Wednesday, November 30

Don't Buy This Jacket

In marketing, timing is everything.  Which is why the Black Friday and Cyber Monday release of a "shocking" Patagonia advertising campaign got everyone a twitter.  While the rest of the country is caught up in massive massive consumerism, here is Patagonia telling us not to buy their products.  Unless you really need them.  Why?  Because it takes a lot of resources to make that jacket and we shouldn't waste those resources if we really don't need to.  Wow!  Or better yet, but a used one because it lasts so long that it'll still be in great shape!  Double wow!

Talk about taking a stand!  Talk about turning left when everyone else is turning right!  Talk about getting talked about!

Here my friend Gwen Korbel asks (and answers) the question .... but is this smart marketing?  

What's your experience, Gwen?  Jim.

AdFreak (and it's parent AdWeek) teased a little piece of marketing in my twitter-feed on Monday: "Don't buy this jacket." @Patagonia's self-hating holiday appeal as #AdOfTheDay.

It caught me off guard and immediately got me thinking ... is this smart of the brand?

This Patagonia initiative certainly isn't smart because AdFreak says so (just because it's Ad of the Day).  It isn't smart because it's original (it isn't original at all -- the brand did something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, in their catalog years ago).  And it isn't smart just
 because it's attention-getting (although it certainly is).

What makes this smart marketing is that the message is true to Patagonia's brand. (note from Jim:  ahhh, yes!)

Patagonia has long tried to be a conservationist company:  i
n 1989they founded the Conservationist Alliance in partnership with fellow outdoor industry companies REI, The North Face, and Kelty.  Their products are built to last, which reduces the need to replace the gear, which helps the environment and should increase brand loyalty.  (It does nothing to dampen the desire for new things, which is arguably the driver for a good deal of consumer purchases.)

Smartest thing about the campaign, though, is that Patagonia is being straight-forward with their consumers, particularly those of a like mind.  The brand admits that while they're "in business to make and sell products,"
 that it would be hypocritical for them "to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy."   

Patagonia acknowledges that they themselves are still in an aspirational phase, that they are still working towards a goal of everything they sell being "useful, multifunctional where possible, long lasting, beautiful but not in thrall to fashion."  And anyone working in sustainability knows that it is a work in progress and that it's a never ending goal.

So is it smart to tell people not to buy your products?  Read the brand's own blog entry on the initiative and decide for yourself how smart they've been (or not).

- Gwen Korbel 

Tuesday, November 29

Temporary Sales Help

It's the holiday rush, one far more escalated than in prior years thanks to the huge hype around Black Friday (sales were up over 15% vs prior year!).  Shoppers are storming stores, looking for merchandise, deals, and help with it all.  So retailers have to meet the heightened traffic with more sales staff, generally in the form of temporary sales help that will be gone after the holidays.

The problem is that many shoppers are forming impressions of these retailers during this rush, and it may not always be favorable.  Imagine if the only time you were ever in Walmart was this past Black Friday ... imagine your impression of the "brand" and the "brand experience!"  Yuck.

I wrote a guest blog post on this very topic on my publisher's blog (AMACOM Books).  So today's post here is that post there, and you can click here to read it.

What's your (retail) experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Saturday, November 26

Small Business Saturday

We are all very familiar now with Black Friday, and Cyber Monday for that matter.  But Small Business Saturday?

YES!  Today is Small Business Saturday, an initiative founded by American Express to raise awareness for small business owners and to show support so that these businesses can stay afloat in this tough economy.  It's brilliant ... you can go to the American Express Facebook page and pledge to support small business, and also get a $25.00 credit to your Amex card.

American Express has been a huge promoter of small business.  In the sea of Black Friday advertising, for me it is American Express that came out the winner with their Shop Small campaign.  Now it's not completely altruistic, the brand gets a big benefit from it.  But I still greatly applaud the effort.

Many have said that small business is the backbone of our economy, and many more have said that it's the key to our recovery.  I agree.  We all get caught up in the big brands and the big retailers, me included.  It's time to shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs and small business owners who make our country so great.

I am a huge believer in small business, so much so that I just finished my second book:  The Experience Effect for Small Business.  It takes big brand theory (much of what I outlined in my first book) and shows small businesses how to market their brands with limited resources.  I'm hoping that it will become a helpful guide to those who want success like the big guys, but perhaps don't have the training or budgets to do so.

The book won't be out until the middle of December, but my publisher is doing an early bird release of the e-book today, in honor of Small Business Saturday.  Simply go to the website here, and in the shopping cart add "ExpEffectSmallBiz" as the promo code to get a special discount code.  You can get the e-book today and for the next few weeks at a special discount prior to the official release of the book!

Please pass this around to your small business friends and family.  And of course frequent small businesses today and everyday.  They need your support and so does our economy!  I'm heading right into my small town of Newtown, PA today to do some holiday shopping!

Thanks to all of you too, for all of your continued support.  It means the world to me.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect Series

Friday, November 25

Black Friday Advertising

After a day spent with family yesterday for Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am over ... Black Friday advertising!  It was relentless.  Of course we spent the day gathered around the table and gathered around the tv, so we had our fill of stuffing and retailers all trying to one-up each other for Black Friday specials.

