Archive for category Marketing

This Valentine’s Day, All You Need is … Evernote Market

Posted by on Monday, 10 February, 2014

This week is Valentine’s Day. That day of the year filled with cheap chocolates, hard-to-get dinner reservations, and women in the office comparing the size of their bouquets.

It’s a great sales opportunity, but what do you do if your product isn’t all hearts and cherubs?

Last week I received a Valentine’s Day promotion email from Evernote. You know, that information management app. Here it is.


I suspect your first reaction is the same as mine, “Really? Valentine’s Day? Evernote’s not romantic.”.

Then I thought about it. I am the target market.

No one could ever get my attention with flowers and hearts, and I can never imagine dating anyone who gets into Valentine’s Day. And I’m not alone.

With this email, Evernote has expanded the Valentine’s Day market size. Now it includes all those people, like me, who ignore Valentine’s Day.

So the lesson is to be creative and find your market. You may be fortunate, like Evernote, and create a new one.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Who are your Competitors?

Posted by on Sunday, 19 January, 2014
Who are your competitors

Image courtesy of Amazon via Geekwire

Last week Amazon launched their back-to-school campaign by attacking independent college bookstores on their own turf – literally.

As reported by Shelf Awareness and GeekWire, they set up displays on at least four college campuses across the US and college-aged promo teams approached students with the Amazon Student program and offering the chance to save $1,000s on text books.

There was outrage. How dare big, bad Amazon be so cruel to independent bookstores?

“New Amazon Low: Trying to Steal Customers Outside Indie Store” – Shelf Awareness

The outrage was misplaced.

I don’t know a single independent bookstore who should consider Amazon a competitor.

Really, I don’t. And I can explain.

Do you know who your competitors are? Why are they your competitors? There are many different models you can use to do this. I like looking at the customers/target market, after all, they’re the ones handing over the cash.

Let’s use the Amazon and independent bookstores situation as a case study. To make it easier, I’m going to refer to all independent bookstores as one organization.

First make a buyer persona of your customers. Current and ideal works well. To keep this concise, I’m only going to look at the buyer motivators of customers from each organization. You will have multiple buyer personas, but I’m cutting this down.

Independent Bookstores
– value-driven
– passionate: genre-focused geeks
– community-minded
– local

Next list your competitors, and make possible buyer personas for whom you assume are their customers.

– price-driven
– wants range and choice
– often geographically diverse

Have a look at the motivators for each buyer. Are they the same across organizations? How vast is the difference?

Your competitors are only the ones with the same customers.

Going back to our case study, you’ll notice the motivators never overlap; they are not the same customers.

An Amazon customer will seek out the lowest price.

An independent bookstore customer will pay full price for their books, knowing they can ask the bookseller for recommendations, attend book clubs, meet their favorite authors, etc. Sure, they love a bargain, but that’s a bonus, not the reason.

Should the Independent Bookstores Ignore Amazon?

Business plans are dynamic, so never totally ignore your “not-competitors”. They may change tactics, or you may change tactics and try to reach their customer. Just don’t focus on them and ignore your customers. The Amazon campaign was cheeky, but not something the college bookstores should be worried about. Leave the low margin customers to Amazon, and focus on providing value to your customers who may initially purchase text books, but come back for gift books and stationery.

Disclaimer: While I haven’t included any information or inferred anything that isn’t public, I do need to state that I am current contracted to the University Bookstore in Washington. I’m the Husky photographer for the online store, and help out with PR in any downtime. I wasn’t in the office during the Amazon campaign or involved in any of the communications around it.

Direct mail isn’t dead. Ricola shows how it’s done.

Posted by on Thursday, 19 December, 2013

For the last few years the focus has been on digital. It’s faster, cheaper and can be more innovative. Many called it the death of direct mail.

Ricola shows it’s not dead. It’s just been neglected.

A few weeks ago Ricola offered me a Klout Perk. I like their lozenges, it’s cold season. I thought, why not? I was expecting a small padded bag in the mail.

Today, this box was delivered.

Ricola Direct Mail

I was impressed. It’s big, about 12″ long. It’s strongly branded. The postage label says it cost a whopping $8.90 to deliver.

Then I opened it…

(Turn up the volume)

Impressed? I am. Two packs of Ricola lozenges were inside the massive “lozenge”. One original flavor and one of their new extra strength menthol mint flavor.

While taking the photos and filming the box, all I could think was, “It’s a singing box!”.

Cough lozenges are a difficult thing to promote. No one actually likes them, because you only need them while ill. There’s minimal product differential, and low involvement.

