Would You Fly on an Airline Called “Derrie-Air”?

Derrieair

From the Responsible Marketing blog comes this story about a mythical airline called "Derrie-Air".  It seems that the two local Philladelphia newspapers, The Enquirer and The Daily News decided to do a test of their print and on-line advertising.  The ads ran in various sizes and in various sections of the two papers and on the Philly.com home page.

The results?  Well there was an outcry from some folks who felt the papers were being deceptive by running the ads with no disclaimers.  A careful reading of the ads should have alerted readers that there was something funny going on.  For example, "Derrie-Air"?  C’mon.  Who’d fly on an airline with a name like that?  Anyone saying  "Pick me up at the airport.  I’ll be flying Derrie-Air." would surely be the butt of a lot of jokes.

If the name didn’t raise a red flag the terms of their offer should have.  The theme of the ad was reducing carbon emissions.  "Derrie-Air, the world’s first carbon-neutral airline."  To achieve this lofty goal the fictional airline charges passengers by the pound of combined body weight and luggage."  To offset the airlines carbon emissions they plan to plant 128,000 sycamores in the Derrie Forest by 2010. 

The airline’s amenities include "private washrooms outfitted with porcelain fixtures and gilded faucets" and digital cable.

You can see the ad on the "airline’s" web site, http://www.flyderrie-air.com.  Be sure to read the story of the airline’s founder, Dick Derrie" who supposedly lives in Salamander, MO and is the state’s richest man.  His father lives in a castle that Dick had imported, block by block, from Scotland.  Supposedly Dick’s interest in the environment was triggered by his fear that his grandsons might not be able to hunt alligators on his marshy wetlands.  (Hint:  There’s not an alligator within 500 miles of Missouri, except for a few in zoos.)

So, how did the ad do?  The online version of the ad drew an extremely high 1.25% click-through rate compared to a national average click-through of 0.5%.  I guess no one wanted to be left behind.   There’s no way of knowing how many web site visitors were in on the joke and how many actually thought they were going to be able to fly to Dallas for $1.60/pound.  But it does show that creative advertising works.

Free Google Coupons

Google_map_logo
Back in August, 2006 we ran a post called Free Advertising.  It showed you how to take advantage of the free coupon utility on Google Maps.  To make a long story short, you can attach a coupon of your own design to your free Google Maps listing.  When a potential customer searches for a business the listing indicates that the business has a coupon.

Google_map_coupons_4_2

The service has been around almost two years and I’m surprised more merchants don’t take advantage of it.  Your customers are using Google maps.  You might as well get the most out of it that you can.  Check out the original article here and find out how to sign up.

Follow UP on hp Customer Service

Today I received an email from hp asking me to complete a survey on my customer service experience which I have answered, giving them high marks. Good service + Good follow up = Great customer service.

Credit Where Credit is Due

We often post here about poor customer service.  Heck, it’s so easy.  It’s a subject that could support the blog all by itself.  But in all fairness, it doesn’t hurt to point out some good service once-in-a-while.

For some strange reason, my brand-new HP printer recently decided to go into Mr. McGoo mode, printing everything in twice its normal size.  On the one hand, that might be good for my middle-aged eyes, but it’s not very efficient, paper-wise.

So I went through the multi-lingual owner’s manual, but couldn’t find an answer in French, Spanish, or English.  Next stop, HP’s web site.  That was no help either.  Finally I clicked the "email us" link on their site, expecting I might get an answer before the end of the month if I was lucky. 

Within five minutes I got the usual "Thanks for contacting us…." automated message promising that someone would be in touch.  Right! But lo and behold, I got an email from an actual human being in just another five minutes.  I followed his instructions with no results and emailed him back.  In just a couple of minutes I received another email telling me that the problem wasn’t with HP, but with my Firefox browser.

"Sure, pass the buck," I thought.  But when I checked the printer settings in Firefox, they had been changed to 200%.  One click and the problem was solved.

While I’m not normally a fan of automated customer service schemes, I have to hand it to HP.  This time they got the job done.

Since most well-run corporations scan the web daily to see who’s mentioning them, there’s a good chance someone from HP will read this.  So let me say, nice job, HP.  Keep up the good work.

The Economy that Wouldn’t Die

From the US Census Bureau:

"New orders for manufactured durable goods
in June increased $1.6 billion or 0.8 percent to $215.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today.  This was the second consecutive monthly increase and followed a 0.1 percent May increase.

"Shipments of manufactured durable goods
in June, up two of the last three months, increased $1.1 billion or 0.5 percent to $212.2 billion. This followed a 1.2 percent May decrease.

"Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods
in June, up twenty-eight of the last twenty-nine months, increased $7.2 billion or 0.9 percent to $817.6 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first stated on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.9 percent May increase."

Anyone who thinks that American business, or the American consumer for that matter, is going to roll over and die just because of high gas prices doesn’t know us very well, do they?

