Monday, July 24, 2023

Is Your Brand’s Email Marketing Effective?


Do you know what today is? On this date, I’m celebrating COFFEE DAY with an analysis of email marketing, but first, some history about the beginning of instant coffee and its branding.

According to

“Although instant coffee had been around before this date, the instant coffee we know and love was introduced on July 24, 1938. The Nescafe (a combination of the words “Nestles” and “cafĂ©”) brand was the result of a more sophisticated coffee refining process than earlier versions of the product. The instant coffee odyssey began in 1901 with Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato, who introduced his version at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. It was received well enough that in 1903, he formed the Kato Coffee Company. In 1906, an English chemist, George Constant Washington, created what he dubbed “a refined soluble coffee,” and began selling it under the name Red E Coffee.

By 1930, the Brazilian Coffee Institute asked Nestle to consider entering the instant coffee market but with a better tasting product than anything that was available. Brazil allegedly believed that an instant coffee that tested better with consumers would increase coffee sales. By 1937, a scientist, Max Mortgenthaler, had perfected a method of spray drying the coffee and adding carbohydrates as a stabilizer. These techniques led to an improvement in the taste of instant coffee.”

Recently, I received an email with the subject line as follows: Let’s Grab a Coffee. Once opened, the email read as follows: What to wear where, coffee date, grab a latte with the girls in effortless light layers you love.” Then there was a button to click: SHOP NOW.

However, that was it. This was a wonderful opportunity for brand-building around the color of coffee, perhaps, by showcasing clothing in different coffee shades. This was a missed opportunity to partner with Pantone, the color brand. This was also a wonderful opportunity to promote the concept of meeting for coffee, whether for groups of friends or family or for reading groups, sports groups, travel groups, etc. This was also an opportunity to partner and/or co-partner with coffee brands or coffee houses for the day. This was a missed opportunity to partner with Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dunkin, etc. And lastly, this was an opportunity for the clothing brand to create brand ambassadors to promote clothing in coffee colors on their social media sites.

What other branding opportunities did this clothing brand miss with this brief email? Chime in after you’ve had your morning cup of joe.

Image Courtesy: Chico’s.

Monday, July 17, 2023

How and When Should a Brand Apologize?


Recently, United Airlines experienced delays and flight cancellations due to weather in the Northeast. Naturally, this caused customer dissatisfaction. However, the most upsetting news surrounding this situation was that the CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, took a private jet from Teterboro, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado, the same day that United canceled 750 flights.

Should Scott Kirby have taken a private jet? A spokesperson for United said, “Scott Kirby made the wrong decision, which was insensitive to customers who were waiting to get home.”

Should United Airlines have done more to accommodate passengers who were stuck at airports without hotel rooms?

Should United Airlines have done more to accommodate flight attendants who were also stuck in cities without hotels and waited on hold for hours to find out their flight assignments?

Who was monitoring United Airlines’ social channels to respond to customers with cancelled flights?

After what seemed like forever, Kirby provided the following statement, “Watching our team firsthand with our customers at four different airports and during countless meetings this week, it’s clear to me that they represent the best of United, and I regret that I have distracted from their professionalism. I promise to better demonstrate my respect for the dedication of our team members and the loyalty of our customers.”

Would that so-called apology work for you if you had spent the night at an airport while thinking of Kirby flying from New Jersey to Colorado? Definitely not! There should have been a better speech writer in Kirby’s team. And what about offering customers flight vouchers or free drinks at the airport upon arrival?

Has your brand ever had to apologize to customers? What words were used? What was the tone of the message? Did your CEO post a video to YouTube or your website?

In this era of seeing news almost as it happens, it’s important for all brands to have a crisis communications strategy before it’s needed – and adding a script for apologies should be part of that plan.

Image Credit: TravelWeekly.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

My First Week on Threads

By now, everyone who uses social media (and who doesn't?) has heard that Meta launched a new social platform on July 6th intended to compete with Twitter as the social water cooler, where users discuss anything and everything ranging from the news of the day to cute photos of cats on Saturday, also known as Caturday.

