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Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

easter marketing surprise

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 15, 2009

fountain springs community church gets marketing and can teach all business owners a lesson or three

fountain springs community church gets marketing and can teach all business owners a lesson or three



Here’s a marketing lesson from a church that gets it.

My bride and our son went to Fountain Springs Community Church for an Easter egg hunt the day before the holiday. They arrived and signed in around 10:15 a.m., battled the giggling torrent of other egg hunters for treat-filled plastic treasures, and ate a lot of candy. In other words, it was a great day.

At 2:46 p.m. the SAME DAY, we received the following email:

Friends –
Thank you so much for making the 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Fountain Springs Community Church SO MUCH FUN!
We had a blast meeting you and your kiddos and are so thankful that you were able to be a part of our special event!

We want to invite you to spend Easter Sunday with us too.

If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend – we have worship gatherings tomorrow at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am.

Mr. Bradley (aka “the Bunny”) and Miss Kasey will be there to help lead Kids’ Rock for the kids, we’ll have fresh Starbucks coffee waiting for you in the lobby, and we would love to share the amazing Easter story with you during our service times.

So – thanks for joining us today and come on over! We’d love to see you again tomorrow morning!


Business owners should be impressed by the quick turnaround on a good lead. How long does it take you to respond to a potential customer who leaves her contact information? I’ll bet it’s more than 4 1/2 hours.

We also should congratulate the church for the email itself. It won’t turn off non-Christians since it’s not preachy, and it won’t alienate members of other churches because it isn’t trying to pull anyone out of one pew and into another. The email is just a nice note that opens the door to a relationship. Awesome.

So what’s the lesson for marketers? First, do things to bring potential customers to your business. This church held a free Easter egg hunt open to anyone from the community. Just as important, there weren’t any covert salesmen lurking in the hallways. What kind of non-sales event can you have at your business? 

Second, don’t sell from a position of desperation. Customers know it when you’re trying too hard, and it comes across as odd. People are sick of being sold to, anyway. They would much rather create a meaningful relationship with you and your business. Can you do that with your customers?


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u.s. navy hits its mark

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 14, 2009

the u.s. navy put on an amazing show near somalia this week when they rescued a merchant marine

the u.s. navy put on an amazing show near somalia this week when they rescued a merchant marine

In my newspaper reporting days, I interviewed members of the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force stunt-flying team. The Thunderbirds put on an incredible show, and they are a powerful recruting tool for the Air Force.

However, the excitement they create is nothing compared to the show the U.S. Navy put on Sunday. According to news reports, three Navy seals sniped the three pirates holding a U.S. merchant marine hostage off the coast of Somalia.

The seals didn’t just toll out of bed and shoot the bad guys from a Navy ship as the pirates tried to hide aboard a bopping vessel. The seals parachuted into the ocean–at night–and were scooped from the sea before accomplishing their mission.

Talk about a recruiting tool. This is spy novel stuff that effectively sells the Navy to potential recruits. 

There’s a lesson here for marketers, of course. Be awesome. Do something memorable.

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swing away

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 12, 2009

marketers need to learn from athletes and be willing to fail in spectacular ways
marketers need to learn from athletes and be willing to fail in spectacular ways


Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both came up short down the stretch of the Masters golf tournament today as they tried to catch the tournament leader. Millions watched on TV. The live crowd groaned.

Watching, I was struck more than ever by how publicly golfers are forced to fail.

Of course, golfers and other athletes are forced to fail in public because they perform in front of us. They also have to try. A golfer isn’t going to pick up her ball and walk away when she’s down by two on the 17th green. A quarterback won’t head to locker room during a timeout while driving for a winning touchdown during a two-minute drill. Athletes have to try.

There’s a lesson here for marketers.   

Marketing folks can avoid major failures by not trying. We cannot pursue the innovative product or promotional idea we dream of, or we can decide not to push hard enough for the resources needed to execute a great advertising campaign. We can decide that OK is good enough because exceptional will take a few more hours and require leadership we aren’t willing to give.  

Those are failures by omission. Athletes fail during commission. Marketers should do the same.

