marketing archives

Having just just wrapped up a re-design of the Church’s online store, which included much discussion of the importance of free shipping, I was interested in this article on The Power of FREE. We are all apparently irrational, “free thinkers”!

Clarification: Unlike traditional retailers, we’re not trying to “drive sales” by offering free shipping; we’re trying to remove barriers to people ordering materials that will help them learn and live the Gospel. If that includes leveraging this psychology, then fine!

posted by ted one day ago · 2 comments

I had a hard time believing this was not a spoof… but from all I can tell Burger King is selling Windows 7 Whoppers in Japan—a normal Whopper stacked with 7 patties. Now… who thought that was a good idea? Check out the comments in the link above for just a taste of the comic putdown possibilities. My favorite: “Introducing … Windows 7’s first killer app.”

Also thought it was pretty funny that whenever I tried to upload a pic of this monstrosity to post here—surprise! It crashed my browser :-)

posted by ted on Thursday, Oct 22, 2009 · 4 comments

“More energy. Less friction.”
Nick Usborne’s summary of how to improve conversion of browsers into buyers. From Flywheels, Kinetic Energy, and Friction, a great article that still wears well, 3 years later. The trouble is getting the marketing wing of your organization to buy into it…

posted by ted on Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 · 0 comments

“Oh right, the flaming chainsaw animation. I’d love to take that off the site, really I would, but I just think it’s so neat, and besides it aligns with our brand message of innovation here at Acme.”
VP of Marketing (presumably caricatured), quoted by Mark Hurst at Good Experience. Very funny supposed transcript of a customer meeting gone awry (or… is that really just the way things usually are?)

posted by ted on Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009 · 0 comments

Interesting examples today of innovative internet advertising. In this economy™, companies are finding ad space on the cheap, and Vitamin Water and Apple have two similar but very different approaches:

On today, Vitamin Water has 5 ad spaces for their “Great Debate” campaign pitting LeBron against Kobe. Too bad these ads aren’t as good as their TV ads (“You can’t check him!”), and not nearly as awesome as Nike’s Jim Henson throw-back (“whooo!”). Each ad by itself looks fine, but the 4 ads together overwhelm the page and is uninspired and tired, if not annoying.

Apple, on the other hand, took over today with a totally different approach. They’ve got 3 ad spaces here, and each ad interacts with each other. The PC and Mac characters point up to the bar graph, and the Hair Growth Academy guys start pitching in with their opinions mid-way. They’re clearly having some fun here, and employing a much more interesting and engaging experience.

Apple clearly takes the cake on this one, and my guess is they’ll see a better return on those ad dollars as viewers’ eyes stay on their ads for longer and that little Apple logo gets burned ever so deeper into our brain matter.

posted by jason on Monday, May 18, 2009 · 3 comments

Subtle marketing strategies from Threadless.

posted by jason on Monday, Nov 24, 2008 · 0 comments

Are Designers also Marketers? I’d say yes. And that includes personal marketing. I’ve said no to many an interviewee (and hire) based on bad ties, hair, shoes,.... If you’re a designer, should you know how to market? Love this excerpt: “when designers are tasked with selling their product they make better products.” Word.

posted by jason on Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008 · 5 comments

As good as Apple is for creating buzz around their new products, and really breaking the mold when it comes to industrial design, they have to figure out a way to make people feel less stupid for having their old products. Yesterday morning I thought my MacBook Pro was pretty sweet. Now it just looks stupid. So does my old iPod. Great marketing of course, to get me out to the Apple Store and spend the thousands of dollars I don’t have. But can’t they maybe introduce more incremental improvements? Instead of rendering this expensive laptop both ugly and practically useless in one press conference?

posted by jason on Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008 · 9 comments

Go slide this little Adobe ad widget, and see what happens.
Found on the Coudal Layer Tennis page.

posted by jason on Saturday, Sep 15, 2007

When “early to market” is “too early to market”

Yesterday during team meeting, someone passed around a dish of orange and brown peanutbutter M&M’s to help us focus our energies properly. As it went by, Jason whispered something like, “Dude—are those Halloween?” Naw… not in August! Must just be their way of letting some Reese’s Pieces branding rub off on them. But after visiting the store this morning, I have changed my mind. I’ve also decided that there is indeed such a thing as “too early to market”, not just for Halloween candy, but for other products too.

