Here’s what happens when you admit to eating at McDonald’s

Another goodie from Chief Marketer ( Mr. Tim Parry, their managing editor, not only admits to eating at McDonald’s but decides to stick it to ’em too. To read his quick one page article, please click here.

Now here’s the quickie that was zipped off to Tim:

Hey Tim,

Just read your article. I hear ya but a couple things came to mind:

1 – Maybe it was just a prototype? A quick & dirty just to gauge reaction to this type of a promotion?

2 – It’s highly possible McD’s actually wanted to make it this easy to pass along (read: viral), no? Maybe under the current economic conditions it make more sense to get people in the door – no matter who they are – then to ask for email addresses or other personal info that they might not want to volunteer?

3 – With regards to point #1, did you notice the same promo in any other McD’s? For all we know it was just that location taking part in a trial?

4 – Or maybe there’s a randomizer – as based on area / IP address? – that presents different visitors with different forms for data to collect? Again, see #2. It very well could be that less is more for them on this one. It’s possible they’re using a number of different forms to see which one drives in the most traffic. Without a comparison it’s also possible that for tracking purposes the coupons might be slight different as well, no? So what looks to be too simple might not actually be so, IMHO of course.

5 – If there’s a complaint about the coupon, it’s the size. It’s excessive to require their infrastructure to push out 1.5meg a shot when something much smaller will do.

6 – And while I hate to accuse McDonald’s of anything sneaky, maybe your lunch wasn’t so free after all? They certainly could have planted a cookie but what if they also planted something more spyware-esque? Maybe they figured that if you just forwarded the link to the pdf they’d be able to track that activity as well? Again, things might not be what they seem.

Let’s be honest, we all like to play marketing critic. Unfortunately, without knowing the intention (and the budget) of the campaign it’s hard to evaluate something like this. I agree with you 100% – they could have done more – but I also see the value in them not doing so and still making out pretty well. It’s not often a company can spend 25 cents (i.e., the approx cost of a medium ice tea) and get a customer in the door. Under current economic conditions this might actually be a stroke of genius.


Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

Scott Holt asks, “How can I sell better?”

This entry references a Q&A in the July / August 2008 issue of Fortune Small Business ( Unfortunately, for some reason the article isn’t available online. The gist of the question is, Mr. Holt owns a custom sewing shop (Sewing Solutions in Spring Lake, Mich) and feels he must learn to sell in order to attract new customers. He asked FSB for advice.

We’d all agree that learning to sell is never a bad things. But frankly, most of the recommendations maade by FSB are pretty disappointing. Here are some AU suggestions for Mr. Holt:

1 – Get a web site! After reading the article and having some thoughts we tried to contact Mr Holt directly. He is on LinkedIn but nothing for Sewing Solutions. GoDaddy (, as well as many others, offers some very reasonable build it yourself packages. There’s really no excuse to be a biz – small or big – and not to have a web site in 2008.

2 – Use an email that uses the site’s URL. Also be sure to have a signature that reminds people who you are, etc.

3 – In the article there was a recommendation to focus on one of the more profitable specialties. Wrong! Focus on the one(s) that are worth focusing on. If the size of the most profitable market is too small then all the profitability in the world probably won’t keep you in the black. The other thing to consider is, which one is growing. As a rule of thumb it’s better to get a small piece of an expanding market then jump into a market that’s on the decline.

4 – As an extension of #3, figure out what the market/customer wants but isn’t being met and see if you can deliver that. Maybe there’s a semi-related niche that might be worth addressing? Yes, it’s helpful to have some focus but before moving forward with a sales pitch it’s best to stop, take a step back and then figure out what the target REALLY should be. Unfortunately, it appears that FBS gave Mr. Holt what he wanted (i.e., advice on how to sell) but they should have at least taken a look at what he needed first.

5 – It wasn’t clear whether Sewing Solution is B2C or B2B. If part of the biz can be B2B then investing time in establishing relationships with various “gatekeepers” (e.g., theater owner, awning installers, etc.) who could refer biz to SS would probably make sense. Winning one gatekeeper could mean many customers. As for B2C, the article is correct,¬† that’s typically sheer persistence. That said, without a web site it’s going to be hard for people to find Mr. Holt and SS.

6 – Regardless of whether it’s B2C or B2B, investigate the use of a CRM (e.g., or or establish some sort of personal system to make sure you’re following up, making time to generate new leads, thanking previous customers, other reminders, etc.

7 – Aside from LinkedIn see if there are any other networks, communities, etc. in your area that are worth joining. Most often the step before the sale is networking. People like to deal with people they know (and trust) so get out there and get to know more people. Ideally the right people.

8 – Podcasts. There are tons of great podcasts on selling. Business Week’s Savvy Selling is great. There are many others. If anyone has any other recommendations for good podcast please leave a comment.

9 – Last but not least… for ongoing progression read this blog regularly :)

Well Mr. Holt we hope this helps. Btw, do you fix soccer nets? Nearly every net we’ve ever seen needs some work. Maybe such repairs would be a good way to offer a “loss leader” and get your name out there?

