I have no objection to sales calls. I make them myself. But I hate deception, pushiness, and failure to listen.
Today I have the pleasure of reporting a good call that came my way.
The caller opened by asking if he’d reached me at a good time. I do that myself when making calls, and as a callee I can tell you I appreciated the courtesy. He was honest—didn't try to convince me he wasn't telemarketing. (It's an insult to my alleged intelligence when telemarketers lie, "I'm not selling anything. I'm just calling to inform you of…”)
Moreover, in requesting a sponsorship for a university student program, he acknowledged that my company would be doing the program a favor, rather than trying to dress up the request as some unbeatable advertising opportunity ("Your logo will appear in our brochure in front of … um … up to ten … um … disinterested people").
I signed up.
This letter from author Simon Singh appears in Swift, the newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Singh, one of my favorite science writers, is being sued for libel by a British chiropractic association for having referred to their trade as “bogus.” For the moment please set aside your feelings about so-called alternative medicine and instead consider the implications of the UK’s maniacal libel laws. No matter what country you live in, they have the power to affect you. Then, please click here (or on the link in the text) and sign the petition.--Steve Cuno
From Simon SinghDear Friends, Rationalists, Bloggers, Journalists, Medics, Skeptics & Scientists:
As you may know, I am currently being sued for libel. My own case is largely irrelevant, because the bigger issue is libel reform so that scientists can discuss ideas openly, fairly and robustly, without fear that they might end up in court. There are currently three ongoing cases involving libel and science/medicine.
This is a very English problem, but it has a chilling effect on debate around the world because English law can have a global jurisdiction. Hence, I am asking for support from around the world.
One way to help achieve libel reform is for 100,000 people to sign the petition for libel reform before the political parties write their manifestos for the upcoming General Election. We already have 29,000 signatures, but we really need 100,000, and we need your help to get there.
If you have not yet signed, then please click here.
To find out why we need to reform English libel law, then please read on. (Read the rest of this article by clicking here now.)
Got time to kill? Check out my personal website. It has some RESPONSE Agency stuff, but also goes into more of my personal interests, including some music I wrote. Click here to visit SteveCuno.com.
1. I wrote better copy than the ad agency’s copywriters. That made it hard for me not to over-edit their work, much less pay them for it.
2. The ad agency didn’t know how to quantify results. It’s hard to trust someone’s alleged expertise when they can’t prove they have any.
3. The ad agency charged me whatever happened to be in my budget. It seemed to me that a project should cost what it costs, no matter how much or little I have to spend.
That’s why, in 1994, I opened the RESPONSE Agency. We’re obsessed with not just well-written, but compelling copy. We measure results, so you get recommendations based on data, not just “trust us.” And if we can do the work for less than you've budgeted, we let you keep the difference.
Readers of this blog know that I am a social media skeptic. I acknowledge that some social marketing successes have popped up. But they have not been replicated, which indicates that, so far, they are more likely the product of randomness than indicative of a hot new marketing tool.
This week, Advertising Age reports results from the Edelman 2010 Trust Barometer, a study that asks people their level of trust in various media messages. Only 25% of people polled consider friends and peers as credible sources of consumer and business information.
Now, I'm also skeptical of research that asks people to self-report their feelings. Such “research” often tells you much about respondents’ self-concept, and little about anything else. However, when this same study was done two years ago, that number was 45%. The decline gives pause, self-reporting notwithstanding.
Perhaps marketing’s attempt to institutionalize word-of-mouth advertising has robbed it of its very power.
Like many Americans, I'm a sucker for an Australian accent. The sales guy who just showed up at my door had one. I stood entranced and listened to his entire pitch. I even asked a couple of questions, just so I could listen some more.
I didn't buy. I'm not that big of a sucker. But since being heard is the first step toward a sale, I bet he scores more sales around here than the average Yank.
If the accent was faked (after all, how would I know?), I say no harm no foul. He deserves his success all the more.
RESPONSE blog reader, fellow skeptic and public relations pro Michael Hartwell sent this note:
I know you've written about the Super Bowl being an inefficient time to advertise, but I am seeing a lot of advertisements selling products to enhance the Super Bowl — mostly snack food and televisions. But instead of directly saying it's for the Super Bowl, they're saying it's for the "big game." I imagine this is due to some copyright concern. Is this "nickname" practice used in other situations, is there more at play here then copyright and is it fair to say these event-based advertisements are the real advertising success stories around the Super Bowl?