The appeal of Threads (and I must say, what a great name symbolizing threads of discussion!) was the ease of creating an account if you already had an Instagram account. According to CNBC, there were 100 million signups in the first five days, representing one of the fastest debuting apps of all time. However, according to data from SensorTower and Similarweb, the platform has seen dropoff in growth and engagement following the first week.

While the platform is not being promoted as the place to discuss news and politics, there is no doubt that users will. In fact, many hope that hate speech and misinformation will not appear on Threads.

According to Anthony Bartollacci, managing director of SensorTower, "The backing of Meta and the integration with Instagram likely gives Threads a much higher flood (of traffic) than other services, but it will need a more compelling value proposition than simply 'Twitter without Elon Musk.'"

According to David Webb, senior insights manager of Similarweb, "While there was intense interest in checking out the app initially, not every user has made a habit of visiting Threads as often as they might other social apps."

Lastly, according to Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, "Meta only needs 1 in 4 Instagram users to use Threads monthly for it to be as big as Twitter."

So, have you created an account, and what do you think of this new platform?

Check out my link:

Image Credit: Threads/Meta.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Distraction Can Be an Opportunity in the World of E-Commerce

This post is live today to celebrate Amazon Prime Day, Amazon's deal event exclusively for Prime members, featuring personalized deals and top brands. The event was created on July 15, 2015, to celebrate Prime members on Amazon's 20th birthday. According to Amazon, “An Amazon Prime membership includes various perks, including free delivery options and streaming, shopping, and reading benefits.”

Does your brand know how to engage with customers and prospects through your digital presence? I’m, not referring to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and now Threads. I’m referring to the platform YOU own and operate, your website. And if you sell products or services, how often does someone attempt to make a purchase and then stop? Do you have a way to monitor your site traffic and follow up with the customer or prospect?

Recently, I received an email promotion (NOT from Amazon) with several products as well as a notice about an upcoming sale. After reading the email, I visited the website to check out the new products as well as some sale items. But upon further thought, I decided NOT to make a purchase.

Within a few short minutes of leaving the website, I received an email including the image that accompanies this post, with the message, “Whoops, did you get distracted? Please come back and have another look.” A button was also included with a link that read, “CONTINUE SHOPPING.”

Was this a smart strategy? Did it show how much the brand valued me as a customer?

Or was this a bad strategy? Would it annoy me since I chose to not purchase anything?

The brand’s marketing team definitely wanted me to keep the brand front and center in my mind so that if or when I decided to make those specific purchases that I had looked at, it would be my go-to brand.

Does your brand view distraction as an opportunity? If not, perhaps, you should.

Image Credit: Natural Life.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Why Mentorship Is Important

Over the past 14 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting inspiring marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and gender equality experts. One of these experts is Susan Colantuono, a leadership expert based in Rhode Island. Susan has graciously appeared here on my blog twice over the last few years, and we recently continued our conversation about leadership, specifically about the importance of mentorships. Highlights follow Susan’s bio, and links to previous Q&A’s are provided at the end.

Susan Colantuono is an internationally renowned author, speaker, and mentor/coach. She discovered, developed, and introduced to the world a definition of leadership and four keys that have transformed women’s leadership development and initiatives to close the leadership gender gap – including The Missing 33% of the career success equation for women. Her TED Talk entitled, “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get” has garnered over four million views.

QUESTION: In your book Make the Most of Mentoring, you wrote that “we need to rethink (the concept) of mentoring.” Why?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: I wrote Make the Most of Mentoring as a way to strengthen mentoring programs – especially those designed to help all women advance. I’ve been told that it is hugely valuable for marginalized men as well. There are many reasons why we need to rethink the concept of mentoring, the whole first section of my book covers them, but for now, let me list two:

[1] The importance of mentorship in career progression has been an identified tool for women’s advancement since the 1970s, and yet, since the proliferation of formal programs in the 1980s, these mentoring programs have only marginally moved the needle in terms of women in senior roles.

[2] Initial research into the role of mentoring in the success of executive men focused on the process and relationship, and not on the content. Thus, most mentoring programs do nothing to address The Missing 33%, in other words, the importance of business, strategic, and financial acumen in career advancement.

