Marketing & Branding

Is Pokemon Go just a poke in your eye?

IMG_8154 (1) - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In July of this year -- the world experienced a phenomenon that we are still trying to process. Pokemon Go. The game is already (in less than 2 months) the most downloaded app in iTunes history and the owners (Niantic and Nintendo) are enjoying about a $1.6 million dollar take every single day.

But what does any of this mean to the average business?  We've all read the stories of players falling off cliffs, playing during a funeral and even hunting pokemons at the Holocaust Museum

Is it ridiculous? Is it inappropriate? Sure. I'm not going to make excuses for stupid or insensitive. But it is clear that the game is breaking new ground and has already captured a significant portion of the globe's population. Don't believe me? Go down to the Sculpture Park any time of night or day and you will be amazed at the numbers of people there, all walking the park and capturing pokemons on their smart phones.

In terms of what Pokemon means to businesses and marketing -- there are two distinct camps. Those who do not want people hunting pokemon near their location and those who very much do want that. There are perfectly valid reasons 

I have some advice for both.

If you do not want people playing Pokemon Go on your property/store/location: The question is how do you do this without looking like a curmudgeon who hates fun?  

  • Be nonjudgmental in how you communicate your request that they play somewhere else.
  • Give them suggestions on where else nearby to play/catch pokemons.
  • Provide context as to why you'd rather they not play in your space.

On the flip side, if you'd like to use Pokemon Go to attract people to your business:

  • Create specials. (Show us your pokedex for a discount, discounts for players at a certain level or with a specific Pokemon in the pokedex.)
  • Buy/launch lures at pokestops near your location.
  • Watch for the opportunity to create special events/stops down the road. (The company says they are coming.)
  • Post signs if you're a site that spawns a rare Pokemon or if that is happening nearby.
  • Play along -- join in the conversation and connect with your customers at a different level.

On the one hand, this seems silly, doesn't it? Seriously -- we're planning our communications messages around a game? Maybe it will blow over. (W.when was the last time you heard an Angry Birds mention?) But for now, it's a cultural trend/reality.

Our businesses don't exist in a vacuum and the smartest marketers know to pay attention to what has captured their audience's attention. It's hard to deny that this might matter, at least in the short run.




The marketing landscape is changing

Chart - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

The Economist recently published their report The path to 2020: Marketers seize the customer experience, which tells an interesting tale of changing tides. The survey results identify the top priorities of these chief marketing officers, and while you'd expect to see new customer acquisition (because you always see that one), what is a little more surprising is how prevalent the idea of protecting and strengthening current customer relationships has become.

The report/insights are based on a global survey of almost 500 CMOs and senior marketing executives. Not only did they survey them, they also conducted some in-depth interviews to identify which technologies and customer trends are likely to change marketing organizations in the next year or two.

When all of the data was crunched and analyzed, there were two clear preferred strategies for 2016, which were focusing on customer loyalty and relationships, and also targeting customer acquisition.

Digging a little deeper into the data, we can see that the concept of personalizing the customer experience is gaining ground. In the past, it's been given lip service but it's been awkward to execute, and most organizations don't have the resources or bandwidth to manage it. But with automation software's growth, this has gotten to be much more elegant and easier to pull off, within a reasonable budget.

The 20-page report is free to download and has insights worth considering. 


Stop searching for your Google AdWords

- By Katie Patterson

Google AdWords is a great, flexible advertising tool that allows businesses to display ads on Google and throughout its network by setting a budget and only paying when people click on those ads. It’s largely focused on keywords, and it has proven to be a very effective avenue.

When we set up a new campaign for clients, it is common for them to want to see those ads running or to play around with Google search terms to see if/when their ads pop up. Although there is a natural curiosity to see your ad in real time, this can actually hurt your advertising performance.

Google bids using either automatic or manual bidding. When you set a daily budget and select automatic, Google uses your daily budget to determine your maximum cost per click to get you the most clicks. You also have the option to set the maximum cost per click bid for your ads on your own.

Google bidding works like an auction. When a user searches, Google automatically finds all the advertiser keywords that fit the search in the geographic area; it then determines each ad’s quality score (a combination of bid, ad quality and other factors) to decide which ads to ultimately show with that search. Just because your ad doesn’t “win” the auction and turn up in search results one time, it doesn’t mean it isn’t winning the auction other times.

Your auction bid is dependent on your budget and quality score. Your quality score is determined by things like your current click-through rate, your ad's relevance and the landing page you’ve set for those clicking on your ad. A lower Quality Score means you will be paying more to serve your ad and it will appear lower in the search results page. Searching for your own ad can can cause the Quality Score to lower in two different ways:

  • If your ad comes up and you do not click it, that is an impression that did not get a click, so it will drop that ad's relevancy score, it will drop the click-through rate and therefore it will lower your quality score.
  • If you do click the ad, not only you are being charged for a click but if you leave the page immediately, Google will note this as the ad not being relevant to the search query it populated for and again lower the overall quality score.

Your search also skews search terms data as it will show up in the keyword search terms results page in AdWords. We analyze the search term data that leads to clicks for our clients. If we see multiple similar search terms, we think potential customers are the ones using those queries and use this information to help edit current efforts as well as build future campaigns. There is no way for the media buyer to know those are coming directly from our client’s own searches and could throw off how data is optimized.

Ads may also stop showing for your account or IP address altogether if you are repeatedly searching. When you don’t click, Google marks the ads as irrelevant to you. If you frequently click, Google could mark you as someone intentionally making invalid clicks on specific ads to drive up costs.

You may panic if you don’t see your ad, but this is normal and your searches may just be further preventing it from being served. AdWords works on a daily budget and, using default settings, that budget will be spread out as evenly as possible throughout the day. If you are spending $20 per day and get two clicks at 8 a.m. for $2.52 each, you now only have $14.96 left to spend for the day. This means AdWords will stop bidding with your ads for a few hours in order to spread out the remaining $14.96 throughout the day and your ad won’t pop up when you search for it.

Don’t worry, just because you can’t organically search for your ads, it doesn’t mean you can’t still see them. When you create an ad in AdWords, a sample of what your ad will look like appears.

Additionally, there is an Ad Preview and Diagnostics tool that brings up a sample Google search page interface. You can manually set your location, language and device, and type in any search terms you would like, as often as you want. If your ad is showing up for the term you enter, it will show up on the page in the exact position it would show up in organically, as will the paid and organic search results surrounding it. If it isn’t showing up, Google will provide you with a reason as to why your ad isn’t currently running.

Iowa marketing smarts!

Scrappy - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I know it may seem weird that I am promoting another Iowa agency's work but I'm a firm believer in the idea that there are plenty of fish in the sea and when one of us does something noteworthy -- it raises the reputation of all of us.

That's why I am excited to tell you about two big deals coming out of Brand Driven Digital in Iowa City.  Agency owner Nick Westergaard just released his first book, Get Scrappy, Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small.  It's a pragmatic, fast read filled with ideas you can implement immediately.

It was just released May 16, 2016, so grab a copy before your competitor does.

Brand Driven Digital is also the host of one of the best digital marketing conferences around, Social Brand Forum. Nick and his team have created an event that is big on ideas and networking with very little fluff or ego.  It's really a not-to-be-missed event.

It's September 22-23 and the speaker list includes big names like Jay Baer (Convince and Convert), Joe Pulizzi (Content Marketing Institute) & Gina Dietrich (Arment Dietrich) to name a few.

You can view the schedule here. You can register here. Use promo code MMG to get $100 off either a full or VIP ticket.

The biggest mistake a marketer can make in today's environment is to get behind. Get Scrappy and Social Brand Forum are two ways to make sure that doesn't happen.

Courtesy of your fellow Iowans.  How cool is that?

Be careful - the world is watching

RIlogo - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In March, Rhode Island unveiled a new marketing campaign for the state to encourage tourism, create jobs and help boost the state’s economy. The effort was from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Havas and famed designer Milton Glaser. Unfortunately, it was met with quick and vehement opposition.

The campaign unveiled a new logo and tagline — “Cooler and Warmer.” Residents hated it and quickly mounted a protest. The state probably could have weathered that storm but then the campaign’s core video also came under assault. It turns out that some of the footage trying to encourage people to come to Rhode Island was actually of Iceland. This blunder made national headlines and caused the chief marketing officer for the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to resign because of the situation.

On top of all that — some of the vendors who helped create the campaign will be returning over $100,000.

"It's unacceptable how many mistakes were made in this rollout," Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo reportedly said of the campaign. "We need to hold people accountable because Rhode Islanders deserve better. Taxpayers deserve better, and too many mistakes were made."

Telling the truth has always been a best practice when it comes to marketing but in today’s age of instant fame and instant shame — it’s too risky to do anything else.

You don’t have to falsify something in your marketing to incur the wrath of the Internet. Everyone from McDonalds to Starbucks suffered from the world’s disapproval over the past year.

What does this have to do with you? I think it’s a good reminder of the best practices:

Tell the truth: Don’t cut corners, don’t lie by omission and don’t use assets (photos, videos, infographics, words) that aren’t yours or imply something that isn’t true.

Monitor the web: If you’re out there telling your story, you should also be monitoring what people are saying about your efforts.

Always include outside eyes: In this Forbes article, they outline marketing blunders by the likes of Bud Light and Walmart. Usually by the time you create the marketing materials you have been thinking and talking about them for so long — you’re a little blind about some of the more subtle implications. Show an outsider your campaign before you launch it to see if they see something that you’re no longer able to notice.