Let me say up front that Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, and that probably colors some of my reaction. But even a Halloween fan has got to admit something strange (sinister?) about walking into a Smith’s store on August 29th—more than two full months before Halloween—looking for some double A batteries to power my back-to-school camera, only to be confronted with strobe lights, mountains of brown and orange candy, sepulchral voices, skulls, and every other ghastly accoutrement you can imagine.

Two words for the good folks at Smith’s: TOO EARLY!

Those who don’t particularly like Halloween must now steel themselves every week for over two months whenever they have to go shopping, and cashiers and bagboys can look forward to more scowls and irritable customers than they might otherwise have had during the entire fall season. (Other holidays suffer from the same syndrome… but I don’t recall ever having seen Christmas decorations up by October 25th, nor do I think an early Saint Nick has quite as strong a negative reaction as an early Jack Skellington.)

Aside from irritating those who are already disinclined towards Halloween, what impact does such early exposure have on sales and other measures that stores care about? Is it really very likely that I am going to start stocking up on trick-or-treat goodies two months early? Am I going to buy those tootsie rolls at Smith’s instead of Kohler’s because they were available 9 weeks in advance instead of 6 weeks in advance? I don’t have their sales figures obviously, but it’s a doubtful proposition in my book.

Does any of this apply to software product development and marketing? I think it does. I’ve seen at least two examples, one in the naming (and numbering) of products, and one in the timing of technology.

I worked for over four years on Microsoft’s mapping software in what we affectionately called the “Geo Unit”. Those were good times, working with very fun and talented people; bash Microsoft all you want, but I think we put out some of the best general mapping software on the planet. One of my pet peeves, however, was the decision made by the marketing folks to use the following year as the version number for our latest release— Streets & Trips 2007, for example.

Now when a car rolls off the production lines in November 2006 and gets labeled as the “2007 model”, it’s easy to understand; sure it’s a couple of months early, but it’s a car that will be bought almost entirely in the following year. Contrast this with Streets & Trips 2004, which was code complete in March of 2003. It was marketed and sold for 9 months in 2003, then replaced by Streets & Trips 2005 in March of 2004, which leaves only a 3 month “truth in advertising” period when the version actually matches the year. This cycle was repeated year after year.

To the business, the goal was to keep the version apparently fresh and just off the DVD burners for longer than it really was. But people are not stupid (generally speaking anyway). They know that a product labeled 2004, when it is bought in early 2003 is not really what was advertised. You’ve introduced a totally unnecessary credibility problem; you had a great product, right? Why not use the current year for a version number or (bucking the trend ever since Windows 95) forget about the year, and use a good old fashioned version number.

A tougher problem is knowing when society is ready to take advantage of your technology. During my time at Microsoft, this was less of a challenge with mapping software, but more of an issue with location-based services (LBS) for mobile devices. Certain parts of the world (Korea and Scandinavia in particular) were ready to eat up LBS in the early 2000’s. Huge portions of the population owned mobile phones and a sizable fraction of those phones were geo-aware; they knew where they were, and if given the data could tell you what was nearby (or, in more potentially sinister applications, could tell others that you were nearby). The commercial possibility with these kinds of apps seemed huge, and the Geo Unit poured a lot of resources into developing that potential.

But that investment didn’t bear the amount of fruit we hoped for. Markets in the US were not as rife with devoted mobile users, and consumer safety and privacy concerns slowed adoption. As a result, related projects lost steam over time, and I haven’t heard much about it since I left. Maybe I’m just not as plugged in, but it seemed to me to be a project that was just a little too far ahead of its time. I hope that as GPS-enabled phones and other devices become the standard, life gets breathed back into those projects.

In the old Geo Unit we all had T-shirts that said, “Location, location, location” and “Location is everything.” Perhaps we should have acknowledged that Timing is pretty important, too.

posted by ted on Wednesday, Aug 29, 2007