Monday, November 28, 2011

What is going on in this advertisement?

From 2011-11-10 111110 iphone

I'm trying to figure out what is going on in this advertisement by Lufthansa on the back cover of a Fast Company magazine.

The woman is taking a picture of herself with an iPhone 4, but she is taking a picture with the rear camera.

It isn't that easy to frame a good picture of yourself with a camera phone, particularly with an iPhone where you have to hit the shutter button just so with your finger. So any iPhone 4 user would almost certainly use the front facing camera. That way, you can see the image as you frame it up, and you can also more easily see the button to take the photo.

She ought to have the back of the camera toward us. Of course, then it wouldn't be so obvious what she is doing.

So any iPhone 4 user who sees this ad, even if they don't really think it through, may feel that something is off, and sense the lack of authenticity.

I sympathize with the ad designer, though: how do you show in an ad someone using the Internet?

My solution would have been to draw the reader in; tell more of a story. Instead of just showing the woman, show the text messages back and forth to her significant other (who may be waiting for her on the ground.) Or show a whole field of text messages from the air.

Might not show the message that probably gets sent most frequently, something like: "Hey, my flight was delayed 2 hrs. New ETA for pikup at baggage claim is 9 pm."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop unwanted credit card offers

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Sending unsolicited credit card offers to consumers that don't want them is bad for several reasons:

1. Annoying to the consumer
: takes time when sorting through the mail. You could calculate the economic cost assuming at a minimum in the U.S.: 100 million consumers * 1 unsolicited offer per week (probably too low, I'm being conservative) * 50 weeks per year * 50% truly don't want another credit card * 30 seconds to identify the offer and deposit it in the junk mail * $20/hr wage

My back of the envelope math suggests there are 2.6 billion unwanted unsolicited offers per year (I'm being conservatively low, I think, but I couldn't easily find a quantified figure on the web.)
If the average person's opportunity cost of their time is $20/hr (maybe too high)and it takes 30 seconds to dispose of the junk mail, that is $0.17 per envelope.

So the opportunity cost of consumer's time is $430 million.

2. Bad business for the banks
If you assume that the cost to print the mailers and send them is $0.50-$1.00, then the cost to the banks is $1.3-2.6 billion.

3. Bad for the environment. 2.6 billion ounces of mail equals 81 tons of landfill.

You can OPT OUT of receiving most unsolicited credit card offers. I was a bit skeptical of the site, but I've registered and it really does work. I no longer receive credit card offers from any banks that I don't already have an affiliation with. You an register too at

Unfortunately, that won't eliminate all offers. Companies that you have a relationship with, i.e., airlines, hotels, banks, still send me offers. Over a three month period, I collected all the offers I received. Even though I have tried to opt out, I still got 38 offers in 3 months:

I've taken steps to stop these unwanted offers, but so far I haven't been successful. I've sent emails to their customer service and to their PR office and gotten no reply in most cases.

While I don't support folks who recommend sending back the mailers filled with a wood shingle, I'm currently trying a technique that I hope will work. I've printed out this form, and I mail it back to the banks in their prepaid envelopes. You can download the form, put in your own contact info, and try the technique too. Perhaps if enough people send it in, it will cause the bank executives to change their processes.

Here is what the letter says:

Please stop sending me credit card offers. I've registered on because I don't want to get credit card offers, and yet you send them to me anyway. Please remove my name from your mailing list, and send me a letter confirmation when that has been done. My contact info is:
[Include your contact info]

I strongly would encourage you to allow consumers the opportunity to opt out from credit card offers when they register with your loyalty program, or at any time on your website. Even better, have customers OPT IN to receiving credit card offers when they sign up by checking a "Please send me credit card offers" box.

This would not only be friendlier to consumers, it would also save you money, since you are surely sending offers to a lot of people that absolutely, positively don't want them.

By the way: I care about the environment, and sending me all these offers in the mail gives me a bad impression of your environmental stewardship.

Please stop sending me credit card offers -

Incidentally, when I looked at all these return mailers laid out, it was interesting to me that even though I got offers from a bunch of different airlines and hotel companies, 20 out of the first 28 mailers I sent back were going to the exact same PO Box in Wilmington, DE.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

I've also sent a letter to my Congressional Representative and to Raj Date, who is the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can download these letters, add in your own contact info, and send a letter too.

I'll post a follow up on any responses that I get from these two, and whether my return-envelope scheme is successful.

Stop credit card offers -

Stop credit card offers - Carolyn Maloney -

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Answer the phone

What if I told you that I know of an airline where you can just call them up, and a human answers the phone within two rings?

Well... I don't. But if I did know of one, I would tell you about it. The experience would be remarkable, so I'd remark about it.

The airline would have to add to the call center budget, of course, but they could reduce their marketing expense, because I would start marketing for them.

Same thing if I could call up a bank, an insurance company, an online retailer, a car rental company, a hotel chain.

In this fantasy of mine, I wouldn't even need to authenticate before asking a simple question that doesn't pertain to my own account.

Instead, companies work hard to avoid being contacted. You click on the "Contact Us" button on their website, and instead of getting some phone numbers and an email address, you get a bunch of FAQs. (Message: "We're going to do everything in our power to avoid having you actually contact us.")

Meanwhile they probably have a separate team working on a social media strategy and "how to engage the customer and build trust."

How about picking up the phone?

How about answering my email right away, instead of sending me an automated message that says, "We've received your email, and we'll get back to you in 3-5 business days."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Make it easy to contact you

I recently spent some time on the phone giving some job search tips to senior marketing executive who is in search mode. We were introduced by a mutual friend, and I was impressed by his background (he just left an EVP of Marketing role at a $2 billion company). My first piece of advice (maybe the most valuable) was to make it easy for people to call him back.

We were scheduled to talk at 3 p.m., but then my schedule cleared up earlier and it looked like I would be busy at 3, so I figured I would try to call him. When I looked at his email, there was no phone number in the body of any of the emails we had exchanged. I had to open his resume on my iPhone, and then copy and paste his phone number.

Particularly if you WANT people to contact you, make it easy for them to do that.

Here are some simple steps to take:

1) Web-based or computer-based email: Create an automatic email signature with all the contact info you want to share. Consider including:
+ Phone numbers
+ Email address. Often neglected. Yes, the recipient will know your email address from the "To:" line, but make it easy for your recipient to copy and paste your email signature into Outlook contacts.
+ Skype ID
+ Link to your LinkedIn profile
+ Website address, if you have one
+ Link to your blog, if you have one
+ Link to whatever social media presence it makes sense to share (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Outlook or any web-based email program makes that easy to do.
(And don't make your contact info an image - then people can't copy and paste)

2) Smartphone email. Change the default signature setting on your smartphone email to match the signature set up in step 1 above. Apple has enough brand recognition for their products, and you don't need to help them by having your email end with "Sent from my iPhone." Ending your emails with that tag says, "I'm not technically savvy enough to change the default email signature on my iPhone. If you choose to hire me, don't expect me to take much initiative to learn your systems. You'll need to hold my hand."

3) LinkedIn profile: Include your email address in your title, which everyone can see. I do this, and I haven't had a problem with email scammers scraping my email and sending me a lot of spam. If you are worried about this, you could use a disposable email address that you forward to your real address. Also include your email and phone number on your LinkedIn profile. Only your contacts will be able to see that.

4) Alumni sites. Let some synchronicity happen. Could be that just as you are working on a job search, a long lost friend from college is trying to reach out to see what you are up to because she has an opening at her firm... So update your contact info on whichever apply:
+ College alumni site
+ Grad school alumni site
+ Former employer alumni site

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