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Calendar It…Again and Again and Again?

Calendar It…Again and Again and Again? published on No Comments on Calendar It…Again and Again and Again?

Here comes December, and along with it come promotional calendars of all shapes, sizes, and styles.

I get ‘em each year, don’t you?

They arrive in the mail or are handed out by my insurance agent, my dentist, my doctor, my dry cleaner, my pet groomer, my barber, my auto mechanic, my CPA…I’ve even received a few from politicians.

Here’s a word for all of you calendar-ers: ho-hum.

As a business owner or corporate sales & marketing executive (don’t get me started on the “sales” vs. “marketing” title), you might think that an annual calendar is a nice and easy and cheap promo item.

O.K., a calendar is easy, and it’s certainly cheap. But nice? Considering how many other calendars your targets, prospects, and customers get, your promo dollars would be better spent on a roll of toilet paper or a box of facial tissue (we all call them Kl***ex, but copyright/trademark laws keep me from using that colloquialism).

With few exceptions, your annual calendar is for your target audience the pulp equivalent of one egg in a dozen. Same same, so what, what’s the dif, ho-hum.

It’s not that calendars aren’t appreciated. But if you’re going to invest in promoting your business with tangible advertising, why do what everyone else is doing? Why spend your precious marketing dollars on “Me too”?

Dimensional marketing — and that’s what we’re talking about here – works, in large part, on differentiating your company from your competitors. The annual calendar is merely an example.

And hey, if you like your yearly calendar, then why not make it stand out? You’ll pay more, sure. However, your audience will more value it….and thus keep it and use it…and thereby more appreciate you.

It’s about marketing solutions, not just quick & easy stuff.

It’s also about building customer loyalty and expectation.

Years ago, we ran an annual dealer trip promotion for a major copier machine company. We did it for 10 years, and each year we achieved at least 150% of sales goal.

Among the dimensional marketing items we used every year in the promotions was a recipe tile. That is, it was an 8” x 8” ceramic tile that featured a recipe for a dish common to the respective promo destination (e.g., London, Hong Kong, Hawaii).

The dealer network looked forward to those recipe tiles.

But one year, corporate management decided to not pay to produce and distribute the tiles. Dealers complained, and sales dropped by more than 50%.

Those recipe tiles were not just appreciated but unique. And yep, they were anticipated.

So what does this have to do with calendars?

Plenty.

If you’re going to invest in dimensional marketing products, follow the recipe for differentiation and audience interest, not merely bean-counter mentality. Seek solutions.

Cheap breeds cheap.

You Don’t Like It?

You Don’t Like It? published on No Comments on You Don’t Like It?

Advertising is not an exact science. The industry loves to coin terms and phrases that make it appear to be such, but that’s just part of the ad biz’s perpetual hype and ongoing effort to make marketing seem like it’s not a crap shoot.

Sorry, ad folks, but that’s the truth. All the research and data and focus groups and theories and more can never guarantee a successful campaign. The best you can hope for is putting the best odds in your favor. But even so, the chances are that your initial roll-out may come up snake eyes.

That said, then, one huge gamble that too many ad campaigns risk is not “playing” from the target’s side of the desk. Concepts are approved or disapproved on the basis of personal proclivities and propensities and not on whether they would appeal to the intended audience.

Years ago, I was part of a creative team that was charged with developing a campaign to promote a new subsidiary of an international electronic products distributor. At one point during the project, a vice president criticized the colors we’d chosen, saying he wanted the main color to be purple.

Experience and preliminary talks with our target channel audience told us that purple would not work, but he was adamant. And why? Because purple was his wife’s favorite color. So purple it was.

When the first pieces of sales literature hit the channel, the reaction was a resounding “YUCK!” All the printed materials were quickly recalled, the project was killed, and the “purple” vice president took an early retirement.

So what does this have to do with the headline of this article?

Many decision makers will look at promotional products that are recommended for a program and say they don’t like them. And why? Just because THEY don’t.

They’re thinking from their side of the desk, not from the perspective of the target audience. Their decision comes from personal preference, not from marketing.

Have you ever been guilty of this? Odds are you have. You’re only human, after all, and your personal likes and dislikes are bound to have an influence.

The trick (and it isn’t always easy) is being able to separate your heart from your head. You may not like this or that trinket, but will your target audience?

And conversely, even though you like something, that doesn’t mean that your prospects will. Indeed, they may hate it.

With advertising in general and promos specifically, try to put yourself in your target’s chair. This tactic applies not only to your selection of tangible advertising products but to how you evaluate a proposed marketing campaign.

After all is said and done, you’ll still be rolling the dice. That’s just the name of the marketing game. However, the more you can think from the table and not your hand, the better the chance that your promotion won’t crap out.

Maybe you like purple. But will your R.O.I.?