Today marks one month since the confrontation between Israel and Palestine started.
Since October 7th, the conflict continues to escalate and involve more people. Beyond the Israelis and Palestinians killed, taken hostage, hurt and caused to leave their homes, Jews, Muslims, Palestinians and Arabs across the US and Europe have experienced more overt acts of prejudice.
While the goal of this newsletter isn’t to cover political events, I believe that we all have a responsibility to treat other people fairly and with respect regardless of their background, race, religious beliefs, age, financial status, sexual preference and/or other differences. This applies to how you run your business and treat your employees and customers.
I pray that the leaders involved find a path to peace or, at least, a cease-fire. Further, my heart goes out to those affected by this conflict along with their families and friends.
Table of Contents | Volume 11, Issue 32
Today is Election Day across the US. Political elections are a lot like marketing. They give citizens an opportunity to express their point of view in terms of support for specific candidates and/or proposals. It’s similar to choosing one brand over another.
As an off-year election, it focuses on local candidates such as City Council members, Judges and ballot proposals. Many people don’t show up to exercise their democratic right. As a result, state politicians use these low turnout elections to sneak through political changes.
From a content perspective, these proposals are often worded awkwardly. As a result, even well-educated voters have trouble understanding them so they either don’t vote on the proposal or, worse, they guess at the meaning.
For example, when I lived in Hoboken, I remember not understanding the word “antediluvian”, which means “before the flood”, in the context of a proposal on the ballot. Even after looking the word up, I was still confused as to how I should vote.
Actionable Marketing Tip
- Ensure your audience can understand what your content marketing means. Check the level of understandability of your content based on your target audience. Writing for chemists with PhDs is significantly different from writing for the average consumer.
► Marketing Lessons From Our Vacation To Turkey
My husband and I enjoy traveling, especially going abroad. Unlike many of our friends, we research and plan our trips including travel, hotels and sites. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we hadn’t traveled much since the end of 2019 when we spent 4 weeks in South-East Asia.
► Testing The Power Of AI: Vacation Planning
For this trip, we gathered our initial travel information using AI, specifically OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. My husband started with queries as basic as asking the AI to plan a two-week vacation to Turkey for two adults.
We used this output as a starting point for laying out our trip. Then we drilled down for sights to see in specific locations. Eventually we got enough information to block out our trip city by city.
AI use remains in its high growth phase as you can see in the 2023 Hype Cycle For Emerging Technologies. This means that AI technologies continue to change before players drop out.
Gartner outlined 4 key AI themes:
- Emergent AI enables businesses to create sustainable differentiation and increase productivity. Many of these technologies closely align with marketing tactics.
- Developer experience (DevX) requires businesses to improve their developer experience to attract and retain top talent.
- Pervasive cloud involves the evolution of cloud computing to drive innovation. To get the most value from these technology investments, businesses need to scale their operations better, extend access to cloud-native platform tools, and provide adequate governance
- Human-centric security and privacy encompasses how organizations become increasingly resilient by implementing human-centric security and privacy programs integrated into their AI programs and usage.
Actionable AI Marketing Tips
- Test one or more AI platforms and services to become familiar with using them to handle various activities in your marketing and personal life. Do this to keep your skills up-to-date.
- Read widely about AI and how it relates to marketing. Among the marketing AI people to follow are Paul Roetzer of the Marketing AI Institute and Christopher Penn’s Almost Timely Newsletter. In addition to signing up for their newsletters, follow other AI thought leaders and discussions on LinkedIn.
► Ratings and Reviews: How To Combat Limited Knowledge
As my husband and I planned our trip, friends who had visited Turkey gave us feedback on various hotels and tours. We used this information to focus on specific areas of the cities we planned to visit. Also, it helped us to better target searches on TripAdvisor, Booking.com and other travel sites.
♦ How To Pick A Hotel Using Ratings and Reviews
After location, the biggest hotel search factors are price and ratings. Since most travelers only stay at one hotel in a city, read the reviews carefully to find red flags about a specific establishment. For example, a comment like “great hotel–I’d stay here again” doesn’t provide much information since it lacks context.
After checking a few sites, we narrowed down our hotel options in the four cities we wanted to visit: Istanbul, Göreme in Cappadocia, Konya, and Selcuk which is near Ephesus. Then we thoroughly read the travelers’ comments to winnow down our list further.
In Turkey, we focused on location and service. During our trip, we stayed at one hotel which got high ratings for staff and service. Yet while the staff was friendly, they were of limited help navigating the city’s sights.
♦ How To Price Tours And Sightseeing?
In Istanbul, we had trouble deciding whether to buy a museum pass or pay individual entry fees to specific sites like the Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern. So we used reviews to determine the best time to see specific venues. With the combination of rain and a cross-city bicycle race during our first 4 days, we managed to avoid long lines without having a museum pass or booked tours.
By contrast, Cappadocia, our second stop, is a major tourist destination due to its unique geological formations. The top 3 things to do are to take a:
- Cultural tour, known as a Red Tour.
- Hiking tour to get see top sites, known as a Green Tour.
- Hot air balloon ride at sunrise.
While many hotels offer these tours, smart visitors spend an afternoon or evening walking through the center of Goreme before picking a tour company. We examined tour options before we left home but only booked our hot-air balloon trip. We used our hotel since we trusted them.
As we discovered later, Cappadocia balloon pilots need to have 1,000 hours of training. Since this is a high-demand activity, the price of this expensive adventure can vary significantly. So if we had shopped for it in town, we may have gotten a lower price.
For the Red and Green Tours, the operators often move people around depending on the demand on a particular day. We purchased these tours from CappadociaVisitor.com. We chose them because we liked their salesperson and their prices were competitive. When our Red Tour had problems due to an overloaded bus, they gave us a partial refund.
