August 13, 2017

Lots and Lots of Marketing Examples!!!

Here's what is awful about digital marketing and analytics ... both strip creativity out of a business. As a result, most modern marketing is pure dreck, and marketing has to be pure dreck because anything interesting and creative is not likely to work and as a result will be removed from the digital ecosystem by misguided analytics tools (yes, I know, I am exaggerating ... for a reason of course).

But it doesn't have to be this way.

If you step out of the digital realm and actually spend real time with real people in the real world, you might just stumble upon marketing brilliance.

In my case, that happened last Wednesday night when I attended the first of four nights of the Knoxville Nationals ... a four day celebration of sprint car racing (I know, I know, you hate racing ... this is a good time for you to tune out and read about Blue Apron's struggles - click here - and we'll see you tomorrow).

About 100 cars compete over four nights in an effort to take home the $150,000 first prize on Saturday night. The racing happens in a "tournament", if you will, as the best cars advance to the big race and get to start at the front of the big race while slower cars are slowly weeded out of the "tournament" and when they get to race they race at the back and have to pass everybody to advance.

Ok, want to see some marketing examples? How about this car - owned by one of the most popular drivers?

What do you see on the car? Sponsors!! Folks are paying money to be on the car ... and for good reason. About 17,000 will be in attendance on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Saturday crowd of 25,000 were in attendance. Those folks will see this car go past them over and over and over again.

Got $50,000 to be on the side of a car for six months? Sure you do ... you spend that much money in the blink of an eye with Google/Facebook/Co-Ops/Retargeters/Affiliates on anonymous customers who will never buy from your business ... you do that every week for crying out loud! And you do it because it can be measured ... even if you measure no return on investment whatsoever!

As you walk up to the track, you see the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

Here's an interesting question ... do you have a Hall of Fame?

Seriously ... you have customers who have spent $10,000 with your brand. Do you have a Hall of Fame where you feature these customers for all to see? No? You just collect their money and give them 30% off plus free shipping? Why not treat these customers like the Legends they truly are? I know, I know, you have a "loyalty program" where customer earns "points" that are redeemed for "merchandise". Why not start a Hall of Fame and truly reward the customers who allow you to have a job? Seriously, why would it be hard to have a Hall of Fame?

Ok, now we get to the track ... and look at this ... the staff let you walk right up to the track and take a peek at preparations for the evening.

So here's a thought ... do you let your Best Customers enter your corporate office and do you given them a chance to take a peek behind the curtains? What would stop you from allowing your best customers to get off the highway and visit you? Show them what the Merchandising Team is working on for Christmas 2017. Right? Right??

I know, I know, this is auto racing, and you are an aspirational brand. 

When you go to a big race, you have to eat dinner. This is where the staff "cross-sell" you on food. Stuff your Primary Care Physician would vomit all over the floor if she knew you were eating ... like a Pork Tenderloin sandwich with cole slaw. Look at that old-school bun ... not a mass-produced piece of sponge, is it?

Yup, that's what $9 buys you ... on top of your $47 ticket and on top of the $10 you paid the local church to park in their parking lot. A whole ecosystem exists, allowing you to spend your money.

What is your cross-sell / up-sell program? 

Did I mention it cost $47 to get in?

Not if you are under the age of 18. And not if you want to sit in bad seats. Tickets for adults drop down to $25 for less-than-optimal seats ... and are around $15 for kids under the age of 18. Hmmmmmm. So they have a strategy to lock-in teenagers ... you bring a car-full of four and you train those under age 18 to like this event ... so that they'll pay full price in their 20s and 30s and 40s and forever. 

This brings me to your brand. What is your strategy to lock-in a younger generation? Do those under 18 pay full-price? Do you have strategy like the cell-phone companies have to lock-in younger customers?

Speaking of younger people ... they don't consume information the same way as you or I, do they? And at the Knoxville Nationals, they have programs that appeal to younger customers. For instance, on Wednesday they had an hour-long radio show (internet radio and SiriusXM) that was also published as a podcast ... featuring popular drivers (the woman on the right is the only woman to ever win a World of Outlaw's Sprint Car A-Main, FYI ... today she's co-hosting the interview session).

Yes, they were broadcasting live via internet radio. And if you couldn't listen live, you could listen via podcast. And the races ... they were broadcast on internet radio and if you couldn't listen live you can watch in September on tape delay on a national cable channel called MavTV. So if you couldn't be in Central Iowa on a Wednesday night in mid-August, well, you had choices, didn't you? These choices "spread the word" ... low-cost / no-cost customer acquisition.

What is your media strategy? Do you own your own media channel, and make use of the channel to spread the word at low-cost / no-cost?

And if you were part of the studio audience in attendance at the podcast, you received swag at every commercial break.

Yup, that's a hat being tossed at the audience ... now be honest, how much would it cost your brand to give away five hats to be tossed to the audience? Be honest! Again, you pay retargeters $$$ to hound customers who have no intention to ever buy again all across the internet ... but you don't have money for five hats?

I know, I know, you don't offer "swag".

Moving right along ... the drivers played games with kids who got into the races on discounted tickets. Here's a famous driver playing with kids/fans.