QUESTION: In your book, you shared a quote from Professor Gale Evans of Georgia Tech: “There’s only one rule that matters, one rule that I have not seen written about in any book, article, or website. That rule is this: Every woman must always play on the women’s team. Why? Because every time any woman succeeds in business, your chances of succeeding in business increase. And every time a woman fails in business, your chances of failure increase.” While true in theory, often women become competitive in the workplace. How can that change to create a women’s team mindset?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: I am a huge advocate for supporting other women, but I think that the expectation to not compete is unattainable. When resources (e.g., promotions, plum assignments) are scarce, everyone competes.

(An aside, why don’t we hear about the problem of men competing? Answer: sexism).

So, my guidance is this, declare what you want, always put your best foot forward when advocating for why you should achieve it, do not denigrate a woman with whom you might be competing, and if another woman gets the position/assignment, support her as best you can.

SHARE THIS: Every woman must always play on the women’s team. ~Gale Evans via Susan Colantuono #WomensTeam #DebbieLaskeysBlog

SHARE THIS: If another woman gets [a desired] position/assignment, support her as best you can. ~Susan Colantuono #GenderEquality #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Before someone enters into a mentoring engagement/relationship, what questions should they ask themselves?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: Key questions for a protege/mentee to ask: What are my goals for this mentoring relationship. In other words, what concrete new skills, knowledge, experience do I want to gain and how can this person be a resource to me? If you can’t answer this question decline mentoring until you can. If you are tapped on the shoulder by a mentor, the question is different. What development needs do you (the mentor) see in me that you’d like us to address? The other absolutely crucial question is this: Am I committed to following through on any agreements we make about things like reading, practice opportunities, scheduled meetings, etc. Again, if your answer is equivocal, decline…for now.

QUESTION: Who do you consider to be the most important mentors in your life, and why?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: My first mentor was Dave Chichester, my first corporate boss. (Yes, bosses can be mentors, mentors can be sponsors, sponsors can be bosses and mentors. Do NOT think of these relationships as either/or relationships, they are a Venn diagram.) He gave me CAKE mentoring. (Helped me develop my Confidence and Encouraged me to take a position I would have NEVER considered.) Another was Kaleel Jamison who also gave me CAKE mentoring. (She helped me develop my Aptitude for facilitation and Konnected me with career resources.)  

QUESTION: Academy Award winning filmmaker/director Steven Spielberg has said, “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” What does this quote mean to you?

SUSAN COLANTUONO: To some extent, I agree with Spielberg’s quote. As mentors, we never want to push someone to become a mini-me. However, at the same time, part of mentoring is to help others develop skills that we have, especially business, strategic, and financial acumen. So, I’d say there’s a difference between developing a skill (moving the mentee toward our image) and manifesting that skill in our own unique way (creating themselves).

SHARE THIS: As mentors, we never want to push someone to become a mini-me. ~Susan Colantuono #Mentorship #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My profound thanks to Susan for returning to my blog and sharing her inspiring thoughts.

Image Credit: Bryan Garces via Unsplash.

Links to previous Q&A’s here on my blog:

Do You Use Your Voice to Lift Up Women Leaders?
December 10, 2022

As We Celebrate 1920, Work Remains to See More Women in Top Leadership Roles
August 26, 2021 (Women's Equality Day)

Connect with Susan at these links:
Ted Talk:

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Happy Fourth of July!

What brands best symbolize or embody Independence Day?

Do the following brands stand out because they feature the word “American” in their names? American Airlines, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), American Eagle Outfitters, American Express, American Fireworks, American Freight, American Greetings Corporation, and Bank of America.

These brands may align their logo, email messaging, social media posts, and advertising with the red, white, and blue colors of the American flag. They may also include some form of “independence” wording or theme in their tagline or logo.

However, this year on June 27, 2023, beverage brand Pepsi made news with the following announcement:

"With help from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Consulting (a business unit of The Culinary Institute of America), Pepsi has completely re-imagined what condiments can be for America's favorite summer food, unveiling Pepsi Colachup, the world's first Pepsi-infused condiment. Pepsi is so confident that hot dogs are #BetterWithPepsi, the brand is taking hot dog enjoyment to the next level with Pepsi Colachup, giving fans the chance to add even more of the iconic sweet, citrusy taste of a crisp, refreshing Pepsi-Cola directly onto their hot dog."

