Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Best and Worst Ads: A Year the News Eclipsed Commercial Breaks
Queen Elizabeth II described 1992 as “an annus horribilis” for her and the royal family. This annus may have not been that horribilis for Madison Avenue, but it came pretty close.
The biggest problem was that most advertising was overtaken by events as the year wore on. The best-laid marketing plans of mice and men — or “Mad Men” with mice — proved no match for a historic presidential race and an enormous financial crisis.
That cut both ways for marketers: overshadowing the best ads, but also drawing attention away from the worst. So half the industry is ending the year cursing its poor timing while the other half is breathing a loud sigh of relief.
Here is a recap of some high and low points of 2008.
BURGER KING After the success of the audacious “Whopper Freakout” campaign, which began in 2007, Burger King Holdings kept the heat on its rivals in the fast-food category, with mixed results. Stunts like selling Flame, a meat-scented body spray for men, were viral-marketing hits; the scent and its Web site (firemeetsdesire.com) made more news than if a vegan like Paul McCartney had turned up in a commercial dressed as the chain’s King character.
But a campaign called “Whopper Virgins” — asking residents of places like Greenland and Romania to take part in taste tests, which pitted the Whopper against the Big Mac — was off-putting; the premise came off like cultural imperialism. Agency for both: Crispin Porter & Bogusky, part of MDC Partners.
COCA-COLA A Super Bowl commercial for the Coca-Cola Classic brand sold by the Coca-Cola Company was a warm and fuzzy winner in the spirit of Coke classics like “Hilltop” and “Mean Joe Greene.” Over the skies of Manhattan, two breakaway balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade battle for a balloon bottle of Coke, only to lose to that lovable loser, Charlie Brown. Agency: Wieden & Kennedy.
MICROSOFT After years of enduring a mocking campaign from Apple that turned the phrase “I’m a PC” into a punch line, the Microsoft Corporation struck back with ads that surprisingly appropriated the phrase and effectively repurposed it as a rallying cry.
Teaser spots that preceded the Microsoft counterattack, featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld as a talkative odd couple, were less successful. But they generated almost as much publicity as if the pair had plighted their troth as an actual couple. Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky.
MOTRIN Print and online ads for Motrin pain reliever, sold by a division of Johnson & Johnson, foolishly tried to be funny by comparing babies carried by mothers to fashion accessories. J.& J. wound up wearing tons of Pablum tossed at it by parents offended that their efforts to bond with their babies were being trivialized.
The complaints, many delivered in the form of angry “tweets” on Twitter, eventually seemed like overkill, but they killed the campaign. Agency: Taxi.
BARACK OBAMA One reason that so few people paid attention to advertising this year was a race for the White House filled with milestones, which ended with a precedent-setting president-to-be. One reason for that outcome was the deft use of media, new and traditional, by the Barack Obama campaign as well as by his supporters.
An example of an official ad that broke through was a 30-minute infomercial that the campaign ran on seven broadcast and cable networks on Oct. 29. The commercial, filmed like a documentary, managed to be slick and earnest at the same time, and finished with a live flourish with Mr. Obama at a rally in Florida. Agencies: GMMB, part of the Omnicom Group, and Murphy Putnam Media.
An example of an unofficial Obama ad that succeeded was a video clip, produced by the musician Will.i.am, called “Yes We Can,” which was viewed on YouTube and other video-sharing Web sites more than 20 million times.
Heated roofs were installed in 10 downtown bus shelters to bring to life the Stove Top promise of a warm feeling when eating a meal with stuffing as a side dish. The clever campaign was emblematic of what is known as experiential marketing, which has brought sounds and smells to bus shelters in addition to hot air. Agencies: Draft FCB, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies; JCDecaux North America, part of JCDecaux; and MediaVest, part of the Starcom MediaVest Group division of the Publicis Groupe.
TOYOTA A commercial to promote zero percent loans offered by Toyota Motor featured a version of a 1983 song, “Saved by Zero,” by the Fixx. The spot seemed innocuous enough, but incessant repetition got on America’s nerves to the point that consumers were threatening to fix Toyota’s wagon, station or otherwise.
There were even groups formed on Facebook to urge Toyota to pull the commercial. Still, all the publicity may have been beneficial at a time when people were thinking more about bailing out carmakers than buying cars; a headline in The Daily News, over an article about the Federal Reserve Board’s decision to slash interest rates, asked, “Are We Saved by Zero?” Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, part of Publicis.
