Monday, October 09, 2006


(Or The Strange, The Fearless and The Brave)

The recent issue of Forbes is a hoot. It just hit the newsstands, its the one with on the cover. There is an article in there that you must see to believe. On page 68 you will find a beaming grin of Russ Klein hanging out with the cast of the Burger King stable. The plans he is weaving are…… interesting.

The plans are underway for a Burger King movie centering around a youth who happens to live on top of a Burger King restaurant. The film is an oddball comedy hoping to gain a cult phenomenon like Napoleon Dynamite or an Empire Records.

Whether or not this fan will do a great job of recruiting the “heavy users”, (those who eat at fast food places more than15 times a month) remains to be seen. But they know the niche is out there. That is just the thing a lot of online companies don’t seem to get.

Too many start up companies assume that the market is just going to be there waiting for a new thrill. Burger King and companies like Threadless, ( understand the power of building cult brands and marketing to them for serious profit.

The customers are groomed and conditioned to buy and to spend more upon each visit.

So is this a wrong thing to do?

That depends on what you want your customer to do. I must admit I find the whole thing somewhat appealing. I tend to alternate my fast food choices when the need arises. But lately Burger King has been edgy with their copywriting, (read the inner notes on the Angus burger wrapper) and check out the smart copy on the soft drink cup.

They also do something smart with their positioning. Dr. Angus is a riot. I like the way he swaggers in front of the screen and takes pot shots at the fat epidemic of America. This is a direct jab at the overly hyped Atkins Diet. Dr. Angus even has his own web sites for the which was still up a few weeks ago.

I have a sense of humor and I do not mind being manipulated as long as there is some humor involved. These guys make me laugh. The food isn’t terrible but there are days when I can surely pass on the fare.

This works better for me than some of the ultra geeky tele-visual offerings from Tim Horton’s. You know the ads where this pencil thin geek goes around haunting every cube within eyeshot and earshot until co-workers give in and go to lunch with him.

Guilt doesn’t work well. Humor sells. I started to go to Quiznos because of the singing dust balls with guitars. Then I found out they had a kick ass pepper sauce that I would have otherwise have overlooked.

Even Dave Thomas from Wendy’s used to lay down a heavy guilt trip. His beef, (no pun intended) was that he laid out all these salads and nobody was coming in to eat them. He had no laughter, no smiles, he was all gruff about it, as if to say, “get in here and buy my stuff”.

That is a tactic that rarely works. Nobody owes you a dime just because you declare yourself a business. Its all about the customer. That goes for any business.

Okay, the phrase fits but it was named after a famous song in the 80’s. You get the drift. So will your customers if you play it right. The customers are the ones who will call the shots in your company. If they start to buy differently than you expected then you need to tailor your delivery and adjust to their buying behavior.

Example: I built and we are the S.E. Michigan sellers of the incredible Schwarzkopf hair products. But when the cosmetologists arrived to the site they didn’t use the shopping cart the right way. Instead of getting a password and entering they used the site as sort of an online catalog.

They would call the 800 number to tell the operator what products they wanted. Were they wrong? YES. To me they were 100% wrong but they were still ordering. So we had to make adjustments and accept that this type of ordering was a little quirky. That is alright. We are still making money with this crowd – just not the way we expected.

We also had to admit that the customers for this market DON’T READ. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Its just that most of our customers are audio learners. HELLO PODCASTS. We had to create a hip podcast that this market sector would listen to and benefit from. NO BIG DEAL. That is the beauty of online marketing and interactive communication.

You have to adjust to the needs of your customers. After all, they are the ones who are keeping you in business.

Right now as I write this there is a phenom going on called, THE BIG IDEA REVOLUTION and it’s a weekly podcast. This guys deal is that he wants everyone to start thinking big and change the world. Its fun for about five minutes.

I would rather get the guts of how to change and shift customer buying behavior. Things are changing at a rapid pace. This is no time to get cute. We tried that in the late 90’s with the whole dot com fiasco and look what happened to our venture capital firms – they suddenly got cold feet in the early 2000’s and started funding offshore business ops.

This isn’t the time to THINK BIG.. its time to GET INTELLIGENT.

But back to Burger King, these guys got it right. They are adjusting to their core audience and delivering goods and services that appeal to them and its working. The average franchise now pulls in 1.1 million a year.

What are your customers telling you?

Are you listening?


Ted Cantu is the creator of Mobile Cast and he has handled the marketing for such innovative groups like www.WindsorBeauty,com and contributes to several blogs and podcasts such as….. He served as a top rated art director for Interactive Web Marketing groups in Chicago and New York City.

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