27 June 2009


Contests are a great way to promote your product, service or brand - if done correctly.

In any marketing, be it an advertisement, a web page, a vehicle design, apparel, logo or a contest, the messaging and purpose has to be relevant and on brand. What you do in anything related to marketing must not stray from your brand motto or your brand's core beliefs.

Recently, we have been putting a contest together for our tiny, little boutique creative shop. The contest has a purpose - to promote the win of a creative award for the design and concept of a custom envelope and stamp. And, the contest is relevant - to win the contest, you have to collect the very thing that we won the award with - our custom stamps.

Structuring the contest this way informs people about the win and gets them to notice and focus on the envelopes and stamps that may have been background noise up until then. Our goal is to promote to our customers and people who deal with us that we are an award winning creative shop that specializes in out-of-the-box thinking and design.

You can read about this contest here.

The goal of a contest is not to give away a specific prize but to promote your offering or brand. If the prize does this, that's great but not every business can do this. In our case, we are awarding lunch for the winner and eleven of their closest friends, delivered by our staff. This will award the winner, but also allow for interaction with our staff and their staff.

You want to give something away that is meaningful and/or has some relevance.

Immersing people in your brand and having them engage with it makes for a successful campaign. Just having people enter to win with no interaction can be misguided unless you are collecting data to follow up with at a latter date.

At the end of the day, people need to remember what your offering is and what you do. When planning a contest, think about this carefully, will your contest accomplish this?

I think ours will.

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20 June 2009

The Marketing Platypus

Everyone has heard the analogy that a camel is a race horse built by committee. If a committee builds a camel, business owners who want to do things themselves usually build a platypus.

There is no more definitive proof of this than when you check your mail at the end of a busy day and see the unaddressed admail in your mailbox. You see some of the most unprofessional misfirings in marketing. Many times, I bring these into the office for the entire group to see (and get a good chuckle). Nothing says home made logo, like a home made logo.

A platypus isn't good for much if you're competing with race horses, or even with camels for that matter. This sounds contradictory, but in marketing, sui generis is usually what you are after, but being unique in the amateurish and nonsensical arena won't get you on top. There are times when an unpolished or kitschy approach can work for marketing, but this takes planning and strategy, not just blind luck and a duck beak.

A while back I wrote a blog called, Heed the Advice, it spoke to the fact that you have to listen to the advice of experts. This came from a lesson that I learned and was not meant to be an endorsement by any stretch, unlike this posting (insert smiling or winking emoticon here).

There are some things you might like to experiment with or do as a hobby, all too often we see companies that treat their marketing this way. Marketing is not a hobby, you either live it and breath it or you don't. Having said that, there are some business owners have a knack for it, understand the importance of marketing but, they know when to bring experts to the table to execute or refine their ideas - there's no coincidence that these are the very same business owners that are successful in what they do.

If you are serious about growing your business, hire a marketing professional - but before you do, make sure they can make race horses. Have a look at their track record, make sure they can build successful campaigns and bring creative approaches to the table.

At the end of the day, we build race horses for customers. Sometimes we end up with a camel but never a platypus.

From the opening credits of Dogma, a film by Kevin Smith:

Remember: Even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus. Thank you and enjoy the show.

P.S. We sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about Platypi. We at View Askew respect the noble Platypus, and it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way. Thank you again and enjoy the show.

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01 June 2009

Marketing is like Self Help

Most people in their life have found themselves at one of those self-help type seminars put on by people like Steven Covey, Tony Robbins and the like.

And, most people walk away from these events energized and full of hope that they can be a better person, or at least remember 1 of the 7 important things they have heard. They learn 'tips' and 'tricks' on how to be more focused, more congenial, more positive, more everything.

The thing is, none of this positive self-help is news to anyone in the audience - there is nothing revolutionary being said and everyone knows it all ready. For the most part, it's common sense stuff. It's a good reminder of stuff we already know to be true but perhaps aren't acting on.

Whether it's the new infusion of thought, or the 12 coffees consumed during these seminars, people seem to come out of these seminars charged up and ready to change their lives for the better. And, for a couple of days they may even implement some of the philosophy and teachings. But it is soon forgotten because the two things they remembered to do, didn't really make an impact so they stop doing them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to downplay the importance of self-help - it's good stuff, and we all need reminders now and then.

My point is this; these seminars teach many 'tips' and 'tricks' to be a better person, and doing one or two of them really will not make that big of difference in any one person's life - it's when they start doing several or all of these things that you start to see improvement. If you are committed to it and stick to it.

And, folks, that is exactly how marketing works.

Marketing success is the sum of its parts. It's not just doing a newspaper ad, or re-vamping your web site or cleaning up your logo. Everything must be firing on all cylinders if you truly want results. Nothing should be overlooked. Any one part of an automobile is not an automobile - it doesn't take you to point B until everything is is assembled together.

Remember, everything is marketing.

If you truly want to create a memorable or remarkable customer experience everything must be looked at, everything must be on brand and true to your brand motto. For when everything you do and say, reflects the core message or is relevant to your brand, that is when you are really marketing - then it just becomes a game of promoting.

So many companies believe that their logo is their brand. Let me tell you this, people don't interact with your logo, they interact with you or your staff. They go through your web site, hopefully you do a job in immersing them in your brand by giving them a great experience in your store or office. The logo just helps them remember their experience - the logo should reflect the brand and set the expectation, as in all your marketing.

What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) is used a lot in our industry, mostly for printing and proofing. In marketing, you must step back and look at your business through a customers eyes. Their perception is reality. What they see is what they are expecting to get. You set the expectation in many ways, think about what a dirty logo'd vehicle tells people that have never dealt with you. Everyone has seen third rate business cards, the impression and perception formed immediately (first impressions) is that your firm is as crappy as your business card.

Cleaning your company vehicle and getting professional calling cards are not earth shaking ideas. In fact, common sense already told you that these were good ideas before I even told you. But, if you don't implement them they won't help. Now, on their own they are not going to save a company, or increase profits, or double your sales - they are just two little things on a list of hundreds.

The bottom line is, you need to follow through on everything to be better, in life and in marketing.

Remember, marketing is everything.

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