Now That's a Good Question!
June 1, 2009

As an outsider-insider to my clients, my role is often “questioner-in-chief” (to use a borrowed term from management expert Tom Peters). Recently, I was leading a brandstorming session with a financial services client when one of the employees pulled me aside during a break and said, “I didn’t want to ask this question in front of the group because I was afraid it would seem silly …” and then proceeded to ask me a very important and profound question pertinent to our strategic planning work.

Is That You, John Mackey?
June 1, 2009

Two summers ago, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was exposed for using a pseudonym to post negative comments about rival organic grocer Wild Oats on Yahoo Finance. At the same time, he was gushing about both his business leadership skills and his company’s value. What some chalked up to a bizarre display of self-aggrandizement, others pegged as unethical and possibly illegal behavior given that Whole Foods went on to purchase Wild Oats. The most important of those “others” is the Federal Trade Commission, which now is reviewing its advertising guidelines that relate to endorsements and testimonials.

The Economist Addresses the Economy
June 1, 2009

Writing about the economic downturn in a direct mail package can be a sensitive subject. To date, only a handful of direct marketers have attempted to do so and gotten it right. You don't want to remind consumers of how bad things are and get them in a penny-pinching state of mind when you are trying to promote your product or service. But if your product or service provides added value to protect consumers during a downturn, then the faltering economy can, in effect, become a selling point.

Tools to Enrich the Online Shopping Experience
May 27, 2009

In today’s online shopping world, consumers look for the most simple and efficient sites to purchase from. No one likes to waste time on a site that makes products difficult to find or checkout too tedious a task. With that in mind, Larry Kavanagh, CEO and founder of Covington, Ky.-based e-commerce solutions provider DMinSite, says the most important question to ask is, “What really helps the shopper?”

Claim Your Birthright
May 1, 2009

Where did this buzz phrase “measurable marketing” come from? The discipline of interacting with prospects and customers directly to make sales and gather data to inform future marketing contact has been called direct marketing since it was coined back in 1967 by advertising legend Lester Wunderman.

Personality Included
May 1, 2009

Brand is king in the realm of securing customers and creating loyalty, which can save your bottom line in this down economy. Brand goes far beyond logos and taglines—it lies within your customer’s perception of your product or service. Whether you are aware of it or managing it, every point of contact with the customer defines and reinforces your brand—from the way you answer the phones, to the appearance and manner of your sales force, to the cover of your catalog and the landing page of your Web site.

Famous Mail
May 1, 2009

Valerie Bertinelli promises slimmer hips and thighs with Jenny Craig. Suzanne Somers used to make the same promise with the ThighMaster, recall? Morgan Fairchild offers love advice for Old Navy website visitors in a live chat. New England Patriot's star Tedy Bruschi touts the benefits of life insurance for Boston area consumers. Genevieve Gorder of "Trading Spaces" gives home improvement advice and endorses 3M Corp.'s building products. Teen idol Vanessa Hudgens shares her back-to-school wardrobe preferences in a Sears magazine aimed at teenage girls.

Think Sideways
April 1, 2009

It’s time to get out. Out of your cubicle. Out of your home office. Out of your company’s groupthink. Out of your industry’s bigger groupthink. Just get out. It’s time to get sideways. You’ll be amazed at what a little outside thinking can do to rattle your inside perspectives.

Steve Cuno on Guess-free, Waste-free Marketing
March 18, 2009

In the preface of his recent book “Prove It Before You Promote It” (Wiley & Sons), Steve Cuno says that cutting marketing because sales are down is like reducing insulin when a patient’s diabetes has gotten worse. But while marketing’s role shouldn’t be diminished, Cuno illustrates how it can be far better played.

For Dunkin' Donuts' David Tryder, Card-in-Hand Equals Brand
March 11, 2009

Automatic balance refills and $2 perks for Dunkin' Donuts Card holders are helping the Canton, Mass.-based company's cup runneth over. While the privately held coffee purveyor is keeping a tight lid on proprietary information, an official revealed that these cards are an important aspect of its direct marketing strategy.