We need to get over our fear of failure. We need to insulate our personal feelings from the sting of criticism. We need to remain focused on serving customers and meeting their needs. If we want to do those things really well, if we want to break through the clutter, we need to take risks. We need to be willing to miss.


We need to stare down that tough shot when it’s all on the line. And we need to swing.


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don’t forget the manipulators

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 5, 2009

most marketing is manipulative, but that's a losing proposition as markets change

most marketing is manipulative, but that's a losing proposition as markets change

I recently commented on a Darren Rose post over at ProBlogger where Darren wrote that most marketing is manipulative. Here’s what I said in response:

Darren: You write that marketing tends to try to manipulate. I don’t think that’s correct. That certainly was true in the past, during the golden age of mass markets and mass advertising. But those days are gone.

The inter-connectedness of markets has (appropriately) drive a stake through the heart of that system. Poor marketing continues to embrace those failing strategies, and those attempts are–as you say–manipulative.

However, more and more marketers have seen the light, and are trying to do things better. We’re trying to create products for people rather than finding people for our products. And we’re trying to connect with customers in meaningful, honest ways.

That’s not manipulative at all. And it’s the future of marketing success.

I’m having second thoughts about this. I stand by my thoughts about the future of marketing and the need to erase all manipulation from the craft. However, I think I’m wrong about most current marketing not being manipulative.

Spend a bit of time watching TV commercials (use your DVR to fast-forward through the show), and it’s hard to disagree with Darren. Almost every commercial is full of crap. During one half-hour show on FitTV, I saw obviously manipulative commercials for:

  • Two competing amazing weight-loss drugs
  • A body-cleansing product that remove all impurities from your system
  • A product that will keep even the cheapest razors sharp forever
  • An exercise machine that makes it easy to lose weight.

All those spots are attacking your emotions and your desire to be a better person, but they clearly fall into the too-good-to-be-true category. And for someone vulnerable–for whatever reason–can easily be taken in. That’s not to say the products don’t work; it’s just that the promotional approach is meant to manipulate.

I predict this advertising approach will stop working. Consumers have so much access to information and peer reviews, they can know everything about every product and service you offer. As a result, businesses will need to increase the level of honesty.

Customers will find you out if you don’t.

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must read interview: chris brogan

Posted by Steve Buchholz on April 2, 2009

in a tom peters interview, chris brogan shows the power of social media

in a tom peters interview, chris brogan shows the power of social media

tompeters! has an excellent interview with Chris Brogan posted. Brogan really knows his stuff, and he’s a must-follow for anyone interested in social media/new media stuff.

Read the interview, and remember this passage if nothing else:

To me, they are every bit as impactful as the telephone was over a hundred years ago and as email was 25 years ago. These are the new forms of presence. We’re not relegated to voice, as with a telephone. We’re not relegated to text on the page, as with email. We can now add video. We can now add all kinds of different media in different formats and interactive styles.

That’s the power marketers need to harness. That’s what will allow us to reach the right people with the right information at the right time.

Marketing is dead. Long live marketing.

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connecting across platforms

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 29, 2009

the office tv show's creation of online communities is a lesson for all marketers

the office tv show's creation of online communities is a lesson for all marketers

The TV show, The Office, is a huge hit that has done a great job of using the Internet to connect fans to the show. Here’s how they do it:

  • The show’s website is a lesson for all marketers. The site’s discussion boards allow fans to talk to each other, building word of mouth advertising, speculation, and anticipation about future episodes.
  • The show’s characters blog about life in the fictional office and their lives outside of work.
  • Multiple actors and staffers Twitter about all kinds of things.
  • There are videos, games, photos, and all kinds of other features that could keep a super-fan busy for hours.
  • There are even links to websites for obscure show-related products, such as Princess Unicorn.

The site is updated often, so there’s almost always a reason to come back. The built-in interactivity gives visitors a way to voice their opinions and discuss every aspect of the show with like-minded folks.

Whether you like The Office or not, the show has done an awesome thing here. They are giving fans multiple ways to connect to the show and its stars. There’s no need to wait a full week before experiencing the show. You can do it any time.

