Marketing Recipe

chili ingredientsFor the past few months, I have been soaking up different types of chili.

It started on Sunday November 3rd, when my son Max and I attended our first chili cook off together to help support Second Harvest Food Bank.  The fun continued in December when my wife Jennifer and I all attended a chili cook off in Lenoir City.  During New Year’s Eve, my friend Joel (a.k.a. Home Cookin’ Hunter) served up some venison chili cheese dip.  And with the cold weather we have been experiencing, I’ve been cooking some of my own chili.

All this chili got me thinking how marketing and chili are very similar.

An effective marketing strategy is not a one shot deal; rather an effective marketing strategy is the efforts of several actions focused on one goal.  Just like a good chili isn’t just one ingredient, but several ingredients.

Know who you’re cooking for (Target Audience)

Fire ChiliI have a friend that always makes really spicy chili; no matter what.  It’s so hot I worry when he has children that their taste buds will be scorched beyond repair.

In marketing, it’s no different.  If you want to attract a certain audience, be sure to sale to that certain audience.

The Office Manager Incident

In 2007, the bank I worked for launched a new Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) service.  This service allows business to deposit checks at work by using a scanner.  After doing our research we created a target market based on different local business owners in a variety of industries.  To market and sell the service, I would conduct a joint call with the bank’s commercial lenders and, before the call, would confirm with the commercial lender that we would be speaking with the business owner.  Since the business owner was THE decision maker, it only made sense to meet with them and discuss the benefits of the service.

One afternoon, I went on a sales call with a commercial lender who waited until we reached our destination to inform me that the office manager, not the business owner, would be meeting with us.  The commercial lender pointed out it was too late to reschedule and that it, “didn’t make that much of a difference.”

After presenting the service to the office manager, she said she would not recommend this to the business owner because it would reduce the time she would be out of the office.  In other words, it wouldn’t justify her two and a half hour paid lunch.

So know who you’re cooking for, or you both may end up getting scorched.

Know Your Ingredients (Marketing Channels)

spicy pepperBefore adding too much spice to a chili, be sure to know the effect it will have.  Some peppers have spice that will hit you up front, while other peppers have a back end heat.  I learned this the hard way with my very first batch of chili.

When marketing to your customers, make sure you use the right tools to reach them.

The Health Savings Account Issue

In 2005, the bank I worked for put together a team to create a Health Savings Account (H.S.A.) product.  It made since because the bank also had an insurance agency and we could create a referral system between the bank and the insurance agency.  While putting together our advertising campaign, a Senior VP and our ad agency decided it would be “fun” to create promotional buttons that our tellers would wear that said, “Ask me about H.S.A.”  When I questioned them about it, I was out voted and told not to worry because it would bring in a lot of referrals.

Did it bring in a lot of referrals?  No.

Why?  Because an H.S.A. is a specialized product that can only be used if you have a High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP).  During that time, the majority of people did not have an HDHP Insurance plan.  The bank wasted money we could have used somewhere else.

So know what ingredients you use, or you may end up getting scorched.

Have you created a great chili or marketing campaign you’re willing to share?

On a side note, check out the Home Cookin’ Hunter on facebook.

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BBQ’d: Seasonal Marketing

Fired UpI love cooking outside.  Whether it be grilling burgers, smoking pork, supporting a low-country boil, or deep-frying a turkey, nothing beats a good ol’ BBQ.

With summer ending, and fall beginning, the frequency of cooking outside will certainly intensify.  Cooler weather, tailgating, and camping are just three reasons I’ll be behind the grill cook up some good food.

This idea of limited time left to accomplish something reminds me of lessons in seasonal marketing.  You know what I’m talking about:

  • Advertising shorts in spring & summer; and advertising sweaters in the fall & winter
  • Flu shot reminders at the beginning of fall

Though seasonal marketing is short-term in advertising, the strategy is much longer.  Consider the banking sector; most banks advertise home loans and mortgages during the summer, because this is the peak of the year when families decide to buy a new home and move.  On the outside, it looks like banks bump up their advertising and hope that people will act on the advertising; however more is done behind the scenes to make sure it is a success.  Some examples include:

  • Multilayered advertising including: Web, TV and print
  • Referral process that rewards customers and/or staff
  • Direct marketing campaign using traditional and email tools
  • Staff education and training

The majority of people will think of the first three as a typical marketing plan, but many do not consider education and training as a level of marketing.  Think about it, a company pumps money into an advertising campaign for a product, and the staff has no idea how to sale or service the product.

It’s the equivalent of someone who has always used a gas grill and suddenly has to use a charcoal grill.  They have never had to get charcoal started, so how can they cook?

Unfortunately most of us have experienced this before (the poor sale and service experience, not the poor grill example).  We have all been in a store and felt the person who was helping us knew less about the product than we do.  This is why staff education and training must be implemented before any advertising is started.  If not, then your campaign will go up in smoke and your customers will be left feeling burnt.

Enough grilling analogies.  Let’s cook!

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