Author Archives: Evelyn Starr

Score More From Your Marketing

Fisher Stadium at Lafayette College - football game in progressOn Saturday September 24th I spent a beautiful evening with my family at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pennsylvania, watching the Lafayette College Leopards play football against the Villanova Wildcats.

The weather was about all the Leopards had going for them.

Though the offense and defense each enjoyed a few moments of glory, the majority of the game frustrated the team and the fans.  The frustration came from the repetition of a single play.

Even if you don’t follow football, stay with me here.

The Leopards attempted 38 running plays.  For most of those plays the ball carrier ran straight up the middle into a pack of defenders.  In one running play junior tailback DeSean Brown gained 24 yards.  But the remaining 37 plays moved the ball just 46 yards.

You don’t need to be a math major or a football statistician to figure out that averages little more than one yard per play.

They were getting nowhere.  Slowly.

After the game Villanova’s senior defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon said “Our first focus was to stop their run and I think we did that.”

But that plan was apparent to the players and the fans well before the game ended.  Before half time even.

I kept wondering why the Leopards didn’t try something else.  Then it dawned on me.  The run up the middle was safe.  It risked losing fewer yards than a run to the side and offered no possibility of interception.

And the few times the Leopards deviated, their gambles proved high risk.  Two of the passes they attempted were intercepted for Villanova touchdowns.

So while facing such a formidable opponent the Leopards stayed with what was safe, even if it didn’t yield much.

This same kind of fear and risk aversion leads many business owners to repeat the same marketing tactics they have used for years, even if they feel they have reaped little.  They fear trying something new more.

So they keep renewing their advertising in the paper or trade publication, wondering if anyone sees it.  They keep running coupons or discounts, fearing that without that incentive customers would not buy.

It doesn’t have to be this way though.

Like the most successful football teams, your marketing would benefit from a diversified playbook.

To develop new marketing plays:

  • Begin with a specific goal in mind. Villanova’s defense came with the goal of stopping the run.  What is your goal?  Strengthening your brand?  Entering a new market?  Launching a new product?  Generating repeat business?
  • Identify who you need to reach to achieve that goal. The more detailed your target profile, the better.  Not just men or women, prospects or current customers.  If you are looking to generate repeat business and strengthen your brand in Condemned Bar, California or Disco, Tennessee or Cranky Corner, Louisiana, how about targeting customers in those towns?  Now we’re talking.
  • Use the most effective means to reach those people. And as much as possible, only those people.  Laser targeting is how you minimize the marketing cost and maximize your return.  In our example, if you are looking to generate repeat business in funny town-name USA, you might use an email campaign to reach customers living there.
  • Engage your audience with an offer of value. That doesn’t mean throw them a discount each time.  Again go back to your goal.  If you want to encourage repeat business, how about an entertaining customer success story?  Or some helpful tips?
  • Include a call-to-action. This is marketing speak for asking your targeted audience to do something as a result of seeing your marketing.  Like buy something or request more information or share your entertaining story on social media.
  • Test your campaign and tweak it before launch. Many media now enable you to do a small test run or several if your audience is large, for minimal cost.  In our example, send your email offer to a few customers and see if it motivates them to open the email, click a link and buy.  Or call.  Or whatever action you are prompting.
  • Assess your marketing campaign. Measure your results quantitatively and qualitatively.  Anecdotes and data together can provide insights that advance your learning for the next time around.

Blanket marketing campaigns aimed at no one in particular are as effective as a Hail Mary pass.  Very exciting for you as you toss it out there and most often disappointing in the lack of reception.

Highly targeted, goal-driven marketing campaigns on the other hand can be less risky and generate a much better return.  They also help you build a successful marketing playbook that you can return to in the future.

Let me ask you then…

  1. Had you ever heard of Cranky Corner, Louisiana?
  2. Do you have a favorite football team that frustrates you?
  3. What marketing tactic have you been using for years that makes you wonder if it is worth it?
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Eye of the Buyer

Eye of the buyerTwo weeks ago Fidelity took me on a frustrating financial odyssey. 