In the good old days, when you made a marketing mistake it had a limited exposure and cost. Today, neither of those is limited.  The world is watching and it's a brutal bunch when it comes to truth in advertising.


Trump the brand

Trump - Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

You may not like him, and in fact, you may be afraid of him but you certainly know who he is and what he stands for. He has absolutely dominated the media’s attention and coverage. His voice is always the one you hear and the one everyone is talking about.  

He has behaved incredibly consistently from the get-go and his message has never wavered.  

Again — like him or not, but Donald Trump is teaching a master’s class on brand.  Remember that branding doesn’t have to equal likability.  It’s about memorability.  It’s about differentiating yourself from your competitors so there’s a clear choice and it’s about consistency.  

And Trump has delivered on those in spades.  So regardless of how the election plays out — what can we learn from this spectacle we’ve been watching for the past year?

Branding is for the bold: If you want everyone to like you, you won’t have a brand.  Defining who you are also means declining who you are not. One of the reasons Trump is still here and some others are not is because he was willing to take a very bold stand on issues, knowing that it would cost him some voters but it would also ignite others to support him even more.

Simple, consistent messaging: If you look at Trump's website and rhetoric, he hasn’t put a lot of meat on the bone in terms of how he is going to do the things he is calling for. But he keeps saying the same things over and over. He knows that his audience has a limited attention span and that the media needs to be able to grab snippets of thoughts and sentences. He’s catering to his audiences so that they can parrot back his messaging.

Stepping away from the herd: One of the smartest elements of Trump’s campaign is that he’s effectively trained us to lump all of the other Republican candidates in a group called “not Trump.”  He’s made them all sound very similar and has gone out of his way to remind us, time and time again, how and why he’s different from all of them.

Aligned with his core: If Trump had led a quiet, respectful campaign, we would have been confused. That sort of behavior is not in alignment with his persona, his TV personality from his reality show or his business dealings. He’s always been an opinionated, outspoken, aggressive, confident personality. His political brand matches right up with that and that reassures us that it’s authentically who he is and what he believes.

Certainty: When we buy something — whether it’s our next President or a washing machine, we want to know that the manufacturer has certainty about their product. We want them to be so confident and so sure of what they’re selling that we can be sure of it too. There’s no candidate that is more confident in their own ideas and abilities than Trump. You may hate him but you know he’s not afraid or lacking in confidence in being able to deliver what he talks about. (Whether he really can or not isn’t the issue…)

I’m not advocating Trump for president. But I am suggesting that one of the reasons he’s the frontrunner is because, unlike the other candidates who are trying to appeal to everyone, Trump understands that a good brand is about staking a claim and then letting people be drawn nearer or be repelled…but that there’s nothing good to be gained by not getting noticed.


Hungry for a little innovation?

- Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Innovation is critical to growing our businesses and our economy.  You can't market something if it doesn't solve a problem or meet a need.  And if what you sell is a commodity and lacks innovation -- all you can do is sell on price.

Innovation is so vital to our future that the White House created/updated the Strategy for American Innovation calling for and working towards making our entire country more innovative.

All of that is dandy -- but how do local business owners and leaders infuse innovation into their organizations?  

As we've seen over the past few weeks with the Iowa Caucuses, living in Central Iowa comes with some unique opportunities. Fortunately -- there's one coming up that I think should be on everyone's radar screen.

ciWeek/Celebrate! Innovation™ Week is Feb. 29 – March 4 and provides students and Central Iowans an opportunity to engage with people (some famous, all inspired) who have dreamed, created and accomplished.  It's absolutely free, thanks to the sponsors and is an amazing collection of speakers, experts and innovators. (Check out the presenters here)


It’s a thought-provoking and interactive week hosted each year at DMACC’s West Des Moines Campus, where students of all ages listen, absorb and engage. It’s a local cross between TED Talks and the famous SXSW event held each year in Austin, Texas.

Previous ciWeek presenters have included:
• Two of the 12 men who walked on the moon
• The man considered the father of the personal computer
• Television personalities who focus on science, invention and ideas
• Explorers who have been to the depths of the ocean and the highest mountain peaks
• Engineers developing the growing commercial space industry
• Inventors of incredible animatronics and robotics
• Academy Award-winning visual effects creators and animators

The week-long event focuses on inspiration, which is the drive behind creativity. We see how inspiration impacted the lives of these speakers and how it compelled them to greatness. Their stories are fascinating and have application to all.

Check out the website and see how you and your organization can take advantage of this Central Iowa gem and infuse a little innovation into your organization.

Why your brand should be aspirational

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 1.58.31 PMDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

At MMG we live, breathe and teach branding each and every day. We do that because we genuinely believe in the power of an incredible brand. So any chance I get -- I love to talk brand.

So when I got the chance to talk brand with Nick Westergaard on his really smart (you should be listening to all of them) podcast, On Brand, for an entire show -- I was elated.

We talked about how brands need to come from within the organization and if a company isn't brave enough to live their brand -- inside and out -- then they shouldn't even fake the effort.

We also talked about how to discern your true brand and how to incubate it inside your company until it truly weaves itself into the fabric of your organization's DNA so that every employee knows it should be the foundation of every decision, offering and service delivery.

As you might imagine -- we also chatted about brands that do it well and one brand in particular that has won my heart to the extent that I work for free on their behalf every time I'm there.

I'd love for you to take a listen and then fire away with questions here in the comments section.  And if you haven't already subscribed to Nick's podcast -- you can do so here.


~ Drew

The flawed hero

RudolphDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

As I've been embracing the season with a big dose of Christmas movies, I have noticed an emerging theme.

With every movie -- we cheer for these flawed characters and celebrate when they overcome the odds and learn to be true to themselves. 

We don't discredit their abilities, or assume they aren't capable of achieving great things. In fact, their hearts and their flaws convince us that they're going to try a little harder, care a little more and deliver something remarkable.

There's a marketing lesson in there for us as well. We try so hard to hide our flaws. We mask our mistakes, cover up our worries and will do anything to keep our customers for seeing the human side of our work. I hate to break it to you -- but they know we're human. They know we make mistakes.

And they're ready to forgive us and give us another shot.

Smart marketing and branding is not hiding your humanity but preparing for it. When you mess up and aggravate a Bumble -- you need to apologize in a way that's consistent with your brand

It's when you try to disguise or deny that humanity that you get into trouble.

Remember that great branding is about connecting at an emotional level with our audience. It's tough to connect with perfection. But a flawed hero who will try harder, care more and deliver something remarkable?

That's a brand people want to do business with. So don't be afraid to show you human side.

Be careful where you put your brand

When I was a kid I can remember my mom saying to me "you're judged by who you hang out with so choose your friends carefully." The adult equivalent to that is the advice that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. 

Believe it or not -- it's true for your brand as well. 

The frenzy around the new Star Wars movie is understandable. It's going to be huge and I fully understand the investment Disney has made in creating it. When you combine the hype of the franchise and the clout of the parent company (Disney) -- it's not a surprise that they've got a powerful promotional machine built. I am all for brand extension but come on. Of late -- I have seen:

While I suspect most of you don't manage a brand that rivals Star Wars -- I still think you need to be very careful about how you connect your brand to other products, organizations and services.  

Here are some tips:

The connection should make sense: Let's look at the Star Wars makeup. Not sure how you'd connect the dots on that one. Whether it's a charitable organization or a product extension or an ad campaign -- you need to make sure the connection is obvious to your audience.

It should serve the same audience: When you are thinking about brand extensions, think about the audience of the two separate entities. They should be the same. Otherwise, you're wasting that energy and connection. If your core audience is young moms, aligning yourself with something that is aimed at men 18-24 probably doesn't serve your purposes.  

The other brand should not dwarf yours: Yes, you want to borrow from the esteem of the other brand but you don't want to get lost in their shadow. It's okay to be the smaller fish but you don't want to be a minnow to their whale. 

I'm all for collaborating, partnering and building your brand by aligning with other brands. But do it wisely and don't overdo. Remember why you're making the effort and maximize your time/dollar investment by doing it sparingly and with the right partner.

What's annoying them?


Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In today's world - marketing and customer service have become one. With online reviews, the power of social media referrals or bashing and the new consumer attitude of "I want what I want when I want it" we can't pretend that marketing has no place in customer care anymore.

One tool we often use with clients to help them really map out and improve the customer's journey is to ask "what are we doing today that annoys or frustrates our customers?"  

As you can see by the example to the right, that's what Hertz did. They know that at many of their locations their car pickups are off site and away from the airport. That means you have to take a bus to/from the airport.  

As you can imagine (or you know) that adds time, hassle and headaches to your travel day.

The Hertz folks asked that question and voila, came up with a new offering. And it's a new service that brings in new revenue.

So I'd like to suggest you spend some time asking yourself (or better yet, ask them) what annoys your customers.  Once you figure out that -- how can you fix it to make their experience friction free?

Marketing can be measured in inches not miles

Bigstock-Hand-Pinching-89048759Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

We talk a lot about going the extra mile for a customer but the truth is -- customers notice the inches even more.

Let me give you a recent example.

I own a Hyundai Santa Fe (which is still under warranty) that I bought from the Hyundai dealership that is now owned by Stew Hansen. I noticed that right after I filled up my gas tank, the gas gauge didn't change (it still said -- you have about a mile to drive before your tank is bone dry -- why do you put this off for so long?).