VOLKSWAGEN A tongue-in-cheek campaign for the Routan minivan sold by Volkswagen of America, part of the German automaker Volkswagen, sought to spoof the image of minivans as mom-mobiles. A celebrity mother, Brooke Shields, was featured as a scold who accuses expectant parents of wanting children just so they can experience the “German engineering” of the Routan.Like the campaign for Motrin, the Routan campaign seemed tone-deaf. Maybe Americans consider motherhood no laughing matter. Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Sphere: Related Content
The coffee shop I hang out at has tea, now the mermaid is trying to save it's soul, or at least bottom line with more coffee alternatives. From Seattlepi.com:
Starbucks to introduce new tea-based drinks
Beverages billed as more healthful
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday that it will begin selling three new tea-based lattes and two nondairy tea drinks on Saturday as part of a push to offer customers choices that are more healthful.
The company said all but one of the new drinks contain less than 200 calories for a 12- ounce, or tall, serving.
The new lattes are made with steamed milk and Tazo full-leaf tea bags. The new varieties include the Black Tea Latte, the Vanilla Rooibos Latte and the London Fog latte. The company already sells chai tea and green tea lattes.
Starbucks also will introduce new Tazo Tea Infusions -- nondairy drinks made with Tazo black chai tea and fruit juice. The company will offer a Berry Chai Infusion, made with berry and black currant juices, and an Apple Chai Infusion, made with apple juice. That drink contains 250 calories, Starbucks said.
The latte drinks will be priced from $2.85 to $3.50 for a tall, depending on the location of the store. The infusions will sell for $2.40 to $2.70 for a tall.
"The same way we transformed American coffee culture, we want to deliver an exceptional tea experience for customers with our new Tazo Tea Lattes and Tea Infusions," Michelle Gass, executive vice president of marketing and category, said in a statement.
Starbucks said the move was part of its recent effort to offer customers some more-healthful options. The company introduced more whole-grain, low-fat breakfast offerings earlier this year, including an instant oatmeal that has been popular.
Starbucks shares closed up 33 cents at $9.36 in Nasdaq trading Tuesday.
From my Email:
After my prediction last week of increased attention on customer retention in 2009, I thought I’d provide some links to related articles on customer retention. Here you go:Sphere: Related Content
Sphere: Related Content
I had a General Manager a few years ago that started tossing the F-word around when she got stressed. Think that helped make things better? Think again.
One More Idea On Creating the Customer Driven Company
I want to add one more to the list of four ways to create the
customer driven environment. This is a good one. It is an
offshoot to the Golden Rule that says, "Do unto others as you
would have done unto you. The twist on this is, "Treat each
other the way you want your customers to be treated."
If you are constantly yelling at an employee, how can you expect
him/her to turn around and be nice to a customer? You need to
set an example for each other - especially if you are a manager.
I'm reminded of the manager that takes an employee into the back
and screams at him for the "lousy" job he is doing and ends the
conversation by screaming, "And the beatings won't stop until the
morale gets better!"
How can you possibly expect an employee to know how to treat a
customer when the boss can't exhibit the type of behavior needed
to do so? I've seen it happen in companies over and over again.
If you want employees to treat customers a certain way, start by
treating them the way you want the customers treated.
Copyright © 2009- Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations
Shep Hyken, CSP is a professional speaker and author who works
with organizations who want to build loyal relationships with
their customers and employees. For more information on Shep's
speaking programs, books and tapes contact (314)692-2200 or
Shepard Presentations, LLC
711 Old Ballas Road, Suite 215
St. Louis, MO 63141
Labels: sales training
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
According to a new report by FitchRatings, the company forecasts that the contraction in output among the major advanced economies will represent the steepest decline since the Second World War, with GDP in the U.S. to decline approximately 1.2%, while inflation is forecast to be 2.7%.
Regarding the advertising environment, the Fitch media team is more cautious than most major advertising forecasts, none of which currently predict advertising to be nearly as weak as 2001.
Fitch's cautious view about advertising is, in part, supported by these underlying conditions:
- The 2001 ad downturn was concentrated in national advertising, while the 2008-2010 downturn will include both local and national components. Political and Olympic spending masked the local market weakness in 2008, but the report says the absence of these revenue sources in 2009 will expose the depth of this weakness.
- This weakness in local markets will be compounded by national advertising pressures due to the impact of the credit market events that hit while many large national advertisers were planning their 2009 ad spending budgets, forcing many companies to emphasize capital preservation and liquidity, not just earnings growth.
- With advertising being one of the most easily scalable fixed costs, some major advertisers could plan to pull back on national campaigns considerably until there is more visibility in the market.
Five of the top 10 advertising categories, or over 40% of the ad mix (according to Advertising Age), will be under meaningful pressure next year, says the report:
- No.1 Retail (12% of total)
- No.2 Automotive (12%)
- No.5 Financial Services (6%)
- No.6 General Services (6%)
- No.9 Airlines, Hotels and Car Rentals (4%)
And, notes the report, advertising inventory has proliferated (from online and emerging mediums as well as traditional ones) since previous downturns. Media companies are likely to compete more heavily on price in this downturn to fill the vast supply of ad space available.
