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Chocolate candies, red dye, and the power of perception

In marketing, perception is reality. In the mid-1970s, health concerns arose over the use of the dye amaranth, commonly known as FD&C Red #2. Studies linked the popular food coloring with cancer. Mars Inc., makers of M&M’s, decided in 1976 to replace red M&M candies with orange ones. Did the candymaker eliminate red M&M’s because they contained the dye in question? No. In fact, the candies contained a different (and safe) red dye. Instead, the company decided to remove the red candies to allay the fears of consumers who worried about anything with red dye in it.

Mars understood the power of perception. Although its product was perfectly safe, the company knew that consumers were concerned. Sure, it could have stuck with the red candies and focused its marketing on explaining that the red dye it used was safe. After all, that was the truth, and many people would surely have believed it. But Mars knew that not everyone would feel comfortable with that explanation. The brand might have been hurt by this negative perception. So, even though the truth was on its side, Mars decided to make a fairly significant change. In the process, it generated a lot of goodwill and got the added bonus (and buzz) of introducing a new color to the M&M’s fold.

How do people perceive your products, services, and brand? Are there any misconceptions that could be adversely affecting you? If so, what changes can you make to alleviate those concerns and improve your image? And what extra value can you get from making those changes?

There’s one final chapter to the red M&M’s story worth noting. Eleven years after pulling red M&M’s off the market, Mars reintroduced the color in 1987. It proved a popular addition at the time and remains so today.

Joe Gass @ Heritage Printing & Graphics

5900 Harris Technology Blvd, Ste G, Charlotte, NC 28269 * 704-551-0700 * www.heritageprintingcharlotte.com

22725 Washington Street, Leonardtown, MD 20650  * 301-475-1700 * www.heritageprinting.com

Wide Format – signs, banners & banner stands, displays, posters, wall and window graphics, vehicle and floor graphics, decals, backlit signs, point of purchase, end caps and toppers, on-site installation and fulfillment

Offset and Digital – newsletters, magazines, publications, catalogs, conference and meeting materials, brochures, rack cards, presentation folders and direct mail

Veteran Owned and Operated

First To Market, Lasting Success? Not A Guarantee

 
 
 
Being first to market is no guarantee you’ll succeed. The business annals are littered with tales of cutting-edge companies that eventually lost out to newcomers who built a better mousetrap that redefined the game.

Google is a great case in point. By 1998, when Google burst on the scene, search engines and directories such as Yahoo!, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, and AskJeeves were already firmly entrenched. Many people wondered why a new search engine was even necessary.

Then they tried Google. Using a proprietary algorithm to generate its search results, Google quickly gained a foothold and the loyalty of users frustrated by the other brands. Word spread, Google’s popularity grew, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Google powers more than two-thirds of all U.S. searches, according to the latest data from Experian Hitwise (February 2011). Yahoo! Search accounts for just a 15% market share, and many of the other search providers in existence when Google began have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Sure, many factors went into the success of Google as a brand, and Internet search is now just a part of what the company does.

But, generally speaking, what are some basic lessons we can all learn from Google and other Johnny-come-latelies who now dominate their fields (Facebook vs. MySpace, anyone)? Lots of things, really, but three really stick out in my mind….

1. Don’t underestimate the competition.
2. Don’t rest on your laurels.
3. Don’t ignore the ever-evolving needs of your customers.

That’s pretty sage advice for any company, no matter how big or small you might be.

 

Joe Gass @ Heritage Printing & Graphics

5900 Harris Technology Blvd, Ste G, Charlotte, North Carolina  28269 * 704-551-0700 * www.heritageprintingcharlotte.com

22725 Washington Street, Leonardtown, Maryland  20650 *      301-475-1700      * www.heritageprinting.com

Wide Format – signs, banners & banner stands, displays, posters, wall and window graphics, vehicle and floor graphics, decals, backlit signs, point of purchase, end caps and toppers, on-site installation and fulfillment

Offset and Digital – newsletters, magazines, publications, catalogs, conference and meeting materials, brochures, rack cards, presentation folders and direct mail

 Veteran Owned and Operated

Step Up Your Fan Page

Many businesses create a Facebook profile (often referred to as a “fan page”) and expect immediate results. While the potential for social media is great, it can’t work magic by itself. Here are a few tips on how to optimize your Facebook marketing:

  • Give out coupons promoting an incentive for becoming a fan, such as an exclusive discount or free product. Continue to provide discounts and special offers available to fans only.
  • Run a contest to create interest. For example, post an intriguing question relevant to your business, and the first 10 people to respond receive a free gift card or desirable product.
  • Take photos during any live events you sponsor, load them to your Facebook page and encourage fans to tag themselves, which pushes out into their wall and friends’ news feeds.
  • Offer a discussion-oriented approach where fans can ask questions and get answers from employees and other fans.
  • Manage your online reputation by professionally acknowledging and answering all comment posts – good or bad.
  • Secure a unique username (or vanity URL) that is short and memorable by using your brand name, company name, etc.
  • Promote your Facebook presence on your e-mail signature, business cards, brochures, letterhead, newsletters, postcards, at the bottom of receipts, etc.
  • Create Friend Lists to filter news feed stories and control who sees what information you publish. This may be useful to spread information to separate groups, including customers, prospects, colleagues, employees, competition, etc.
  • Embed Facebook social plug-ins on your website and blog with a title encouraging visitors to click the “like” button and become a Facebook fan.
  • Use Facebook Events to promote upcoming events and activities quickly without being intrusive.
  • Keep your site up to date by posting interesting industry news and announcements, questions, surveys, relevant informational links, etc. Just be careful not to post too frequently.

If you’re looking for other ways to creatively promote your business, stop by anytime. Our creative experts are eager to help your business succeed!

Joe Gass @ Heritage Print & Visual

5900 Harris Technology Blvd, Ste G, Charlotte, NC 28269 * 704-551-0700 * www.hpvisual.com

 22725 Washington Street, Leonardtown, MD 20650  * 301-475-1700 * www.heritageprinting.com

Wide Format – signs, banners & banner stands, displays, posters, wall and window graphics, vehicle and floor graphics, decals, backlit signs, point of purchase, end caps and toppers, on-site installation and fulfillment

Offset and Digital – newsletters, magazines, publications, catalogs, conference and meeting materials, brochures, rack cards, presentation folders and direct mail

 Veteran Owned and Operated