Online Marketing Strategies – EverEffect

Post Office For Sale

Posted in Uncategorized by Jim Brown on September 20, 2007

Type “Email Marketing” into your favorite search engine and tell me what comes up. Chances are [okay fine, I’ve already done this and know for a fact] you will be bombarded with a million Email Service Providers (ESPs). Constant Contact spends a ton in online advertising so I’m pretty sure they came up number one for you. Who else did you see? Jango Mail, MyEmma, SilverPop, ExactTarget, CampaignerPro, Vertical Response… shall I continue?

Are these really “Email Marketing” companies? The answer is – No. When is the last time you bought a post office? Jim, that is a ridiculous question? Is it? Think about it for a second. Let’s say you are going to deploy a direct mail campaign. What are your steps? You have to define your audience, write your copy, design your piece, stuff it in an envelope, slap a stamp on it, and drop it in the mail. Did I mention buying a post office? Of course not. The post office can help you by providing the stamps and envelopes, but the rest is up to you.

To me, ESPs are nothing more than post offices. They provide stamps (costs of each email sent) and envelopes (delivery mechanism for your message). You still have to… define your audience, write your copy, and design your piece. Don’t be fooled by their templates, because like most things that are free – they stink. Why does this matter? For the most part all of the ESPs are the same. Some have more bells and whistles than the others, but none are responsible for your success.

Spend your money where it can have he most impact – in the strategy and creative development. It’s not the envelope that sells, it’s what is IN that envelope and the REASON for why you sent it. Once you completely grasp that concept you will truly be doing “Email Marketing.”

Mind Your P’s

Posted in online strategies by Thomas Heed on September 19, 2007

By now, everyone on the planet is aware that a substantial price drop has rubbed some of the shine off of Apple’s iPhone. In my July 25 post, I wrote that if the iPhone failed, it would not be because it is a convergence device (as Al Ries contends), but because of flaws in 1-3 of the 4 Ps.

I’m going to revisit what I considered the iPhone’s potential drawbacks with updated commentary.

  1. “The Product does not live up to its hype, or it is not substantially different than other Smart Phones.”

    A beautiful, breakthrough device, the iPhone has a major drawback: it cannot run on AT&T’s fastest cellular data network, which means it is far slower than offerings from competitors Verizon and Sprint. Worse, initial models cannot be upgraded to use the faster networks.

    The speed issue is a huge competitive disadvantage, and a clear barrier to switching phones.

    Not insuring that the phone can operate at maximum capability is something like selling a Triple Crown winner for dog food – pennies on the pound – instead of raking in millions on stud fees.

  2. “The Price is too steep (up to $599 is a little pricey for a unique fixer-upper).”

    Shortly after the $200 price cut, Steve Jobs wrote, “We can’t wait to get this revolutionary product into the hands of even more customers this holiday season.”

    The iPhone was priced too high from the start. Other cell phones usually come cheap or for free because carriers have long subsidized the cost when customers sign up for their services.

    Charging extra for things like Ring Tones created bad buzz as well.

  3. Placement becomes an issue due to the exclusivity deal with AT&T.”

    There is a double-whammy here. Unless you’re in an area where AT&T (nee Cingular) has excellent coverage, an iPhone purchase is somewhat moot. Further, many Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, or other customers will not immediately switch because they are loathe to eat the remaining balances on long-term contracts with their existing providers. Thus, exclusivity becomes a self-inflicted wound to sales by limiting the potential customer base.

  4. “No one can argue with how Promotion has been handled.”

    No one could argue with the pre-launch pub, but Apple has botched their post-price cut PR blitz. The high price, greed gamble, has backfired. Media reports no longer hype how cool the phone is. All the talk now is about “sluggish sales” or the phone’s other potential shortcomings. And, while Steve Jobs’ response to early adoption anger was fairly honest (we want to sell more iPhones), the manner in which he did it has left Apple vulnerable to stepped up assertions of corporate arrogance.

Any product or service – no matter how cool – will ultimately fail when the strategic or tactical approach to the Four Ps is flawed. In the case of the iPhone, gaps in geographical coverage and speed (customer solution), high initial price (customer cost), AT&T Exclusivity (lack of convenience), and poor post-launch PR (communication) bode ill unless immediately addressed. The iPhone can still become the monster success almost everyone envisioned prior to its introduction, but not until Apple realizes that it must do a better job of considering customer need before its own.

iCulpa is iBad

Posted in online strategies by Thomas Heed on September 11, 2007

Monday’s announcement by Apple® that it has sold its one millionth iPhone ™ is good news and bad news. The good news is that they sold their one millionth iPhone. The bad news is they now have their one millionth angry early adopter!

Last week, in an open letter, Apple® CEO Steve Jobs responded to customers “upset” about the company dropping the phone’s price by $200 two months after it went on sale. After explaining the company’s rationale for such a move – and in an attempt to assuage angry buyers – Jobs offered up a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.

It reminds me of a moment in Caddyshack when Carl the Greenskeeper (Bill Murray) shares a story about his experience caddying for the Dalai Lama: “So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something for the effort?’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

Apple just stiffed their loyal, early adopters, oh, uh, there won’t be any money, and it’s beyond the company’s power to grant total consciousness. Instead, they’re offering their customers in-store or online credits. So they’ve got that goin’ for them, which is nice. Or is it?

Mr. Jobs wrote, iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone ‘tent.’ We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.

In reality, what Apple has is a $200-million oops on their hands. I may be wrong, but I believe that people who paid the original $599 price tag could care less how many new customers will buy at the more affordable price or what a great deal others will be getting during the holidays!

Read between the Open Letter lines, and you might conclude (as I have) –

  • Betting on the power of their brand, Apple gambled on a higher-than-otherwise-justified price, and lost.
  • Apple and AT&T (their exclusive iPhone partner) must more than double average daily iPhone sales to hit their published goal of 4.5-million units sold by year-end. Their best chance to accomplish this is to slash prices and try to cash in on upcoming holiday gifting.
  • Mr. Jobs wrote that there is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the operating system or the new whatever. The problem with this statement is that the iPhone is two months old and there is no new operating system or new whatever, just a new sense of urgency to sell more iPhones.
  • Apple’s This is life in the technology lane, we’re slashing the price, so what, get over it attitude may provide a short-term shot-in-the-arm for iPhone sales, but create a long-term hangover by reinforcing the Apple is arrogant perception held by many or damaging its brand equity by eroding trust in the company and its motives.

This pricing issue, and the Steve Jobs response to it (borderline contempt), may – deservedly so – come to be regarded as a huge blunder. As Oscar Wilde once said, “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”