Remember the Alamo

Posted in Marketing 208 on August 16, 2009 by lcjr

I understand that not all of my fellow marketing bloggers are from Texas, God forgive them, and that those who are may not feel particularly passionate about their heritage.  And I will admit, I have never appreciated individuals who spend more time ranting and raving about where they come from than they do thinking about where they’re going.  Sporting t-shirts and bumper stickers with the Texas flag or silly slogans like “Everything is bigger in…” and “Screw you, we’re from…”  is way too easy, closer to throwing up a gang sign than displaying true state pride. 

However, the Ray Wylie Hubbard in me began to surface when I navigated to Yahoo’s home page this evening; and there under the “featured” column in big blue letters were the words “U.S.’s Most Over-rated Tourist Attractions,” with a picture of the Alamo there to the side.  If that doesn’t make the hair on your neck stand up, then “you’re not from these parts.” 

But, as I read the piece by Andrew Harper, I realized that his judgement was not quite as harsh as the title had led me to believe.  He simply states that what is left of the structure itself is not worth making a trip to San Antonio to see.  And for his readers in California, New York, and abroad I think he offers a great piece of advice.  No one should plan a visit to the Alamo expecting to see a grand old Spanish mission revitalized or preserved.  The mission itself was constructed in 1724, and the battle that would make it famous took place in 1836.  She’s doing pretty well for her age, but no Notre Dame, by any stretch of the imagination. 

Okay. So, maybe the Alamo is an “Over-rated Tourist Attraction.”  But, “Tourist” is definitely the operative word.  I have visited the Alamo twice in my life, first when I was around 16 or 17 years old.  Of course, I was very much underwhelmed, but I was a tourist.  Anyone under the age of 20, traveling outside their home town, should be considered a tourist for the purposes of cultural appreciation and operation of motor vehicles.  Then, on my second visit, having learned the history and the legends that were made in the place, I took time to appreciate what little the Alamo had to offer. I observed the surrounding metropolitan landscape, trying to understand what it would have felt like to look west and see over 3,000 Mexican soldiers waiting for the green light.

Those of you still reading are wondering what any of this has to do with Marketing 208!

Well in my twisted mind it has everything to do with marketing.  I think a true marketer understands that history and myth are more important than packaging.  Much like a traveler understands there is more to an historical place than the structure that remains.  If the Mona Lisa hadn’t been painted by the great Leonardo DaVinci, I wouldn’t feel the need to travel half way around the world to catch a glimpse of her tiny mannish face, from 10 feet away.  If I knew to a certainty how and why stonehenge was erected, I wouldn’t need to hear any more about it.  But such places and things give us an experience that cannot be duplicated. 

Does this same idea not apply to marketing? 

Could I make a woman’s purse out of pool floatie material and cheap leather, stamp my initials on it and sell it for $1500?  Well, how does Mr. Vuitton do it? If I tore holes in my oldest pair of jeans and marked them up by 50% would you buy them?  How is Abercrombie & Fitch still in business? 

It’s the myth.  The intangible.  The authentic experience.  Women who shop at Louis Vuitton know exactly why they payed $1500 for that purse, just like your teenage son or daughter knows why they bought those jeans, and I know what is so great about the Alamo.

So, thank you Mr. Harper.  Thank you for warding off all those “tourists.”  They have as much business at the Alamo as I do at the Louvre.  Let’s leave the Mona Lisa to the art history majors, Louis Vuitton to the women who can afford it, and the Alamo to the Texans and rock stars to drunk to make it to the urinal!


Kohl’s back-to-school with Avril

Posted in Marketing 208 on August 12, 2009 by lcjr

One of Kohl’s slogans for this year’s back-to-school season is “moms who know their kids know Kohl’s,” to go along with their 2009 campaign “the more you know, the more you Kohl’s.”  One of their TV ads this fall includes an appearance by Avril Lavigne, promoting her new clothing line available at Kohl’s.  The 30 second spot puts emphasis getting the latest fashions at an affordable price.

