Saw a poster for The School Of Allied Health at Monroe College. It said: Our students are experts at handling pressure (among other vital signs.)
There is a small, fairly common grammatical error there, which perhaps would not matter so much if it was not a recruitment ad for a college. But somehow a school of higher learning should show some above average expertise if it wants some higher credibility.
If you can't spot the mistake, let me give you a clue (perhaps this will help).
DAFFY'Sis a chain of discounted fashion designers' clothing and accessories. Their advertising has always had an edge to it, but it was only recently that I actually went into one of their stores. Loved two signs I saw there, because they showed someone was paying attention to the brand position, even in the little things.
One sign simply called it the "Undressing Room," which was more accurate and more unexpected. The second, my favorite, was the sign over the cashier's area. It said, "Pay here (But Not Too Much)."
Guarding your brand is not just watching over the expensive TV commercials. It is the signage, the point of purchase materials, the type selection, the consistent attitude of each piece of your communications.
I was blown away today, walking along Fifth Avenue in midtown New York. No, it was not a windy day. But I was immensely impressed by what I saw and heard a restaurant street hawker do. He was just handing out menus, but when I passed close enough to hear, as well as see him, I couldn't believe my ears. What he was saying was, "Anyone need directions?"
What a brilliant, simple good idea! He knew that many of the passersby were tourists, and Manhattan can be tough for out of towners and foreigners. So instead of being like everyone else, just handing out fliers and telling everyone to come to the restaurant he was working for, he was offering something that was of real value.
When I asked him if the restaurant had told him to do that, he said, no, it was something he had thought of. And he added, when I see a family with kids, especially with a baby carriage, I tell them they can use the bathroom in the restaurant for free, because he knew how tough it was for a tourist to find one. And yes, he knew that if a family went to the restaurant to use the bathroom, or took a menu from him as they got directions, they were certainly more likely to eat there, or at the very least tell their friends.
He didn't need my book on creating good ideas, or any book on marketing, to know that he should put a customer's needs first, be distinctive, and create a meaningful, compelling difference from the competition.
Next time you come to New York, find him and hire him. Or start coming up with ideas as good as his yourself.
Celebrated my wife's birthday the other evening atMaz Mezcal a Mexican restaurant in New York. When we got there, the hostess/owner at the front desk asked how I was. I often respond as if the other person might really care, and I said all was good, and that we were there because though there are more than 20,000 restaurants in New York, my wife had selected hers to celebrate her birthday. We chatted briefly, the owner asked my wife's name, and then showed us to our table.
Meal was quite good, service fine. What happened at the end, though, was the really nice idea. Suddenly four or five waiters approached, put a gigantic straw hat on my wife's head, sang Happy Birthday—actually using her name instead of just mumbling something—and placed a lovely plate with sweets and a candle on the table.
Very nice idea, attentive, warm and unexpected. The kicker was that as we left, the waiter said that we should take the hat with us as a souvenir of the evening. Nice idea; a physical memento that would guarantee we would talk about the restaurant in the most glowing of terms. (Heck, someone might even do a blog about it.)
A little thing would have made it a good idea; simply the addition of the restaurant's name, embroidered or somehow placed on the hat. Then, instead of being a generic straw hat in the corner of the apartment, it would have been a constant reminder of the actual name of the place. And when the hat was passed along, as it inevitably would be, the name would have moved with it.
Is there a little thing you can do to help build your identity/brand? Announcing the company name when the phone is answered, rather than just your own name? A color you can "own."? A logo placed where your logo has never gone before? Do it all in good taste, but do it!
Received a resumé yesterday from a copywriter. Naturally, it was an e-mail, so there was room for the resumé, sample ads and assorted bits of writing to demonstrate his expertise.
But it had a similar problem to the one Seth Godin recently pointed out in his blog. The writer used "thrown" and "waste" when he obviously meant "throne" and "waist." This from someone who wants to make a living using words as his tools.
I did wish the copywriter well, told him we had no
openings, and suggested he buy my book (which has a whole section on
You have to read—and re-read—your final text. Check the spelling, and particularly the parts of grammar you are not comfortable with (Tenses? Possessives?) Your readers will often catch what spell check won't. And will judge you harshly.
As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding Macy's, I had some problems with their sales price practices. Here's another story:
Went back to Macy's Wednesday, April 2,
with a "special" mailing piece I had received. It said "Here's Your Lucky Star, bring it into your favorite Macy's..." I was supposed to hold it up to a reader in the store (a piece of transparent red plastic paper) and see what I had won.
It worked in that I actually went to the store, and
until I did I must admit that I felt a little special that they had rewarded me for being
a good customer who used their credit card.
But entering the store I was greeted by a lady
handing out the same "special" mailing piece to everyone who walked
in, the only requirement being that you were unable to avoid her. Not
to mention the stack of the mailers on her table, for those who wanted
to avoid human contact, or wanted to take another piece to see if they
would be even luckier.
So I guess what's bothering me is that either Macy's
should indeed do something special in a card holder's mailing, or not
send out the actual game piece and let their mailer say to pick one up
at Macy's (like everyone else).
If you want to reward me for using your card, then reward me, don't tease me.
Received an envelope yesterday; a mailing from a business publication. On the outside, in red type, it had a large SECOND NOTICE, in a style that made it look as if it had been rubber stamped onto the envelope. It looked very official.
When you opened the envelope, you found out that it was literally correct. It was indeed a second notice. But not a notice of a past due billing problem. It was their second notice that they were trying to get you to become a subscriber.
Now, they did get me to open the envelope, which I assume was their intent. But they also got me to promise myself I would never order a magazine that used such a sneaky way of getting my attention. (Did the magazine actually create the mailing piece? I don't know. Did they approve it? Absolutely yes.)
Sure, it's a little thing. A few words on the outside of an envelope. But by choosing the wrong words, it succeeded in creating a negative image of the magazine for me. Certainly not their intent.
I know that comments will come in, or at least they will when people actually start reading this blog, that the mailing had probably been tested and this SECOND NOTICE approach had outscored others that were tested. I agree that they may get a better response rate. But how do you measure ill will?
It is usually good to put some words on the outside of your mailing piece. Make them relevant, make them attention-getting, make them provocative. But do not make people feel fooled and foolish if the words induce them to open the piece and discover they have been tricked.
On the way to the office today, I noticed a delivery truck. Let's call the company Tramer, based in Connecticut.Big sign on the back, with their name and a nice logo.
What were they delivering? What business are they in? Would I want to buy something from them?
I have no idea, which is never a good idea. They certainly had the room on the truck to at least put their category in, or their specific business, or their web address. I don't care if their business is strictly wholesale, or they were just shipping for someone else. Use the "free" space available to you, wherever it is, to tell people about your service, because you simply don't know who will see it and perhaps know someone who is looking for just that item/service.