Monthly Archives: November 2009

Expected error?

I got one of those messages today.  The kind that disrupts your day by disconnecting the flow of work or information:

“An unexpected error has occurred”.

That got me thinking.  Is there any other kind of error?  Where are all the expected errors (the ones that obviously exist, because these messages always seem at pains to tell you that the error is, in fact, unexpected)?  What happens in the machine to cause an unexpected error?  Why don’t I ever get a message that says “sorry, we expected that error.  It must be you”?

The answer is, of course, that I’ll never get one of those because, when an error does occur, it should be completely unexpected, and completely reversible.

When you’re developing strategy to grow your business, especially around customer experience and brand strategy, you’d better make sure that you’re on top of where errors can occur.  If they’re unexpected, deal with them right away; no delay.  If they’re expected, why are they even there in the first place?  Should you have implemented a model that has the potential for expected errors, even if it has a cost-saving?

Is that really the message you want your customers to get?

“Made ya look” marketing

That’s a term I use to describe marketing done by (mostly) small businesses using footpath characters.

It’s when you’re driving along and, almost out of the blue, you see a gorilla, or a Santa, or a horse, or just a couple of guys wearing sandwich boards, waving their hands, maybe holding a sign up and almost pleading for your attention.

Today I was making good time on the road when, out of the blue, there’s Big Bird waving like a mad thing and holding up a sign for the lighting shop he was standing right out front of.  Wasn’t a great Big Bird, might not even have been Big Bird, but that’s what I saw.  Gave them a honk (it was something like 30 degrees and I felt sorry for him or her in that suit), got an acknowledging wave and then continued on.

Are they relevent to the business?  Mostly not, except maybe for Santa around Christmas time.  Do you see the sign and the business name?  Mostly, unless they’ve used the wrong gauge permanent marker.  Can you help looking though?  Definitely not and that’s my point.

See if Big Bird hadn’t been standing out front of that light shop, I wouldn’t have bat an eyelid.

Big Bird got my attention though and next time I’m thinking about buying lights, I’ll be remembering that spot, because Big Bird made me look.

If you don’t have a “made ya look” in your marketing arsenal, you’d better go find it or create it.  Or else you risk losing out  in the memorability stakes.

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Activation, not information, is the key

We’re all bombarded with government ads, community service announcements, new websites and nice, glossy (expensive) brochures that tell us what we should be doing to change our habits for a positive impact on us or our environment.

For the most part, most of us agree, but then what do we do with the information?  What motivates us into action?

I could write lots of theory and puff up my own successes, but this site shows us exactly how it’s done http://thefuntheory.com/

If you’re not smiling after watching this, check your pulse and call a medic.  This site demonstrates exactly how to things get done (not just talked about) and is a fried gold initiative.  Not only does it have longevity built in, the strategy rewards the creator (Volkswagen in Sweden, in this case) by rewarding entrants for true innovative action.  It builds massive brand credibility through active engagement with community, not just through an idea but through real, solid, measurable action.

The idea also has connotations for your marketing communications strategy as well.  Information is important but activation is the key.  Activation will follow experience by a factor of millions (slight exaggeration, but it’d be a lot) over an ad alone.

Make your messages more engaging and outcomes-focused by BEING engaging.  Think it through, be daring and provocative (not controversial) and your cause, brand or business will benefit.