How a Shoe Store Owner Gets Free Facebook Advertising

I was meeting with the owner of an upscale ladies boutique in a southeastern state. Although the store sold all manner of women’s clothing, the largest revenue driver was shoes.

Apparently, ladies love shoes. Who knew?

The conversation had just turned to social media, and I asked the owner how effective the store Facebook page was as a marketing tool. “It’s okay, I guess,” he said. “But I found a much better way to use Facebook.”

He had my attention. I bit. “How do you do that?” I asked.

 “My customers all have cell phones, and just about all of them have a camera. Whenever a customer tries on a pair of shoes and decides to buy them, we ask if they’d like us to take their picture — with their phone. Women like to show off their new shoes, so most of them say yes.”

“Do they let you post those pictures on your Facebook page?” I asked.

“Some do, but I don’t really care about that,” he replied. “What makes this work is that as soon as they go home, they post that picture on their own Facebook page. And they usually mention that they got the shoes at my store.

That means that we just got a free Facebook ad, and it gets seen by 500 of my customer’s friends. Two or three times a week, someone will walk into my store and ask to try on a pair of shoes that their friend posted on Facebook.

All of this costs us nothing – we don’t even pay for the camera!”

The store owner has stumbled on a great way to use Facebook in its most effective form – to accelerate word-of-mouth. It’s a technique that can be used in a variety of consumer settings:

  • A furniture store can take pictures of a customer’s new couch, in the customer’s home.
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  • A car dealer can shoot a photo of a happy couple standing next to the new SUV they just bought.
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  • A window company can take pictures of a homeowner posing in front of her newly-installed windows.

The key is to take the picture with the customer’s phone, not yours.

Rather than begging people to “like” your Facebook page, you can intersect with existing consumer behavior. Happy customers love the show off the things they just bought… on Facebook.

Who knew?

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If you like what you’re reading, there’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

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Posted in Advertising, Customer Loyalty, Marketing, Media, Phil Bernstein, Social media | 1 Comment

Another Nail in the Yellow Pages Coffin

Recently a television Account Executive in Iowa brought me a copy of the local YellowBook – one of the two “major” phone directories in that part of the state. She showed me an ad that appears just inside the front cover.

The headline was “Directory Options”, and the first line read:

“To opt out of receiving a directory in the future, visit www.yellowpagesoptout.com

The site is run by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association, interestingly enough) in cooperation with the Association of Directory Publishers. Anyone in the community can go to the site, register, and tell the publishers not to send them any more phone directories.

Why do they do this? Because Yellow Page publishers are increasingly aware that a large and rapidly growing segment of the population doesn’t use the Yellow or White Pages, and doesn’t want them. Publishers are under attack from environmental groups, state legislatures and local governments all over the country. Laws have been proposed – and in some cases passed — that ban delivery of a phone directory to anyone who has not opted in. Under the circumstances, the publishers have decided that they would prefer to offer a mechanism for people to opt out, instead.

Until last week, I had never seen an ad for this service in the Yellow Pages itself. I wondered if a similar ad was in my own Yellow Pages at home, but I don’t have one anymore – these days, the books go right from my front porch to the recycling bin. I checked with the neighbors on either side of my house, and they didn’t keep theirs, either.*
So I went to the national website, plugged in my zip code, and found this.

I registered on the site, changed of the quantities to “0”and hit Submit. Soon after, I received an email telling me that my preferences would be sent to each publisher. It was fast, it was easy, and another small nail was driven into the Yellow Pages coffin.

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*PS: Eventually I found a copy of the Dex Yellow Pages at my local library (which also had a full set of World Book Encyclopedias). It took the clerk a few minutes to find the book. “Nobody asks for it anymore,” she said, pointing to a row of computers across the room. “They just go online.” On a page headlined Committed to Consumer Choice, the book featured both the national Yellow Pages Opt-Out site and their own “Select Your Dex” website.

