If you can’t please ’em, sue ’em?
In the town of Layton, Utah (not far from my home in Sandy, Utah), Jen and John Palmer posted a not terribly flattering review of KlearGear, from whom they had attempted to make an online purchase.
In a textbook demonstration of customer relations—that is, how not
to do it—KlearGear slapped the couple with a $3,500.00 fine, based on a “non disparagement” clause buried in their user agreement. The couple laughed off the fine ... until the unpaid amount showed up on their credit report, interfered with their ability to get a loan, and finally caused this, as stated in a Salt Lake Tribune article
“Their furnace wouldn’t turn on, and a technician told them it probably had to be replaced. They couldn’t get credit to pay for the fix, so they were left to bundle up in afghans that Jen had crocheted until they finally paid out of pocket after three weeks.”
Business readers, don’t try this at home. Less important is the fact that a non disparagement clause won’t hold up. (Attorney Scott Michelman, who is representing the Palmers, observed that “so-called fine print is only valid if the terms are deemed reasonable.”) More important is that, PR-wise, it’s JUST PLAIN DUMB. KlearGear’s folly is fast going viral, most likely not helping their sales.
The Palmers have countersued. They want $75,000.00 in damages. I don’t believe in Karma—no evidence supports that it’s a real thing—but I can enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next person. I hope a judge awards the money to the Palmers. And that it goes on KlearGear’s credit report.
Amazon provides fun for Fido?
Cool idea, though it may need a little work in one respect. I have had more than one dog, and even one cat, who would have pounced upon and made short work of the copter.
For all of you aged copywriters
who remember the typewriter
Thanks to Karen & Cecil T for sharing this with me.
Just what a scientifically illiterate country needs
That is the number of adults in the United States who think the sun circles the earth. Forty-nine percent don’t know that electrons are smaller than atoms. More than half think lasers are focused sound waves.* To see the survey for yourself, click here
The Toys“R”Us spot above doesn’t promise to help much. Sure, it’s just a spot, not meant to be taken seriously. But must science and nature be boring for toys to be fun? Isn’t there room in a child’s life for play and wonder? I suggest that we have a moral imperative to ensure there is.
There is a disturbing, growing anti-science sentiment in the U.S. Odd for a society that thrives on smartphones, flies at 30,000 feet, drives at 80 mph, streams video, and inhabits climate-controlled buildings—all things we have thanks to science. You know, the stuff that this Toys“R”Us spot is telling parents not to bore their kids with.
*If you said, “What? Huh? That’s not right?” to any of these or other items in the survey, thank you for illustrating my point.
What the RESPONSE Agency
knows about your employees
thanks to a Facebook campaign
You don’t often hear, “It makes sense to market this on Facebook.” But we believed we had come upon such a product, which subsequent sales confirmed.
Subsequent sales told us something else. Sales from our Facebook ads soar during business hours Monday through Friday and all but die off on weekends and holidays.
As a marketer, I find that kind of information valuable. It tells me the best times to keep the ads live.
As an employer, I find that kind of information disconcerting. It tells me that people prefer not to waste their valuable leisure time on Facebook. That’s what work time is for. You know, when you thought you were paying them to, like, work and all.
Depending on how you look at it, the thumb may be pointing the wrong way.
My favorite proofreading service
Sooner or later, every writer ceases seeing his or her own typos. Hence, the value of outside proofreading services. I use BulletproofOnline.com
. (No, this is not a compensated endorsement.) I like them because they’re fast (important in a last-minute business) and thorough (also important; surely I needn’t explain why).
But another thing keeps me loyal. It’s a little thing. Each time I send them a file, a real person immediately confirms receipt and thanks me for the work. Obsessive-compulsive case that I am, knowing the file has arrived lets me get on with my other work.
No proofer is perfect, so after receiving Bulletproof’s feedback, I make a point of re-subjecting my work to my own scrutiny. I make something of a game of it. If I can find something they overlooked, I allow myself a moment of smugness.
Terrific subject line
It is in my best interest to make myself readily findable online. That’s one way I meet new clients and get speaking engagements. But ready findability has its downside. Thousands of spammers hammer away at me daily. So do as many legitimate marketers who want to sell me things I may or may not want to take a look at.
In the face of such a daily deluge, I send most emails straight to the trash unopened. Doubtless you do the same. Which, in short, is why crafting a killer subject line is so darned important. It is the only thing between your marketing message and oblivion.
I received one today that stopped me. It said, “Riddle me this, Steve.” I didn’t recognize the sender’s name, I figured (correctly) that though it wasn’t spam it was selling something that ultimately I would not buy ... but I had to open it. And I surely thought about buying. On a better day, I might have taken the plunge.