Advertisers have many more options in the current environment than at any other time for maintaining a presence with consumers while trimming their budgets and scaling back high Cost Per Thousand (CPM) advertising campaigns, says the report. Even healthy advertisers are likely to use this increased bargaining power to command better price terms and concessions from media companies.
The study offers trends and outlooks for several advertising subsectors in the report, as estimated by Fitch:
Newspaper industry revenue growth will be negative for the foreseeable future as both ad pricing and linage will be under pressure within each of the four main components of newspaper companies' revenue streams. Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010. This has already happened in several cities and only those that can reinvent their business model to produce a balanced balance sheet will survive.
Few markets will be able to support more than two directories and most markets will eventually only be able to support one book. Another year of accelerated declines in yellowpages advertising could significantly pressure the intermediate-term solvency of the two pure-play incumbent directories companies. This was once a growing industry but I believe there is nothing that can salvage it. It will die a slow death, 10 to 15 years at the most. It is a generational preference to online vs. a phone book coupled with the cost of advertising that will kill it off.
Radio has no unionized workforces, and convert a higher percentage of EBITDA to free cash flow giving them more cushion to endure the secular challenges. Listenership is likely to continue to fall, though available inventory should remain relatively stable, and pricing could be up on some advertisers. Internet streaming provides additional day parts to sell. The continued roll-out of factory-installed high definition (HD) radio into automobiles could provide upside to listenership.
This is my business. Between 80 to 90% of Americans listen to an FM or AM radio station weekly. Most of them listen daily. HD Radio is not the answer. Local and meaningful programming will keep the medium alive. The real challenge is, as it has always been, finding the sales staff that know how to sell so it is a win-win-win situation for the radio station-advertisiers-listeners.
Fitch expects the larger players to rationalize available print advertising inventory through consolidation and closing down titles. Several categories that used to have multiple titles will likely have advertising bases that can support only one major title. With limited catalysts for growth in the core print product, magazine publishers have become more proactive online. I'm not sure about this one. Overall readership is down due to the internet, but as long as those that survive have a business plan that makes money, they should be okay.
Fitch believes the potential negative effects of increased inventory from digital roll-outs should be tempered by increasing appeal to national advertisers, as well as decreases in price per unit. Cost structures should benefit from digital billboards, as displays can be centrally managed without physical deployment of work crews. Low CPMs and better networked national sales pitches, position outdoor advertising companies to endure the downturn and rebound with the economy. This is one advertising medium that should always work as long as the creative is on target.
Cable industry ad inventory has grown significantly over the past several years, causing a deceleration of the decades-long increase in ad dollars, but cable continues to be a targeted medium, at a lower price relative to broadcast and with significant reach. Fitch expects it to continue to gain share from broadcast. Fitch expects the cable networks to continue to embrace VOD and digital strategies, which could provide some modest upside to revenue growth. I've been told that over 80% of our city is wired. As long as the cable sales staff can create campaigns that make sense for the advertiser and not just line their own pockets, this media should continue to grow.
Online could be negatively affected by advertisers scaling back experimental expenditures in favor of more proven, performance-based mediums. Search is likely to be more healthy than display. Remnant advertising is likely to be hit by a shakeout in the ad network space. While CPM growth is likely to moderate and could be under pressure, online video and social networking are likely to support growth. Regulatory issues associated with privacy could be a factor as firms attempt to implement more behavioral targeting. Over the longer term, online advertising is expected to rebound from economic weakness and continue to capture share from traditional outlets. This is the great unknown. Banner Ads, Text Ads, Web Buttons & Links, Social Media and what will be next? The big mistake I see is that people do not understand the motivational factors that prompt action to advertising and marketing, and those people are looking for the technology to be the answer. Money will be spent in 2009 and beyond as all of us try and apply advertising and marketing principles to this media platform we call the internet.
For more detailed information within the original report, please visit here.Sphere: Related Content
Sphere: Related Content
We were talking about this in our morning sales meeting today. The slow down in our economy is affecting everyone. This is going to be a year of weeding out the week, or pruning as they say. Nearly every business sector will have survivors, but instead of 10 choices, consumers may only have 5, etc.
This came in my email today:
Retailers Beware: The Worst is Yet to Come
TNS Retail Forward forecasts retail sales will remain weak through 2009 and not experience a clear rebound until 2010.
For 2009, sales growth for the year (excluding automobiles and gasoline) is forecast to approach 2 percent growth compared with the 2.3 percent average growth for 2008 through November, based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
TNS Retail Forward anticipates a rebound to occur in 2010 and gain momentum through 2013, when annual increases in sales will again approach the 5 percent average growth rate of the past 10 years. Adjusting for inflation, however, growth is forecast to remain below average going forward.