According to David Kamen, the director of client experience for CIA Consulting, "The concept is both simple and creative. The distinctive flavors and vibrant citrus blend of Pepsi enhance the bright and tangy characteristics of ketchup, offsetting the smokiness of the hot dog."

On July 4, Pepsi is partnering with the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees for exclusive in-stadium sampling during the team's home games. Hot dog enthusiasts who want to be the first to try Pepsi Colachup can look for the sampling carts at four major league baseball stadium locations: Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona; Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York; Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

So, what do you think? Is Pepsi the winner as this year's stand-out brand on Independence Day?

Image Credit: Pepsi.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Marketing News of the Week: Extreme Travel and Dark Travel

With the recent news surrounding the "catastrophic implosion" of the Titan submersible bound for the Titanic's final resting place, two new terms have repeatedly been mentioned: Extreme Travel and Dark Travel.

According to Wikipedia, "Extreme tourism (also often referred to as shock tourism) is a niche in the tourism industry involving travel to dangerous places (mountains, jungles, deserts, caves, canyons, etc.) or participation in dangerous events." Extreme tourism is a relatively small subcategory of adventure travel, whose advisors say makes up between 5% and 15% of their overall business.

Craig Curran, president of DePrez Group of Travel Companies and an extreme traveler himself explained, "Extreme adventure tourism is more like a lifestyle, a small community made up of like-minded travelers who see themselves as explorers, willing to test the limits of the body and mind in the name of human exploration and hoping to deepen their knowledge of the world and of themselves."

Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal, president of Fischer Travel Enterprises, a membership-only agency that costs $150,000 to join, offers adventures, such as, aerobatic gliding, gorilla trekking, and glacier walks. She explained, "We aim to make our clients' dreams come true, in whatever shape that may come."

And then, there's the Titan...according to Travel Weekly, the fatal deep-sea dive of OceanGate Expeditions' Titan captured the world's attention and thrust so-called "extreme tourism" into the spotlight. The Titan submersible promised a deep-dive to the Titanic wreck, and parent company OceanGate Expeditions sold seats for $250,000 each, but on its first Titanic-bound dive this year, the Titan imploded, killing all five people aboard and prompting scrutiny of the dangers of this type of travel.

According to CNN Travel, "Much of Titanic's magnetism comes from the hubris and glamor involved in the original tragedy," explained Brent McKenzie, a professor at Canada's University of Guleph and author of the upcoming book entitled, Dark Tourism: Is the Medium Still the Message. "The fact that so many lives were lost, and that the ship was 'unsinkable' and the famous people on board seems to ensure ongoing interest...Titanic tourism is one of the more established industries in what's become known as "dark tourism." More and more tourists are drawn to sites and attractions related to death, tragedy, and suffering."

Despite extreme risks and extreme price tags, travel industry experts don't expect demand for extreme tourism to wane any time soon. Travel advisors who curate these experiences say participants find too much value in high-risk, high-reward adventures to be deterred by the potential dangers even when the realities of catastrophe are realized.

When talking about extreme tourism, an example that typically comes to mind is space tourism. "Space exploration would likely be priced between $250,000 to $500,000 per seat, reserving your space years in advance," Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel, said of using suppliers like Space Perspective or Virgin Galactic. "You are in the millions for other experiences like SpaceX, [which] is extremely difficult to accomplish."

Yacht-based heli-skiing trips to Antarctica with U.K.-based luxury tour operator Pelorus start at around $750,000 to upward of $1 million, the company said, with demand increasing since December 2021.

Other examples include aerobatic gliding; extreme via ferrata (rock climbing); heli-skiing and heli-hiking; mountain climbing; deep-sea diving; and bear and gorilla trekking.

From a marketing perspective, clearly, there are people who will pay for extreme travel adventures, But is extreme travel worth the risk?

Image Credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.