Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Today more than ever, online or offline, one key to successful marketing is providing value in addition to asking for people’s time, money or both. I recently got what I thought was an excellent example of value-adding marketing hung on my mailbox by a local cleaning company, Brown’s Cleaners.

Someone dropped a free, nylon dry cleaning bag on everyone’s mailbox on my street. The bags are blue, heavy nylon with the Brown’s logo on them.


Attached to the bag was the lovely little piece below.


The shirt is a pamphlet with info about Brown’s free pick-up delivery service that includes their number and web address.

I thought this was a lovely piece of marketing – until I read the letter that came with it. The letter indicates that the bag and other marketing gems were delivered by a Brown’s service representative and says, “If you don’t require my services, please don’t throw out the Brown’s Blue Bag. Simply leave it outside on Saturday and will pick it up….” My heart sank. They wanted my bag back.

They made me think I was getting something of value for free by delivering it in a way free stuff usually comes – in the mailbox – but instead of  letting me keep it they wanted to take it back.

They should let me keep the bag even if I want to use it to bring in my own clothes. That would keep me happy and earn a loyal customer.

I  hope someone from Brown’s is listening.

Well, I’m back from an unplugged Easter in the Bahamas and the verdict on the amount of social media activity in the Bahamas is – not much.

Since I was unplugged from social media, my data is based entirely on observation of social media references in mainstream media. I didn’t see any references to any kind of social media in mainstream media; not one flyer with a big emblazoned URL in the middle, no signs in stores or on lampposts flogging some service and telling folks to check out the brand on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, the only bit of social media I experienced in the Bahamas I found through none other than Google before I left: a social media press release from the Sheraton Nassau Beach Hotel.

The release seems to suggest the Sheraton is on the social media cutting edge in a country that doesn’t know there is a cutting edge yet. The release has some of the basics including links for sharing the release via email, Facebook, Friendfeed and Twitter.

The release falls short in some key areas though. It has no audio or video and failing to leverage one of the key benefits of the social media release: multimedia.

The Twitter link is also problematic as it lets users post the following message:

The Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort Makes It Easy For Families To Enjoy A Memorable Summer Getaway

Where exactly it posts this message in Twitter I’m not sure because to get it to post the message you have to provide your Twitter user name and password. That’s crazy. The folks at the Sheraton have to realize that successful internet marketing is built on providing some added value for free over time – not on violating people’s privacy so you can sell them something.

Update: The last part of my post assumed too much about the motivation behind the Sheraton’s  Twitter use and to their credit they left a comment to clarify. See it below.

If you haven’t heard about Social Media Breakfasts then get thyself to Google to find the nearest one near you. They are another in a line of free (or nearly so) high quality learning events that all marcom professionals should jump at the chance to attend. The Ottawa SMB is co-organized by Simon Chen and Rob and Ryan (who’s last names I don’t know). Last month’s breakfast featured Stuart MacDonald, founder of the hugely successful travel site, I was there and recorded his talk which I bring to you here.

One of the key takeaways from Stuart’s talk was that people want to share stories and if you give them a way to do it that is easy and engaging they’ll come. Do you have a product, service, or mission that lends itself well to stories? If so, consider creating or joining a space where you can help people who want to tell stories that involve your thing.

How not to market on mobile phones

Author: Robin Browne

Tonight as I was leaving my kid’s 7pm hockey game and heading home, my cell phone rang. I immediately answered it thinking it must be my wife because who else would call me at that time on a weeknight….When I answered I heard a computer message saying I was one of the lucky few whose cell phone numbers had been chosen to receive a prize. I hung up immediately.

You see, that kind of direct response marketing works in my mailbox – sometime – but it never works on my cell phone. For me, cell phones (or the phone part of smart phones) are reserved for emergencies or calls from people who I have trusted with the number. Getting a call from a telemarketer is especially offensive.

Am I alone?