Thanks, Michael. Let me break this down into two parts.
1. On advertising during the Super Bowl
I wouldn't characterize the Super Bowl as an inefficient time to advertise. It draws a mass audience, a big chunk of which actually looks forward to watching the ads. If your objective is to put your message in front of a huge, receptive audience, the Super Bowl is ideal.
But before spending the minimum $2.6 million for one 30-second exposure this year, you'd have been well-advised to weigh the benefits. A "receptive audience" in this case may mean "expecting to be entertained," not necessarily "open to making a decision to buy." And reaching a vast audience is no assurance that you'll sell anything to any of them.
Running spots during the Super Bowl may make sense for certain advertisers. But I'd recommend a better success measure than how many people saw, recalled or liked the commercial.
2. On "Super Bowl" as a trademark
Michael is right as to why advertisers tell you to stock up on their product for "the big game." Were they to come right out and say "for the Super Bowl," they'd hear from the big game's attorneys in no time.
The Olympics get nasty in like fashion when you use the O word and, sometimes, even "Games." During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a ski resort ran billboards promoting the fact that no Olympic events were were taking place on their slopes. The idea was to attract locals seeking a crowd-free place to ski. The IOC made them remove "Olympics" from their billboards.
My non-legal opinion is that both organizations are bullying and getting away with it. Companies name other companies in their ads all the time. Pepsi names Coke. Mac names Windows. GM names Toyota. But who wants to take on the Super Bowl or the Olympics in what would certainly prove a costly, years-long legal battle? Is it worth the fight, given that the Super Bowl arrives but once a year and the Olympics, counting summer and winter, arrives but every two? And who wants the PR liability of being the whiner who sued a beloved institution? Those are, I suspect, the reasons that no one bothers to call the bullies' bluff.
I had intended my recent Swift article to be an empowering piece on personal responsibility. I also wanted to bust a few myths about advertising’s alleged powers of control. Judging from many of the comments, it seems that some readers took the piece for a unilateral defense of marketing, abuses included, and a disavowal of marketers’ responsibilities for what and how they sell.
Nope. I am an outspoken critic of marketing abuses. If you’d care to search my blog, you’ll find that I routinely take marketers to task for flimflam products, racism, sexism, non-promises, certain business practices, needless vitriol, and sticking flyers on my door, to name a few. And, yes, I routinely bring up personal responsibility as well. Fair is fair.
Marketing abuses indeed occur and shouldn’t be tolerated. That should be an easy call in clear-cut cases, such as outright lying. But more often... (click here to read the rest)
Comcast has done a good job of making their name a household word. Now they have announced plans to rebrand their internet, phone and cable TV services under the name Xfinity.
I'm not sure what Xfinity means. "Formerly infinite," perhaps?
Such so-called rebrands cost money. New signs, letterhead, business cards, vehicle IDs, etc., etc., are but the iceberg's tip. The real expense comes in retraining the masses to recognize you by, and trust you in association with, the new name.
Which leads me wonder: what marketing problem does this so-called rebrand solve for Comcast?
I refer to this as a "so-called" rebrand because a new name and logo do not a brand make. Those are marks. Brands are bigger and go deeper. (I deal with this extensively in my book.)
The following item appeared in Bank Marketing News:
How To Tell If You Have A Good Response
February 5, 2010
Chapel Hill, NC: "A good response is one that reaches your objective or better. How do you set a good objective? That depends upon measures that take in the bottom-line," stated Steve Cuno, author of The Bankers Direct Mail Bible and Prove It Before You Promote It.
[For more of Cuno’s secrets to direct marketing success, see Direct Mail Guru Tells Success Secrets.]
"If you can show provable results, the bean counters will leave you alone," commented Cuno.
Cuno, CEO of the Response Agency, Salt Lake City, Utah, offered his observations during an February 4, 2010 Webcast entitled, “Direct Mail: What Works, What Doesn't, and How to Get Started.” The presentation was hosted by OnsiteConference, Inc., a privately held research marketing firm located in Tampa, Florida.
"Your earnings objective should be based upon on what you know about the value of the customer,"stated Cuno. "That's where the LTV (Lifetime Value) comes in. If you know the return you can expect over the life of an account relationship, you can figure... (To read the rest of this article, go to Bank Marketing News by clicking here. A new window will open.)