Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Traditionally companies communicated with customers through outbound marketing channels, blasting advertising messages at their potential customers. In recent years the rise of social media has enabled companies to have more of a conversation with their customers. New start-up AdYapper continues the inbound marketing trend by providing a channel for companies to get feedback on their television advertising campaigns. As a one-way communication medium, television-advertising feedback is typically limited to focus groups and sales analysis, but this could change.

So What is AdYapper.com?

AdYapper offers a platform to enable advertisers to gain opinions on their commercials. Brands can verify their accounts and obtain consumer feedback on their commercials. The site offers the opportunity for marketers to gain greater insights to avoid wasting money on campaigns that don’t engage the public. AdYapper aims to empower consumers to hold advertisers accountable by sharing their thoughts. Consumers can view commercials and click if they loved it, hated it or were indifferent to it and give their opinions. Consumers can also upload ads from YouTube, and give their opinions even if the brands have not joined the site. Current commercials on AdYapper include campaigns from Coca Cola, eBay, Adobe, and Nike.

The Challenge

I love the concept of providing a forum for brands to get consumer feedback on their commercials, but the challenge will be getting consumers to want to “yap”. AdYapper may need a compensation type program similar to e-rewards.com, where consumers could receive points towards gift cards or monetary compensation for viewing sponsored commercials. Another challenge for AdYapper will be how they can make money from the site. The start-up may need to keep some of their data private in order for it to be of enough value to sell to marketers. They may also need to start collecting demographic data from consumers, as currently the site only requires Facebook or Twitter log on and an e-mail address.

AdYapper offers an innovative way to transform television marketing in to an inbound marketing opportunity. Some refining will be needed to entice consumers to participate to gain enough feedback to be truly valuable to marketers. Time will tell if AdYapper could become like Yelp for TV commercials, but what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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In the last few years the business press has been inundated with stories of business failure. In this post I want to write about a business that has continued to soar in spite of the challenging economic environment: Five Guys.

Five Guys is a fast food franchise restaurant company that focuses on hamburgers and fries. In 2012 the company’s sales are expected to exceed $1 billion and Five Guys was recognized as the fastest growing US restaurant chain by Nation’s Restaurant News. In the past year Five Guys’ sales have grown 31.84% with unit growth of 24.73%. The company now has over 1000 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada with plans to expand overseas to the UK in the upcoming year.

Here are five reasons for Five Guys’ success:

1. Word of Mouth Marketing: There are no Five Guys restaurants in my area yet, however this restaurant has gained a cult following similar to that of In & Out Burger, so it’s hard not to have heard about them. Recently on a trip back from California my husband and I stopped at the one in Roseville a few miles off the freeway, to see what the fuss was all about. Surprisingly it lived up to the hype! Five Guys are a word of mouth phenomenon, having built their brand on customer referrals and media reviews. Even the Kardashians have promoted Five Guys for free! As these tweets show: 

2. Simplicity: Five Guys have a very simple menu, but it is this simplicity that is key to their success, as Inc. columnist Jeff Haden acknowledges:

“They don’t try to be all things to all people, they sell to people who want a great burger. They’ve identified a market big enough that they can do that.”

3. Top Notch Ingredients: Five Guys are focused on offering a quality product made using the best ingredients. Even though this causes high costs and higher than average prices, the great food justifies it and keeps customers coming back. This focus on food quality differentiates Five Guys from many of their fast food competitors and has earned them numerous cuisine awards including Zagat survey appearances every year since 2001.

4. Treat Customers Right: Fast food restaurants are not necessarily known for good service.however Five Guys may be the exception. On entering the Five Guys restaurant in Roseville an employee took the initiative to approach us and ask if we’d been to a Five Guys before. On learning that we hadn’t, the employee took the time to explain how the orders worked, available topping options and portion sizing. Five Guys’ focus on their customers extends to their public acknowledgement that their success is dependent on their patrons. Check out this sign posted in many of their restaurants:

5. Treat Employees Right: Five guys CEO Jerry Murrell, advocates treating both employees and customers’ right. This approach is very reminiscent of the fast food restaurant described in Greg Blencoe’s SuperManager book which I reviewed in a past post. Employees are paid above minimum wage and many of the restaurants offer health insurance to crew members, which is outside the industry norm. Even more surprising the company does little advertising in order to give employees bonuses. 

