We’ve worked with, taught and mentored hundreds of college seniors and recent grads. Almost without exception, we see them go out into the world with a one-size-fits-all resume. Even worse, a one-size-fits-all resume laid out with a formulaic online template. The students are often surprised when we tell them to create a different resume for every company they apply to; that one-to-one marketing begins with yourself. How do you make sure you’re speaking correctly to your target audience?
A charming satirical website showed up on our desk the other day for a company called Blandly. The entire site was built around the premise that they would deliver the bland marketing campaign you’re looking for with a team of young marketers with clever titles like “Chief Poetics Officer” and “Senior Design Proselytizer.” Like all good satire, there’s more than a little truth in it. How do you make sure your marketing campaign doesn’t get run through a blander?
The state of Rhode Island launched a new marketing campaign two weeks ago—and the Internet trolls killed it. The slogan—“Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer” — left people confused and spawned lampoons along the lines of “Dumb and Dumber.” We’re not fans of the line, but the client reaction was predictable, and wrong. Instead of leveraging and challenging the trolls, they reacted in classic pre-internet style and quickly killed the campaign. And got the resignation of their marketing execs. Ouch. How are you prepared to handle negative feedback in social media?
Here’s one good way to handle Internet trolls—just ignore them. Steve’s sister-in-law has a sideline business as a pet psychic. (Please don’t ask.) About a month ago, she was interviewed by BuzzFeed and it got posted on YouTube without her knowledge. The interview’s gone viral, with over 1.3 million views to date. At first she started to read what the trolls had posted, but when she called us, we said, “Stop reading. What do you care what they say?” Wisely, she took our advice and has blithely gone about her schedule handling the more than 400 (!) new client requests BuzzFeed has forwarded to her. How do you leverage your web activity?
Welcome to the cover page headline of the April 21st edition of the NY Post. Really? We get that Kelly Ripa is upset that no one told her Michael Strahan is being promoted to Good Morning America come September. People are dying in Ecuador and Japan following the latest earthquakes and the earth has certainly shifted in the American political campaign. But the New York Post truly understands its target audience. Kelly sells tabloid papers. Blue collar Republicans on Staten Island really don’t care about Ecuador, Japan or anyone other than Donald Trump. Poor Kelly will have to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary and her millions of dollars salary wounded with the fact that, yet again, she will have to find another “Live” partner in the Fall. What do you do to make sure your brand news really matters to your target audience?
There’s something, well, delicious about the word “cuckold.” Practically onomatopoeic, it’s redolent with embarrassment, shame and even a little “gotcha!” But a recent story in the NYTimes reveals that “your father the mailman” is largely a myth. DNA studies reveal global cuckolding rates are around one in a hundred, or 1%. However (and this was what made us laugh out loud), the geneticists didn’t think “cuckolded” was a scientific enough term for their studies. So they refer to the condition as “extra pair paternity.” Sorry, no fun in that. Does your organization or profession turn ribaldry into PG-rated terminology?
Last week we wrote about self-driving cars. But let’s talk about the bland, white gumdrop that Google has been testing. It’s just plain ugly. When Elon Musk introduced the Tesla, he unveiled a sleek, rocket-fast EV that set the standard every other car maker has been chasing. People want to DRIVE a Tesla. On the other hand, maybe Sergey Brin understands the other side of the auto buying spectrum: People who want their cars to be self-driving probably are indifferent to the way the vehicle looks or performs. Gum drops might outsell rocket ships, but which would you rather own?
Subway and Chipotle have some serious marketing problems. And each thinks the way out of their hole is the promise of “fresh.” Chipotle’s desire to deliver on that promise got them into trouble: There’s a thin line separating “fresh” from “spoiled.” And even though Subway’s been selling “fresh” for years, the public still sees them as a quick serve competitor to McDonald’s and Wendy’s. As American dietary tastes continue to evolve what new idea disrupter do you think might be next to change the fast food landscape?
Both Paul and Steve like our coffee from Starbucks strong, bitter and black. It turns out, however, that we’ve missed the point. In Justin Warner’s The Laws of Cooking [LINK] he explains the Law of Coffee, Cream and Sugar: the fat in the cream smooths out the acidity of the coffee and the sugar reins in the bitterness without damaging the nutty, chocolate flavor. Hmm. Now we understand the myriad “coffee-flavored drinks” Starbucks offers. Apparently the coffee is just supposed to be the base, not the end product. Who knew? (We didn’t.)
We’re amazed at Volkswagen’s reaction to their diesel emissions scandal. There’s something positively Teutonic about their willingness to stonewall the EPA, refusal to reveal who was responsible and lack of outreach to the hundreds of thousands of customers who are saddled with vehicles whose resale value is plummeting. No surprise, then, that both the federal government and now the US Volkswagen Dealers Association have filed the first of what will be thousands of lawsuits. We believe VW’s stance will be a textbook lesson in how NOT to deal with a product flaw. What do you do to prepare your company for a PR disaster?