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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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June 2011 - Posts

Promote B2B With Publicity

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

How to Promote B2B Through Publicity

If your company is featured in a magazine, highlighted in the newspaper or mentioned on a blog it can certainly help to put you on prospects' radar screens and help to boost sales. But how do you go about getting journalists' attention?

The harsh reality is that most media outlets have little interest in helping your business succeed. Their job is to find solid, relevant news and features that will be of interest to their readers. If you can help them to do that, you're company will be rewarded with credible exposure that often far exceeds what you could afford through paid advertising.

To start the process you need a well-crafted press release or story pitch. (A bad one will immediately make its way to the "Deleted Items" folder and possibly injure future attempts at gaining positive publicity.) While finding a newsworthy angle is a very important part of getting a writer's attention, that angle is just the beginning of a bigger process.

Want to make friends with the press? Click here to learn the five things you need to know.

Insiders Make Better Bosses

Companies that promote insiders as CEOs tend to out-perform firms that hand the keys to the corner office to outsiders, according to an AT Kearney study.

The study found external hires tended to believe they had a mandate for a major strategic shake-up and implement big changes that can swiftly backfire. "Recruiting at the top is often far more risky, costly and disruptive than seeding succession from within," says Paul Laudicina, chairman and managing partner of AT Kearney.

(With apologies to Adelia)
Popularity of "Breastaurants" Soars

Eating establishments known as "breastaurants" continue to grow in popularity and profitability.

Franchises inspired by the success of the Hooters' model (which brings in about $1 billion a year in revenue) including Celtic-themed sports bar chain Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery and faux mountain sports lodge chain Twin Peaks, have expanded rapidly over the last half decade.  For the next couple of years this segment is poised to be one of the fastest-growing restaurant categories.

The concept has grown in spite of the recession by focusing on customer service. "These concepts are growing by offering a different level of service and attentiveness," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-industry consulting firm in Chicago. "Most customers aren't satisfied with brusque service ... they want a conscientious server and a meaningful connection."

Twin Peaks' owner Randy DeWitt agrees that fostering connections is the key to a restaurant's success, especially when it breeds repeat customers. In fact, some waitresses become mini-entrepreneurs on their own, using Facebook or Twitter to let regulars know what shifts they'll be working or what specials the restaurant is offering.

DeWitt says, "What more could a guy ask for: great food, sports, beer and a cute girl to look at. We don't go real deep."

As innovative as they might be, can "breasteraunts" survive if they cater only to half the population? I guess I'll have to do more research by patronizing these types of establishments. The things I do for my readers ...

From Entrepreneur: Click here for complete article.

You Could Earn a Free Chip Martin DVD

Okay, one of us isn't fulfilling their responsibilities for this blog.

I know that I'm still breaking my butt to create informative, entertaining and original material. So the weak link must be you. You read my blog, learn something, laugh a little and pass a few links on. But you're not doing anything to help me gain more readers.  In fact, last month, for the first time in 4 years my readership dropped 4%. That's unacceptable! Just ask my boss.

Now I could tell myself that the fault is mine and that I have to work harder to write better posts ... but you and I know that I'm not going to tell myself that. Instead I'm going to ask you to please ... (see, I said "please" and I said it in italic) pass my blog on to others and ask them to subscribe via email, RSS feed, Facebook, Blogged.com  or whatever method they choose.

Without a constantly growing readership base, my employer won't be able to continue to justify the time I spend informing and entertaining you. So please hold up your end of the deal. Don't just take, take, take. Give a little. Send links to my blog to a few friends, co-workers, associates, vendors, people who are interested in marketing, people who like to laugh, people who will pray for me ... anyone. I don't ask much ... but my employer does.

I will truly appreciate any help you can provide. Email me here, to let me know that you've passed a link and a recommendation on to others.  The first 100 responses may or may not receive a free "Chip Martin ‘Close to a Thrill'" DVD, or a free highlighter or a free "I'm no Dummy" button from me.