Before you fire off that next commercial email, put some thought into that subject line. Then work at it some more.
Call it “creative” if you must. I beg to differ, but either way it’s poor advertising.
Sorry, elk. This billboard won’t save you.
One reason the advertising field mistakes wannabe screenwriters and novelists for marketers is the persistent and indefensible meme that creativity, alone, sells.(1) Wannabes who fail to break into moviemaking or publishing cry out, “I’m creative! If I can’t make films or write books, I’ll make ads!” As a result, we the public have foisted upon us ad after ad that exists solely because someone deemed it creative while managing to convince a client that by virtue of being creative (and nothing more than that) it packed selling power.
The above-shown PETA billboard is an example of an allegedly(2)
creative ad that fails to sell. (Set aside your feelings about PETA. We’re talking advertising strategy, not ideology.)
Advertising that hopes to get people to change their ways must provide people a good reason to do so. According to this billboard, the reason to quit hunting is that the animal might get you back. It fails as a good reason. Tables-turning prey have hardly reached epidemic proportions. Moreover, for some, risk is part of the thrill of hunting.
Besides, risk to your personal safely is not
why PETA doesn’t want you to hunt animals. Else, PETA would be all for a payback-free method of killing animals—say, raising and slaughtering them on a farm—and all for hunting critters that pose no retaliatory threat. (Imagine this headline: “PETA says ‘Hands Off’ horned creatures, declares open season on defenseless ones like bunnies.” And this subhead: “Officials undecided about Jackalopes.”)
Message aside, this concept commits a major billboard sin. Few drivers buzzing by at 75 MPH will have the time to read the headline, notice the red-tipped antlers, and put it all together.
The PETA billboard hopes to end hunting by failing to provide one good reason why hunting should end. That’s idiotic enough. Even more idiotic, PETA paid good money to have the concept produced and displayed.
________________________1. Yes, indefensible. See Chapter 5 of my book.2. Call me disagreeable, but I don’t find it “creative.” Whatever “creative” means.
• • •
Who you calling successful?
I thought about declining the interview. For one thing, Navallo.net says it “features interviews with the world’s most successful people,” a claim on which their wanting to interview me casts no small doubt.For another, the questions struck me as setups for flatulent, self-congratulatory rhetoric. Indeed, a look through past interviews revealed quite a bit of that. Take Question 4, which asks, “When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?” Answers included gems of unrealistic non-insight like “quitting isn’t an option,” would-be humble profundities like “the illumination from the lanterns held by others,” and the oxymoronic “by not letting ‘no’ be part of my vocabulary.”
But in the end I decided to participate. I wanted to see if I could muster a substantive answer or two. Did I pull it off or only succeed in giving voice to my inner snob? You can read my attempt by clicking here.—Steve Cuno
What Restaurateurs Should Know
About Restaurant Marketing
When restaurateurs* retain us, I ask, “What is it about your place that brings people in?” Invariably the answer is, “Our food.”
The number one driver of a restaurant’s business is its location. Your place needs to be easy to see from the road, in fact, impossible to miss, even to those not looking for it. It should be where there is plenty of customer traffic. It should be easy to get in and out of. Ideally, you should plop it down near other, successful restaurants. There are three reasons for this. One is that many people choose a restaurant by going where there are lots of them and then decide which one appeals. That’s the idea behind food courts in malls. Another is that when competing places fill up, you’ll get some of their overflow. Still another is that, because location matters, successful restaurants nearby speak well for that spot.
The number two driver is the experience you create for your customers. The food is, of course, part of the experience, but the first thing customers “taste” is the look and feel of the place: theme, lighting, interior design, menu layout, cleanliness, service, the appearance and manners of your people, and the presentation of the food on the plate. Customers taste with their other senses long before your cuisine sets foot in their mouth. The more visceral appeal your place has, the better the food will taste. (Menu hint: Food photography is an art. If you can’t afford a pro, no photography is better than doing your own.)
Food comes in third, but it’s not as important a third as you think, and your food is probably not as exceptional as you think. People frequent places where location and ambience offer great appeal while the food is mediocre. To name a few: Cracker Barrel, Old Spaghetti Factory, Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Applebee’s. None of these has great food. But many a restaurant with better fare, but a poor location and less ambiance, go under.
If you have a lousy location and little distinguishing ambience, you’re not necessarily doomed. But one dilly of an uphill battle awaits you.
Here’s a hint: Before you open a restaurant where another has failed, make sure that the location wasn’t the chief culprit. And before you get to making recipes, remember that your real product is a place with the kind of look and feel that people enjoy.
*Remember to omit the letter n from restaurant when you render it restaurateur. Most people mispronounce it.