"Although inflation-adjusted growth in core retail sales should rebound toward 4 percent, this will represent a decline from the 5 percent pace averaged during the 10 years prior to 2008," comments Frank Badillo, Senior Economist for TNS Retail Forward. "The difference represents the demand-dampening effect of inflation," he adds.
Inflation is forecast to ease from its highs of early 2008, but price pressures are expected to resume and persist in categories such as fuel and food despite some letup in the short term.
The housing and financial crises will exact the deepest toll on the homegoods sector through 2009. However, in terms of average growth over the forecast period, softgoods retailers will register the slowest pace of growth among the four broad retail sectors -- food, drug, mass; homegoods; softgoods and non-store.
TNS Retail Forward's Economic Forecast report series, published in the Retail Forward Intelligence System™ last month, forecasts retail sales for key lines of trade and product categories.
Food Drug Mass (FDM) Channels: The FDM channels will be the least affected by the dramatic letup in retail sales growth during 2008 and 2009. However, nominal sales growth for the combined FDM channels -- convenience stores, discount department stores, drug stores, food service, small-format value retailers, supercenters, supermarkets and warehouse clubs -- is forecast to slow to a 4.6 percent average annual rate from 2008 to 2013, a decline of 0.7 percentage points from the prior five-year period. "Among the FDM channels, supercenters and warehouse clubs are expected to generate the strongest sales growth, while discount department stores and supermarkets will be the weakest performers," states Badillo.
Homegoods Channels: Homegoods channels will experience the strongest decline in sales in 2009. However, TNS Retail Forward forecasts sales growth for the combined homegoods channels -- appliance stores, book stores, building materials, hardware and garden supply stores, consumer electronics stores, furniture stores, home furnishings stores, office supply stores and sporting goods stores -- will begin to rebound in 2010. "Sporting goods and consumer electronics stores boast the best growth prospects through 2013," Badillo comments.
Softgoods Channels: Softgoods retailers will register the slowest pace of growth among the four broad retail sectors. "The only good news for the softgoods sector -- i.e., apparel and accessory stores, shoe stores, and conventional and national department stores -- is that 2008 is nearly over, ending the worst year of the five-year forecast period," Badillo remarks. Although a decline in sales is forecast for 2009, the sector is expected to mount a strong recovery in 2010 before improving sales growth in each of the next three years. "Although apparel and accessory retailers have the strongest growth prospects, their pace of sales growth will continue to lag that of supercenters, warehouse clubs, and e-commerce and non-store retailer sales, all of which compete for consumer spending on softgoods categories," Badillo adds.
(Source: TNS Retail Forward, 12/18/08)
You are in charge of your website,
You are trying to figure out how to improve your online exposure,
You simply like looking at some of this tech/research stuff;
Then you may be interested in clicking on the 50 links in this article, originally posted at blog.kissmetrics.com.
50 Resources for Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics
November 20 / 20 Comments
Google Analytics is a very useful free tool for tracking site statistics. For most users, however, it never becomes more than just a pretty interface with intersting graphs. The resources below will help anyone, from the beginner to those who have been using Google Analytics for some time, learn how to get the most out of this great tool.
The following list of links will help you get started with Google Analytics from setup to understanding what data is being presented by Google Analytics.
- How to Use Google Analytics for Beginners - Mahalo’s how-to guide for beginners.
- A beginner’s guide to Google Analytics, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 - A series of detailed posts walking you through Google Analytics from setup to understanding what data is being presented.
- Getting to Know Your Google Analytics Dashboard - The title says it all! This is a brief post with one goal: to introduce you to the Google Analytics dashboard.
- Google Analytics for Beginners: How to Make the Most of Your Traffic Reports - This guide doesn’t cover setup, but it does a great job of helping you to better understand the data being presented.
- Google Analytics Video Tutorial 1: Setup - A video presentation that walks you through Google Analytics setup.
- Google Analytics Video Tutorial 2: Essential Stats - A video presentation that introduces you to some of the most important data being presented in Google Analytics.
Tips & Tricks
If you’re already fairly familiar with Google Analytics and you’re ready to dig deeper and learn more about how to make use of the information that is available to you with Google Analytics, this list of tips & tricks is for you.
- Google Analytics Tips for SEO - This posts looks at how to use some of Googles new features for Search Engine Optimization.
- 8 Useful Google Analytics Tips - This is a great list of tips for someone who has been using Google Analytics and is ready to take it to the next level and/or overcome some of its shortcomings.
- Web Analytics Demystified - While this post isn’t about Google Analytics specifically, it is a great primer on understanding how to use the data presented by Google Analytics and it uses examples and screenshots from Google Analytics for many of the descriptions.
- You Cut Quite a Profile - A guest post on the Google Analytics Blog about how to set up multiple profiles in order to filter down certain segments of your data.
