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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Salt, Taco Bell, Reverse Marketing, and YOU

On Marketing

In the world of marketing there is something called “Reverse PR.” It’s used by companies that are doing something that would benefit their public in the long run.
This kind of marketing has a moniker of its own because it's a special case where businesses don’t want their public to know what they are doing--no matter how admirable their actions may be. They fear that if the public noticed what they’re doing the placebo effect would kick in and their public  would disrespect what they did before or judge the new effort more harshly.
That is such a difficult concept to explain it needs an example. So here it is from a recent case published in the LA Times.

The example comes from the fast food industry: Taco Bell cut 20% of the sodium from its menu across the board. Good for its customers’ health, right? But if you knew would get real picky? Taste each item? Savor them? And declare them not as tasty as they were before—even if it is better for you?

It’s not quite a parallel example but a self-published author might decide to pull their book off the market because of faulty editing and then republish with fewer typos and maybe better formatting. But if readers know about this effort, would they watch the new book even more closely to catch that author in some kind of error? Would it negatively color the great opinion they had of that author’s work before? Some things are best not marketed, just done.

Greg Drescher, executive director of strategic initiatives for the Culinary Institute of America says, “This is one of those reverse PR deals. You don’t want people to notice what you’re doing.”

The trouble is, it’s hard to keep some things a secret. The LA Times reported on a bunch of good guys in the food industry reducing salt. Among them Carl’s Jr, El Torito. And here’s the downside. Sometimes when something like this does get reported, the company in question is left with little or no control over the information that goes out. In this case, the Times highlighted the fact that these chains are only doing it because they are threatened with legislation that will restrict salt—not because they give a hoot about the health of their customers.

So, the more you know about marketing, the more you control you have over how you handle the marketing of your own business right? Have you done something recently that should--by all rights--be great news that you're better off not telling your customers about at all...or better of telling them the way you want the story told?
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques launched at the National Stationery Show at Javits Center. Because she is the author of the multi award-winning how-to books for writers,The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, retailers will also find essentials of writing for blogs, Web sites, and newsletters on this blog. She is the author of an award-winning novel, This Is the Place; and other fiction and poetry. She blogs on better writing at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog. Find her tweeting for retailers at @frugalretailing . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use this little green widget to let them know about it:

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