Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Get Simple. Get Obvious. Get Customers.

Marketing is not rocket science. 
By Sheila R. Rose

The problem is many marketing professionals and company executives act like it is. Unless the marketing strategy is complicated, clever and completely unlike anything they’ve ever seen, they won’t like it.

The truth is over the long run simple, obvious marketing strategies win and outlast the competition.

To build a company, take the following simple steps:

1. Develop a product / service customers need.
2. Differentiate your product / service from the competition.
3. Identify the core target group that would most benefit from your product / service.
4. Communicate your brand through the most effective channels to reach your core target group.
5. Stick to your brand promise no matter what.

Jack Trout in his book, In Search of the Obvious says “…the reality is that a simple strategy is obvious. If it’s obvious to you, it will also be obvious to your customers, which is why it will work in the marketplace.”

An example of a company that initiated a simple viral marketing strategy that undeniably worked was Hotmail.

What did they do?

1. Gave away free email addresses and services to everyone.
2. Included a simple tag at the bottom of every free message sent out, “Get your private, free email at www.hotmail.com.
3. Watched as millions of subscribers signed up.
They didn’t try to be clever or cute or edgy or hip or cool. Everything they did from the user interface design to the messaging was Simple. It was Obvious. It got Customers flooding in.

Good use of advertising should not be spent on entertaining people. If you want to entertain your customers, send them free tickets to the movies. Instead good advertising dollars should be spent on telling people about your product / service and why they need it. Recently, TiVo conducted a research on the least fast-forwarded ad campaign. The winner? The home gym brand Bowflex. Bowflex makes a rational claim. “Use this machine and you will look as hot as the people in the commercial using it.” Bowflex is probably the least entertaining commercial I’ve seen on t.v. EVER. But it works because it is simple and obvious.

Remember that while awareness is important it doesn’t necessarily compel action. Awareness without action is a waste of time.

Everything from business cards to brochures to websites should compel action. Again, don’t get cute, clever and complicated. Get simple. Get obvious. Get customers.
Considered stating “Call me” on your business card. Isn’t that why you give people your business card in the first place?

Does your marketing need to Get Simple? Get Obvious? Get Customers? Then let's talk.  Contact me at sheila@andrencreative.com.

[Side note: My trip to Iran was simply awesome. Will share details soon.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why your marketing isn't working...

Your marketing isn't working, but do you know why? The answer is simple, however it needs some explanation.

Your marketing isn't working because most of the common marketing formulas don't work and business is in a different climate today.

Please re-read that last sentence.

It's a common misconception that 'the formulas don't work because we're in a different climate today.' That joining word is what is fundamentally wrong and one so easily overlooked.

In this post I'll explain the difference, but first - a story!
I got an eye infection while traveling a couple of years ago and had to go to an urgent care clinic. The doctor there gave me some medication and advised me it would take two days to take effect. I took my pills immediately and waited for the results. My eye began to improve slightly but after a week it was still bothering me, so I went to my optometrist. Naturally I told him about my visit to the doctor so he asked me what I was currently using.

When I replied he chuckled.

He advised me that the medicine I had been given by the urgent care doctor was effective back in the sixties and that the infection I had in my eye was much different than the strain the medicine was designed for. He prescribed me a modern medication that took care of the problem lickety-split!

My eye and your business are both very important to our lives.
Whether you work for a company or own your own business, your marketing, like my eye, has to be effective. Your marketing isn't working but what medicine do you have to fix it? Is it the right one? It's also important to understand why your marketing problems arise in the first place so that it doesn't happen again.

First, understand that the marketing climate has changed. For good.
Effective marketing was based primarily on an old model, that being television, radio and/or print. It used to be that if you had a product or service you simply needed to bring about awareness via one of these methods and people would respond. Your business would make money and the cycle continued.

What has changed is that the advent of the computer and business in the Information Age has become hyper-efficient at littering the landscape with demands for your attention. People in western civilization can see up to 3,000 impressions of advertising a day! People are not watching television, listening to the radio or reading the paper like they used to. When was the last time you looked up a nail salon in that 65-pound yellow book?

Did you Google it on your iPhone?

Out with the old...
While the old model is out the door the terrifying fact is that most businesses and agencies [whom you'd assume would be on top of trends] haven't changed!

People used to actively watch television and sit through the commercials. Nowadays they flip the channels or Tivo their favorite shows and skip past the commercials. Some people fall in love with a show and don't watch it until the DVD series comes out. Young viewers especially have tuned out television or have fine-tuned it to their liking. With thousands of channels available, the internet calling and DVR, advertising just doesn't have the same effect that they used to.

Ever wonder why commercials have gotten so weird?

Agencies are desperate to stand out.