- 5 tips for using Google Analytics - A quick set of tips for getting more out of Google Analytics.
- 3 Quick Tips to Tag and Track with Google Analytics - A great post on how to segment, track, and tag site visitors.
- Google Analytics Tagging Demystified - A how-to post on the use of tagging in Google Analytics.
- 5 tips for getting the most out of Google Analytics - Another quick set of tips for getting more out Google Analytics.
- Get the most out of your Google Analytics - This post gives you an overall idea of what Google Analytics can tell you by asking some simple questions and showing you how Google Analytics can help you answer them.
- Getting More out of Google Analytics Goals - A post on the importance of setting up goals in Google Analytics and how to do it.
- Goal Setting Example with Google Analytics - Another post on setting goals in Google Analytics.
- Getting the most out of Search Log Analysis and Google Analytics - A post that explains what “Search analytics”, search log analysis and clickstream analysis are and why they are so important.
- How to analyze results in Google Analytics - As the title suggest this post looks at how to analyze the data that Google Analytics provides.
- Top Tips for Using Google Analytics - Another quick set of tips for getting more out of Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics Tutorials: All Together - A list of several video tutorials that include some of the more advanced features of Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics Tip: Learn How They Found That 1 Page - This post will tell you how to find out how visitors found a single page on your site, which can be useful for figuring out why traffic on your site may have spiked on a certain day, for example.
- Install Google Analytics Site Search In 5 Steps - This post shows you how to set up the Site Search feature in Google Analytics, which will allow you to analyze your internal search phrases as opposed to those from search engines.
- Google Analytics Site Search: Working with the Data - A follow up to the above post that explains the data from your internal site searches.
- Google Analytics Videos on YouTube - A list of official Google Analytics videos that are on YouTube from the Google Analytics Blog.
- Advanced Use of Google Analytics and the new interface - A great post about some of the more advanced uses of Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics Tutorial Part 2 - A follow up to the above post that answers questions posed to the author.
- Tracking social networks with Google Analytics using filters - This post shows you how to set up a filter that will allow you to look at visits from various social networks.
- The Huge Collection of Google Analytics Tips - A long list of Google Analytics tips and tricks.
- Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part One) - This is the first in a series of posts about advanced uses of Google Analytics. This post covers how to setup and define goals.
- Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Two) - This second post shows you how to set up funnels in Google Analytics.
- Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Three) - This third post explains how to track “things that don’t have a distinct page view associated with them.”
Plugins, Hacks & Additions
Want to learn how to get even more out of and extend Google Analytics by extending it with third party plugins, additions and hacks? This list of links is for you.
- The Ultimate Google Analytics Plugins, Hacks and Tips Collection - A long list of links and descriptions regarding ways you can get more out of Google Analytics.
- Using MooTools to Instruct Google Analytics to Track Outbound Links - Shows you how to use MooTools to track clicks on links to other sites from your site.
- Use jQuery with Google Analytics to Track Clicks on Outgoing Links From Your Site - Shows you how to use jQuery to track clicks on links to other sites from your site.
- 4 Tools to Get More from your Google Analytics - A list of 4 scripts that can be used to enhance Google Analytics using the GreaseMonkey Firefox extension.
- How to track downloads in Google Analytics automatically - A post on how to track links to documents and outbound links.
- Google Analytics on iPhone - Shows you how to get your Google Analytics data to display on your iPhone using an web-based application in development by a German developer named Sergej Mueller.
- 7 Google Analytics Plug Ins & Reports You Probably Didn’t Know About - Links to scripts, plugins and reports gleaned from a Google event that the author attended.
- Google Analytics for WordPress - A plugin for adding Google Analytics to your WordPress blog.
New & Advanced Features
In October 2008 Google started to release enterprise-class features to Google Analytics. Some of these features include Advanced Segmentation, Custom Reports and Motion Charts. In November 2008 Google also announced a simplified solution for tracking Flash content. The links below will introduce you to these features and show you how you can use them.
- More Enterprise-Class Features Added To Google Analytics - A post from the Google Analytics Blog that introduces the enterprise-class features that were added to Google Analytics in October 2008.
- Google Analytics Releases Advanced Segmentation: Now Be A Ninja! - A very detailed post on how to use the new Advanced Segmentation features in Google Analytics.
- Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation: The Allegory of the Cave - Describes the new Advanced Segmentation features through Socrates The Allegory of the Cave.
- A deeper look at Advanced Segmentation - Another detailed post about the new Advanced Segmentation features directly from the Google Analytics Blog.
- The new features are now available in your account! Let’s take a deeper look, starting with Motion Charts - The Google Analytics Blog takes a detailed look at the new Motion Charts feature in Google Analytics.
- Motion Charts in Google Analytics - A video presentation demonstrating the new Motion Charts feature.