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If you like what you’re reading, there’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

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Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Phil Bernstein, Portland advertising, Portland marketing | 1 Comment

A Sales Lesson From Mitt Romney

The #1 competitor you face today isn’t another company. It’s the customer’s decision to do nothing, to make no change at all…The value they perceive that you offer isn’t big enough to offset what they think it will cost to implement something new.” 

Kevin Davis, President of TopLine Leadership and author of “Slow Down, Sell Faster”.

Unemployment is still over 8%. The incumbent’s approval rating has spent most of the year below 50%. The youth vote that was so excited about Barack Obama’s candidacy four years ago appears to be sitting this one out.

As the presidential election season got underway, many believed that Obama was vulnerable. All Mitt Romney had to do, the smart money said, was present himself as the alternative to Obama, and the election would be his.

And yet, with five weeks to go, Obama has opened a significant lead in the polls. Even the most conservative commentators believe that the Romney campaign is in trouble.

“Barack Obama would win if the election were held today, and probably by a relatively comfortable margin,“, said Ross Douthat in the New York Times.

In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan suggested that Republican stars such as Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush, and Susana Martinez should be out on the stump with Romney every day showing support and whipping up enthusiasm. But, she said, “Some of them won’t want to do it because they’re starting to think Romney’s a loser and they don’t want to get loser on them.”

If the polls are not a just a product of the liberal media conspiracy – if Mitt Romney has, in fact, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory — how did it happen?

The short version, from a marketing perspective: while many of Romney’s prospects (voters) may not be completely satisfied with their current vendor, he has not convinced enough of them them that switching to him is the right move.

Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal“Mr. Romney must define more clearly what he would do as president. In spelling out his five-point plan for the middle class, he’ll have to deepen awareness of how each element would help families in concrete, practical ways, and offer optimism for renewed prosperity.”

Douthat, again: “Every presidential campaign is actually a referendum on the challenger as well as on the incumbent, and … it’s entirely possible for voters to ultimately reject a challenger even when they think the incumbent might deserve to be defeated.”

A couple of disclaimers before I continue:

1. A lot can change in five weeks. This is a snapshot of the way it looks on October 2, 2012.

2. I have opinions on politics, but I am not going to express them here. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m voting for whoever you’re voting for.

There is a powerful marketing lesson in what’s going on with the Romney campaign, and it applies to anyone trying to advertise a product or service.

From a presidential-election perspective, it’s not enough for voters to be dissatisfied with the current administration. If the polling data is accurate, Romney has not (at least so far) convinced enough of them that the value he offers is big enough to offset what they think it will cost to change administrations.

How does this relate to a private-sector advertiser?

Here’s an example: an information technology company in the Midwest. Like any company (and like Mitt Romney), they are in the problem-solving business. You can watch one of their commercials here.

The commercial attempts to entertain while listing the problems they are in business to solve: email spam, balky internet connections, and computer viruses. The goal of the campaign was to convince companies experiencing these problems to contact the advertiser for a meeting.

To succeed as a marketing strategy, the campaign must convince the prospects that the value of hiring them outweighs the costs of implementing something new. Unfortunately, the campaign does nothing to establish the value of hiring this company.

Whatever business you are in, you exist to solve problems. When you contact them with a marketing message, your prospects have three possible responses:

Buy your solution.

  1. Buy a competing company’s solution.
  2. Do nothing and live with things as they are.

To succeed, as Mitt Romeny is learning, it’s not enough to convince them that they have a problem. You have to convince them that you are the right solution.

 

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Want to email Phil Bernstein? Do it here.

If you like what you’re reading, there’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

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Posted in Advertising, McDonald's, New York Times, Phil Bernstein, Public Relations, Sales | Leave a comment

NFL Referee Edition: Marketing Ripped From the Headlines

Here’s a terrific example of a medical practice capitalizing on current events:

A Green Bay Lasik doctor is offering free lasik surgery to the replacement referees who blew the “touchdown” call at the end of the Packers/Seahawks game. Dr. Christopher Smith of Optivision Eye Care in Appleton told WFRV-TV, “The referees obviously had some vision issues, so we decided we could help them with that.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that none of the referees are going to accept the offer. But it will get Optivision an enormous amount of free publicity, both locally and nationally.

