Good Marketing/Bad Marketing

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers' decisions and behavior.

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers’ decisions and behavior.

Customers are becoming more and more fed up, but really they are just tired and annoyed by bad marketing. Customers appreciate relevant information because it is the only way to be updated about what is interesting to them. Marketing has always been, and it will always be about being the connection between you abd your customer. You must be caring, helpful and even entertaining. And sincere.

Everyone buys for a different reason. Being helpful to your customer requires investing more time on the strategy and basics of communication.

Companies feel that they can’t afford the extra time, but what they really can’t afford is to keep annoying customers. This is your wife, your son, your Dad. Many companies don’t think in these terms. Unnecessarily annoying your friend is making it harder for everyone else, including you, to get the chance to tell your story. In the near future, the person annoyed today will become more reluctant to engage with you.

It is bad enough that so many brands compete for the same customers, but it makes it even worse when others that have nothing helpful to offer or say simply join the noise.

Part of the problem is not enough resources, relevant information and time to do a good job at trying to target potential customers. It’s more effective to be helpful to a few than annoying to many. This way, we have a better chance to succeed and customers will want to learn and be helped.

Conclusion – for now

In order for your company to maintain your influential role in your consumers’ decisions and behavior, you have to do a much better job. Personal marketing is more difficult to plan and execute, but it is the only way to convince customers that today is the day they should buy from you. And you won’t break your trust to them tomorrow.

One of the biggest mistakes in marketing is to think that marketers are the experts when the truth is that customers are. The customer tells us if we are right or wrong. Still, in most cases we don’t listen to them.

I listen.

Ideas come in many forms

What inspires you? Make the emotional connection be authentic.

What inspires you? Make the emotional connection be authentic.

A movie. A label on a can.

A directional sign at the beach.

Recognizing and harnessing the spark is the hard part. Seek more inspiration.

The role of color

Here is a short (haha!) lesson in color theory that I put together from my experience working week-in and week-out at San Manuel casino. With over 40 different acts every year, plus special promotions and events, I was able to track what colors sold an act that was determined to be a “dog” or hard-sell, and what colors could even kill what should have been a sure-thing.

Color is a balancing act.

Color is a balancing act.

Color plays a key role in the success of advertising. After all, it’s pretty much the first thing anyone notices, making color your best – and sometimes only – chance to get a message across. For this post, I will concentrate on color and save font choices for another time.

The use of color in most design for marketing and advertising is driven by certain obvious reasons; the need to reflect a specific brand, as well as the attempt to communicate a certain mood determined by the product. Company branding is pretty straightforward – specific colors dictated by logos and other collateral will need to be incorporated into at least part of the design. The choice of color scheme for conveying the ‘personality’ of a product is often a lot harder to develop.

 

But some colors are actually more right than others. There is a psychological and physical impact on people. The significance of various colors isn’t universal and unchanging – in many ways it’s quite the opposite: various ethnicities and cultures often associate the same color with very different emotions and ideas.

 

And if this all sounds questionable, good. It means you have a brain, now use it. I have found that color can actively influence consumers and I use my knowledge for good and evil… Here are some of my basic color facts:

 

Red

Red, the most vibrant and powerful of colors, seems like a good place to start. Since studies have shown that it’s the first color babies recognize, and one that continues to appeal to most people throughout their childhood and into their adult lives. At a purely symbolic level, it’s the color of fire and blood, an association that’s common to all cultures and therefore extremely powerful. Less specifically, it’s a color that seems to be associated with energy, war, danger and power, not to mention passion, desire, and love.

 

So what does that mean for marketing?

To start with, some of these associations are so deeply ingrained that it’s stupid to use a color other than red to represent certain things. Try showing extreme emotions such as violence or passion with shades of blue and you’re going to run into problems. What’s more, I have seen in its brighter variations (tomato), red actually provokes a physical response by creating action in both men and women. For this reason, its use in ‘sexy’ advertising scenarios or as an erotically charged statement (on lips or fingernails) should quite literally set hearts beating faster – and as I mentioned, it works equally at arousing both men and women. Whether the physiological ‘red effect’ happens simply as a result of its associations; or because the color itself somehow provokes such a response; or, if, indeed, this effect relies on a combination of the two isn’t something that matters. Who cares why? What is important is that red, like virtually every other color, exerts a measurable influence on the consumer.

 

More about the ‘red effect’… different from any physical reactions it might provoke, red is association with force, and power, and is an extremely dominant one. Consider all the small details in our everyday lives that support this: red icons on switches to indicate their ‘on’ state, the plastic coating on ‘live’ wires, the tiny red glow that tells us an electrical appliance is working. All of this makes red the best color to suggest fast-moving action or extreme force – examples of uses that fall into this category include sports, slot machines, action-adventure or dancing. This deep-rooted association with power also makes red a good candidate for any product that seeks to impart the idea of improvement, rapidity or physical change. Red also increases appetite, making it an excellent choice for advertising food (Chinese restaurants use red color schemes for this reason, but – red simply happens to be a very popular and ‘lucky’ color in the Chinese culture). However, if enticing diners to eat heartily is something you’re aiming to do, an all-red environment is a good way to get stomachs rumbling.

