Archive for January, 2013

Subway, Social Media, Bad PR and Recovery

steveparkhurst | January 27, 2013 in Promotional,Television,Visual | Comments (0)

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Subway Logo - The Parkhurst Group

Subway restaurants is learning the cost of gypping a customer. But with their recent humiliation has come a great chance to re-engage with their customers and prove themselves to be a honorable company looking to create happy, satisfied customers.

As you can see from the news story, a disgruntled customer took to the web to show his displeasure with being served a sandwich that was shorter than advertised.

The world’s largest fast-food chain faced widespread criticism last week after a man posted a photo online showing a “Footlong” next to a tape measure that showed it to be just 11 inches. Subway said Friday that it’s redoubling efforts to “ensure consistency and correct length” in all its sandwiches.

The company had already noted last week that bread length could vary when franchisees don’t bake to its exact specifications and that it would reinforce policies to ensure consistency.

In a statement Friday, Subway expressed “regret” for “any instance where we did not fully deliver on our promise to our customers.”

Subway’s response was pretty positive in my mind. They took responsibility and explained their policy, and they explained what might have caused this problem and how they will seek to assure this does not happen again.

Ultimately, this was a softball issue for Subway to handle. Fortunately they did not have to contend with something that could cause a fatality, like rancid meat. You may recall in the early 1990’s, Jack In The Box suffered from their response to instances of E. coli where hundreds of people got sick, and children actually died because of the tainted food. So yes, there are levels of public relations, and then there is the magnification of the issues via media outlets. For Subway, they’ll recover just fine, especially if there is not a recurrence of the shortened bread rip-off.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on the way Subway handled this?

WSJ: How Auto Makers Keep You Coming Back

steveparkhurst | January 23, 2013 in Branding,Marketing,Promotional | Comments (0)

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Wall Street Journal - The Parkhurst Group

The Wall Street Journal has a great article today about customer loyalty, or lack thereof. We have used this blog to talk about branding and loyalty before. We have also used the blog to talk about how it is easier to keep a current or previous customer, as opposed to getting a new customer (a point which this excerpt also points out).

The interesting thing to watch here is what the car makers are doing to attempt to both get new customers and keep current customers. Brand loyalty is one thing with lower priced items like laundry detergent or deodorant. But when you’re talking about something of a higher value like an automobile, that is a whole new ballgame. There are some interesting hooks here

Auto makers are paying close attention to consumer attitudes about sticking with a brand, because loyalty isn’t just an admirable personal virtue to them. It’s money in the bank. That’s something every driver should bear in mind when car shopping or wrangling with a dealer.

The latest R.L. Polk study of brand and vehicle loyalty in the auto industry, released last week, found that 48% of people who bought a car in 2012 bought from the same brand they were already driving. Polk says the three brands with the most loyal customers were Ford, with 61.2% repeat buyers, Mercedes-Benz (57.7%) and Toyota (54.4%).

Reasons for staying loyal can vary. For buyers across the vehicle and price spectrum, the top attributes that inspire a purchase include fuel economy, reliability and pricing, according to consumer research firm J.D. Power and Associates. In the luxury segment, though, the top three criteria include performance, quality of workmanship and exterior styling.

For car makers, it costs far less to sell to a satisfied repeat customer than it does to win one away from a rival brand. Loyal buyers tend to spend more with a brand over time, but analysts say the days when a car dealer could charge loyalists a lot more than a first-time buyer are mostly gone—due to the easy availability of price information.

The article continues:

German luxury car maker BMW AG has for several years offered buyers of new BMWs four years of free maintenance. The deal has an obvious benefit to owners, but it helps BMW and its dealers, too, because, as BMW North America’s executive vice president for operations Peter Miles puts it: “They’ve got to come back.”

Before BMW offered the free maintenance program, only about 42% of customers got service at the dealership. Now, close to 100% do during the first four years. That gives dealers more opportunity to nurture a relationship with customers, and potentially pre-empt any wavering toward, say, Mercedes-Benz.

What are your thoughts on this? Is your brand creating loyalty? If not, what can you do about that? If you do not have this answer, maybe we need to talk.

