Posted in Branding, eTailing, Future, Management

A really QR butt, and it is ok to look

QR codes (Quick Response codes) are growing rapidly in terms of adoption for marketing purposes.

QR codes use proprietary technology (a Toyota subsidiary) but they have elected not exercise copyright. Microsoft has created an equivalent product.

Just like barcodes contain information about a product, the QR code can contain information. But because the Barcodes are one dimensional and QR codes are two dimensional, the type and amount of information is vastly increased.

There are various types of equipment that can scan a QR code, but its growth is fuelled by a range of apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone.

Typically it can be printed on anything:

Marketing collateral, posters, dockets, products and even on bums.

(In the image above, the ladies are sponsored by Betfair, and by snapping the QR code on their bums, you will be directed to the sponsor’s website. Sourced from dailytelgraph.co.uk)

 

QR Codes could link to:

  • Installation instructions
  • Competition entry forms
  • Directions to your business
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Free mp3 or video downloads
  • Customer feedback forms

 

Why don’t you try it?

You need to download a QR app to your smart phone.

I use Red Laser (on Android) which is actually a scanner that also compares prices on the fly. (For a video that shows how Red Laser works – and it is a bit scary for retailers – have a look at this video.)

 

You will note that it actually takes you to a mobile-optimised version of the website.

There is a new service that optimises your site for free (and there is a premium version available too).

To create your own QR code, you can use goo.gl (the url shortener) or simply search for QR code generators.

Ok, that should keep you busy for the next 30 minutes…

Enjoy

(And let me know what you think in the comments below.)

 

Dennis

PS: I am thinking I might do a special feature on QR codes in the next issue of my newsletter. If you think it will be useful let me know (and cast your vote by subscribing in the meantime.)

Posted in Branding, Marketing, Shopper Marketing

Advertising myths debunked for free

Are there hidden messages in advertising? Did the movie patrons really buy more popcorn when the cinema operator slipped a secret message into every 16th frame?

Consumers are paranoid about being manipulated and no evidence exists to suggest that subliminal advertising is effective in persuading consumers to buy products.

Let’s stick with the facts as we look at what advertising is and is not.:

Subliminal advertising does not happen.

No controlled experiment has ever found any evidence of planned subliminal advertising and the inefficacy of it is thoroughly proven in hundreds of studies, the myth persists.

Jim Goodnight said aptly “that advertising is the art of the blatant message, not the hidden one.”

As much as people are paranoid about the alchemy that is subliminal advertising, it does not exist:

–        there ain’t a camel in the cloud,

–        and there ain’t naked boobs in the ice.

Sheri Broyles published a great meta-analysis on the topic in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, and re-printed here.

So, if there is no secret to it, how does it really work?

What makes some ads more effective than others? Is traditional advertising dying in the face of the social media onslaught? Are you wasting your money with advertising?

Let’s consider these universal principles of advertising. Well, when we talk advertising we mean the type described below as ‘effective ads’.

An effective ad is/has:

–        A relevant message (offer)

–        Creatively presented to draw attention (memorable)

–        Accessible to the right audience (time & place)

–        Consistently repeated

That is pretty much it. Some may like to ad that it should be ‘on brand’ and that is true. But that is true for everything you do.

The following observations may not go down well amongst certain people, but since I am a marketer and not an advertiser, I look at advertising as a tool (not a profession) and it is a tool that I have used and have come to know:

  1. Bad advertising is bad advertising and you can’t blame the channel or the consumer or emerging media.
  2. Good advertising practices include continuous evolution and innovation to effectively reach consumers. Bad advertising mediums will die if they don’t evolve. That is not because of new competing media, but because of poor commitment to the craft of advertising.
  3. We don’t believe that ‘brand advertising’ (propagated by so many) is ever appropriate. You get people aware of your brand and loyal to your brand by getting them to use/buy/experience your product or service. Brand loyalty is a RESULT of your success in getting people to buy your products, it is not a driver.
  4. Your brand mark (logo) is not your brand; it is simply a sensory reminder of the attributes your brand is known for.
  5. You don’t ever own a brand. A brand is what customers think of your product/service. You are a custodian of that set of associations and it is disrespectful to suggest or act otherwise.
  6. Your sales success is a product of [advertising spend X product or service quality]. There is no reason to reduce your spend on advertising until and unless it becomes ineffective.
  7. Advertising will not cure a bad business. But it will grow a good business. That is: all successful companies are not always successful because of their advertising, but unsuccessful companies are often the result of their non-advertising.
  8. Whilst there are examples of companies/products that surprised everyone with their overnight success without advertising, the operative word is surprise. If we knew why, we could replicate it but we don’t and we can’t.
  9. Social Media does not replace advertising. SM is desperately trying to find ways to masquerade as something that is not advertising but achieving the same outcomes. Pure advertising is authentic about its purpose and consumers understand a respect it for what it is. Social media has a place, advertising has a place.
  10. Advertising will always be a gamble because consumers are fickle and it is almost impossible to predict their preferences and behaviours with certainty. The only way to beat the odds is to keep betting – and it will eventually work.
  11. Sleep kills 99.9% of advertising.
  12. Shrink your market you aim to dominate until it is of the size where you can dominate.
  13. You only have to reach 50% of the market (effectively) because that 50% knows the other half and if your product is any good, they will tell them.
Posted in Branding, General, Marketing, Newsletter, Words of Wisdom

