Do You Remember the Film?
I realize that I may be dating myself here, but after watching countless Super Bowl commercials this past weekend, I feel that a discussion of marketing for your small business may be in order—especially for those who don’t have millions of dollars to create thirty second ads to air during the Super Bowl.
In the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner plays the role of an Iowa farmer who hears voices that tell him, “If you build it, he will come.” From these voices, he understands that he should build a baseball field on his farm. He does this, and soon the ghosts of eight Chicago White Sox players that were banned from the 1919 World Series show up and start playing ball.
Costner’s Theory of Marketing
As a marketing theory, “If you build it, he will come” is an interesting one to consider. Here are the key suppositions of the movie and also of the Field of Dreams Theory of Marketing:
- Speak whatever you want into existence. Change your language so that it sounds like what you’re after has already or soon will happen.
- Laugh at (or don’t be discouraged by) people’s claims that you’re crazy.
- Understand that if you’re just talking about something and not doing anything to make it happen, you might be crazy.
- The more you talk about it being a part of your life, the more you will want to make that an actuality.
The most important thing here is to not just talk about what you want to do. The saying goes “If you build it, he will come.” You must work hard in order for things to play out the way you want.
Applying the Movie to Our Business
So how can we apply this theory to our business in 2014—a quarter century after this movie was in the theaters?
First off, the most obvious message is that if we set goals, talk about them, and continuously work towards meeting them, it seems extremely likely that we will come close or actually meet those goals.
On a more granular level, let’s talk about the marketing and advertising that we create in order to generate leads. You cannot just speak or will yourself to obtain leads. And, you cannot just throw a website up and expect to get loads of traffic every day. Of course, if you do actually produce a marketing piece, the likelihood that someone will contact you is much higher than if you do nothing at all. But, with respect to the Internet, you are going to have to do a lot more than create a website in order for him “to come.”
Online Marketing Considerations
Here are three things to consider in regards to online marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization. Whatever you decide to build online, make sure that it is well-optimized for the search engines. Although this topic merits significantly more discussion than given here, if you are on a WordPress platform, using plug-ins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast will assist you in making that happen. Creating a Google plus page, and claiming Google Authorship can also significantly improve your placement on search results.
- Audience. People say that you need to give your customers what they want. What does your prospective audience want? How well can you deliver? And, more importantly, is what you are offering actually something that they need? If not, it may be time to adjust accordingly.
- Image. It is such a turnoff when you get to a website or look at a marketing piece and it is filled with typographical errors. Ensure that whatever you put out there for the world to see is polished, professional, and easy on the eyes.
- Freebies. America loves free stuff. What items of value could you give to your audience that would encourage them to come back for more? A free podcast or ebook? A free coupon for your store? A discount for everyone who checks in at your food truck location? Leverage the power of viral marketing by giving away items for value.
I’m not thoroughly convinced of the merit of the Field of Dreams Theory of Marketing. After all, it’s unlikely that if I build something a bunch of dead guys will show up. On the other hand, if I am careful and calculated in my business and marketing ventures and I take the time to plan and actually do what I say that I am going to do, I’m confident that the clients will come!
Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales
(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?
Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”
The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.
The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.
A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.
Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.
This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.
When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.
The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.
It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.
In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.
Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions
(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.
Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.
This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.
To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.
Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.
Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.
In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.
Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.
For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.
Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls
(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.
I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.
The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.
As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.
So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?
The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”
While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.
Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.
Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?
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