Category Archives: Marketing Curmudgeon

Warning: Nickel and Diming Your Customers Hurts You More Than You Think – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to Spirit Airlines.

I’m sure as soon as you read that this was about Spirit Airlines, you know exactly what I’m going to be talking about. They are now charging for carry on items! In a climate where everyone is hurting, we understand that prices need to be higher for services but customers were just getting used to the idea that they had to pay for their regular luggage. This has blindsided many people and even if they don’t fly with Spirit they are talking about it and not in a good way.

Spirit Airlines has forgotten that they are in a competitive environment and that they aren’t the only kids on the block. I’ve only flown Spirit once in my life, and that was when they just started charging for luggage. I was utterly shocked I had to pay $15 for luggage. It was an inconvenience and it should have been included in the ticket price. Their carry on fees are now $20 in advanced ranging all the way up to $45 at check in on way!

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of hassle for a carry on, especially after spending at least $90 on a flight (at the bare minimum). I did receive an email from Spirit April 15th, which was at least a week after they announced this change. They are claiming that there will be lower fares, and lower checked bag fees. It’s hard as a customer to see how they will achieve these benefits.

Spirit has not thought this move through, other than the monetary gains. They are nickel and diming people and no one likes it. This new addition will cause a lot of stir while people are checking in, unhappy customers, and more regulations on an already strict system. In an economy like ours today, customers are not as loyal as past years and they will gladly change which airline they fly with for a cheaper flight.
On the Flip side, Southwest is banking in on their mistake. Read Next Week How SouthWest used their competition to enhance their image.

Lesson Learned: When raising prices, in any business, take into account how your customers will react. Also, get a plan together to soften the blow or include the price in a package deal rather than having everything paid separately like Spirit does with flight, checked baggage, and carry ons.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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Customer Service Costs the Customer – Dumb Marketing Move

Comcast Cable TV – Customer ServiceI recently received one of those automated calls saying that I was behind in my payment. As it was, I had been traveling and had just mailed payment to them that morning. I decided to call and try to talk to someone in the billing/customer service department to advise them of this.That is when I got a recording saying that if I wanted to talk to a “customer assistance” person rather than deal online it would cost me $4.95. My first thought was this was incredulous or perhaps it was a trick by Direct TV to recruit me as a customer. But no, it was a Comcast rule, so I went to the web and found that their online customer support system doesn’t work well with those of us who use a MAC. 20 minutes later I finally found a way to send them an e-mail explaining this situation and expressing my dismay with their version of being “User Friendly.” Follow up calls , when I could reach a human contact said I had misunderstood the message.

Thus I eagerly nominate Comcast for the honor of the Dumbest Marketing Move of the week, month, year, decade or century…take your choice.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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Electronic Trash Turns Away Customers – Dumb Marketing Moves

This Dumb Marketing Move goes to Comcast.

Email marketing is a big deal. When a customer gives a company their email, it is quite the step for the customer. It’s a line into their personal life. With that said, I ran across an article about Comcast’s email marketing that seemed….sneaky. It was a new product, never introduced to this customer and they thought it was spam.

Here is the email they received:

Dear Comcast Customer,

Your immediate attention is required. Constant Guard™ identified that one or more of your computers may be infected with “Bot”. We strongly recommend that you visit the Comcast Constant Guard Center at for important information on how to remove malicious software from your computer(s).

A “Bot” is malicious software or malware that is used to gain control of your computer, typically without your knowledge. Online criminals can use Bots to collect your personal and private data, such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers by monitoring your keystrokes. This can lead to identity theft and fraud.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this important online security notice.


Comcast Customer Security Assurance

Lesson Learned: As a company, small or large, you must respect each and every email. If you don’t, you can easily lose a customer’s trust, they will want off of your email list, which means you lose most of your contact with this customer. Yes, there is social media but more than likely once you cross the line of making a customer feel uncomfortable in their inbox, they’re done. So remember, when introducing a new product, do it with integrity; your customers will see right through it otherwise.


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Picking a URL – Dumb Marketing Move

What does your URL say about you??

Well, today’s DUMB Marketing Award goes to for their URL!

They may have had something in mind when they obtained this URL, but what does it spell out? As a simple web-surfer I see WHORE Presents. Just imagine, they’re getting a lot of traffic to their site that isn’t relevant because they aren’t in the whore business but some might think they are with that URL. They might even be losing money from their pay-per-click ads from people misreading their website.