Could You Go?

The still (above) is from a commercial for Unibet, an online betting site in Europe. If you want to see the perplexing commercial, click here. But it's not the commercial that caught my attention. It's the photo from the commercial that made me do a double take. It appears that in some Scandinavian countries, men's public toilets are, well ... just that ... "public."

Sorry ... I wouldn't be able to go. And where do they wash their hands?

What is Sex Selling This Week?

When I think of heading over to Barnes and Noble to pick up the latest copy of What Mobile Magazine, the first thing on my mind is always a hot, sexy blond with a come-hither look holding a mobile phone. Wait. What? No. The magazine is about electronics ... I think.

Natural Protection?

For many years I've told people that when I go golfing I glue a frog to my head to keep the bugs off my face while I'm searching for my ball in the woods. Now, Shieldtox has copied my joke (sort of) and put it in an ad with the headline, "Natural Protection."  I give it a "medium." My joke is funnier.


Newsletter Articles that Build Readership

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

How to Write Newsletter Articles That Breed Readership

"People read for only two reasons: To be entertained and/or to learn something. If the articles in your newsletter don't accomplish at least one of those things, don't bother to publish it because no one besides you is going to read it."
Chip Martin

As an award-winning newsletter editor (I have plaques in my suitcase that verify it!) I've been asked to write an article about writing articles for newsletters. I'm drafting the article while sitting on an airplane. So my first piece of advice is if you're going on an airplane, take a pen. Pencils aren't any good because the TSA tends to confiscate things with sharp points. Also take something to write on. Paper is best; your arm will do in a pinch.

If you have a laptop, ignore the first paragraph. But be sure to use a memory stick.

I prepare for writing newsletter articles by doing back exercises. Pain is distracting. I also do a lot, and I mean "a lot" of research before I start writing. Actually I don't personally do the research. I have "people" for that. Non-professional writers generally will have to do their own research. The point is research is important.

Research helps you to better target your audience and hold their attention. If you don't know who your audience is, trying to hold their attention will be a little like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. So before you start writing, define your audience and find out what's important to them ... not what's important to you ... what's important to them.

You'll need a thesaurus and an AP Style book. And you'll have to have a better than average grasp of grammar and a firm grasp on reality ... because good writing isn't easy. Oh, the physical act of writing is easy. That's why so many corporate managers think they can do it. It's the cerebral and creative aspects that are foreign to these individuals. As a result, clueless corporate executives often make a real writer's life absolutely wretched.

Words need to be attention-getting, memorable and persuasive. To put it another way, you need to use the best words and put them in an order that will be attractive to your audience. Ultimately your message should be as entertaining as it is practical. And I don't mean "entertaining" as in "Ha. Ha." (Although that's often a plus.) I mean "entertaining" as in "interesting." In this information-overloaded world, if it's not entertaining (interesting), it's just stuff ... and that's not enough to gain awareness or interest.

Think about it. People (including you) read for only two reasons: To be entertained and/or to learn something. If the articles in your newsletter don't accomplish at least one of those things, don't bother to publish it because no one besides you is going to read it. (Feel free to copy this paragraph and paste it in an email to the executive in your company who continually forces you to publish newsletter articles that no one besides him/her will ever read.)

(Click here to read the rest of this incredibly insightful, useful and entertaining article.)

This is Obviously a Man's Hammer

When a woman uses a hammer to pound a nail, does she think "Hey! This is obviously a man's hammer! I wish I had one that was pink?" Some manufacturers and marketers must think so because they offer pink tools -- just for women from Tom Boy Tools.

And if a woman is debating whether or not to purchase a gun for self-defense ... maybe if it was pink it would be just the thing to get her off the fence.

I have a feeling that the market research behind "pink products" may be too scary for me to handle. I don't think manufacturers would spend the time and money to make pink tools and firearms if there weren't markets for them.