♦ How To Find A Restaurant You’ll Like
For restaurants, we generally stayed close to our hotels located in the tourist-centric parts of the cities since we were tired by the end of the day. Occasionally we used TripAdvisor or another online travel guide.
The 3 restaurants that stood out for us were:
- Istanbul Kebab Cafe and Restaurant (Istanbul). We liked it because the food was good and the service was spectacular. They went above and beyond to provide a great experience. For example, they served everyone tea and baklava at the end of their meal without charge.
- Doy Doy Restaurant (Istanbul). In addition to good pide (Turkish pizza), this pedestrian hole-in-the-wall restaurant attracted both Turks and tourists. Better than the food was the view of the Blue Mosque, especially during lunch when you could eat on the roof.
- Celal Bey Etli Ekmek (Konya). This popular restaurant is known for their etliekmek, which is a local version of Turkish pide or pizza. We showed up in the evening and were the only tourists in the place. We each got a meter-long pizza served on a piece of paper.
Actionable Marketing Ratings And Review Tips
- Monitor how your business and/or product rates online. Where it makes sense, figure out how to make your customers happy and/or improve your offering. For example, when you read the reviews of a product on Amazon, you’re sure to find complaints about the shipping or condition of the product.
- After selecting a hotel to book, check their website to see if they offer a better deal.
► What To Do When Your Competitors Are Next Door
Depending on the product, service or experience, prices across Turkey were either fixed (in Turkish Lira or Euros) or negotiated.
Transportation, hotels, restaurants and major global retail chains like Zara and H&M had fixed prices. You could choose to pay with a credit card in Turkish Lira, Euros or US Dollars. We always paid in Turkish Lira and let our banks do the foreign exchange since we used credit cards that didn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
By contrast, in bazaars and other markets, prices varied significantly especially for products targeted at tourists. This included carpets, jewelry, leather goods and other specialty items. We found that, if we didn’t like one shop, we could walk down the street and find a similar offering.
This makes competition fierce and merchants work hard to get you to walk into their store. One of the telltale signs that you’re able to negotiate is when a merchant invited you into their store and offers you a glass of tea. This exemplifies reciprocity straight out of Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. So if we weren’t interested, we turned down the offer and moved on.
As a shopper, you have to know how to assess the value of the merchandise. For example, when we looked at jewelry in Goreme my husband, who had made silver jewelry, wanted to buy a piece. Since it was expensive, we decided to sleep on it. During a tour the next day, he realized that the “handmade” necklace we had looked at,was actually machine-made. So we didn’t buy it.
When negotiating a better price, you need to be a serious shopper. You can’t respond with a price that’s significantly below the merchant’s original price or it’s considered an insult. You can start to leave the store without making a purchase and the merchant may then offer you a lower price or they may get angry with you.
We bought leather jackets and silver rings. In both cases, my husband pushed hard to get the merchant to reduce his price more than I thought possible. Each time we knew the value of the products we acquired and had set budgets for them.
Another way to reduce prices was to pay with Euros or US Dollars since it saved the merchant the credit card fee.
Actionable Marketing Pricing Tips
- Assess what your near competitors charge for similar products and services. Then determine how your offering stands out. This is your long-term competitive advantage. Without it, you compete on price which leads to lower profits. For example, the rings we purchased were designed by the shop owner’s wife and had real craftsmanship.
- Know your profit margin, where possible. This allows you to lower your prices if necessary.
I’m participating in Nanowrimo. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. During November, writers commit to writing 50,000 words within 30 days. (Don’t worry–you can set a lower word count.) To reach this goal, you need to write an average of 1,700 words per day. If you take off for Thanksgiving, you need to plan ahead and increase your daily word rate.
You’re allowed to develop your characters and plot before the competition starts on November 1st. This is important because you need to have prompts ready each day to reach the 50,000 word mark. Otherwise, you either let your characters create the story as you write or stop to outline the next set of plot points.
Also, it helps to be in writing shape. I added this point because I’ve discovered that like other forms of training, when I write every day, my output per day is greater.
As part of the Nanowrimo challenge, you keep writing without going back to edit each day’s work. If you need to fill in a piece of information, jot it down in brackets so it stands out. The goal is to complete the Zero Draft or what Ann Handley refers to as TFUD (The First Ugly Draft).
In addition to their information-packed site to help participants develop their characters and their plot, there are local and live events. Also, there are ways to connect with other writers who live near you or are writing similar types of content. Some of the activities take place on Discord.
As for AI, I’m only using it to gather facts and background related to my story since I’m using a real incident as one of the early plot twists.
Actionable Writing Tips
- Read widely. Since this summer when I participated in Camp Nanowrimo, I’ve increased the amount of reading I do. Most of it is fiction since I want to learn from other writers.
- Write regularly. Regardless of how good a writer you are, it improves by continuing to write every day. Don’t limit yourself to the content marketing or other business writing you do. Getting up every day and writing 3 pages by hand or computer as fast as you can will improve your writing.
Other writing references I recommend
- Save The Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need by Jessica Brody. Based on Blake Snyder’s books about writing screenplays, this book provides a great guide for developing characters and plot. In addition to her 15 Beat Sheet, Brody offers examples for each of 10 story genres.
- The Creative Penn. In addition to self-publishing an array of fictional titles, Joanna Penn shows you how to market your book without using a traditional publisher. Penn makes a 6-figure income by writing and publishing fiction. At the same time, she has created a website for other authors to learn how to publish their own books. She exemplifies Joe Pulizzi’s Content, Inc. model.
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