Category Archives: Marketing

The Pepsi Spot Is Brilliant

Every human in America, seemingly, has piled on in the unending criticism of Pepsi for its “tone deaf, ” “inauthentic” spot featuring Kendall Jenner. I think the spot is brilliant.

What did Pepsi hope to accomplish with the Kendall spot? I wasn’t privy to their team’s planning sessions but my guess is: To generate buzz, to stir emotions and to build brand name awareness. Bingo, bingo and bingo.

The controversial spot features a well-known celebrity who walks away from her photo shoot to participate in something more meaningful. Which cause are the marchers supporting? That remains vague. Is it a “resistance” march? Is it a campus “free speech” march? Is it a “Black Lives Matter” march? Doesn’t matter. People who might’ve marched (or wanted to march) for any cause during the last couple of years are likely to pay attention to the spot.

The payoff comes when Kendall hands a can of Pepsi to a security person. (Maybe a policeman, maybe a campus cop, maybe a private hire—not a threatening hard ass with a billy club.) It’s a nice gesture.

The blowback was instantaneous. One imagines the Pepsi team knew the spot would be polarizing, but not to what degree. In short order, the spot was pulled. But we have seen it again and again on social media and on TV news shows. Exposure was not unlike those Super Bowl spots that are “banned” because they are too controversial or racy. Those “banned” spots then get millions of views on Youtube, as has the Pepsi spot.

The Pepsi spot was parodied this weekend by SNL. An op-ed in the New York Times called it “a spot that says that racialized police brutality is really a big misunderstanding that can be solved with a soda and a Kendall Jenner fist bump.”

However, comments on the K-104 website (KKDA-FM, a Hip-Hop radio station in Dallas/Fort Worth) include these remarks: “BEAUTIFULLY DONE PEPSI, YOU TOOK ON A RELEVANT AND SOMETIMES SENSITIVE ISSUE & MADE IT POWERFUL AND NOT OFFENSIVE,” “I dont see anythin wrong with it… i love it and i am black,” and “Blends all cultures and it’s about togetherness.”

According to several analyses I read about the Pepsi spot, it was not “genius” like that “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” spot from 1971.

I recall many of us, back in the day, thought the Coke spot was a bunch of “Up With People” mindless “feel good” pap in the midst of the ugliness of the Vietnam War, the Nixon/Agnew regime and unrelenting racial tension in America. (I think the final episode of Mad Men may have something to do with the current renewed affection for the Coke spot.)

To me, the Pepsi spot, despite its many perceived flaws, reflects the culture and vibe of its day more accurately than the Coke spot did.

Once again: Did the Pepsi/Kendall spot generate buzz? Yes. Did it stir emotions? Yes. Did it burn the name “Pepsi” into the nation’s collective consciousness? Yes. But will it help grow Pepsi’s market share? Let’s check back in a few months and find out.

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Perception Is Reality

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It’s true. If a person perceives a brand, a product, a service, a retailer, a restaurant, etc. to possess certain qualities, it colors all of that person’s interactions with that entity. Even when hard evidence shows the perceived belief is not true.

Certain brands have buzz and are perceived by many to be cool, superior, innovative, etc. The list includes Starbucks, Apple, Uber, IKEA—I’m sure you can name a few more. Even when those cool brands fail or when they “borrow” ideas from others, they are often given a pass because of positive customer perceptions.

The current TV series The People Versus O.J. Simpson reveals incorrect appraisals of potential jurors by both prosecutor Marcia Clark and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Each perceived African-American female jurors to be sympathetic to the prosecution’s case. Both were wrong. The scene showing Marcia Clark behind the glass monitoring a focus group as they offer comments about her is powerful and enlightening.

During my radio career, I was reminded many times that perception is reality. If a listener perceives that station A plays more music than station B, it doesn’t matter which station actually plays more music. If a listener thinks a personality is snarky and insensitive, that personality can perform tons of good deeds and still be perceived to be a jerk. A listener’s perception is that listener’s reality.

Because perceptions matter—whether they are based on facts, gossip, online chatter, peer pressure or subtle factors—it is important to work to mold perceptions. Public relations, marketing and social media all play a vital role in creating and reinforcing positive consumer perceptions of a product, a service, a radio station, an idea or a presidential candidate.