I was in a hurry so I didn't do anything about it but the next morning, my check engine light was on.  The combo of alerts had me concerned enough that I called the dealership's service center.

A perfectly polite and friendly service tech heard me out and then told me he couldn't get me in for five days.  I said, "so you are saying it's safe for me to drive for five days with this check engine light on?"

His reply was "Oh no, that light could be on for about 500 different reasons.  I can't promise you it's safe to drive."

I asked again, given that fact, if there wasn't anything they could do to get me in earlier.  He put me on hold so he could ask a supervisor and came back with a no.

My next call was to the guys at Iowa Auto in Urbandale, where I have all the rest of my family cars serviced, and I explained my issue.  The guy I talked to said, "we couldn't fit you in today to fix it, but swing by and I will at least hook it up to the computer to make sure it's safe for you to drive. It won't take more than five minutes and then at least we'll know if it's safe or not."

I swung by and 10 minutes later, I knew I was fine to drive. 

Did the Hyundai service guy do anything wrong? Not really. But he also didn't go out of his way to do anything right. He made it clear that he didn't really care if it was safe for me to drive or not. I'm pretty sure he has the same (if not better) computer gizmo that the Iowa Auto guys used to verify my safety.

Did the Iowa Auto folks offer to fix my truck for free? Nope. Did they offer to squeeze me in that day?  Nope. They simply went the extra inch.

And that's all it took to remind me why I have given them so much money over the years. It was another story I can tell about them when I refer people to them and it's why I wouldn't think of taking my vehicles anywhere else.

That's a lot of mileage from a single inch.


Dear Volkswagen

VWlogoDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In case you missed it -- VW is in trouble. Here's a rundown of what happened and what I would tell them to do, if they asked:

Volkswagen is facing huge fines, its reputation is in tatters, and now CEO Martin Winterkorn has stepped down.

The company cheated diesel emissions tests in the U.S. for seven years.

It did so through a nifty piece of software that could identify when the car was being tested and reduce harmful exhaust so it looked as if the car met requirements, when in fact it did not.

Volkswagen was caught by independent testing carried out by a clean-air advocacy group, The International Council on Clean Transportation, which, ironically, tested the cars because it thought they were such a great example of how diesel could be a clean fuel.

The company originally disputed the test results, "citing various technical issues," but it implements a voluntary recall of nearly 500,000 cars to put in a software patch it says will fix the issue.

On September 3, VW finally confesses the fraud to the EPA and CARB and admits gaming the emission tests. When the market opens the following Monday, VW stock plunges over 20 percent and Volkswagen experiences its biggest one-day drop in six years as a potentially huge fine to the company spooks investors.

A day later, Volkswagen admits that the issue is far more widespread, saying it could affect 11 million cars. Once again, the shares go into meltdown, and another 20 percent is wiped off the value of the company. 

Volkswagen issued a profit warning setting aside €6.5 billion to "cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers." It adds: "Discrepancies relate to vehicles with Type EA 189 engines, involving some 11 million vehicles worldwide."

So to say they're in trouble is a bit of an understatement. So here's my letter to the VW leadership:

Dear VW leaders,

The good news is -- there's no way but up. Many companies have survived this sort of corporate deceit. But what you do next will make or break you. Here's my recipe for your survival.

Identify a spokesperson who is believable and likable: This needs to be someone from your senior ranks who can convey not only your regret but your concern for the harm that your fraud has potentially caused.

"No comment," evasion and half-truths are off the table: Your only hope is to be as honest, straightforward and remorseful as possible. Your spokesperson has to be told the whole truth and they have to be encouraged to share it -- no matter how bad the truth may be. Proactively tell us the bad news. Do not wait for it to be discovered.

Be ready to over-share for a very long time: When you get caught lying you lose the right to your privacy and your secrets. We get to know it all or you have to decide you want out of the equation. And we don't want to have to ask -- you have to just offer up more information than you believe we have a right to know.

Turn this into something good: Fortunately for you, the world loves a redeemed sinner. So you need to decide how you're going to demonstrate that you're not only sorry you got caught but how it's changed you. How will you use this incident to make the world a better place?

Stay very visible: Whenever we can't see you, we assume you're up to no good. Stay in the media. Keep us over-informed. Do not go dark or silent. You want to be so visible that we actually get sick of hearing from you. 

Take it on the chin. Over and over: You are going to be raked over the coals by the media, in social media and by your customers. Let them vent. Hear their anger and disappointment. Apologize. Again. And tell them how you are going to make it better. For as long as it takes.

Remind us that you're good but just made a bad choice: Reconnect us with your brand and all the good it has done. Connect us with the happy memories of your iconic vehicles and how we felt about being your customer. Don't let this mistake become your brand. 

There's no shortcuts, no easy way out and no glossing over this. You need to just gut it out and let your new choices, behavior and habits re-earn our trust over time.  Lean on the brand equity you've earned but realize that its foundation is very weak right now.

Other brands have survived worse. But you have very little of the consumer's grace left. Be the brand they want to believe that you are -- every day in every way and be patient.

This is going to take awhile.


Great digital marketing conference - right in your backyard!

Screenshot 2015-09-02 02.25.26

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

In most cases, if you want to attend a marketing conference packed with nationally recognized speakers, cutting edge content and awesome opportunities to network -- you have to hop on a plane. 

But this time -- all you have to do is hop in the car for a short jaunt over to Iowa City. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity.

The Social Brand Forum, one of the nation’s premier digital marketing events, brings the best and brightest thought leaders to the heart of the heartland Oct. 15-16 for two days of insightful keynotes and interactive discussions.

This event is designed to help marketers at organizations large and small build better brands online through digital content, conversations, and community.

The list of speakers is impressive but what you'll love most of all is the level of conversation you have with the other attendees. You'll be impressed with how savvy your fellow Iowa marketers are and you'll make some cool new connections, I promise.

I highly recommend this conference and in fact, I want to make it easier for you to go.  Use the discount code drewsfriend (all one word) and enjoy $100 off your registration. 

But don't wait too long -- this event sells out every year. And rightly so, it's that good.

P.S.  I have nothing to do with this conference other than to cheer on the organizers, attend the event and offer to help however I can. 

Marketing doesn't have to be rocket science

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Marketing gets more and more complicated every day. There's tools and science around tactics like marketing automation, drip sequences, digital personas, audience segmentation and the like.

All of that is very important and you need to understand it/leverage it for your business.  But sometimes -- marketing is just wearing your heart on your sleeve and communicating to the world that you're excited to help them with your expertise.

I flew back home this week and was struck by the messages sent by Southwest Airlines (their lost baggage counter) versus the big three (United, American and Delta).

Lost luggage counter at Southwest Airlines


Lost luggage counter for Delta, United & American

If you lost your luggage and had to approach one of these counters, which one would you feel a little better/more hopeful about approaching?  Which employee would you expect would greet you warmly and do everything they could to help you?

Amazing, isn't it? All of that emotion/commitment to customer and customer love was communicated to us through some inflatable pool toys and $1 flip flops.

How could you (for less than $100 by Southwest's example) visually shout out to the world that you're excited to be of service?

How do you wear your heart on your sleeve so customers and prospects KNOW that you're passionate about serving them?

I believe every business can do this through their bricks and mortar presence, the way their phone is answered, the front page message on their website etc. But I also believe that 95 percent of businesses never give it a thought.

You can see the difference when one company does and the other in the market do not. Challenge yourself to be one of the few.

If you create content or talk about brands online, you disclose -- no, ifs ands or buts

FTC-Disclosure-Flow-Chart-400Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

A few years ago the FTC came out with some very specific language aimed primarily at bloggers who were endorsing, reviewing or talking about other companies and their products and/or services.

But today -- with so many companies creating content, sharing reviews, reaching out to influencers to get them to endorse products and the like -- the rule pertains to just about everyone who posts anything online from a Facebook status update to a travel blogger who reviews high-end spas.

Last month the FTC updated its “What People are Asking” PDF document to answer some of the more common questions and be very clear that they're not happy with some of the ways that  brands, bloggers and influencers have been dealing with endorsements, sponsored content and the like.

Bottom line -- the FTC is getting serious and basically is saying, "enough of the wrist slaps.  It's time to issue penalties, fines and fees."

Here's a quick look at some of the rules that probably impact you.

Clarity: You need to be crystal clear about your relationship with the company/product. You can't hint around -- if you received some compensation, from a free sample to a trip to tour the plant -- you must share that clearly in your content. No matter how small the consideration (a coupon, a mention on their blog of you/your product etc.) -- be safe and disclose.

No connection = no disclosure: If you bought the product or tried the service on your own just because you wanted to -- you don't need to say a word.  

Videos require more: Here's a special reminder if you are talking about a company, product or service in a video. Your disclosure must come at the front end of the video. And that disclosure needs to be included in both the video and the written description.

Break ups don't absolve you: Former relationships count too. Even if they are no longer a client or the sponsorship has ended -- you have to declare it. Or if you're doing a series -- you can't just include the disclosure on the first piece. It has to be included in every one.

No secret clients: When you or your employees post on social sites about a client or vendor -- you must disclose the relationship, even if you didn't get asked or compensated for talking about them.

To keep yourself safe -- just go out of your way to always tell the whole story. Ask yourself before you (or your teammate) posts anything -- do we have any sort of relationship with this company that isn't very evident in what we've written. If there's any doubt -- disclose.

You don't want to be the one writing the "what I learned from FTC prison" post!

