(Occam’s) Razor-Sharp Targeting

straight razorA straight razor–used properly and with care–can do the job as well (or better) and far more cheaply than one of the newfangled five blade gizmos being sold by the big consumer products companies.

Likewise, sometimes the best targeting and segmentation schemes are Occam’s Razor-like in their simplicity and effectiveness, as Bob Hoffman reminds us.

Instead of building out complicated schemes, let’s think of targeting in two ways:

  1. They’re in the market for your product/category
  2. They are not in the market for your product/category

Too simple you say? Try this the next time you watch TV. Sit there with a pencil and paper, instead of your iDevice. Place a mark in one of two columns every time you see an ad. On the left if you’re “in the market” meaning you either buy in that category of product or believe you will in the near future. Make a mark on the right side if you’re not in the market for that category either now or in the future.

You’ll see Wanamaker’s Law at work. A minimum of 50% of your marks will be on the right side of the paper. You might see a lot more.

Tons of client money, bolstered by fancy and expensive segmentation schemes, is being spent every time you watch the tube. Yet most of the time you find yourself thinking “I’d never buy that thing or that category. Why the heck are they wasting my time with that ad?”

I used to work for a large publishing company where our segmentation scheme was based on Occam’s Razor. Either you had what we called “the collector instinct” and were in the market for continuity products or you did not. We tried to focus on the former and spent zero time and money targeting the latter or tying to convince them that they wanted our products.

We only sold a few billion dollars of stuff with margins that enabled us to have a couple of private villas on the Costa Del Sol with a great chef. I guess we were too dumb to know that we could have been more sophisticated. But we ate really well!

The trick to making Occam’s Targeting (TM) work: You have to make sure you define your category correctly. Too broad and the razor fails. Too narrow and you don’t scale. Price, purchase occasion and lifecycle all matter in defining your market.

Need help? Give me a ring.

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Nitrocellulose laquer: the smell of customer service?

Inside Wildwood Guitars (no, alas I didn't get the chance to rock out with Joe B and Greg Koch) Photo borrowed from Wildwood Guitars

Inside Wildwood Guitars
(Alas I didn’t actually rock out with Joe B and Greg Koch)
Photo borrowed from Wildwood Guitars

If you want to experience outstanding customer service in action, I suggest you visit Wildwood Guitars in Louisville, CO.

I took a detour yesterday to visit the famous guitar emporium on a trip to Aspen and was greeted by Senior Sales Associate Lance Bowzer. Even after announcing myself as a guitar tourist–i.e. I was not going to be exchanging money for a Gibson that day–Lance took the time to tell me about the town (which is really lovely), the store and some of the custom runs they’ve done with Gibson. While we talked and I fooled around with a Gibson 58 reissue, the smell of the nitrocellulose lacquer completed the Wildwood brand experience.

Brand = Experience

When we have a positive experience with the brand–the website, the products, the sales process and, most importantly, the people–we encode that experience emotionally and can recall that information far more easily than rational things like facts and figures. I know Lance told me how many guitars they have in the warehouse, but I don’t recall other than it was a lot. What I do remember is the smell of that R8 as we talked about the story of Gibson CustomBucker pickups and the nice conversation with Lance.

Of course the opposite can happen too. Quick–what do you think about your cable company? Thought so.

Want to sell more product and have more fans? Emulate Wildwood Guitars and Lance Bowzer. I know I’ll be back and I won’t be leaving without something with Gibson or Fender on the headstock. Highly recommended.

Wildwood Guitars
804 Main
Louisville, CO 80027

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Full circle: data cards for PMP and programmatic buys!

Emailed data cards for PMP and automated guaranteed "lists"

Emailed data cards for PMP and automated guaranteed “lists”

More proof that even programmatic media needs to be sold, and is not just bought.

I received an email from Kantar Media that looks just like the ads I used to see in DM News touting new-to-market files. The email contained data cards (see image at left) for eight different lists and brought me back 20 years. What’s old is new again!

I haven’t–yet–received the email promoting old-fashioned sucker lists. Of course when buying digital media, if you don’t see the sucker, pick up the mirror on your desk before you sign that I/O.

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Remember D-Day

There wasn’t anything in today’s news, but today is the 71st anniversary of the beginning of the liberation of Europe. When I wake up, I try to imagine what it must have been like to be a 20 year old soldier who’s just jumped, waded, or crash-landed into France. I never succeed.

Those 180,000 young men from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain accomplished the task that had to be done. Not all of them lived to tell about it. They were true heroes, even if you don’t read much about them today.

We should never forget this day, nor those who did their job. I won’t.

Today is D-Day.

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When Nobody Cares About Your Brand…

…marketing gets easier. Wait, how can that be?

As Bob Hoffman reminded us today and as I’ve been saying for years, nobody cares about the vast majority of the products or categories in which they buy.