It is dangerous to presume that we know how customers or prospects perceive the goods, services and messages we offer. How do we find out what they think? We observe how they act. We monitor their online comments. We ask them. What is their perception? It’s their reality.

 

 

 

 

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Gym Etiquette and Fitness

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This space is for thoughts about marketing, communication and good business practices. Being healthy and fit makes you perform better for employers and clients. So fitness should be part of your overall personal marketing plan. And January is a month when we renew and reset.

Therefore, if you are planning to get back to the gym this month or are joining for the first time, here is a bit of guidance from a longtime gym patron.

  1. Don’t talk on your phone when you’re on a cardio machine. It’s rude. It might be okay to answer one quick question, but if the conversation is going to last more than 30 seconds, step out into the hallway.
  2. Wipe off the machine when you’re done. Even if you didn’t sweat that much.
  3. If there’s a time limit on cardio machines, obey the rules. Don’t be a jerk.
  4. Say hello, or at least nod, to the older and heavier folks at the gym. They may be uncomfortable among the younger, more svelte patrons.
  5. This may be the most important tip: If you have a new combination lock for the locker room, be sure you have memorized the combination before you use it! (Write it inside a shoe if necessary.)
  6. No matter how provocatively your gym mates are dressed, it is NOT okay to ogle.
  7. If you don’t want to be ogled in the gym, don’t dress provocatively. Also, if you need a sports bra, get one.
  8. You don’t have to wear makeup to the gym.
  9. Don’t drop the free weights. If there’s an audible clang, it’s obnoxious. Grunting is also a no-no.
  10. Unless you’re running long distances, eating less is generally a more efficient way to lose weight than burning calories on a treadmill.
  11. Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in 6 weeks. Unless you plan to stop eating. You may be able to drop that much excess weight in a year.
  12. A personal trainer is a splurge, but often a worthy splurge. If you’re new to a particular gym, at least have an employee walk you through the various machines and stations.
  13. Spinning, Zumba, Bootcamp, etc. classes are good for many reasons. The main one: If you’ve paid in advance, you’re less likely to blow it off.
  14. If you hit the gym after work, remember where you park. It’s tough walking out after dark, into the cold, with wet hair, into a parking lot with dozens of monochromatic cars.
  15. If your gym doesn’t furnish sweat towels or wipes, bring your own.
  16. Enjoy your workout. I see many people in my gym who look less than happy. Try to ride the wave when the endorphins kick in!
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Small Business Marketing On The Cheap

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Every week we receive at least two direct mail pieces at our home from dental practices in our neck of the woods (suburban St. Louis, Missouri). Some dental mailers are more effective than others in marketing their services, but direct mail can be pricey for a new business that also has personnel, real estate and equipment costs.

Here are some other ways these dentists might want to market to prospective patients.

  1. Send targeted, personal mailings. Take a page from many who have transitioned into financial planning careers. They send handwritten notes to friends and associates offering their services and soliciting referrals. Time consuming, yes, but effective.
  2. Reach out to neighbors. If your clinic is in a strip center or an office complex, take time to say hello to other tenants. Drop off a dozen doughnuts and invite them to stop in and visit your digs.
  3. Employ social media. It may not be easy to get a large number of likes or followers immediately for your new practice, but you can let all your personal Facebook friends (and Twitter followers) know about your venture. And you can purchase reasonably priced, targeted Facebook ads that let you reach people within a specific age range and geographic area.
  4. Network with competitors. This idea may sound counterintuitive but other area dentists may have useful marketing ideas (and other guidance) that they are willing to share.
  5. Be part of community events. Business expos, health fairs and community festivals offer good chances to meet people. You may not be able to offer free samples of your services, but you can hand out items such as toothbrushes with your name on them.
  6. Similarly, look for opportunities to donate services as door prizes/auction items for non-profit events in your area. While a free exam and teeth cleaning may cost you time and effort, the lucky winner/high bidder may need further dental work done.

Of course, these suggestions may apply to other small businesses who are in the beginning stages and may have limited funds available for marketing.

IMPORTANT: For a dental practice your #1 marketing goal is to generate a phone call (which may result in an appointment). Make sure that the people who answer your phone are friendly and well informed. Since my longtime dentist just retired, it just might be me on the other end of the line.

(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15489034@N00/1573121946, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)