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Want to email Phil Bernstein? Do it here.

If you like what you’re reading, there’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

You can become a Facebook Fan of “Doctor” Phil Bernstein, Portland’s Advertising Expert  here.

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Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Media, Press Releases, Promotions | 2 Comments

What a Nigerian Prince Can Teach You About Marketing

If you have an email address, you have undoubtedly received several variations of the “Nigerian scam” over the years. This is a message purporting to be from someone representing a high official in that African nation. There is a big pot of money hidden somewhere, and they need your help in getting it out of the country. They also need your Social Security and bank account numbers.

Since you read Portland’s Finest Advertising Blog, you are certainly too smart to respond to something like that. I know that, and you know that.

But here’s something that may surprise you: according to Roger Dooley at the Neuromarketing Blog, the scammers don’t want you to respond. In fact, they deliberately make the message so ridiculous that you will make fun of it and then delete it.

The reason? Smart people are a waste of their time. Citing a a study by Microsoft Cybercrime Researcher Cormac Herley, Dooley puts it this way:

For the scammers to make money, they will ultimately have to convince their targets to wire them money and perhaps even travel to Africa. Needless to say, these are steps that few prospects will find appealing. Even gullible targets will get suspicious as the demands increase, and most will drop out of the process. And each prospect requires individual attention in the form of emails, replies, phone calls, etc…

This labor-intensive process means that if more potential skeptics are knocked out of the conversion funnel at the outset, the density of potential victims goes up in the smaller pool of prospects. The scammer wastes less time and can convert more victims to maximize profit. Even if a few good prospects are lost by by using a less plausible pitch, the higher density of victims in the final pool makes the entire process more profitable. As Herley notes,

“By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.”

 The lesson for you as a (presumably) honest businessperson is this: it might make sense for you to attract fewer prospects rather than more prospects. Here’s why:

Every customer interaction has at least some marginal cost. There is the time that your staff spends talking to each customer on the phone or in person – time they could be spending on something else. There’s the cost of brochures, postage, gasoline, paper… the list goes on.

Any of this time or material spent on a customer who doesn’t buy is wasted.

Rather than trying to attract the widest possible audience, Dooley recommends that you consider shrinking your sales funnel and focusing your resources on the people most likely to buy from you.

Jim Doyle, owner of the marketing consulting firm Jim Doyle and Associates (and my boss) puts it this way: “The scarcer your resources, the more narrow should be your focus.”

For best results, take a lesson from “Chief Oyinbolowo Eko” and “Barrister Mike Okoye, lawyer to Mrs. Mariam Abacha”: ignore the people who are not predisposed to buy, and focus your scarce resources on people who look like, act like, and think like the people who do business with you now.

Want to email Phil Bernstein? Do it here.

If you like what you’re reading, there’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

You can become a Facebook Fan of “Doctor” Phil Bernstein, Portland’s Advertising Expert  here.

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Posted in Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing, Phil Bernstein, Sales | 5 Comments

No Escape: Guess Where Advertisers Will Find You Now?

Advertising on men’s room walls is not uncommon. But Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning has moved their messaging just a little bit lower. According to the Detroit News, Michigan officials are distributing 400 Interactive Urinal Communicators — in layman’s language, talking urinal cakes — to 200 bars and restaurants throughout the state.

If you are a guy in Michigan, it’ll work like this: After you’ve done your best to process the advertising  coming at you from the neon signs, napkins, coasters, your visit to the bathroom  will activate the following message:

Listen up. That’s right, I’m talking to you. Had a few drinks? Maybe a few too many? Then do yourself and everyone else a favor: Call a sober friend or a cab. Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

The cakes are produced by a company called Wizmark.