This summer Fidelity ditched long-time credit card partners American Express and Bank of America to consolidate its service with Elan Financial Services.  Anyone holding a Fidelity credit card received a new Fidelity Visa Signature card from Elan.

I was one of the 550,000+ who received a new card.  It was unclear to me whether I needed to re-designate where I wanted my rewards to go, so I tried to log into the new Fidelity Visa card website. read more

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How to Use Surveys Strategically

Survey on a clipboard - how to do surveys strategically and wellOur world has gotten feedback happy.  And it’s annoying.

In a 48-hour period at the beginning of May I received five surveys.

One paper survey via snail mail with 66 questions to rate my son’s pediatrician.  One online survey from a hotel I had stayed at the prior weekend and another from a hotel stay two weeks before.  A third online survey from the conference I had just attended, and a fourth one from OpenTable for the restaurant I had dined in the Friday before. read more

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5 Ways A Good Rivalry Benefits Your Brand

Michael Phelps competing June 28 in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on NBC Sports

Michael Phelps competing June 28 in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on NBC Sports

Do you know who Michael Phelps is?

Unless you have been living behind a boulder, you probably do. (I avoid clichés.)  The 31-year-old swimming phenom has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold, and has set numerous world records.

Phelps’ main rival, Ryan Lochte, has 11 Olympic medals.  Without Phelps present Lochte could be considered the best male swimmer of all time.  But he happened to come of age at the same time as Phelps and therefore has an underdog position to him. read more

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How FitBit Stays Fit

array of FitBit productsI have been exercising regularly most of my life.  As a high energy person, I discovered in my teens that expending this energy often helped my sanity.  And that of the people around me.

In high school I took modern dance classes.  In college I took aerobics classes.

When I moved to Boston, I found a gym and cajoled myself to go there a few times a week.  read more

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A College Brand Standout

3 blank college pennants - one navy, one gray, one maroon.

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On April 20th, as I sat in an auditorium at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, I had my marketing heart stolen.

My son AJ and I were in the process of a 1000-mile tour to revisit three colleges to help him choose one.

On that beautiful Wednesday morning, AJ was sitting in on a class while I attended a one-hour parent session conducted by Neil Weissman, Dean of the College. read more

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Should Your Brand Be on Facebook?

Facebook like thumbs up hand and thumbs down handWhen I woke up on April 3, 2009, I did not know that I would be joining Facebook that day.

Around 8pm I had just connected on LinkedIn with friends from my high school years when one of them wrote, “You need to get on Facebook! We have been posting some old group photos that you are in.”

Talk about an incentive to join. read more

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How New Customer Only Deals Burn Your Brand

light bulb burning bright unlike new customer only deals which hurt your brandIn addition to my roles as wife, mother, healer and finder of things in our household, I am also Chief Operations Officer.  Like any good COO, I seek to keep overhead costs down.

So when our electricity bill shot up this winter, I investigated. read more

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Vacation by Chocolate

Evelyn's Original Chocolate Wrapper from Hershey's Chocolate World brand experienceMy husband Dan has a particular knack when planning vacations.  I’m not talking about posh accommodations or exotic destinations or exclusive restaurants.

When he was helping to plan our trip to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday, he discovered that a major chocolate exhibition was going to be there at the same time.  Besides sampling and purchase opportunities, there were multiple exhibits including a replica of a 17th century dress made of chocolate. read more

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Cases of List-taken Identity

Good list management means seeing the customer's point of view.For the past year I’ve been immersed in my son AJ’s college search.  We’ve visited 11 schools, some of them twice.  It’s been fun and one of the funny outcomes is that I have realized that I would be happy to go to college now. 

I’m not serious of course.  But there are some schools who think otherwise.  Three colleges have begun courting me. read more

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