- Google Analytics Benchmarking: Tutorial, and Things that Make You Go Hmmmmm… - A humorous, yet very useful post on how to set up and use Google Analytics Benchmarking feature.
- Make a date with data in Google Analytics - While not yet fully implemented, Google has integrated Google AdSense data into Google Analytics and this post from the Google AdSense Blog describes this new feature.
- Google AdSense Reports to Appear in Google Analytics - A series of screenshots showing Google AdSense data that has been integrated into Google Analytics. This was posted when there was still some speculation around Google releasing this feature, but the screenshots show you what this new feature looks like.
- Want to track Adobe Flash? Now you can! - Here is the announcement from the Google Analytics Blog regarding the simplified solution for tracking Flash content that they released in November 2008.
That is the question many are contemplating as we plunge into 2009.
I'll give you two sides to mull over that I read this week.
First, the story from ClickZ:
Despite Debate, Brands Find Value on TwitterBy Kate Kaye, ClickZ
It's been called a tech-geek fad, a business flop-to-be, and a waste of time for most marketers, but the fact is big name brands are on Twitter. While detractors argue brands don't even belong on the quick messaging platform, they are there -- from Ford to Dunkin' Donuts to Whole Foods. They're engaging in experiments with customer service, branding, and corporate culture-building in the decidedly public forum.
Some see Twitter as an extension of the marketing department; others view it as a customer service tool, and some say it's best for corporate communications.
Scott Monty tackles it from the communications side. Before joining Ford Motor Company in July as its global digital and multimedia communications manager -- a position the automaker created for him -- he had a decent following through his personal account on Twitter. "I wanted to get down and personal with people," said Monty, who believes Twitter enables that more so than Facebook, MySpace, or blogs. Getting personal made sense for Ford, which, according to Monty, hopes to "humanize the brand."
Eventually, he decided to maintain his personal account and use it as a communication tool in association with his new role at Ford, and he branded the account as such. "I knew there would have to be a combination of personal and corporate presence," he said.
But he also needed to harness the stray Twitter accounts that had been created by Ford divisions, create new ones, and apply some sort of structure and dedicated purpose to them. Currently, the firm has about six accounts, including FordDriveOne, the main corporate account; FordDriveGreen, an account focused on environmental technologies; and FordCustService for, well, customer service.
Monty currently handles all the accounts, but plans to hand them over to the appropriate teams once they're "warmed up," he said. "If we hadn't had the current financial crisis going on I would have trained and staffed up for the auto shows." The North American International Auto Show 2009 will be held in Detroit in January, followed by the Washington Auto Show in February.
"There's something so gratifying about being able to connect in real-time and in a real way," said a Dunkin' Donuts spokesperson regarding the chain's use of Twitter. "We went into this without any set expectations other than to start a conversation and see if people would participate." The firm has over 3,000 followers on Twitter.
According to a new report from HubSpot, at least 5,000 new accounts are created on Twitter each day. Thirty-five percent have 10 or fewer followers. In 2008, several brands established a Twitter presence, including H&R Block, Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue, Dell, and Home Depot.
"[D]o you sell bulk coffee? we NEED something better at work," wrote a Twitter user to "Dunkin' Dave," whose response was quick and casual. Linking to a company Web site page dedicated to the "Regular Refills" coffee delivery program, he responded, "DD Coffee Subscription?" As a member of the company's corporate communications department, Dunkin' Dave tweets "on the behalf of the DD mothership."
Many of his posts, or "tweets" are not responses to questions, though. Rather, they're brief notes about things like the weather outside his office, or appearances at new store locations. "St. Augustine, FL! Grand Opening 12/13 9a-3p 7440 US 1 N. Appearances by frmr NFL All-Pro Marco Coleman and NY Mets' Daniel Murphy," announced a recent tweet.
Customer Service and Multi-Purpose Twittering
While Ford and Dunkin' have some interaction with other Twitter users, Comcast's experience tends to be much more conversational. "It's key to really be a two-way dialogue and from a service perspective it's the best way to approach that," said Frank Eliason, director of digital care for Comcast, who thinks corporate communications people tend to be too focused on getting out a particular message to serve as Twitter brand reps.
Eliason has made a name for ComcastCares, the Twitter account he uses to interact with Comcast customers, as part of the firm's customer service department. He also uses social spaces like blogs and online forums to seek out people with customer service issues he can respond to either through digital communication, or by simply picking up the phone and calling them. Comcast has three Twitter accounts run by Eliason and two other digital care staffers.
Though Eliason clearly sees Comcast's usage of Twitter from a customer service perspective, it may have a branding effect, too. "Basically [Comcast is] improving the perception of the brand," suggested Filiberto Selvas, recently hired as strategy director and social media discipline lead at Razorfish. "If you agree with a concept that brand is what the consumer perceives, then Twitter is a brand tool," added his colleague, Strategy Director Andrea Harrison. The digital agency sees Twitter as one of many tools for what it calls, "social influence marketing."
