Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wear Yourself Out Moves and Renames

This is the last post of Wear Yourself Out.

I've moved my blog to so I could have more flexibility with my graphical interface. There's much to be done to Consequential Values to get it as spruced up as I want it, but you will find it easier to navigate immediately.

Pastoral Marketing, Part 3 is at Consequential Values.

You can also get to Consequential Values using addresses and

Please follow me over there and invite your friends.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pastoral Marketing, Part 2

The marketplace needs a little Pastoral Marketing: marketing that occasionally looks at the human condition and offers something that does more than promise, but actually offers a solution to a real need. This business is incredibly tricky. For a business to look past what the consumer thinks they need to what they really need, it has to search its own soul in the process. (We probably know what this fellow will buy and how to appeal to him. But how do we engage him to buy what he really needs?)

And that’s just one hurdle. The next big hurdle is knowing that whatever it is you offer may only engage a small percentage of the target audience because most solutions to real needs mean that human consumers must take some action themselves. Real solutions to real problems don’t come to passive recipients. We will usually have to do something ourselves to experience progress.

  • I can give you a book, but it’s of no use to you until you read it.
  • I can give you a ticket to an anti-death penalty concert, but you would have to attend it to hear the message.
  • I can give you a seat at an immigration forum, but I can’t drive you there and I can’t open your mind.
  • I can give you the food, but I can’t make you feed a homeless person.
  • I can give you a fish, but unless you allow me to teach you to how to fish, can you improve your life?

What I think should be celebrated are the companies that take the risk;

  • who put in motion a program, promotion, service, or offer that looks at people “pastorally”;
  • who look under the surface of the consumer and their obvious wants to address their real needs;
  • who aren’t content to grab the low hanging fruit of consumer feelings but who look inside and remind themselves that all of mankind is partly held together by what hurts.

Let’s celebrate the imaginative and caring business people who find creative ways to give something of consequence to the consumer or to humanity at large—that will really make a difference, not just change a feeling.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pastoral Marketing, Part 1

Marketers love it when the lines between feelings, perceptions, needs, wants, and reality are all fuzzy.

Conventional marketing strategies address “perceived” rather than “real” need. “Perception is reality,” so marketers sell their wares to people’s perceptions—reality be damned. If I as a marketer can sell you the next beauty aid that will make you feel pretty or the next hot car that makes you feel as though others will think you are rich or powerful, I have succeeded. Never mind that my lip gloss isn’t going to cure your homeliness and all the leather interior in Corinth can’t fix the reality of your negative balance sheet. Buy, Baby, buy! And we will.

Making matters worse, we Americans think we feel better when we have upended Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I may NEED safety, but promise me cool technology that will self-actualize me (at half price), and we’re there, Baby!

America is steadily becoming a place where only non-profit organizations and doctors are straight-forwardly addressing needs.

  • Parents too often salve feelings rather than help children navigate the tough juxtaposition of their real talents and efforts with the real world they will inevitably enter.
  • Even churches. During our tough times, we want our churches and preachers to be about truth, too, but until we face that excruciating moment in our lives we’ll line the pockets of preachers who ever-so-cheerfully help us be our best selves (and then we’ll complain that their rich).

Marketers, even religious marketers, appeal to our lowest common denominator—read this slowly--our perceptions of our feelings about what we think we need to feel better.

Reality be damned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Sleep Kit

I caught a lot of ribbing about my attention to Crown Plaza's sleep aid kit. But I'm telling you, it's the real deal. It beats the heck out of the $5 bottled water they put in these places.

Last night I stayed at a very modestly priced Crown Plaza in the Los Angeles area, Fullerton to be exact. And guess what? Another sleep aid kit! So here's the picture. Note the eye mask, ear plugs, CD and liner notes (I was wrong about the 16-page booklet...but still...). And, of course, there was a drape clip.

The slug lines on the CD? "Other hotels just give you a bed...We give you real support." Their money is where their mouth is.

I don't know about you, but in my world sleep is a necessary as food, shelter, and feeling loved. I appreciate the extra attention. I canceled accommodations at another hotel, and am staying here another night. And I'm standing by my original CV score.

