Tag Archives: Consumer behaviour

Black Friday is a symbolic conclusion to the Occupy campaign

25 Nov

Shopping crowds on Black Friday

What sublime timing that as the last tents come down in Occupy camps around the continent, the doors swing open for the ultimate shopping day of the year.

Did the Occupy movement get it all wrong?

They’ve been targeting their message at Big Business and corporate greed, but as rampaging bargain hunters on this Black Friday make plain, greed is hardly the exclusive province of the vendors.

There is an old Chinese proverb that the fish rots from the head down. But Chinese medicine looks also to the feet to determine the health of the entire body.

When our society has gotten to the point where shoppers carry pepper spray on Black Friday to keep others away from the stuff they want to grab, and when store clerks can be trampled to death as they open their doors for business, it’s clear that more than a little examination of western society’s feet is required.

But just not today. You’ll be crushed under them.


Essential tips for choosing domain names

19 Jul

In a previous post on choosing a name for your business Doug provided 6 great tips for naming your business. As a companion piece I wanted to provide some tips on securing a domain name, aka URL or web address.

Business domain names come under a multitude of categories. Real words like Amazon, compounds like Facebook, mispellings such as Flickr (there’s a great rundown on naming categories at the nameinspector). Choosing a domain name to represent your business online  takes time and insight, but it’s worth the investment to avoid settling on a domain name that that no-one can spell or remember.

chosing a domain nameChoose the right keywords.
If you’re looking to find a descriptive name based on a familiar B2C service offering e.g. mortgage advisor / tool rental, then the chances of obtaining a single common term as a domain name are good as finding a capable husband in a TV ad so you’re going to have to mix and match terms.

List the common keywords for your category of business. Listing the terms your customers use, rather than more appropriate industry terms will make your domain easier to find. If still you’re itching to explain the difference between concrete and cement then you can educate customers once they arrive at your website.

Once you’ve got your terms, play with combinations. The results will get you off to a great start, and these names can be great supporting domains for your brand, but are unlikely to provide a the distinctiveness that comes with a great business and domain name. For that you need to…

Stand Out
To stand out you should look at options that convey the personality or USP your business. This step will be informed by the previous one, but often requires an external perspective and customer insight. An agency or branding consultant can provide this, and suggest business and domain names that are more distinctive and compelling than just a combination of words. It’s the reason HomeDepot.ca isn’t HomeRenovationStore.ca, and ConnectHearing.ca isn’t HearingTreatmentAndDevices.ca

Make it easy to remember
When you’ve got a draft list from the previous steps, read them out loud, ideally to someone who hasn’t been part of your initial selection. Can they repeat each one without correction or asking you to repeat it? If a potential customer mentions your company in a conversation or sees the name on the side of a truck they’re not going to have the luxury of a clickable link or hard-copy reference. Recall is vital for word-of-mouth referral.

Keeping it short will help here with the added bonus of being easier to implement in marketing materials.

Check company registers
Does a similar name exist, or has the same name been registered in another countries top level domain? Even if you consider your chosen domain to be noticeably different to an existing one, if it’s likely to cause confusion in the mind of the consumer, you could be on shaky legal ground. Check company and business registration listings in your country and get legal advice if you’re still not sure.

Make it easy to spell
If someone can’t spell your business name, they may not find you online. Relying on spellcheckers or Google’s Did you mean… suggestions are a lot more risky than simply choosing an easier keyword combination.

If you have to choose a domain name with potential spelling difficulties then…

Predict spelling mistakes
In Doug’s post on choosing a name for your business he profiled two sole-proprieter businesses named after their strongest assets… the people themselves. Both have names that can be easily misspelled.

In this instance list the obvious misspellings. You’ll probably know some of these already from years of receiving mail. One of my tricks to find misspellings is to type a proposed domain names as quickly as possible ten times. You’ll find common miss-keys this way. If you can touch-type then ask someone with less advanced typing skills to do this for you.

