Category: Old school rant
Marketing so bad, it should be spanked
In these enlightened times when I can get the very best internet access from some paddock on the outskirts of Melbourne, where same sex marriage might even become law in these conservative ruled times, that I have a smart device that tells me I slept 6hours 13 minutes and woke twice (once to try and figure out what episode of Game Of Thrones I was up to, second time to wonder why I was not married to Henry Rollins)…why, WHY does bad marketing persist?

There’s so much big data around to tell marketers and advertisers who their customer is, what they want to buy, how they want it delivered to them, what colour option they’d prefer and what the name of their first car was…and yet, we’re bobbing about in a sea of bad marketing.

Why is that? Seriously I’m mystified.

Exhibit A, members of the jury: This Mercedes-Benz ad

Unhappy-chic

I worked with Mercedes from the mid 90’s to 2006 doing their motor show stands across Australia. And I totally fangirled the brand. How could I not when I slid into the seat of the CLS coupe that was worth 4 times the amount I paid for my 1 bedroom cupboard in Melbourne? They got the shakes after the GFC when their message become muddled and unfocussed which in some ways was understandable after it got the cash stripped out of it, jettisoned the nutty match up of Chrysler and then sought to re-establish itself in the luxury car market. If this ad is any indication, they need to go into the room of mirrors and take a good hard look at themselves.

Alienating 50% of potential purchasers with a dour, fun-killer female is lazy and bad marketing. What kinda blows my mind is that this claptrap made it past the agency concepting whiteboard, through the suits at Mercedes and at every level it got ticked off without anyone saying “Hang about, isn’t this going to piss off a core group of our customers?” When you are dropping some serious coin on a luxury car you want to feel successful, prestigious, free and golden. Unlike the commercial that portrays women as hard nose harridans capable only of smirking like a know-it-all or eye rolling. Mercedes, time to lift your game, ladies love the luxury marques too.

<strong>Exhibit B, members of the jury: The Australian Liberal Government</strong>

No surprises, I’m not a liberal lover. And I could write a 7,489 page manifesto of the things that tick me off about them and not being able to market their message affectively. And let’s be clear, every government needs need market effectively, it’s how you bring the public along on the new vision you are creating for Australia’s future. They need to get their message out to the community, sell the hard policies and successfully celebrate the wins. But jury members, we reached a new low on morning TV recently. I nearly choked on my toast and vegemite one morning when Tony Abbott was rabbiting on about dealing with the children of suspected terrorist who have left Oz. Just watch.

<a href=”http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/06/24/07/47/tony-abbott-says-he-feels-sorry-for-australian-jihadist-children-on-one-level” target=”_blank”>http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/06/24/07/47/tony-abbott-says-he-feels-sorry-for-australian-jihadist-children-on-one-level</a>

I can’t even….

Mr Abbott said the law would be applied to people regardless of their age or gender and that the children of criminals would be “dealt with in the same way [they] are usually dealt with”.

Like Tony, exactly how do you deal with children…<strong><em>children</em></strong> of alleged terrorists? Is it sending them to an off-shore detention centre, housed in the most basic conditions, for an indefinite period, behind barbed wire, mingling with people who have suffered trauma, are dealing with complex mental health issues and most heart breakingly, have abandoned all hope.

These are children we’re talking about, whose only crime is being born to alleged batshit crazy parents. One more time with feeling: <em><strong>children.</strong> </em>Tony’s really missed the marketing opportunity to sell his proposed citizenship reforms by going all hardline with kids who should be playing with Tonka toys and instead have the misfortune to be stuck in Syria with a dead dad and a mum who’s stateless. Way to go Tony coming on all heavy on the kids. Marketing fail.

<strong>Exhibit C members of the jury: St George Bank</strong>

I just paid off the home loan of my 1 bedroom broom cupboard in Melbourne. But context: This cupboard was bought back in ye olden days where you could pick up a home in Melbourne that did not require living 6 lifetimes to pay off the mortgage. But still, I was pretty pleased with myself paying it off and no longer co-owning with a bank.

So I received letter from my lender St George in mail. I’m a hopeful Harry. I try and think the best of people. I like to think that people are not dumb arses and have no clue about merging in traffic and instead are helping me develop fast muscle fibres as I avoid collisions with cars that inexplicably own no indicators or rear view mirrors. So I was hoping for a nice letter from St George congratulating me on me achieving the Great Australian Dream. But no. I was encouraged to plunge back into debt and fund some lifestyle purchases such a boat, a holiday or a pool with obligatory pool cleaner named Coco. The call to St George to see if I got any congratulatory love went no better. After a terse exchange because I was passed through several departments to reach “I-want-to-discharge-my-loan-and-not-take-up-your-offer-of-pool-and-Coco” I was dealing with the happy news to free myself of the St George loan shackles, I would be charged $350 and what account could they take it out of?

