When it comes to marketing, everybody’s an expert

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I recently read an article about the now famous Molson I Am Canadian rant. The people who created the promotion said they were surprised at how it took off and captured the passion of our country. I was impressed by their honesty. After all the money they spent on promotion, they said, “Gee whiz, we didn’t think it was going to work that well.”
 
As much as the good people at Molson admitted their surprising success, there are many others who have admitted to huge failures. Do you remember the New Coke? What a catastrophe! Some people maintain that even this great failure was a success because it affirmed the brand name to the minds of millions of consumers.
 
On the list of all-time famous marketing gaffes is an old story I heard about the Cleveland Indians baseball team many years ago. The team had fallen on hard times. They played terribly, and they just could not attract many fans to attend games. So they hit upon a plan to get people to come out to a game. They decided to have a five cent beer night. Any fan attending the game could get beer for a nickel all night long.
 
Well as it turned out, it was a hot summer night, there was a recession on, and tens of thousands of fans turned out not to watch the game but quaff cheap beer. They filled the stands all right, but the game had to be called off early and forfeited due to hundreds of fans running on the field, fueled by too much alcohol. The few real fans they had now stayed away in droves. It was a public relations disaster and confirmed the nick name of the stadium located near the shore of Lake Erie as the “Mistake by the Lake”.
 
I think the lesson we should all learn, from success and failure in marketing, is to just be honest. If you fail, then admit it. Realize you are in the company of marketing greats like Coca Cola, and try, try again. If you succeed, then be gracious, like the good folks at Molson.
 
The bottom line on all marketing is that you must deliver a good product, regardless of how you promote it. If you can’t do that, then you haven’t just made a marketing mistake. You are a complete fool.
 
Coke is the most recognizable soft drink in the world. Molson is a pretty good beer. The Cleveland Indians became a very good baseball team. They won the American League Championship last year, and their stadium has had more sold out dates than any other major league baseball team in the past few years. And I should mention there is now alcohol restricted seating in Cleveland.
 
Closer to home, I have seen some wonderful, innovative marketing by Realtors over the years. There was the woman who had a photo done of herself at a desk on the beach, suggesting she is there and ready to sell vacation property. My favourite promotion of all time was a good Realtor friend with an office at a very busy downtown intersection. He put a sign that read “free coffee with every purchase.”

I have also seen some real estate industry disasters. Like the puzzle map of Toronto that the Toronto Real Estate Board put out years ago. It was a good idea but they forgot to include a solution page of what the puzzle was supposed to look like when it was done.
 
Once it was disassembled, no one could possibly figure out how it was to fit together because there was no picture. The puzzles were all thrown out. It would have been like ordering thousands of lock boxes for members without the means of opening them. But TREB always had the class to admit its mistakes, I think that is why their members are so accepting of all the new ideas that constantly rolled out in Toronto.
 
Having said all these kudos and criticisms, REM is going to try something new that may work or be a disaster. We are introducing a message board on our website.
 
It is wide open, and completely unrestricted. Go to our site at remonline.com and click on the message board on the left had side of the opening page. You may rant. You may rave. You may ask questions and maybe get an answer. You can tell people about your new office or new promotion. You may make any statement you wish. There is only one caveat –  you must identify yourself.
 
If you have ever said to yourself that you would like to tell the whole industry something that you have on your mind, this is the place to do it.
 
This could be the most innovative communication tool the real estate industry has ever had. A place to share ideas. A wonderful resource for real estate business exchange. A place where you can express your ideas and concerns. This has the potential to be great!
It could also be the dumbest idea I have ever had. Feel free to tell me that on the message board.
 
In the meantime, we’re going to keep putting out the best newspaper that we can, for the real estate industry in Canada. We won’t ever lose sight of the importance of putting out the best product possible.
 
Heino Molls is publisher of REM.

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