The Charm’s of Advertising

For the past few months I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books and just recently I’ve begun the fifth book, the Order of the Phoenix. I absolutely love reading these books and more often than not I secretly wish I was a witch attending Hogwarts and on the quidditch team…. not a big deal.

I first heard of these books a long time ago but never bothered to read them since the movies were out. However, after I started reading this addicting series of books I began to see Harry Potter everywhere. Bookstores have sections just for Harry Potter books, fun nik-naks, folders, pencils, calendars, etc., and now there’s even a Harry Potter Theme Park where you can have your own personalized wand made, (I wouldn’t mind having my own personalized wand I must say) and go into the town of Hogsmeade to get a fresh butter beer.

It seems since I’ve opened my eyes to Harry Potter and got involved in the story and characters I’ve been much more perceptive and interested to anything ‘Harry Potter.’  So how can the advertising of all things Harry Potter peak the interest of new consumers enough to bring them to want to buy the Harry Potter books, movies or collectables? Well, I know I didn’t think twice about reading the books until a close, trusted friend strongly recommended  them to me. Information coming from a trusted source was a lot easier to believe and pursue. So all in all, by having your product promoted by trusted figures can really pay off with those stubborn consumers like myself. Also the word of mouth between friends, and communities can really network a products success to wide range of people, sometimes even more than expected.





Tuning In

I was in class a couple of months ago, listening to the professor, checking my Facebook updates on my laptop, and texting my friend under the table about going to the library later that night when my favorite song fills the room creating a wave of heads raising (including mine) to see what was on the screen. Immediately the whole class was intrigued by what they were hearing, and because the song was stimulating the ad became stimulating as well and after the ad was over, the whole class knew a little more about Gain laundry detergent. And so it seems we’ve found one of those ‘ah haa’ moments… that in order to break the tall, technological wall that people surround themselves with now-a-days, what consumers really need is a bold change in their surroundings. In this case going from a monotone soft voice to a loud bass, cheerful voice and fast beat was very effective in capturing the attention of the audience. The great thing about music is that everyone loves it, and listens to it! There are so many different genres and artists; emotions and memories are always triggered when certain songs come on. So pairing music with your ad will automatically bring attention to your ad and cause consumers to tune in to what you have to say. I know of several ads including the humorous Swiffer duster commercials that play ‘what about love’ by Heart and anytime I hear that song on the radio or anywhere else I can’t help but think of Swiffer products. So adding tunes to your advertisement can really make lasting connections with your audience and separate your product from others on the market.

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When Less is More & More is More too.

A few days ago my boyfriend and I went to Playmakers on a quest to get him some new running shoes. As we walked over to the Men’s section, we were bombarded by endless brands within several ‘kinds’ of tennis shoes. From varying levels of support, to specific shoes for sports to everyday shoes. But what caught my eye was the only display in the middle of the floor full of vibrant colored, quirky looking Vibram shoes. I’m sure this display was placed in its precise location to draw curious customers like myself where I immediately picked up one of Vibram’s ‘five fingers’ shoes, slowly spun it around in my hand and realized this has to be what the shoe of the future looks like. The advertising of this new product was key in engaging my full attention. With so many other choices of brands and shoes to look at it was definitely a great strategical decision to put this display smack-dab in the middle of the floor.

It seems as the years go by what society yearns for is less. Less is more has become the motto of the fast-paced, younger American society; wearing less clothes, having less money to spend, using fewer resources and now choosing styles of shoes that have more modern designs, and allow greater benefits with less material and bulk that take up less space. These shoes are designed to promote stronger feet which is ideal for people to exercise and run a lot. Although the free-ness of the five fingers shoe allows for more natural foot movement as well. However, Vibram has expanded their target market to not only runners but for people into yoga & Pilate’s, water sports, trekking, traveling, and really anyone who likes to be on the cusp of unique, new products on the market. Interestingly, the types of people I just listed covers the majority of the American population. The versatility of these shoes is amazing, and even for people who don’t exercise regularly, they look so unique and fun, you at least want to try them on…and who doesn’t want stronger feet anyways, right?! This product’s uniqueness makes it one to beat in the athletic industry. Because there is nothing else like it on the market yet, it’s really the time for Vibram to expand and pull in and secure as many loyal customers as possible. I know Vibram earned themselves one loyal life time customer that afternoon because my boyfriend bought a pair of Vibram soled shoes he now swears by.

Reading about these new shoes that are ‘like going barefoot, but better’ makes me think about how crazy competitive product markets are out there and how coming out with the newest, best-looking product that is also economical and in some way benefits the Earth and human is essential to many companies today. When it comes to the ‘less is more’ way of thinking, marketing strategies and advertising are better when more is more. The better the product is advertised, like being placed boldly in the middle of the floor, the product will inevitably attract customers and they will want to know about the product that’s so boldly being displayed. Also the more you see ads for a product that are positively displayed, the more you will remember the product and when hearing about the product, positive thoughts come to mind. So really, no matter how cool or unique your product may be, without effective advertising reaching your market your product will not have the potential to be seen as ‘less is more’ but rather simply just… less.

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Is Social Media Really For EVERYONE?

