Marketing Fail

Marketing jobs have the shelf life of milk. In the tech industry, marketing people move around a lot. Unlike code cutters, their skills can be well used up to the limits of their experience, then they see little incremental improvement from their activities. Seeing the end of a good run, they look for other companies – smaller in size, with new products, or just something exciting. Other times they get fired. Marketing can fail. What confounds many in management is which part of marketing failed and why. Marketing is both strategy and execution, and are typically carried-out by different people or teams. When sales are slow, management wants to know why and occasionally even marketing cannot (or will not) clearly identify what is not working. Obfuscating marketing malfunctions has become more difficult in the digital age because we can measure what is and is not succeeding, at least at the … Continue reading

Pointed Communications

trade Show Booth - Crowd Watching Presentation While Carpets Being Rolled-up

A relative of mine tells her stories … for hours … before ending them with her point. Good thing she isn’t in marketing. Get to the point quickly, then fill in the gaps. I was recently reminded of this while being a judge for the CODiE awards. I think I’m in my 573rd year of being a CODiE judge. The contestant’s presenter launched into a live demo of the product without summarizing what the product did much less its key value propositions. Thankfully he skipped the all-too-common dozen or so slides providing background about the company and other snore generators. He was like my relative, all too eager to tell his story as opposed to telling me why I should care. With attention spans shrinking fast as content explodes, getting to the point becomes ever more important. Telling people why they should care up front causes them to care. When … Continue reading

Branded Lies

If you want to destroy a brand, just lie a little. Some recent political news (on which I won’t elaborate to avoid ruffling friendly feathers) is a case study in bad marketing by incorrectly setting the market’s expectations and misleading buyers. This is a cardinal sin in the Marketing religion, and those guilty of the sin will burn in the pits of unemployment lines. All relationships are built on trust, and all transactions are relationships. Even small one. When you buy a candy bar at the corner store, you trust that the reported weight is close to accurate, the contents are faithfully reported, that the snack isn’t poisonous and that the store has not substituted inferior goods. That’s a lot of trust behind a 50¢ transaction and fleeting relationship. Had any of those trust points been violated, you would never again buy that candy bar or shop at that store. … Continue reading


If going with your gut is a good idea, does indigestion affect your decision? A recent eruption on an executives’ forum centered on the role of gut instinct in decision making, which applies to marketing as well. One camp lobbied for using detailed marketing research to make sound and measurable business decisions. The other mob insisted some things are beyond research, and that instincts about market shifts were not to be ignored. Both were right … and wrong. Market research is wonderful. I make good money doing it for businesses around the world. But even reams of quality information may not present the whole picture. When Steve Jobs and crew developed the iPhone, there was a leap of faith concerning the readiness of the market for an entirely new mobile computing paradigm (well, not entirely new … Palm had mastered pocket devices without cellular connections for years). Research might confirm … Continue reading

Survey Sadism

I was abused for want of a smoothie. I have recently habituated Jamba Juice, a now sprawling franchise that started SLO (San Luis Obispo). In a well-intended effort to assure satisfaction, they randomly offer customers the opportunity to get two smoothies for the price of one if they complete an online survey. Nice approach, and I was willing to participate given that I perform a lot of market research via surveys and understand the benefits. Willing that is until I hit the second screen. After passing the first page of questions, their survey software politely announced that I was 3% done – I had a long road still ahead. I continued, mainly to see how long and horrible their survey instrument might be and did not find out for another five minutes. Avoiding critiques about some survey mechanics (there were flaws), I can safely say the survey was far too … Continue reading

Warm Coke

One drop of water makes a difference. In marketing and product design, the accumulation of tiny details motivates people to want. I would argue that Apple designed the iPhone with a critical mass of tiny little features, and the one huge feature of simplicity. Together they wowed the world. In marketing, knowing the motivations of your target audience and subtly tickling each fancy creates an irresistible offering. Which makes me wonder when Coke forgot this reality. Coke is one of the best marketing machines on Gawd’s grey earth. From cuddly polar bears (who in real life can rip the flesh off a seal in seconds) to kumbaya songs suited to the hippie era, Coke touches consumer sentiments and constantly creates product preference (being a Georgia born southerner and former Atlanta resident, I have natural bias about their product anyway, as do most people south of Masson and Dixon). But Coke … Continue reading

Antisocial Media

“Twitter is an ‘all about me’ place. So is Facebook. Both will be replaced with something else someday.” The radio host who said this, a man who lives in the social space as part of his livelihood, was making a fairly shrewd observation. Perhaps the condition is temporary, but most social media is about micropublishing, allowing everyone and their grandpa to broadcast to anyone who remotely cares. As proven in the last election cycle, everyone voicing their opinions and preferences online strains the patience of others, and over time reduces the desire to participate. As a young store clerk in a Forever 21 outlet recently said to me “Facebook is too noisy. Nobody my age hangs out there.” Sadly, a lot of marketers are in the “all about me” mode of social, and achieving the same sad results. I scanned a few B2B twitter accounts to spot check social activity … Continue reading