Graphic from Kerry O'Shea Gorgone (and you can read her thoughts on the topic at the link as well)

Don't use the "L" word in your marketing


Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group 

    Luxury Market Faces a Drought in the USA as Affluents Choose Conscious Consumption, rather than Conspicuous Brands, according to Marketing in New Luxury Style in 2015: What Affluents Buy, How They Spend, Where They Shop & How They Feel about their Wealth & Finances. 

    In plain English — there’s a whole new trend in how people buy what might be perceived as luxury items. Today, people still want high-quality brands, but they aren’t willing to pay a premium any more.

    The recession has passed but for people with affluence, the values/behaviors that were triggered during the recession seem to have taken hold. Which is spelling trouble for luxury brands that have been hoping the market would rebound. That's not likely.

    In Unity Marketing’s latest survey among high-income consumers (who had an average income of more than $250K), affluent consumers demonstrated a definite increase in their consumer confidence but that was paired with a spending decline of 26.5 percent from the previous quarter.

    In the good old days as people felt wealthier, they tended to spend more money on consumer goods and services. But today a very different trend is taking hold. With people still stinging from the effects of the recession and the damage it did to their investments and home values, the affluent are sticking with their recession spending hold even though their wealth is holding steady or back on the increase.

    So what is a marketer to do? 

    You have to find the balance between demonstrating your product/service’s high quality but without giving it “the luxury stink.”  Talk about the value of what you offer, how long it will last, the importance of buying smart, etc. But do not use the “L” word. 

    Here’s another aspect of this new trend. The affluent are a little embarrassed that they’re affluent. They don’t want to flaunt it the way they might have enjoyed in the past.  Suddenly, it’s embarrassing if you’re well off.  

    So again, in your marketing — you have to emphasize the intelligence and practicality of the buy rather than spotlighting the exclusivity of the purchase.

    As the report states: “conspicuous consumption has turned to conscientious consumption in a new style of luxury.”



Everyone is and needs to be creative

CreativeversusStrategyDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I don't care what you do for a living, it requires a level of creativity. Lawyer, stay at home dad, mechanic, ad guy, marketing director, teller or veterinarian.  

Every professional needs fresh thinking, new ideas and the ability to see things a little differently.

Want to boost your ability to connect the dots for a whole new picture?  Check out the Iowa Creativity Summit on May 28th.

Registration includes:

  • Workshop
  • Collaboration Exercise 
  • Notebook
  • Name badge
  • Hors Devours + cash bar
  • New friends

Session 1: keynote / workshop with Nancy Lyons 
Nancy Lyons founded Clockwork in Minneapolis. Under her leadership, Clockwork has received more than 16 “Best Workplace” awards. Clockwork has also won the Psychologically Healthy Workplace and Best Women Owned Business awards. Nancy speaks all over the place including the inaugural White House Summit for Working Families in Washington, DC. Watch the NBC Nightly News Feature on Clockwork or read Nancy’s full bio.

Session 2: Creativity Collaboration Exercise
Tap the diverse, creative brain power of every attendee in a way you’ve never experienced. Have others solve your biggest challenges or solve someone else challenges. Questions are gathered anonymously and are then fielded to our “flash panel” assembled on the spot per question. Ask questions, be on the answering panel or do both.

It's being held at Sussman Auditorium, Olmsted Center, Drake University, 2875 University Ave., Des Moines.

If you'd like to goose your creativity -- register and soak it up!

Retargeting does not mean rinse and repeat

Accurate_nicheDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

If you own a computer and have ever been on the internet, you've seen retargeting at work.  When you visit a website a cookie can be placed on your browser that allows ad 'bots to follow you around the internet and serve up ads related to that site you visited.

Here's an example of how it works. I visit to make arrangements for my next Disney World trip.

Then, later that day or week, I go to and voila there in the sidebar is an ad for Disney Parks. How weird is it that CNN just "knew" I loved Disney and was planning a trip?

Back when retargeting was new -- we were all sort of astonished at how this worked but today, we don't even bat an eye because it is so commonplace.  Sadly -- doing it well is not so common.

Here are some of the usual mistakes:

  • We repeat the same content that was on the website itself
  • We don't change the ads often enough so we are bombarding people with the same message over and over again
  • We don't offer anything new to drive the audience to click/take some action
  • We think marketing, not sales so we don't package any offers, discounts or bundled opportunities

Want your retargeting to deliver prospects and move them a step further in your sales funnel? Why not offer:

  • Free content that will make them smarter (ebook, podcast, etc.)
  • Coupons, discount codes etc.
  • Special add ons or upgrades if they buy via a click on the ad
  • Emphasize scarcity or a time sensitive offer

Retargeting is a really cost effective, efficient marketing tool. But only if used well.'s a little like that pesky mosquito that buzzes around your ear. And we all know what we do to those pests!

What you stand for matters


Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I'm a pretty low maintenance guy. My idea of a good shampoo was whichever one was on sale for a dollar. So why did I drop $6 on a bottle of Dove Men+ Care and spent twice as much as I normally would for some shaving gel?

Because I believe in what Dove's trying to do and I wanted to support their efforts.

Cause marketing has been around for decades but social media has breathed new life into the strategy.

Today, a brand stand truly stand for something and if they've built a community of consumers, they can quickly ignite that community to join them in their fight/cause.

Dove is doing it better than most -- and as their "Real Beauty" campaign turns 10, it's had a huge impact on every aspect of their business.

Ten years after the campaign started, the Campaign For Real Beauty is one of marketing's most talked-about success stories. The campaign has grown from just billboards to television ads and online videos. Their 2006 video, "Evolution," went viral and Dove's 2013 spot "Real Beauty Sketches," which shows women describing their appearances to a forensic sketch artist, became the most-watched video ad of all time.

What's interesting about the Dove campaign is that its had impact far beyond their target audience of women 25+.  I'm a perfect example. As a father of a young adult daughter, I find their work important and I hate the idea that my daughter or any woman can't see their real beauty because of our society's beliefs and air brushed realities.

I think the reason why Dove' campaign has been so successful is that it was borne out of market research Dove's agency did. It wasn't something they assumed they knew or a short term gimmick.  It was a tough truth worth telling and so it resonated with their core audience.

So the question is -- what tough truth or challenging reality could link what you do with your core audience? And are you brave enough to take it on?

If you follow in Dove's footprints, your willingness to take a stand might also ring the register.


Breaking a brand

April 1 fell on a Wednesday this year. What does a guy who has built his brand on wearing a bow tie 6 days a week, especially on “Bow Tie Wednesday”, do when April Fool’s day falls on Wednesday?

He wears a regular necktie of course.

I woke up that morning and realized that it had been well over two years since the last time I wore a regular tie for an entire day.

I dug deep in the back of my closet, found a tie, pulled up a YouTube video to relearn how to tie it (yes, I had completely forgotten how to tie a necktie), and after some fumbling, got the thing around my neck with a decent looking knot.  In my mind it was just another fun and silly April Fool’s joke.

I quickly realized how much I was underestimating the impact my decision would make. 

My oldest daughter came out of her room, a sleepy haze still in her eyes, and gave me her usual morning smile. Then her expression changed.  She rubbed her eyes and blinked a couple times.

Tears started to well up as she choked out the words, “Daddy, what’s wrong? Where’s your bow tie?”  And the water works took over. I had to take off the tie just to get out of the house that morning. I brushed it off as an over the top reaction from a sensitive four-year-old who has no recollection of her dad in anything but a bow tie. Then I walked into Panera for a cup of coffee.

Barb Breeser, a good friend and mentor, was sitting in a side booth waiting for her first meeting of the day. I rounded the corner and greeted her. Her usual smile quickly disappeared as she noticed the tie.

“What are you doing?” she asked, the tone indicating the shock that had overcome her.  I explained my April Fool’s day ruse.

She grabbed her phone and asked if she could take a picture for Facebook.  I can still hear her words, “This is genius Danny.  It’s going to blow up, just wait and see.”  She posted the picture and my feed immediately began to react. 

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 9.07.57 AM

Reactions varied from anger, to surprise, to shock, to everything in between. A couple people asked if this was a sign of the approaching Armageddon.  Others, who realized what day it was, congratulated me on a job well done.  But it didn’t stop with social media.

People reacted everywhere I went that day, during meetings, on the street, and in my office. The necktie was so far from what people usually expected to see that they had to call me on it. 

This is the power of your personal brand and the expectations you set. We all have a personal brand thanks to the power of technology and communication. Once that brand has been established, through consistent behavior and creating perceptions, it’s very hard to go against it.

People get upset when they see a change or something that counters the established brand. They question it and try to justify the change. They are not afraid to voice their concerns and demand action be taken to rectify the conflict the change creates. 

This is why it is so essential to really think about the message you are conveying, and how it relates to your brand, whenever you’re engaging with people. 

The other insight I took from wearing a regular tie for a day is that changing a brand is hard.

Really hard. It’s uncomfortable and, at times, annoying. The tie kept getting in my way. 

It fell in my lunch plate, sat awkwardly on my desk while I was working, and got caught in my coat zipper. By the end of the day I just wanted to take the thing off because I was tired of dealing with the hassle. I walked in my house that night, tie undone, and vowed that it would be a long time before I ever wore a neck tie again. 

The next morning I put on my normal bow tie. My daughter smiled and hugged me.  “Welcome back daddy, I like your bow tie.”  Next time, I’ll give her reaction a little more consideration. 