“Um…none? What does that $350 get me exactly?”

“It was in your contract you signed”

“Yeah, that was back in ‘97 so details are a bit sketchy 18 years down the track…but what’s the $350 for?

“It was in your contract.”

“I’m hearing you.  But what’s it for? Exactly?”

“Your contract.  The fee was in there.”

“I can’t even…”

So sum total of that total waste of a marketing opportunity by St George to congratulate me, treat the event as something to be acknowledged with a branded something sent in the mail…hell, I would have been been happy with a plush mini dragon at that point.  Instead, the lack of feel-good marketing has got me thinking instead of shifting all my banking to a smaller firm that understands that it much easier to keep an existing customer happy than chase a new one.

The green dragon needs to ante up. Marketing FAIL.

Ok, I’m hopping off Dobbin my personal hobbyhorse to shake by tail to this:

Yep, no good marketing comes easy. Feel free to share your own bad marketing examples in the comments below.

Fiona

When It’s Time To Quit Exhibiting. And What You Should Do Instead.
(Episode 1: Tell the organisers to go fly a kite)

Pulling out of an entire trade show program or even a single show needs to be considered carefully. And requires top shelf spirits.

There was a time back in the early 2000’s when BMW pulled out of doing Motor Shows in Brisbane and suffered heavily for it, both in lost sales and a downgrade in perception. The Brisbane Motor Show was pretty unique in being the ONLY show on the Australian circuit where people actually bought cars off the stand floor. One year when I was managing the Mercedes-Benz stand, and a sports car in a ridiculous shade of 70’s deep purple was off loaded for $200K. That alone covered the costs of the entire stand build. So while other car brands did hot deals at the show, the question remained…where was BMW and were they….you know, ok in the Brisbane market? This perception of not exhibiting at a show bit BMW hard so after several years MIA they rejoined the exhibitor list.

merecedes-benz

So before you bin your deposit invoice for stand space at a show consider what your absence will say to your customer. “Just being there” is not a single good enough reason to exhibit but you need a strategy around counteracting negative perceptions about your brand’s absence.

Here’s when I think it is time to jettison your participation in trade shows:

1. When you have no support from management or your sales team to participate in a trade show.
This is one of the toughest things to push back against: a wall of crossed arms, closed minds and snapped shut wallets. I always believe in picking your battles. So if your well considered case studies, charts and spreadsheets proving return on investment and customer endorsements are not enough to convince management or your sales team the value of exhibiting, then let it ride. You can always go along to the show and gather intel in staging another pitch for why you should be in the show the following year. Or you could suggest another course of action that does not discard events entirely (I come to this later in the post, sit tight).

2. When the show is crap
Everything has an expiry date, including trade shows. In the last few years the motor show circuit has folded due to reductions in marketing budgets and poor scheduling. But a show does not have to fold to force you out. Trade shows with declining audiences, lackluster programs and an uninspired speaker list should also ring alarm bells. I think there is a definite case for a range of shows – especially medial based ones – that should look to moving their event to every second year rather than yearly as there is not enough innovation in some medical fields to sustain yearly shows. So weigh up the delegates number (cull the inevitable padding done by organisers to boost numbers), study the program and talk to your customers…does this trade show warrant your participation?

3. The organisers are vague / not delivering on promises / hard to get a hold of / have no form.
Look, don’t get me started….the amount of slack-jawed,UN-helpful, UN-organised organisers I have to deal with *reaches for the stress ball and goes to lie on the floor for a series of breath of fire exercises*….Ok, I’m back, let’s start again.

Trade shows can draw a lot of energy form you and your team so if the trade show organisers are continually not making good with promises, don’t return messages and are not working to help you increase the value of participation…then sod them off. A trade show is only as strong and successful as the organizer and too much money is committed to exhibiting to have it fritted away by a hot mess of an organizer. If you have had a bad experience, by all means raise it with the organizer but if you feel that they aren’t capable of improvement then consider not participating in future shows.

So now you have marked “return to sender” on the stand space deposit invoice…now what?

Do your own.

Yes! Do your own event!

A lot of companies like Thiess and Siemens are staging their own customer events so they can control the invitee list and tailor their invited speakers to their delegate’s particular area of interest. This is not as work intensive as it sounds and while there is a significant cost investment, your ability to control and influence the outcomes is far greater than if you attend a third party organized event. I will dive into the ins and outs and what-have-yous in next week’s blog post. This blog post is a two part-er, just like one of my fav TV shows Moonlighting used to do. Except there is no Bruce Willis. Because there something NQR about Brucey these days.

thiess-gallery-display

But there is everything right and fabulous about Dan Sultan who I will be seeing playing live tonight!