If your business name incorporates numbers, then add versions with the numbers spelled out to your list.

Decide on your market
If you’re market is local or national then it’s a no-brainer to register your country specific top level domain such as .ca .us .uk, but you should also register the .com if available, especially if you ship a product abroad or offer an international service. A .com domain name carries its own weight in brand value and awareness so add it to your stable of names.

From a usability stand-point many web users are unaware that country specific suffixes exist  and assume that all websites end in .com so why exclude them? Plus it’s worth noting that Firefox and IE have built in shortcuts that add www. and .com to a term entered into the address bar.

Once you have a chosen name, add the misspellings, miss-keyed and alternative domain names then register them all, yes all of them. Is the minimal cost of a years domain registration worth losing leads for?  You can easily re-direct them to a chosen central domain name that is the location for your website.

Register each domain name for more than a year. This demonstrates commitment to your customers that you’re serious about your venture. Admittedly, the majority of customers aren’t going to see how long you register the domain name for, but it is freely available information. A long registration suggests credibility, with the added bonus of giving you a little more search juice in the eyes of Google.

The one word in marketing-speak that absolutely has to go

23 May

I have always used the word consumer somewhat sheepishly. What does it say about the way an ad agency looks at people?

Consumers acquire and ingest. Their process is strictly functional. He consumed his dinner. It doesn’t offer any hint about what degree of pleasure he sought or took from the effort. He simply processed the meal.

Consumers are chiefly concerned with fulfilling their needs. They are not into the experience of consumption by definition. Very much like zombies come to think of it!

Is this a good word to use to describe the intended target for our advertising?

John Hegarty, the renowned leader of London stalwart ad agency BBH, recently opinioned in his new book Hegarty on Advertising: Turning Intelligence Into Magic, that agencies must be creative-driven in the manner of maverick film companies and record labels. We need to think like them and reach out as they do.

Too often agencies have just been businesses driving a bottom-line. The business happens to be advertising and the folks wear black turtlenecks and jeans.

The endemic use of the word consumer reflects that business focus.

What if we changed the word to audience? An audience, participatory or passive, is there to be engaged and entertained. They are there for an experience, driven by a desire to enjoy life or learn something – not to merely subsist, as the word consumer suggests.

The word audience reminds the ad agency that their work has to drive an emotional response.  It has to entertain, hold attention, be memorable, have substance.

How much advertising have you seen lately that passed that test?

I watched a run of ads last night during the hockey game that gave us one stinker after another, each with smiling actors spewing out pap about the business they were selling. Only the Honda Civic spot with the ninja, the lumberjack, the wrestler, the furry beast and the zombie appeared to recognize its requirement to entertain us with something different.

Advertising needs to get better. Do you think changing the way we speak of, and think of, the people we are advertising to will be a helpful start?

Win a free copy of The Now Revolution

28 Apr

This dynamic book, co-authored by social media’s big one-two punch Jay Baer and Amber Naslund, is not about the technology of social media.

Ok, you will find some pretty cool nuggets in here. But there is a bigger story being told.

It’s a book about how businesses need to face up to the way consumers embrace social media.

(Hang on for your chance to win a FREE copy. It’s coming.)

It doesn’t matter if you’re a monolithic multinational or a puny sole-proprietor, your customers’ use of social media, to evaluate your business offering and share their opinion of it to whomever they are socially connected with, carries the same risk and reward. The consumer – not the businesses – have levelled the playing field.

The Now Revolution is a step-by-step guide to help your business adapt to this reality,

The book is broken down into 7 major sections, but you could further reduce those to 3 key areas of change: Get faster, be smarter and become more social.

This requirement for change will permeate every aspect of your organization and what The Now Revolution does so well is to direct you where to look internally in order to make those shifts. All in less than 200 pages! That’s killer.

(Still waiting to find out how to win a FREE copy? Stay with me.)

