Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Art of Marketing the Cutting Room Floor

Just this morning I heard a radio commercial promoting the release of a DVD on a popular TV show. One of the selling points was that the DVD included 50 deleted scenes that were not shown on TV before.

Silly question: Why would I want to buy a DVD because it features scenes that weren't good enough for the show?

To me, that's like watching a 20 minute clip of long pop-flies to center field that were just short of a home run. Or going to a restaurant and the waiter brings you the scraps of food that fell on the floor. Or buying a box of pencils where all the erasers fell off.

I think you get the idea.

Stay tuned for our next blog post: "The Best of the Blog Posts that Didn't Make It to BizPizzazz"...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion!

Many thanks go out to the readers of this blog, and we hope you enjoy reading our marketing rants, tips, and updates. But perhaps you didn't know that we also offer even more marketing advice via e-mail and two good ole' fashioned newsletters! And all for free!

Please click here to sign up for our e-jottings e-newsletter, which is sent every three weeks. Or you can sign up in the e-mail box on the homepage of SMS, Inc. or NewBizBuilders.

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It's simple, free, and quick to sign up. Plus, there's no obligation whatsoever by joining our list... *correction*...the only obligation is that you read our articles devoutly!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sports Marketing and P.R.: When Less May Be More

As you may have read in the previous post by Scott on this here blog we call "BizPizzazz," you would have heard about the amazing stir that David Beckham has kicked up since arriving on Ellis Island (or flying into LAX, whatever the case may have been). Indeed, his flair for football and celebrity status has caught the attention of millions of fans the world over. Good P.R.!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the public relations spectrum, you may have seen just a few instances of news featuring athletes misbehaving. For example:

Mike Vick: his future is now dogged by, well, you can probably surmise by now...

Latrell Sprewell: this NBA star has had numerous run-ins in the past, including his choking-the-coach adventure, but now a federal marshal has seized his $1.5 million yacht after he defaulted on his mortgage.

Adam "Pacman" Jones: he had a bit too much fun in Las Vegas, among other incidents.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, et al: juiced or legit?

Rick Tocchet: I bet you probably know what he did by now.

And so on and so forth. And let's not even get started on referees.
Bad P.R.!

So what are sports P.R. pros and marketing moguls to do with all of this negative news? P.R. folks can only apologize and downplay these messy events so often and marketers certainly can't sell and promote these unseemly players. Trying to hold these hot potatoes (read: out of control athletes) makes for a tough job.

Of course, sports marketers can always promote the athletes who are genuinely good players and good guys (Cal Ripken and Michael Jordan come to mind), and that of course is easy to do. And public relations reps can prep athletes when they're young and just entering stardom, and certainly they do indeed do that in various ways to try and prevent future problems from arising.

But when bad news does arise, the best thing anybody can do might just be to do nothing. Because as long as there are fans that are willing to shell out big bucks to watch sports, players will either be able to get away with less than morally-ideal behavior, or the ones that break the law will be swept under the rug and life goes on.

When all else fails, no P.R. might just be the best P.R.

Beckham Update: Soccer Star Carries League on Capable Back

Anyone initiated into the world of soccer would say it was written in the stars that David Beckham, also known around the globe as "Goldenballs", would make a Hollywood scriptworthy start to his MLS career. And by all accounts, they would have been right. Known for his miraculous feats of soccer skill under the most daunting of pressure, Becks has now executed a clinically perfect free kick and created three other glorious goals in only his first two LA Galaxy starts. His team is happy, the fans are happy, and most of all, the MLS is happy. Or rather, deeply, deeply grateful.

One need not look any further than last Saturday's game against New York's Red Bulls that finished 5-4 in favor of the energy drink home side. With over 66,000 in attendance – unheard of for an MLS game – Beckham put the Galaxy ahead 2-1 before the 9th minute was up. The rest of the game would see chance after chance after chance, with Beckham in the center of most of the thrilling action. One could say the bar has truly been set for the league, and it wouldn't be a stretch for any cognescenti or casual observer to say that the man from England by way of Spain was solely responsible. His very presence on the field (thanks in large part to his sex symbol status), coupled with the atmosphere generated by the hysteria, created a perfect storm of arousing athleticism that will not soon be forgotten. There was truly something for everyone, which is the American way in the business of entertainment, and for the movers and shakers of Major League Soccer, that is very good news indeed.

I saw the game and it was one of the most entertaining competitions I have ever seen. I marveled at the skill on display, and the humility of the man who would be king. In fact, I had to laugh. It was too perfect. The result mattered little outside of the spectacle, and the action itself was far from what American audiences have come to expect from the "little league that could". That said, is there now too much expectation on the league to deliver so spectacularly week in and week out? I don't know. But if I had any money invested in even the meekest of MLS franchises, I would be treating myself to a steak this weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Turning People Away Can Be a Bad Marketing Decision

Recently, I spent the weekend at the Jersey Shore for a little getaway. One afternoon was particularly rainy and my wife and I were hungry, so we took a stroll through the drizzle to a nice-looking local restaurant we had never been to before.