Information overload.
The human brain has not adapted as quickly to the rapid advances of technology and advertising in general.
While we are an intelligent species in terms of how we use our brain in adapting to our technological advances we have not Darwinized our mental capacity to process the automated opt-in email blasts, five-thousand brands of cereal choices or the headache one gets while walking around Wal-Mart. It's simply too much to process.

The Four P's of Marketing
Marketing is traditionally based on 'The Four P's'. Some people use 'The Seven P's' or add their own but the four core components are there in process for most companies. You can see them working in yours.

The product is defined as the actual goods or services, and how each relates to the prospects needs or desires.

Pricing is established as the cost to the consumer for a product, including discounts.

Promotion is multi-faceted. It's core components are advertising, sales promotion and publicity. Branding and it's sub-components (promoting the product, brand, or company) are also in effect here.

Placement simply means distribution. How does the product get to the customer? The customer [target audience] needs to be defined and demographics need to be understood.

Kriss-Kross Marketing
While the Four P's of Marketing have some validity to them, the approach is backwards. They are good tools to support an approach but aren't being used for the right purpose. A sledgehammer held upside down.

Here's the rub...

Marketing used to work DESPITE 'The Four P's' approach being incredibly flawed. The reason it is flawed is that it focuses on a company marketing towards to it's prospective audience, but the audience is busy defending itself. It's like fishing shoulder to shoulder in a shallow pond. Imagine the poor fish swimming away from dozens of hooks.

The true essence of marketing should be the opposite.
Now more than ever we need to market to how the prospect thinks, acts and feels. He or she is bombarded with bulk mail and is wading in a swamp of unwanted e-mail. How do you market to that person?

During the Presidential debates both candidates spoke about the idea of fixing the economy with a scalpel or a hatchet. Marketing today absolutely needs a scalpel and one that needs to be in the hands of the prospect not the other way around. The sooner a business understands that - the better.

Who is fixing your problem?
The first doctor at the urgent care clinic was obviously trained to do general medical practice and hadn't kept up on the latest with optometry. Who could blame him! I learned during that instant to always see a specialist - especially for something as important as your eyesight. But what about your business? Do you see a specialist or go to a general practice? or worse yet do you treat yourself?

:: Tim Andren

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Journey Back

Going Home

By Sheila R. Rose

When I was a little girl, I would watch the sunset with my mom. She would tell me to send all my greetings to my relatives in Iran with the sun. "That's where the sun is headed next," she would say with a gentle longing in her eyes. Almost wishing she could go where the sun was going.

I would look straight at the sun and begin talking to my relatives. "Tell Uncle Hadi I miss him very much and Auntie Soraya I love her very much. Grandma, I'm doing great in school!"

It's the immigrant struggle. You move your family to a land filled with freedoms and opportunities, yet you also take your family away from the chance to know their culture and be around the people who love them most. Like anything in life you win something and lose something else. A balancing act of sorts.

On Thursday, I get to go back home to my birth country. The soil where I was born. Words seem trite to describe the utter excitement I feel. It's been 10 years since I've seen my relatives. I just want to be around my cousins and ask them about their lives and all that's happened to them in last few years. Their successes, their losses, their heart breaks, their moments of joy. All the memories I never got to share with them or be around to experience with them.

Plus, I get to spend 30 days with my parents. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have this time with them because when you reach a certain age you realize the frailty of time.

It was a hard decision to make. I mean I'm leaving work (potential work), tasks, dreams, etc. But I think at the end of my lifetime, I don't want to just be remembered for the work I have accomplished, but the lives I've been able to touch.

I am still not sure if I will be able to post while I am gone, but I will certainly try.

Be healthy. Be well. Be happy. Most importantly, be around those you love.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Journey...

The journey I am traveling on as both a marketer and business owner is one that continues to bring me to a better understanding of myself.

I am committed to two main objectives on this journey:



As a business person, what's not to like about those objectives?

Now as a mother, father, aunt, uncle or just someone who cares about this planet - imagine for a moment if I told you that by applying effective, efficient marketing methods my clients make money (their main objective), save money and do so in a way that produces a cleaner, safer environment for the next generation. Do you care about that? I thought so.

Here's how...

The result of combining these two objectives does in fact result in a leaner, meaner and greener approach to marketing that has a greater impact financially and environmentally. These results mean more qualified leads and customers for my clients while they spend less and therefore produces a win-win.

I have a mission and a passion and that is to study the very nature of human beings - how they tick, what makes them buy, etc. What I have learned about human nature and understanding why people respond to simple things (such as color and how it affects their moods, photographic content and the power of metaphors, the printed word, etc.) I have found an approach that truly resonates with an individual or potential customer. There are so many components to this that I will get into in this blog - I cannot wait to get started. Furthermore, I will dig much deeper by examining complex principles such as behavioral psychology, trend analysis and the like. All of these components contribute to a 'better way' to think about marketing or as I call it 'Fundamental Marketing'.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about a component to this approach in his seminal book 'The Tipping Point'. The premise of the book focuses on the very specific moment where all trends or movements reach a point where the scales 'tip' towards maximum effectiveness or growth. He examines how we as humans think, act and feel as individuals, but more importantly as groups and has brought light to many in the marketing world.

In order to make marketing more efficient there must be an understanding of every component about it's effectiveness while combining that knowledge with intelligent solutions that speak directly to my clients' target audience. I have found that this can be done no matter what medium so long as the focus remains on what resonates with them (the audience), not what the clients preferences are. This is the hardest component to marketing, checking one's ego at the door.

We have all lived in an age where advertising and marketing have been as much a natural part of our lives as the air we breathe. While the industry is an enormous moneymaker it is not running anywhere near it's maximum efficiency. Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on campaigns that exist on a local, national and international level. Do you really think they are all well-planned and 100% efficient? Absolutely not.

As marketers, our ways of thinking can be greatly improved upon. We certainly don't know everything yet and it's up to us to evolve and to find better methods and approaches to marketing.

As I continue to find both more effective and efficient methods to marketing I am also focused on reducing the 'shotgun approach' to plans such as direct mail and printing in general. Less is more when it comes to applying some methods such as 'variable data printing' and I will continue to steer more and more clients towards paperless solutions. This approach saves trees, energy and reduces overall carbon footprints.

-How do you know your marketing works? How do you measure it's effects?
-What visual cues do people respond to? Why?
-What psychological principles work?
-Do you like your marketing? If so, are you truly the target audience? I let you do the math on that one.

I believe in marketing that is effective. I believe in continuing to find more and more efficient ways to market your business.
I believe the result will make money, save money and improve the environment.

:: Tim Andren

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


My week sucked.  
By Sheila R. Rose

Hey sometimes they just do.

I really had to look back to see what I could have done better to make this week suck less. (Believe me, there is a lot I could have done!)  

I tend to be hard on myself. My little head will brood over my imperfections and mistakes for many dark hours.  In a way, this quality serves me well because I’m constantly changing, improving and growing as a daughter, friend, colleague and human being. But at some point you have to let go of feeling bad and just trust you will do better next time. 

Success is not being perfect all the time, but it’s getting better all the time.

Unrelated topic (in a way it’s also related).

I’m really fascinated by this personal brand extraordinaire and wine guru. I watched a video of him speaking at a conference and he said two things that specifically resonated with me… 1) Be completely transparent (you have to in this digital age) and 2) Do what you are passionate about.

Why does good advice sound so easy in theory and so utterly frightening in practice?  Or is that just me and a lingering of my bad week.  (wink, wink)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Success Tip of the Week

Be Consistent
By Sheila R. Rose

When we started the LifeStyle Group, I was told Tuesdays would be my posting days.  

Since then I have posted an entry on this blog every Tuesday. Now I don’t fool myself to think my posts change lives. Because if they did this would be a sad world we live in. Ha!

I also write freestyle, so no literary works of genius either.  

Here I share with you how I strive to live out the LifeStyle of my dreams. Some moments I fail miserably while other moments I feel triumphant. However, maybe as I share glimpses into the creation of my LifeStlyle, I may inspire action in someone else. Relating and connecting are extremely important qualities for me to foster in this lifetime of mine.

Basically the above was a long segue to my “thought, tip, rambling (whatever you like to call these posts)” of the week.  

The one thing I have learned to get me to where I want to be is consistency.  

This philosophy falls into all areas of our LifeStyles from family to health to work to hobbies.  

  • We have to consistently work on our personal relationships to keep them thriving.
  • We have to consistently pay attention to our health to be at our best.
  • We have to consistently focus on our careers to get to the next level.
  • We have to consistently practice what we love to get better at it.
There are some areas of my life where I have mastered consistency. For example, I have consistently worked out on average three times a week for the past seven years. Often times more and sometimes less, but a decent average (if I do say so myself). I have consistently been involved in the arts in some way since I fell in love with it back in fifth grade. I can’t imagine my life without expressing myself through

Other areas of my life, consistency has been lacking. I get an idea and run with it for awhile and then let it go before it has a chance to go somewhere. I have a hard time consistently focusing on specific business endeavors for more than a few weeks at a time. I dream and then rationalize my way out of the dream the first time it doesn’t go the way I imagined. Sometimes I like to blame it on my self-diagnosis of ADHD. (We all know that’s just an excuse.) It’s just my lack of consistency.

So this blog and my posts are my commitment to practice consistency. Every Tuesday for as long as LifeStylers let me express on this forum.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Party of One

Being single is definitely a LifeStyle in itself.  So tonight I embraced my singleness and took myself to the movies.

As I walked into the theatre with ice cream cone in hand, I felt happy.

That’s all that ever matters.