Monday, June 23, 2008

TV or Not TV

One of our consistent themes has be lack of enthusiasm for television advertising. This is not just the curmudgeon in us. Although TV can be cost effective to reach large numbers of viewers and useful to introduce or support a brand. However, TV campaigns are usually structured so they are difficult to evaluate. The commercials can be expensive to produce and difficult to target to your market.

Traditional ad agencies have not helped and often sacrificed accountability in pursuit of creativity. Senn and Fallon’s interesting but unconvincing apology for ad creativity, Juicing the Orange, continues in the wrong direction. Fallon produced the memorable herding cats Superbowl ad a few years back. Though the production was memorable, viewers couldn’t remember the sponsor or that its business had to do with the ad.

What’s a marketer to do? An intriguing option is provided by online agency, Spot Runner. They deliver three benefits, which make TV at least worth a test – cheap yet professional production, easily targeted media buying, and convenient detailed reporting.

Spot Runner offers extremely low costs through web based automation. A full service ad agency can charge tens or hundreds of thousands for a custom produced TV commercial. With Spot Runner, you choose a generic commercial from a library of several thousand and then customize it for your product or business with your logo, graphics, offer, and a professional voice over. The result looks like the real thing rather than a homemade ready for YouTube spot. This costs all of $500 to $750 depending on the amount of customization. The ad can, and usually should, display trackable information such as a unique phone number, URL, or email address.

Once you have a commercial, where do you run it? Spot Runner has an automated media buying process, which allows targeting as precisely as individual zip codes as well as specific times. The process is roughly similar to creating ads through Google’s AdWords. Spot Runner’s appears easier for the novice TV advertiser. Unlike Google, you can call Spot Runner with questions and problems.

Does this mean that TV should be part of your marketing mix? It does mean that if you have $1500 to $2000 for production and a media buy, you can find out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

As marketers we often like to reward prospects. A venerable, if tired, trinket is a T-shirt. Rightly done, the shirt not only pleases but also advertises our brand or promise. More often, it ends up discarded or cleaning rag.

I was reminded of this waste of fabric recently by two lead generation promotions from Sprint and USPS. Both wanted to provide services to provide targeted personalize experiences to help get closer to customers. Part of the incentive for explore their offerings was a T-shirt. One even promised to be organic cotton. Both shirts were ugly. Neither of them fit. How well does that support their marketing campaigns?

Suppose the reply form had asked for size and gender and perhaps other characteristics? Questions now appropriate to provide a better fitting shirt. You’d now know more about your prospects they night now find your incentive worth something.

On demand production of shirts now makes this practical and economical. It could also reinforce an image of satisfying customer’s needs rather than our need to maintain a single bin of extra large shirts.

Meanwhile, anyone want some T-shirts?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yodeling in Purple

An advantage of direct mail, still unmatched online, is the ability to grab a customers attention with real stuff, as opposed to information, pictures, sounds, etc. Unlike the virtual world, direct mailers deal with atoms rather than bits. This can work, despite the increased cost, if you choose the right stuff and, of course, test your campaign.

These solid mailings usually get opened unless you're expecting a bomb or your company's mailroom intercepts them. The appeal of getting attention is not lost even on such a web centered company as Yahoo. I was reminded of this recently, when I received an unsolicited small plain brown square cardboard package.

The minimal label did not proclaim its contents - principally a circular purple plastic device perhaps 4" in diameter and 21/2" high. It looked like a large button. Press it and it would play Yahoo's signature yodel sound. The video below shows it in action.

The box also contained a note and small brochure proclaiming the benefits of search engine advertising through Yahoo. These were similar to other mailings I've received from Yahoo.

That's it. Not wishing to irritate my office neighbors or in need of a paper weight, I dumped it in the trash.

Questions left for the reader:

  • What does this have to do with search engine marketing?

  • Did the inclusion of the button significantly increase response rates?

  • Did Yahoo choose this tsatske because they thought prospects would like it or because it was not selling well on Yahoo's company store?

I am not making this up! You can actually buy one of these for only $19.00 plus shipping at the Yahoo company store.

I guess I should have sold mine on ebay.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Tawt I Thaw A Twitter

When I first heard of Twitter a year or two ago; its concept, as I understood it at the time, left me unmoved. It seemed to be a service which let you send short messages to anyone who chose to sign up to receive them. Rather than just going to the gym, mowing the lawn, or waiting for a root canal; you could inform at least some part of the world while you were doing so. The messages could be SMS text messages, Instant messaging, or via a web page.

These messages or “twits” differ from email, blogs, or conventional web pages. They are short and generally spontaneous - even in real time. Like so many media, Twitter has evolved other uses and applications. Even if you don’t feel the need to be advised every time a friend takes a coffee break, your organization could use twitter as a light weight way to keep in touch with key audiences. These could be sales, product launches, service announcements, or anything of real time interest. Twitter is only sent to those choose to subscribe (“follow” in Twitter speak) so this is not a spammers medium.

Messages can be no more than 140 characters – little more than fits in a fortune cookie or a Google text ad – so getting to the point is key. Twitter can readily be added to a blog or web page. This enables micro-blogging or very short spontaneous posts. Scroll down this page to see an example of this in the right sidebar.

If you're really having a tough time getting started on your company blog, this just might be the way to go.