Five Guys have soared in recent years and time will tell if their success can be sustained. But what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And if you haven’t been to Five Guys, visit their website to find your nearest restaurant.

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Donate Your Desktop is an innovative application created in New Zealand, which enables Mac or PC users to donate their desktop background to raise money for charity.

The Opportunity:

When you think about it, your computer desktop is a wasted space that may at best display photos and at worst be a bland computer selected design.  Since people look at their desktops frequently this idle space represents a potential advertising opportunity.

How it Works:

Companies pay Donate Your Desktop to advertise on people’s desktops.  75% of advertising revenues are then donated to charity.  People can choose to download and install the Donate your Desktop application.  The download process is simple, no credit card details are required and all a user has to do is select a charity.  Current New Zealand charities include Oxfam, WWF, Breast Cancer Foundation and the Starship Foundation (which raises money for child healthcare).

The application does not disturb normal computer usage and it is risk-free and no access is permitted to any files on your computer.  The application merely sits on the system tray and allows the current desktop background to be replaced everyday with a new advertising image.

Each day on computers using the Donate Your Desktop application, a different wallpaper will be displayed advertising that day’s sponsoring company.  Advertised images have been designed to be attractive and visually appealing (see example advertising image to the left), to avoid user irritation.

The Vision:

Donate Your Desktop offers great potential to make a difference in the world as the company describes in their vision statement:

‘There are over a billion computer users across the world that could be helping those in need.  Our vision is to turn your collective efforts into large ongoing donations to our partner charities.’

While Donate Your Desktop is currently only available in New Zealand, there are plans to launch in other countries across the world soon.  If you would like to be notified once the application is available in your country please register your interest at this link.

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Earlier this week I had the opportunity to listen to Laura Zander co-founder of Jimmy Beans Wool speak on entrepreneurial success. Jimmy Beans Wool is primarily a web commerce company (with one retail store in Reno), which sells yarn along with its more recent product line addition of fabrics. When you think of a company that mainly sells yarn, you don’t typically think innovation. Yet Laura and her husband Doug have been very innovative in how they have grown their business in ten years from nothing to a $7 million company. The KOLO video below describes a little bit about their successful business model:

Of all Laura’s tips for business success, the one that stood out the most to me was her philosophy of having the brand continually pop up in unexpected places. Since it is estimated 1 in 4 women in the U.S. know how to knit, Laura recognized this gave the company a huge reach offering endless possibilities for branding partnerships. These branding partnerships represented first mover advantages for Jimmy Beans Wool.

Here are a few of the brand’s unexpected partnerships:

The Emmy’s: As part of their strategy of going where no other yarn company has gone before, Jimmy Beans Wool were able to negotiate to have a swag suite at the Emmy’s. As part of the event the Jimmy Beans Wool team even got to teach stars how to knit. After the event Laura capitalized on the opportunity sending press releases with titles such as “Hollywood Hunks Turn to Knitting” and calling magazines relentlessly to create a buzz. The approach worked and Redbook magazine ran a story on the company.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA): More recently Jimmy Beans Wool have teamed up with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association as their official and first ever yarn, knitting and crochet supplier. Beyond giving the brand great exposure, the partnership makes sense when you think of all the warm beanies, sweaters, scarves etc. the skiers and snowboarders need. The partnership doesn’t stop there either as Laura also recognizes that there is an opportunity to market their yarn products to family members of the ski and snowboard teams.

The Heart Truth: The heart truth is a non-profit campaign by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and sponsoring corporations to increase women’s awareness of heart disease. You’ve probably seen the campaign’s red dress symbol on diet coke cans. Laura chose to get involved in the campaign not only to give back but also to add credibility to Jimmy Beans Wool. The other sponsoring partners are huge corporations including Coca Cola, AOL, CVS and Johnson & Johnson among others. By being a part of a campaign supported by such large corporations, Jimmy Beans Wool can use this to their advantage to appear bigger than they actually are to win future business deals. Jimmy Beans Wool have set up a campaign site for the cause called Stitch Red to enlist the help of yarn retailers, manufacturers and their customers to increase heart disease awareness. The company has created products related to this cause and in June Laura is releasing her first book called “Knit Red.” Knit Red contains 30 red garments and accessories donated by celebrity designers who share their tips for staying healthy and preventing heart disease.

