Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burnett or Burnout...

Last night, President Bush warned: “Our entire economy is in danger.”

I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to minimize the situation. Nor do I want to fuel the fear. I’m not an economist, nor a politico. I’m a sales and marketing consultant.

Here’s how other business managers have been facing the downturn, up until now:

About 28% of respondents to a recent Entrepreneur magazine poll said their response has been to market aggressively. The next response was cutting expenses (22.2%) and focus on cash flow (16.7%).

I’d say do all three. But focus on marketing first.

Leo Burnett, founder of the global ad agency that bears his name, opened his doors on August 5, 1935 – in the midst of the great depression. While others shuttered their doors, Burnett realized the key to success in troubled times was beer marketing. He developed creative advertising that focused on the “inherit drama” of the product or service to sway customers to spend whatever they were spending with his clients.

Today, Leo Burnett Worldwide has 97 offices in 84 countries.

Homework: How are you responding to the downturn? Are you doing all you can? What more can you do to be more creative, aggressive and positive? Is your advertising pulling its weight?

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm on vacation in Door County this week so I'll be brief.

Yesterday we had breakfast at Al Johnson's Restaurant - the place with the goats on the roof.

This is my first trip to Door County but everyone I talked to suggested I eat at the place with the goats on the roof. Some people remember the name, some remember the food, but everyone remembered the live goats on the roof.

Sometimes our most important marketing asset isn't our product or service at all.

Homework: What do people remember about your product or service?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I find watching the presidential campaign unfold as we approach the Election quite entertaining. It’s also an interesting study in marketing strategies.

Take spin, for example. Politicians are experts at spin.

Say there’s an inconsistency in Obama’s voting record. McCain’s staff would probably jump on it charging the Dem with “flip-flopping”. Barack’s camp, on the other hand, would likely defend his record by saying the candidate has “evolved” on the issue.

Or vice-versa.

Doesn’t matter which side does it. The strategy is turning a perceived negative into a positive. Or turning a positive into a negative -- depending on which side you’re on. You just need to spin the story in your favor.

Marketers do it all the time.

One brand makes a claim: “Green Products.” The competition counters the claim: “Greenwashing.”

Who’s right? It all depends on your perspective.

Homework: How can you turn a negative into a positive? What is the upside of your product or services downside? Or what’s the downside of your competitor’s upside?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Humor Me...

"You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."

GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin probably used more humor, like the joke above, in her RNC speech than her opponent.

Some pundits felt the humor made her more likable. Some felt otherwise.

Again, I'll side step politics and address the marketing issue: is funny good in marketing?

Humor can be a powerful tool. But it can be a double-edged sword. What's funny to me may not be funny to you.

Some humor can be corny. Some offensive. And some a dead-on bell ringer.

Salespeople can use humor to break down barriers and get prospects and customers to open up.

But humor in advertising may not sell more product. According to New York University marketing professor Mark Levit:

"Humor in advertising tends to improve brand recognition, but does not improve product recall, message credibility, or buying intentions. In other words, consumers may be familiar with and have good feelings towards the product, but their purchasing decisions will probably not be affected."


So are marketers wasting their money on all those funny commercials out there?

I believe if the humor is directly tied to the products benefits or selling message, then the humor can be persuasive. But humor for humor's sake is not as effective.

Just this morning Beth mentioned a TV commercial. I remembered the sponsor: IBM. She didn't. (But it took me a while to recall it just now!)

Was that effective advertising? I don't think so.

So, what's the difference between a marketer and a politician?

I'll let you come up with your own punch line. (I don't want to be corny or offensive.)

Homework: Can you use humor? Is your competition using it? Can humor help you stand apart?