Sunday, June 29, 2008

Buzzwords banned in England

Buzzwords have been banned in town meetings across England. According to a recent article on the Local Government Association has asked its members to stop using management buzzwords. Perhaps corporations should take the country's advice as well, it's not only ordinary citizens that find the continuous drone of buzzwords dizzying.

Here's the quote that brings it all home: "Why do we have to have 'coterminous, stakeholder engagement' when we could just 'talk to people' instead?"
It's an article that should make David Meerman Scott proud.

Image credit: San Diego Shooter's

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Makers Mark misses the mark in Boston

Nearly every day I take the T (Boston’s subway) to work and have become intimately aware of the advertising within the cars. Most times it’s a random selection of local colleges, hair removal services and pleas to participate in medical testing, but every once in a while a brand will take over all the advertising space within multiple cars. This month’s interruption specialist is Makers Mark. Its entire campaign is focused on the peculiar accent of Bostonians. It comes across (to me anyway) as crass and desperate. For starters Makers Mark is made in Kentucky, not much of a location affinity there so I can only assume the company is making fun of the local accent. That’s fine from a local company, but a bit condescending from an outsider. But worse, I’m not sure what the message is. If you have a Boston accent Makers Mark is for you, if you don’t you should try another brand? That’s probably not what Makers Mark had in mind but that’s my read on it. And I can only wonder if true Bostonians relate to the campaign (I’m not originally from Boston so I’m an outsider in this outsider’s target). The lesson in this story is humor is great in advertising, but be careful of the humor you choose, your message just might fall flat.

If you work for Makers Mark and want to shed some light on the message you were going after I invite you to do so in the comments.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A roulade is not a tart

A roulade is not a tart. Roulade means to roll, in creating a roulade you must produce something that is rolled around something else, a bouche noel (pictured at left) is a roulade. A tart is a pastry shell that contains a filling. In no way should the average person mistake a roulade for a tart. But that’s exactly what happened at dinner last night.

Have you noticed that dessert menus often lie? I’m not sure why this is, but it seems to be a normal occurrence in my dining experiences. Perhaps I’ve just come across a slew of pastry chefs that don’t have an understanding of the French language which so often dominates the descriptions of their confections.

Last night at a cute little Italian restaurant in Boston’s South End I ordered a Lemon Roulade, what I received was a Lemon Tart. It was delicious, but why promise a roulade and deliver a tart?

Restaurateurs are craftsmen, marketers and performers all at once. Their food (craft) needs to be outstanding, their menus (marketing) need to describe that food in an enticing and accurate manner and their space and wait staff (performers) must emulate whatever ambiance the restaurateur has set out to fabricate. If one of those facets doesn’t deliver, the restaurant becomes just one in the same with the other restaurants around it, sameness, nothingness, all at once.

Image credit: tsavadogo on flickr

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Download The Word of Mouth Manual, Volume II by Dave Balter

In April I wrote about Dave Balter’s creative book promotion for The Word of Mouth Manual, Volume II. It’s a follow-up of sorts to Grapevine, his first book on the power of word of mouth (WOM). Today, I’m happy to share with you that you can download the book for free. All you need to do is download the PDF from one of the blogs that Dave has given exclusive rights to. My favorites include:

Brand Autopsy by John Moore who shares his thoughts on Creationalist WOM vs. Evolutionist WOM and why he isn’t a fan of the BzzAgent model.

Seth Godin’s Blog who shares some thoughts on self-publishing.

Chris Brogan who offers his thoughts and reservations on “managed word of mouth.”

Brand Autopsy and Chris Brogan’s blog offer the best conversation on word of mouth as a method. They touch upon the many struggles I myself face with the medium.

Full disclosure – I’m a bzzagent (I’m a big fan of learning about marketing techniques by participating in them) and I’m participating in The Word of Mouth Manual, Volume II bzz campaign. I was not participating in it when I first wrote about this book. I don’t believe in using my blog to promote products from bzz campaigns I may be participating in, it feels too fake and too forced (part of my own reservations with the medium). However, I’m making an exception to my rule because of the author, the book and its ties to marketing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Can you outlive your reputation?

