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A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends, news from the world of puppets and ventriloquism, bits of humor and other interesting but useless information. I post every Tuesday and Friday.
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April 2008 - Posts

Communicate Through Puppets

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet (Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information.)

You People Need to Get a Life
Over 10 billion online videos were viewed in February - up 66% from 2007.  That's right; nearly 135 million U.S. internet users spent an average of 204 minutes per person viewing online video in February. Come on people, haven't you got anything better to do? (By the way, click here to see one of Dale's puppet videos on YouTube.)

Puppets Before People

  According to a Civil Defense film from the fifties, this marionette cow could survive a nuclear attack.

Speaking of watching online videos, this one is worth a gaze.  Seriously, it'll make you laugh. Regular readers of this blog know that I often point out how puppets can be used as communication tools for all kinds of things. In the case of this old American Civil Defense film from the Cold War, puppets are used to educate the public about the dangers nuclear war and radiation pose to farm animals and how to protect those animals during a nuclear attack. 

I don't know if it's hysterically funny, poignant, or scary that the film recommends stacking hay against your barn to protect your herd of marionette cows.  It also advises, "Shelter your livestock; then seek shelter yourself." PETA would be proud that Civil Defense put animal safety ahead of human safety.

More Than Annoying
A recent study revealed that drivers who talk on cell phones travel an average of 2 miles an hour slower than non-chatters and make others' commute times 5% to 10% longer.

Marketing in the Sky

Now you can make "clouds" in the shapes of, well, anything. The clouds are actually a mixture of soap-based foams and lighter-than-air gases.

"Flogos" uses re-purposed artificial snow machines to generate the floating ads and messages. The machines can pop one Flogo out every 15 seconds, flooding the air with foamy peace signs or whatever shape a client desires. Renting the machine for a day starts at $2,500.

The Flogos are about two feet long and nearly a foot thick, and generally last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on conditions in the atmosphere. They float to heights of 300 to 500 feet, though they can rise up to 20,000 feet.  Flogos are reportedly environmentally friendly and "just evaporate in the air." Click here to see the machine work its magic.

Happy Birthday
Belated birthday greetings to Adelia Detweiler.

Why Writing Marketing Copy is Becoming More Difficult
As you compose copy for marketing materials, you'll think you have made your ideas perfectly clear. You spent 14 hours on that lengthy article describing your fascinating new product. You followed up with a 12-part series on your blog and an auto-responder sequence of 20 emails.

To you, any moron can see what to do next. A reader of your materials should click through to contact you, or buy your product or find a dealer, or whatever it is you want them to do.

The reality isn't very inspiring. A prospect found one of your posts (maybe #3 out of that carefully planned series of 12) on StumbleUpon and spent 30 seconds skimming the subheads. He read the first sentence twice because he thought it was funny. Then he skipped down and read part of the last paragraph.

Then his boss came up behind him and your prospect astutely brought up a spreadsheet to look like he was working on an overdue report. An hour later, your prospect's cousin sent another link to YouTube, and he spent 20 minutes surfing videos of dogs drinking beer. Then he wrapped up that overdue report while eating a bag of Fritos and catching up on email. Four minutes before he shut down for the day, he noticed your post again. So he read your first paragraph and one of the sections that looked kind of interesting.  I don't know what he did next ... it depends how good your copy was.

Readers of your marketing copy are not dumb. But they do have a lot of other things competing for their attention. So no, your prospect is not going to know what to do next or why unless you spell it out with painful clarity. And spell it out often ... over and over again.

While marketing messages should reinforce and build on previous marketing messages, they also need to be able to stand on their own and repeat your key messages which are typically "Why should your prospect care?" and "What do you want them to do next?"

How Do You Market "Trust?"

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
(Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information.)

This Kid Could be a Fireman ... Sorry, I Mean "Firefighter"

    Here's one of three really funny ads from Huggies. Okay, maybe it's just funny to guys and puppets ... but the ad does a good, attention-getting job of demonstrating how Huggies can handle even the strongest of infants. Let me know if it makes you laugh out loud.

Who Do You Trust?
How do you market "truth?" Vero Labs has a new product out called "Liquid Truth" which may help cut to the chase. It's a spray with the pheromones Androstenone and Androsterone plus a "unique Oxytocin hormone formula."