The downside of branding

[This post was originally published in ReadThinkLearnLaugh – our monthly newsletter. Subscribe here to get the good stuff…]

Actually a better title would be: The Downside of Brand Loyalty and the Meaning of Life

  • Is marketing evil?
  • Do you feel guilty that your job is essentially the promotion of conspicuous consumption?
  • Is selling stuff for a living just so shallow?

Is or was it something that bothered you? Have you ever thought you should just chuck it all in and go and work for a charity or volunteer for missionary work because of the apparently meaninglessness of your day job?

This is something that took me a long time to resolve, and it was important to me that I was able to reconcile my desire to live a worthy life with my need to earn a living.

By their nature, organisations are systems that demand consistency and predictability – and ultimately repeat business. Converting customers into brand loyal followers achieves all of this. Organisations have created (or rather adopted) the notion of brand to hi-jack consumer decision-making; to improve the odds of repeat business.

Because marketers strive to make their brands the preferred choice (top of mind) to the exclusion of all others, a brand is meant to become some shortcut for decision-making.
When marketers succeed, there is a significant downside to the consumer. Once people become brand loyal, they:

  • Forfeit the opportunity to experience variety
  • Deny themselves the opportunity to seek and find greater value
  • Miss out on the epistemic value of new products/services
  • Impoverish their long-term decision-making ability as they fail to evaluate and incorporate changing values and product attributes.

Consumers trade all of that for a few seconds of thinking time when it comes to making a purchase.

If conspicuous consumption is undesirable and creating brand loyalty (arguably the marketers number one job) is the strategy to tip the odds in favour of the organisation to the detriment of the consumers; does that mean what we do for a living is bad or unworthy?

The answer, in my mind at least, is absolutely not.

Whilst any one job in any one organisation in isolation may seem to be promoting conspicuous consumption to the detriment of individuals, there is a bigger picture here.
Collectively, as we all do our individual jobs, we are contributing to a rich and diverse society that offers people choices. It is not just me promoting my brand, there is you, and John and Jerry and Mary and Sue too. And it all adds up to a market place that gives society a rich palette of options.

So while the individual’s pursuit of his or her own goals seems narrow and selfish, the fact that there are millions doing so simultaneously, means we have created a system that, as a whole, is a healthy environment.

That is the epitome of civilisation: people who are free to exercise their choices and have the opportunity to do so.

And despite what you may read in pseudo-science magazines from time to time, marketers cannot control consumers’ minds. Subliminal advertising (and the story about coke & popcorn ads flashing during a movie) is just urban legend.

So, when you are promoting your product, you are actually part of a bigger ecosystem which is a crucial part of our social fabric – without which our lives would be so much the poorer.

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Posted in Branding, General, Marketing, Newsletter, Words of Wisdom

The downside of branding

[This post was originally published in ReadThinkLearnLaugh – our monthly newsletter. Subscribe here to get the good stuff…]

Actually a better title would be: The Downside of Brand Loyalty and the Meaning of Life

  • Is marketing evil?
  • Do you feel guilty that your job is essentially the promotion of conspicuous consumption?
  • Is selling stuff for a living just so shallow?

Is or was it something that bothered you? Have you ever thought you should just chuck it all in and go and work for a charity or volunteer for missionary work because of the apparently meaninglessness of your day job?

This is something that took me a long time to resolve, and it was important to me that I was able to reconcile my desire to live a worthy life with my need to earn a living.

