Recent Posts

Our Newest Web Project Launches

Aug 21—We are happy to announce the birth of our newest baby - a brand new website for Warkwyn Associates. Who? Warkwyn is an accomplished audio design and engineering firm. We are sharing this news with...Read More

Look Like Who You Really Are

Jul 30— Do you look like who you are? This question is not an “if a tree falls in the woods” Zen kind of question. What we are really asking is: "Do your graphics and other marketing...Read More

Redefining the word Customer

Jul 01—We recently attended the InfoComm trade show in Las Vegas and came away thinking about the meaning of the word “customer” and the way one’s definition influences a brand’s marketing...Read More

Point Of Sale Displays that Sell Product

Jun 17—You are already using the Internet, social networks and traditional media to reach the customer with your brand story. But if you’re not telling your unique brand and product story at bricks and...Read More

What do your customers think of you

Jun 03—A special guest blog by Wendy Price Some of you may say, “I already know what they think.”  Others of you might say, “I’ll just ask my sales people and account managers...Read More

Ten Print Advertising Tips

May 22—In our last blog we made a compelling case that print advertising is relevant and valuable even in this digital age. Now we turn our attention to a handful of basic techniques for making your print advertising...Read More

The Value of Print Advertising

May 07—We almost always include print advertising in our clients’ marketing and media plans. Sometimes we get the reaction “Print? Really? We hear that print is dead.”  There is no...Read More

Making Text More Readable

Apr 15—Words. Every marketer needs them. Sometimes you need a lot of words to get your sales message across. (In our imaginations) our readers hunger to fully understand the marketing techniques we...Read More

Retail Reality-Product Demos-and You

Apr 02—Remember when owning a decent stereo was a major life goal and when shopping in a hi-fi store was fun? We are unapologetically nostalgic for the days when retailers actively sold A/V products; when the...Read More

Ma Mark Marketing or the Importance of Email Subject Lines

Mar 19—Regular readers of the CE Marketing Prose newsletter may have noticed oddities in our last two emails. The February 19 edition went out with the subject line “Mark” in place of “Marketing...Read More

How to Stay out of the Trashcan or the Lessons Learned from a Parking Lot

Mar 04—Marketers of CE products should count themselves lucky. We have it easy; we’re selling fun stuff – toys that help people enjoy great music and entertaining movies and TV programming. But just...Read More

Five Ways to Make Time for Customer Outreach

Feb 19—“Time keeps everything from happening all at once." - Henri Bergson  If you’ve read our website or spoken with us about marketing you know that we’re absolutely rabid...Read More

Brands that Communicate Win

Feb 05—The most successful brands regularly keep in touch and stay top of mind with their customers (end-users and channel partners) via blogs, newsletters and social media. With the advent of new Google search...Read More

Content is Definitely King since Google Changed Search Algorithms

Jan 28—The word “algorithm” is the equivalent of Ambien – it puts most people right to sleep. So it is miraculous that we actually read the news about Google’s newest search engine algorithms...Read More

How Pawn Takes Queen

Jan 20—We would like all of our readers to believe we are the source of all marketing wisdom and insight.  While that is largely true, sometimes we stumble upon someone who has written an article that perfectly...Read More

Should High-End CE Companies Bother with Social Media

Dec 11—On several occasions clients have asked us whether it was worth their time and effort to participate in social media outreach. The tone in which the question was asked told us that the answer they wanted...Read More

Rants from the Frozen Tundra

Nov 25—A friend of ours from the land of baby seals* was inspired by our blog Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good  to send us a couple of rants regarding Big Mistakes he sees CE manufacturers consistently...Read More

Flying Without Navigation

Nov 13—Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the research bomb* Imagine you are on a jumbo jet for a 15-1/2 hour flight from LA to Australia. Just after takeoff the pilot announces, “Ladies and...Read More

Coal into Diamonds - Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good

Oct 26—We often advise our clients to allow consumers to post reviews on the company website. From the looks of horror on their faces you would think we had proposed offing Granny for the insurance money....Read More

Direct to Consumer Sales and Channel Stress

Oct 14—One of the many services we offer our clients is helping develop direct-to-consumer sales programs for their websites and email communications. When we’ve mentioned that option to some potential...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part Three

Oct 02—In our previous two blog posts we wrote about eight of the top twelve things a brand's website needs to do to be effective. If you didn't read Part One and Part Two you might want to...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part Two

