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    Today’s post features “The Medici Effect“, by Frans Johansson. I’ve been promoting this book to my friends, family and random co-workers since I first read it in spring 2008. This was the most eye-opening book of my college career, and I would recommend it as a yearly read for anyone who needs a touch of creativity. Why do you need creativity in Marketing you say? Check out the highlights of the book to see if you can use any of the tips!

    Connecting things that wouldn’t normally be connected

    The book talks about jogging your brain by connecting things that wouldn’t normally be connected. Force the connection if you have to! He gives examples of architecture and insects, music and airlines, and many more. When people go out of their way to find a connection, they might just happen upon a brilliant idea! As you think about your product, service, company, and customer, think about new ways to incorporate your brand into life.

    Planning for failure

    Sad to say, but we all know most ideas fail. But if everyone in your company is so afraid to fail that they never try, you’re missing out on a wealth of brain power and ideas. To encourage creativity and problem-solving, create an environment where it’s ok to fail. This is not talking about laziness or sub-par performance, but rather genuine attempts to find a new way to solve a problem. When your company and employees allow time to fail, re-formulate, and try again, your customers win. Ultimately, failure is a part of improvement, so encourage out-of-the-box thinking once in a while.

    Breaking down the barriers

    These chapters focus on communication and inter-discipline collaboration. To make an out-of-the-norm connection with an idea, it would stand to reason that you would need to make an out-of-the-norm connection with a person or place. If people in your organization are holed up in their offices, behind their desks, with their computers, how are they going to encounter anything new? Break out of the silos! Encourage your employees to talk to each other and bounce ideas off each other. You may think that Marketing and Accounting have nothing in common, but you might be surprised to find that both of your clients face a particular problem. Don’t be afraid to interact with those outside your normal circle, both inside and outside the organization.

    I could go on about “The Medici Effect”, but I would suggest you take a look for yourself. It’s a quick, engaging read that’s well worth the while… and after you check it out, you’ll agree that you need a little creativity in Marketing.


    I was pleasantly surprised with a promotion from Starbucks, the Starbucks Treat Receipt. If you buy any beverage before 2:00 pm, you can use the receipt to get any grande iced beverage for $2.00! Now, I’m a pretty avid Starbucks fan, so discounts are always appreciated. Of course, encountering any promotion always makes me wonder about redemption rates and the increase in sales. With a survey of one (me), I decided to do a little analysis on this Treat Receipt.

    Normally, my husband and I stop in at Starbucks on Sunday mornings. Let’s take a look at how the Treat Receipt has affected our behavior:

    Before Treat Receipt: $8 spent in the morning

    We each purchase a beverage and one or two pastries, making our average ticket about $8.00. We normally make this trip one time on Sunday, so our daily total remains at $8.00.

    First Treat Receipt: $8 purchase in the morning + $2 purchase in the afternoon = $10

    We received our first Treat Receipt with our normal morning purchase. We were excited to use the receipt, so we made an additional trip on Sunday afternoon, increasing our daily total by $2.00.

    Second Treat Receipt: $5 purchase in the morning + $2 purchase in the afternoon = $7

    However, after learning about the Treat Receipt, we changed our behavior. Instead of purchasing two separate beverages, we shared a single large beverage, thus decreasing our normal morning total by $3.00. We then utilized the promotion in the afternoon, which decreased our daily total by $1.00.

    I wonder how often people change their morning purchase based on their plans to take advantage of the promotion? I also wonder how many people already frequent Starbucks more than once a day and thus decrease their daily totals by utilizing the promotion? I’m sure the marketing gurus at headquarters have numbers to answer these questions. Average ticket amounts and cannibalization are important factors to consider when offering promotions to core customers. Clearly, the second scenario described above is the goal of the promotion. As I said, I only have a single data point, so my conclusions may be way off-base.

    On the other hand, what if the goal isn’t to increase the average ticket over the summer? There are many other qualitative goals that may yield future value. For example, I might not be willing to spend $5 on a beverage I’ve never tried. The Treat Receipt is a low-risk way for me to sample a drink that may become my favorite. The promotion could result in me increasing my average ticket in the future by getting me hooked on something new (and more expensive). The promotion goal may be to increase brand loyalty through more touch points. Each time I visit the store, Starbucks gains more face time, which builds trust and credibility. The more experiences I have, the more likely I am to have a good experience.

    With no numbers to back me up, I guess I’ll be content to ponder… with my grande Java Chip frappucino, of course!


    Welcome to Musing Marketing, my foray into the professional blogosphere. I’m learning to view the world through a marketing lens, and I hope that what I see will inspire others to contemplate marketing. I am planning to post commentary, book reviews, and general interest items weekly. For now, I’m taking it one post at a time… enjoy your stay at Musing Marketing!

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