Which brings me to an interesting point ... when is the last time your Merchandising Team ever spent any time with the General Public? Imagine what your Merchandising/Product Team might actually learn if they spent as little as five minutes with the General Public?? And I'm talking about in person, not via social media. Social media is easy. It's not as easy to spend time with real people in the real world.

Even announcers spent time interacting with the public ... this is a famous Network TV racing announcer hosting a booth ... where he spoke with fans.

When is the last time anybody on your Marketing Team spoke with a customer outside of social media?

I performed an informal and unscientific survey of fans ... about half were wearing a t-shirt that supported their favorite driver. About HALF! What a merchandising opportunity!

I know, I know, this doesn't align with the direction of your brand.

But these folks spent $47 to get in, $10 to park at the church parking lot ... they spent $9 on a pork tenderloin sandwich, and they spent $28 on a t-shirt for crying out loud. Might there be a comparable situation in your world where you might sell merchandise that complements the hobby preferences of your target/aspirational customer? 

Sponsors? There were plenty.

That's called a 50/50 ticket. You pay a dollar. Fifty cents goes to a local charity, and the rest of the money is pooled ... one ticket is selected at random (hint - it wasn't 607553), and that person wins the $25,000 that remained. All brought to you by KRCO Radio. Now how much could it possibly cost to get your brand on the 50/50 ticket at your local racetrack? Or high school basketball game? Instead of wasting $300 with Facebook, why not support your local community?

I know, I know, you are an aspirational brand, you don't do raffles and you don't sponsor raffles. And yet, your favorite email vendor sponsors all sorts of activities (click here).

I know, you think the ads on the wall look "tacky".

Now, you're not going to be able to tell this from the images, but a competing track in Washington State (Skagit Speedway) sponsored a portion of turn 2. Think about that for a moment ... would you ever let a large competitor advertise in your catalog or on your home page? No? And yet, this track happily takes the $$ and lets a competing track advertise. 

Heck, one of the sponsors is located right across the street. They gave away a piping-hot pizza to a fan in section Q or wherever during one of the breaks. How much does a piping hot pizza cost?

I know, I know, you aren't a fan of this stuff.

Did you know that the track has a mobile app with live updates as the races proceed? Fans all across the world can keep track of what is happening ... and I know this because on social media folks from Australia were talking about what was happening.

And did you know that they created a hashtag so that fans can communicate with each other (and the track can monitor what is being said)? And the hashtag advertises a major sponsor ... Five Hour Energy Drink ... do you have a hashtag that also supports a major sponsor of your brand?

After the event, the sanctioning body produces a YouTube video of the event (click here). Do you have YouTube videos of your big events?

And here's one last tidbit for you ... after the races were over, I drove to my hotel ... and guess who had business cards on the front desk of the hotel?

Yes, even Uber is indirectly capitalizing on the Knoxville Nationals. Via the promo code, they're tracking results.

I know, I know, this doesn't align with your view of the world.

I woke up the next morning, and somebody is outside of the local Culver's Store trimming hedges at 7:30am, making sure the store looks perfect for visiting fans attending the Knoxville Nationals.

People are working their rear-ends off to make this a great event ... even adjacent brands are working hard (Uber / Culver's) to make sure that fans have a good experience.

I mean, these folks are BRILLIANT marketers. They have a system in place, and they absolutely HUSTLE to make the event as great (and profitable) as possible.

Meanwhile, here's the kind of headline we're reading about in our industry (from my flight back to Phoenix from the Midwest).

Kinda makes you think, #amirite?

Do you understand what I'm trying to communicate to you?

I am not asking you to participate in auto racing.

I am asking you to DO SOMETHING, to TRY!!!

We desperately need low-cost / no-cost customer acquisition programs. We need awareness programs. We keep paying Google/Facebook (and for catalogers we pay catalog co-ops) all this money, and we know how that works for Google/Facebook. Can you take the ideas outlined here and apply them to your business?
  1. Do you have an event (not a sale event) that is the anchor of your year, an event that is the centerpiece of all of your marketing activities, an event that the customer truly cares about? Has the event become a tradition?
  2. Do you sponsor local activities in your community?
  3. Does anybody sponsor your business?
  4. Do you have a solid cross-sell / up-sell program that isn't driven by algorithms but is instead driven by adjacent products?
  5. Do you have your own media network that creates awareness at low-cost / no-cost?
  6. Do your Merchants / Product People / Marketers actually interact with real customers in the real world?
  7. Do you have employee "stars" who interact with real customers in the real world?
  8. Do you have a Hall of Fame featuring your best customers?
  9. Do you let customers in "behind-the-scenes"?
  10. Do you have a program that allows potential customers < age 18 to participate with your "brand" so that they become potential future customers?
  11. Do you have a hashtag for your big annual event, and is the hashtag sponsored by somebody so that you are generating revenue from your social media efforts?
P.S.:  Sponsorship doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Here''s a simple low-cost example from Wells Fargo Bank ... a "brand" trying to rebuild their reputation. You have a few thousand dollars you can spend ... I mean, Wells Fargo is spending nothing here.

P.P.S.:  If you made it this far, you deserve a reward. I have two decks of MineThatData playing cards to give away, swag for you ... the loyal reader. But I only have two decks of MineThatData playing cards. Two. Email me at, and if you are one of the first two to email me, you get a deck of MineThatData playing cards.

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