McDonalds and Burger King both announced interesting initiatives this week. Burger King launched the £85 burger and McDonalds hired Bruce Oldfield (designer for Princess Diana, among others) to design new, more fashionable, store uniforms.
Both are going for the premium market.
Judging from the last few months, McDonalds are going to win. Redesigning stores for a better look, giving staff better uniforms and even an education – these are sustainable tactics to reaching the premium market.
Introducing a £85 burger is just a little insulting to Burger King’s customers: “here’s a burger you can’t afford, but don’t worry, because you can afford our premium *wink wink* range of burgers which aren’t quite as good".
Mass-mailing journalists is what scared agencies do. They’re scared the story isn’t good enough for their key publications that matter. So they mass-mail in the hope of getting lucky. Getting lucky? Yes, getting lucky. Catching a reporter at the moment they need a story to fill space. Or catching a magazine the exact time they happen to be covering that topic.
Getting lucky happens. It’s probably best not to rely on it though.
The better agencies put together a list of 5 to 10 key publications for each client and work their approach to score hits in these publications. It might be taking the journalist out for a coffee or creating a video on a topic the journalist regularly covers.
It might be reversing the process entirely and advising the client how to do things that gets the hits in these publications. Maybe it’s even grassroots and targeting the readers of the publication first. Let the journalists hear about the story from their own readers.
There are a gazillion approaches an agency can use to gain publicity for their clients. Mass-mailing journalists is one of the worst. Try something new and fun, because PR should be fun.
Social Profile, an apps package for Facebook, has just e-mailed me a list of people who live within 10 miles. Along with what people think about them.
Highlights include :
"Trusted by 1.4 people in 5" and "loaded with cash" – (what’s his address again?)
‘People you might know’ is popular on Facebook and LinkedIn right now, but there is a major difference between people I might know through common acquaintances and people who live locally. More importantly, giving me the opinions of others on my neighbours (figuratively) is a major invasion of their privacy (and likely mine too).
The bottom of the e-mail notes there are 7796 more profiles I can choose to explore. I’m guessing that’s everyone on Facebook within 10 miles.
I hate Tweets from people who are travelling. Really, why does that interest me? Your plane is delayed? Train is late? Lady is snoring next to you? I really don’t care…but the transport companies should.
Perhaps more than any other medium right now, people are criticising transport companies on Twitter. Almost none stop. I wonder how hard it would be to get two people from customer complaints to monitor Twitter mentions and begin responding to these complaints? Make the situation right. Someone’s train is late? Comp their journey. They will mention it to hundreds maybe thousands of followers.
Even better, monitor your competitors. Do you see a disgruntled customer? Invite them to trial your service for free just one time. I’d bet my house that it would get mentioned on their Twitter stream
Simple, maybe. Effective, Probably.
The SEO battlefield has shifted a little bit.
Now a single great picture or video can get you onto the first page of search results. This isn’t new information; it’s been around for almost a year.
What’s amazing is very few agencies seem to be doing anything about it.
The same agencies that would be horrified not to appear on the first page of search results for their key terms, aren’t trying to produce any videos or pictures. The same agencies which gingerly push out written content to rank highly aren’t even trying to explore the real power of Universal Search.
We’re in the content business, and this alternative content is now more important than ever.
I recommend every PR/Social Media agency in existence read Andy Senovitz’s post: Can Word of Mouth Marketing get me in trouble?
2. WOM marketing without disclosure is illegal.
Any form of deceptive word of mouth campaigns are illegal. This include any program where you are:
- Asking buzzers to recommend your product without disclosing that they are part of a campaign or received and incentive.
- Falsely representing your employees/agents as consumers.
- Asking buzzers to claim they like your product when they don’t, or never tried it.
Will it be strictly enforced? Combined with a few more ‘whistleblower’ hotlines I wouldn’t bet against it. How many rival companies wouldn’t take the opportunity to point out a patently false viral campaign?
Very soon your competitors can bid for your company’s name on Google (and you can bid for theirs).
