Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Facebook Wants You

In the movie about Mark Zuckerberg and his partners founding Facebook—The Social Network—cofounder Eduardo Saverin is portrayed as pushing for the site to sell online advertising, which, in the early days according to the movie version, Zuckerberg apparently wanted nothing to do with. “We don’t even know what it is yet,” the Zuckerberg character says when Saverin continues to push his agenda.

Times have changed and Facebook sure knows what it is now.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has announced she’s planning a strategy similar to one she employed while VP of global online sales and operations at Google. Reports are that the largest social networking site in the world will begin offering $50 advertising credits to as many as 200,000 small businesses as early as next week. Why? Because just as at one time you probably didn’t even know what Facebook was and now you check your page multiple times a day, the brass at Facebook recognize that people’s obsession with Facebooking opens up a whole new advertising opportunity.

Word is Facebook will set you up with an ad that racks up a cost per click—say 5 or 10 cents—and spot you the first $50. According to Sandberg, that’s enough for a typical small business to target everyone it needs to at least once, recognize that the concept is a viable way to generating ROI, and create the latest addiction among Type A business owners—obsessing over their Facebook ad campaigns while sipping their morning coffee.

No word yet on how Facebook is going to divvy out the credits, but we’ll certainly keep our ear to the keyboard for you. Because even if you can manage to keep the cyber monkey off your back and not renew after your initial credit is gone, $50 is $50, and a lot of businesses are liable to get in line fast once the program is launched.

So Saverin’s idea wasn’t such a bad one, it seems. Just his timing was off. Maybe if he’d waited a few years to push for Facebook advertising, he’d still have his 30 percent stake in the company. But, hey, maybe with a few of your advertising dollars thrown into the mix, Eduardo won’t be living out of his Bentley for too much longer.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What’s in a name?

That which we call Schweddy Balls by any other name would taste as sweet. Bill Shakespeare would roll over in his grave if he read how we just mangled that (or Francis Bacon for you conspiracy theorists). But sometimes, depending on your business, the attention garnered by a shocking or irreverent message can go a long way to racking up sales. 

Take Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, for example. They just came out with a new flavor, Schweddy Balls—vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered rum and malt balls. The name pays homage to a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin, a baker, Pete Schweddy, who sells popcorn balls, cheese balls and rum balls during the holidays. “No one can resist my Schweddy Balls,” Baldwin’s character says.

The Vermont company is introducing the new flavor nationwide, but in a trial first run in case the concept is just a wee bit too over the top. This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has shocked the ice-cream loving world. A spin-off of the company’s adored Chubby Hubby flavor, Hubby Hubby, celebrated the move by some states to legalize gay marriage. It’s too early to tell how well Schweddy Balls will sell, but the story has gone viral in a very short time, and whether you love the concept or hate it, it’s getting Ben & Jerry’s a lot of attention.

Now if your business is a funeral home or manufacturing nuns’ habits, this direction might not be the best option. However, with a little creativity, you can give virtually any product or service a twist that toes the line just close enough to grab a ton of attention and increase sales while not being overly offensive. If this blog alone, however, has you as mortified as Bill Shakespeare, don’t schwet it; at RWA we can accommodate the advertising needs and business philosophy of any company.