The Office can invade your inbox if you subscribe to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch newsletter. The e-publication includes missives from various characters who write in character. It’s one more way for fans to connect.

The lesson for marketers is simple. Do something worth talking about and help people talk about  it. Make it easy for them to spread the word within and outside your community.

With out-of-the-box social networking tools like Ning and easy-to-use blogs like those at WordPress, it couldn’t be easier.

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adjusting your story

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 25, 2009

are you telling stories your customers want to hear?

are you telling stories your customers want to hear?

Great stuff from the Tom Peters blog about doing business during uncertain economic times. Here’s a link to Part 4 of 2009 Recalibration, but I recommend reading the entire piece.

The author is right on with his insights. Things are different now. People are afraid. Their purchasing habits have changed, and I think attitudes are changing as well. This attitudinal adjustment will continue, I think, for some time, especially if the recession drags on for some time.

Businesses need to rethink marketing strategies now to match the new realities.

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snowstorm marketing

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 23, 2009

After watching the behavior of Rapid Citians yesterday and today, I  have the perfect promotional idea for grocery stores, video rental places, pizza joints, and gas stations.
plan a snowstorm to make more money

plan a snowstorm to make more money

It’s a complex strategy, so take notes. If you do it right, people will line up at your business and buy nearly everything in sight. It’s true.  

Ok, here it is. Ready? All you need to do is …

Plan a snowstorm.

It will work every time, and your bottom line will never thank you more.

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personal watermelons

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 22, 2009

A big pile of almost-volleyball-sized watermelons greeted me on a recent trip to one of Rapid City’s Family Thrift Center supermarkets. The display’s sign promoted the fruit as “Personal Watermelons.”


I love that. I don’t buy watermelon very often because there’s just too much pressure to eat it all before it’s no longer fresh. The watermelon people have solved that problem by remaking their product, most likely by inbreeding small watermelons until the personal-sized melon was achieved. You can find a more detailed explanation at the Wise Geek website.

what's the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?

what's the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?


The watermelon folks then named the smaller melon so shoppers would immediately know the product was new and that it solved a problem.


This might seem trivial, but it’s really not. It’s also a wonderful marketing lesson for every business. Our products and services don’t meet the needs of every customer. If we understand the needs of those customers, we can then look at our products and services and find ways to adjust them to grow our markets.


For example, a college might begin offering a program at an off-campus location so students who can’t make it to campus for whatever reason can still pursue a degree. A restaurant might offer ready-to-go meals someone could pick up quickly on the way home. A newspaper’s website could allow readers to create personal portals that display customized content.


None of those ideas are that complicated, and they could make all the difference in solving the problems your customers face.


What’s the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?

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thoughts about meatballs and sundaes

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 19, 2009

On days I don’t ride the motorcycle to work, I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae. As with everything else Godin writes, the book is great.

don't serve your customers meatball sundaes

don't serve your customers meatball sundaes

Today’s chapter captured very well concerns I’ve had about diving into the world of marketing with new media. According to Godin, the whipped cream and cherry are the new media marketing strategies, and the meatballs are the old-style products you sell. Plopping new media on meatballs creates a bad tasting, incongruous concoction that markets won’t taste.

I love the imagery, in part because it makes sense. Here’s my take on it. When you use new media such as blogs, social networks, and the like, you are at least creating expectations—and you might be making promises—about the type of company you are. If you attract someone to your business with cool, new marketing tools, what will customers think when they walk through the door and find boring, old, and outdated business practices? If those business practices work for you, that’s super. But it seems like a bad idea to make customers think you’re something you’re not.

So, what does that mean for marketers?

It means not agreeing to applying whipped cream and other toppings to a pile of meatballs. It means becoming part of the conversation about all the marketing Ps. Don’t allow yourself to be cornered into the P for Promotion. Life is way too dull there and you can’t exercise your full expertise from that spot.

It also means making sure people listen when you suggest changing the way your business works so new marketing is aligned with operations.

It means remembering the lessons of the New Coke failure: You can spend a truckload of money on advertising, but you won’t succeed if no one wants the product.

It means being a true marketer.

Go for it.

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