No. 3 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:::The World's Worst Places to Work

Overall Grade: Very High Risk Location
Severe Problems: Political Violence & Repression, Political & Social Environment
Major Problem: Culture & Recreation Facilities
Other Problems: Housing, Climate, Disease & Sanitation, Education Facilities, Physical Remoteness, Communications

No surprise here. Life in the Saudi capital is not easy. "The possibility of a terrorist attack is an ongoing threat," according to ORC, "while wide-ranging restrictions on dress, movement, conduct, food, alcohol, travel, and communications limit expatriate life." The city is especially hard for foreign women. Finally, adds ORC, "violating the country's strict moral religious codes is a particular danger in this conservative city."


Semantic noise: the copywriter’s curse

“Semantic noise” is the term communication professors use to describe what happens when words mean different things to different people.

Here’s one notorious example. A copywriter wrote the following slogan for a cough syrup company:
“Try our cough syrup. You will never get any better.”
You can see what the poor copywriter meant to say, but his slogan can be understood in two ways. It creates major semantic noise and you are left wondering why anyone would buy a product that promises to NOT work.

Here are other examples of semantic noise caused by writers from around the world.

  • Sign in Norwegian cocktail lounge: “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.”
  • Detour sign in Japan: “Stop. Drive Sideways.”
  • Hotel in Vienna: “In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.”
  • Elevator in Germany: “Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.”
  • Dry cleaner window in Bangkok: “Drop your pants here for best results.”
  • And my favorite from a Japanese hotel: “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.”
These are all extreme examples, of course. But they show what can happen when you mean to say one thing and your words are understood to mean something else.

The solution?

1. Look for semantic noise in your copy. Just being aware of the possibility of confusion, and that words do not carry set meaning, can help you avoid this sort of copywriting catastrophe.
2. Don’t write in a rush. I always try to build “cooling off” time into every project. I write, set aside the copy for a day or two, then come back to it with fresh eyes. This always helps you see things you didn’t see in the heat of writing.
3. Show your copy to other people. A client, proofreader, friend, anyone. Fresh, objective eyes can quiet semantic noise in a hurry.

Verizon:::New brand identity

Loyalty program: Not Just Short-Term Behavior but Long-Term Relationship Management

The pressure to deliver growth has increased as the technology revolution has enabled marketers to link programs to real-time profit generation. As a result, CMOs are often forced to shift resources toward programs that deliver identifiable, immediate revenue. One of the core tools used:Loyalty program

Certainly, these programs may drive short-term results. But if not designed correctly, they can actually undermine the long-term health of the brand.

Loyalty programs are mainly psychological in nature, with little true interaction between the brand and the consumer. Still, they can go a long way toward making relationships concrete, as there is a back and forth between the consumer and the brand.

The typical loyalty program enables consumers to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards. When consumers' purchases are motivated by such promotions, we term that "behavioral loyalty." A form of loyalty exists because the consumer engages in repeat purchasing, but it's not clear whether it's because of the incentive or because they are really loyal to the brand.

Loyalty programs can shift what may have been a warm, emotional relationship into a cold, contractual relationship where consumers feel they are "owed" rewards.

A more valuable kind of loyalty

There does exist a more valuable type of loyalty: attitudinal loyalty, defined as when the customer has a strong emotional connection to and preference for the brand. Behavioral loyalty might be described as consumers doing what you want them to do, while attitudinal loyalty involves consumers believing what you want them to.
While attitudinal loyalty is a driver of behavioral loyalty, the converse may not be true. As a result, loyalty programs that provide only economic benefits may be appropriate in some instances but may actually conflict with brand-building efforts that ultimately attempt to create attitudinal loyalty.

