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This advertiser has fallen, and he can’t get up!

I had intended to make this blog specific to mature market issues; however, I was so saddened by seeing this advertiser throw away his priceless branding success, I decided to address a broader issue that knows no age boundary: diluting your positioning to the degree that you’ve thrown out your brand equity.

Many of us remember the Life Alert TV commercial. It’s been made fun of so many times that it’s almost iconic: a woman takes a tumble and says, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” She touches the Life Alert pendant around her neck and help is on the way—this is straight forward, highly effective advertising that afforded endless opportunities to be built upon and grow the brand.

Somewhere along the way, this advertiser decided that the 38 million people over 65 didn’t comprise a sufficiently large audience for him to target. Rather than honing his marketing efforts to more effectively reach this large base of core prospects, he decided that he could “emphasize” seniors but position himself as a one-stop shop for protection from fire, CO gas, intrusion, and any health emergency. He went from marketing a product specifically addressing the needs of a large, well-defined segment to being a direct competitor to all of the home protection services in the world, but with a weaker product than what many of them offer.

The result is a web home page that doesn’t speak effectively to anyone. The poor senior is left helpless in the corner of the page. The medical emergency workers are given far more prominence but engage in no meaningful action, distracting rather than adding to the message. Instead of a meaningful customer testimonial snippet with a link to more of the same, one is confronted with a very cold numerical testimonial “counter,” which adds to the cookie cutter effect of the home page. There is also no homepage link to an online request for information form. And just in case you haven’t gotten that this product is for everyone and no one in particular, the sub-navigation along the top provides links to every possible usage the marketer could consider. Finally, in his quest to leave no consumer unmarketed to, the main navigation has a 50+ link, further emphasizing that this product has nothing special to offer seniors. This is reminiscent of the expensive and disastrous 55+ campaign that AARP pursued quite a few years ago.

Please be aware that I’m not at all saying that this advertiser couldn’t utilize his technology to address the needs of other audiences. I am saying that the marketing effort would need to be separate and not mess with the positioning of the Life Alert product.

If this sounds like Marketing 101 to you, it is.


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