Friday, December 30, 2011

Biased advice?

As I'm from a sales background I know all about associated selling [yes you youngsters, Amazon did not invent the concept with " people who bought this book also bought … "] – but in my book and seminars I emphasise the point that for this to be effective online, experienced sales staff must be involved in the choice of 'associated' products [it's all part of my website 'dream team' issue].
So when I was looking for a new pair of Levi's, I was a surprised at Debenhams' recommendations for associated sales for the jeans I was looking at.
You will note that the model showing off the jeans is wearing a pair of baseball boots – and yet the recommended shoes seem to be two pairs of 'dress' shoes and one that might be described as 'casual'. A quick scan of the other Levi's on offer revealed that the vast majority of models are wearing 'trainer'-type shoes with only one in 'dress' shoes. I should disclose that I am firmly in the no-dress-shoes-with-jeans camp, so that might influence me here.
More objectively – I have to assume the Levi's are modelled in what is considered to be the most appropriate footwear for the jeans? So why the three shoes shown here? Could it be because they are on offer and that 'show on-promotion shoes' the 'default' setting for all types of trousers at this time of the year? OK, so I could live with that for one or two recommendations – but why not include the actual shoes shown in the jeans picture? After all, if I were in a store and talking to a sales person would they try and push associated sales that are not really suitable for the primary product? They might … but only if they are no good at their job and if they don't want to see you back in the shop again.
On the plus side – well, partial plus is – that in the product description of the jeans the height of the model is given along with the size of jeans being worn, so giving buyers a better idea of the size and fit of the products. Why 'partial' plus? Not all jeans' descriptions included this information – including the 501s I was looking at.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

not that ... but this

For reasons I won't go into I was looking for an early Toyota MR2 - that is, a Mk1 [Mark One] MR2. Amongst the pages that appeared after a search was this one from Kelkoo.

You will note that it is for a different car.

So who decided that Kelkoo's on-site search should present this return - and why?  OK, so I worked in sales and I know that if a customers asked for a black shirt and if you don't stock them you might suggest a dark blue or dark brown one and maybe the customer will take a look at them. But this is not a shopping experience, it is a specific search for a specific product. Ho humm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

listen: I said we are closed !!!

When researching a new assignment for my e-marketing module [yes students, I do put some thought into these things :) ] I was looking at some online jewellery stores - and came across this one in Kuala Lumpur [the module is also delivered in Malaysia].
OK, so I do not know why this business is closed over - and before - the Christmas period. There could be a perfectly valid reason - though it is unlikely to be 'Christmas' as Malaysia is an Islamic country. Perhaps, historically, it is the quietest business period of the year and so they take their holidays in this time - though it does make a mockery of the 24/7/365 nature of online-shopping. Anyhoo, the owners have decided to close it,  but that is not the point of this entry - it is the way they tell customers about it. Or should I say, potential customers. Or maybe I should say never-to-be-customers?  

Unless you were already a satisfied customer who had made previous purchases, would you return to this store in the New Year? Why not explain the closure, or just have a softer message rather than this one which is the equivalent of slamming the door in customers' faces?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I'm back on my hobby-horse again - you know ... the one about techies developing websites. This is a website I came across as a link at the bottom of another website [if you own a website you NEVER have a 'designed by' link on your site]. Here's the navigation bar from the designer's site:
Yep - these folk are experts at all of these things. It is my experience that few - and I mean very, very, very few - can do all of these things. Of course, it might be a biggish company employing staff with this range of skills - but the content of their site suggests otherwise. In other words, the same people who handle the hard- and software issues also design websites. Which means they might be able to produce a website technically - but can they produce a website that can meet the online objectives of that organization? And do they even ask what the objectives are? And do they have the marketing skills and/or qualifications to help the org realise those objectives? In my experience, the answer is no. And so their customers get ineffectual websites - oh, they might look nice, but do they do the job they are there for? [and if you think I am the only one who feels this way, take a look at the quote from James Dyson in my review of the Stranger's Long Neck

I have removed anything that might identify the company concerned - but this is the page you get when you click on the 'web design' link.  
Notice how it makes no mention of marketing, communications or content - but instead concentrates on ASP, HTML, VB, database [there should be a hyphen in here as it is a compound adjective] driven sales, Flash animation and dynamic sites. I don't know what some of those are - so will your average business person?   And do they need to? These are technical aspects of a website that might [a big might, regular readers will know my opposition to Flash] help it meet the needs of its visitors, but the business person doesn't need to know about the behind-the-scenes IT aspects of the site.  Ho hum - it is developers like these that keep me in consultancy work.

Footnote - I cover this same issue all over the place, but the latest is on websites made easy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Google on message?

I got a leaflet in a Sunday supplement last week - well, I say 'leaflet' ... think more 'small brochure' - and yesterday I saw the same promotion featured in an ad in The Times newspaper. It is for Google's good to know campaign.

I find the whole thing very interesting - on a number of levels. I suggest you spend a few minutes on the site before considering my comments.
  • On a marketing level: telling the 'person in the street' that Google [still?] does no evil and how it [Google] helps them live their lives?
  • On a content level: I find my students struggle a little with things like IP addresses [they're marketers not techies, see what is it with me and IT?] and yet the promotion uses such terms - though yes, it is in simplistic terms.
So do I like the campaign? Well, it is in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau [a UK non-profit organization] which means it carries some validity in its stated aim of  being primarily about privacy and safety online. 

So why do I still have an uncomfortable feeling about the search giant's new privacy portal?  And why does the term 'PR stunt' keep coming to mind? [in fairness, if it is - kudos for a good PR stunt]

Saturday, December 3, 2011

switch & bait?

The concept of bait and switch includes the practice of advertising at a low price - with the actual buying price being higher. This ad does just the opposite. Oh dear.