Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the category "what were they thinking"

This video of Joseph Jaffe excoriating short sighted marketing campaigns is fascinating. He's talking about big retailers in most cases, but there's some interesting stuff to learn from what he says.

(My favorite is the one about Target since of course I had to be at my door waiting for the UPS man delivering something to me!)

What's your take on it?


Brigid said...

Okay, so I agree with almost all his points. I work for a brokerage firm, and I'm in a customer relations position, so I know a lot about providing customer service. The email address to the CEO leading to a system generated message was just about the most pathetic thing I've ever seen.

The only one I didn't really agree with was the Target ad. I don't think there was anything inappropriate about the ad, and I don't think a questioning/complaining email about "x marks the spot" should have generated anything more than a form response on Target's side. What are they going to say? "Oh, yeah. It was secretly porn. Oops." That's one instance where saying nothing is probably the best response, because they'd be damned if they do (did?) etc.

He makes some excellent points about not alienating customers, however. And that applies in every industry where cash is traded for goods or services.

Anonymous said...

I like what Jaffe has to say, though he needs to lose the gold chain and wear that dress shirt as a dress shirt, not a Vegas Vinnie Skank-Troller…. But don’t shoot the messenger right?

Sprint screwed the pooch on that one, totally torpedoing a potentially golden opportunity.

Sony’s snafu is infamous now, but unfortunately heavily copied these days, if not outright, then by the practice of paid unrelated bloggers (just check craigslist for the blogger fodder want ads).

Target was a missed opportunity and an alienation nightmare. While I don’t think the ad was purposefully meant to convey what it conveyed, the point of the example was how they hid behind the fact that she was a blogger. Wine Spectator has recently done the same thing when all the news broke out about their being duped into giving an award to a restaurant that doesn’t exist. They called the blogosphere “last journalism” in a blanket statement meant to discredit all non-traditional media. This too has blown up in their face, never mind the fact that all of their top editors are expected to maintain their own blogs.

Starbucks… I wonder what on earth they were thinking. Perhaps they smelled a “Supersize Me” in the works, who knows. But at the very least you never lead with your paranoid side. You express interest, do some digging, throw the guy a small bone to see where his stunt leads. Once you get something relatively concrete, then you break out the “beware of dog” signs.

I’m curious to see how this relates to the advertising of books. I see it all over the place in the wine business, and each example Jaffe cited has been done, good or bad, in the name of selling juice.

I have seen some pretty bizarre marketing campaigns with big budgets for books, Palahniuk’s efforts of late have been interesting, though the last couple of books may not have been so. But the average author who does get picked up doesn’t have his kind of marketing dollars.

I’d love to hear some horror stories as well as success stories from the publishing world as this subject pertains to them. I think of two bloggers that have done quite well, the guy who did stuff white people like, and the guy who did Waiter Rant, both of whom started off as bloggers and finished up (so far) with nice book deals and some sort of publishing future if they can keep the one trick ponies alive…

Sean Ferrell said...

Jaffe's comments are important for writers to keep in mind as we're now in a relationship to readers that didn't exist previously. We have to be in the business of marketing ourselves online and be, at least to a certain extent, accessible. Some of my favorite writers, contemporary writers who are still writing today have, up till just recently, not had a website. One of them, I'm avoiding saying who, had an article written about him in the LATimes which amounted to "He's so great, yet his books don't sell and no one knows about him." I read it, lamented that it was true, and then thought, "And he doesn't do a damn thing to make himself available to potential readers. People have become, so quickly and completely, accustomed to the internet that not being online is akin to asking to be ignored. People will Google a writer before reading a word they've written, and if you aren't putting yourself out there with a site and some accessibility then you are letting those Google searches turn up the lame-ass fan-sites which make you look like you appeal to sycophants and neurotics. I say this with love - sycophants and neurotics are my target audience. (note, I didn't say Target audience.)

Janet Reid said...

does that make me a sycophant or a neurotic...or both??

Margaret Yang said...

The most important part of the talk, for writers, was the closing comments. Are you doing an ad campaign or a conversation?

Readers already feel like they are having a conversation with authors via the books. That aspect is magnified with the internet's two-way communication. It's tripled with younger readers who always expect conversation over ad campaigns.

At this point, ads are just noise. Those who transform it into conversation will sell more.

Sean Ferrell said...

You're not sycophantic (you've been too honest with me in the past); and as for neuroses... if patience with nervous writers is a sign of neurosis then you are absolutely CRAWLING with it.

Katie Alender said...

Oh, I am totally going to create a fake blog to market my book.

Bobbie said...

Gone are the days when an author could sequester herself off into a cave and still be a success. By nature, I think writers are introverts, but publishing business today doesn't allow for introverts. So now authors have to figure out how to be actors and marketers on top of everything else, pretending to be comfortable selling themselves.

My family has owned a large independent bookstore for more than 30 years, and not too long ago, a very well-known author (I'll leave her name out of this) was planning a book tour. So the store manager got in touch with her agent, asked about a signing, and was told, no, she wouldn't be willing to sign at our store. Why not? Because we weren't a chain. So instead, she went to a local, newly opened B&N and received a much smaller turnout there than she would have had she been willing to go to the independent that had been around for nearly 30 years at that point. Also a few years back, an even better known author came through our town, stopped at the bookstore, and went unnoticed initially b/c few authors look like their jacket covers. Her friend came to the counter, told the employees working there who the woman was, and said, "She can't do signings here [she lived a couple of hours away] because her contract won't allow her to, but she loves this store and would be happy to sign whatever books of hers you have on hand."

The difference to me is that one author was completely unwilling to work with her public, the other was not. I don't understand enough about contracts to get why a publisher would refuse to allow an author to sign at independents, but I do appreciate those authors who still recognize--regardless of their fame level--that the only reason they sell books is because people *buy* them. I think that accessibility is going to play a more and more important role in the future of publishing, and that if authors can't figure out how to work with the public, they're not going to have one.

By the way, the first author I mentioned gets no recommendations from employees any more, and the other author gets plenty. We're just one store, but they add up if the way these two treated us is indicative of how they treat all bookstores.