Post #6: I’m still a magazine reader; the paper kind.

I’m the mother of a seven and four year old. With this territory comes the rare few moments of solace. I have to admit those few treasured moments are usually found in the privacy of my bathroom. I also need to come clean that many of those occasions arise, not due to the call of nature, but due to my desperate pursuit to recapture my sanity or to re-find myself. As part of these brief diversions, I have found some small luxury in magazines; the paper kind. There’s no digital side to these small 10 minute vacations I take. It’s purely old school for me! With the 10 minutes of bliss, I find myself reading the magazine ads just as much as the articles. I wonder if this is unique to my own life or is this a common experience for mothers everywhere.

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Accordingly to the website she*conomy, 85% of the all consumer purchases are made by women. I think it’s fair to assume that a large portion of that 85%, are made by mothers. If that is the case, than magazines are likely still a valid marketing vehicle. Especially given the captive setting I often find myself reading them in.

When I‘m looking at ads, there are certain types that appeal to me, more than others. The beauty ads that attempt to make me feel unworthy, without the right pimple cream or age defying formulas, are quick page turners. Why would I work so hard to escape reality, only to read an ad that reminds me of some remote reality? The ads that tell me a sweet story, make me laugh or inspire me, are the ones that I actually decide to read and note the brands they’re advertising for.

For example, there was a recent Liquid Plumbr ad I found, on one of my recent excursions. The tag line read “embrace your inner plumber” and featured a woman wearing a pink shirt and a tool belt.  The copy of the ad was calling to the feminist in all of us and our need to take charge of our own situations. The ad promoted the Liquid Plumr facebook page that offers D.I.Y. solutions; “No boyfriends, husbands or plumbers required”. It also highlights that their facebook page features Home Improvement star, Norma Vally, who presents the Liquid Plumr “Tool School”.

Another ad that caught my attention was a World Wild Life ad, that read “Be the voice for those that have no voice” and featured a picture with a mother and baby elephant. I will admit that this ad drove me to leave my “time out” and to return to my brood.

The marketing messages that seem to capture my interest are not the shallow attempts to make me feel inferior, but the ads that have some substance. They’re the ads that don’t undermine my intelligence, but instead respect it. Afterall, if me, and many other women like me, are the driving consumer force in America, then clearly we deserve to be respected in the very ads that we’re being targeted by.

Post #5: Jcpenney Hits the TARGET with their Marketing Makeover

After 110 years it was time for a makeover! Jcpenney, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. retail market, recently reinvented themselves. Strangely, one of the captains at the helm of their reinvention was the former Chief Marketing Officer at Target, Michael Francis.

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While we were asked to comment about the creative strategies at Target, I thought it fitting to comment on the Target’ess like makeover underway at Jcpenney. Especially given how exciting and cutting edge the concepts are, coming out of JCP.

After a quick glimpse at the JCP catalog that hit millions of American homes in late February, it’s clear this re-launch is a game changer. Their new creative strategy, screams IKEA, Target and maybe even a slight hint of  J.Crew. It’s bright, simple and clever. The clean, brilliant images are interwoven with smart, story telling copy. This new refreshing creative approach was even carried through, in the introduction of Ellen DeGeneres, as their new spokesperson.

Even the company name has been simplified, now simply stated as JCP. This overhaul is being marketed as “In Praise of Fresh Air”, in order to clarify that despite their 110 year age; it doesn’t mean they’ve grown stale. This sense of fresh air was described in the “Jcpenney Manifesto” that was published as part of their recent launch.

 

This sense of fresh air has come to life within the pages of their March catalog, direct mail pieces and in their new online ads. An orange themed portion of their assortment is marketed with clever tag lines, such as “orange you forgetting something” or “speaking mandarin”. The new spring fashion trend of color blocked combos, in new JCP creative speak, is nicknamed “Block Party”.

The JCP revamp did not only touch the creative side of their operations, but also drove a major facelift to their in-store experiences and pricing strategies. The previous borage of coupons, frequent sale events, and various promotional mailers have been sent to their corporate archives as a thing of the JCP past. Now the pricing and sales strategy is simple and tagged as “fair and square”. There are three and only three, types of prices in their new repertoire. The three-tiered pricing structure is labeled in red, white and blue and categorized as every day, monthly value and best price.

With the fresh breeze blowing at JCP, I wonder if any stale air has settled in at the marketing office at Target. Will Target be able to replace the creative genius vacancy, left behind by Michael Francis? Or have the creative winds shifted permanently to JCP?

Post #2: Marketing Copy Cat: A To Do or Taboo?

Recently in working with a small business, it was clear that some business owners don’t have the time, money or expertise to build out and execute a robust marketing plan. Given all the contemporary marketing tools, it becomes even more overwhelming for a small business owner to know where to start. This got me wondering about the value of using a copy cat strategy.

The strategy would involve following the marketing of key competitors in order to try and understand their marketing plan, and then figuring out which elements to copy. Especially, if the competitor can afford to partner with a external marketing agency, then it’s likely the types of marketing they’re doing are the ones that have proven to be most effective. This strategy would not only help a company define their own strategy, but would give them insight into what they need to do to be competitive.

Of course the company would need to develop their own unique marketing messages, but at least they would know where to focus their energy and how to position their message against their competitors.

So what’s the verdict?

Do? Or Taboo?

Post #1: Marketing Research for Free!

Yes, there is a way to find out what and when customers are interested in something, minus the investment of research.

Based on The New Rules of Marketing, by author David Scott, the key to modern day marketing is being able to engage customers and potential customers in a variety of ways, such as social media, blogs, new releases and online video. However, the key to being successful in these spaces requires that a company first knows what is most relevant to their target market. Before investing in a robust marketing plan, companies must first know what their customers care about and what will provide the most return on investment. This is typically the role of marketing research. Over the last few years, a new source for this information has emerged that allows companies to answer these questions, without having to make a major investment in research. It is the information that is found by reviewing the search logs of a company’s website. …It’s information that’s at a company’s fingertips.

When a customer comes to a website and conducts a search, they’re telling the company what they want, in their words. This provides an unfiltered view into customers’ needs and wants. Search data is a gold mine of information that can be used to drive product, assortment and promotional planning, as well as providing many other insights about customers.  For example, the data could tell a company when customers start looking for snow boots or swimming pools. The data may also reveal that the customer is looking for something that the company doesn’t sell. It also can highlight a major customer service or product issue.

In addition to providing insight to what customers want and when they want it, the data can also suggest the level of demand for an item or topic of information. As a result the information can be used to help a company decide what to focus marketing efforts on or what issues need more immediate attention.  

Similar information can be found through data offered for free by Google. However, the Google data will tell you what customers are looking for in the broader context of the internet. The search data from a company’s website is much more relevant and specific, because it reflects the things that customers are coming to their website looking for.

What’s more exciting is that it’s a source of information available to any company that has a website or mobile app with a search feature. So even a small business can gain powerful insights about what their customers are looking for. It’s marketing research for the masses!

And did I mention it’s all free!