Marketing: What Not to Do

In the following interview segment, Doug Levy, author and CEO of MEplusYOU, explains how caring more can actually make you more successful. The full interview with Doug Levy can be seen HERE, in which he discusses his new book, Can't Buy Me Like. In the book, Levy tackles the changing marketing space, believing that companies must either adapt or continue to put blind faith in increasingly ineffective advertising. Levy also explains a new era that we've entered, dubbed the 'relationship era', and describes how this will change marketing for all companies, big and small.

One of the examples Levy gives of a company failing to connect with customers is McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) . After making investors rich in 2011, McDonald's has been one of the worst-performing blue chip stocks of 2012. Our top analyst on the company will tell you whether you should be worried by this trend, and he'll shed light on whether McDonald's is a buy at today's prices. Click here now to read our premium research report on the company.

Brendan: Another thing you cite in the book is companies that are doing it the wrong way. You say McDonald's, Progressive Insurance (NYSE: PGR  ) , United Airlines (NYSE: UAL  ) , at least in some instances. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Doug: Yeah, sure. I'll start with the last one you mentioned, United Airlines, because it's such a good example of how marketing has shifted.

It used to be that it was the marketer's job to shape perception of the brand, to define what the brand is. To that end, United has spent billions of advertising dollars trying to shape a message. They've done that with ads that show beautiful airplanes in the sky, and this amazing flying experience. They use George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," this uplifting tune, to talk about the experience of flying on United.

There's only one problem; that's not the experience of flying on United. The actual experience is not the beauty of the ads, it's pretty darn ugly; reduced services, pay-as-you-go food, lost luggage. So, though they've spent these billions of ad dollars, the actual experience that people have is what's actually resonating.

Brendan: What was the example? The guy with the guitar?

Doug: Yeah, it's such a great example. Dave Carroll was on a plane. He was looking out the window before the plane took off. This band leader was going to a gig and looked out the window, and he saw a guitar being thrown across the runway, and when he arrived his guitar was broken.

Being an enterprising musician, he penned a tune about it and recorded a video which he put on YouTube, which was seen more than 10 million times, and the stock dropped in the next few months 10%. Analysts wondered whether it had to do with Dave Carroll and his video.

Brendan: That's got to drive marketers crazy, because that's not really something they can control. McDonald's, they had a bit of an issue with something they could control, though. What was their problem?

Doug: Well, what marketers can do is have what they're saying being in sync with the actual experience, and even more specifically, what they believe. McDonald's is a great example of a disconnect between that. It really didn't even need to be that way.

McDonald's asked people to share actual stories of the experience that people had in the restaurants expecting, I believe, these nicely packaged beautiful stories of what it was like. In reality, they got some of that, but they also got people talking about dirty Band-Aids in their food and other gross stuff like that, much to their dismay.

Brendan: You kind of wonder how that one made it out of the vetting process ...

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