If you are an advertiser trying to deliver your pitch to a male, bar-visiting target, you are now competing with this. Bon appetit!

Where is the strangest place you’ve encountered advertising?

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Email Phil Bernstein here.

Like what you’re reading? There’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

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Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Media, Phil Bernstein | 1 Comment

The Portland Media Documentary

To start with, a disclosure — an interview with me appears in this documentary.

The American news media world underwent some seismic changes between 2009 and 2011. These changes happened everywhere… big markets and small markets; big companies and small companies; radio, TV, and newspaper. The catalyst for all this… the hero or the villain depending on your point of view, was the Internet.

Bret Bernhoft has set out to document and interpret these changes as they affected the media in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.

As part of the project, he interviewed more than 20 players in the Portland media world: journalists, editors, announcers, production directors, salespeople, consultants, advertising agents, and more. Each of these people had a front row seat for a modern-day revolution.

Bernhoft has just released The Portland Media Documentary, an in-depth audio look at how the Internet has changed the news media in Portland. Over the next few months, Bernhoft will be releasing this documentary in segments. As I write this, three segments are available for listening and downloading:

  • The Independent Media in Portland
  • Multimedia in the Newsroom
  • Social Media and the News Industry

You can listen to and download each segment at no charge by clicking here. You should also bookmark the link, because each week two new segments will be released. To find out more about the Portland media documentary and other projects, feel free to contact Bret.

Click here to listen to the Portland media documentary now.

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Email Phil Bernstein here.

Like what you’re reading? There’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

Become a Facebook Fan of “Doctor” Phil Bernstein, Portland’s Advertising Expert  here.

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Posted in Media, Phil Bernstein, Portland | 2 Comments

“Showrooming” in Reverse How Online Shopping and Research Can Benefit a Bricks-and-Mortar Business

One of the biggest threats to brick-and-mortar retailers in 2012 is “Showrooming”: consumers who walk into a store with a smartphone to look at merchandise and make use of the expertise of the staff… and then make their purchase online from Internet retailer at a lower price.

Conventional wisdom holds that because of the “Showrooming” phenomenon, the Internet is a huge threat to bricks and mortar retailers. There is a great deal of validity to this argument, but an interesting counter-argument has emerged:

Dan Kennedy’s marketing newsletter tipped me off to an article in Internet Retailer Magazine about the opposite phenomenon. The article discusses Patagonia, who saw a great deal of traffic to their iPad app without a corresponding jump in sales via the tablet. Mark Shimahara, Patagonia’s Internet Marketing Manager, initially thought that there was a problem with the app itself.

 “But after talking with store managers,” he says, “we realized that people were using the phone application to do their window shopping and would show up at our stores with the device in hand and product on their screens, saying, ‘Do you have this in stock?’ It’s a great example of how we are entering the age of omnichannel marketing.”

Staples Inc. faces a similar situation, though involving small-business owners, the office supply chain’s core customers, says Brian Tilzer, vice president of e-commerce and business development. He says small businesses increasingly use Apple and Android smartphones and even tablets to research products, check inventory and otherwise prepare for what he calls the “in-store shopping experience.”

30% of consumers, the article reports, begin their product search and research on Amazon.com, while another 13% begin that search on Google. Some will buy online, but others will wind up into an honest-to-goodness bricks and mortar store. Maybe yours.

Conclusion? For local business, Internet shopping is both a threat and an opportunity. To make it pay off, you need to have:

  • A strong online presence. Even if you are not selling over the Internet, you need to be easily found on the Internet.
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  • The inventory, staff expertise, and customer centric mindset necessary to convert those Internet window shoppers into paying customers when they walk into your store.
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  • The ability, and the willingness, to aggressively capture customer contact information when they visit your business in person or call on the phone.
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  • The ability, and the willingness, to follow up with those customers after you have captured their contact information.

