Category Archives: marketing

The importance of the fitting room

I went clothes shopping today for the first time in several months. Such a long break is unusual as I like to shop but much appreciated by my bank account. Total damage: $303 for 2 button down shirts, 2 polos, a sweat-shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a pair of shoes. I gave my money to Guess, FCUK, Zara, Banana Republic and Skechers (via DSW). I’m a total sucker for Guess and FCUK but it’s the first time I found something at Zara.

I realized how important the fitting rooms are as that’s where the buying decision is ultimately made. And some stores can definitely improve on that front.

Top lights are bad

The direct light from ceiling mounted spot lights is terrible. It overemphasizes the structure of the fabric and creates drop shadows for every fold. Also it gives the face a spooky look. Indirect light from behind the mirror is much better.

Mirrors – size and position

The mirror has to be big enough so that I can easily see my entire body. I like it when there is an angled mirror behind me so that I can get a 360 view.

A the DSW shoe store they had these small angled mirrors mounted to the seats. You can see the shoe and your leg up to your knee. It allows you to see if the shoe matches your pants. But it doesn’t allow you to see if the shoe matches your style. I couldn’t find any full size mirrors anywhere. I ended up not buying a pair even though I liked how it matched the pants. I was convinced it doesn’t match my personality.

Customer vs. guest vs. client

At the checkout at DSW the employees called for the next ‘guest’ rather than ‘customer’. This must be a policy as they consistently did so. Now I understand that some companies don’t want to call their customers, well, customers as the term implies:

  • buyer of product
  • source of money

But being called a ‘guest’ felt wrong. Especially at the checkout where I turn into a customer as I’m handing them my money. I can’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a privilege to be at the store or that they just want me to be there without buying anything. It makes more sense for a hotel or restaurant as they’re hosting you for an extended period of time. Please don’t call me a guest at a shoe store.

In-N-Out also has some special name for their customer. I can’t remember it right now though.

Know your audience – and spell check your creative!

I recently received a newsletter from AT&T thanking me for choosing AT&T and stressing how lucky they are to have me as a customer. This was immediately followed by an invitation to visit a store! No special offer, reward or anything. But that’s not the point here.

The headline reads “lucky. gl├╝cklich. chanceaux.”.

Congratulations on being international! The French translation is obviously wrong and should be “chanceux” unfortunately. I’m the first one to admit that foreign languages are tricky but screwing up a one word translation takes some skills.

Why German and French? What about Spanish and Chinese?

What I don’t get is why they picked German and French. This would make perfect sense in Switzerland but not in the US. Spanish and Chinese would have been more powerful in addressing important local populations. Note: The newsletter closes in Spanish with “Muy afortunado!”.

Further reading: I wrote about another AT&T marketing blunder not too long ago.

The Real Yellow Pages, Really?

I just heard the AT&T ‘real yellow pages‘ commercial on the radio which reminded me that I wanted to write about the corresponding billboard campaign a while ago. Who came up with the idea that anyone cares about the ‘real’ yellow pages? I’ll give up ‘real’ for ‘relevant’, ‘accurate’, ‘up-to-date’ or ‘easy to use’ anytime. Consumers don’t care about real in commodity products.

Why does AT&T still care about their printed yellow pages? Are the listing fees/ads generating a significant amount of revenue? According to AT&T their pages are referenced 4 billion times annually. I wonder what the corresponding CPM is. And do businesses compare this to running their own search result ads?

In fact, who is still using yellow pages? With the Internet at your finger tips with more complete and current information it’s hard to imagine still sifting through a paper copy. Granted there is an online version at but I prefer or that include consumer feedback, links to the official web site and a map.

The ad campaign should have been built around ‘complete’, ‘comprehensive’ or ‘most referenced’. Make the consumer feel like she’s missing something by ignoring these yellow pages. Reserve ‘real’ and ‘original’ for fashion and luxury items.

Video Blogger And Product Placement

zefrank’s take on product placement in his video blog. Hilarious! Note the subtle placement of transparent 3M scotch tape.

