online marketing psychology

November 28, 2010

The importance of focused advertising

Good advice on the importance of focus in advertising from Rosser Reeves, 60s ad men. This single point of focus should be used to secure a spot ino the consumers mind.
Reality campaigns, those that climb the ladder of penetration with the most speed, do not put the consumer in this predicament. Instead, they gather their energies together into a tight coil. They present him with one moving claim or concept which he can easily remember. Like a burning glass, which focuses the rays of the sun into one hot, bright circle, they bring together all the component parts into a single incandescence of their own.
We do not mean that the campaign should not say a dozen things about the product. These can add depth, color, dimension, and persuasiveness. In fact, they are very often the difference between "telling" and "selling."
Head over to Brand Strategy Insider for the full article.

November 27, 2010

Flemish Marketeer of the Year 2010

Johan Van Dyck from brewery Duvel-Moortgat has been selected as the 2010 top marketeer in Flanders.

He is the marketing manager of beer brands such as Duvel, Vedett, Maredsous, La Chouffe, Liefmans and De Koninck.

We here at dirty hands marketing like the choice of a low profile, hands-on marketeer that takes his time to build strong results. And with the beer market shrinking, they have shown strong growth figures in the last couple of years.

So what is the story behind his marketing success?
  • Brewing the highest quality beers possible
  • Building strong brands.
Both elements try to illustrate the authentic character of their products. Part of that strategy is to never discount their products.


Each of the brands has a separate identity.
For the Maredsous brand, an abbey beer, they put the abbey heritage of the brand central. The colors of the abbey together with the text written and signed by the seal of the abbot on the six point label all enforce this.
Maredsous label and bottle branding marketing Duvel Moortgat brewer

If you are working with a brand like Duvel, you have to treat it with respect. 
- Johan Van Dyck

And that shows.

A longer interview with Johan Van Dyck (in Dutch) can be read here(pdf).

November 22, 2010

The horror of holidays


New adventures, different cultures, new countries, different experiences.

Exciting and happy times.

But if you need to book a plane ticket to get to that state of mind, you are not there yet!

Especially if you are used to booking your flights online, like I usually do. Shopping for a book or clothes online is fun, but booking airline tickets online is a horrible experience.

Unusable website layouts, system glitches are the basics for that.

Add to that the absolute mystery of ticket pricing and the hidden costs that pop up towards the end of the transaction and the experience just gets better.

Just at a time when these brands have the opportunity to engage you, to prepare you for the happy experience you'll have on your trip. And more important, to make you come again and spend again .

But all they do is piss you off and leave you with a ripped off feeling.

It is not just the airlines that miss an opportunity. There are also the big travel sites like Expedia or that are failing.

I'm not sure if airlines use referral deals with these travel sites. But lets say airlines would open up their systems. Providing an API, a way for third parties to connect with the airlines, could allow new companies to do create a better environment for these kind of sales, to show how you are different from the competition.

These APIs are used a lot in Internet settings, think Facebook and Twitter. But it can also provide be worth a lot for traditional companies, like Matt Daniels described in his post: What if every company had an API?

But let's not fool anyone. Tickets cost a lot of money. And part of the ambiguity in the pricing is what makes money for the airlines.

Horrible user experiences aside, many people will still buy the cheapest ticket from A to B. A good example can be found with Ryanair, that keeps pissing people of , but continues to grow.

So I can only hope that this will change. Maybe there will be some internet company that can change this.

Can a good brand image help a company in this case? Or does the user just care about prices? I'd love to hear what you think!

November 17, 2010

Creating a brand in politics

Obama was the saviour of The New World. That is the main point the European media made during his election campaign. And despite all the coverage on the content of his campaign, the execution details got lost.

I did not experience the parts that are still getting so much attention two years later. Things like the grassroots movement, people uniting, artists uniting, a new way to collect donations or the use of new media to interact with supporters in a different way.

I also did not witness the role design played in the campaign, that is why I enjoyed coming across the following book:  Designing for Obama by Scott Thomas. He was one of the full-time new media designers on the Obama campaign.

It tells the story of the campaign from a design perspective.

Sol Sender, a designer, was approached by Obama's team to create the logo. After reading Obama's book and absorbing more details he went on to discover what he had to create. Some iterations later, the logo above was born.

Before the author of the book was brought on board, the director of new media had been trying to manage things. There only was the logo and the idea behind it. But this had to be adapted to fit the different parts of the campaign and suit the different media and needs. This meant a lot of work for one man inexperienced with design, and even harder to do this job in a consistent way.

When the campaign got two professional designers on board, the logo and message were transformed into a visual identity. There also was a need to adapt the identity to distinguish but integrate the different parts within the campaign. Initiatives such as Artists for America were different from the official campaign news and the used visuals needed to confirm that.

