Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christopher Cross and Advertising… A Lesson


On June 21st, 1980, my friend Chris and I attended the Texxas World Music Festival (more familiarly known as the Texxas Jam) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The show featured the Eagles, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, a pre-I Can't Drive 55 Sammy Hagar, April Wine and Christopher Cross.

Now, let's look at the lineup again and consider 100,000 people packed into a football stadium on the second day of summer (during what would prove to be one of the hottest summers ever) for a day long event. One of those performers is different from the others, one of those performers just doesn't belong. Can you guess which one? If you answered "Christopher Cross" congratulations, you've won a Non-Poets Rock Oklahoma! t-shirt. Come by the station during business hours Monday through Friday to pick up your prize!

In retrospect, it's easy to say Christopher Cross had no business on that bill. In 1980 however, his first hit, Ride Like The Wind was soaring up the rock and pop charts. Except, as we know now, that was about the rocking-est song on the album and the second single was the notably mellow Sailing which, like the rest of Cross' debut album, wasn't exactly fodder for 100,000-sun-baked-drug-fueled-show-us-your-tits 1980 concert-goers.

To this day, I can vividly recall watching the entire stadium collectively yawn from my upper deck seat during Christopher Cross' set, though they did stir a bit when he closed with Ride Like The Wind. And, while I didn't hear it, according to several web sources, Cross was booed lustily during  his performance of Sailing and for the remainder of his blessedly short set.

So what does my personal Woodstock moment have to do with advertising? Simple. Just as some performers don't belong playing stadium shows, some forms of advertising are better for your business than others. I don't know how many times I've spoken to business owners who told me, "We advertised, but it didn't work." When I ask where they advertised, the answer I get most often is some form of media that's not right for the business, be it hitting the wrong demographics on radio, the wrong zip codes in direct mail, a dead email list, a bad day part with TV ads, or simply expecting one month's worth of advertising to drive business all year.

Where you advertise your business, whether its TV, radio, direct mail, email, digital or social media, matters. When you advertise your business matters.Why? Because, unless you sell food, something people consume three times a day, odds are, your product or service isn't something someone needs every day. While the goal of any advertising is to drive sales, the goal of a coherent, advertising campaign is to have your company top of mind, when they're ready to, or need to, buy your product or service. Just as Christopher Cross had no business playing the Texxas Jam, a Christmas store shouldn't advertise in June and an arthritis medicine doesn't need to waste its ad money targeting 15-year old girls.

Every advertising sales rep will have a "good deal" to help your business advertise. But before you sign on the bottom line, make sure it's a good deal for your business. Ask yourself if your message will still resonate with your target audience a month after the ad buy ends. Ask what the ad package will do for your business six months from now, not 30 days from now.

All advertising is not the same. Make sure your advertising dollars are spent where they'll do the most good for your business long-term. Think of your advertising goals in terms of all year, not just in terms of one newspaper insertion, radio flight, email blast or digital ad. Focus on the big picture for your business's advertising and your sales will ride like the wind and keep sailing all year long.

See also: AC/DC And The ABCs Of Advertising

Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Ready When Opportunity Rolls Your Way

Tour de France
Welcome to the 2014 edition of What The Tour de France Can Teach You About Advertising. While last year's edition never got published due to my general dismay with pro cycling, you can see previous editions here, here, here, here, and here.

In a three-week stage race like the Tour de France, one word you hear quite often is "opportunity." A rider on Team A will take advantage to get in on a breakaway and gain time in the overall classification because he knows Team B won't chase down the breakaway group because doing so would benefit a rider from Team C. Or, more simply, a team at the front of the pack may take the opportunity to accelerate the pace knowing a high-placed rider on another team was caught at the back when the peleton split in two. And, from a fan's perspective, there are the millions of fans who line the road during the Tour just for the opportunity to see the spectacle of the pre-race caravan and the race's 198 riders roll by. Whatever the scenarios, there are plenty of opportunities within the larger race that is the Tour de France.

