1 set of Yellow Pages, unread, free to good home

Posted by | Marketing, News | No Comments
How do you find out phone numbers?I'm a voracious reader; anyone who knows me knows that. But sitting gathering dust in our garage are books we don't even unwrap any more until it's time to throw them away - our telephone directories the White Pages and Yellow Pages. We never read them; never need them.  We moved them to the garage a few years back as they were cluttering up our miniscule living room, and there they have remained. At first we consulted them, but once they had a pile of gardening stuff on top of them it was easier to just go online than unpack the phone books. So these days if I want to find a specific person or business, I search online through the White Pages. I don't ring Telstra's 1234 service as it's too expensive. However, people, 1223 is a free directory assistance number from residential landlines on the Telstra network. Remember that and use it. Telstra doesn't promote this free service as they'd rather make money from you. If I'm searching for a non-specific business in a particular industry, I'll use Google. If I want a local handyman I'll firstly ask the neighbours who they used and were they happy with the result, or try the local newspapers. Re the newspapers, I'll then research the handyman on the internet to see what people are saying about him, if anything, or if he has a website I'll read it. If all else fails I'll use the Yellow Pages online. The one thing I don't do any more is read the print versions of the telephone directories. In an effort to win me back to these wonderful tomes that do duty in countless houses holding up broken bookshelves and other pieces of furniture, Telstra has issued our house with a mini Yellow Pages aimed at our section of Sydney. "Glovebox-sized," it markets itself hopefully. Poor thing, it gets no trips in our cars. My husband's glovebox is full of CDs and my old Golf doesn't even have one. Just some door pockets filled with rural maps and umbrellas. I did carry a "Glovebox-sized" Yellow Pages in the back of my car for while, and threw it out when:
  • I discovered it was three years out of date
  • I'd never used it
  • It was covered in oil as my spare oil bottle had leaked
My husband and I both own iPhones, so we have access to the White and Yellow Pages online when we're out and about. We don't need another bit of stuff in our cars which we won't use. My mother is in her 80s and relies on the print version of the directories, albeit with good lighting, spectacles and a magnifying glass. When each new directory arrives she compares old friends' entries with last year. If she hasn't heard from them in a while and they're not in the directory, she presumes they're in the hereafter instead. For her, home delivery of the directories is a must as she doesn't use a computer or smart phone. [pullquote_left]Why is there not an opt-out service for people who don't want the hard copy directories?[/pullquote_left]I suspect there are thousands of if not at least a million people like me, who use technology to find who and what we need. People who chuck their unread (but hopefully unwrapped) directories in the recycle bin each year. It's got me wondering how many trees are felled needlessly for people who just don't need their directories? And how much of the production and print cost is taken up in our account fees. Telephone directories are delivered automatically to every household and business. Why is there not an opt-out service for people who don't want the directories? Now to the big questions for those of you reading this who own your own business:
  • If you're a business, do you spend your advertising budget on the Yellow Pages?
  • Online and/or print?
  • If so, do you believe you're getting value for money and the number of customers you want from that ad spend?
  • Would you buy, at enormous expense, a large display ad if you're not one of the major players in your industry? (ie if you're competing against Canon Australia, or Harvey Norman, do you match their ad size?)
  • Or do you use only Google adwords or a split between Adwords and the Yellow Pages?
  • Perhaps you're promoting your business using a targetted Facebook ad campaign?
  • Is the Yellow Pages actually relevant to your business?
I'd be interested to know what small to medium businesses are up to when it comes to using the Yellow Pages to market their businesses. Is it a dinosaur, or is there still a need for your business to use it? As for me, I don't advertise in the Yellow Pages; much of my business comes from referrals or my own website. Would I advertise in the YP? No; I'm in an industry where I believe people who want to find me will go online rather than open a phone book.

I’m on a horse. Wondering what the next viral marketing success story will be.

Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments
Who'd have thunk it? Old Spice is now the top-selling body wash for men in the USA - primarily because of THAT commercial. You know the one. Isaiah Mustafa, telling female viewers to "look at your man. Now back at me". And not just because the commercial has run on prime-time telly. No, the success of this campaign is worldwide viral marketing on YouTube. At the time of writing the Old Spice YouTube channel is the most viewed channel ever, with in excess of 145,000,000 page views. The ad itself has been viewed more than 20,000,000 times. Mustafa has responded to requests via Twitter and filmed another 180 or so videos. Now, most men don't have the cut, muscly, eye-candy physique of Mustafa, or his onscreen charisma. On or off a horse. And Old Spice, frankly, ain't no L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme. It's the smell of childhood for many of us. Did your Dad wear it? My grandfather did. My aunt gave him one of the two basic supermarket/chemist shop choices (Old Spice or Blue Stratos) every birthday and Christmas. For me, Old Spice is my grandfather. For those of us who remember the scent on our dad, grandfathers and uncles, do we want to smell it on our lovers? Isn't there something a little incestuous about that? Something you might like to talk to your shrink about? But then Old Spice isn't aimed at our age group. Remember here that Old Spice was very uncool for decades; scents for men rose to giddy heights in the 70s and stayed there; Old Spice, Blue Stratos and their friends were left behind in the wake of new, hip and expensive scents. Old Spice has been a desperate hanger-on, the cheap supermarket alternative. Nobody much bought it for years as much nicer-smelling blokey scents were out there. So for Gen Y buyers, the scent is new. Their dad wouldn't have worn it, even their grandfather probably preferred Aramis. Along comes a man on a horse in a superbly executed and edited commercial, and Old Spice is reborn via today's viral marketing methods. An article in today's Australian says the success of the commercial hasn't made a difference on brand distribution here.  Old Spice's owners Proctor & Gamble don't even have a brand manager in Australia, nor anything in the Old Spice range save stick deodorant, nor, indeed, any plans to expand the range despite increased sales as a result of the commercial. It will be interesting to revisit this campaign twelve months from now and see what has happened: whether the campaign itself, with the compelling Mustafa, continues to draw a viral audience, or whether Old Spice sales peak and drop as the novelty wears off. (Maybe Australia's P&G management is thinking the same way.) Whatever happens, this campaign has been a brilliant example of how viral marketing works and how advertising channels have changed forever. (If you're interested in reading more about getting onto this bandwagon, might I suggest this book, Viral Marketing by Russell Goldsmith.) What's going to be the next big viral success story? Have you found a winner? I'd say 'answers on a postcard please' if this was the previous Old Spice heyday but drop me a comment instead.

Chance or Opportunity? You decide

Posted by | Writing and Editing | No Comments
Maybe I'm just getting grumpier with age, but these days I tend to mentally edit a lot of what I read in newspapers, magazines and online. One of my main causes to get out the mental red pencil is the use of the word "chance" when the writer was really describing an "opportunity". What's the difference? I was taught back in communication school there's quite a lot of difference between the words, although both may mean similar things. Let's a have a look at the meanings of both. offers the following meanings, among others, for chance: –noun 1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency: Chance governs all. 2. luck or fortune: a game of chance. 3. a possibility or probability of anything happening: a fifty-percent chance of success. 4. an opportune or favorable time; opportunity: Now is your chance. And it says this about opportunity: –noun, plural -ties. 1. an appropriate or favorable time or occasion: Their meeting afforded an opportunity to exchange views. 2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal. 3. a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success. You can see areas where both words overlap (ie meaning 4 of chance is similar but slightly different to meaning 1 of opportunity), but let's look at using them in context. One of my clients is Ryde Business Forum, and I organise many events for this association. In the invitations I write, I offer members and guests the opportunity to hear a keynote speaker, not the chance. Chance suggests a gamble in what the visitors might get out of the occasion - it could be good or it could be rubbish; opportunity suggests they're going to hear something to their advantage. If I'm organising a charity auction, I advertise that bidders have the opportunity to win the object of their desire - this isn't a game of chance, they have to put the highest bid in to be successful. If I'm organising a charity raffle, then ticket buyers are told they have a chance of winning as they don't, unlike an auction, have any say over the outcome. If you are writing a media release, copy for your website, an invitation to an event or other promotional material, think carefully before using chance or opportunity to make sure you're using the correct word for the situation. It does make a difference to the way your readers will perceive you and your chosen topic. If you're confused about which word to use, drop me a line on the contact form you'll find on this website!