Archive for November, 2011

Cyber Monday


Looking for a deal on a really special gift?

It is good to be rich. But for the rest of us, I think my Black Friday advice still holds.

Advertising: Another All-Loser Edition


I’m doing a little post-Thanksgiving-catching-up on things in the DVR, so I’m not sure exactly when these ads aired–let’s call it last Saturday. And I can’t decide what’s stupider: Cottonelle’s “Respect the Roll” campaign with its emphasis on something that is clearly a contrived way to increase revenue, rather than something that actually solves customer problems more effectively than alternatives . . . or the idea that Jennifer Lopez routinely drives a Fiat through The Bronx (although it’s actually Los Angeles, so I guess I can believe that JLo is driving through L.A. and pretending it’s The Bronx.)


Seriously, this one is tough.

Black Friday Advice


I work in marketing, so I’m not going to tell you not to shop for deals this Friday. I’m just going to tell you this: Don’t shop for more than you can afford.

There’s enough debt out there already. Why make more of it yours?

Fresh Content, Existing Medium


Sometimes it’s worth taking a look at existing tools that you’re not using, and figuring out how you can use them. Los Angeles Animal Services seems to have done just that, and I’m impressed with what I see.

It’s common to see a series of paired vertical banners hung from light poles along major boulevards. They usually seem to be promoting museum exhibits or touring productions of Broadway musicals. So I was struck recently by a campaign that uses that space for a very different goal.

Each pair of banners carries a photo of a pet, accompanied by one of a set of messages: Adopt, Microchip, Volunteer, Spay & Neuter, License, and Foster.

I think these are really well done. Visually they look like they fit in with the usual messages, but they say something very different, for a very different organization. And that difference meant that they caught my attention–which after all is the point, no?

So how can you make your message look fresh by sharing it somewhere unexpected?

Photos by John and Kathy Lisiewicz

Unfriendly Skies


An Austria-based airline recently forced its passengers to pool funds to pay for $31,500 worth of fuel during a trip.

And in another instance, passengers refused to deplane from a Hong Kong carrier until they received what they felt was appropriate compensation for a 9-hour delay.

In the era of social media, these instances will not go unnoticed. They may not make endless headlines like, say, a quickie celebrity divorce–but people will talk about them, to a global audience.

So if you’re a business, how do you handle this? What do you do to keep this from happening at your company? And here’s a tip: it’s better to keep the incident from happening in the first place than to make up for it later.

Don’t strongarm your customers. It’s a really bad business practice.

Tips for Using QR Codes Effectively


Everywhere you look, bar codes that bear an eerie resemblance to Space Invaders are appearing. “Quick Response” codes, known as QR codes, can be found on posters, magazine ads, ice cream containers, and beyond. So what are they good for, and how can you make the most of them? Mashable has a post with tips; here are my thoughts.

1) Start with “why?”. Know what you hope to accomplish by using a QR code. “All the cool kids are doing it” still isn’t a great reason. Are you driving people to a mobile site? Supporting a specific promotion or campaign? The answer to this question is important.

2) Know what you want your customers to do. You need them to want to scan the code. Think about your call to action, and why a customer would want to follow it.

3) Think about where you’re sending them. A QR code is a mobile tool. Don’t send them to a regular website–send them to a mobile-friendly page.

4) Know what you’re measuring. It’s great to know how many people scan the code. Beyond that, though, take a look at how much time they spend on your site after scanning that code. Engagement matters here. And how does it compare to other avenues? Are other approaches–Facebook, Twitter, etc.–providing greater contacts and engagement?

5) Be creative. I was at the Santa Barbara Zoo this summer, and they had what I thought was a terrific use for QR codes: providing current video of animals that are likely to be asleep, hidden, or sedentary at the time you walk by the enclosure. Toys R Us is including them in their “Great Big Toys R Us Book” this year, to provide more information about specific products–and even to show some of them in action.

Old Time Rock and . . . No


I haven’t been able to turn up video online, so you’ll have to take my word for it: if you don’t believe that cleaning your floors can transform your life, then evidently you have not purchased the Shark floor steamer that can not only inspire an actress in a commercial to dance while scrubbing, but also turns her world from drab to Technicolor, sort of like she’s doing housework in Pleasantville.

I don’t know any woman who really gets that excited about cleaning. Is it stereotypical? Ask yourself this: is it likely that anyone in the process seriously considered casting a man?

Brands on Google+


So it’s real: Google+ is open for business–not just with people (using their real names), but with brands as well.

After months of delays, and pulling down the brand pages that first went up, Google has announced that companies, nonprofits, stores, and other organizations can establish pages on the new social network. Now you can +1 all of your favorite brands–once they’ve decided to have a Google+ page, of course. And with Circles, you can organize them in whatever manner you can imagine–just like with the individuals you (presumably) already follow in one form or another.

So now that brands from Angry Birds and the Dallas Cowboys to Save the Children UK and H&M are on Google+, you can find yet another place to interact with your favorite organizations. And those brands have another chance to connect with their customers–and to deal with feedback, good and bad.

A Question of Trust



David Meerman Scott has a great post about why it matters whether an employer lets you use social media at work. One sentence sums it up nicely: “When companies ban social networking, the best employees leave. They sense they are not trusted.”

So, if you’re an employer, here are a few questions for you:

  • Are your employees getting their work done on time?
  • Do you let your employees access social media sites at work?
  • Do you let them check their personal e-mail?
  • Will you find ways to incorporate regular telecommuting on at least a part-time basis?

If you answered “yes” to the first question and “no” to any of the others, then I have only one more question for you:

Why did you hire so many people you don’t trust?

Also, you may want to ask yourself if you’re really as good a boss as you think you are.

Photo by Txspiked, via Flickr.

Words and Images


My guess is that there isn’t a lot the original blog can do about what ads appear with their posts in RSS readers. And the ad would be harmless on its own . . . but am I the only one who cringed a bit at this juxtaposition?

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