Tag Archives: marketing

One more reason I’m glad I’m a guy

Men reasonsI ran across this poster, and it reminded me of one more reason, #87, why I’m glad I’m a guy.

Sales “Parties”

If you are a girl, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are a guy, I strongly suspect you have never even been close to one. I guess they started with Tupperware back in the 50s or 60s, but it seems in recent years they have multiplied. Here is the way it works.

1.) Woman takes on a job selling a product with other women as the target customer group.

2.) Saleswoman approaches friend or co-worker and asks if she would hostess a “party” and invite some of HER friends. The purpose of the party is to provide Saleswoman with a captive audience to hock her wares. Not really wanting to produce a party, but not wanting to disappoint a friend, the Hostess agrees.

3.) Hostess then spends some of her “social capital” inviting her friends to a “party” at her house. Hostess typically provides drinks and snacks, or more.

4.) The friends/guests frequently accept, even though they have no desire to attend the pseudo-party, because they, in turn, don’t want to their friend/hostess to look bad. The implied understanding is that the Guests have a social obligation to purchase something from the Saleswoman.

Mrs. Poolman attended one such “party” last week. In this case, the product was handbags. Mrs. P came away $55 poorer, but with a handbag, to be delivered at some future date. I don’t know whether she needed the handbag or not. That wasn’t the point. She bought the bag because she attended the party, and she only attended the party, because she didn’t want to disappoint her friend, Carla. Carla wasn’t the hostess. The party was being hosted by her daughter’s partner’s mother and sisters on behalf of some cousin. Do you see how the web grows?

One of our friends here in the neighborhood, Louanne, was a real sucker for any “Saleswoman” who called on her. For a while there, it seemed like Louanne was calling every couple of weeks or so to invite Mrs. P to a party where she could/should/would buy lingerie, perfume, jewelry or candles. (The thought of giving up a Saturday afternoon during football season to go listen to someone try to sell me scented candles would drive me to socially unacceptable behavior.) At least one party she hosted was for a line of “marital aids” which was interesting. I would have gone to that one myself, but no guys were invited. Louanne finally shut down her run of parties after the other women in the neighborhood politely told her that were considering not answering the phone when her number showed up on caller ID.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I should call up my friend Matt the Welder and ask him to come over to learn more about scented candles. “Oh, and be sure to bring your checkbook.” I think I seen an intervention in my future.

Who thinks of these things?

There are times I see or hear about something and all I can think is “Who was the genius who thought of that?” Other times, the only thought that goes through my mind is “WTF?” This week, I ran across two items that, I think, fall into the second category.

Neuticles

“What are “neuticles?” you may ask.  According to the Web site, neuticals are “testicular implants for pets. Neuticles are available for canines, felines, equine, bulls or any pet which is neutered.”

Apparently, these are artificial “balls” that are implanted in a male animal after sterilization. Why would you need such a thing? Again the Web site has anticipated the natural question.

“Neuticles allows your pet to retain his natural look, self esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.”

And the practice isn’t limited to that family golden retriever.

“While canines and felines have been most popular, other pets have been Neuticled including prairie dogs, water buffalo, monkey’s and even rats!”

I have to this company credit. I think they have created a product to fulfill a market need that no one even knew existed.

Who would have thought that we needed artificial testicles so our pet prairie dogs don’t lose their self esteem? And people actually buy these things! Amazing.

Clowns Without Borders

While I’m normally hesitant to criticize someone trying to do a good thing, I’m not sure whether to laugh with or laugh at this group. I guess their hearts are in the right place.  The group sends “clowns”  (Cue Frank Sinatra.) around the world to refugee camps, natural disaster scenes and so on. They put on shows for the people there to lighten their day. It sounds like a noble idea. I imagine someone in a refugee camp or who has experienced a natural disaster might easily be in a foul mood. It would be quite understandable. I wonder though; if I were in a refugee camp, and I had the choice between a visitor with food, fresh water and medicine, or a clown with a rubber ball nose, I think I might go with the food and water.

But that’s just me.

On a roll…t-p roll, that is.

For some reason, I have taken note of some recent TV commercials, advertising, of all things, toilet paper. It is probably one of the least glamorous products to try to advertise. As important as it is to all of us, it is not easy to discuss.

Here is one that caught my eye last week.

The history of television advertising is full of famous and effective positioning statements.

“You deserve a break today.”

“When it absolutely, positively needs to be there in the morning.”

“The real thing.”

“Tastes better. Less filling.”

So where does this implied slogan fit in?

 “Our toilet paper won’t stick to your ass!”

Clever.

And here is a trend that I missed out on completely. Apparently, there legions of people who consider a roll of toilet paper unsightly.

I know it doesn’t look very good on a tree in your front yard, but on a roll in your bathroom? It would have never occurred to me. Maybe that’s why I’m not making the big bucks in the TP industry.

What’s in a name?

The simple answer is “Everything!”

In the early 1980s, Al Riess and Jack Trout wrote a great book, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” They devoted a whole chapter to the importance of a name. It is amazing how many high-paid professional marketers can’t seem to grasp this idea. I recently ran across two national and one local example that make me cringe.

gatoradeThe Gatorade folks have had the advantage of one of the strongest brand names around. It is so strong that it has developed a generic use. People will talk about Gatorade, even they are drinking Powerade of some other sports drink. Athletes talk about “Gatorading” a coach, meaning to dump a barrel of Gatorade on his head after a big win. Gatorade coachThe name is golden. So what is the latest brilliant marketing move by that company? They have rebranded their drink to “G.” Genius! Pass the Powerade; would you please?

Another company is not changing its product name, but it’s messing with it, which is almost as bad. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a well established brand. It is so strong that it can also get away with using its initials, “KFC,” which is something not many companies can do.KFC Everyone knows Kentucky Fried Chicken, what it stands for and what to expect. The latest move by the KFC folks is to introduce grilled chicken to their menu. OK, no problem. That’s probably a good idea. Their mistake is marketing it as “Kentucky GRILLED Chicken.” Bad idea. Introduce a new product. Sure. But don’t screw with your brand name. The KFC folks (Or is it KGC?) may establish their grilled chicken as a successful addition to their product line, but they will do so at the expense of their brand identity. When you diminish the strength of the Kentucky FRIED Chicken brand in the minds of the consumer, you become just another chicken restaurant, not the King of the Cluckers.

On a much smaller scale, I see a local business making the same kind of mistake. The company is Furniture Warehouse. The name “warehouse” carries certain image. They probably have a large showroom, with an equally large volume and variety of inventory. Recently I have heard some radio ads that they are changing their name to “Furniture Warehouse Design Gallery.”

The first problem is that the terms “warehouse” and “design gallery” convey entirely different mental images.  The first says, large space and giant inventory. The other conveys the image of a small boutique store.

However to compound the problem even further, after changing their name, they decided that 10-syllable name was too long and awkward, so they should go by their initials. Bad move! The name carries an image, or rather two of them. “FWDG” carries nothing. Their solution? Launch an advertising campaign to explain what their initials stand for.

Here is a thought. If you need to pay for an advertising campaign to explain what your name means, maybe you need to rethink the name