 

Pink

Although it derives from red, pink has little of red’s forceful qualities. In fact, although it’s usually perceived as a warm and fairly upbeat color, it is, of course, popularly associated with femininity and even passivity. A cliché, perhaps, but its vigor-reducing reputation has again been shown to have some basis in fact. A famous study showed a shade of bubble-gum pink used in certain cells in a men’s prison was unexpectedly found to change aggressive inmates behavior and make them more docile. Research corroborated the fact that pink did indeed have significant calming qualities – although a subsequent study revealed that after a certain time these effects were dramatically reversed as prisoners became more agitated and aggressive than before. (Surprised? You try living in a bubble gum pink environment). The fact that pink does induce at least a temporary sensation of calm makes it a powerful factor in the color-coordinated approach to advertising. It became a favorite for any female only promotions such as Ladies Night Out. This association was explored on a very limited basis because the strong association with femininity means that anything ‘too’ pink is was completely ignored by men.

 

There’s one other area in which pink has an interesting effect, however – and one that didn’t alienate males. It was in food product posters on-site. I theorized that the color lead consumers to believe they’re tastier, or even identify a flavor that isn’t actually present. And pink coloring is a particularly effective way of suggesting sweetness. This may relate to the fact that it’s often used as a coloring in candies, but whatever the case, the association is powerful enough to substantially increase a food’s perceived sugariness or even depth of flavor. Although in these health-conscious times sweet, sugary foods have lost much of their popularity, the marketing of products inside the casino, on the floor worked: feel-good desserts, ice creams, and shakes.

 

 

Green

Occurring naturally as a sign of plant growth and renewal, green is one of those colors that are universally seen as positive, fresh and fertile. It’s the easiest color for the eye to assimilate and therefore one of the most relaxing; it induces feelings of calm and restfulness, and can even improve vision. In short, it’s a very positive color indeed. This emphasis on nature, freshness and renewal means that I commonly used green to emphasize the new, improved offerings of a repeated promotion from a previous year. But if you notice a certain irony in this, good, because green, of course, has steadily evolved into the symbol of all that’s ecologically aware. Congruity in advertising – or the notion that what’s implied about a product should be supported by its reality – is one of the most vital aspects of marketing. Get this wrong, and there’s no consumer forgiveness. Its current associations have equally led to opportunities for more refined targeting. Wholesome, healthy food items were quickly identified as such through predominant use of green.

 

Different greens, different meanings… Green is a symbolically complex color, and particular shades transmit subtly different messages. Darker greens – the classic color of money – have long held an association with casinos. The added implication of wealth and savings made green a good choice for promotions, particularly any Ass-In-Seat promotion. Lime greens sucked. It never sold anything when it was used. Finally, association with green from its use in traffic control to signify ‘go’ was a great tie-in. This link with movement, forward motion and vehicles made it a good choice for anything related to transportation: bussing, train networks, travel promotions. And for online advertising, using green for buttons or links – clicked – you’re practically inviting a user to go ahead and do so. Oddly enough, red in this context never seemed to work, maybe green was seen as a less risky click.

 

Blue

Blue is the world’s most popular color. And as one that, like green, occurs in nature – the hue of skies, water and sea – it’s not surprising that it’s so well loved. With such universal associations and widespread appeal, blue is an important asset to any color use. Unlike very warm colors, which provoke impulsive, passionate responses, blue is a cerebral color that’s commonly associated with clear thinking and intellect. Surprisingly, darker blues have a widespread appeal among men and works fantastic in and out of a casino setting.

Blue emerges as a clear favorite in almost any casino advertisement. Its implication of steadiness made it an effective choice for San Manuel’s branding, although its white-collar association with conservatism could have hurt perception, in the long-run, it helped. Blue’s lighter, brighter shades, takes on happier, sparkling and spontaneous overtones. The pure and natural aspect of such blues convey a sense of cleanliness and freshness and drew patrons from every demographic. Bright blue became the obvious choice for the typical entertainment advertising. Evocative of cloudless skies and inviting pools, it gives a tantalizing taste of tranquility and relaxation. In fact, blue is such a flexible and well-liked color that it’s almost impossible to miss-use – with one major exception.

Foods really don’t benefit from any kind of association with blue. Maybe the blue/food combo induces feelings of nausea. We instinctively associate the color with something that’s rotten and unsafe to eat, but whatever the case, it’s not a great choice for marketing any type of casino meal.

 

If you’re still with me…

I will cover yellow, white, black,orange, purple, and brown in another post.

For now… takeaways to consider: Sometimes the decision is partly intuitive – most people understand (even at a very basic level) that bright colors will convey a different kind of mood than neutral grays or dull and muted colors. The guidelines of traditional color theory come up as a kind of balancing act to ensure that everything works together and that the right kind of colors are used.

Mike and Math

Hulk-smash-photo

I woke up from a sound sleep last night with an upset stomach. It growled like an angry grizzly bear annoyed by some hipster campers trying to get a wi-fi connection near his personal salmon stream. I got up and looked around in my cabinets for something, anything to keep my puke record untarnished.