Time to go put my cell number on the Do Not Call List.

If you’re looking for ways to take your email campaign to the next level or even if you think what you’re doing now is optimal, check out this email I got yesterday:


Robin —

The economic crisis is growing more serious every day, and the time for action has come.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will jumpstart our economy and put more than 3 million people back to work.

I hope to sign the recovery plan into law in the next few weeks. But I need your help to spread the word and build support.

It’s not enough for this bill to simply pass Congress. Americans need to know how it will affect their lives — they need to know that help is on the way and that this administration is investing in economic growth and stability.

Governor Tim Kaine has agreed to record a video outlining the recovery plan and answering questions about what it means for your community. You can submit your questions online and then invite your friends, family, and neighbors to watch the video with you at an Economic Recovery House Meeting.

Join thousands of people across the country by hosting or attending an Economic Recovery House Meeting this weekend.

The stakes are too high to allow partisan politics to get in the way.

That’s why I’ve consulted with Republicans as well as Democrats to put together a plan that will address the crisis we face.

I’ve also taken steps to ensure an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability. Once it’s passed, you will be able to see how every penny in this plan is being spent.

You can help restore confidence in our economy by making sure your friends, family, and neighbors understand how the recovery plan will impact your community.

Sign up to host or attend an Economic Recovery House Meeting and submit your question for the video now:

Our ability to come together as a nation in difficult times has never been more important.

I know I can rely on your spirit and resolve as we lead our country to recovery.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

P.S. — If you can’t host or attend an Economic Recovery House Meeting, you can still submit your questions for Governor Kaine and then share the video with your friends and family this weekend. Learn more here:


What make this so compelling?

1) It’s personalized. It’s addressed to me not “Dear supporter” and it’s signed by the man himself, not “The Office of the President.”

2) It’s short.

3) The language and call to action are both crystal clear.

4) It has links that take me where I need to go to take action.

5) It makes clear there are many people taking action.

Nuff said.

I was talking to a friend the other day about marketing to diverse communities and he said I should check out his friend’s company Dakima marketing. When I did I felt like jumping up and yelling, "Finally!".

I have been searching in vain for a company that does what Dakima claims it does for about a  year now. I have set up Google Alerts on "marketing and diversity" that have returned few , if any, quality leads. And I have to say that, in a country as diverse as Canada, I’m shocked because it seems there is an obvious market for such services.

Clearly the people behind Dakima think the same thing. The company bills itself as "Your partner in creating inspiring communications for audiences in today’s increasingly multicultural Canada." Right on.

And judging from their client list, that includes American Express, McAfee and Canada Post Corporation, Dakima has a knack for getting clients to jump aboard the diversity train.

One big question I have is what language or languages does Dakima work in?

In the latest episode of the great marketing podcast, The Age Persuasion, host Terry O’Reilly talks direct marketing: what it  is, what it’s not  – and why the web is poised to help it explode. And he does this all with the humour we’ve come to expect from The Age.


It has occurred to me that doing values-based marketing may require an addition to marketing’s five traditional Ps, product, price, product, promotion and people: principles. Why? Because that’s one of the main things that values-based companies like the one I’m working with sell and it requires a different approach to marketing. It’s different because most companies sell their products by telling people how buying the product will help them. Fair trade companies like the one I’m working with sell their products based partially on telling people how buying the product will help others (i.e. farmers in developing countries). This completely changes how the products need to be marketed. For one thing, there is the challenge of personalizing the idea of those “other people” that are being helped. One way the company I work with (OK, this “company I’m working with” thing is getting tired so I’m going to start calling them X Company)…So one way X Company helps their customers connect with actual individuals they help by buying the company’s products is by having bios of individual farmers on their site – (although one thing I will be suggesting to them is that they move these to the front page as they are somewhat buried now). Videos of these farmer would be even better but that raises a whole host of other issues such as farmers not being interested in becoming spectacles.

Never a dull moment….