Size matters?

We got a newletter from Chief Marketer ( and decided to read Grant A. Johnson’s “In Email Copy, Length Matters”.

This is the letter that was sent to Mr Johnson. It’ll be interesting to see what his reply is. If he even replies. IMHO, his three points are trumped by AU’s six points and those six use less words.

Hello Grant

I don’t have time to test so I’m gonna have to hit you with the less is more version :)

IMHO there are really 6 important factors and one can not be defined without considering the others.

1) *Quality* of copy. Discussing quantity is ok but not really as important. In other words, one line of great copy is better than three lines of good copy, and certainly superior to five line of crap.

2) The type of message being delivered. e.g. Sale vs. new arrivals vs. some other news. Obviously some things entail more detail than others. That said, if you can’t distill it then go back to the drawing board. I’m not suggesting anyone to dummy it down, just keep ideas bite sized.

3) The target market. e.g. Never a buying customer but on your list vs. new customers vs. repeat customers. Each will probably have a different attachment to the brand and thus a different “attention span” and/or willingness to be engaged.

4) Images. As they say, “A picture paints a 1,000 words.” If it can be easier said with an image than sack the copy and let ’em see rather than read.

5) Presentation. For example, it’s best to purposely break up copy at non-paragraph points just to make it easier for the eye to digest. Looks matter. Looks can kill :)

6) ALWAYS put yourself in the readers’ shoes. The receive ALWAYS defines the communication. Be objective and don’t assume they share your passion for the subject matter.

As a rule of thumb I find I’m most like to read Headline > then a brief summary > and if I want still more info I’ll click the Click Here For More link. Therefore, it’s most effective to put the headlines at the top and if it’s important then keep it “above the fold”. Always assume the reader won’t even open the email. They’ll probably¬† just scan it in their view pane. Finally, defiantly assume that even if they do open it they won’t scroll.

Thanks for your thoughts, etc. And thanks for listening to mine.

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

Saturn’s new vehicle, the Astra

Here is some food for thought that was just submitted via Saturn’s Contact Us form:

I drive a Subaru WRX 5 door so I am obviously a fan of the hatchback. And given the price of gas it’s great to see others giving up their never-really-needed-that-much-size-anyway SUVs and getting a bit more sensible.

A couple weeks ago I was coming back to Jersey from Upstate NY and spotted an Astra on Route 287 south. Wow! Nice stuff! I punched the gas to get a second look. Yeah, it had passed me in my WRX turbo. Long story short, I just picked up a brochure from a local Saturn dealer. Wow! What a disappointment. Seriously, copy like “Remember the feeling when you first got your license? Remember…” has to be a joke.

Correct me if I wrong but this vehicle looks to be targeted to a college, post-college, young professional type. This is probably their first new car, right? It seem doubtful that given their age and budget that: (1) they’ve forgotten much of anything (2) they have probably yet to really experience references such as luxury, the thrill of driving a (European?) road car, etc. I have to be honest and say I am totally confused as to who this copy addressing? The target market or their parents?

Then the colors… Not only is there no orange, yellow or something really exciting but how on God’s earth did you mange to have two colors both with silver in the name? How pathetic is that? The names themselves are pretty boring as well. You spent how much designing this car and Artic White is the best you can do? Funny enough there’s not a single image of the Astra “on snow”. And what about NEW? The cover has no reference to this being a new model. People – especially young wanna be hipsters – like new, do they not?

On the whole the message you’re trying to get across is too long winded. Much like this letter :)¬† Do you really think that people are going to read all that dribble on the cover? The car has great style, and you’re using all these words? What ever happened to “A picture paints a 1,000 words”? You should have went with something simple and to the point… It’s new. Truly exciting to drive. Fun to own. Saves on gas. Saturn’s industry leading warranty. Done! Now that hits all the key connection points. Why get fancy? Maybe you don’t really want to sell this car? As it is, this copy is too wordy and directed to the wrong target. You’ve got what looks to be a sharp machine that should be pretty easy to sell given it’s looks, price point and gas mileage. But you’re gonna blow it.

Oh yeah… Two more things… The Saturn site ( is pretty weak. If someone is about to drop $20k – $25k – that’s a good sum of change no matter how you cut it – then at least show them some “flesh”. Why is everything so confined to such a small area of screen space? I feel I need a telescope to really see what it is I might be wanting to buy. And what’s with all the distracting copy at the bottom of the screen? I know it’s probably required by your legal dept but that’s the best you can do? Are you selling cars or covering your ass? Two, the Astra REALLY needs some roof racks. Even if it’s an extra and/or after-market. Without an image of racks – with bikes, skis, snowboards, add on storage, etc – you’re really missing another opportunity to connect with the target market. Three, nothing on MySpace or Facebook either? What world are your marketing people living in?

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United
Princeton NJ

p.s. Lucky for you I haven’t even read the whole brochure :)