Other Twittering brands have evolved their accounts for use as forums for customer service, message dissemination, and branding. "Christmas is in two days! Check out this last minute Christmas help round-up from our very own Paige," said a recent tweet from WholeFoods. The company, which has nearly 12,000 followers, also responded last week to a complaint: "I'm not sure what this @wholefoods 'all-purpose baking flour' is, but I do know it lead s to lumpy cookies," lamented a Twitterer. The company apologized, adding, "you can def. return it for a refund!"
The 140-character limit for all Twitter posts lends to the casual quality of brand interactions on the platform.
Brand-building and customer service are only tertiary Twitter purposes for online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos. The firm's CEO Tony Hsieh has been using the platform since March 2007, and has become somewhat of a celebrity Twitterer, with over 26,000 followers. "After using it with just my close friends for about a year, I realized how much Twitter had allowed me to form more personal connections with everyone, so we decided to introduce it to Zappos as a way of growing our company culture. We've found that it's been great for building more personal connections with both employees and customers," Hsieh told ClickZ News.
The majority of his posts are either silly musings ("Tried to make coffee. Forgot to put the actual coffee in the maker so wound up w/ just a cup of hot water. I think I'll need a double now.") or, more often, status reports: "Dinner with @kevinrose at Okada at the Wynn in Vegas. He was wearing a tshirt so they made him put on a jacket."
The company has gone so far as offering Twitter classes to employees. "Employees aren't forced to use it, but when there are so many Zappos employees using it, many employees just gravitate naturally to it," noted Hsieh. Over 400 of the firm's staff have Twitter accounts.
Personality and Dedication Are Key
While some brands and their representatives use Twitter for some strategic purpose, as part of a broader social media program, Hsieh bristles at the concept. "Personally, I hate the term 'social media.' "And I hate the term 'social media initiatives' even more. It's like asking companies what their telephone initiative is." He continued, "It's not about marketing. It's about building relationships, and it's about being real and transparent."
The brands on Twitter that seem to be most successful tend to recognize there needs to be a casual back-and-forth with other users, which can't be bogged down by legal concerns or rigid PR messages. "It's not marketing communications..It's not a direct mail piece; it's not a one-way conversation," said Razorfish's Harrison, who believes product managers often make the best Twitter reps for brands because they are knowledgeable and passionate about the things they help develop.
"If our tweets went through a multi-layered approval process, the authenticity would be lost," said the Dunkin' Donuts spokesperson.
Overall, despite debate over whether Twitter is a marketing-, customer service-, or PR-play, there is some consensus regarding the need to take a personal approach. "Nobody wants to have a conversation with a car unless it's Knight Rider," said Ford's Monty, who said he "[doesn't necessarily draw the line at all" between the Ford brand and himself when on Twitter. "I hope I am able to imbue some kind of personality through these accounts."
"I intended for the [ComcastCares account] to be used by multiple people, but I realized very quickly it had to be personal," said Eliason.
Another important element: dedication. '"To become part of your consumer's social graph you need to dedicate resources to keeping it up," stressed Harrison. If brands are not attentive, she continued, "It actually speaks louder about your disinterest in social media than if you'd never started in the first place."
Then there's this piece from Craig Garber:
Here's a press release I'm sending out today. Let's see what happens with it. If you find it thought-provoking, pass it around to as many people as you possibly can. Tweet the hell out of it, Share it on facebook, and shout it from the rafters.
Oh, and most important, let me know what you think. Do you agree with it or do you disagree?
Unconventional Author And Marketing Guru Predicts The Death Of Twitter In 2009
Author, copywriter, and direct-response marketing consultant Craig Garber, from kingofcopy.com, doesn’t claim to be a new media expert - but he is an expert at selling, and at pushing prospects’ emotional buy-buttons. And in a controversial move, Garber is predicting the death of the outrageously popular microblogging service, Twitter, in 2009.
According to Garber, here’s why Twitter is a waste of any serious marketer’s time:
- Content - “If ‘content is king,’ as even entry-level marketers know, then Twitter’s limit of 140 characters doesn’t even get you started. It’s not possible to present an emotionally compelling story in just one or two sentences,” Garber notes.
- Rapport - Twitter doesn’t facilitate the bonding that’s needed to stand out among all the buying options in today’s marketplace. “Rapport comes from getting to know someone on a more intimate level than ‘Who likes chicken?’ or ‘I am the Lord of cats,’ and all the other inane comments that make up the lion’s share of communication on Twitter,” Garber argues.
- Trust - Effective marketing happens when rapport develops into relationships. “With skepticism at an all-time high, it’s critical to focus on credibility and believability,” says Garber. “This requires sharing meaningful information and having dialogue over time. The trivialities shared on Twitter do not build into anything else.”