B&W Headshot- Danny Beyer is the Director of Salss and Marketing for Kabel Business Services and author of The Ties that Bind:  Networking with StyleHe is also a professional speaker on networking.

How are your customers trying to reach you?

TweetDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Like much of central Iowa last week -- I was away on Spring Break. Our trip had a rocky start, to say the least. We get off the plane in Jamaica and head to the Sandals desk, assuming they're going to help us identify the bus that will take us to our selected resort so the fun can begin.

Instead, when we get to the desk we're told that they oversold our resort (the family one) and instead, we're going to be staying at the Couples Only resort.  

Now, when you're a dad who is traveling with his daughter and her boyfriend -- this is the definition of awkward.

They grab our luggage and put us on a van. Now what?

We're in a foreign country, in a moving vehicle, heading for a resort I do not want us at, I don't have the resort's phone number and I need some help sorting this mess out. And I don't really want to wait until we get to the wrong resort.

Fortunately -- the van has wifi. So I search for the Sandals twitter account and send them a couple tweets -- saying I am very unhappy about how this customer service issue is being handled.  

Voila....I get a tweet back, asking me to DM them.  (Which was smart -- demonstrate to everyone who is watching that you're listening but then move the complaint offline or to a more private venue).

Within a few tweets, the general manager has been alerted and will be waiting for me when we get off the van.

The story has a happy ending.  We're at the resort we originally booked and the weather and ocean are gorgeous... so all is well.

But, my story raises the question -- how are your customers reaching out to you and are you listening for them?  Sandals was clearly monitoring their account/Twitter and very quickly defused a problem.  

But so many organizations look at vehicles like Twitter and Facebook as a broadcast medium. They put their information out there like they're shouting through a bullhorn. But they don't bother to listen to see if anyone is talking back.

That's a dangerous practice. You need to be monitoring any social channels you're on in real time (you don't have to sit in front of your computer -- just use one of the many monitoring tools that send updates to your phone) so that when your customers use those tools to get your attention -- you're actually paying attention.

It used to be that if a customer had a question or complaint, they either sent a letter or called. Then, we added websites and suddenly they could communicate to us through contact forms or email addresses.  And now -- there's social channels.

When someone is having trouble -- they're going to use whichever tool they think will get the swiftest response from you. Which is why social is a natural choice. 

So what do you think it says to them if you're not listening.

What's your new business plan for today?

FoxHuntDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Most businesses really gear up their sales/new client hunt about the time their biggest client walks out the door. 

There’s a dangerous place for any business.  It’s called – just fine. That sense of complacency when things are good can lull a business leader into thinking that the “just fine” that exists today is a permanent condition. 

Which of course, it is not.

One of the fallouts from the recession is that decision makers (whether it’s a mom or a procurement officer) are saying yes much more slowly. We exist in a tentative world right now. Whatever your normal sales cycle – you’re probably experiencing at least a 25-40% delay in closing the deal.  All the more reason for every business out there to be trying to front load the sales funnel long before their sales start to slip. 

I can hear you now – but we network like crazy and we get lots of referrals.  All of that is great. And you should keep doing it. But it won’t be enough.  Most businesses grossly underestimate what it actually takes to get a client.

Sales and marketing are numbers games. But most businesses never bother to run the numbers. You need to understand your own sales cycle. How many presentations or inquiries do you need to move people to being a hot prospect?  What is your close rate?  How many months does it take to move someone from interesting to the point of purchase?

It will matter if your product or service is $10 or $10,000. Another factor would be the longevity of your product. Do I need one every week or every decade? Do you sell a niche product? Are you the market leader?

Regardless of the variables – I’m hoping the point hasn’t been lost. Even if the above equation isn’t precise, it does illustrate that you need to be chasing new business every day.

Even on the days you don’t need it.  That’s the only way it will be there on the days that you do.

Superbowl -- oh, is there a football game too?

SuperBowlXLIXLogoDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Sure, sure....those Seahawks played a great game and as always the Patriots will be tough to beat.  And who isn't excited to watch Idina Menzel sing the national anthem or Katy Perry shake up the halftime show?

But the real talk of the upcoming Superbowl is, as always, the commercials.

Companies spend millions, between the media buy and production, for a :30 second appearance and the national spotlight. Is it worth it?

In 2014, a 30-second spot was an staggering $4 million and if you wanted a full 60-second spot  -- make the check for $8 million. And then there's the cost of actually making the spot. Most Super Bowl spots cost between $1-3 million to make, although some thrifty advertisers came in under that.

Now add in the public's quick and critical reaction and the odds that in an effort to be funny your spot won't really be about driving sales.... and voila, a marketing mistake in the making?

As with all marketing questions, the answer is -- it depends. Many brands (Skechers, Audi, etc.) have seen double digit sales growth that was sparked by their Super Bowl spots. Other brands, like Bud, have become a game day staple, both at the parties and with their commercials.  For them, it's viewed as both a thank you for all that beer you've got in the fridge and a tradition.

For us -- they're entertainment to be enjoyed and shared. (Imagine the value of a popular Super Bowl spot today with social media versus 15 years ago).

To get your pump primed for the big game -- check out these Super Bowl classics.

Best animal Super Bowl commercials

Best animaled Super Bowl commercials

Most memorable Super Bowl commercials

Most expensive Super Bowl commercials

Best Super Bowl commercials of all time

You can watch all of the Super Bowls ads as they're released here.  Or you can wait until game day!

Oh yeah...and go Seahawks!

The entertainment factor isn't enough

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

We all love funny advertising.  Heck -- it's why have the country watches the Super Bowl. Surprisingly -- one of the companies that has produced some very memorable TV ads over the past couple years is Kmart.  

Based on their category and their financial woes, you wouldn't really expect Kmart to be all that funny, but's definitely been their goal.  Who can forget the infamous Ship My Pants spots?

Last Christmas, they brought us the Show Your Joe spot, which had boxer clad men ringing in the holiday cheer.  These spots have earned Kmart a lot of public exposure and conversation because while some think they're funny, others find them offensive.  

This year, Kmart continued the Joe Boxer spots with Jingle Bellies (below) and Santa Baby.


The spots are memborable, funny/offensive depending on your take, and clearly promoting a specific product.  But do they work?

"I want to be in the conversation," says Diane Vaccaro, chief marketing officer at Kmart Apparel. "I want to be part of the conversation in a disruptive and authentic way."

Last year's controversial spot "forced folks to consider Kmart," says Vaccaro. "A number told us that they hadn't been in Kmart for years but the ad made them go back. We struck a chord."

Most importantly, it boosted the store's Joe Boxer sales last year. Now the question is -- will it work again this year?  Kmart has had a terrible year and needs a huge uptick over the holiday season to try to balance those results.

These spots are a huge risk for Kmart...but if the results begin to heal their financial woes, it was a risk worth taking.

Here's the real (and only) question. Would these spots change your buying patterns?  Would you go to Kmart because of them?  If your answer is yes -- they win. If you're answer is no, then they just paid millions of dollars to make a non-customer laugh.

We market to sell.  That's it -- the only measure that truly matters is did the cash register ring.


Does your 2015 plan take the social compass into account?

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I'm hoping that you've started on your 2015 marketing plan. Brian Solis created a very interesting infographic to help marketers think through their communications strategy from a very different perspective.  

As Brian said on his own blog, "Inspired by a moral compass, The Social Compass serves as our value system when defining our program activities. It points a brand in a physical and experiential direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers, where they interact and seek guidance online.

It was designed to guide us from the center outward. However, it can also impact how a business learns and adapts by reversing the process and listening to customers and influencers through each channel from the outside in."

Take a look at the infographic he created and use it to identify holes or missing pieces in your own plan for the upcoming year. While it's called a social marketing compass, it actually includes both on and offline elements.

This would also be a great tool to stimulate a brainstorming session for you and your team.




Make them run away, screaming

IdontwanttoeatthatDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

We each have one.  That one food that even if we just get a whiff of it, it turns your stomach.  

We can't help ourselves -- if we see it, smell it or even hear someone talking about it -- we make that scrunched up face.

You know the face I'm talking about.

Hold that thought for a minute.  Now... I want you to think of the client/customer that you could never make happy.  They were always complaining about something, disrespecting your team or having you do it over.  Again.

Those are the kinds of clients who suck the life out of us.  Who make us regret our career decision and wish we'd opted for something less stressful, like bull fighting.  

Those are the kinds of clients we need to repel in 2015.  We want them to make that run from us.  Why?  Besides their general unpleasantness, a bad fit customer costs you:

  • Time (They require so much hand holding, do over time, etc.)
  • Money (We are probably paying for the privilege of working for them, because they're such a pain)
  • Employees (our best ones will leave, not being willing to tolerate that sort of behavior/attitude)
  • Sleep/Peace of mind (W're always waiting for the other shoe to drop)
  • Our good customers (because we're so busy with the bad ones, we neglect the good ones)

So what can you do to repel them in 2015? 

I want you to think of the most effective marketing tool that you have.  Your website? An ad in a trade pub? A radio spot?  It doesn't matter what it is -- just that you have one.

Now, I want you to modify that marketing tool by writing and designing it in a way that would totally turn off that bad client.  Make every word and visual emphasize something they would hate. Now - actually use it.

Why?  You're going to kill two birds with one stone.  First, it will repel those bad fit customers who drain your organization of all your mojo.  Second, it will help you attact the absolute opposite of your worst customer -- your best fit customer.