Tonight, however, I'm getting my butt out of bed to adjust the thermostat. That was my own ^&!%&! fault.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

McDonalds Needs to Take It to the Next Level

Far be it from me to tell the most successful restaurant in the history of man how to do its business...but I do think they are missing an important opportunity to spread the message of the charity closest to its heart--Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC).

Corporate charities rarely integrate their fund raising, marketing, and public awareness initiatives with the public life of their corporate parents. I think this is tragic. What this often means is exactly what happens with McDonald's--the closest the average customer ever gets to this remarkable charity is the loose change donation box sitting next to the cash registers at McDonald's restaurants. (Did you know there are actually three different Ronald McDonald House divisions?)

The "reason" is probably logistical: the charity foundation is probably not headquartered near the hamburger headquarters; the marketing groups are on separate planets; blah, blah, blah.

If McDonald's (the hamburger people) really wanted to impact the public on behalf of McDonald's (the charity) they would find a way to engage their everyday customers. Instead of asking for spare change, try this:
  • Offer a promotion tied to new food ideas: for every McRib you buy, McDonald's donates 50 cents to RMHC
  • Promote with an up-sell: buy an Extra Large Meal and McDonald's donates...
  • Place RMHC info in Happy Meals (coloring book?). Educate the next generation of donors.
  • Ask customers to bring in donations (monetary or other tangible gifts) to receive free food.
  • Sell a custom book or magazine on-site that tells about RMHC and the proceeds go to the charity directly.
  • Run an internet promotion that sends people to the restaurant or vice versa.
These techniques engage your consumer and land consequential value. The customer invests in the brand, they buy more than they normally would, they know they have contributed to the charity, they know RMHC will benefit, they might even learn about RMHC in a way that might cause them to write big checks or volunteer. The consumer AND the children benefiting from the charity both experience something of real value.

Hey, McDonald's! Quit relying on heart-rending commercials and sympathy jars. Engage us. We are up for it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coffee in the Library

In Franklin, Tennessee Centennial High School has opened a coffee shop inside the library. The students run it. Unlike the restrictive libraries from my era, these kids actually get to drink and read simultaneously if they want to. The nerve.

Of course health advocates aren't that thrilled that the administrations of such schools are jamming caffeine and crumpets down already undernourished kids' throats. But school libraries, who are mimicking the bookstores, are winning customers by the droves. After umpteen paragraphs on Centennial HS in The Tennessean debating (primarily) the cons of the coffee shops, they printed this paragraph about a similar set up in Houston:

John Witmer, who has run a before-school cafe at Hastings High School in Houston since 2003, said it is extremely popular with the 2,800 students. Before the coffeehouse opened, "they were running about 6,000 visits per year to the library and checking out about 3,000 books," he said. Now, "we're running about 65,000 visits and checking out about 45,000 books."

Now THAT is value that makes a significant difference--a boost of more than 10 times the visits and checkouts. Brand Library's offering to students exposed them to the most important room in the school, and at the same time gave the business students who run the shops some valuable experience. Who knows how many new worlds these java ingesting youth have discovered since discovering their library? CV Score: 15 (Note that in deference to the nutritionists of the world, I left gave Physical Impact a zero.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Before you eBay...CMarket

If you use eBay to acquire stuff, you may want to look at cMarket as an alternative. At cMarket you can find many of the same products you'd find on eBay, except that the products on cMarket have all been donated to various charities. So you'll not find computer parts, but you WILL find many one-of-a-kind celebrity autographed products, exotic travel deals, sports memorabilia, personal services, and home theater systems.

And the cool part is, by bidding for good you'll add value to at least one someone's life through the charity that placed the item up for auction. The cMarket website says it has helped charitable organizations from around the country raise $30 million with 3000 auctions so far.

In addition to buying, why not turn on your favorite charity to cMarket? Or if you are part of a for-profit company, why not involve your company in cMarket by offering your products or services or buy aligning your people to the cMarket opportunity to help others?

BTW, this rare autographed framed poster of Carlos Santana from his 1995 tour in support of "Dance of the Serpent Rainbow" (being auctioned by the Nashville YWCA) just went out of my range at $300. Hurry, the sale goes off Wednesday morning early.