Will Being Funny or Sentimental Drive Sales?


I recently attended a seminar about direct mail marketing, and was shown a video about a really cool mail piece this company had done that integrated mail, QR codes and your smartphone. It certainly was an interesting and unique piece, but when the video was done, I had no idea what the company was or what the product being sold was.

That got me thinking – you could have the coolest or funniest or most unique commercial or mail piece, but will it actually drive sales? Because in the end that’s the goal with you marketing – to get sales and make money.

Watching that video made me think of this Proctor and Gamble ad that ran during the past winter Olympics. It was a really emotional ad that showed mothers with their kids, helping them along as they train in their chosen sport, eventually becoming Olympians.  The message was “thank you mom.” It was pretty sweet.

But does this ad actually make you want to go out and buy any of P&G’s products? I understand the importance of branding and I guess this ad is supposed to make us “feel” a certain way towards the P&G brand, which in theory would translate to sales. But when it comes down to it, I’m not going to buy their products because of this commercial. It got me a little choked up I’ll admit, but when I’m in the store looking for toothpaste, I’m not sure that I’ll remember this commercial because there was no toothpaste in it. Or really any product for that matter. Perhaps it would have been more effective if P&G products could have subtly been included: the mom washing the hockey uniform with a Tide bottle in the background or something like that.

Did this ad make you want to buy toothpaste?

Maybe this does work on some people. Maybe you will remember that good feeling you got watching this commercial when you’re in the grocery store, and reach for the P&G product over someone else. But I have to question the actual effectiveness of an ad when a) we don’t know what the product is or b) there is no product in the ad. Are we being cool just for the sake of being cool?

I can’t answer the question ‘is this ad effective or successful?’ Effectiveness of ads like these would need to be measured by looking at things like sales numbers or traffic to a website. It really all depends on what their goals were with this ad.

But it’s some food for thought when you’re creating an ad concept – how will you define effectiveness?

Is your website mobile friendly?


Is your website mobile friendly?

It should be.

Today, more and more Canadians are using their mobile phone or tablet to browse and search the web. And if your website isn’t mobile friendly or mobile responsive, you’re missing out.

Here are some 2014 stats about Canadian mobile usage, from WeAreSocial.sg:

  • 56% of Canadians have a Smartphone
  • 58% of the country connects to the Internet via a mobile device
  • 89% of Canadian Smartphone users search for local information
  • 77% use their Smartphone to research products
  • 27% of Canadian Smartphone users have made a purchase using their phone
  • Mobile Internet users spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes each day on the web

That’s more than half the country using a phone or tablet to connect to the Internet and browse. And if your non-mobile website is broken or doesn’t have a good user experience, customers will move onto the next website that does work. You could be losing a lot of business.

Even if people don’t buy online and still want to go to a store, the numbers show that customers are researching online before they purchase. Your information needs to be available to them in the format that they’re choosing – mobile.

Having a mobile friendly website doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. There are options to suit your needs and budget. Some website are mobile responsive – they don’t look very different than your website viewed on a computer, but the site responds and resizes based on the screen size of the mobile device you’re viewing it on.

A dedicated mobile website looks very different than your website would look on a computer. These are often scaled down and show specific content that mobile users would want (such as location, contact, hours, product reviews). The layout is different and can be simplified or streamlined, making it easy for people to navigate on smaller screens.

Of course, there is also the mobile app that lives in a person’s phone. Apps are a large endeavor but can be successful if they provide a value to the customer and make them want to keep opening it up on their phone. You need to decide what will work best for your product or service offering and what your customers want when they come to your website on their phone.


What social media should you use?


You’ve decided that your marketing plan should include social media. You read my last post and are developing a social media plan. But a key part of that plan is deciding what social media channel to go on. There are a lot out there.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your target audience? What are their demographics (age, sex etc.)?
  • Where is your audience hanging out on social media for personal use?
  • What social media sites are your competitors on?
  • What makes sense for your business?