Marketing materials are often too generic, too "all things are possible" because the creator doesn't want to offend or turn off anyone.  I think that's crazy. You want your marketing to offend those who aren't a great fit.  You want your marketing to clearly spell out what value you deliver and what matters to you. And you want your marketing to push away those prospects that you could never make happy to begin with.

Go on, give it a try.  Write an absoltutely repulsive ad and see what it attracts!


~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Negative political ads - do they work?


Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I don't know about you, but I am about ready to abandon TV for the next few weeks.  It's Netflix and DVDs for me until November 5th.

I’ve yet to hear anyone say “man, I sure love political ads,” as they watch the fourth spot in a row. In Iowa, we get more than our fair share of political ads so we know all too well how negative they are. If the race is tight — they’re ugly. If the candidate is behind in the polls by double digits — they’re nasty. As the election grows closer — they're vicious. And no matter what -- they're painfully plentiful.

So if we all react so badly to them, why do all of the candidates use these tactics? Odds are, considering the millions of dollars spent — it’s because they work. In fact, Kantar Media CMAG found spending on negative ads outpaced spending on positive ads 15-1 since 2010.

They do work but only in specific ways. They don’t get non voters to vote. They don’t change the opinion of someone who has already strongly aligned with a candidate. But they do influence voters with weak or no allegiance to a specific candidate.

Negative ads trigger an emotional response from us, especially if the topic is a hot button issue for the viewer. When someone sees an ad that frightens them, they get worried. As they worry, they start to investigate to see if the allegations are true.

The ads stir up the margins…the people who are undecided or a little wishy-washy in their decision about who should get their vote. Today, because most races are reasonably tight — influencing a few might make a difference.

It’s also why most negative ads are squarely aimed at emotionally charged issues. They want us to see red and to have a visceral reaction.

“One reason that negative messages are so compelling is that we are emotional creatures, wired to pay attention to harmful information,” said Joel Weinberger, a psychologist at Adelphi University in New York and owner of Implicit Strategies, a consulting firm that investigates unconscious influences on behavior. "Think of our ancestors on the African savannah," he said. "If you miss a leopard, it's over for you. If you miss a deer, oh well, you're hungry. People are more focused on negative information. People stop for a car wreck, but there are no traffic jams for beautiful flowers."

"In negative ads, they make a narrative for you that is supposed to brand the person," he added. "People say, 'I hate negative ads, they do nothing for me,' while unconsciously processing them. Emotion trumps cognition."

I think the escalation is partially our fault. Look at your Facebook feed or listen to your friends talk politics. We're just as bad as the candidates, only probably less informed.  It's probbly a chicken and an egg situation -- but we are just fanning the flames.

Sadly this has been a problem for a long time, as the CNN video above proves out.

Until we as a state and ultimately, as a country, demand that we, our family and friends and the politicians stick to the issues and their plans for making things better and do it with a civil tongue, showing their opponent and their constituents some respect --  nothing is going to change.

Until then, thank goodness for Netflix.


DrewTop Dog at McLellan Marketing Group


How do you talk to your employees?

Treasure-Map_optDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Do you know where you want your company to be in five years?  If I asked you to describe it in detail -- could you?

(If you can't -- you need to spend a little time creating that vision.  Read this Inc. article for the 8 steps to get it done)

Let's assume that you've already done that work and you have a clear picture in your head.  How often do you get it out of your own head and share it with your team?

Every day you ask them to work hard. Do they understand why and what your ultimate destination is?  

You don't get to a five year destination without stopping along the way. Do they even understand the journey itself?  That this year's goals get you a little closer to that big, hairy, audacious goal that you've set?

Business owners and leaders need to remember that they can't be the only keeper of the vision. The truth is -- you can't get there without your team, whether you have five employees or 500.  And to help you get there -- they need to be constantly reminded.  You can't just tell them once and then assume they'll keep it top of mind.

Like you -- your team has plenty on their plate and it's tough to keep the big picture front and center.  That's your job. You need to find ways to get your crew excited about where you're going.  You need to create milestones for them to shoot for and celebrations for when they do.

Your job -- your responsibility is to be both aspirational and inspirational.  I know you have to spend a lot of your day just getting the work done.  But make sure that's not the only thing you're talking to them about.

Why not schedule an all company meeting to remind them where you're heading and why it matters?

~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group



Brand versus branding

DisneyBrandsDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I attended the Disney Institute's workshop (thanks to the local chapter of the Association of Talent Development for bringing it here) this week and there were a lot of takeaways as we talked about how one of the world's most iconic and profitable brands does business. 

Looking at the graphic to the right, considering all of the incredible brands that are under the Disney Companies umbrella -- they know a thing or two about the subject.

One of the great disctinctions that they talked about was the difference between brand and branding.  Here's how they described it:

Brand is the perceptions and substantive experience that consumers have with your company, product, service or people.

Branding is the activities and tactics you undertake to affect the stories, experiences, and perceptions that consumers have with your company, product, service or people.

In other words -- brand is what you and your team bring to life every day.  The other is how you communicate the promise of what that experience will be like.  Sadly, what most organizations do is branding.  But they don't invest the time and resources into making sure that the brand actually matches the branding.

When that doesn't happen (think of all the times you'd have bad or mediocre service from a company who promised you were their #1 priority) to the consumer, it feels like you've been lying to them and worse -- they were a fool for believing you.

One of the key elements in gaining/keeping someone's trust is making a promise and repeatedly keeping that promise. That's what initially gets you a new customer and eventually turns that customer into a brand zealot.

Undrstanding the symbiosis of brand and branding and doing whatever needs to be done (training, secret shopping, employee rewards based on customer satisfaction, etc.) to make sure that the brand experience lives up to the promise is what allows Disney, Apple and Harley Davidson to all charge a premium.

We'll pay more for the brands we love because they keep their promises to us.

I challenge all of you to look at what you promise and make sure it's actually what you consistently deliver.  If not -- it's time to invest in that brand.


DrewTop Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

It should convert or why bother?

SalesFunnel_optDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

It's not very often that I disagree with Seth Godin. But in his blog post on Friday, he was talking about websites and said "but don't beat yourself up that it's not converting. By real-life definitions, nothing online converts."

Boy, when Seth gets it wrong, he gets it really wrong. One of the best things about the web is it's measurable.  Finally -- we marketing types can measure our work and can tell what's working and what isn't.  

We can literally calculate the sales results based on a simple equation and then triggering certain marketing tactics that influence those results.

Whether you actually sell something online or not -- your website can and should lead to sales.  You just have to understand how people move through your sales cycle and then build the site to be sales funnel shaped... making it easy for people to find the information they need to make a purchase.

Now -- there are some exceptions to this rule.  Some people, consciously or not, have decided they don't want their site to sell.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this decision. It's just a different choice.

Are you one of those people? You might recognize yourself if you...

Built your site to showcase your work visually and have very little text: In today's search driven rule, a photo heavy site has a tough time competing with a site with lots of SEO enhanced text.

Never change or add to the content on your site: Stale content doesn't bring people back or keep their interest for long.

Your site doesn't help web visitors: Using your expertise to both help the visitor and demonstrate your knowledge is a smart way to keep them coming back for more and sooner or later, some of them will be ready to buy.

Aren't driving people back to your core site with your social media efforts: Are you a frequent re-tweeter but rarely share your own helpful content? Are your social posts stand alone efforts?

Again -- it's absolutely fine to opt for a site that doesn't sell.  Just make sure it's a choice, not a mistake.


~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group



ALS ice bucket challenge brings out the best and worst in social media


Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

If you haven't heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge, you have clearly been living in a cave or hibernating.

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness.  People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

Beverly, Mass. resident Pete Frates, along with his family, helped to make the “Ice Bucket Challenge” go viral on the social sites Facebook and Twitter.  Frates, 29, has lived with ALS since 2012, and he has worked with The ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter.  A former Division 1 college athlete with Boston College Baseball, Frates tirelessly spreads awareness of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

This viral sensation, which has used the hash tag #IceBucketChallenge, has attracted thousands of followers, including Boston Bruins stars Brad Marchand and Torey Krug, who willingly dropped frozen ice on themselves and issued the challenge to others.

On Wednesday, former President George W. Bush joined thousands of others who got doused for a good cause. He challenged Bill Clinton to do the same.  

Now that's going viral.  On top of the crazy videos being posted every few seconds -- ALS has raised more than $31 million dollars, as of 8/20/2014.

Hard to argue with the success of this home-grown promotion.  Along with the $31 million in donations and videos of everyone from Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik to Michael Jordan to Bill Gates and even Oprah Winfrey, the campaign has brought out the worst and best of social media.

The worst -- many so-called social media experts and jealous non-profits are complaining about the campaign, saying everything from 'you are wasting water' to 'someone is going to have a heart attack' from how cold the water is.

Others are upset because the campaign is working so well that they think everyone is forgetting about all the other non-profits out there.  Interestingly, people who have ALS are also demanding (some more rudely than others) documentation on where the donated funds are being spent.  

As with any successful endeavor, it brings out people who want to take the discussion to all sorts of sidebar issues.

Lots of sour grapes, some legitimate questions and people trying to steal a little of the spotlight.  

On the flip side -- this is one of those crazy, luck-of-the-draw situations that is putting ALS on everyone's lips and wallets.  It's also a great study in why viral can't be contrived or orchestrated.  