This type of conflict can be seen in the airline industry's marketing efforts. Airlines have used slogans such as "Fly the friendly skies" and "Something special in the air" that try to establish the brands as friendly or luxurious. In contrast, the airline loyalty programs require that customers fly a great deal to get access to the improved, "friendlier" or more "special" service levels.
The airlines are left with two segments of customers. The first is those who feel they have "earned" and are therefore "owed" enhanced service, and although they demonstrate repeat buying behaviors, they're unlikely to have a true emotional attachment to the carrier and in the long run may easily move to a competitive brand. The second segment is those who have not "earned" anything, and are treated as second-class customers, so they are likely have neither behavioral nor attitudinal loyalty.

So what does it all mean? When designing a loyalty program, marketers need to move beyond focusing on just purchasing behavior and look at the impact of the program on overall brand health. While rewarding the right behaviors can lead to short-term revenue growth, designing loyalty programs so they also strengthen the brand perception can help lead to long-term brand equity.

Beyond the next purchase cycle
If every element of a loyalty program goes through a filter that evaluates it from the perspective of whether it will strengthen the consumer-brand relationship, the result will be a revenue-enhancing program that lasts longer than the next purchase cycle.
If an airline stands for superior care of the customer, can the loyalty program be designed to reward spending but also take care of the consumer and strengthen the brand? One answer might be to use a combination of fixed and flexible rewards. For example, the airline can keep the points-based program but also add customer benefits that are not explicitly mentioned. Unexpected rewards can have significant value as consumers view them as gestures on the part of the brand rather than payments that are owed.

Rewarding the right behavior means developing a structure that encourages the customer to shop more and spend more. This is obvious, and most programs are designed to effectively incent this in the short term. However, it's equally important to look at behavior on the margin and ensure that you don't accidentally "punish" a loyal customer.
In the current economy, with consumer spending down, it's very possible that many customers will not maintain the status they had in a specific program but will maintain or even grow their share of wallet with a specific retailer.
Most programs would punish those consumers for not maintaining their dollar spending even though they had maintained their share of wallet spending. Design for the best-case scenario, but make sure to design for alternative scenarios as well.

As stewards of not just the loyalty program but of the entire brand's health, CMOs have to rethink the design of these programs. Inciting short-term behavior is table stakes. The bigger challenge is moving beyond short-term efforts to design on-brand programs that can last beyond the immediate pressure. It may be a little harder to do, but it's the right thing to do.

Jeddah: Ikea store opening

Maybe it's time to cooperate, not compete

We tend to focus on our competitors and how to beat them. Take a moment to reflect on your potential 'cooperators' - brands that you could work with to strengthen your position in the market.

Maybe it's time to cooperate

Cooperate on product distribution
In 2008 Dunkin' Donuts partnered with J.M. Smucker to distribute a packaged coffee product to roughly 40,000 supermarkets and stores in the US. The result, US$115 million in sales. How can you cooperate with other brands to increase your distribution?

Cooperate on product design
One of my favorites: Italian sports brand Fila produced a line of Ferrari inspired footwear. This is just one of many examples of footwear brands cooperating with automotive brands to offer something extra. Levi's developed RedWire DLX jeans which feature an iPod dock and controller joystick built into the pockets. Which brands could you cooperate with on product design?

Cooperate to build your industry

Sometimes it makes sense to 'grow the pie' rather than compete for a slice. The WoolMark brand is a great example of this - promoting pure wool and all its benefits. The WoolMark brand helps to protect and grow the use of wool, as it competes with alternative fibers. Very useful if you work in the wool industry. How could you cooperate within your industry, to 'grow the pie'?

Cooperate on customer experience

When United Airlines began serving Starbucks coffee in-flight it gained passenger approval (and great PR too!), hotels use branded toiletries, cars use branded hifi, etc, etc. How can you cooperate with other brands to enhance your customer experience?

Brand cooperation can be very powerful, ask yourself:

Which brands can I cooperate with, and how, to strengthen my position in the market?

7 Skills for a Post-Pandemic Marketer

The impact of Covid-19 has had a significant impact across the board with the marketing and advertising industry in 2020, but there is hope...