WSJ: GM Ads Over the Years

steveparkhurst | January 14, 2013 in Advertising,Branding,Marketing,Visual | Comments (0)

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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting post on its website featuring six classic ads from General Motors from 1956 to 2010.

As a baseball fan, I prefer image number 3, but I will admit that for some people this particular ad may not have worked out too well. While I enjoy visuals, that one is just too many images. Add that to the fact that one had to understand the saying about “baseball, a hot dog and apple pie”.

Anyway, take a look and let us know your thoughts.

Starbucks Introduces Reusable Cup

steveparkhurst | January 12, 2013 in Advertising,Green Marketing,Promotional,Visual | Comments (0)

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Starbucks is at it again. Sometimes it seems like Starbucks has so many things going on it is tough to remember what is what. This time the offering is not a new coffee blend or a new brewing system. Their latest promotion has a lot of potential and is doing some good in the meantime.

The new offer is their reusable plastic Starbucks cup. The cup only comes in one size. It comes with a reusable, recyclable plastic lid as well, though the standard Grande lid also fits the cup (this comes in useful if you need to use a stopper). The cup looks like a standard Starbucks cup, complete with the check boxes for your preferences, it is just made of a sturdier plastic.

From a consumer standpoint, this cup pays for itself with your 10th purchase. The cup will set you back $1 initially, but with the 10 cents you save on each purchase, by the 11th visit you are home free.

Starbucks has a history of innovative ideas and trying to do good things, so this is nothing new. This is however, something tangible that a Starbucks customer can actually wrap their heads around. Every time a customer uses this plastic cup instead of a paper cup or two, they can see the number of cups that are keeping out of landfills.

From a marketing standpoint, this should not be a tough sell to a good majority of the Starbucks clientele. One particularly genius aspect they have employed is mentioning “you” as their new partner in reducing cup waste. The store displays are simple, and not very colorful (see the picture below, taken by me). But I would argue the displays are very effective, with a real cup on them, and some artwork on the display itself to demonstrate harmony, or community. If you have seen the display, what were your first thoughts?

Starbucks Reusable - The Parkhurst Group

Do you own one of the reusable cups yet? If not, why not? If so, why was it important for you to buy one?

Nice Rack Surf Ad

steveparkhurst | January 11, 2013 in Advertising,Branding,Marketing,Visual | Comments (0)

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This ad was in a recent issue of Transworld Surf magazine. The maker of these surf board racks was pretty creative on a couple of levels with this ad.

For now, I will just leave this alone and let the visuals and text serve their purpose. But, I want to remind you that keeping your audience in mind when designing your marketing is always smart. Speak the language of your audience, and if you can utilize visuals that save you text, go for it.

As always, we are interesting in working with you if we can be of service. Connect with us and we will go from there.

Nice Rack - The Parkhurst Group

Small Business Marketing Plans For 2013

steveparkhurst | January 9, 2013 in Marketing,Promotional,Small Business | Comments (0)

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AWeber, an email marketing solutions provider, recently polled over 3,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs. You can view the raw data from the polling here. A couple of three really telling questions revealed interesting answers to me. If you are a small business owner looking at 2013, these questions should grab your attention as well.

This first question is not a huge surprise, but sometimes the visual really helps:

AWeber Small Business Survey 2013

As you can see, 68% of your competition is planning to spend more on marketing in 2013. Now we all know that spending more does not mean selling more. All marketing is an investment though, and perhaps these businesses are positioning themselves for a move in the future, or possibly expansion. Do you know what they are up to? Can you afford to sit back and wait?

You can certainly spend foolishly and invest poorly. But you can also make some really good investments, maybe in social media or online advertising. There is no dollar figure attached to these percentages, for a small business owner an “increase” answer to the poll could mean spending $11,000 in 2013 as opposed to $10,000 in 2012.

The next two questions deal with particular outlets (or channels) for marketing:

AWeber Small Business Survey

These numbers are again worth analyzing. I would suggest not looking at these numbers and focusing on just the increases. I find myself intrigued by the “I don’t use this channel” answers. If you will notice on the bottom question, with regard to “print advertising” 61.9% say they don’t use that channel, just as 72.1% say they don’t use “tradeshows”. Those are both sizable numbers, and I think both numbers seem like a drop off, or a decrease in that sort of marketing. This might be the time to ask if “print advertising” or “tradeshows” might be right for you. With both of these channels, you can dominate the market with your marketing.

