Tag Archives: marketing

Am I the target market for ads I like?

Maybe it’s because we are the target market for the network nightly news. Maybe it’s because of our age and experience. Whatever the reason, I am currently enamored with two Fidelity commercials that are running on NBC Nightly News. Maybe you’ve seen them, too. If you want to view the ads just click on the title of each one.

“Every Someday Needs A Plan” A successful career starts with a good-luck-on-the-first-day stapler. As you climb up the corporate ladder, make sure you’re properly prepared for retirement with Fidelity Investments.

“The Future is the Present” A woman reflects on her journey through life from graduation, to getting married and having kids to losing a parent and watching her own kids grow up, and how Fidelity Investments was there through it all, because she realized her future was actually the present.

Both ads center around a woman who starts life like many of us did back in the 1970s–college graduation, new job, marriage. Fast forward through her life. Retirement after a successful career in one ad; college graduation for daughter in the other one.

The concept in both ads is that you will live your life and you will come to an ending. End of career, end of raising a child. What do you have planned for the next step? Will you have the financial resources? Fidelity Investments has the answers. Or so the ads imply.

It’s the kind of marketing I like. Is it effective? I don’t know. When I was 25, did I know where I wanted to go and what I wanted when I got there. In other words, did I know I wanted to retire after a successful career? Did I know I would want to pay for my daughter’s (who hadn’t been born) college education? At age 62 I can look back and say, “yes, that’s what I want.” A bit late to need an investment company, though, to build the funds to do those things.

Are young women seeing these ads and feeling compelled to build an investment fund to do the things these women in the ads accomplish? I was fortunate to work for a company that paid into a good pension fund that I was able to access for education. Then I worked in education under a labor contract that provided a pension and allowed for an annuity.

Again, at 62 I see how fortunate all of that was to the life I have now. So, the ads appeal to me. How do they appeal to 30 somethings?


An interior design post

When I was in college I fancied myself one day working for a furniture manufacturer or real estate development company. I was a marketing major because I wanted to work on the sales and promotion side of a business, not the actual design, but I knew the importance of understanding all aspects of an industry so I also took an interior design class at the university. The instructor was a very well-known local interior designer with her own firm. She was pretty intimidating. I did learn some basics, one being that it was important to know the right people, no matter what business you went into. She often talked of the Ice House in San Francisco, the forerunner to the San Francisco Design Center, and even lead a field trip there for her advanced class. I was so envious of those students but I never took the advanced class realizing I didn’t have the artistic bent to be an interior designer. At that time you really had to be able to sketch room designs.

I did, however, still have the desire to work for a furniture company so when Levitz Furniture opened in Fresno, I applied for and got a job in the front office. I worked there all through college, but when I graduated, they had nothing to offer me. I also worked for a real estate firm out of San Jose who was developing some properties in Fresno, doing research into consumer buying patterns. They did offer me a job after graduation but I decided to stay in Fresno and continue dating Terry as we had become pretty serious and he had no desire to leave Fresno. This company ended up developing most of Foster City. If there is any regret in my life, it’s that I didn’t take that job and let Terry decide to follow me or not.

As you can probably guess, there were no furniture manufacturers in Fresno. No real estate research jobs. No design centers. So, that career dream vanished. I went to work for a publishing firm, farm magazines, then on to another agriculture-related business and finally the teaching career. I still love interior design and looking at magazines and walking through furniture stores, though few in Fresno have anything close to my style, but that’s another story. Yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle Magazine was devoted to the San Francisco Design Center and it brought all of these memories flooding back. If I could turn back time…

But, speaking of interior design and furnishings, I have two pictures I want to share with you. One is from the mid 50s, now called mid-century vintage:

1950s dinner at grandmas


This photo is courtesy of Cowbird and is the kitchen of the writer’s grandparents. It’s style is the same as the kitchen in the house of my friend who died a few months ago. This was a traditional scene from that time period.

For a more up-to-date look, here is a young friend of mine seated on a love seat at the Santa Cruz museum of modern art. The love seat would be perfect in my living room or family room. Everything about it–size, style, upholstery-makes me swoon. I would like to find one just like it, sans the purple throw pillow. I am not a throw pillow person.

fabulous loveseat



Do you like prunes?

First of all, I love dried fruit. Secondly, I am not being paid anything by Sunsweet for this little testimony.
Usually I ignore marketing tricks because I know them all. I taught this kind of stuff.  Rarely, of course, am I the target market for most marketing, but occasionally something not only appeals to me, but also prompts me to buy the product. That is very rare. Sunsweet was able to pull it off. This is one of those times that advertising to me paid off.

I kept seeing TV ads for Sunsweet d’noir prunes, and since prunes are the least of my favorite dried fruits, I was intrigued. How do you make prunes better? They are usually hard and they have a pit. Never been the dried fruit I pick up first at the grocery store. Dried apricots, peaches, mango, bananas, and raisins. Those are the top of my list. Prunes? Nah, not so much. But the ads for d’noir gave the impression they were pretty special, so I tried them. And their marketing worked. The prunes are fantastic. I would eat a whole bag in one sitting if I thought I would not become sick. These prunes are better than candy.

Yes, all three bags were purchased by me.

