Advertising Marketing Media Strategy

Pig blood & deer, or How to fix an unsuccessful advertisement

hidear.jpgEver try to keep the deer out of your yard, garden or especially, your raspberry patch?

Here in the boonies, it’s a serious problem. Deer are everywhere. They love your ornamental trees, roses and whatever happens to be the most expensive plant in your yard or garden. They never seem to eat the dandelions.

My forestry friends tell me that spraying pig blood on the plants will run the deer off, but that isn’t an option if you want your garden to smell like the flowers you planted in it. Trust me.

Kinda like the drugs on TV these days, pig blood has unwanted side effects: It’s nasty smelling stuff – and that’s the good part. The bad part is that it’s like sending a dinner invitation to every bear in the area. The upside is that it doesn’t cause diarrhea and “personal malfunctions” (at least I dont think so, I haven’t asked the deer).

Today, I came home from running errands to find a herd of them out by the trampoline. I took this photo from the car window – if you look closely at the picture, you’ll see 5 deer. 1 more little guy is out of the frame to the right.

Apparently a guy in a Suburban with a big dog in the back is of little concern to the deer, they’ve seen it all before.

Once a deer gets used to you, the car and the dog – it’s like you aren’t even there. They just go about their business until you make a move toward them. Unless you do something to really get their attention, you may as well be talking to a teenager.

Marketing is that way too.

Competition Marketing Media Montana Wal-Mart

Smart like a newspaper?

I’m always on the lookout for smart marketing and advertising.

The main reason is because a business that is already doing smart things is an ideal prospect for me. Anytime I see a smart ad or marketing campaign, I know that there’s very likely a business behind it that is likely to want to get more clients, keep more clients, become more productive and more profitable – and they know those things don’t happen by doing what you’ve always done.

The latest example I found is a small town newspaper, the Sanders County Ledger. It’s the local weekly newspaper for the town of Thompson Falls, MT and the surrounding area.

This week’s issue had 2 things that caught my eye.

Media Sales Strategy

Mr. Rogers teaches a $20MM sales lesson

Perry Marshall sent this to me a few days ago. Perry quotes Bryan Todd, his co-author on The Definitive Guide to Google Adwords. Todd found the video and included this text in his email to Perry:

Background: 1969, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was in danger of getting their funding cut in half by Nixon because of war costs. So the CPB calls in Mr. Rogers to testify before the Senate.

Amazingly, as he starts talking you feel the same way I do: What alien from the NeverNeverLand Nursery just landed here?

As you listen you realize, this guy is for real. Disarmingly real. He delivers an emotional 6-minute pitch. Watch the effect he has on John O. Pastore, notoriously gruff and impatient.

There are several sales lessons in this video.

Watch how many times the chair of this committee asks a question, and perhaps most importantly, how many times Rogers gets him to say “Yes” BEFORE Rogers closes the $20MM sale – without even asking for it.

In less than 7 minutes.

Be glad Mr. Rogers didn’t decide to sell timeshares, junk bonds, or black market nukes.

Marketing Media Politics Sales

Learning from JFK would help resolve Romney’s marketing problem


In the event you hadn’t heard ( just crawling out of a cave, are ya? ), 2008 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a member of the Mormon church.

Reportedly, Mitt “bristles” at it being front and center as an issue for his candidacy. Google romney bristles mormon and see.

First, he needs to get over it: He’s a Presidential candidate.

Second, and more importantly, I think he and his team are either being lazy, or they failed Sales and Marketing 101.

Here’s why: What has he done to educate the public about the Mormon faith?

What little Joe-the-average-voter thinks they know about the Mormon faith is probably limited to what they saw on episodes of HBO’s Big Love. Clearly, that’s not the image Romney wants in the voters’ minds.

What isn’t obvious about this? “I don’t know anything about his church, it seems weird, I don’t like that HBO show, so I just wont vote for him.” is a sales objection, so treat it like one.

John F Kennedy had to do it (ok, it was the 60’s, and a good speech, but also a great marketing job – check the last paragraph where he “practices” taking the oath, that’s just brilliant). More recently, Lieberman did as well. There have been others and there will be more.

For voters, knowing more about the “mysteries” that make up the foundation of a candidate’s decision-making process are just as important as knowing how a product will work when you’re a prospect. Not knowing what those things are is a major obstacle to getting a vote, or a sale.