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Email Phil Bernstein here.

Like what you’re reading? There’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

Become a Facebook Fan of “Doctor” Phil Bernstein, Portland’s Advertising Expert  here.

Posted in Customer Loyalty, Customer Service, Marketing, Phil Bernstein, Sales | 1 Comment

Why Subtlety Doesn’t Work Anymore

A couple of years ago, author/public speaker/comedian Andy Nulman wrote a blog post discussing his challenges as he gets up in front of an audience:

“The Internet has changed everything. It has contracted attention spans to an almost ridiculously-microscopic measure, and has sung the swan song for the concept of subtlety. For example, the old ‘speaker’s adage’ used to be:

  • Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em
  • Tell ‘em
  • Tell ‘em what you told ‘em

These days, the audience fidgets through the preamble, tweets during the middle and are out the door before the recap.”

Nulman wrote this in 2010. A recent article on emarketer.com details how, two years later, the rise of the smart phone has affected what your customers do while you’re commercial plays:

A May 2012 report authored by the IAB and Ipsos MediaCT, which drew on data from three surveys of US consumers, found that internet-enabled devices were not displacing other media-related activities, but adding to them. According to the Ipsos MediaCT LMX survey, the average amount of time that respondents spent engaging with media each day climbed to 9.6 hours in 2011, from 9 hours in 2009.

Time spent online or on a computer jumped to 3.1 hours from 2.5 hours over the same period. But the amount of time respondents spent watching TV held steady, at 3.4 hours. eMarketer estimates that US adults spent an average of about 11.5 hours per day consuming media content in 2011…

Here’s what this means to you: no matter what medium you are using to deliver your sales message to potential customers –  this applies to radio and newspaper in addition to TV – your customers now have a smartphone, and a choice. They can pay attention to your message, or:

  • They can check their e-mail, or send a text,
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  • They can update their status on Facebook, or send a tweet.
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  • They can watch a cat video on YouTube.

In fact, it is likely that they are doing one of these things as they are watching, listening to, or reading your ad. This means you have got to get to the point in a hurry. You need to deliver a benefit statement and capture attention immediately. Nulman put it this way: “No salad, just the main course”.

If, instead, you decide to “ease into it” you may find that the only thing your prospects remember later is Baby Monkey Riding on a Pig.

Posted in Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing, Media, Phil Bernstein, Portland, Portland advertising, Portland marketing, radio advertising, television advertising | Leave a comment

How NOT To Do an Email Campaign

I’m a member of a local Toastmasters group in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and recommend Toastmasters to anyone who wants to get better at public speaking or presentation skills.

Toastmasters International has, over the years, come up with a very effective formula for helping its members get better at oral communication. Unfortunately, there is some evidence that they haven’t quite figured out online communication yet.

For example, there’s an email I received from the head office. Here’s the whole thing:

The pitch, in its entirety: “Please click here to view a special message from International President Michael Notaro.”

What did the message say? I have no idea — I didn’t click on it. And neither, I’ll wager, did many of the 270,000 members who received it. Whoever wrote the email did not offer me a compelling reason to click on the link.

Any time you attempt to communicate with a client or prospect, you are in the “attention-rental” business. You offer information to the recipient, who “pays” for that information with a very scarce resource: his or her attention.

What would prompt your target to open a message from you? Here are three examples:

•A discount on a product or service
•A free e-book or information kit
•An invitation to an exclusive members-only event

Make sure that when you ask for a prospect’s attention, you are offering true value in return.

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Email Phil Bernstein here.

Like what you’re reading? There’s more! Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here. As a bonus, I’ll send you a copy of my newly-revised and expanded e-book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Advertising and How to Fix Them when you subscribe.

Become a Facebook Fan of “Doctor” Phil Bernstein, Portland’s Advertising Expert  here.

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Posted in Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing, Media, Phil Bernstein, Public Relations | 8 Comments