Sep 17—In our last blog post we wrote about four of the top twelve things a brand's website needs to do to be effective. If you didn't read Part One you might want to do that now...................Done? ...Read More

The Top Twelve Things Your Website Needs To Do - Part One

Aug 28— It should be unnecessary to say it in this day and age but just for the record – Your website is the single most important weapon in your marketing arsenal. Don't believe it? When you're...Read More

Nov 25

Rants from the Frozen Tundra

A friend of ours from the land of baby seals* was inspired by our blog Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good  to send us a couple of rants regarding Big Mistakes he sees CE manufacturers consistently make.  A modest man who shuns the limelight, “X” declined our invitation to be a guest blogger and asked us to relay his thoughts on the value of Tech Support and Owners Manuals. And we shall.

* Just for the record, we love Canada and Canadians. Really. A lot.

Rant #1 - Tech Support
Judging by the number of companies that outsource tech support (sometimes offshore), we can tell that the MBAs in charge look at it as a cost center rather than an asset.  Dumb. As well as a means of making unhappy customers into brand advocates for life, high quality Customer Support can be an important source of market research data. Smart marketers interview customer service reps on an ongoing basis, especially after new product launches. Enlightened companies include line-level tech support people on new product development teams. In one company we worked for, Customer Service was part of the marketing department. Marketing kept in close contact with the service reps to understand what kinds of questions consumers asked pre-purchase, the kinds of set up and use issues arose post-purchase and of course keep everyone aprised of failure modes. The knowledge gleaned from customer service helped us be more effective marketers. In our view that’s exactly the way it ought to be.  Are you taking full advantage of this valuable resource?

Rant #2 - Manuals
Oh, but our friend X was just getting started; his ire was sky-high on the topic of product manuals. And we could scarcely blame him; we have seen our fair share of absolutely incomprehensible manuals. X pointed out some easily correctable gaffes.  

The first is don’t rely exclusively on printed manuals. Print is expensive, especially if you opt to print multiple languages and/or in color. Most brands don’t print in color because of the high cost, yet many of the most important points to get across relate to color – such as red and black terminals, color-coded channel markers and so on. Print is hard to change. How many times have you noticed embarrassing errors after thousands of manuals have been printed? Most of the time marketers are forced to produce manuals well before the product is in production, fully tested under real-world conditions and firmware has been finalized - hardly the ideal time.

Our pal X suggests putting manuals with a searchable index on USB sticks. We think the best bet is to have PDF (color!) or HTML manuals on your website. Choose a medium that your staff has the tools to easily edit. One of us was faced with a manual dilemma in 2011 with the introduction of a new product in a new category. We knew that our odds of getting the manual 100% perfect on the first shot was nil, particularly as we suspected that firmware updates were probably going to be needed after the first production run. Our solution was to print a simple color Quick Start guide that described, mostly with images, basic set-up and operation. On that document we directed users to a specific URL where they could get the full manual. We used MS Word to write an in-depth and illustrated color manual that we then converted to PDF. We edited the manual and updated the file on the web page several times to make sure that our customers had easy access to the most up to date information at all times.

Our mystery Canadian friend had a further suggestion that brands include product catalogs in with manuals, particularly if your manuals are on electronic media. Yes we know, product catalogs quickly go out of date, but we think the benefits of exposing consumer to your other product categories outweighs the downsides. Your best bet for tomorrow’s sale is today’s buyer.

Lastly there is the issue of language. The world has shrunk and all brands are competing on a global scale to some degree or another. Even if you think your market is only North America, keep in mind that this is a three-language continent – English, Spanish and French. And by the way, it is a matter of law that products offered for sale in Canada must be bilingual (FR & EN). But a badly translated manual could hurt your brand image. We are sure you have seen manuals written with poor English grammar – makes a pretty poor brand impression; doesn’t it?  Be sure that translated text is written by or at very least proof-read and edited by a native-speaker who is familiar with typical CE jargon. We don’t care that your nephew Bernie claims to be fluent in a foreign language, if that language is not his first and if he didn’t grow up in that culture, he is very likely to to get it wrong. Use native-speakers only and never use web-based translation tools.

About CE-Marketing Pros
We’re a full service marketing/advertising agency specializing in helping consumer electronics brands and retailers compete more effectively. Former marketing executives with two of the most successful CE brands, Al Ballard and Paul DiComo help brands STAND OUT in a crowded and confusing CE marketplace. 


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