“I’ve never been afraid to buck trends, because being unconventional is what makes you money,” adds Garber, whose forthcoming book “Small List, Big Profits” reveals the 21 proven direct-marketing strategies he used to make over $578,000 from a small email list of less than 5,000 people. “It’s time someone spoke up and proclaimed that Emperor Twitter is wearing no clothes.”
To receive a free copy of a 54-minute audio interview with Craig
called “How to Be the Bright Ray of Sunshine Your Prospects are Desperately Searching For,” which explains how to form genuine relationships with prospective customers by solving their problems, simply go to kingofcopy.com/notwitter
# # #
If you want to download a pdf of this release, simply go here.
Look, I have nothing against Twitter, and the guys who created it are very sharp and perhaps on to something really huge.
But listening to the endless chatter of "Crunchy or creamy?" "Chocolate or vanilla?" "What scent do I buy my wife?" "What's my hubby's favorite color golf ball?"
No one gives a ----! Most of Twitter is full of noise. How 'bout a filter or something like that? Preferably a "dummy" filter, if possible. Or a "people who love to hear themselves think out loud" filter. THAT would be great, no?
And remember, just because someone needs therapy, that shouldn't be everyone else's cross to bear.
Talk to you later, Craig Garber
*** Sphere: Related Content
Check out this research. Story is from MarketingCharts.com (CLICK ON THE CHARTS TO MAKE THEM BIGGER)
Web Overtakes All Media Except TV as News Source
The internet has surpassed all other media except TV as Americans’ main source for national and international news and now rivals TV as the top news outlet for young people, according to research from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Some 40% of Americans say they currently get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007, the study finds. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.
For people under age 30, the internet is now tied with TV as the main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten young Americans (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online, while an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).
The percentage of people younger than 30 citing television as a main news source has declined from 68% in September 2007 to 59% currently. This mirrors a trend seen earlier this year in campaign news consumption, Pew said.
Regarding TV channel selection, the study finds there has been little change in the individual TV news outlets that people rely on for national and international news. Nearly a quarter of the public (23%) says they get most of their news from CNN, while 17% cite Fox News; smaller shares mention other cable and broadcast outlets.
Top News Stories of 2008
While the 2008 presidential campaign attracted high levels of public attention, the economy was the top story of the year in terms of news interest, according to data from Pew’s Weekly News Interest Index. In late September, as the nation’s financial crisis deepened, 70% said they were following news about the economy very closely. This attention ranks among the highest levels of news interest for any story in the past two decades.
News about gas prices - both rising and falling - also attracted considerable public attention. In early June, two-thirds of Americans (66%) said they were tracking news about the rising price of gasoline very closely. The falling price of gas drew broad interest as well (53% followed it very closely in October).
The congressional debate over legislation to stabilize financial markets also drew extensive interest. In early October, just after President Bush signed the financial rescue measure, 62% followed this story very closely.
Interest in election news remained at historically high levels throughout the lengthy campaign. Interest in the general election peaked in mid-October (at 61%), but approached that level at other points in the campaign. Public interest in the primary campaigns also was higher than during previous primary contests. In mid-February, 44% said they were following news about the candidates for the presidential election very closely.
The war in Iraq was not among this year’s 15 most closely followed news stories, Pew reports. In mid-July, a third of Americans (33%) said they were following news about the current situation and events in Iraq, the highest percentage measured this year. In 2007, interest in news about the war reached 40% in early January, just before President Bush announced his troop surge; the war in Iraq was the sixth-ranked story last year.
In Pew’s final Weekly News Interest Index for 2008, conducted Dec. 15-21, nearly four-in-ten Americans (37%) say they followed news about the Bush administration’s plan to provide emergency loans to US automakers. That is in line with previous measures of public interest in the debate over whether to aid the struggling automakers.
During the same period, three-in-ten (30%) paid very close attention to news about Wall Street investor Bernard Madoff, who allegedly cheated people out of billions of dollars. Nearly as many (28%) tracked news about an Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at President Bush very closely, and 25% said they followed news about slumping retail sales during the holiday season very closely.
About the research: The internet/TV news source survey was conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,489 adults. The research about the top news stories of 2008 is based on Pew’s News Coverage Index, which monitors the news reported by major newspaper, television, radio and online news outlets on an ongoing basis.Sphere: Related Content
Sphere: Related Content
From a recent email:
Know Your "Peak" Time
Most salespeople have a 2-4-hour block of time when they operate at peak efficiency.
Their concentration is keen, their creative powers are acute, and their ability to do more than one thing at a time is sharper.
Try to pinpoint your "peak" time and schedule your most important activities within this block of time.
Source: Adapted from The New Science of Selling and Persuasion, by William T. Brooks
Labels: sales training