Small Business’ Top 10 Complaints

The National Federation of Independent Business recently polled 3,530 of their closest friends asking them to identify their biggest concerns.  Their top ten choices were:

  1. Cost of health insurance
  2. Cost of fuel
  3. Federal taxes on business income
  4. Property taxes
  5. Tax complexity
  6. Unreasonable government regulations
  7. State taxes on business income
  8. Cost of inventory and supplies
  9. Electric rates
  10. Workers’ compensation costs

There seems to be a pattern here.  Five of the top ten (highlighted) are directly related to the government.  You could make a good argument that the government is at least partially responsible for the other five as well.

We generally try to put a positive spin on everything here at MYOB so hopefully it will encourage you to know that everyone else worries about the same things that you do.

In case you missed it, the federal minimum wage increases to $6.55 per hour this week.  But since payroll expense isn’t one of your top ten concerns (according to the survey) and since you probably aren’t paying minimum wage anyway, it shouldn’t add to your worries.

So, What’s this “Twitter” I Keep Hearing About?

Twitter
If you haven’t used twitter, you might be surprised at how useful it can really be.  twitter is a so-called "micro blogging" site.  It’s "micro" because you’re limited to 140 characters per post (tweet).  It’s "blogging" because your tweets go only to those people who subscribe, or follow, you.  Likewise, you only see the tweets of the people you’ve decided to follow.   
Fail_whale

Twitter began as an internal service at Obvious, LLC in March, 2006.  In October, 2006 the service went public.  They now have over one and a half million twitterers.  This rapid expansion has been a strain on the system and there are occasional outages.  In fact, there are some on-line anti-twitter groups, but twitter promises that things will improve shortly.  They recently got an infusion of cash and acquired another company that gives them additional engineering expertise.

That’s all very interesting, Mr. Wizard, but what’s in it for me?  Why should I care what my friend across town is having for lunch?  There is some of that "I’m going to lunch now" going on.  I admit I’ve done it myself.  And, depending on who it is, it’s not always a bad thing.  A little personal information doesn’t hurt a relationship.

But the real value of twitter as a conversational marketing tool can probably be summed up in a post from David Mullen called "Five Ways Twitter Will Make You Smart."  I’ll give you the key points but you’ll have to go to David’s blog to get the details.  The comments about each point are mine.

1.  You get access to different points of views.

You can follow anyone who has a twitter account, anywhere in the world.  Some very smart, very successful people are twitterers.  Unless they’ve set up their feed as "invitation only" you can follow just about anyone.

2.  The people you follow point you to great resources you wouldn’t find otherwise.
I can’t tell you how true this one is.  Many people tweet just to share things they’ve found on the web.  A lot of what you read on this blog is the result of something I found on twitter.

3.  You can poll your followers.

All you have to do is ask a question and you’ll get opinions from a number of sources.

4.  You can learn what consumers are saying about your company or your client’s brand.

Using twitter’s search tool, I just searched "sewing machine" and found fifteen tweets in the last 24 hours.

5.  Twitter will make you a better writer.

Try saying something intelligent in 140 characters.  It’s not easy, but it’s a great way to practice brevity, something I can always use help with.  Twitterers seem to frown on text message short cuts.  "I see" is "I see", not "IC".  A regular twitter user learns to use words carefully.

Some people think twitter is a waste of time.  Not long ago I felt the same way.  But what I’ve found is that if you choose the folks you follow carefully it’s a great way to keep up with specific areas of knowledge, and it doesn’t take up a lot of time as some people suggest.  Tools like twhirl run in the background on your computer and only pop up when you have a tweet.  There are also twitter add-ons for your browser.

twitter isn’t for everybody and it might not be for you.  On the other hand, you might decide it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  If that’s the case, it would be a shame if you didn’t try it.  You just might be surprised.

The Age Curve in Retailing

Thanks to Mack Collier for pointing out this post by Thomas R. Clifford on Generation Y, called The Age Curve and Corporate Storytelling.”  It’s a review of a new book called “The Age Curve” by Ken Gronbach.  The article caught my eye because (1) I’m very interested in the subject of generational differences and (2) I just read a post the other day from a retailer who believes that Gen Y’s aren’t inclined to shop with independent retailers.

Keep in mind that Clifford is in the video production business, so his post is about using story telling in corporate videos, but there are some points that are worth our consideration here. 

Generation Y, defined as people born between 1985 and 2010 (zero-23 years old) will amount to 100 million folks by 2010.  They will be the largest generation in history, larger even than the Baby Boomers.

