Bad Marketing

Now Worries...we can market our way out of this

I continue to be astounded (just last week during a major ad campaign unveiling) with the misuse of the word Marketing. For some reason people, including the so called marketing professionals (they're the worst offenders), suggest Advertising is the same as Marketing. 

Folks, Advertising is a part of's not the whole thing. In fact I put it to you that advertising's share of the marketing pie continues to shrink as markets fragment and a customer's attention becomes increasingly harder to secure. What's replacing it is Content. Or as you sometimes hear, the Steak (where the advertising is the Sizzle). And since Sizzle is depreciating rather quickly as a means to convince people, the Steak is obviously the more important thing to focus on. But that's the confounding thing...people don't. They're still looking for the easy way out, the short-cut, the quick cure.

They're isn't one...sorry.

Hat Tip again to Hugh Macloud for the inspiring cartoon

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

Not anymore. In fact, there never was. People have never been dumb. Most just weren't motivated to seek an alternative, especially about things that didn't originate in their own town. You knew if farmer John's milk was could ask a neighbor. It was much harder to know if the Sears catalog was lying to you. The problem wasn't smarts. There just wasn't a reliable way to learn. Enter ubiquitous high-speed's internet. It changed everything, especially the rules about keeping people in the dark.

Last week a company tried to sell me spark plugs and spark plug wires for more than five hundred dollars. The same products were available outside the shop for under a hundred. The jig wasn't hard to figure out. When I asked them about it, no problem..."just bring in your own parts". A sucker punch. Here's a national, well recognized brand, categorically ignoring all the new rules of customer care and marketing hoping to pull a fast one on people. What do they really hope to gain? Makes you wonder.

Most trickery is more subtle. An ad campaign that promises the best meal while the restaurant is consistently empty. A website that boasts fabulous customer service while overbooking practices drive people mad.

Try covering up your lousy restaurant.
Try hiding the fact that your hotel is dirty.
Try fooling people to pay more for an airline seat.
Try keeping people from talking with each other about your service.

You can't do it.

On the flip side, try hiding the passion and enthusiasm of your best people.
And, try keeping your secret sauce a secret.
Or, try keeping people from spreading your fabulous idea.

You can't do that either.

So, are you going to do average work, spending time to keep people in the dark, hoping to find a few suckers? Or, are you going to get busy doing things you want people to talk about.

Unfortunately, you have to decide.

Hospitality is in the Details

Little Rock has a relatively nice airport...comfortable, easy, a pleasant experience by airport standards.

So, who makes the decision to let this sort of thing get in the way? I've seen this fan just like this for months. How many employees and managers are saying, "it's not my job to fix this" even though it clearly disrupts the marketing program?


Hospitality is in the Details from Michael Chaffin on Vimeo.

Real People

I'd be much more inclined to respond to this if a real person would have written it...perhaps the nice man who quickly processed my car return inthe parking lot. But,that would be hard. It's so much easier and cost effective to send out form letters.

Dear Michael Chaffin,

Thank you for your recent car rental at Thrifty T-RIC.
We continuously strive to improve our service to you.

Please take a moment to complete this brief survey. Your thoughtful response is very important and will help us serve you better in the future.

We hope to see you the next time you travel.

Click here to begin the survey

Estimado Michael Chaffin,

Gracias por su reciente alquiler de coches en Thrifty T-RIC.
Nos esforzamos continuamente para mejorar nuestro servicio para usted.

Por favor, tome un momento para completar esta breve encuesta. Su respuesta reflexiva es muy importante y nos ayudará a servirle mejor en el futuro.

Esperamos verte la próxima vez que viaje.

Para español, haga clic aqui


Try Back Later


These words should be banned from use in every penalty of immediate dismissal, or worse.

Imagine you call the toll free number listed on a company website to purchase a product. The first time you try, you are routed to someone's voice mail. The second time, you reach a seemingly stoned and definitely confused tech support guy who doesn't know "why all these calls are being routed to him" and to "try back later". This happened today when I called Wilife (Logitech) organization expected to have their act together.

I can't imagine this was the first time a call was routed to the wrong person. I can't imagine any of the sales or tech people at Wilife are trained to tell someone to call back. However, I can imagine that answering the telephone  is not a top priority there...we know it isn't at most places.'s seen as necessary, a process, a cost...instead of  what it really opportunity to make a friend, and make a sale.

You can make remarkable products and services. But, as long as incoming callers are treated like trolls, what's the point?

Bad Signs...Why Bother?

How are we going to get people to come in to our new restaurant? Hey, let's put a really cool sign out front like our competitors do.

If you're going to shout your message at someone with a sign, be sure it represents the experience exactly. There are no short cuts with first impressions. You don't take these sorts of chances with people who answer the phone or on your website. So, why do it with a sign? A great sign tells a harmonious with the remarkable acts which are going on inside. A great sign makes you feel like taking the next step. A sign done on the cheap, with lousy photography, confusing messages and bad content makes you look...well, cheap, lousy, bad...average at best. Why bother?


This is the type of thing that bugs me the most about marketing...companies continue to stick to the old ways of doing things. Apart from Bill Marriott's foray into blogging, I haven't seen any signs of Marriott letting go of their old "best practices". I'm a Marriott Rewards member, which means they have my attention. But, I didn't sign-up for any e-mail newsletters or price least not that I was aware of (another big problem). Then, when I took the time to unsubscribe, I received this:

Email Confirmation

You have chosen not to receive Marriott email.

Please allow 10 business days for processing.

It took seconds to sign-up, but it's going to take up to two weeks to get me off the list. Why? My guess is that this has litte to do with technology, and more to do with trickery and hanging on to old fashioned promotion tactics.