I recently saw an episode of Boston Legal that dealt with this product. A woman was suing a man who spritzed himself with pheromones and she fell for him. She claimed he had used the pheromone spray to mislead her. Little did I know that it was a real product.

I don't fully understand the science behind it, but Vero Labs claims "we've found that people using this new product are prone to being more confident, and that makes a world of difference." Well, I would hope so; a one-ounce spray bottle goes for a rather rarified $79.95. Details are at Vero Labs.com.

Hats Are Back on Top
If your read the fashion magazines (or Playboy ... I've been told), those in the know are predicting that men's hats are coming back. And the ad below for Hut Weber suggests that the big difference between Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin was "the hat." Really?

Britain's Daily Telegraph reports that the ad "is groundbreaking because the taboo of using Hitler in any other context but a historical one would have been unthinkable until now." (Chaplin's family might not be that impressed.) And creatively, the ad might be less groundbreaking than they think, as a similar idea was employed in this campaign for a Belgian optician, which, in my opinion, was actually cleverer.

Executive Access Letters Can Work - Part 2
It's possible to attract the attention of hard-to-reach executives via properly formatted and packaged business letters. Here are a few tips.

  • Sell the meeting, not the solution. With every word ask yourself, "Will this help me to get the meeting, or is it something I should save for the meeting?"
  • Display knowledge of the customer's business.
  • Write the way you speak. Why utilize "utilize" when you can use "use?"
  • Be mechanically flawless. In short, don't type it yourself.
  • Pre-sell the letter to the executive's assistant. Talk to the assistant and confirm spellings, titles, addresses and the like. Let them know the letter is coming and ask when the best time and method to follow-up is.


Happy Earth Day!

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
(Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information.)

Don't Get Too Close!

"Rub against me and I'll expose you." Ah, if I had a dime for every time I've heard that.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority recently unveiled a campaign aimed at combating sexual harassment on the subway. Frankly, the way people are often packed in subways like sardines, it's pretty tough to avoid some degree of unwanted human contact. Maybe copy for the ad should read, "Uncomfortable being touched by a stranger? Take a cab."

The author of AdFreak offered this suggestion on how to deal with unwanted touching on the subway in Boston. "If someone's hands stray where they shouldn't, just point at him or her and scream, "Yankee fan! Yankee fan!" They won't give you any more trouble after that."

"Pardon me ..." Are You Kidding Me?

    This Hallmark card with the copy, "Pardon me ..." on the cover and "Care for some liquid clothes remover?" on the inside, seemed mildly humorous to me - but not to Cyndi Desrosiers, a New Hampshire mother. Ms. Desrosiers claims the card is "promoting sexual promiscuity to teenagers." I'd agree with Cyndi except for the fact that there's absolutely nothing that refers to teenagers anywhere on the card! In short, "Pardon me ... are you nuts?"  Apparently we're not supposed to have access to funny cards with sexual innuendos.

Cyndi claims that she wants to protect the sensibilities of her 18-year-old daughter, by having the $2.99 card removed from stores. Click here for her side of the story.  Or just pound your head against the wall for 30 seconds to get the same type of headache.

Ironically, proceeds from the sale of this card are reportedly donated to combat AIDS in Africa.  Okay, even I have to admit that Hallmark made a poor choice of subject matter for generating revenue for that particular charity.

More Trade Show Tips

The single biggest reason why trade show participation sometimes fails to deliver desired results is that too often marketers view trade shows as stand-alone events rather than elements of an integrated marketing process.

For B2B companies, a trade show is more likely one of many interactions customers and prospects will have with your company. As such, it must be preceded and followed by integrated marketing activities including a pre-show traffic-building campaign, a well-organized and executed follow-up plan and a mini Web site that speaks directly to the show's attendees.

It's your responsibility to drive the right prospects to your booth.  Many successful companies market their trade show participation through e-mail, direct mail, telemarketing, press releases and personal contact. For some, it also makes sense to invite attendees via blogs, social networks and community forums. Messages that reach your prospects through multiple communication channels have a far better chance of being recognized and acted upon.

