McDonald

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at asyverson@ierpartners.com.

The calendar year wouldn’t be complete without a few social media fails. In 2012, plenty of big brands and organizations suffered serious backlashes on social networks like Twitter and Facebook for offensive tweets, questionable ad campaigns or controversial company statements. Some, like McDonald’s, attempted good-natured social media campaigns that simply took unexpected turns. Others, like StubHub’s and KitchenAid’s Twitter accounts mistakenly send out shocking tweets. If there’s one lesson to take away from this year’s fails, it’s that brands need to be particularly careful when it comes to tying a promotion or post to a big, public event.

Of the eight key copy drivers—the emotional hot buttons that make people act—the most mysterious is exclusivity.

I never really understood exclusivity until Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme put a spotlight on it. As Laurence Leamer wrote in The Huffington Post:

It was an honor having him handle your fortune. He didn't take just anybody. He turned down all kinds of people, and that made you want to give the man even more of your money. When he took your fortune, he told you that he would tell you nothing about how he achieved his returns. He was a god. He had the Midas touch.

Web sites have been built on this exclusivity thing. Among them: Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and HauteLook.com. They offer to “members only” the same upmarket designer merchandise sold by Saks, but at deeply discounted sale prices during specific time periods.

Saks is fighting back with an exclusive online “private event” that the CEO of HauteLook.com calls “the new way of retail.”

It ain’t new.

Saks is engaging in a technique as old as the hills. It’s called good, ol'-fashioned, time-tested, accountable direct marketing.

Can you imagine being a Napa Valley resident and winning USA Today’s “Pick a Trip Sweepstakes”—a two-night/three-day vacation to New York—and spending 24 hours in transit from San Francisco to New York, the result of a busted temperature gauge in the left engine? Gaga with jet lag, your three halcyon days in the Sour Apple would be two dismal daze before boarding a big jet for the return three-hour assault on your internal clock. Thank goodness my wife, Peggy, and I had planned 10 days in France, not just three or four. I applaud the safety consciousness of US Airways, but what a horrendous

I have always been a cheerleader for the underdogs. They just plain try harder. This is why I favor companies like Caribou Coffee over Starbucks, Frontier Airlines over United Airlines, Ben & Jerry’s over Breyers and Chipotle over McDonald’s. Not only do these “underdogs” try harder, but they also seem more comfortable in their own brand skins. They are original. They are daring. They are independent thinkers. They are the real deal. Is your brand the real deal? I bet your customers know the answer. Stand Out from the Crowd As you look at the vast choices of products and services customers have today,

Let me say at the outset that I have no idea who I will vote for in the general election. Being a committed Independent, I will not be voting in the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. As of March 27, the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are dead even in the opinion polls. The candidates are beginning to hammer each other, freeing John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, to act, look and sound presidential on the national and international stage. If strong action is not taken to break the logjam, this internecine scrap will go down to the convention in August

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