Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Pike's Place Fish Market in Seattle

While in Seattle I had a chance to watch and see what makes Pike’s Place Fish Market different from the other markets within Pike’s Place. Be original.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting a city that has been on my “To Visit” list for quite some time. That city was sunny Seattle. I had the pleasure of speaking at the Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC) annual conference on Social Media Monitoring (my slides can be found below, if you care to look).

One spot I knew I had to stop while there was Pike’s Place Fish Market. While working for Washington Mutual, I was exposed to one of the many corporate training videos that deals with this small fish market. In the mid to late 80’s, Pike’s PLace Fish Market was in trouble. It was on the brink of bankruptcy but the owner and employees knew they had something special. It was then that they decided to become world-famous. That is no small feat. How could a little fish stand in a city known for seafood become world-famous, let alone a tourist destination?

Be Original

Much like Steve Jobs and Apple, this little fish stand decided that they wanted to be different. The staff decided to bring some personality to the stand. What started as an idea to save the company became a new way to look at business. It wasn’t about the fish or how fresh it was, it was about the experience. It started with throwing the fish from the display case to the packaging area when a customer placed an order and it grew into a show. The employees have fun with what they do. They enjoy their work. How many businesses can truly say that about their employees?

Being different from the other 3 or 4 fish stand in the Pike’s Place Market, and the city of Seattle in general, saved this little stand from bankruptcy. It has inspired many managers to work in a completely different way than they previously thought. It has inspired many employees to bring something extra to work and really learn to enjoy what they do. Check out this clip from one of the motivational videos about this stand and you will see what makes them stand out.

If your business is struggling, what can you do to save it? How can you think differently about what you offer? Much like the fish market, they realized that fish could be a secondary product and getting people to the stand needed to be the first priority. This turned the employees into entertainers. You may not be able to entertain your customers, but you surely can be original in how you do your business.


Sex Doesn’t Sell

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Marketing, Thoughts
Sex doesn't sell

They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it. – Don Draper

So I am very late to this but I recently started watching Mad Men on Netflix. I figured that I am required to have at least one Don Draper inspired post on my blog since I am in marketing. This should fill that requirement.

So far one of my favorite “Draper-ism” relates to a conversation with Peggy in the second season:

Peggy Olson: Sex sells.

Don Draper: Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this. They take all this monkey crap and just stick it in a briefcase completely unaware that their success depends on something more than their shoeshine. YOU are the product. You FEELING something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it. – via

I have written about using sex to sell in the past but with this great quote, I wanted to add to it.

Sex Doesn’t Sell

Using sex to sell your product sells your audience short. It is the marketing equivalent of selling to the lowest common denominator. People typically see through this tactic pretty quickly and should not be the basis of your corporate image. Did it work for GoDaddy? In a way. What really works for GoDaddy is their low rates, the “sexy” ads just get people to the door.

So what works? In my post from earlier I stated it is a “WOW” factor that sells. Don calls it a feeling. When you make your audience feel something, you begin to sell. Old Spice did it with their humorous “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads, and has done it with their Youtube video. They hooked you with humor. Other ads tug at the heart-strings and really make you feel some powerful emotions.

So when Don says sex doesn’t sell, we should listen. Start figuring out what your target demographic feels. Why was Bank Transfer Day so successful? The people felt anger towards the big banks for the debit card fees. Without those fees there would have never been a “mass exodus” of bank customers. Why does BofA still have customers? The ones that stuck behind did not FEEL what the others felt.

Sex doesn’t sell. It may get looks but in the end you need something more. Don’t let the monkeys handle your marketing. Make your audience feel something strong. Show them how they can integrate you into their lives without any effort.

What companies make you “feel” something strong enough to get you to buy their products? What is your favorite “Draper-ism?”

Costanza is known for having a large wallet. Google and Isis want to change that.

NFC technology is hoping to make a bulging wallet a thing of the past. Is your credit union ready to make the change?

No will deny the fact that technology is ever-changing. Stats are thrown around about how an iPhone is now more powerful than NASA’s supercomputers were in the 70’s. That is impressive.

With all of this change, businesses need to be constantly evaluating what their options are at all times. The credit union industry is no different. In fact it may have more to lose with some of the new technology coming down the road.

Let’s look at Near Field Communication (NFC) technology as an example. NFC is technology found in phones that allow an individual to pay for goods and services without pulling out their debit or credit card. This technology is much more commonplace outside of the United States but even within it is growing. Currently there are two main competitors in the space, Google Wallet and Isis. While Isis is still testing out their network, they do have the backing of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. This ensures that Isis will be available on many handsets in the near future. Google Wallet has, of course, Google backing the service, along with MasterCard. This enables Google Wallet to be used anywhere PayPass is accepted.

Yes, at least with Google, there needs to be a debit or credit card backing the purchase but currently the only card compatible is a Capital One MasterCard or the Google PrePaid MasterCard. That means each and every credit union will either miss out or be left funding the Prepaid card (all of this could change once Google Wallet opens up its software). The Durbin Amendment has already limited access to fee income many credit unions and banks relied on. This will only take more.