For Those Things You Just Can't Throw Away

     Safestore, a storage unit rental company in the U.K, uses this clever tag line: "For those things you just can't throw away."  Or at least I thought it was clever until I saw this TV ad demonstrating the reason why companies that rent out storage units don't let you live in or work in the space you've rented. This is that reason. It's sort of funny, but the cold-hearted Brit didn't even give Grandma the flowers! 

Invest Your Tax Rebate in a Puppet

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet

Online Newsrooms
   A study indicates that 98% of journalists prefer to receive information through email alerts. If you use media alerts they should include a link to your company's online newsroom. The return link will enable you to determine whether or not individual journalists access the full release.

Electronic newsrooms should contain high resolution photographs of people quoted in releases and products mentioned in releases. Journalists are also interested in video clips which demonstrate products.  Most importantly, journalists expect your newsroom to include email and phone numbers for "media contacts," whether they are outside PR professionals or internal employees.

Do You Know Your Pasta?
 How well do you know your Pasta shapes? Take this multiple choice "Pasta Shape Identification Quiz" (via Slashfood).  I only got 6 of 24 correct ... but I'm just a puppet. Dale's wife, Leslie, got 16 correct. Show off.

Invest Your Tax Rebates in ... Me!
     The U.S. Tax Rebate checks ($300-$600) will begin hitting mailboxes in May. Instead of buying an iPod or a new TV, you can help stimulate the economy by investing in a banquet show or motivational program featuring me! Think about it ... you could be a hero in the eyes of your service club, hobbyist organization or company by donating your rebate check to the entertainment/training fund and recommending me! Or you could just recommend me to your group and let them pay for the program themselves. Either way it'll be win/win/win. Go to http://www.dale-brown.com/ for more information. 

Make Your Web Site Relevant
In your customers' and prospects' minds they've heard it all before ... no matter what you sell or what markets you serve. So how do you make your web site stand out from competing web sites?

  1. Make it germane. Before prospects invest their most precious commodity (time) in what you have to offer, it has to stand out from the blizzard of other information out there. Invest in finding out what they want and provide relevant information that can help to solve their problems/needs.
  2. Video. It's everywhere. Web visitors expect it. Go beyond talking heads to graphics, demonstrations and integrated design elements to step up from the competition.
  3. The site should also provide choices for visitors to interact with your brand, including but not limited to email, mobile, chat and blogs.
  4. When practical, make parts of your site entertaining. Information that is consumed the fastest and most often is usually "entertaining." Buyers will be more willing to go through your web site, remember it and buy from you if they are entertained during the process. I know a lot of you are saying to yourselves, "But there's nothing entertaining about my product." Get over that attitude. What's entertaining about laundry detergent, automobiles, cell phones, money management, milk ... and on and on and on? Even funeral directors offer up some entertainment with their "Men of Mortuaries" beef cake calendar. Whether you sell machine tools, printing, carpet cleaning equipment or cement mixers, you can make part of your web site entertaining, informative and admired if you're willing to be different. And in marketing, "different" is generally good.
  5. Include a section for "insiders" but let everyone go there. On Dale's site there is a button "For Vents Only." It's one of the most visited sections on his site. Why? Because the average site visitor hopes to gain some behind-the-scenes information. What they get is information on how Dale is respected by his ventriloquist peers ... and that enhances his credibility. It was my idea. Genius.

At the Fair Humor
From reader Mike Kelly.
I was behind a woman and her husband at the fair last week as a group of us were touring the "breeding bulls" pavilion. We all walked up to the first pen and there was a sign attached that said,
The woman playfully nudged her husband in the ribs ... smiled and said, "He mated 50 times last year."
We walked to the second pen which had a sign attached that said, ''THIS BULL MATED 150 TIMES LAST YEAR."
The woman gave her husband a healthy jab and said, "WOW! That's more than twice a week! You could learn a lot from him."
We walked to the third pen and it had a sign attached that said, in capital letters, "THIS BULL MATED 365 TIMES LAST YEAR."
The woman was so excited that her elbow nearly broke her husband's ribs. She said, "That's once a day. You could REALLY learn something from this one."
He slowly turned to look at her and said, "Ask him if it was with the same
old cow."

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