Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Advice From The Grateful Dead (No...Really!)

(Important note: I'm not a Grateful Dead fan nor do I own a Grateful Dead album, digital download, anything tie-dyed, and I've never, ever enjoyed a hallucinogenic substance). The following was inspired by a chance listen to a classic radio station (thank God for satellite radio!) that happened to be playing one of the three Grateful Dead songs on their playlist that they repeat endlessly.)

As one who is self-employed, I've found it's easy to find myself in a vacuum, where the only voice I hear is my own and my only input is instinct. And that's the problem with working a vacuum, sometimes you get sucked in! And I was recently reminded of that potential when I heard a line from the Grateful Dead song, Truckin' (if you've never heard it, you need only listen to your local classic rock format radio station. If it's not playing, it will likely be on within five minutes or less): "Get out of the door, light out, and look all around."

That advice hit home when I saw this print ad for Summer's Eve Feminine Wash that essentially said the first thing a woman should do when preparing to ask for a raise is make sure her nether regions are clean and fresh! In keeping with the Deadhead theme of this post, my thought is, "What were they smoking?"

But aside from the insulting premise of the ad, my next question was, "Who actually thought this ad was a good idea?" The Summer's Eve brand manager made the public response (apologizing and yanking the ad from circulation) in the aftermath of the ad breaking but then later posted (to the ADWEEK Adfreak blog), "We never made the connections..."

While no one is saying if the ad was done in-house or by an agency, that it actually got produced and in print tells me there was a significant lack of objectivity in the approval process. And that highlights the need for my adaptation of the advice from the Dead: Get out of of your office! Find out what other people think of your ads, your products, and your services! Get outside input! Market research can be as simple as asking someone who doesn't work for you what they think!.

No one knows your business better than you. But occasionally (and I'm often guilty of it myself as I sling out my non-poetry), we can lose sight of the forest for the trees around us. We can assume people will know what we're talking about in our marketing message but, just because you're well versed in your business doesn't mean the next person on the street will be. The things you take for granted could be just what a new customer is looking for. Bounce your ideas off someone else! To make it even easier, your Facebook and Twitter network offers a quick and easy survey/research opportunity. Remember, if you're comfortable in your office chair, odds are your marketing messages won't make your customers get out of theirs.

There's a whole wide world out there but (to co-op some more advice from the 60's), it's up to you to make sure your message will make them tune in and turn on. However if you can't see how your goods and services are received by your customers, odds are they'll drop out.

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