I found nothing.

I headed back to bed with a delicate and cautious step. I hurt even worse now – this was not the time for Pepto-Bismol to be missing. I felt like one of those bad actors on a late night TV commercial, acid reflux bubbling up like old faithful at Yosemite. Then when he takes his Previcid, everything is better and the world is a great place to live again. I love television.

While the next 45 minutes, 2700 seconds, of uncomfortable sleeplessness passed, one queasy second at a time, I counted.

Why? I don’t know.

Sometime you just get delirious when you’re sick and want it to be over. You want to be back in Neverland, asleep, especially when no meds of any kind are to be found. At least I do. So I counted. I counted LEDs on my laptop screen, square footage of my house, miles to work. The quickest way to the mall, and the vision that came to me was remarkable. Mrs. Catoe, my high school Algebra teacher, her shriveled face and bee-hive hair swirled in my head like a fast break on my best friends pool table when we tried to pretend we were hustlers in a movie.

Finally, I fell asleep.

When I woke up this morning, all seemed fine. A-okay.

I wondered if counting could be my new cure all my disorders. “I can count on Sesame Street’s Count for relief,” I joked with myself. And even though it wasn’t clever, I still chucked to myself.

Close call last night.

I laid in bed for a few minutes listening to the “too ugly for TV” DJs banter back and forth over the beginning of Madonna’s Papa don’t preach song, waiting for a possible abdominal disruption. Just in case something was hiding out from the night before, like a sneaky commando in the trenches of my innards, getting ready to toss a little grenade of gurgle.

While I waited it came to me that Mikey had swiped my Pepto about three months ago. And counting again, I figured it was 87 days, or more precisely…2092 hours earlier.

He has rushed in after a night of alcohol, calling and checking that I was awake. Complaining of his imminent death to be caused by Tequila and tacos.  “My stomach contains the Mexican Revolution,” he told me. “I’m dying.”  “I’ve got just the thing,” I said. “It’s small and pink, take it.”

I dreamed then of being a doctor.

I pictured myself saving lives.

I pictured patient after patient, lying on sweat-soaked gurneys, with the most awful stomach cramps in the history of disease, with convulsions, and a priest by their side. In the nick of time I would show up in a whirl of medical glory and spoon feed the miracle drug I had just invented in my laboratory. And they would be cured! And I would be the super-hero doctor forever!

After letting Mike take my bottle of milky pink elixir, he just left. Not even a “Gracias.”

I thought he was dying.

When I ask him I’m sure he won’t remember Pancho Villa shooting up his stomach.

And I’m positive he won’t care if I explain my disappointment at my failure to become a Hippocratic hero.

For today, though, I will leave my thoughts of Pepto-Bismol behind.

And resolve not to discuss it with Mike for another two weeks. 345 hours. 20,700 minutes.

The bottle is probably just sitting on his kitchen counter, just one of the 43 things sitting there.

Another forgotten number.

Ideas start as words

And most businesses think in words. Open anybody’s notebook and you’ll see that. It’s true.

Photography by Andrew Phipps

Carlos Mencia – March 2010

Communication = words + visuals.

Ideas are the only reason to communicate.

They are integral to the process. Without a message, the conversation is incomplete.

I ask myself the same question

What are you doing to make yourself of value?

What are you doing to make yourself of value?

Every day, I ask myself the same question:
What can I do today to increase value for my customers (blog readers, art lovers, Twitter followers, etc.), for my team and for my friends?

I also ask these questions to the people I work with:
Why do you exist, your site, your company?
What specific attributes are you trying to get across?
How do you help your customers’ lives?
How are you applying this to your products and your brand?

The world is built on interactions and not transactions

Steve shows up on time. He designs two posters and three billboards by lunch, then sits back and waits impatiently for the five hours until he can leave to click down. And spends that time looking busy while bitching through email about how much he hates his job to a sympathetic spouse. All because he wasn’t singled out and congratulated for his great speed.

Lisa takes five minutes to chat to the coworker who has a story about his kids, and remembers the new kid has a birthday coming up. And goes out of her way to create a hand-made card for the office to sign. She remembers being that awkward newbie that just started and everyone ignores. She works hard, but she also works smart. And her work is impeccable. The clients who ask for her by name are happy to wait until she’s free. Her day is gone before she realizes it.

Are you telling yourself you're a hard worker when you're really a Queen "B"?

Are you telling yourself you’re a hard worker when you’re really a Queen “B”?

The truth is that both employees perform, but one employee is considered a worker bee and the other isn’t. Everyone respects one and the other is only fooling themself.

The story we tell as people and in our work is our impact on our whole life. And these stories scale. And in our increasingly connected world business is built on interactions and not transactions.

What is the story you’re telling yourself?

How do I use this theme?

Drake performs at San Manuel casino on February 10, 2011. photography by Andrew Phipps.

Drake performs at San Manuel casino on February 10, 2011. photography by Andrew Phipps.

 

Well, just bought my first theme on WordPress. And, to start, I am not impressed. In fact, navigation sucks. Sucks, Sucks.