Which is what makes this campaign by the Ricola marketing team so brilliant. Even though the packaging is the appeal, I know the lozenges are made from a Swiss recipe with herbs, and Ricola has a yodel catch phrase. Yes, I’m likely to buy these cough lozenges, and I’ve shared packaging photos on Instagram, Twitter and facebook. I guess that means I’ve behaved as desired.

Would I do anything different?

I’m not convinced on distribution via Klout. Generally, it’s a terrible way to identify influencers, but cough lozenges are a very difficult product to promote. I can’t think of a way to do it otherwise. Remember, they didn’t want their existing fans (they’ll buy and share anyway), and no one really wants to talk about illness.

Disclaimer: As mentioned, these were a gift via Klout. I’m sure you agree though that it hasn’t influenced my opinions. The packaging is brilliant marketing.

Ricola Direct MailDirect Mail Ricola

My 2014 Marketing Wishlist

Posted by on Sunday, 15 December, 2013

Marketing WishlistIt’s that time of year again. Kids are writing Santa lists. Adults are reflecting on the past year and planning for the next.

Here’s my 2014 marketing wishlist.

1. Integrated marketing comes back.

We talk about bringing down silos but then create them. Is it a social media campaign, a direct mail or event? Our audiences don’t look at it this way, so why should we? Let’s plan marketing campaigns with SEO, social media, print, and event tactics. Campaign performance will increase and you may even have fun dabbling in new areas.

2. Accept mobile is just par for the course.

OK, it’s another rant but we all know the stats about mobile usage outpacing desktop. When you’re planning any online campaigns ensure the sites are responsive design. That’s all. It is that easy. Add in location and apps, if you want, but they are just tactics and tools. The moment we stop declaring it the next big thing, marketers will stop being scared of it and we might catch up to our audiences’ usage behaviors.

3. Accept nothing dies, it just evolves.

Video killed the radio star? Well, the internet brought them back. Life is a constant evolution, embrace it. When your favorite marketing tool goes out of favor, find a new one or tweak your product. This is a marketing truth that really excites me. I can’t wait to see what new toys we’ll get to play with.

4. Millennials or any generation segmenting.

This was a topic in 2008 when I started grad school. By the time I graduated, two years later, it was passé. Can you really say all people born in 1983 behave the same? Are you the same as your age peers? Did you get married at the same time? Buy a new car? How many jobs have you had? Have they done the same? No, so let’s move on and look at personas and lifestyle stages. We have the technology and research to appeal to our audiences and sub-audiences without a cookie cutter approach. Try it, the results will impress you.

5. Big data.

In 1999 I was a new retail manager helping our tech marketing team with some launch promotions. We were a new ISP with a big budget. If a campaign didn’t produce sign-ups we called it branding. Within a year the parent company layer off the entire team and transferred sales to the call center. We didn’t track anything or look at the data. Big mistake. Still today too many marketers are scared of numbers and adding the word Big to data isn’t helping. Jump in to a spreadsheet and start small. It needn’t be complex data, everyone can understand the number of retweets per month over a year.

6. The end of B2B and B2C.

This is another silo that’s starting to fall – woohoo! As with generation segmenting, it’s time to properly look at your audience. I know you’re saying the buying cycle isn’t the same for B2B. The decision maker may not be the end user. How is that different from B2C? Kids have a big say in car and holiday purchases, but can’t hand over the cash. B2B audiences are people too. Find what works best for your audience. Make it colorful, make it fun, make it personal.

What’s on your marketing wishlist? Let me know in the comments.

Google Analytics Academy – Course Complete

Posted by on Tuesday, 22 October, 2013

Did you know that Google Analytics has re-vamped their training? It’s now brilliant.

In addition to the Google Analytics Individual Qualification and the partner courses, they’ve introduced Analytics Academy. It’s a series of video courses taking you through an in-depth understanding of Google Analytics and how to apply it to your business.

The first course is open and successfully completing the final quiz gives a certificate that looks like this:

Google Analytics Academy


Yes, I just passed the quiz. *happy dance*

What does this mean? Not much really. While I’ve been using Google Analytics for years, the Analytics Academy course materials did teach me a lot. The quizzes for each activity help to reinforce your learning and keep your concentration. This is versus the plethora of videos for the Individual Qualification that are focussed on getting you through the exam. Sure both have a strong focus on goal setting, but many marketers still need that.

I still have work to put in before sitting the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, but this has been great revision and I definitely recommend it to anyone starting with website analytics or wanting to solidify their knowledge. While the courses and support have set time periods, the videos and quizzes are enduring, you jump in anytime. If you complete the videos during a course period, don’t forget to screen grab your certificate. It disappears when the course closes. See, I said it doesn’t mean much. I still have a ways to go for certification, this was a help though.