Barbie Has Feelings

Mattel was put in an awkward position this week after Greenpeace launched a social media campaign focusing on the company's use of packaging sourced from Indonesian rain forests. More than 180,000 people viewed a spoof video of Ken breaking up with Barbie over rain forest destruction.

This isn't the first time Barbie has been at the center of controversy. The 1998 ad (above) for The Body Shop debuted a self-esteem campaign featuring the generously proportioned doll named "Ruby." Her Rubenesque figure graced The Body Shop windows in the UK that year. Ruby was a fun idea. But she was not universally loved. In the United States Mattel sent The Body Shop a cease-and-desist order. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad.

The idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another inanimate piece of molded plastic's feelings is so ridiculous that it's funny. (By the way, I've dated Barbie and she's as stuck up as you'd expect her to be. Ruby on the other hand was loads of fun.)

The People's Republic of Roseville, CA

There are many questions schools ask parents of new students during the enrollment process ... age, previous schools, proof of identity, residency, vaginal delivery or C-section ... wait ... what was that last one again?

Some parents in Roseville, CA, aren't too thrilled with being asked about which delivery method was used for the birth of their child. "I really don't think the school asking if the child was delivered vaginally or by C-Section is appropriate," one mom tells CBS13 in Sacramento. School Application Criticized For Birth Questions

The Milwaukee Mile is Back ... for Awhile


JournalSentinel Photo

Last Sunday IndyCar racing returned to the historic 108 year-old Milwaukee Mile with Dario Franchitti winning the 225 mile event.

 

But before his victory Dario spent some time with his friends Leslie and Dale Brown (above).  Personal note: I don't think Leslie looked this happy in her wedding photos.

In all seriousness, it was really great to have IndyCar back in Milwaukee. Unfortunately underfunded, poorly executed promotional efforts only attracted 15,000 fans and severely jeopardized the race's future. Too bad. It's a great race and a great racing venue. But when you see the number of out-of-state license plates in the parking lot it makes you think Illinois race fans appreciate the event more than Wisconsin fans. Illinois wants the race at its track in Joliet ... and it may get it. That would be a shame.

Why Puppets Don't Drink

Click here to see a funny 30-second clip showing why puppets don't drink.


Marketing Censorship


A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin,
Mannequin American

Fighting Back Against Censorship of Marketing

 

If you haven't already heard, Naomi Campbell considered legal action against Cadbury after the brand used "Naomi" in the ad above. Campbell said, "I am shocked. It's upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people. I do not find any humor in this. It is insulting and hurtful."

Of course there are other celebrities named "Naomi." But even if Campbell was the one Cadbury had in mind, she should get over it, and Cadbury shouldn't have buckled ... but they did. They pulled the ad.

Obviously Campbell has no reservations about being described as a "Wild Pearl," above. Maybe someone from the Pearl Association (I'm sure there is one) will have a problem with that.

There's a difference between "offensive" and "not liked by a few." I should know. I've been both.

Putting the Naomi debacle aside for the moment (it's not even a very good ad), marketing is experiencing an onslaught of "politically correct censorship" that could forever cripple its ability to be effective and to be entertaining. The Super Bowl has become an annual opportunity for publicity-seeking special interest groups to be offended by anything that moves.

Political correctness is anchored in limiting language which limits ideas and leads to Orwellian newspeak. No small minority should be given the power to act as censors for the majority. Let the majority think and act for themselves. And marketers and their clients need to demonstrate some courage and not surrender every time some special interest group complains about an ad.

Barbie or Katy Perry?

And while we're talking about ads that have generated complaints ... click here to see the new Nokia N8 Pink Freedom commercial that uses Barbie as you've never seen her used before. Seriously, whether it's right or wrong, you should take a look so that you can have an opinion on this controversial commercial. Personally it looks like Barbie has had some work done. I think her breasts are fake.

If You Want to Get Attention Get Naked

We all know that sex grabs attention. That's why people who sell things use it; that's why activists use it; and that's why individuals who want to get noticed use it.

Last Saturday, a group got naked and rode bicycles through Madison, WI to protest the use of non-renewable fuels ... at least that's what they said they were protesting. So I decided to write an impartial news article about the event. It begins below the photo.

Madison, WI - It was revealed today that hordes of naked women on bicycles got their breasts out in public to draw attention to something or other.

The campaign to highlight an issue of grave concern to someone somewhere culminated in parades of naked flesh including whopping boobs and large wobbling backsides balancing on bicycles through the city of Madison, WI.

"I was lucky enough to get an eyeful of two young beauties right at the front," said eyewitness Jeff Bakula, 42. "It was a truly memorable sight. I'm sure the huge knockers I saw have furthered their cause to rid the world of whatever it is they wanted to rid it of."

Ian Jenkins, a spokesman for the protest group opposed to car culture and oil dependency, spoke to reporters as the naked protesters rode by. "It's fantastic. Naked bodies being displayed on the streets have drawn attention to our cause," he said before adding, "Whoa! Get a load of those bazookas!"

How to Sell Smartwater

 

And while we're on the subject, it seems that at one point or another every good-looking celebrity gets "nude" to sell us something ... and I'm okay with that. Aniston's clever and funny video did very well for Smartwater and I'm assuming her print ads will gain a lot of "exposure" as well.

My Favorite Father's Day Ad

This is an old ad, but it's still one of my favorites. It gets its point across in a simple, humorous manner.

A Salute to All Dads

I have nothing to say about this "Salute to All Dads" video ... other than that many of you will find it incredibly funny. Others will find it juvenile and tasteless. You can guess which camp I'm in.

Ill-advised Hyphen

They're sub-sandwiches. You know, like regular sandwiches, just not as good.

 


How to Work with Bloggers as Press Release Outlets

 

A Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul and a sore Peter."
 George Bernard Shaw 

4 Tips for Working with Bloggers as Press Release Outlets

Blogger relations continues to be a hot topic among advertising, marketing and public relations professionals. Many bloggers attract readers from highly targeted niche markets ... markets that businesses want to reach.

Well-conceived PR pitches to bloggers can produce gold in terms of response and exposure. On the other hand poorly constructed PR pitches are dangerous at best and disastrous at worst. At best, they're ignored. At worst they can become fodder for negative comments should bloggers decide to create a post bashing the company that reached out to them.

When you're pitching press releases or ideas to bloggers:

  • Understand the power of the niche. Realize that while a blogger may not have the number of impressions you are looking for, they may have the most influential people in that niche reading their blog, which is just as important.
  • Make your outreach relevant. Sending a blast e-mail to a BCC'd list is spam and you're setting yourself up for negative comments. You need to tailor your pitches. Read the blogs, know what the bloggers talk about and are passionate about before you make contact.
  • Every blogger is different. It's not the same as pitching a reporter. Bloggers have opinions of their own and each one has their own way that they like to work. Find out what their requirements are and respect their wishes.
  • Have a plan for advertising asks. If a blogger responds to your pitch with the suggestion that you buy an ad on their site, you can't just brush them off. You need to be prepared to give a thoughtful, reasonable response.

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis

 

Here's social media at its worst. Beginning sometime Saturday morning, some wanker posted a photograph online of what appeared to be an official notice in the window of a McDonald's restaurant telling customers that blacks would be charged $1.50 extra "as an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies." Understandably the hoax caused a major PR headache for the company.

It's not clear who created the hoax image. But there's no doubt it's fake as the toll-free number given at the bottom of the sign is actually the number for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Still, the photo gained traction on Twitter by Saturday afternoon.

In response, McDonald's sent out a McTweet on Saturday: "That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax. McD's values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter."

But Twitterers continued to share the picture until it became a Top Trend.  On Sunday, McDonald's tweeted: "That Seriously McDonalds picture is a hoax." The latest response seems to have helped keep the photo from spreading too much further ... but there's no telling how many people out there still think the photo is for real.