According to Gronbach, Gen Ys won’t just buy from you.  They’ll want to know more about you first. for example, they want to know your policies on: 

       

  • recycling
  •    

  • environmental responsibility
  •    

  • company iniatives
  •    

  • pollution history

  Clifford adds the following media habits and values to the mix: 

       

  • social networking
  •    

  • reality television
  •    

  • user-generated content
  •    

  • on-line video
  •    

  • humanitarian causes
  •    

  • honesty
  •    

  • family time
  •    

  • flexible hours

At this point in the post, Clifford moves into how Gen Ys will affect his business.  I think the challenges to retailers are even more complex.  The retail model has been fairly constant for a long, long time.  Good products + good service + fair price = sales.                                               

This new consumer wants all that too, but they also want you to show them your recycling containers.  They want to see what kind of light bulbs you use.  And they want to hear about it on Facebook and MySpace and they want to see you on YouTube.  They even want to follow you on twitter.

All of this may seem a little scary at first, but keep this in mind.  It’s much easier for you to establish a presence on the social networks than it is for Wal-Mart.  As the owner/manager of your business, you can tell your potential customers about your business without going through  corporate communications and legal departments.   

You can shoot a video with a digital video camera that sets you back less than $200.00 and have it on the web in a matter of minutes.  $100.00 spent on recycle containers and some new light bulbs and you’re “green”.

No, rather than a problem, this new retail model is a tremendous opportunity for retailers who aren’t so set in their ways that they won’t make a few changes.  For some of us there may be a bit of a learning curve to master the new social media tools, but if I can do it, you can do it.  It’s not that hard.  If you have any Gen X or Y staff, I’m sure they can teach you in a day. 

According to Gronbach, “Communicating to Gen Y = Telling a poignant story.”  Who can tell the business’ story better than the entrepreneur who started it all?

Here are some earlier MYOB posts on social media for your reference: 

Social Ice Cream?  The Common Craft blog compares social media to ice cream.  Cool!

Starbucks Ideas  Starbucks uses the web to tap into customers’ ideas. 

Getting a Clue  After nearly ten years, "The Cluetrain Manifesto" is still relevant.

Communication IS NOT Conversation  A review of Joseph Jaffee’s book "Join the Conversation." 

Tell Seven People  All about viral marketing.

Simple Explanations  In praise of the Common Craft blog.

Find more posts on social media by clicking on the "social media" category on the right. 

If you like to learn by listening, I highly recommend the Personal Branding Summit,  a series of 24 one hour presentation on the subject of personal branding that you can download to your mp3 player, and the Podcast Sisters, a weekly show that covers social media tools “for non geeks”.  Be sure to check the archives for past episodes.  Plus, it’s extremely entertaining.

She LOVES Her Vacuum Cleaner

Heart
OK, this is the Tacony Corporation blog.  Among other things, we make vacuum cleaners.  In fact we make the best vacuum cleaners in the world, right her in the Show-Me State (Missouri for those of you who live on the east and west coasts.)  So why would I direct you to a post about someone who’s in love with a vac made by a competitor? 

It’s simple, really.  First, the iRobot doesn’t really compete with anything we make.  It is a vacuum cleaner, but it’s a very specialized machine.  It does what it does very well, but that’s not our particular niche.  Second, I think there’s a lesson to be learned here that’s much more important than the particular product. 

Julie Power writes the "Internet Marketing Report, News and insights on how executives are using the Internet to drive business objectives."  But she loves her vacuum cleaner so much, she chose to declare her affection in this unlikely venue. 

Here’s the thing.  You and I deal in products, machines made of metal and plastic.  We see them as tools to do a job.  We see them in terms of cost and gross margin and return on investment.  But our customers often fall in love with them.  And love is a powerful emotion.  Millions of words have been written and sung about the power of love.  Don’t underestimate the power of love and don’t forget about it when you’re talking to a customer.

What is there to love about your products?  Remember features and benefits from Salesmanship 101?  Customers love benefits.  Give them enough benefits and they’ll love the product.  Especially when talking to women, don’t hold back on the emotions.  "You’re going to love the way it ….."  "You’ll love the way it makes your carpets look"  "You’re going to love the way this sewing machine makes embroidered designs."  "You’ll love the energy savings you’ll get when you install this fan."

But don’t hold back when you talk to men either.  We love our stuff just as much as the ladies.  I love my power washer.  I love my iPod.  I love my convertible. 

And you’ll love the sales results when your customers become emotionally attached to your product.

Sidebar:  If you go to our Baby Lock web site and do a Google site search you’ll see that the word "love" is used 309 times! 

More Than 3/4 of Workers Say They’re Burned Out

According to a recent survey of more then 7,600 workers by CareerBuilder.com, 78% of American workers say they’re burned out.  46% of workers said that their workload has increased in the first half or ’08 and nearly half (45%) rated their work load as either heavy or too heavy.  Almost one in four are unhappy with their work/life balance.

Sometimes small businesses may feel that they can’t compete with bigger competitors for the top talent.  But with nearly eight out of ten workers feeling the effects of burnout, it’s likely that many excellent employees are more interested in a better lifestyle and more satisfaction with their work.  A creative package of salary, benefits, flexible hours, and an enjoyable place to work just might get you that high-quality employee you thought you couldn’t afford.

The results of the survey were reported in the Atlanta Business Chronical.  Thanks to Anna Farmery for the link.