Creating a consistent image across all these elements was one of the aims in the campaign:
If our designs were all over the map, people would think the same of our message. Our tightly integrated visual strategy strengthened our public image of Obama, and served as a counterweight to the charges of inexperience that other candidates tried to level against him.
The hectic pace of the campaign required good coordination to maintain consistency. Although there were only two people in charge of this job, the movement behind the senator was quick to point out mistakes:
When commenters noticed an inconsistent serif font in our “Veterans for Obama” logo or thought that our use of a rainbow in our Pride logo looked too childish, I could implement changes immediately.
On getting all the other staff members using their fonts: 
To streamline the process, we created a system of elements that used a typographical template to manufacture everything that used type and design. This took the burden of day-to-day redesigning off the shoulders of campaign staffers, and allowed them to concentrate on their individual fields of expertise.
The book offers a nice view on the process of building a brand from the idea to the real execution. Some of the artwork included from the Artist for Obama movement is really amazing.

I just would have liked to more practical of examples of how people were kept inside the brand guidelines, especially with that many different people and organizations involved.

But overall a quick and enjoyable read!

The book is available in a printed version, iPad app or free ebook:

November 11, 2010

A closer look at promotions part 2

photo credit: ICP
When researching promotion for the first part of this post, I came across this interesting story about Pepsi and Coca-cola.

Being arch enemies, you would think that they are at each others throat when it comes to promotions.

Turns out that that is not the case. They alternate their promotions, using a rotation schedule that is more complex than one week Pepsi and the other week on Coke promotion.  One time they will promote a certain type of package, let's say a deal on 24 cans of Coke. Other promotions might involve a price reduction on all their products and another time it might be a new in-store display. One of the reasons behind this strategy is to ensure the promotions don't wear out too easily.

In an American study on this situation it was found that on average, each strong bottler (Coke, Pepsi and RC/7UP) spends between 33% and 47% on promotion. With some deviation that is indeed the whole time.

So why would they all agree to this? If any of the involved parties would diverge from this strategy a series of price cutting would follow, which isn't healthy for anyone. The Prisoners Dilemma.

Another reason is to fight off private label brands. In this example, brand switching is asymmetric, which means the following:
A promotion will convince a certain amount of users to switch from the private label brand to Coke. Now if the private label holds a promotion of its own, a number of users will switch back from Coke to the private label. In the second case however, fewer users will switch back to the private label, that's the asymmetric part of brand switching.
The income effect is a possible explanation. Because of a price decrease, the consumer is now able to buy a higher quality product with the same income. This results in a larger total utility.

Promotion and prices

The price is the most powerful element in the marketing toolbox. A promotion uses a lowered price to make people buy when they were not planning to.

But for consumers that were not aware of the price, organizing a promotion might make them more sensitive about it. And price sensitive customers are not your ideal ones.

People should also be attracted to the brand, not just to the deal they are getting. Sure the promotion is there to convince them. But if you don't reinforce buying again, possibly without the price reduction, people will get used to buying on promotion. And since you don't want to eternally discount your product, that is not a situation you want to be in!

If you are aware of other conspiracy stories within the world of promotion, or have any other thoughts on the subject, please let us know in the comments!

November 8, 2010

A closer look at promotions part 1

After seeing the Burn promo girl at my local deli standing there day after day, I wondered:  does giving a free T-shirt with every 4 energy drinks really help sales?

In my opinion the Burn brand can do a lot better than that, but promotions are an essential part of the marketing mix.

Bill Wood photograph of a promotion. One year of free Kleenex if you buy a Pontiac!
photo credit: ICP
To find out more, I started digging a bit deeper into the world of promotions. This first part will cover some promotion basics and the second one will talk about various promotional effects.

Let's start with a look at some different types of promotions:
  • Price promotions: a price reduction or more product for the same price. Discounts affect your profits and might hurt your brand reputation, especially if your product always seems to be on promotion, so this type should be used with care.
  • Coupons are a different way of discounting, most of the time to a limited audience: people that bought before, people in your mailing list, readers of a certain magazine, etc. Coupons are best used for new products or for products of which sales are slowing down.
  • Gifts with purchase: these are used a lot with subscription-based products such as newspapers and consumer luxuries such as perfumes.
  • Contests: Attaching a possible reward or prize to buying a product might also be an incentive to buy the product.
  • In-store displays: not really a type of promotion. But research has shown that if products look like they are on promotion (putting a lot of product together or putting them on the corner of a supermarket aisle), people think it is on promotion and sales will increase.

To kick up stalling sales: get people to switch from a competitor or convince existing customers to buy more. A nice example of this was the Old Spice campaign. TV advertising and some nice online videos created awareness. And when people walked in the stores, promotions like discounts and coupons were waiting to convince people to buy.

Create brand awareness for new products, and get people to try it out.

Asking customer data in return for a discount can help you get a better understanding on who is buying your product. These data might be used for future campaigns.

Who does what

While less visible, in some industries promotions targeted at distribution channels like retailers, receive higher budgets than promotions directed at the final customer. The aim is to get the channels to stock product, this is called selling into the trade or forward buying. In this case a promotion is a trade off between inventory costs and the size of the discount.

Usually a product manufacturer takes the initiative for a promotion. An exception to that are the deal-of-the-week offers that you can find in many supermarkets. Those discounts are paid for by the retailers and aim to drive traffic to their stores.

Got some more info for this Promotion 101? Please add your thoughts in the comments!