I really liked this commercial for the fact that it is reaching two of Kohl’s primary audiences in one 30 second spot.  The commercial speaks directly to mothers who want their daughters to have nice clothes for the upcoming school year, but who are also all, for the most part, looking to stretch their dollar in this economy.  Then, at the same time, Avril appears in the commercial while it talks about her new line of clothing.  This appeals to the teens and tweens, who we all know controls how the majority of the middle and upper class family income is being spent.

Some of the ads on TV here recently haven’t made much sense to me.  I dont even know what is being advertised until the commercial is over, and even then I may have to do some research to interpret what I’ve seen.  But I thought this particular Kohl’s commercial was very effective.  Short. To the point. And I do love Kohl’s.

Branding No-No’s

Posted in Marketing 208 on August 3, 2009 by lcjr

In a recent article, Lynn Parker, a marketing consultant, talked about several of the big mistakes companies can make with regards to branding. These were all relatively straightforward, maybe because I’ve experienced them with the brands I like to buy.  And some of them reminded me of things we have discussed in class…

Branding on  low price is a bad idea(unless you’re Walmart) because someone will always beat you to the bottom.   And, if your only draw is low price, depending on the product of course, you will have a hard time competing with established brands.

It is always better to surprise people than it is to let them down. If you advertise for something, do it, and do it better than anyone else.  This is how word-of-mouth advertising starts, when people are pleasantly surprised they want to tell their friends. And vice-versa, when people are promised a steak and then receive a hamburger, they will probably go out and tell everyone they know.  So always deliver more than you promise.

Building your brand has to involve more than just advertising.  One of the absolute worse mistakes a company can make is advertise for a product or service they really don’t provide, like saying you have great customer service when actually it is terrible.  It is so easy to find information on companies online, the best form of advertising today is to just have a great product.

Focus Groups

Posted in Marketing 208 on July 20, 2009 by lcjr

Focus groups are a great way to find out what the “word on the street” is about your product or service.  There is no stronger tool for a marketer than unfiltered, raw, customer opinion.  Walt Disney actual used this method before the term “focus group” was ever written.  He would buy a ticket to one of his own movies, sit in the very back and observe the audience.  He wanted to know exactly how his product was being recieved.

Today, focus groups are used in a number of different ways, including the screening of new product ideas.  Many companies, however, have found the use of focus groups to be outdated and less than useful, and are beginning to turn to online methods to collect marketing data.

Reinforce against Buyers Remorse

Posted in Marketing 208 on July 13, 2009 by lcjr

This is a big problem I have.  Every time I make a purchase over $50, or for anything other than food really, I get that queezy feeling.  And because I find that products are rarely all they’re cracked up to be, or I’m using them in a manner other than directed, the feeling is usually justified.  So how can someone in marketing help me with this problem?

There are many companies who do a great job of giving customers that confirmation we need after the sale.  The one that sticks out in my mind is Apple.  It’s hard to feel good about spending $300 (after upgrade) on a piece of plasic the size of my wallet, that would shatter if dropped from a height greater than 6 feet.  But Apple sold me on the iPhone, and they’ve been selling it to me every day since I bought it.  Its always nice to be reminded why we spent our money.  And when I see an iPhone commercial I’m reminded that if I can think of it, there is probably an application for it; and that if I want to download that new song I heard on the radio I can do it from where I’m standing.  I’m sold!  Now if someene could make me feel better about the Tony Little Gazelle I bought at 2 AM…

Hello world (MKT 208)!

Posted in Marketing 208 on July 1, 2009 by lcjr

I’m LD,  and I am looking forward to another interesting class with the twitter lady!

Since my last blog posting I have married my long-time girlfriend Hillary, and had a baby boy, Walker.  I work for a property management company in Fort Worth.  I enjoy my work and am happy to have it in times like these, when many intelligent, hard working people my age can’t find a job.  I also spend about a quarter of my year in southwest Texas on a ranch that my father and I lease from the University of Texas,  where we raise cattle and run a hunting club.  Whenever I have free time, this is where I prefer to be.  I’m looking forward to the day when Walker will be old enough to tag along, even if his mother is not too excited about the idea!