Copeland brought Jay Baer to Victoria last November to help with growth in our social offering. I have to admit I was expecting the book to be something of a rehash of his advice over the day and a half he was with us. But that’s not The Now Revolution. It has its own agenda.

Looking for some guidance about how to make money through Social Media? Look somewhere else.

Ready to become a change manager within your organization and steer your company to take advantage of the New Consumer?

The Now Revolution is your book.


Of course you do! Simply go to the Copeland website and hunt around for Jay Baer’s head in our work. It’s hidden in there somewhere but you are going to have to look for it. Clicking on it will automatically generate a tweet to us. We’ll toss your entry into a cyber hat and announce the winner at 5pm today.

UPDATE: The book was won by Louisa @AlgomaFallFest in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. Thanks to everyone who entered and hunted for Jay’s head!

An ad is not a person

25 Mar

My strata board wants to install a sign outside our visitor parking stall that reads: “Please refrain from using this space for longer than 24 hours.” Someone asked if there could be a threat of towing. The president replied, “Our strata is neighbourly and doesn’t use threats. Besides, I’ve gone out there before and politely asked people to move their car and they have.”

An ad is not a person. We can make a soft approach work in-person because there is:

accountability – the other person knows we know who they are
socialization – the other person has likely been trained to do what others are doing or tell them to do
authority – authority figures can wield much more control face-to-face
• possibility of immediate consequences

A sign has none of these. For advertising to be compelling, it needs to state consequences for behaviour.

If the strata’s brand personality is “neighbourly”, then making instructional signage that’s effective will be an exercise in futility. The very idea of the sign is off-brand.

Same goes for the salesman who walks into the marketing department and says, “On the sales floor I find asking questions is the best way to build a relationship that leads to a sale. Therefore, all our ads should have questions as headlines.” (Yes, I’ve heard this before.)

Readers don’t have relationships with ads. They have relationships with people. The ad should give them a compelling reason to meet your people.

Is the print ad finally dead?

1 Oct

During the past few weeks we’ve had a rash of print ads to do for a variety of clients. The increased activity feels to me like the final twitches; nerve endings firing off across the synapses into empty receptors.

What happened to the print ad?

Ten years ago it shared the rule of the known universe with its more garish and unattainable sibling, the TV commercial.

You could always afford a pizza date with the print ad, even when your resources wouldn’t allow you to squire around a TV spot for the night.

Well, we know the Internet happened. But was the Internet the executioner?

No, the consumer was actually.

As soon as the consumer began to go forth and multiply in online social spaces, the traditional one-way dialogue that is a print ad lost all its relevance. The newspapers were soon bereft of them.

There are still people reading papers, so why have the ads disappeared?

They haven’t adapted to the change in the push/pull of consumer content. They are old school, not because of the medium, but the message.

Is there any hope Doctor? Only this: if marketers can start looking at print ads as parts of an overall digital strategy, as drivers to digital environments, they may still be of real value. The audience is there, dwindling, but still ticking.

The last best hope is that print ads become part of the change they currently ignore.

In other words, stop twitching and start switching.

What about the punter?

25 Aug

If one nasty comment on Trip Advisor, spread virally, can sabotage millions of dollars in advertising spend by a business, who is really in charge here? The consumer or the marketer?

Correct. The punter. And they can be a tough crowd.

I once worked with a British art director (from Brixton) with a fondness for Bovver boots (“Don’t bovver me mate), who had a mantra plastered aggressively across the wall above his desk.


And he would just as aggressively begin every idea session by asking: “Wha abou a pun-ah?” (As I said, he was from Brixton– and who can understand what the hell they are saying.)

His point was that every consideration should be given to what the consumer thinks, feels and does. If your findings lack authenticity with your customer, you’re dead in the water. That was invigorating in 1990. Today such thinking is mandatory.

Consumer research is the new science of advertising. Agencies can really deliver on two value fronts: insights into customers; big ideas that exploit those insights.

Our value is going to increasingly come not from proving to clients that we understand their businesses, but from demonstrating that we get their punters.