When you dismiss the illusion that anybody is going to care about your brand or enter into “conversations” about your brand, you can minimize or eliminate efforts in wide swaths of marketing activity that do nothing more than consume time and resources. You can focus on the tactical execution of sound strategy that is tied directly to generating a sale or a sales-qualified lead, and constantly optimizing those results.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about your brand or the experience you provide your customers. It just means that you shouldn’t rely on them caring to hit your objectives.

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Big Data: Mostly Tail Numbers

IMG_4248If you fly regular routes, you’ll notice the same tail numbers around you. The same planes tend to fly the same routes, with changes mostly due to weather or maintenance.

What does it usually mean when a particular tail number shows up next to the plane you’re on? Nothing.

What does it usually mean when a particular visitor or cookie shows up on your website? Nothing.

So why are you obsessing about tracking every single click and sometimes considering using things like LFO cookies to follow visitors? The vast majority of the traffic to and from your website is nothing more than a giant tail number database, providing you with almost no insight about your customers.

The key is not tracking more tail numbers. It’s detecting two things: when a change occurs and when that change is significant.

What’s the best way to detect the changes? Well, you could sift through millions of rows of data. Or you could ask some real customers.

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One Weird CRM Trick From Budget

Budget: Three Days to Rekey Data?

Budget: Three Days to Re-key Data?

I just updated my Budget account profile, which only took a few moments. Now, according to this email, it’s going to take Budget up to another three days to update my profile with them. I have no idea what the further update entails.

I guess Budget is sending my update to somebody else to re-key into some other system.  I wonder what offshore low-bid vendor is getting my data.

The funny thing is they took the time to automate the email to tell me about their manual process, but couldn’t be bothered to actually automate the process!

Priorities folks.

I can imagine the boiler room operation they’ve cobbled together with tin cans and string to manage the verification process. And we wonder why over a billion records were stolen last year? Unnecessary data transfer and unneeded data viewing is a big part of it.

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Social Media: How To Focus On The .02%

Before the next social media maniac wants you to invest large swaths of your marketing budget entering into “conversations” with customers and prospective customers, watch this video.

Greet them at the door with a calculator and do a little math. Then, invest your money in marketing that really reaches your audience and sells your products. (Hint: it’s not social media.)

As Professor Ritson and Bob Hoffman continually point out, social media is great for conversations about things we like–our friends, our kids, our cats. We aren’t interested in “conversations” with brands. The math is clear.

Let me be clear. I’m not saying that your marketing mix shouldn’t include social media. Of course you should test every tool in the toolkit to see what works. But let’s define “work.” That means things that sell our products. There is no other reason for marketing and advertising.

Yes, you can have conversations with .02% of your customers. Your competitors (certainly the ones that work with me) might instead be investing time and money on segmenting the 99.98% of their customers to sell them more. Who’s going to win?

Having trouble judging the performance of your marketing mix? Wondering if you are spending too much on social media? Give me a call. I’ve got a calculator, a BS detector and I can travel.

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Trident Gum: Paying Peanuts and Getting Monkeys?

IMG_4246Think your advertising copy is lousy? It could be worse. You could work for Mondelez.

I was standing in line at Walmart–hoping that nobody I knew would notice me there–when I looked up and saw this POP display right over the checkout line. I did a double take when I saw the line.  Can you see it?

Super useful.

Huh? How is unwrapped gum “super useful?” I guess now you can use Trident gum to fix plumbing leaks or repair broken zippers. Silly me, I thought chewing gum’s main purpose was to help self-identify as an uncouth American tourist when traveling through Europe.

When I saw this misuse of valuable and expensive advertising space, I figured that the client never read this, the senior account executive never saw it or an even worse alternative happened–they all read this and thought it made sense.

We used to have copywriters on staff who were well-versed in the client’s products and integral to the advertising process. Now, my copywriter friends tell me that writing is relegated to the intern or palmed off on the low-cost bidder from an online crowdsourcing site. Paying peanuts and getting monkeys, as the old saying goes.

Maybe that’s what Modelez’s Project Sprout got them. Big savings, lots of monkeys and lousy copy.

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Utica Callback…

Originally posted on ArianDavidPhotography:

To my followers who are not from Utica, I’m sorry… I just can’t get enough of these Central New Yorkers.  They’re pretty awesome.

Today I sent out a press release about my latest adventure to a familiar destination.  Yep, it’s back to Utica.

I will travel to Utica Friday January 30th for the Comets game at the Aud. and you better believe I will be armed with a camera!  Come to the game and say hi!  Can’t wait kick it with Audie and the crazy Utica fans!  After that, headed out to a bar to mingle, any suggestions?

OK so the good stuff… Saturday I am gonna be shooting mini portrait session for $5 in front of the mural on the corner of Genesee and Lafayette.  You get to bring any peeps you like!  Significant other, family, besties… whatever you want!  You get four poses of your choice.  I will…

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