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Paper_Airlplane.jpgOne of the tools advertisers have experimented with over the past couple of years or so is the use of a magazine ad that pulls out into a sort of tri-fold effect. This isn’t such a bad idea, but it may not necessarily be a huge winner either.

On one hand, the ad does accomplish the first thing necessary in communication, which is to attract ATTENTION. It does cause the reader to take a second look and could potentially create the impression of the organization or product featured in the ad as first-class, innovative, fun, clever, or just different enough to make them want to learn more. 

On the other hand, the ad had better be really, really good. It had really better be worth the effort required of the reader to fold it out and look at it. Otherwise, it’s just a bother.

It had better be a grabber, because the ”new” will wear off this method really fast. If it catches on and several advertisers use this method in the same publication, the fold-out ads will lose their differentiation pretty quickly and the contest will come down to which fold-out ads stand out most from the other fold-out ads, which kind of takes us back to where we started – trying to cut through the clutter to gain attention.

And it could get worse! Having to refold and re-stuff all these ads back into the magazine could become such an annoyance that the reader either ignores the message altogether or simply doesn’t even open the fold-out. At risk here is that the reader could immediately develop a negative association to the sponsoring organization. Just as Yahoo received so much customer resistance to its pop-up ads a few years back that they eventually curbed them drastically, too many “pop-out” ads that impede the simple, peaceful goal of just reading a magazine could cause this method to backfire on advertisers.

At best, these kinds of ads are eye-catching, and that’s only if the ad is really a stand-out. At worst, it’s an annoyance to a customer, and that’s not the kind of branding any of us want!

Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” - Og Mandino

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Compass.jpgOne of the most popular marketing buzzwords that gets tossed around is “Positioning.” Here’s a way to spot those who really understand positioning and have done their marketing homework versus someone who’s just playing buzzword bingo and trying to impress you.

If they talk about “positioning” as something that is done to the product, they are not as well informed as they’d like you to believe. According to the authors who practically coined the term as it relates to marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout, positioning takes place not in the market, but in the mind of the customer. They said positioning is about owning a word or concept in the mind of the customer or prospect. 

Consider the following examples. Volvo owns the word “Safety,” FedEx owns the term “Overnight Delivery,” and McDonald’s owns the concept of “Fast Food” in the minds of the customers.

Positioning takes place not in the marketplace, but in the mind of the customer! What word do you want to own?

In real estate it’s ‘location, location, location.’ In business, it’s ‘differentiate, differentiate, differentiate.’” - Robert Goizueta, former CEO of Coca-Cola

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THINK.jpgBack when I was but an eager undergrad studying business, IBM was always a good answer. Just as the old saying went, “Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM,” using IBM as the example of how to run a business was also pretty safe inside or outside the classroom.

Then they went through tough times, then they got their act back together, and now they’re doing well again and celebrating 100 years in business! They’ve got a special page on their site dedicated to the milestone.

The CBS Early Show did a good piece on the company, and it’s only 4 minutes or so long, so enjoy! Click here for the video. It’s not only a good history of IBM, it also shows us just how far we’ve come with regard to technology. And as they point out in the story, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

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crystal ball_1.jpgPeople often talk about “needing to ‘do’ some marketing,” and they are often perplexed on exactly where to start. This is not surprising considering that if you pick up 10 different books on marketing, entrepreneurship, strategy, or whatever, you may find 10 different approaches. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, by the way, because you’ll find that the best way to get really good at what you do is to study a whole bunch of approaches and pick and choose what you like.

Something I’d urge you to consider is to not get all tied up on knots looking for the “right answer.” Who the heck knows what a “right answer” is in this crazy marketplace? You can bet today’s “right answer” may not be so “right” tomorrow, so why bother? Instead, try to decide what YOU want to accomplish and then look anywhere and everywhere for ideas on how to get there. Be prepared to shrug off a few setbacks along the way and also be prepared to celebrate any and all forward progress as much as you celebrate achieving whatever ultimate success you’re looking for.

All models are wrong; some models are useful.” - George E.P. Box, Statistics Professor

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chart_1.jpgOne of the things I detest about most strategic plans is that they involve a bunch of talk and very little “do.” A strategic plan is pretty much worthless unless it results in action, so my thought is, why not just skip all the time-wasting stuff and instead focus on EXECUTION? I’m a bigger fan of guiding principles instead of formal, drawn out, boring strategic plans. If you’d like to hear more about my rationale, here you go.

One of the best case studies in how guiding principles can be turned into powerful, ACTIONABLE battle cries can be found from current AMAOKC president and social media strategist, Brian Blake. He fired up his leadership team last year with ONE guiding principle, which is “Turn it up to 11,” as in, “Shoot for a performance of 11 on a scale of 10 for everything the chapter does.” He got the idea from this Spinal Tap piece (Click here for a good laugh!) and MAN, has it ever been effective! In fact, for a mind-blowing, complete list of all the chapter has done for its members in 2010-11, check this out. Mr. President, a tip of the hat to you, sir!

I bragged on Brian’s leadership and on the incredible value being delivered in a previous post and I expect he will earn incredible, unprecedented recognition from AMA Headquarters in Chicago in their annual Chapter Excellence Awards, so I congratulate him and his capable team in advance for that success!

Good marketing is all about RESULTS! Guiding principles can literally become the battle cry that leads to success, so think about how to use this powerful tool!