It actually spells out WHO Represents. Here’s their logo.

Well. it makes a little bit of sense once you see the logo. At least they were smart enough to capitalize the R. Overall, I think this is a dumb URL and yes, URL’s are part of your marketing mix.

Lesson Learned: Pay attention to how things might be misread in print, internet and everything in between. Your URL is like naming your kid, you don’t want them to be teased, and you definitely don’t want your URL to make the DUMB Marketing Move list.

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Billboards, You can Mess it up Easily – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumbest Marketing Move goes to……I don’t know! We don’t know what company this is on the billboard. (pictured below).Maybe they thought it was a clever billboard, but they are really missing the boat and it was an expensive trip. PLEASE LET US KNOW WHO THIS IS IF YOU KNOW. We will send them a dumb marketing move certificate in honor of this award!

Four major flaws in this billboard are that there was no logo included, no contact info or website, too much copy and it required too much thinking. Billboards are one of the hardest forms of advertisement out there and this billboard brings that point home. Billboards require the most creative thinking in copy writing. You must be succinct, saying what you need to say in a few words. You have less than 3 seconds to get your point across to your audience, even if they’re only driving 35 mph.
Lesson Learned: Keep your copy short, dummy proof it, make it obvious what it is for, and use a visual! Visuals on billboards speak louder than words, unless your words are clear and concise. Here’s an example of a good billboard, which was picked because off the top of my head I didn’t know this logo but the message still came cross loud and clear

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Gift Certificate Marketing, Don’t Forget the Follow Through – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to Mango Moon.

There’s a new craze for half off gift certificates for local companies. As a marketer, I think it is great because these small companies, whether they are a restaurant, a gym, or a retail store, can gain some major exposure by partnering up with websites like, and

So why am I awarding Mango Moon Restaurant this award if they used one of these websites to gain exposure? It was in their follow through. Gift certificates are a way to get people in the door, but you can not forget the follow through.

I had friends of mine go to their restaurant and use all of the gift certificate except $4. And they didn’t give them the balance for a return visit, not $4 in cash; it should have been $4 to use at their restaurant for another visit. It could have been in the form of a business card someone fills out, or even just printed on their receipt. Sure, $4 might seem like they shouldn’t honor it, and plus they already ate for ½ price with the purchase of this gift certificate. But the kicker, Mango Moon could have had return customers with that $4, and they would have spent much more than that! As soon as my friends told me this last night, that’s when I realized I needed to tell everyone out there with a business. (Note: Have you had this experience? Tell us about it below!!)

They blew their chance! Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know if it was just a server that made this decision, but it should have been communicated to everyone on the staff to honor anything leftover on these certificates. The first step with Groupon, or Half Off Depot, is to gain a customer. They accomplished this. The second step, get them to come back! Isn’t that what you want with all of your customers? So, now did their ½ off gift certificate work to gain them business? I have to say NO, because they didn’t follow through on something small and seemingly insignificant.

Lesson Learned: The small stuff counts! Even though your customers are getting an amazing deal the first time around, and might be cutting into your costs, you have to think about the future. How much will your customers be worth the next time they visit, and the next time and the next time? Your customers, and potentially loyal customers, are sitting at a table in your restaurant. They are already there, waiting to be reeled in! Don’t let them get away.

And remember, as an owner you need to communicate to your staff what you are doing marketing wise, so that they will be able to follow through for you. Make them feel part of the team, and part of the life of the business.

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Rinse and Clean Your Mailing Lists – Dumb Marketing Move

This weeks Dumb Marketing Move goes to Exhibitor Magazine, but in reality reflects a growing problem in companies who use direct mail.

Recently, I received not one but two of the same magazine from them. At first, I thought they might have had two different names on it, maybe one for me and one for another employee. NOPE! They were both to me, to the same address but had slightly different company names.

This is a quality publication full of valuable information, but in these tough economic times they do a disservice to themselves and their advertisers. Why? A mailing list that is not cleaned up on a regular basis wastes money and reduces the quality of the audience advertisers are paying to reach. With employee turnover at an all time high and companies consolidating it is more important than ever to be sure one’s mailing list is clean. Not to do so is a …Dumb Marketing Move … and for that reason Exhibitor Magazine has been nominated to this “award.”

Lesson Learned: Although list clean up is a messy job, but it saves money, time, and it assures your message is getting to the right person and is being heard. Time to get cleaning!

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