On the print side, there are now numerous specialty print publications. For instance, many cities have publications that are weekly entertainment and dining listings. If you own a restaurant or bar, these publications may be a great place to run weekly print ads with your upcoming features, great deals or special events. As for trade shows, these can range from gun shows to wedding or floral expos to quilting conventions. Depending on your business, no matter how niche or general you may be, these tradeshows offer you a unique opportunity to interact with a proven target market. Your display needs to be smart and your possible giveaways need to be effective, even if these are just refrigerator magnets or writing pens.

Conversely, hardly anyone does not use email marketing or does not have a business website. If you are using those channels, this is not the time to quit, but it is time to ask what you are doing to rise above the crowd, to really make your business stand out.

We are always here to help, even if it is just offering some advice or guidance. You can engage us here on the blog, tweet us @ParkhurstGroup or fill out our contact form.

Pet Peeve: Improperly Spelled Signage

steveparkhurst | January 7, 2013 in Advertising,Marketing,Pinterest,Visual | Comments (0)

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This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I think this sort of error, whether intentional or not, reflects poorly on any business. I can overlook the mixed use of capital and lower case letters, that’s pretty trendy and lots of people do that in various places. However, using “your” instead of “you’re”, that’s just bad.

Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? Do you have other examples of poorly spelled signage or advertisements? Please share them with us on Twitter or Pinterest.

Your Sign - The Parkhurst Group

New Year’s Weight Loss Commercials

steveparkhurst | January 4, 2013 in Marketing,Promotional,Television,Visual | Comments (0)

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2013 has started, and with it, a full dose of weight loss commercials to help motivate and lure those who made weight loss a new year’s resolution. The companies are all very smart. That doesn’t mean the ads are all very good. But, they’re reminding their audience of their new year’s resolution, and they’re offering their gyms as the solution. This is all very subtle and very timely. I’m seeing more of the commercials than I recall seeing in years past. Can you think of how many different gyms you’ve seen ads for in the last two weeks? As for me, I saw Anytime Fitness and Planet Fitness commercials the most, and I saw them frequently.

In the past, gyms wanted to rope consumers into one-year contracts. That way, if people quit going to the gym in March, it didn’t matter to the gym, as they had already been paid. The new commercials are featuring quite a few month-to-month or just monthly offers. The motivation here is to get customers to come in at least once and see if they will come back again. Hey, it’s a tough economy out there and getting one customer for one month is better than getting no customers at all.

Have you been seeing these commercials? Have any of them motivated you to join a gym? If so, what worked? Leave a comment here or tweet us.

Yoko Ono Runs Full Page Ad In NYT

steveparkhurst | January 3, 2013 in Promotional,Visual | Comments (0)

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Yoko Ono ran a full-page ad in the New York Times on New Year’s Day. You can see the ad below:

Imagine Peace NYT Ad

Original Photo

Talk about minimal wording and a whole lot of white space, this is it. A full-page ad in the New York Times is not cheap. Thoughts of reverse psychology come into play here, perhaps because you would have to expect someone buying a full-page ad would load the page up with words or visuals. Instead, this may be the most white space ever seen in a New York Times ad. There are many elements at work here that may prove effective. The “love, yoko” give the feel of a personal letter. Given the right circumstance, this method of advertising could be right for you.

What are your thoughts on the Yoko Ono ad?

Product Ads And Consumer Reactions

steveparkhurst | January 2, 2013 in Advertising,Branding,Marketing,Promotional,Visual | Comments (0)

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This tweet caught my attention:

It strikes me as funny how sometimes products can have really great advertising, for a product that doesn’t appeal to everyone. In this case, a person who does not like Corona took the time to tweet about their great ads, but also took the time to mention his dislike for the product. Hey, you can’t please one-hundred percent of the people one-hundred percent of the time. Corona may not, and likely won’t, get a new customer here based on this ad, but this tweet is not a total negative.

In this case, at least the person knows what the ad is for. How many times have you seen a great or hilarious ad, but you had no idea who was responsible for it? The worst time for that to happen is with Super Bowl ads, but that’s another post for another day.