The fact that marketers are starting to look at video blogs (vlogs) is very interesting. Blogs (the written ones) and video blogs are usually focused on a given topic. And with a big enough audience, it suddenly becomes an interesting place to advertise. We’ll see a lot more of this in 2007.

Cingular is Phishing Me – Cingular Doesn’t learn either

Cingular just sent me my monthly statement. I smells really phishy just like Citibank’s email (see Citibank is Phishing Me – Do Banks Never Learn?).

The “Log in” link points to…..0.%2Fmycingular. When clicked, IE and Firefox pop up the following warning dialog:

Warning! It appears that you are about to access a website that has non-standard web address format. Such sites may contain harmful entities such as viruses. We recommend you use extreme caution. Please change your preferences if you do not want to see this message again.

Very reassuring!

These companies should lead by example instead of being part of the problem. Tons of people get phished every day and such emails are definitely not sending the right signals. “Don’t worry about the funky looking URL. You can trust us. See the Cingular logo? There you go!”

Yahoo! is one step ahead and is educating its users. Only sign-in if you see your personal sign-in seal.

Citibank is Phishing Me – Do Banks Never Learn?

Phishing is a huge problem and you would think banks know better.

What is Citibank thinking? The email I just received contains:

Link text:

Actual link (see status bar):….4CA8377332533513….

Link destination:…

Login form? Check

Citibank logos all over the place? Check

Domain that isn’t Check

SSL certificat not issued to Citibank? Check

So this must clearly be a phishing email, right? Actually I think it’s not. But it’s definitely not very smart.

Citibank has some instructions so I will report this as phishing. Let’s see what their reply is…

The PC Guy is Everywhere!

You know the Mac commercials with the PC Guy and the Mac Guy. I had to laugh pretty hard when I read the following story about the background of the actors a while ago [via Gizmodo]:

Radar interviews John Hodgman, you know, the PC Guy from the Apple ads. And reading it makes me feel just stupid. You know he works for the Daily Show, but did you know he’s a full fledged NY Times Magazine editor and writer, and was a reporter for NPR’s This American Life? Justin Long, the Mac Guy, is best known for working with Lindsay Lohan in Herbie Fully Loaded, Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball, and his cameo on That 70′s Show. Well then.

The writer in John Hodgman was reading out of his new book “The Areas of My Expertise” in San Francisco last week [via Metroblogging San Francisco]. I haven’t heard anything about the book and I’m definitely curious.

Google’s Brand Mantra

From Innovation and brand extensions on What’s Your Brand Mantra?.

Virgin = rebel = Richard Branson. Richard sets out to do something rebellious in whatever industry he chooses to enter. The Virgin brand is based not around what Richard does, but how he does it.

The second part sounds a lot like Google with its various products that seem to be lacking an overall strategy. It’s been a while since Google released a revolutionary, industry changing product. But the public perception of Google is still: cool and innovative.

Read more on brand extensions and if they work or not. Jennifer brings up Google further down in the post. In my opinion, the Virgin example makes a stronger point even when applied to Google.

Google is an innovation machine, generating a lot of new ideas that may or may not fly, but they all hang under its mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and usable.

What does your brand stand for? And how can you improve it?

Note: I’m following several Marketing related blogs as I’m convinced we will see radical changes in that area in the coming years (and it has already started). It’s great to read what some professionals in this field are experimenting with.

Product Design — Think 5 Years Ahead And Create Stepping Stones

Interesting idea found in BusinessWeek’s article “Staying Cool At Nokia” (paraphrased):

Think 5 years out and create stepping stones to the future.

Curtis refers to mobile phones but this can also be applied to web based products. The idea is not revolutionary but reality shows how easy it is to get tied up in short term issues (bugs, insignificant features, etc.). It’s important to have a long term vision for a product and stick to a plan on how to get there even if this means dropping some short term wins.

In fact, a lot of users are averse to change. Radical changes are refused without evening considering the advantages of the new version. Big changes can only be achieved through step by step changes. A nice side effect is that users get trained to accept change evolution.