Going back to yesterday’s “word ownership” post, a lot of people don’t understand the LDS religion, don’t know anything about it and as a result: It’s different. They have nothing to associate it with except for Big Love, Donny and Marie or maybe Pat Boone.

The masses like “comfortable things and comfortable people” and are slow to change and adjust to different things. You and I may do so easily, but you and I aren’t the voting masses. Trust me on that one:)

Some folks are serious enough about their religious beliefs that they take issue with some aspects of the Mormon faith (assuming they research it) and that is enough to keep them from voting for Mitt.

Those of us in Scouting face a similar issue when working with troops based in LDS churches. They use the Scouting program as a substantial part of the church’s youth program. They use it somewhat differently than “regular” Scout troops do because of how the church is organized. Either you understand how this works, or you don’t (if you don’t ask, I can assure you – you don’t). If you don’t know the details, you probably don’t care for it, or like it.

The reasons for some parts of how it is organized don’t necessarily make sense to me, but the fact that their Scouting program is adjusted to fit into their church program makes perfect sense for them.

Whether we’re talking about JFK, Mitt, Scouts, or that new water-based marine primer you sell, these are all marketing problems. If people around you have to interact with you, work with you, depend on you, buy from you or vote for you – they’d better understand who you are, what you do, how your product or service is better, and why.

When sales objections exist, bring them up and address them, rather than waiting for the prospect to do so. Read the JFK speech again, you’ll see him do just that.

Mitt needs to educate the voters (his prospects) and eliminate sales objections, just like JFK did.

Read or listen to the JFK speech and look at all the ways his speech worked to eliminate “the concern about being a Catholic President” from his candidacy.

You need to do the same for your prospects.

Corporate America Marketing Media

Hidden lessons from the Katie Couric NY Mag story

Many people have written about Katie Couric’s fall as CBS News anchor, but not all that many have done so from a business or marketing perspective.

One of my favorite pieces on the Couric NY Mag story came from Denny Hatch. When I read the NY Mag story, I was stunned – like Hatch – that she admitted having no clue who her viewers were. Were they soccer moms, retirees, executives, blue collar workers or what? While she had the nads to admit that she didn’t know, I didn’t see any evidence that she was trying to correct that serious lack of information about her news program.

There were a few other excerpts from the NY mag story that really stuck out for me.

First, this one:

She and CBS are now taking a long, hard look at what went wrong. â??I think the one thing that I realized, looking back at it and analyzing it, is people are very unforgiving and very resistant to change,â? says Couric. â??The biggest mistake we made is we tried new things.â? Which is why she is now sitting somberly behind the desk at CBS, shuffling papers and doing her best impersonation of a traditional news anchor. Her original show has been scrapped. Even her informal greeting, â??Hi, everyone,â? was buttoned up to a more formal â??Hello.â?

I’m not of the mind that it was a mistake to try new things, but it is a mistake to keep doing the same thing when it clearly isn’t working. Continuous analysis, measurement and improvement. The TV industry has plenty of measurement tools (Nielsen, etc), yet CBS and Couric say they still don’t know their customers?

Then, the “broken windows” segments of the article:

In 1991, the budget for the CBS Evening News was about $65 million a year; by 2000, it was closer to $35 million. <snip> Often the first question people would ask about a story is, â??How much does it cost?â?? And I didnâ??t really experience that a lot at NBC, quite frankly.â?

Being frugal is one thing. Gutting the quality of the product to cut expenses is quite another – especially when it’s a fragile, time-sensitive commodity like the news.

I remember watching Walter Cronkite as a kid. When Cronkite said something, you could believe it. That Cronkite is remembered as unbiased (particularly as compared to himself and his colleagues today) is perhaps colored by youthful ignorance, but the news teams of 30-40 years ago were trusted by America – whether that was right or not. Can you imagine Cronkite not reporting an important story because he was told it was too expensive? Perhaps he experienced that, but the perception sure isn’t there that he dealt with something like this. Cheapening the product to the point where people no longer value it is a huge mistake. It isn’t enough to deliver the cheap news, nor to massage it to fit your mindset much less your budget.

Then this:

She was also taken aback by CBSâ??s ragged infrastructure: The womenâ??s bathroom was so filthy and run-down she demanded it be renovated.