That last question seems obvious, but think about it. If your product or service isn’t very visual or doesn’t lend itself well to photos, you’re not going to go on Pintrest, just because it’s popular.

I had a bit of a customer complaint about an Uncle Ben’s product the other day, so I wanted to send them a Tweet. But I couldn’t find them on Twitter. Turns out they don’t have an account. I was surprised – what company doesn’t have Twitter? But then I thought, “well, it just must not make sense for them. So why put the time and effort into it?” They have a Facebook page with 53,000+ likes. They’ve made their own community. And that forum is probably better suited to their audience than Twitter would be.

When you have your target audience or a customer profile figured out, do some research and see what social channels cater to that same profile. That’s where you want to be spreading your message – to the right people in the right place.

Why you need a social media plan


So you want to be on social media?

You’ve decided that you need a Facebook Page or Twitter account. Of course, you’ve already thought about how this makes sense for your business. But here’s the thing – you can’t just be on social media for the sake of being on social media. You need a reason to be social. You have to have a plan. Or else you’ll end up starting a Facebook page, posting a couple times and then nothing. You may as well have never started.

Before you even log into Twitter, you need to have a social media plan. Or else it’s simply too easy for your grand ambitions to fall apart. At a company I worked for previously, we decided to start a Facebook page. We were really keen on the idea, so we started one and made a few posts. No one was really in charge, so posts went up whenever someone could. It was pretty random. And the content was random too. And then a couple months went by with no posts. And we didn’t have many followers. See what I mean?

So then we formed a social media team. We created a strategy for the types of posts we wanted. We set out an editorial calendar – decided on what days we’d post, what the content would be and who on our team would do the actual posting. We had regular meetings to discuss content and review analytics (i.e. to see what posts got the most likes and shares). Our page likes grew and people actually shared our content!

Creating a social media plan is worth the investment up front to keep you on track and make your site successful. Here are some high level ideas to think about when creating your plan:

  • What are your goals for social? Sales? Brand awareness?
  • Who is your target audience? Where are they hanging out on social media? (More on that topic in another blog post.)
  • What’s your story? What makes your unique? This can drive your content.
  • What value will you provide to people who follow you?
  • Create a content or editorial calendar and stick with it. Decide how many posts you can do each day or week, based on resources and content.

I’d be happy to talk with you more about creating a social media plan for your business.


Should you give it away for free?


Should you give your product or service away for free?

This is a question that many businesses struggle with, when it comes to things like coupons or Groupons. Giving something away for free is a great way to get people in the door. But what does it really mean for your business?

I recently moved to a new city, and I called the Welcome Wagon. If you don’t know what that is, a person visits your home and gives you a bunch of coupons from local businesses, plus helpful local information like where to find a doctor, schools etc. The coupons included a bunch of free stuff that I used right away.

I needed a new hair salon to go to, so I used my coupon for a free haircut. At the same time, I put some highlights in (not included) so I gave them some money. She did a pretty good job, so I’m planning to go back.

There was a coupon for a free oil change, so I used that. I also needed to have my out of province car inspected, so I did that at the same time. More money for the local tire shop.

I believe that giving something away for free or at a big discount can be a great way to get customers to come to your business and try your service or product. But here’s the key thing: your service or product has to be good. It has to be valuable. Or else I’m not coming back. A free haircut is no good if it looks horrible. I’ll go back because I got quality service.

There’s a lot of noise out there when it comes to advertising so sometimes you have to be a bit bold to catch people’s attention. But to keep them coming back, you still have to offer quality.

There’s really nothing wrong with saying “hey, I believe in my product so much you can have it for free, because I know you’ll come back.”

This is a debate businesses have with their content marketing. If I’m an accountant, why give away free tax advice on my website? Because let’s face it, people are still going to need accounts. But you’ll build trust and show you’re an expert. And when they see the quality of what you give away for free, customers will now the product/service they have to pay will be of even higher standards.