We sat down around 2:15 and finished about 3:30. The restaurant, however, stopped allowing diners in at 3, "to prep for dinner." At 3, the owner and all the waitresses gathered around a table by the front door, and, in plain sight mind you, began counting out their take for the day. Meanwhile, a few small groups trudged in from the rain for a bite to eat and the owner turned them all away, even though we and a couple of other groups were still there.

Now, I know very little about operating a restaurant, but it just seemed to me that on a dreary Sunday afternoon, turning away potential customers seemed like a poor business and marketing decision. Chances are that the restaurant would be closed on Monday, and chances are that Sunday night dinner wouldn't be a busy time either, judging by the heavy flow of traffic away from Shore points later that day.

So my point here is that if your restaurant is up and running and employees are already there, why not let 'em in to eat? Like I said before, I don't know a whole lot about running a restaurant, but it just seems to me that if people are willing to give you money in exchange for your goods and/or services, and if you already have everything in place, you should do your best to suit them-- particularly if your evening and the next day would likely be slow.

From a marketing standpoint, I'd have a hard time going back there knowing that they'd prefer to count their money in front of customers while also kicking other potential customers back out into the rain. The food was tasty, but this scene left a sour taste in my mouth.

Have you ever been a part of a situation like this? And what are your thoughts on the matter? Do tell!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

True Bargain: A Bottle of Water at 20 Bucks a Pop

This intriguing interview from Fundraising Success Magazine discusses the work of a non-profit agency known simply as "Charity:". (The colon is part of their name for those dedicated proofreaders out there.)

In a nutshell, this organization sells consumers a bottle of spring water for $20. Then 100% of the donation goes to building freshwater wells for communities that need them. It's really that simple.

The connection that this organization makes between selling a consumer product and raising money for an important cause is keenly done. In fact the article even gives two examples of people saying they want to raise money for building wells, so ordinary individuals raised money by selling these to friends and customers.

Here's a free idea for your business: Going to a trade show? Stockpile some of these bottles of water and sell them at your booth. Your visitors will latch on to this idea and undoubtedly buy all of your bottles, you'll be raising money for charity, AND you'll create a nice buzz for your booth, all while staying well within your marketing budget. Everybody wins.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quick Marketing Tool: Desk Calendars

At the beginning of the year, I got a little weekly desk calendar from a local bank. It's very basic and functional and is just the right size to fit on my desk. I look at it every workday, and write copious notes in it to keep my life in order.

Yet I couldn't help but notice that nowhere on any of the calendar's pages is any kind of reminder as to what bank gave the calendar to me. Other than the days/dates and small boxes for the previous/current/next month, and a weekly quote (which is a nice touch), the pages are very plain. No company logo, slogan, tip, watermark or anything on the pages, and simply a logo on the front cover. While I'm not encouraging companies to shove marketing messages down people's throats, this is a calendar that I look at very frequently and could easily forget which bank I got it from... which leads me to think it's almost a totally wasted marketing budget spent!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

When Misspelling (or, Perhaps, "Mispelling") is Okay

Today I passed by a fruit stand on the side of the road. The sign on the road said, "Watermellons." Ok, minor spelling error, but all in all it probably won't hurt business.

But if that same little stand were to have a web site, and spelled watermelons with two l's within the text on their site or in their meta tags, from a search engine optimization (SEO)standpoint, they'd probably be one of the top listings for that category if they had an otherwise good site. Think about how many people must do a search for "watermellons" every summer, and if you're the first one on that search engine results page, you might have a nice little business going there.

So, in effect, a misspelling of a word on the internet may not actually be the wurst thing in the wurld.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Monstrous Marketing

In the past few weeks a new viral campaign has infected the interweb and its low cost concept is paying huge dividends. According to a trailer found on a few cryptic websites, Paramount Pictures is releasing a film in January of 2008 produced by TV's "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams, shot in digital video, set in New York City, involving something very big that finds it amusing to throw the head of the Statue of Liberty at crowds of terrified New Yorkers.

Of course, it's what we don't know and the manner in which we've been teased that has us hooked. But not all of the ensuing publicity may have been the intentions of the studio. The trailer was first scene as a preview to the Transformers movie and a few "viral carriers", equipped with camcorders, recorded the teaser and leaked it onto Youtube.com. The result is a buzz that took on a life of its own. Names began to sprout for the project, theories involving the TV series started to develop, and all were denied by Abrams himself. Also, the nature of the hand-held videography gave the footage the appearance of an actual, self-made youtube offering. Did the creators behind the mysterious film intend for that to happen? I can't say, but according to reports, they have asked that the links be removed – although obviously that hasn't happened.

Regardless of the loose ends and plethora of unanswered questions, a $30 million film (modest by today's blockbuster standards, it must be said) with no name and no real synopsis outside of some monstrous tragedy has become one of the most anticipated films of next year. All for the price of some clever animation, a few feet of videotape and a URL. My only hope, considering the source, is that whatever molested Lady Liberty turns out to be more than a puff of innocuous, black smoke.

Here's the video for your perusal: