Retailers Are the New Publishers
August 1, 2013

Much has changed since Sears published its first catalog in 1888. One thing that hasn’t is retail’s love affair with content. Now more than ever—with the ascent of social media and mobile shopping—retailers have moved beyond peddling their wares through pamphlets and become full-fledged media players. They have the eyeballs and consumer data. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Sears and Best Buy all rank among the top 100 comScore websites. So naturally, retailers believe they can profit by boosting their brands' messaging any way they can, in how-to guides and fashion tips and so on. “The Internet requires every brand, business and

Why Content Isn’t King!
June 19, 2013

If "content is king" then marketing and advertising is dead. Consumers may be suffering from advertising saturation on our TVs, radio, the Internet, newspapers and social media sites, but I truly believe that good marketing can make advertising and marketing relevant and appealing. The majority of small business owners don’t know what content marketing is and therefore don’t apply the concepts and practices. Research findings from small business owners highlighted that posting mainly sales-related content to the correct target market that have shown an interest in a particular company/products/services resulted in increased sales and enquiries for those companies

How Do You Write the Perfect Headline?
May 14, 2013

Perfect? Wouldn’t it be subjective to say what’s perfect? Nah. From the point of view of a marketing writer of 25 years (yeah, that’d be me), a headline has one objective: Inspire the reader to read the next line. This applies to your email’s subject line or your blog post title in the biggest way. It applies to social media because it’s your headline that will most likely be shared and clicked—or not. So Which Headline Writing Technique Works Best? Marketing geniuses always yack on about how important it is to get right to the point

Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us How to Speak to Customers During A Crisis (Or Not)
October 31, 2012

Major events—political, natural or economic—create a lot of eyeballs on a select set of media and stories. But as friends chimed in on Facebook, Twitter and texts, they shared stories of who stood by them during the crisis. My colleague David Cooperstein and I were discussing what marketers did and should do during a crisis. Do your customers need to hear from you during Hurricane Sandy? We’ve seen a few best practices from companies that are handling communications in a helpful and dignified way.

The State of E-commerce Checkout Design 2012
September 6, 2012

A year ago, we published an article on 11 fundamental guidelines for e-commerce checkout design here at Smashing Magazine. The guidelines presented were based on the 63 findings of a larger "E-Commerce Checkout Usability" study we conducted in 2011 focusing strictly on the checkout user experience, from “cart” to “completed order.” This year, we’ve taken a look at the state of e-commerce checkouts by documenting and benchmarking the checkout processes of the top 100 grossing e-commerce websites based on the findings from the original study. This led to a massive checkout database with 508 checkout steps reviewed, 975 screenshots and

Foursquare Rolls Out First Ads
July 26, 2012

On Wednesday, Foursquare launched “Promoted Updates,” its first paid product offering for merchants. … Last week, Foursquare began allowing business owners to send local updates … to their “best customers” when they’re nearby. “Best customers” are those who check in frequently, and possibly have “Liked” the venue on Foursquare. Now, businesses can aim those updates at users who aren’t their best customers, but could be. The ads are designed to target users whose friends frequently stop by, who have added that venue to one of their Foursquare lists, or who are often visiting similar venues in that neighborhood.

Mad Men's Mixed Blessing for Marketers
June 1, 2012

With just two weeks of Mad Men left to go, it’s clear that the delay of season five didn’t dent the show’s cultural impact. That’s a mixed blessing to anyone whose brand is associated with AMC’s high-style depiction of Madison Avenue in the 1960s. (Creator Matthew Weiner’s refusal to allow more product placement in the show was cited as a factor in the long hiatus.) The level of love or loathing for the series among marketers may depend, in part, on whether their company paid to be there.

The Fittest CMOs: 5 Survival Principles for 'Marketing's CEO'
March 30, 2012

During the past year, chief marketing officers (CMOs) have stepped up their game by shouldering greater responsibility for the conversion of a key business asset—a company's marketing capacity—into top-line and bottom-line results. Once focused on defending their turf and justifying their domain, CMOs have evolved and now drive business value. As a result of that evolution, CMOs have morphed into a marketing "super-species": Marketing's CEO.

3 Marketing Mindsets That Must Change for Companies to Successfully Integrate
July 6, 2011

Sure, there are all these nifty tools out there to make life easier, but many companies are still struggling with how to institutionalize change—especially when it comes to integration. Businesses wanting to become the customer-centric ideal need to have communications cross channels, embedded with the data necessary to allow cross-trained personnel to nimbly respond.

Bored with Your Logo? Think Twice.
January 11, 2011

When Peggy and I moved to Center City Philadelphia nearly 20 years ago, around the block from our 1817 row house was a typical, tacky pizza shop on the corner of Fourth St. and raffish South St. Every morning when I walked the dog in the area, discarded pizza crusts and paper waste were all over the sidewalk and in the gutter. The dog was in hog heaven; I found it disgusting.
Suddenly the pizza shop was replaced by Starbucks. I was thrilled. Good coffee and terrific snacks. The enthusiastic young baristas (clerks who make coffee) are up and at ‘em at 4:45 a.m. preparing for the 5:30 opening. And the place is always clean and tidy. For 16 years, Starbucks has been a great neighbor and presumably profitable.

Many years ago, Seattle direct marketing guru Bob Hacker took Peggy and me on a sightseeing tour of his city and we stopped for a requisite cuppa Joe at Starbucks’ first store at the Pike’s Place Market. I felt part of American corporate history.

In Madrid several years ago, I was delighted to spy the Starbucks logo just down the street where I could bring a couple of coffees back to the room well before our out-of-the-way hotel dining room opened for breakfast.

At the Starbucks down the street from our hotel in Geneva, two small coffees, two blueberry muffins and a small bottle of orange juice was a whopping US$27.50, but hey! the little muffins were loaded with juicy blueberries and it was all lots cheaper than the US$3 per person continental breakfast at the hotel.

In fact, just about anywhere in the world, Starbucks is a welcome sight.

Now suddenly Starbucks’ has decided to change its logo. It is deleting the word “STARBUCKS,” deleting the word “COFFEE” and being represented by a naked green cartoony mermaid with a Miss America tiara and two fish tails.

Will she become the Nike Swoosh of world-class coffee?

I don’t think so.

“If it ain’t broke,” said Jimmy Carter’s budget guy Bert Lance, “don’t fix it.”

Good advice.