Sunday, November 2, 2008

Your Polling Location Is...

We live in St. Louis, Missouri, the hotbed of presidential (and vice presdential) campaign activity in recent months. No exaggeration, we received seven phone calls yesterday about the election. That's in addition to the 18 direct mail pieces and 15 "Dear Sarah" e-mails in the last week.

What I found very interesting was the microtargeting used in one particular phone call. Whatever your party preference, there was a marked difference between the McCain and Obama phone calls. The robocalls from the RNC instructed me to log on to to find my polling place. Instead of assuming I had internet access, the pre-recorded message from Obama himself was microtargeting our household, providing us with our exact polling location.

The geotargeting of phone calls and online ads, including those within Facebook, show a strategic marketing courtship of voters. On the local level, proponents, or opponents, of Propositions in St. Louis and across the state are using banner and Pay-Per-Click ads to raise awareness of the issues.

While our decision for next Tuesday was not swayed by the calls, multimedia ads or direct mail, there was a clear difference in how we were being marketed. There was a shift in this campaign from traditional radio, TV and direct mail to new media and the customization it can accomodate. Politicians are incorporating creative ways to target voters, just as many B2C companies have been doing for years. Politics is big business and to think otherwise is missing the microtargeting boat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting Married, Girls? Say Goodbye to Brand Equity

I have a wedding coming up next week that I've been looking forward to for a long time. I'm really happy for my friend, Kara, and excited to see her all dolled up on her big day.

Getting married, at least the formal paperwork part of the life change, is a bit of a lop-sided experience. It may be the best decision of a new bride's life, but the necessary forms to make it, and "the merger" official, can cause more than a few headaches. Social security card, driver's license, bank accounts, e-mail addresses, car title, you name it. If only everything could be as easy as updating your name on your Facebook profile. The groom, on the other hand, may need to take a trip to the bank to sign some paperwork, or the DMV to change the name(s) on a car title. The bulk of the hassle, though, is on the glowing new bride.

I look at most of life a little differently through my marketing communications filter. To me, the whole idea of suddenly changing your name is a bit nuts. (That said, I'm guilty of doing it without giving it much thought. It must've been love.) You build brand equity with your name over more than 25 years, in most cases. Without hyphenating your last name, that brand equity can be lost with your "I do." For those of us in the PR profession, your name can be the key to landing an interview or saving yourself a 5-minute introduction. I, and many of my female friends, opted for the "interim rebranding," using both maiden name and new last name during the transition. When corporations combine forces or acquire a new company, they set up a 18- to 24-month merger or acquisition plan. Brides in the business world may want to consider a similar abbreviated version of this strategy. It probably doesn't require temporary business cards, but updating your e-mail signature, voicemail, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to include both names for at least 3-4 months may save you time and confusion. Your coworkers and business contacts will become familiar with your new name and will barely notice when your maiden name is no longer included. And, for those social networking sites where you may connect with friends and coworkers from your college days, you may want to reference your maiden name indefinitely.
I guess when it comes down to it...there has to be something to offset the cost of that diamond, right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

All Aboard the Customer Experience

A few weeks ago, we took a much-anticipated vacation out West. We'd made our reservations months before and couldn't wait for the best part of the trip - a train ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Before our Google search, we'd never heard of the Grand Canyon Railway...but now it's a company that'll be tough to forget.
The Grand Canyon Railway has figured out the secret to a successful customer experience. The brand is everywhere - the artwork in the hotel and on-site restaurant, the train tickets and meal vouchers, the Wild West shootout before the train ride, the photo opp for all passengers with the historic steam engine (available for purchase, of course, on your return trip), the period musicians that perform during the ride, the labeled water bottles handed out to each passenger before disembarking the train, the champage toast and even the "robbery" on the return trip to Williams, AZ. The company had thought of every possible brand touchpoint.
And the best part of it all, we're now blogging about it - with a word of mouth recommendation for you to consider the Grand Canyon Railway for your next family vacation.