects of all that caffeine forced Kramer to swear off the java juice, netting him a fairly valueless settlement.
Which brings us to the story of George Ramsey the Cleveland hero.
Unlike the Seinfeld sidekick whose settlement allowed him free coffee at any location around the world, George Ramsey can only check in at a dozen locations in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. And he can only get a free McDonalds burger “whenever he wants one.” No word on the fries or drinks or the ability to super-size.
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, because the gesture is a nice one, but considering what George Ramsey did, it just feels like he deserves something more substantial than a beef patty on a bun.
And though I am certain he is grateful to the participating eateries, for my part, I am not “lovin’ it.”
And by “lost” I mean Gilligan’s Island.
I mean seriously, what in the name of Neptune and Poseidon is going on at JC Penney?
First you fire the skipper (Myron Ullman) because the S.S. Minnow is lost at sea. Sales are flat, the JCPenney image is out of touch and Ullman just isn’t getting the job done.
So you bring in the professor (Ron Johnson) and ask him to use his experience (as a research scientist and scoutmaster) to turn the ship around. But only half-way through the second season you decide the professor isn’t making progress fast enough.
Then what do you do? Why you jump into the way-back machine and set a course for backwards, and rehire the old skipper to save the sinking ship… even though he wasn’t getting the job done in the first place. And, of course, the new old skipper can not act fast enough to undo everything the professor just did.
First order of business? Fire the professor’s ad agency, hire a new ad agency and tell the world we made a mistake and we are sorry (we are not certain yet if the mistake was hiring the professor or bringing back the skipper, but that will become apparent in future episodes).
Anyway, here we are just two weeks into the new voyage (the second half of season 2), and the skipper is claiming to have escaped the island and reached dry land. “We’re happy to say you’ve come back to us,” declares the company’s new TV spot. Apparently the castaways have returned home (which you will recall is the place they were originally at that resulted in the skipper’s first firing two years ago).
I am fairly certain at this stage of the game that Mary Ann or Ginger or Gilligan or even Benjamin Linus could make better decisions for the USS Minnow. Or maybe not. In any event, I think the JC Penney show is almost as much fun, and definitely as campy as Gilligan’s Island. So if nothing else, it will be fun to watch until they actually get rescued in season 4… assuming they continue to follow the script from Sherwood Schwartz.