While NFC has not yet hit critical mass, the rumor mill is ablaze with Apple working on their own NFC technology. This could change this greatly.

Next up is PayPal. Have you heard PayPal is working with many national retailers to make it feasible to use your PayPal account to make your purchases at the register? Why does this matter to credit unions? PayPal currently has over 220 million accounts. This makes for a lot of potential customers for this service. Many have used PayPal as a makeshift savings account and now they can use it as a checking account too.

Never fear! There are always things you can do to counteract new technology that could negatively affect your business.

1. Learn everything you can about the service. Test it out yourself, if you can. Merely saying that the service is not safe will not stop people from using it. Look at Foursquare. Many have denounced Foursquare for privacy reason but people still use.

2. See how you can adopt the technology. The old mantra of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” is in full force. If this is the way your members want to go, let them. I would suggest making sure your cards can be added to Google Wallet, Isis, or Apple’s service once it is all made available.

3. Create your own! While it may not be economically feasible for most institutions to go on their own with this, it is always an option. The IT infrastructure that would need to be in place might be a little much and it really would be easier to integrate into the current structure.

As tech is ever-growing, what do you see as being an issue from credit unions (or other businesses) in the near future?

P.S. Having used Google Wallet, I do appreciate it. I am one of those people who is always fumbling with my phone so not needing to put it down to pay for my food is great for me. Is Google Wallet the answer? Time will tell. NFC is here to stay though.

What is your "flaming fountain?"

On Bourbon Street in New Orleans you can find a lot of the same, but at pat O'Brien's they are known to stick out a little bit more.

Lately I have been a little busier than usual and haven’t been able to post as much as I would like on this blog. One of the reasons for that was a conference I was preparing for that I was asked to speak at. The CUNA Marketing and Business Development Conference in New Orleans was my first official speaking assignment and they wanted to make sure they used me as much as they could. Along with my co-presenter, Bruce Ulrich, we spoke at three different sessions. It was a great experience and I really loved being able to impart some of my knowledge with my peers.

New Orleans also offered a great learning experience for me beyond the conference. NOLA has quite the reputation and most of that comes from Bourbon Street and its bar scene. I quickly realized that many of the bars/clubs down there were basically the same. I heard music up and down the street and most of it was from Rock n Roll cover bands. I quickly had the feeling that Bourbon Street did not differentiate itself from many of the other bar crawling streets in the nation. Then I stopped in Pat O’Brien’s. The atmosphere was a little different there. No live band (at least the night I stopped by) and a great big flaming fountain in the middle of the courtyard.

It made me think, what am I doing with my personal brand and with my company’s brand that could be akin to a flaming fountain? I am doing anything out of the ordinary to stick out and show that I am different? In most industries we are all stuck looking and acting very much alike. You see this in highly regulated industries like banking or in small businesses in the same geographical area. Occasionally you get those that are able to set themselves apart with branding, i.e. WaMu’s “Stodgy Bankers” campaign or Ally Bank and its attack on the status quo. Look at what you and your competitors are doing and see what truly sets you apart. Do not try to fall in line because “everyone else is doing it.” Work on ways you can be different. Change your products. Change your company culture. You can do it and be successful. Pat O’Brien’s is still a spot many locals go. That might have something more to do with their specialty drinks but it is also because they have stood and from the crowd.

So what can you do to stand out from the crowd? Have you thought about your own “flaming fountain” and how it could benefit you?

It has definitely been a while since I have updated my blog. With that I bring you a longer than normal post!

There is no better spot to witness the armchair quarterback in business than on social media. Currently you have many “experts” willing to give their advice to companies that have stumbled in their efforts, and we all fall in this category. Yes I am including myself in this. I find myself being a little too cynical of what is going on.

Of course with national flubs like Lowe’s, GoDaddy, Ocean Marketing, and countless others have experienced lately it is no wonder we all decide to hang out on the sidelines and declare “what we would have done.”

As many have pointed out, it is very beneficial to have a disaster recovery plan in place. It is also important to have someone knowledgable in place to handle the backlash. The thing that each of these companies have forgotten to do is to remember what they stand for. Lowe’s is a company that stood for the American Dream, home ownership. It wasn’t solely the Christian or Jewish Dream. It was about the diversity that we have in America but we all want the same thing. We want a place of our own. Lowe’s is able to help people make their house a home but the company forgot its primary purpose.

GoDaddy is in the same boat. It thrives off of people being able to do what they want online without fear of most repercussion and the legislation that GoDaddy helped create by sponsoring it went against the values of its customers. Ocean Marketing was a service company. It provided a service and if part of that includes customer service, which apparently it did, you must remain professional with the customer at all times. The customer does not care whether or not you have had a bad day or week. They write your paycheck and need to be treated like that.

There are many examples of companies “doing it wrong” but if you look hard enough there are many more of those that do it right. You must understand what you stand for before making any decisions and then decide if your next campaign falls within those standards. Make sure you stick to your guns and follow through. Be strong and do not second guess your ideas if they truly go along with your brand.

What companies do you see that stick to their brand, no matter what?