If you're advertising your business, you should be doing the same thing as the riders in the Tour de France; looking for your opportunity to get ahead. While you should have an advertising plan and stick to it, you should also be in a position to tai advantage of the opportunities that come your way outside of that ad plan.

These opportunities don't include those sales reps who offers you low rates on last minute ad space or the chance to save on a contract for a year. Instead, the opportunities I'm talking about are those that come along via social media. Simply put, that means re-tweeting Tweets that shed a positive light on your business on Twitter and Liking posts that reference your business or your industry on Facebook. In both arenas, you should also look for opportunities to reach out to your customer, answer questions and join conversations where you can contribute. All you need to do is invest the time to monitor social media for your opportunity. Just remember to do those things in moderation and don't be the company that feels compelled to re-tweet or like every mention, answer every question, or comment on everything. In other words, don't be that guy (you know who you are).

In addition, don't miss the opportunity to share what you know. Post links to articles and photos your customers will find helpful and informative. Again, use moderation but strive to make your business the go-to resource for your customers.

And the cost for promoting your business via all these opportunities? Zero. Zip. Nada. Just the time it takes to monitor your social media accounts and, in the age of alerts to your phone and email when your name is mentioned, that time time investment is negligible.

Getting your business a rolling is easy. Just think of promoting your brand like a rider in the Tour de France; look for your opportunities, be ready when you see that opportunity, and then take advantage of the opportunity to put your brand, and your business, ahead of the pack.

See also: How Cool Do You Want To Be?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Brilliant Branding By Boulevard Brewing

Boulevard Brewing
As frequent viewers of this show may have noticed, I like beer and spend a great deal of time thinking about it and writing about it. On occasion, when I can surreptitiously skim a few bucks out my kid's college money, I even buy it and drink it. And, when it was announced a few months ago that one of my favorite brewers, Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, had been sold to the Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat, I took notice!

(Full disclosure: I have a distant, barely discernible relationship with Boulevard (that I've named dropped too many times to count to impress cute girls in bars with my faux insider status), so what follows may be slightly un-objective)

My first thought upon hearing the news was, "Good! They found the perfect partner!" and I moved on, safe in the knowledge that nothing would change at one of my favorite beer makers and they've put themselves in position for greater distribution and success. What surprised me, however, was the number of people who were downright pissed at Boulevard founder and owner John McDonald for having the audacity to sell his company.

As a beer drinker, I could understand some level of concern. However, the amount of vitriol and feelings of betrayal leveled at Boulevard and its founder just shocked me. Then it hit me; Boulevard was a victim of its own perfect branding.

Almost since its inception in 1989, Boulevard Brewing has branded itself as "Kansas City's Beer." The company began before there was a microbrewery on every street corner and for Boulevard, Kansas City's Beer has been not only a slogan, but also a mission statement. The beer was Kansas City made and the brewery sourced wheat and other grains from Missouri and Kansas farms. Boulevard established itself in Kansas City for five years before it ever expanded (just ask any of my Kansas City-visiting friends who I begged to bring me back Boulevard beer) and the brewery involved itself in the community, lending sponsorships and support to everything from the U.S.S. Missouri commissioning to local pet adoption events and everything in between. In other words, Boulevard talked the talk and walked the walk. And the company backed up its branding (that promise a company or products makes to its customers) to a tee. Boulevard even changed the name of one its beers to better reflect its KC heritage (Boulevard Pilsner became KC Pils) and donates a portion of the proceeds from the beer's sales to local charities. How perfect was Boulevard's branding? The fact that area residents felt "betrayed" after the sale speaks volumes about how Kansas City's residents took pride and "ownership" in the Boulevard, Kansas City's Beer brand.

So, with all that said, my question to you is this: what does your company do, like Boulevard does, to fulfill the promise of your product or service's brand? Further, what can you do to establish not only your brand, but a relationship with your consumer?

If you think you need some help to build your brand, give us a call and let's talk. The Boulevard is on us!