These prunes are so moist, tender, and very sweet. They have NO preservatives, just dried, pitted, plums. So, if you are a little leery of prunes, I would suggest you give these a try. And Sunsweet, I would be thrilled with a whole case of these goodies.

How did I get here, part 1

Teaching was never in my plans. My mother wanted me to be a teacher because she saw it as an honorable job for women. I saw it as uninteresting, especially having spent 13 years in public school rooms. I wanted to work in business which I saw as exciting and which would allow me to go places. A teacher just stayed in the classroom. So I majored in marketing and in my senior year of college, specialized in marketing research.

I was very good at research, being able to figure out what people want and why they want it. I could write good questions to get at this information and had the perception and discernment to analyze and determine just what people meant when they said certain things. My marketing professor got me a job with a real estate firm out of the bay area that had taken over some Fresno developments that weren’t doing well. I wrote surveys for them and then sat in these developments questioning people who came through to look at the units. From there I developed questions to ask people who were not looking at those particular developments but were interested in buying elsewhere. The company offered me a job in the bay area just as many planned developments were getting off the ground around San Francisco. It seemed like such a great adventure.

But, alas, I was dating Terry at the time and he was not interested in moving to the bay area. His life was in Fresno and I decided that if I was going to make this relationship work, I would stay also. So, turning down the offer, I started looking for a similar job in Fresno. There were none in marketing research. All the local builders were doing things like they had always done and they didn’t need some smart college girl telling them how to do things differently. Land was cheap and plentiful, people wanted homes with yards, what else did you need to know.

Instead of real estate, I went to work in publishing. I worked two years for an ag magazine publisher based in Laguna Beach, of all places, but with editorial offices in Fresno, the heart of the ag industry. Because I am highly organized, it was an easy job, getting the ads into each of the three monthly magazines. Although databases were just getting started, I was able to build and maintain the mailing lists for the periodicals and then sell them to other companies to use for promoting a variety of products. I don’t know if you can do that now, but then we made lots of money selling names and addresses.

I took those organizational skills to Ranchers Cotton Oil for the next 11 years where I scheduled all the shipments of cottonseed products for one of the major processors in the state. The woman who had the job before me did not have a college degree but the company had decided the new hire should have one. I juggled phone calls, truckers, plant workers, and product with ease. This was all before computers. Now the whole place could be run with one or two employees instead of the 12 who worked in the accounting and sales offices. Of course, the industry no longer exists, due to Environmental Protection Agency regulations. All the oilseed plants got moved to Mexico. This was done after I had left, which I did because I could see the handwriting on the wall. Remember, I still had good perception and discernment skills.

One of my responsibilities with Ranchers was the reception desk which was next to my office. I even filled in there when the receptionist went on break or to lunch. Again, not hard, even though it was the old-fashioned PBX machine with all the cords. As the years wore on, I found it harder and harder to fill this position with able help. It was a low level, low paying job, not requiring any special education. Any high school graduate should be able to do it. But the high school graduates I was getting were unable to think and perform at a high level. My question became: what the hell are the schools doing? You can see where this was leading.

Another great business partner

Marketing is a little theory and a whole lot of application, and that’s how I always taught it. I gave as few lectures as possible, and used textbooks only when absolutely necessary. Instead of paper-pencil tests, my students had to actually DO something to get a grade. I called it project-based curriculum.

One of the units I taught in Marketing I was sales, and after a few weeks of learning about selling, the students had to actually “sell” an item of their choosing. In the weeks leading up to the actual sales presentation students learned how to approach a customer, question the customer about their needs, make a features-benefit sales pitch, get the customer involved with the product, ask for the sale, and reassure the customer after the purchase and invite them back. Once I felt the students were ready, I brought in REAL customers, and I just sat back and watched the action.

One particular business partner, Bennett Frost Personnel Services, always came through with a number of “customers” who would come to the classroom and go through the 40 or more sales presentations over a three day period. Cathy Frost, the owner of Bennett Frost, came onboard with the Marketing Academy just about the time she started her business and we were starting the Academy. She offered great advice, listening with sympathy to our pleas for help and always coming through with assistance like sending her employees to be customers. Some of our students got to intern in her office, and she gave guest lectures about job seeking.

When Cathy moved into bigger offices with a conference room she invited our department to meet there for planning days. She often popped in with advice and ideas for our classrooms. It helped make us better teachers. And, I hope it made our students better learners. My former students still remember those sales presentations I “made” them do.

Recruiting for next year

I will spend today in freshmen English classes trying to convince 9th graders to sign up for one of the business department’s academies.  It’s high performance for the day because I have to be enthusiastic, entertaining, and keep the discipline.  It’s a fine line.  

Yesterday I put all the props together that will grab these little critters’ attention and want them to know more about what we do.  I take some of the older Academy students along to tell the freshmen what a great time they have had in the Academies.  We only spend about 10 minutes in each class, just enough time to pique interest and get them signed up to attend another, longer meeting where we fully explain what we do. 

I’ve been doing this for 19 years so I pretty much know what will and will not work.  It’s all high energy though, so I’m going to eat a hearty breakfast, put on my most comfortable, but stylish, clothes, and go get ’em.