The heavy hitters were in full force:  Kohl's, Sears, TJMaxx, JCPenney, Home Depot, and of course Walmart who had several spots.  None of them I would say resonated.  In fact, most were rather annoying ... happy shoppers and competing prices just don't move me.  Just saying.

I think it's getting to be all a little too much.  Stores, like Toys 'R Us, opening at 9:00pm.  C'Mon!  There were reports this morning of a shopper at Walmart using pepper spray to get ahead of the crowds.  It's getting beyond crazy and I'm starting to feel like maybe I just don't get it.

BUT ... I would like to call out a couple of creative standouts in the Black Friday advertising.  That part is fun!

First there's Target.  Target made online headlines this week ... criticized for making employees work on the holiday and then there a petition to get the retailer to close for the day.  Yet we see the return of our beloved "Target Lady" --- the crazy shopper who has a personality to die for.  This year we saw a few spots from last year as well as some new executions mixed in.  Love it.  Is she representative of the Black Friday shopper?  Maybe.  But she's entertaining to watch.

Then there's Macy's.  Macy's "owns" Thanksgiving with the parade, well at least Thanksgiving on tv at least.  Well at least Thanksgiving on tv in the morning, let's say that.  Then it all turns over to football.  But this year Macy's was ever-present all day long with a new spot featuring Justin Bieber for Black Friday at Macy's, hyping his new fragrance.  It's very creative, and no matter how many times I saw it, it made me laugh.

Are these two spots insanely innovative or insightful?  No.  But they're fun and at least not shouting about low prices on electronics or longer shopping hours.  All that shouting isn't going to get me to your store.  A little entertainment just might.

I should also mention the advertising from American Express for Small Business Saturday, but I'm waiting for that on a separate post with a little surprise!  :)

As far as Black Friday ... I'm not participating as a shopper.  It's just too too much for me.  But I will watch from a far as a marketer ... after all, marketing is a spectator sport!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Wednesday, November 23

Dancing With The Stars

Although I am not a big fan of this show, I do watch it on occasion ... Dancing With The Stars has become a cultural phenomenon so I have to tune in to see what all the hype is about.  This season I was half in, half out.  Chas Bono had me captivated in the beginning and then J. R. Martinez got me towards the end.

Last night was the finale and quite honestly it was competitive reality television at its best.

On the one hand you have Rob Kardashian.  The classic "little brother" who is part of family who is, shall we say, in decline right now.  Leave it at that.  Why should we care about this guy?  He's the most un-interesting guy on the show who improved the most through the weeks.  I guess in a way that's what the show is all about.

But then on the other hand you have J. R. Martinez.  Military guy who suffered burns over 40% of his face.  Appears to be the nicest man on the planet and has some raw natural talent, although not the best dancer the show has ever seen.  Most people don't know that he's also a soap star!

In between you have Ricky Lake who danced her butt off, literally.  But there's no drama there so she didn't make the final cut.

What's my point here?  Not sure, actually, but I did enjoy watching two men who couldn't be more opposite from each other in competition.  I wouldn't have thought Rob Kardashian had a chance of making it this far.  His sister Kim did the show and got booted off within the first couple weeks.  And here is her couch potato brother in the finals, shaking his bon bon.  Not much more substance there.

Standing next to him in sharp contrast is a real American hero who has the courage to smile in front of a camera ... a true inspiration to us all.  I'm glad the judges and the voting public chose to celebrate that.  Good job, J. R., I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of you.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Tuesday, November 22

My Holiday Grocery Tour

In preparation for Thanksgiving, yesterday I spent the bulk of the day going to grocery stores ... four of them to be exact.  Why four, you ask?  Because to really be smart about spending and to really get the best "goods," I literally had to go to four different stores.  Didn't realize that would be the case, but in reality to do it "right," that's what had to happen.

Costco:  to get the good deals.  $.99 per pound for turkey is worth a fourteen mile drive and the price on Tide would blow your socks off.

Trader Joe's:  to get hard to find items and fresh produce.  Pumpkin cream cheese pancakes has become a family tradition.  Plus they have the best pinot grigio on the planet.

Whole Foods:  to get the organic stuff like real crystalized ginger and fresh mushrooms.  Why?  Exactly.

Genuardi's:  for the normal stuff.  Like milk, eggs, and holiday colored M&Ms.

My biggest observation?  Actually my biggest shock?  Packaging!

I couldn't believe the amount of packaging I saw at Costco.  Holy cow!

I've never seen so much packaging.  Boxes on top of boxes on top of crates that are on top of crates.  Primary packaging with secondary packaging.  Small little items with huge amounts of cardboard around them ... presumably to prevent "slippage."

But I couldn't help but feel a little guilty.  It's so counter-culture to have so much packaging.  Now granted, there were no plastic or paper bags at check-out, you had to bring your own so that was good.  But I still felt like I was dragging home a paper plant with me, which was in sharp contrast to the other grocery stores I visited.

All in all, the best shopping experience?  Whole Foods.  Fabulous merchandising and store layout.  Had an organic lunch in the food court.  No long lines ... pleasant staff.  Of course the prices compensated for it, but it was still the best shopping experience.

All in a day's holiday work!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect