Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Drug Wars Come to the Supermarket

I was stunned over the weekend to see a television commercial promoting the giveaway of free antibiotics (with a prescription). Was this a government sponsored program for the underprivileged? A community health center reaching out to the uninsured?

Nope. Just Stop & Shop, the region's largest supermarket chain trying to build store traffic by using pharmaceuticals as a loss leader.

Oh what a slippery slope this is going to be. It starts with free antibiotics, a good deed done in hopes of a financial gain. But when all the other supermarkets are tossing out free penicillin, how far will the new "drug war" escalate? How soon will we see giveaways of pain killers, anti-depressant medication and narcotics? (Free Viagra is a given!)

This is a dangerous precedent being set. If supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to give away drugs (even "mild" ones), there is nothing to stop them from ratcheting up the hype to include other, less savory items. How soon will we see a free quart of Jack Daniels with every $100 grocery purchase?

Yes, the free antibiotics is a great marketing coup. But somebody needs to bring some common sense and decency into the decision making process before our society falls further toward the "bread & circus" mentality that marked the end of the Roman empire.

Come to think of it, "Bread & Circus" was the name of a grocery chain that was absorbed by another, larger competitor. Perhaps if they offered free gladiator bouts in the produce aisle they may have been able to stay afloat.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Buy a Ford

My car is just over a year old, so I am not currently in the market for a new one. But when I am, I will buy a Ford. You should, too.

Why? Because Ford deserves to be recognized and rewarded for rejecting federal bailout money and getting through its financial crisis on its own. For embracing capitalism and rejecting socialism at a time when it would have been much easier to simply take the cash.

Now Ford has announced plans to spend more than half a billion dollars to modernize production facilities in Michigan. Who spends half a billion dollars when sales are down 30 percent? A company that is looking to the future and doing something positive to make sure they get there.

Show your appreciation and admiration for an organization that gets it right. Buy a Ford.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The 40/40/20 Rule of Advertising

Getting your message out to potential customers consists of three basic steps, each of which contributes toward the success of the effort. Over the years, marketing experts have been able to quantify the importance of each of the steps:

• Medium (40%): This is the channel you use to deliver the message. It may be a mailing list, media buy, e-mail list or choosing the right highway billboards. The choice of the medium (or multiple delivery methods) can count for 40% of the success of the campaign.

• Message (40%): Even if you have a foolproof method of reaching prospects, you must have a compelling message in order to generate a response. The message must resonate with what the customer wants to hear, not what you want to say. Here is where you make your case, whether it is with a special offer, sale price, or simply proof that your product or service is superior. Again, the message is important enough to account for 40% of the effort.

• Format (20%): A great delivery channel and strong message can both be wasted if the recipient ignores the attempt. That is why it is critical that your message be developed in a way that is attractive, compelling and attention-getting. If not, you are wasting your time and money on marketing that nobody will notice.

As you can see, it is the combination of all three elements that creates a cohesive, action-inducing marketing campaign. Make sure you allot sufficient resources to each of these portions of the effort in order to reap the full benefits.