Social media has become the biggest craze in marketing over the past few years.  Facebook alone has over 500 million users (The US population is just over 300 million people, to put this into perspective).  It is said to be a wonderful, inexpensive opportunity to any business, big or small. Inexpensive, however, does not mean free.  It may appear free on the surface but have we considered labor costs?  The effort put into updating, commenting, adding, posting, etc. can become quite time consuming.   There is also the cost related to the content posted, like production costs for a company video.  It can be argued that smaller businesses have more to gain by taking advantage of social media (like a Facebook page, or company blog) but big media companies have many more resources and a much larger budget that can be directed toward online marketing.

A larger, more established business means more minds working together, more creativity, and more brilliant ideas being produced. While small businesses may have a better opportunity for growth, it’s like a catch-22 because they lack the resources to gain social media support.  It’s all about interacting, engaging, and sharing –going beyond an advertisement and forming a relationship with the consumer.  However, for a small business that is not the most difficult task. Before a company can connect with its audience, an online audience needs to exist.

Larger companies have already established awareness and a strong brand name, which will aid in their online success.  They have a vast amount of resources, enabling them to dive headfirst into social media.  Smaller companies, on the other hand, are not so well known and will be making a smaller splash into the social media pool.

The point is corporations cannot rely on just social media.  It is a great outlet for marketing but cannot solve all problems.  Companies still need support from other medias, whether it is email blasts or television commercials, in order to create awareness and loyalty to their brand before social media can grow to its true potential as an interactive marketing opportunity.

Cell Phone Plan vs. Pain

What makes a good commercial?  Let’s use the current Sprint “Injury” ad as an example.  A humorous conversation between a NFL player and his athletic trainer, in which the trainer seems to show no empathy about the football player’s knee injury because his mood is so uplifted by his Sprint plan benefits.

The strategy to highlight Sprint’s unlimited web and text plan was effective because it captured the audience in a comical story, relevant to the Fall football season; even mentioning a joke about Fantasy Football.  The ad was not repetitive, allowing the viewer to enjoy the commercial frequently without becoming annoyed and changing the channel (or fast-forwarding the TiVo).

Avoiding the hard-sell and camouflaging the benefits of Sprints new unlimited plan behind a humorous story line makes this an effective, successful commercial.

Are there any other opinions about the Sprint “Injury” commercial?

What’s new in mobile living

It’s no secret that SmartPhones have swept the nation.  There are nearly as many tech-savvy SmartPhone users as regular cellphones now.  With this new, widespread technology comes new opportunities for marketers.  There’s iPhone apps, FourSquare, Groupon, CitySearch and many others.

One particular mobile marketing program is WeReward.  It is a user friendly rewards program available to iPhone, Android, and Blackberrys.  Customers are able to take a picture of their buying experience with a business, post on WeReward, and receive some kind of deal to persuade return buys.

With all the interactive hype going around with social media, and brands trying to connect to their consumers on a more personal level, WeReward is just one more opportunity to do this. It encourages consumers to post about businesses on their social media sites and in return receive points on WeReward. For example, Starbucks may offer a WeReward of 500 points to each of the first 500 people to submit a picture of themselves drinking a Starbucks beverage.  With each point being worth one penny, consumers’ points can add up and reap in benefits of sending in mobile photos with their products.

“They don’t expect to be marketed to,” said EffectiveUI’s president, Anthony Franco, “They expect to get something done in this channel.” Apps need to meet consumer’s expectations, especially since consumers are likely to tell others whether an app is good or bad.

“It enables us to create awareness for our stores when buyers are nearby, drives social sharing and gives people a fun way to interact with the Domino’s brand,”  Multi Media Marketing VP of Domino’s, Dennis Maloney, said.  Another benefit of using WeRewards as a business is it only charges advertisers when customers actually make purchases and their WeReward budget can be adjusted at any time.

Will it be a success? It’s hard to tell.  It’s a fun way to interact with brands and receive rewards for future visits.  WeReward is also less invasive to consumers privacy than other programs such as FourSquare or Facebook’s Places, which can reveal a person’s exact location.

What makes my toothbrush better than yours?

In such a competitive market it is important to differentiate yourself from the competition.  Any product or service is capable of a strong brand name, even commodities like notebook paper or milk; it all depends on how you present it to consumers.

A perfect example of this is Coke and Pepsi.  Each consumer has his or her personal favorite, but there is only the slightest difference in overall taste.  Yet, Pepsi came up with the Pepsi Challenge in 1975 and reported its successful results to the public.  Another differentiation was through its blue background, which contrasted from the recognizable coca-cola red.

The first step in differentiating, as with most marketing strategies, is to determine the target audience.  Who will be interested in and notice the distinction being made?

The price should also be under consideration when creating a strategy of how your product will stand out.  Will consumers be willing to pay more for an additional service or extra care taken on your brand compared to competitors?  In Pepsi’s case it is unlikely people would be more willing to pay for a blue can over a red one, however, in other situations it may be more feasible.  For example, drivers concerned with the performance of their engine may be more willing to pay a higher price for premium gas over regular.

In the article How to Brand Sand ( it states that bundling is also important in creating variation over competitors’ products.  Competitors can easily copy one distinguishing difference in another company’s product.  Bundling several forms of differentiation will ensure a stronger advantage over the competition with less risk of them matching up to all the added values.

In the future, being a brand known for innovative and unique thinking will also enhance brand leverage with any other products associated with said brand.  Creating value and being able to say, “this is what we’re doing and this is what our competitor isn’t able to do,” may just be the difference between success or destruction to your business.