Monthly Archives : July 2008

Scrambled marketing messages

The farm up the road has started selling fresh eggs, but they have signs posted everywhere that say “Beware of the Dog.” Now there’s an example of scrambled marketing messages — promoting something people want, but deterring them from buying.

The underbelly of marketing

I didn’t know how bad my life – and so much marketing – was until I came up to my remote cabin and started to pick up the phone – to telemarketers. In fact it rings so much that I’m astounded. (We forgot to register the phone line on Do Not Call List.)

I’ve got debt over $6,000 and am paying 29% interest. (No). I – or one of my family members – have diabetes. (No) I could be savingΒ  by subscribing to Direct TV (I have no television). My auto warranty has expired. (No again). I could finally qualify for a medical insurance discount program. (I already have insurance). I’m the victim of debt collector predators/ (Yes, if you count your company.)

All these calls tell me that it’s urgent and critical that I talk with them today.

Most of these pre-recorded messages are sent out with voice blaster technology that blasts messages to everyone who hasn’t signed up for Do Not Call. (In fact two of the telemarketers explained this to me.) If you dial 1 to get to a person, most of the people you end up talking to are some of the most unprofessional people I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

What’s most disturbing is that a lot of the good folks in this rural area are elderly or don’t have a lot of education; I fear that these fear-mongering marketers are taking advantage of them. Or maybe everyone can see through these predatory tactics?

Does anyone know whether there’s a central place on the Web to report these companies? Kind of like a global Better Business Bureau that we can contribute to? Seems like using Web 2.0 for better consumer protection is order….

8 sins of the stupid smart person


Why is it that many of us who are fairly smart do stupid things? While doing research on why CMOs fail, I came across a book that has some relevancy, Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, by Robert J. Sternberg, IBM professor of psychology and education at Yale. The most interesting chapter is by Harvard researcher David N. Perkins, who believes that you can be really smart but not know when to engage your smartness, and the extent to which this happens is “stupidity.”

Perkins highlights eight deadly sins of the stupid smart person:

  1. impulsiveness (doing something rash)
  2. neglect (ignoring something important)
  3. procrastination (actively avoiding something important)
  4. vacillation (dithering)
  5. backsliding (capitulating to habit)
  6. indulgence (allowing oneself to fall into excess)
  7. overdoing (like indulgence, but with positive things)
  8. walking the edge (tempting fate)

While I’m early into the research, my hypothesis is that CMOs fall into stupid territory most often by engaging in #s 1, 5 and 8.

Your thoughts?

Citizens Bank customer service: 2 days to answer email?

One way companies can keep customers happy — maybe not loyal, but reasonably content — is responsive customer service, especially in small ways that matter. Here’s an example. This morning I sent my bank a simple question and here’s the response.


Two days to reply to a simple email question? Now there’s an area marketing should tackle.

What is the frustration telling us?

Frustration is a good thing.Β  Really? During a conversation this morning with my wise friend Lissa Bergin-Boles over at TrueCallings, Lisa explained that being frustrated can be hugely constructive as it’s a recognition that we know something is wrong and needs to be fixed. If you put the frustration on the table and tease out what’s going on, you can usually figure out how to fix things. (Although there are those who use frustration to just whine.)

Having been with many different companies this week I heard a lot of marketing frustrations, and on this Friday afternoon I’m reflecting on what might be behind the frustration:

  • “We’re just not getting any value from our public relations agency.” Is it the agency — or is the real issue that traditional publicity-driven public relations isn’t as valuable as it was five or 10 years ago?
  • “I’m blogging for my company but am not sure it’s valuable. Just how do you measure this social media stuff?” My question to this gentleman was, “Why are you blogging?” If you have a purpose or goal, you’ll more easily be able to assess the value. Turns out there was no real goal, hence the frustration.
  • “We’re not generating enough sales leads.” Is it the lead generation strategy — or is market interest waning in the overall category? Or is it that your product has a reputation for being hard to use? Or is it that you’re not making it interesting enough for people to want to know more? And just what is considered a lead — registration information from a podcast — or someone who wants to talk with a sales rep?
  • It’s hard to get people to contribute to our online community.” Is there a good reason for them to contribute? What do they get from it? Or is it that your tools make it too hard for people to contribute?
  • “I really have to find another job.”Β  Is it the job? The company? Or something else? During one particularly frustrating point in my career I thought the answer was to get out or marketing.Β  On closer inspection I just hated commuting three hours a day. I got rid of the commute, stayed in marketing, and glad I did.
  • “I’m so frustrated that it’s Friday and I can’t stay focused on getting this project done.”Β  Admit that you hate this type of work and stop taking it on.Β  Focus on those projects that give energy vs. take it away.

Thanks again Lissa — and if I missed any other advice, please share!