Kudos to McDonalds for responding the right way to a social media headache. They've set the record straight in the channel where there is the most activity (Twitter) and also on Facebook to keep the story at bay. Any greater response from the company would only shine a larger spotlight on the hoax. It's good to see a brand not over-react to a social media crisis, which in many cases can make the crisis worse.

DOT and Disney Team Up to Fight Distracted Driving

The Department of Transportation has teamed with Disney and Pixar to create a public service announcement featuring Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, and the characters of Cars 2, which ... in what is surely a coincidence ... is due to hit movie theaters on June 24.

The 30-second PSA, called "Only the bad guys drive distracted," advises viewers: "No calling, no texting. Nothing that can take away your focus."

Check out the new animated spokes-cars in the video above or by clicking here.

Woman Uses Clever Marketing Ploy to Sell Ex's Clothes on eBay

A woman who says she kicked her cheating live-in boyfriend out of their home is selling his clothes on eBay, accompanied by seductive photos of her wearing his clothing.

In an interview with the New York Post, the seller ... who says the saucy photos are in response to her ex's insistence that she dress conservatively ... says that while the effort started off in revenge, now she's just doing it for fun. "It's not about being vindictive. Maybe initially I was getting back at him, but now I don't feel that way. It's fun. I find this all to be very therapeutic, very liberating."

She links to her auctions at the NSFW MyExBoyfriendsCloset.com.

Naked gal sells ex's clothes on eBay [New York Post]

Not Being Nude in a Commercial is Better

I don't mean to break anyone's bubble, but nude beaches are gross because, well, in reality most people aren't hot and should never take their clothes off at the beach. However here's an instance where a nude beach is used as the background for this rather humorous commercial for Club La Senza swimwear.

The ad opens on a nude beach filled with saggy, hairy people. Suddenly, six hot chicks emerge from the ocean and, to the horror of the nudists, the women are wearing bikinis. The sight is just too much for them to take. Mild hilarity ensues. And the work has something for the ladies too, with a hunky, six-packed lifeguard. Something for everyone to enjoy here. Click here or on the link above. NSFW.

In the News

Viagra Spam

A New York Times article revealed that it takes 12.5 million spam emails just to sell $100 worth of Viagra. That's why your in box is so cluttered with spam. It's strictly a numbers game.

So how do we stop it? The same article points out that out of all the various parties, spam servers, zombie spam bots and so forth in the chain, there's just three companies that handle 95% of the transactions. If their accounts were shut down by the powers that be, our inboxes could breathe a sigh of relief.

Texas is Good for Business ... California, not so Much

The Lone Star State is the best place in the U.S. to do business, according to a new survey of 550 chief executives. Texas topped Chief Executive magazine's annual poll for the seventh consecutive year, while California was the least business-friendly state for the seventh straight year. "No one in his right mind would start a new manufacturing concern here," said one California CEO. Chief Executive

Alcohol Helps Prevent Dementia

Pour grandma a pint and give Uncle Teddy his martini back! A new study says moderate drinking of alcohol over the age of 75 could help prevent the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The Telegraph cites the scientists bearing the good news that a glass of wine or a pint a day has a health benefit for seniors. Those who toss a few back are 30% less likely to develop dementia and 40% less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease than those who abstain, says the research.

I'm glad to hear the news but I am also a bit confused because I'm certain that on several occasions in my life alcohol has been detrimental to my memory function. Moderate drinking in old protects against dementia.

Vintage Beer Ad

Mom and her new baby "Picked Up" and then probably fell down according to this vintage ad for Blatz.

According to the ad copy, new mothers can be happy that "The malt in the beer supplies nourishing qualities that are essential at this time and the hops act as an appetizing, stimulating tonic." Who knew?

What on Earth Selling Achmed T-Shirts

 

You know the character has become truly "mainstream" when What on Earth starts selling merchandise with his picture and catch phrase. Click here to order yours.


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