Laura’s future dream partnerships include the Today Show, and having knitting kits on Virgin Airlines. As the company’s tag line says there really are “Endless Possibilities” for where this company could take yarn.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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QR codes – “quick response” codes were first used in the auto industry in Japan in the 1990s. An updated version of QR codes has taken off here in the U.S. in recent years. QR codes are square patterned boxes, which smart phone users can scan, taking them directly to a hyperlink. The concept offers another tool for marketers to add to their digital strategy to offer an interactive experience to their customers.

Common uses of QR codes include access to exclusive content, like videos or special coupons, as well as additional information, social media site interaction, sweepstake entries or links to on-line purchasing.

Here are some guidelines to help make your organization’s use of QR codes successful:

Offer content that will captivate your audience

Having QR codes that link to your home page, offers customers little incentive to use the code. Instead try to use your QR codes to give your customers additional value. QR codes should be used to link to exclusive content, sweepstakes or other non-generic info, which are relevant to your target audience. Macy’s Backstage Pass campaign offers a new take on mobile marketing using QR codes to give customers access to video interviews with various Macy’s fashion designers.

Don’t assume your customers know the what and how of QR codes

While many of your customers likely have smart phones, they may not have downloaded a QR code app and may not know how to use QR codes. Education is key. What was great about Macy’s Backstage Pass campaign was the additional commercials which ran concurrently introducing their customers to QR code technology.

Macy’s Backstage Pass from Matt MacDonald on Vimeo.

They can be made to further stand out  

While many QR codes are black and white boxes, they can also be further customized with logos, colors and designs.

They can be put on anything

QR codes can be put on large variety of materials such as print ads, video, product packaging etc.

They align with your sustainability initiatives

QR codes can enable a user to gain access to written materials through their smart phone saving printing costs.

Make sure the URL is optimized for mobile use

The URL your QR code links to should be optimized for mobile use, if not the QR code is merely a gimmick.

Make sure your QR code delivers

The QR code should deliver what it promises taking customers directly to that information not to your home page. It also needs to be scannable. Think carefully about where your customers may be when they use the QR code, it is crucial their smart phone has Internet access. Subway billboards and in flight magazines are examples of advertising media far from cell-service range preventing QR codes being scanned.

Has your business utilized QR codes yet? Or have you adopted use of this technology? Please share your experiences with QR codes in the comment section below.

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The latest Harvard Business Review case illustrates a theme park trying to decide whether to offer a reduced admission ticket on a social deal site. While a social deal would likely increase attendance numbers, there were concerns that social deal customers would not become loyal returning customers.

A Forbes report from last year illustrated that over 200 social deal sites reach more than 100 million people. Furthermore the social deal site market is predicted to grow to $6 billion by 2015. Here’s what business leaders need to know before committing to doing a social deal offer:

Attract New Customers: The big advantage to social deal sites is that they can help your business to attract a new group of customers. Last summer my husband and I wanted to go sailing on Lake Tahoe. We had never been before and had found three companies in the area that offered sailing excursions. One day I got an e-mail offering a LivingSocial half-price deal for Tahoe Sailing Charters. We were sold and I thought it was such a great deal I shared the deal information with a colleague who also went with her husband. According to LivingSocial 748 tickets for Tahoe Sailing Charters were purchased, not bad for a deal that ran during the off-peak season from late August through September.

Easier Short-term Sales Forecasting: Social deals require an up front purchase resulting in an organization knowing how many deals have been sold prior to the deal being redeemed.

Being Prepared For Increased Demand is Key: Preparation is key from increasing staffing levels during the promotion, to ensuring all staff are up to speed in order to win over these new customers. Corey Kaplan, owner of New York City Bagel Deli in Chicago gives some great advice in the video below on how a business can prepare to optimize their social deal site promotion: 

Negative Losses Can Occur: My advice to small businesses considering offering a deal through this channel would be to create a cap if possible to ensure demand doesn’t exceed supply capabilities. Small London business ‘Need a Cake bakery’ offered a 75% Groupon deal on their cup cakes. The deal was a lot more successful than the business owner had anticipated and attracted 8,500 people. The organization’s staff of eight employees struggled to make 102,000 cupcakes to meet the orders and the business lost approximately $20,000 on the deal. Also worth considering when determining what discount to offer is the social deal site’s commission percentage to ensure you can break even on the deal. Therefore products or services with high profit margins may be more suited to a successful social deal site campaign.

