I used to work for a video production company that also owned a broadcast news station. Now, this was an independent UHF station (yes, they still exist) - not a network. It operated as a channel on the various cable outlets in my area (and there are a surprising number of them where I live - and in the surrounding vacinity).
The news department had recently launched a new newscast specifically geared toward a neighboring municipality, and were taking any opportunities to do 'meet and greets,' expo's - and whatever. They wanted exposure.
One afternoon, they approached me, explaining, "Kell, the news dept. is short staffed. Would you mind standing at the station's table at the (other town) mall?" I agreed to do it. They gave me new postcards with all the news personalities and sent me to the mall - an hour or so away from the main station building.
I stood for awhile, smiling, greeting shoppers and handing out postcards. Soon, an elderly gentleman approached, asking what local cable outlets the newscast could be seen on...
I was flummoxed. I had no idea what cable outlets even existed in that nether-region. "Uh..." I stammered, "I don't really know."
He leaned closer. "Well, that's a problem, isn't it? How is it possible that they sent you out here without that pertinent bit of information? How is it even possible that you're standing here, advertising for a station - and you can't tell anyone how to watch it?"
I'll admit, the 25 year old Ms. Kellincatty was quite annoyed at his gutsiness. Who did he think he was? I was volunteering my precious time - after all - couldn't he merely appreciate that, go home, look up the cable information on his time?
But you know what? He was right. ABSOLUTELY right... I had no right going there to represent anyone without knowing the facts. (I never actually bothered to even flip over the postcard - which had all the pertinent information listed neatly there on the back... But that's another story for another ignorant day.)
OK. So recently, I've come across two equal marketing disasters:
1) I was at my new town's summer "It Gathering," The Emmaus Farmer's Market (BTW, Emmaus, PA was recently named the 87th best place to live in by Money Magazine... How bout them apples from the Emmaus Farmers' Market??!!!) - Anyway, there's always a booth sponsored by the township. It's usually there to promote upcoming events.
Well, this week's event was a local arts show. Hey - I'm interested in local art, so I approached the booth and asked for a brochure:
"I'm sorry - we only give brochures out to people who buy tickets."
"Well, how would I know if I want to buy a ticket unless I can see if I'm actually interested in your event?"
"You can check out our website."
The girl then proceeded to spell out a web URL for me - a URL that I knew I'd never be able to remember - let alone look up... I was annoyed. Immediately I remembered the Man at the Mall, decided I wouldn't publicly humiliate anyone who lived in the 87th best place to live in America, and moved on.
I never looked up the event, never bought a ticket, and never actually saw any local art, either. Kind of a shame, I think.
The other day, Dave and I tried a local cafe. It was cute, located in a great place, had reasonable prices, and tasty food. This is the kind of cafe I dream of - as one who has recently suffered a meal at the swankiest new restaurant in town
- Great atmosphere... nice staff... and food with absolutely NO TASTE whatsoever. As I paid my check, I asked for a catering menu.
"We don't have paper catering menus. If you want one, e-mail us, and we'll e-mail it back to you...."
So now - not only do I not have local art - but I also have to remember to e-mail the cafe down the road to get a catering menu? This is a missed marketing opportunity.
I'm not sure if local companies realize that while yes, they're saving a tree (even though recycled paper is a great receptacle for catering menus) - they're missing out on a clean revenue stream?
Somewhere, somehow, if the swanky, tasteless restaurants can brag of overflowing customers every night - those with an actual good product should be able to do the same... easily. They don't because they don't put the same care into their image... And the possibility that one day, I'll be scrounging around my drawer of take out menus, come across theirs, remember what a lovely breakfast I had there, and order lunch for my new swanky clients - The ones who watch cable, buy art, and appreciate good food.