If I'd said to you -- do you think we can get everyone from President Bush to Oprah to all videotape themselves being doused with a bucket of ice cold water and share it online -- what would you have said?  It's tough to get people to click LIKE or share a story, let alone go to the elaborate measures that some of the bucket challenge participants have undertaken.

I'm sure that the folks at ALS had absolutely NO idea this was going to get so big, so successful and so out of their control.  While I am sure they're thrilled, they must also be a little freaked out.

They're doing a great job of fielding questions, keeping the spotlight on the families who are dealing with ALS and using the global stage to educate people about ALS and their fight for a cure.  They're not allowing all of the negative buzz to pull them off message.

They are creating specific web pages to deal with some of the common topics like "you're wasting water" to "where is the money going" and everytime someone repeats the same issue -- they point to the same resource. 

A huge hat tip to the ALS Association for handling this uproar in a best practices sort of way.  They are:

  • Staying true to their mission
  • Educating and advocating
  • Being consistent in all their messaging
  • Not letting the naysayers derail their efforts
  • Grabbing the tiger by the tail and promoting the famous and not-so-famous as they take the challenge
  • Looking ahead and planning for what's next

Whether your own marketing/social efforts go this big or deliver a more modest rush of attention -- these best practices will still serve you well.


~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group



B2B marketers say content marketing isn't working

Screenshot 2014-08-07 23.25.00Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

A recent study conducted by Integrated Marketing Summit and Starfleet Media offers some interesting food for thought. 

More than a third of the B2B marketers say that their content marketing efforts have not been successful. After reading through the survey results -- I think I can understand why.

They're treating content marketing like traditional marketing: Buy an ad, get a customer.  Share an ebook, get a customer.  That' not how content works.  Content is about building trust and value.  It's a long tail strategy, not a turn and burn effort.  If you think someone is going to share your infographic and immediately go to your website to buy something -- you are going to be disappointed.

They're chasing new customers and ignoring their best customers: This isn't just a content marketing issue, it's a generic marketing issue.  Most businesses are so eager to get a new customer that they neglect their existing customers.  Sadly, this is short-sighted.  Your best bet for a new sale is your existing customers.  Your content should serve them.

They think it's about selling, not helping: Look at the chart to the right.  Look how selfish their goals are -- know me better, get more leads, etc.  It's not that those goals are not worthwhile but content marketing is all about being useful. Their #1 goal should be to be a go to resource/subject matter expert. (which is the goal that got the least response) By being that subject matter expert -- you will get brand awareness, leads and sales.  But it doesn't happen over night.

They're holding their content hostage: The best content marketing sites share a lot of their content for free and without a firewall or gated page (requiring a registration to access the information) first and then add some premium content that they'll swap for an email address. Again -- teach me, help  me and eventually I will trust you with my email address.

They didn't know what to do next: Content marketing is all about creating a tribe of people who value you and what you do. But from there, you do need to move some of them into the actual sales funnel.  Most B2B companies haven't mapped out the entire process from first website visit to first sale. So they create the interest but there's no easy bridge from fan to customer.  

Don't get me wrong -- ALL marketing is about selling more stuff.  But you need to understand the sales funnel process of what you're doing.  Content marketing is about building relationships and being a trusted source first and eventually making the sale as a result.  That path needs to be designed and communicated clearly or else you'll be one of those B2B marketers who is frustrated by the results of your efforts.

You have to set realistic expectations for yourself, your team and the C-suite. You need to measure the right things and have the patience to create real value, real relationships and real trust.  Then and only then will you earn real sales.


You can download a copy of the study here.


~ Drew 

How are you building your loyal community?

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Long before there was all this talk about building a tribe or "viral buzz," there was the recognition that:

  1. There is value in existing customers because they're your most likely sale (resale)
  2. If they love you, they'll tell their friends and family and that endorsement lowers buying resistance
  3. People want a sense of belonging and exclusivity and you earn increased loyalty when you can create those things for them

So the idea of rewards or loyalty programs have been around forever. But honestly, most companies just call it in. They offer a few measly perks but it really just turns into a frequent buyers discount. There's nothing wrong with that.... but it can be so much more.

One of the best examples of how to make it more is Maker's Mark Straight Bourbon Handmade Whisky (I think it should have an 'e' too, but that's how they spell it.)

I joined their Ambassadors program several years ago and I continue to be impressed with how they court their loyalists. Every holiday season, there's a clever gift (gift bags for your whisky bottle gifts, fun gift tags, etc.) and throughout the year, they connect and share with their ambassadors in a way that feels very exclusive and privileged.

Earlier this week, I got a mailing that announced that the barrel with my name engraved on the name plate (a perk of becoming an ambassador) was finally ready.

Whenever they send something -- it's done with a lot of class. No cutting corners or plain jane communications here. (Think they're trying to remind us of their values -- handmade whisky). The stock is heavy, the photography is gorgeous and the message is very "you're the few and the privileged" kind of copy.







The final photo shows you the purpose of their mailing. My barrel is ready (note how I am already thinking of it as my barrel) and this is my golden ticket. Now I can visit their distillery and purchase/personally hand dip my very own bottles from my very own barrel.

And, they've created a special label for the bottles so everyone will know that the bourbon came from my own personalized barrel batch.

But if I don't visit by March 31, 2015 -- they will have to release whatever bourbon from my barrel that is left (insert gasp here) to the masses.  

Brilliant. I have no idea how many people actually make the pilgrammage to get their bottles (which you have to buy -- it's not like they're going to give it to you) but I am so tempted to find a reason to be in Kentucky just so I can make the trip.

If they go to incredible lengths by mail and email -- imagine what they might do if you showed up in person.

There's a lot for us to learn from Maker's Mark. Could they do it even better?  Sure... but they do it far better than most.

When I was writing this post, I wanted to find a list of the Ambassador perks. So I tried to log into the Ambassadors only section of their website, but I couldn't remember my log in stuff. (Note to self... for your password tool to work, you have to enter the password). I must have entered something incorrectly (I'm guessing zip code) and I got this message:

Screenshot 2014-07-24 10.50.21

Read the message. I love the fact that Jenny, not one of our customer service representatives, is going to contact me. So personal -- and again, makes me feel like I matter.  

What are your takeaways from Maker's Mark?  How could you either improve your existing customer loyalty program or create something that makes your best customers feel like they are vital to your success and you want them to be a part of a very exclusive club?


 ~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group



Marketing conferences -- which ones are for you?

Event BadgeDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I'm often asked which marketing conferences I recommend and I have to say, the list is pretty short.  

It seems like most conferences hire the same 8-10 speakers we've all seen over and over again or else they bring in brand managers from places like Coke or Harley.

Don't get me wrong -- I love listening to those speakers. But, they don't live in the same world as we do.  

As an agency, we deal with small to mid-sized ($20 million in revenue and below) companies and they definitely do not have a Coke or Harley marketing budget.

If I'm going to spend the money and time to actually attend a conference, I want to leave with a notebook full of ideas I can think about and implement right away.  

I want tangible examples that I can relate to because they're right sized for my agency and our clients.

Given that criteria, here are some of my favorite conferences:

BOLO Conference in Scottsdale, AZ in October

BOLO /boh-loh/, v. 1. Be On the Look Out. 2. Digital marketing conference in Scottsdale, AZ. BOLO brings together the thought-leaders and change-makers of the agency world. Experience authentic connections, audacious speakers, actionable ideas, and a helluva good time. BOLO 2014 is shaping up to be our best event yet. We like to keep things meaningful, so we allow just 250 of our friends to register before the doors close. Be on the lookout for additional information arriving soon!

Drew's note -- this is for agency folks, so if you're a CMO, this probably is not the right choice for you.  But if you work for an agency -- you will love this one!

Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH in September

Content Marketing World is the one event where you can learn and network with the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry. You will leave with all the materials you need to take a content marketing strategy back to your team – and – to implement a content marketing plan that will grow your business and inspire your audience.

Drew's note -- this one is packed with speakers who will talk about budgets way beyond yours like Kraft Foods and SAP but because they're still trying to figure out content too -- it's relevant, no matter the size of your budget.

Marketing Profs B2B Forum in Boston in October

Are you armed and ready to meet the marketing challenges of today, tomorrow, and beyond? With technology and the way we live changing rapidly, B2B marketers have so many options and tools that it can be overwhelming. At the 2014 B2B Marketing Forum we will have inspirational speakers presenting on the hottest, smartest topics—giving you the knowledge you need to thrive in 2014, 2015 and beyond. Get ready to bullet-proof your marketing for the future and come out a modern marketing rockstar!

Drew's note -- This is a smaller conference (unlike CMW above) so you'll have lots of access to the speakers (most of them stay for the whole conference, so they're around and accessible) and networking.

And.... one of the best of all is right here in Iowa.  Yup, I said Iowa.

Social Brand 2014 in Coralville in September

The Social Brand Forum, a top 10 social media conference, again brings national social media and digital marketing thought leaders to Iowa for two days of impactful keynotes and interactive discussions. Social Brand 2014 is designed to help marketers at organizations small and large build better brands online through social media content, conversations, and community.

Drew's note -- This is a fantastic conference (created by Iowa's Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Digital) that has been designed to give attendees incredible access to top notch speakers, built in networking opportunities and lots of tangible, use it now content.

So here is my challenge for you. Pick one and register this week. Surely you believe in lifelong learning right?

If you decide that Iowa's own Social Brand 2014 is the right one for you -- use the coupon code DREW and you can save a few bucks. (I don't get anything if you register other than the satisfaction that you're going to love it.) 