If she was coming into a situation with open eyes, this sort of thing had to stick out as a messenger of things to come. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t take a $15MM job because of the bathroom, but it’s definitely a “broken window” that should have drawn attention to the likelyhood other, more serious problems.

Last but not least, this:

Moonves, a TV executive with a barrel-chested confidence in his gut for good TV, says he bears no responsibility for how the show has failed: â??Nope. I really donâ??t.â?

The manager of the news division doesn’t bear responsibility for the success of the division’s biggest product? Hello, McFly? McFly? Couric is obviously 60 Minutes material, not a new age Cronkite. CBS clearly needed a calm voice that “America could trust” after the Rather memo disaster – yet they hired the sexiest legs in TV news and built the set to show them off. Whose decision was that?

Management Media Politics

Oil, water and the pharmacy

Yesterday, I pulled a quote out of a classic pharmacy / contraceptive / faith story in the Great Falls Tribune because a quote about using morals to make business decisions seemed odd to me.

There’s another hair in this story’s soup: The rights of the businesses to do business as the owners see fit – within the law.

The owners of the pharmacy say they stopped the sale of oral contraceptives because their use is not consistent with their faith.

I don’t think they need a reason, nor do they need to explain it to anyone.

Competition Entrepreneurs Management Media

Welcome Beacon readers….Why ANOTHER newspaper?

Later today, when the people of the Flathead open their mailboxes, the inaugural weekly print edition of the Flathead Beacon will be waiting for them.

I suspect that lots of people will wonder…why another newspaper? After all, we already have the Daily Interlake plus weekly community papers like the Whitefish Pilot, Bigfork Eagle and Hungry Horse News.

I think it’s kind of a silly question, but I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about it. Not everyone has had that chance, so read along and see if you agree.


A bouncing baby newspaper

I haven’t witnessed a birth in some time. Yet just a few minutes ago, the Flathead Beacon came to life.

The Flathead’s newest newspaper isn’t just a paper. It’s destined to be a multi-media online experience as well as a newspaper.

If you live in a big city, this might be old news to you.

For Montana, it’s a whole new thing. While many of the newspapers in the state have a website, none are the primary focus of the publisher. Video and audio? Not typically. At the Beacon – definitely.
The Beacon is different. Not claiming to be better, just another voice for you to evaluate and, I hope, enjoy.

Competition Media Montana

There’s a new sheriff in town

As I mentioned a while back, I always find it interesting to see how competition makes people react.

In that arena, it’s been an interesting April already. May is on its way to being interesting as well.

For those who might not be aware, I live in Montana’s Flathead Valley, which is in the northwest part of the state right next to Glacier Park. Columbia Falls is about 50 mi south of the Canadian border (with Alberta). On a map, find Calgary and head south, or Seattle and head east.

Flathead is a large rural county, roughly the size of Rhode Island with an estimated 2006 population of 90k.

There’s 1 daily paper and numerous small weeklies that are all owned by the same company that owns the daily. They’ve all been bought out in the last few years. I know the editor of our weekly, a nice guy who is a photographer at heart (and in practice) and I’m sure he works hard to keep it “our town’s paper”. He’s pretty good about taking contributed pieces about Scouts, swim team and other things I’m involved in and printing them (with pictures) verbatim. I like and appreciate that. I hope it continues.

Here’s why.

There’s a new newspaper coming to town. It’s called the Flathead Beacon ( ) and goes live in mid-May. I’ve been asked to contribute a business column, which I’m pretty excited about.

In addition, I will be “in charge” (it remains to be seen exactly what that will mean over the long term) of the Columbia Falls community page in the Beacon.

There are a few REALLY exciting things about this new publication.

  • It will print weekly, but publish online DAILY.
  • It will have a very serious online component. Video, audio, etc. Right now, there’s really nothing in the state that compares with the big city newspaper online sites. With the exception of the very cool NYTimes .net Reader application (Seattle and the London Daily Mail have one too), I expect this site will soon compete nicely with many high end newspaper sites.
  • It is staffed almost completely with U of Montana kids (kids to me) who got their j degrees at UM and then made a serious name for themselves in other cities around the US. Montana kids, trained in Montana, reporting about Montana.
  • Most importantly, it’s a second source of news, opinion and a REAL TIME source of online news – something I think folks will really get charged up about once it hits its stride.

Stay tuned. Business lessons are bound to appear:)