By their nature, organisations are systems that demand consistency and predictability – and ultimately repeat business. Converting customers into brand loyal followers achieves all of this. Organisations have created (or rather adopted) the notion of brand to hi-jack consumer decision-making; to improve the odds of repeat business.

Because marketers strive to make their brands the preferred choice (top of mind) to the exclusion of all others, a brand is meant to become some shortcut for decision-making.
When marketers succeed, there is a significant downside to the consumer. Once people become brand loyal, they:

  • Forfeit the opportunity to experience variety
  • Deny themselves the opportunity to seek and find greater value
  • Miss out on the epistemic value of new products/services
  • Impoverish their long-term decision-making ability as they fail to evaluate and incorporate changing values and product attributes.

Consumers trade all of that for a few seconds of thinking time when it comes to making a purchase.

If conspicuous consumption is undesirable and creating brand loyalty (arguably the marketers number one job) is the strategy to tip the odds in favour of the organisation to the detriment of the consumers; does that mean what we do for a living is bad or unworthy?

The answer, in my mind at least, is absolutely not.

Whilst any one job in any one organisation in isolation may seem to be promoting conspicuous consumption to the detriment of individuals, there is a bigger picture here.
Collectively, as we all do our individual jobs, we are contributing to a rich and diverse society that offers people choices. It is not just me promoting my brand, there is you, and John and Jerry and Mary and Sue too. And it all adds up to a market place that gives society a rich palette of options.

So while the individual’s pursuit of his or her own goals seems narrow and selfish, the fact that there are millions doing so simultaneously, means we have created a system that, as a whole, is a healthy environment.

That is the epitome of civilisation: people who are free to exercise their choices and have the opportunity to do so.

And despite what you may read in pseudo-science magazines from time to time, marketers cannot control consumers’ minds. Subliminal advertising (and the story about coke & popcorn ads flashing during a movie) is just urban legend.

So, when you are promoting your product, you are actually part of a bigger ecosystem which is a crucial part of our social fabric – without which our lives would be so much the poorer.

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Posted in Branding, Marketing

What is wrong with this ad from Google?

Google played their ad ‘Parisian Love’ on Superbopwl 2010.

There many things that I don’t like about the ad; but my gripe is:

Google makes its money from ads – and not once do they show how this particular search experience uses the ads. If I was advertising on Google I would be reminded about how people really use search – and question the importance of ‘sponsored links’ – their main revenue stream.

 

I have selcted some posts about the ad to appear below –

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Posted in Branding, Marketing

What is wrong with this ad from Google?

Google played their ad ‘Parisian Love’ on Superbopwl 2010.

There many things that I don’t like about the ad; but my gripe is:

Google makes its money from ads – and not once do they show how this particular search experience uses the ads. If I was advertising on Google I would be reminded about how people really use search – and question the importance of ‘sponsored links’ – their main revenue stream.

 

I have selcted some posts about the ad to appear below –

 

 

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Posted in Branding, Marketing, People, Words of Wisdom

Lessons from Poetry

love is a beautiful face
and life
that same face wounded
after shattering through the pane of glass
separating our dreams from reality

Few people read poetry – presumably because they don’t appreciate it. I have wondered about that. As the occasional poet (and you can see above why it is not more regular) I don’t even read much poetry myself any more.

But there is a tendency for people to revert to poetry – or at least appreciate it more – when the emotions are at their highest.  Maybe that is why we read poems at weddings and wakes. (Songs are poems as music?) Even the pithy quote after victory or defeat is nothing but pure poetry where one sentence can capture so much.

Poetry is exceedingly hard to craft – much harder than an essay, and arguably the hardest of all forms of communication, at least on a scale that would measure intellectual effort per word.

My view is that it is because poems are so lean – every word is a considered word that cannot be substituted or omitted or improved. Poems are the purest form of story telling. Poets do not have the luxury of context or character. And certainly never the luxury of explanation.

What does this have to do with business?

Businesses and brands are about telling stories. Customers relate to the story that a brand represents, and express their identification with that story by purchase loyalty. All things being equal, as long as the brand story is relevant, the customer will continue to buy.

Poetry teaches us that emotions can (and should) be captured simply; by focussing on the essentials of the story: Few words. Powerful imagery. Sharp insight. Eloquence without pretension. Expression without clutter.

People get it. They are wired to get it. Life is too busy anyway for you to present them with an essay. They want the essential truth and they want powerful emotion. And they want you to tell it honestly.

Then they might be bothered to remember.

And let’s face it, if they can’t remember who you are or what you stand for, there isn’t much hope of doing business any time in the future.

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