See you next week for the continuation of our cliffhanger “Just told the show organizer to get bent, now what genius?”

Guest Post: Forget motivational messages, action is the only way to get what you want
I recently wrote a guest post for Women’s Agenda and I got a TONNE of comments and emails along the lines of “YES!” and “Thank you, I so needed to hear this right now” and “I’m up for shredding some motivational posters….can we create a meetup for that?”.

So if you are stuck, waiting for some sort of sign or still crafting your business plan for the jillionith time….you need to move it lovely!

Go here to read the guest post and I would love to hear what action you have taken recently to move FOWARD in the comments.  I am a BIG FAN of action takers so let me know what you have doing to get what YOU want!

motivational-poster-2-1024x693

See you next week!

Fiona

Thank you for knifing the trade show industry…”drayage” costs now in Australia.
This post involves me climbing up on Dobbin, my personal hobby-horse so if you are looking for a sun-shiney, all things are AWESOME post….best you move right along. This is an old school RANT.

First up; the good news.  Australia is now seeing more international shows – especially in the medical field – being held in venues across this great land.  This is fab, it means a boost for our local industry and suppliers, brings cashed up delegates pouring money into economy and some kangaroos get patted.

The bad news: with international shows, brings international organisers and their way of doing things including their own suppliers.  Nothing too evil in that but a number of the international organisers have tie ups with international logistics providers and this means heart stopping charges in relation to getting your stand and client gear off a truck and onto the show floor.  By heart stopping I mean whatever you are paying now for forklifting to and from the truck and the stand and THEN the storage of your empty crates and road cases whilst the show is on, goes up by 3 or 4 times (or more) what you would normally pay an Australian provider to do.  Now I won’t be riding Dobbin so hard if the international logistics providers were providing logistics labour that looked like Tom Morello or Josh Homme, turned up with Haighs chocolates and offered to do my ironing but the level of service is on par with what is experienced at non-international shows. So on a straight comparison on services provided by an international organiser tie up and the local services, there is no perceivable difference.  And therefore, no reason that exhibitors and stand builders are being stung with charges 400% and beyond of what they normally pay for logistics services.  GAH!

We have been pretty lucky in Australia that we have been immune to the rort otherwise known as drayage that our American eagle friends have to live with on a daily basis.  Drayage is essentially the on site logistics handling services that get your gear on / off track and to / from your stand. With the prices you pay you would expect a team of white-gloved efficiency experts lovingly placing your goods on gold-edged flat-topped trolleys and then gently pushing them through the show aisles with the utmost care.  But no.  For costs that rival some countries GNP, you get some clapped out forklift driven by some bloke called Bubba get your gear to your stand sometime between “What? Never saw your gear lady…” and “I am on SMOKO”.  Hell, they are always on smoko.

image

So with some many companies questioning the value of their exhibit program, we need these high logistics costs like a NRL player needs another sleeve tattoo.  And I’m calling it as it is, it’s a rort, with kickbacks between the international organisers and the international logistics firms ensuring that the exhibitors and the service providers are getting billed way in excess of what they should. But it is just not enough to bang on about it in a blog post.  Here are some tips to tackle this bullshit:

  • Get in touch with the organisers and explain – perhaps with use of a map and a stuffed koala – that we are in Australia and we don’t do drayage.
  • Write letters to the organisers and telling them the costs are outrageous and ask what the hell they are on about.  People get all freaky with letters these days as so few people actually write them.  We get all worked up about something, like a post on Facebook thinking that will bring effective change and then forget about it.  But agitating for change takes work and we can’t be flakey about this.  It takes work but if you are committed, you can make a difference.
  • Demand a fixed price for the logistics services in writing.  This really puts the international logistics provider on the spot as they like to issue a sliding scale of fees, based on another currency, with penalty rates added in that are all so complicated to figure out they assume that you will give up and sign off on anything.  Be tenacious about this.  This is your money they are siphoning off. Insist upon measuring your gear yourself, compact your delivery into a small enough footprint as possible (think of these Russian Dolls with stuff sleeved inside other stuff) and give them the two fingers by bringing in whatever you can via the carpark and your own hand trolley.
  • Be pleasant about it but when on site ask the organisers why the charges are so high. Come at it from a curiosity point of view rather than white-hot anger that has the veins in your neck bulging as we are trying to get a positive outcome here, not an apprehended violence order issued against us.

Ok, so Dobbin and I have to move along as I feel compelled to tackle other issues like Christopher Pyne being…Christopher Pyne.  In the meantime, add to add your suggestion in the comments section to tackling the wackness that is creep in of drayage across this great land.

And!  Want to get your FREE 11 step checklist for awesome and stress free exhibitions and displays? Go here to get your immediate download.

Let’s end this rant on a happy vibe with a gorgeous slice of pop from LEN.

See you next week!