Your efforts to ensure that when a customer wants a product, they type your name into the search engine, might be usurped by a paid ad.
Really aggressive companies can have the advert link through to a page on their website delivering message solely about why they should be picked rather than you.
Are you going to play defense or offense?
Marketing Week reports Dove are creating a digital channel.
Well isn’t this the ultimate content challenge? It’s effectively non-stop adverts (like Steve Jobs’ keynote speech) and it’s going to take some very, very, good content to attract people.
Will it work?
Not many companies can get away with it, Apple can, Microsoft can’t. Harley Davidson can, Volkswagen can’t. Dove? Maybe. Their real beauty campaign was a phenomenon, but attracting and keeping an audience concerned with real beauty is to begin treading on the turf of some very experienced media.
Fortunately, it really shouldn’t cost much, and it’s certainly worth an experiment. Football teams have had branded TV channels for years, whether more corporate companies can manage it will depend upon the quality of their content.
David Maister points out a satisfaction guarantee I love:
"If you’re interested in seeing whether we are right for you and your team, try us on a matter. What separates us from our competitors is that you have our value promise on every invoice. If you don’t think we’re worth the amount you agreed to pay, you make whatever adjustment you think is necessary. If your other firms don’t walk that walk, it’s time to try Valorem.”
Can this be taken further? "Pay as much as you think we’re worth."
If you like the work you’ll have to pay enough to retain the firm, otherwise other clients will buy their time. In effect, clients could bid for the agency’s time.
…if the Agency is good enough.
Who’s feeling brave?
You know, I think I’m in the content business.
You probably are too, it’ a big industry. It’s that thin line where our business cousins intersect and scrap for clients. In fact, it’s the industry that crushed public relations, SEO, copywriting and social media.
The content business is good. It’s competitive, sure, but it’s growing. Almost anyone that has a campaign to run, needs some content for it. Leaflets, websites, press releases, social media, it’s all good content.
“How do I get my hairdresser onto the first page of results for Cheltenham?”
“Why is my website not working?”
“How can I get journalists to write about our charity gala?”
Content, content, content!
It’s a deceptive business, content. Many would have you believe that creating content is easy, and they are right. The tricky part is attracting people to that content. Your content needs to form part of a larger movement than transcends you. It needs to stand for something. Bob Dylan was a terrible artist, but formed the core of an important movement. That’s perhaps the best way to think of us, we’re movement facilitators.
A major part of blogging is thought leadership. When you share useful advice you become an expert, and experts are in demand.
As such, agency bloggers are happy to discuss how to score hits, how they are using new technology for their clients and an array of others topics, like recruiting methods. Indeed, they’re happy to share everything except how to pitch for new clients.
That makes sense. We’re all great big collaborators on the internet, striving to make the world of marketing and PR a better place. A rising tide lifts all boats. But sharing secrets about winning competitive pitches, with the very agencies you could be pitching against, is madness.
Or is it?
Is their an advantage to being perceived as an expert on pitching? Isn’t it about time their was a decent discussion about how agencies are pitching for new business? Are you more likely to be invited to pitch if you’re perceived as an expert on pitching? Once you share a pitching tactic, doesn’t it force you to raise the bar even higher?
I don’t know, but I’d love to hear some opinions. Is it ok to discuss pitching?
I don’t think anything is more fun in PR than brainstorming. For starters, the food is great. You have a variety of biscuits and doughnuts to nibble on and, if you’re really lucky, chocolate!
There is a lot written about how to brainstorm ideas. The common rules include: don’t criticise ideas – just come up with better ones, be clear about the problem you need to solve to begin with, and set strict time limits for coming up with that idea.
But where does your inspiration come for great ideas come from. I’ve found, more so than anything else, that my ideas have come from the most eclectic mix of sources possible. This ranges from Supermarket Sweep, Thomas Crown Affair, a video of a kitten on YouTube and new twists on successful campaigns I’ve heard about in other countries. There’s a lot to learn from the success of others.
So from which wells do your ideas spring from? Anything especially bizarre?