The Returning Customer Conundrum: Some reports suggest that customers that embrace daily deals are cheap and will not become loyal returning customers. This is an over generalization and is likely to become a premonition for businesses doing daily deals who have poor service and substandard products or services on offer. A social deal can be an opportunity to turn these one-time customers into returning ones by offering great products or services and delivering outstanding customer service. My husband and I had a great time on the Tahoe Sailing Charters excursion and would consider returning in the future, particularly if we had friends or family visiting.

Market Research: Social deals also offer marketers the opportunity to find out more information about what attracts customers to the company’s products or services. In the case of our sailing excursion customers had a choice between an evening sail or an afternoon one. Thus Tahoe Sail could gain insight into customer’s time slot preference. In addition organizations could obtain contact information from customers and gain geographic and demographic information from the sign ups.

Increased Online Publicity: A report by Chatmeter on social deal sites indicates that following a deal a company’s online publicity increases, particularly on review sites such as Yelp. This can be problematic if your deal disappoints, thus having a quality offering and good service is key.

Social deal sites can be extremely effective way of creating buzz and increasing sales if done correctly. Businesses should be aware of the positive and negative factors involved in doing a social deal offer, rather than leaping on the bandwagon.

So what do you think? Share your comments below

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There is an Irish folklore from the 5th century, which tells the story of how St. Bridget negotiated with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men on February 29th. Her argument was that since February 29th had no legal status, traditions should have no status on this day either. Today leap day is not just about folklore and can represent a great opportunity for businesses to create innovative marketing strategies to attract their customer’s attention.

While not suitable for all types of businesses, many restaurants, hotels, theme parks, car sales companies, radio and TV stations and others are taking advantage of this one in a 1461-day opportunity. Organizations of all sizes can take advantage of leap day by offering sales promotions such as 29% off, flash sales, discounts, coupons, contests, birthday offers for leaplings and other promotions.

Below are some examples of my favorite 2012 innovative leap day campaigns:

Honda’s “2012 CR-V Leap Year Contest”

Honda has created a leap year themed advertising campaign to promote the 2012 CR-V.

Honda’s website for this campaign enables people to create lists of goals they hope to achieve before they take the next major leap in their life. To inspire you to get your list started, Honda is hosting a contest where all lists submitted will be judged on their activity, variety and feasibility. The grand prizewinner will win a 2012 Honda CR-V and free gas for a year.

Disney Theme Parks: “One More Disney Day”

My favorite of all the leap day campaigns is one more Disney day. On February 29th for the first time ever both the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL and the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA will be open for 24 hours.

The campaign’s big question: What would you do if you had one more Disney day?

If I had one more Disney day I would head to the Walt Disney World Resort and relive some of my memories from my days on Disney’s Cultural Representative Program. I would head to the Disney Studios and ride Rock n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror, before heading to Epcot’s World Showcase to walk around my old workplace and buy some overpriced but delicious British chocolate. I would then head to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest and watch the Lion King show. Once the other three parks were due to close I would head over to the Magic Kingdom where I would stay until the early hours of the morning hitting all the mountain rides and watching the incredible 3D Mickey’s Philharmagic.

Also on leap day Disney will be offering free “one more Disney day” mouse ears to the first 2000 visitors at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. In addition, there’s a sweepstake to win a trip to either resort but as you can probably tell I would really like to win so I’m not going to share the details, though they are really easy to find!

Anabella Hotel’s “29 $29 rooms” 

Located in Anaheim, CA the Anabella hotel were quick to react to Disney’s “one more Disney day” announcement by creating a complementary offer. Through their Twitter and Facebook accounts the hotel offered 29 $29 rooms for the night of 02/29, which went on sale at 10 a.m. on February 7th. The Anabella hotel’s leveraging of their social media platforms, helped make their promotion a big success. All 29 rooms sold out in less than 15 minutes.

WIRK Radio: “Take Leapers to Lunch”

Southern Florida’s country radio station 107.9 WIRK has offered to take anyone whose birthday is on February 29th to lunch at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on leap day (a cap may be imposed at some point). Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in North Palm Beach will open specially for this lunch. No doubt the radio station will include this event in their broadcast and this promotion seems ideal for radio or TV stations.

So what do you think? Could your business take advantage of leap day by creating an innovative marketing campaign? Share your thoughts below.

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