Today I had a meeting with Avanade. Avanade is a global IT consultancy with unique connections to Accenture and Microsoft. Avanade is not what this post is about.

When I hear the name Accenture I venture down memory lane, recalling their re-branding efforts and how (or if) they’ve paid off. I can rarely remember the name Accenture, but I still have a quick recall of Anderson Consulting. When someone speaks about Accenture my brain automatically jumps to oh yeah, Anderson Consulting. It poses the question – Can you outlive your reputation?

The name trick my brain plays on me reminds me of my parents. Growing up there was a small grocery store in the village in which we lived. It was named IGA. However, my parents rarely called it that, because when they moved into the village it went by a different name, Corns, I think. I used to wonder why they could never remember the new name. It took years for them to call it by its proper name, only to have the store bought by another chain, its name changed once again.

Maybe it’s nostalgia that makes us recall things by what we first knew them as. Or maybe it’s a resistance to change. Whatever the reason, there’s a lesson for marketers to take away. Name changes are hard. Don’t go about them lightly, unless no one knows who you are. And if that’s the case, change your name, make it memorable and make a splash. But don’t change it again after that. Unless of course, you’re trying to outlive a scandal.

Image by Slack12

Friday, June 6, 2008

Joseph Jaffe, Delta Airlines and a call to action

Joseph Jaffe, writer of the blog Jaffe Juice shares with his readers his hellish trip aboard a recent Delta flight to Sao Paulo. But the post is about so much more than just bad service. The post is a call to action, an attempt to create a bigger voice so that Delta might hear it.

That’s the value Jaffe brings to his readers, he offers them the opportunity to live his experiments. His latest call to action is to create a petition of sorts, or an outline of bad experiences on Delta. I was more than happy to join in and I encourage you to do so as well. Just visit Jaffe Juice and add your story to the comments.

And if you’re curious, this is my story.…Coming home from Las Vegas (to Boston) and knowing that no meal would be served I pick up a salad from a vending cart near the gate. Unfortunately I neglect to pick up utensils. Once on the flight a flight attendant with a cart of sandwiches for purchase comes along. I ask for some utensils and am told "I'm sorry, utensils are reserved for those purchasing food." After apologizing for my neglect and pointing out the idiocy of this policy I'm still told no. Thankfully, the person sitting next to me (obviously amused by the interchange) purchases a sandwich, asks for utensils and hands them over to me. But I, with my plastic fork in hand, haven't flown Delta since. I'm not a frequent flyer by any means, but I do fly often enough that Delta certainly could have recouped their lost profits on that plastic fork denied me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In the News - jet trouble for Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma sells company jet to save money – that’s one of the headlines that ran in the San Francisco Business Times this past Wednesday. But no worries, the company will begin leasing the CEO’s jet. It will be slightly smaller, but hey, tough times call for tough measures…

Williams-Sonoma isn’t the only company trying to figure out ways to cut expenses and increase profits. But this cut back smells of greed, not a good image to portray it today’s economic times. Should Williams-Sonoma react to the story? I’m not sure they have an outlet to (other than traditional media); a breeze through their company site offers no access to the voice of Williams-Sonoma. The company appears somewhat sterile, very corporate and very investor focused.

That brings up the question, should there be a voice,
or a personality, behind Williams-Sonoma? If there was would it make the headline feel a little less bitter than it does today?

Image credit: cmiper

Monday, June 2, 2008

When communicating, reword, don't repeat

One hat that a marketer wears is that of a communicator. A marketer's touch can mean the difference between incomprehension and understanding; between bewilderment and excitement. Recently, I was reminded that great communicators have one thing in common. They know to reword, not to repeat. Too many of us repeat ourselves only to be met with the same blank stares and the same frustration. It happens every day around customer service centers and corporate boardrooms alike. If only each one of us, when met with the blank stare of incomprehension, took a moment, rephrased our thoughts and reworded instead of repeating. There would be a lot less frustration for everyone. Let this post serve as a reminder to you (as it will to me); next time someone doesn't understand you, reword, don't repeat.

Image credit: hebedesign