Attending one of these conferences this fall is the perfect appetizer to working on your 2015 marketing budget.

Go on -- get even smarter!

~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group


The customer experience doesn't just happen

DisneyapologyDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

There is not a business in existance today that does not want to deliver an incredible customer experience. And with good reason -- when a customer has an extraordinary interaction with your organization, some pretty cool stuff happens.

  • They spend more money
  • They come back more often
  • They tell other people and generate new customers for you
  • They share their experiences on social media

Here's the rub.  We all want it but very few companies actively train for it.  We tell our employees that we want them to treat our customers well.  We very well might set a good example by demonstrating it in their presence.  

But it's a rare business who regularly and actively teaches excellence when it comes to dealing with your clientele.

We just assume (and we know what that creates) that everyone who works for us magically knows what amazing customer care looks like.  But you are all consumers.  How often do you get that kind of service?  Don't you think the places you frequent (grocery store, restaurants, retail establishments, etc.) want great customer service too?

But just like you -- they assume their people get it.  And from our experiences in their establishments -- we know they do not.

No one gets customer service and business excellence better than Disney.  They get it because they've perfected it and they actively teach it/train it every day.  The picture in this blog post is what was delivered to our room at Walt Disney World because it wasn't ready on time.  Do you think they pulled that out of left field?  No -- it was planned and trained so that when they needed it -- it was easy.

No matter what kind of business you run -- you can deliver that same level of business excellence and it starts with learning Disney's tricks.

Lucky for you -- the folks at ATD (formerly ASTD) are bringing Disney's Approach to Business Excellence workshop right here to Central Iowa on September 16th. It will be taught by Disney Institute cast members and will be an entire day of learning and exploring how you can bring Disney's level of quality to everything you do -- earning Disney-like brand loyalty from your customers.

If you hurry -- you can grab the early bird discount.  And if you use the coupon code MMG (we're helping to sponsor the event) , you can get an additional discount on top of that.

You and your team can learn from the world class Disney organization's playbook. If you want to be a world class organization -- you have to teach your people what that looks like and how you can do it together.

Here's the perfect opportunity to do just that.  I hope to see you there!


~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group


Do you have an ebook in you?

BooksOnlineDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Ebooks are smart marketing. Here are some of the benefits of creating one:

  • Attract prospects
  • Share your expertise
  • Builds a mailing list
  • Establish your thought leadership
  • Help potential and existing customers
  • Stand out from your competitors
  • Generate word of mouth marketing

And the best news is…. if you want to, you can create it completely on your own. Many companies use their ebook as a lead generation tool, trading helpful content for a prospect’s email address. Others will sell their ebook on their own website or places like Amazon.

Whether you give it away or sell it, the key is creating something of value. Here are some tips for making that happen.

Write what you know: The whole point of creating an ebook is to share what you know to demonstrate your expertise. So don’t stray from your expertise. Pick a topic that is in your sweet spot.

Don’t be stingy with the insights: I know it goes against your grain to give away what you sell but I promise, they’ll still come to buy even if you give away the goods. But if you don’t give away the goods, your ebook will be a flop.

Make it pretty: One of the things that separates a good ebook from a white paper or just a plain old PDF report is how it looks. Use visuals and a sense of design to lay out the book so it reflects your company’s brand and the content. Don’t forget how many of us are visual learners so infographics, charts and other visual teaching tools are a nice addition.

Break it up: If the idea of writing a book is daunting (remember, an ebook can be any length) then break it up. Write the sections or chapters as blog posts or stand alone articles and then weave them together. Or assign different people in your organization to write different sections.

Maybe it’s already written: You’ve probably written many reports, proposals, blog posts and presentations. It could be that the germ or most of the contents of your ebook are in one or more of them. Re-purposing content is a great way to save time and emphasize some of your time-honored wisdom.

Promote it and promote it some more: The internet is definitely not a world where if you build it, they will come. Once you have the ebook online and available for download or purchase — you need to tell the world. Use both digital and traditional methods of driving traffic to your masterpiece.

I know there's an ebook or two in you.  Why not start it today?


~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group




Is advertising becoming just a punchline?

Screenshot 2014-05-21 22.48.28Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

JDate, the Jewish dating service, has a new ad campaign running and they launched it with billboards in Tme Square.  

The headline reads "Find Mr. Right to Left" as the company shifts its messaging away from "someone else's romantic success stories" to more of a "me right now" vibe that's aimed at millennials.

The next two ads in the series will feature headlines like "Because Dating Shouldn't Be as Hard As Parting the Red Sea" and "Matzah Ball Recipes Don’t Survive on Their Own."

What most people will find interesting about this campaign is that JDate didn't hire an agency to create this campaign -- they crowdsourced the lines. At this point in time, I find the crowdsourcing angle to be old news -- seems like half the SuperBowl ads were crowdsourced over the past couple years.

Here's what has my attention and concern. Good, effective advertising used to be well crafted from a strategy that made sense in every medium and to each of your key target audiences. But as our attention spans shorten and companies like JDate take short cuts to creating their campaigns -- everything is reduced to a funny bit or clever punchline.

In some ways, that works for the bigger consumer products. We don't really have to be told how they work or why they're useful -- we know what beer does ("Bud" "Weiser" frogs). We get what a Wendy's hamburger is for (Where's the beef?"). And no one has to think too hard to figure out why someone would go on JDate's website.

But for most businesses -- that method does not work. You're not a household name and what you sell isn't as obvious as beer, burgers or insurance. Your marketing needs to be built around a strategically sound plan that moves a prospect through the necessary steps of the know • like • trust = sales model that we've talked about before.

You can't rely on a funny line or sight gag to actually get someone to want to learn more or to wonder if they need what you sell. 

Don't get fooled by all these punchline ads all around you. You're going to actually have to do the hard work of understanding your customers and why they would be interested in what you have to say.

Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

There's a bargain and then there's...


As you might imagine -- good marketing is all about walking that fine line.

If your customer base is cost conscious, one of the ways you can make them feel like they're not only getting a good deal but that they're also in control of their buying decision is to give them choices.

The key is knowing when you've stomped all over the fine line.

I thought Allegiant went too far when they announced they were going to start charging for sodas. But Frontier Airline makes that foolishness look like reasoned thinking with their announcement today that they're going to start charging for the overhead bin space.

Depending on when you book your overhead bin space -- it could cost you anywhere from $25-$50 per bag.  Add to that -- if you want to actually select your seat (meaning anything but the middle seat) you'll have to pay for that too.  $3 for reserving a seat in advance if you do it while booking online and $8 if you choose it at the airport.

Most people already feel like they're part of a cattle herd when they fly. These additional fees and changes continue to de-value the experience and make the customers feel less valued and less important.  That's not exactly marketing 101.

In fact, there's a few marketing caveats that seem in danger here.

Don't give someone too many choices:  It's been proven that too many choices can actually paralyze a buyer -- leaving their wallet frozen in place.  While consumer do like to feel in control, they don't like to feel overwhelmed.

Economical is one thing, cheap is another: Most people enjoy saving money but they also want to believe they are spending their money on something of value.  You don't want your customers to feel nickeled and dimed on their way to saving a couple pennies.

Understand your reputation: If you're in an industry that consumers are already pretty disgusted with -- you might want to keep your eye on the customer service aspect of your choices. In fact, out of 43 industries, airlines rank 40th in terms of satisfaction (the only industries consumers hate more are Internet service providers, Internet social media companies, and subscription TV services), according to data released Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Serve your best customers best:  I think these airlines are aiming for the occasional budget conscious flier, not a frequent traveler. I'm not so sure it makes a lot of sense to build your product to capture your least frequent customers.

Only time will tell if airlines like Frontier and Allegiant are making a smart play or if it's going to cost them marketshare. But they are certainly playing with fire.  

Would these new changes and charges influence your buying decision one way or the other?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group



Is your website built to be a marketing tool?

Bigstock-Technology-Internet-Websites-R-7414239Drew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Back when websites first came into being, they were little more than a digital brochure with some photos and text that validated your business' existance.

Today -- if your website isn't one of your most useful marketing/sales workhorses -- you're missing the boat. Want to know if you're maximizing the potential of your website?  

I can't do justice to that question here, but I can give you some food for thought. Answer these five questions to get an idea if your site is really serving you well.

Do you have a call to action "above the fold" on your website? In other words, without any scrolling? The Google algorithym gives priority to content above the fold. Don’t waste this valuable space on just a large header or image on pages within your site or blog articles. 

Do you talk about yourself all over your site or use the space to make your visitor smarter? Today's buyers do 60-70% of their shopping online, before they ever shoot you an email, pick up the phone or visit your store. They're coming to your site to learn and see if you're a good fit. Make them smarter by teaching them something useful to show them what it would be like to work with you.

Your goal is to get permission to stay in touch. How are you doing that? Most web visitors are potential customers. But they may not be ready to buy today. So you need to stay in touch until they are. How are you capturing their email address and what value are you offering for it?

What do your analytics tell you? Pay attention to the pages your visitors are spending time on. That should help you decide what to highlight on your home page and core navigation. It's clearly what they want to know more about.

Who are your voices of reason? People are skeptical and hate being sold to so why not use some testimonials from happy clients to reassure them that you're the real deal. Ideally those testimonials would be specific and give details about the value you brought.

So how'd you do?  Is your website doing all it should for you and your business?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog of McLellan Marketing Group


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