Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dragon Breath

Don't know it is sells beer, but it's as much fun to watch as the bud-wise-her frogs:

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Shifting Advertising Dollars

Here's a report card comparing last year with 2006:

2007 Ad Spend By Media

Media Category 2006
vs. '07
Internet 18.9 %
National Magazines 7.6 %
Outdoor 7.2 %
Nat'l Sunday
4.9 %
National Cable TV 2.2 %
Language TV
1.5 %
Network TV -1.5 %
Local Magazines -1.7 %
Spot Radio -2.0 %
Spot TV Markets
-2.6 %
Network Radio -3.9 %
B-to-B Magazines -4.0 %
Local Sunday
-4.9 %
Spot TV Markets
-5.1 %
Local Newspaper -7.5 %
Nat'l Newspaper -7.7 %
Total Ad Spend 0.6 %

Source: Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Syndicated TV and FSI Coupons were excluded due to methodology changes. Newspaper reflects display ads only.

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Where's Wendy?

Dave Thomas, the late founder of the Wendy's hamburger chain had a special connection to Fort Wayne, Indiana, my home town. Dave worked at the Hobby House Ranch restaurant which used to sit at the corner of North Anthony and Crescent in Fort Wayne.

The Hobby House was one of the original restaurants serving Kentucky Fried Chicken. (This was years before Kentucky Fried Chicken opened their own restaurants). One of the first Wendy's franchise's in our town, opened up across the street from where Dave Thomas got his start in the food business, and today, they are at the exact same site as the old Hobby House.

It's hard to believe that Wendy's has been around this town of ours for more than 30 years!

From Wikipedia, "At the age of 15, Thomas got a job as a busboy at a Hobby House restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When his family decided to move once again, he refused, dropping out of high school at age 15 to work full time. He moved in with the family that owned the restaurant and focused on ways to promote it. It was at the Hobby House that he met a waitress named Lorraine who would become his wife in 1956."

So it with a bit of sadness that I write about the struggles that Wendy's are going through. As I read the following article from Mediapost, and compare what Wendy's is doing compared to what McDonald's is doing, I see a copy-cat mentality. Wendy's has lost their uniqueness. (Did you know, Wendy's was the first to have a drive through window?) McDonald's can afford to add items to enhance their menu. Wendy's needs to focus on what made them the number 3 burger chain.

Wendy's Blames Snow, Easter For Poor Q1 Performance
by Nina M. Lentini, Friday, Apr 4, 2008 5:00 AM ET
WITH AN APPARENT STRAIGHT FACE, Wendy's on Thursday reported that its first-quarter revenue down was down because of snow and the Easter holiday.

The Dublin, Ohio-based chain, which has been looking for a buyer, said sales fell for the second quarter in a row. Revenue ended March 30 dropped 1.6% at company stores and 0.1% at franchise outlets open at least 15 months.

"Results were impacted by a calendar shift in 2008 with the Easter holiday," Wendy's said in a press release. "First-quarter sales also were impacted by the severe winter weather in March in the Midwest and North." Asked one analyst rhetorically: "It doesn't snow at McDonald's or Burger King?"

The shift of Easter to the first quarter this year from the second quarter in 2007 reduced company-owned store sales by 0.3 percentage point, Wendy's said.

In the year-earlier quarter, sales at company-owned stores rose 3.8% and gained 3.7% at franchise shops.

In January, Wendy's had said its review of a possible sale was in the final stages. That month, the company began promoting its Stack Attack double cheeseburgers, focusing on its value at 99 cents. During the Lenten season, Wendy's came out with a new premium fish sandwich. Recently, it introduced a spicy extension of its Baconator.

The company launched in February its new advertising campaign--Waaaay Better"--as an authentic voice for the brand.

During April and May, Wendy's is offering a Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad. And on Thursday, it announced the introduction of its $1.49 Chicken Go Wraps in Grilled, Spicy and Homestyle varieties.

Nina M. Lentini edits Marketing Daily. Email her at

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Who's Reading the News?

My wife has a basket in our living room of magazines that she is saving for one reason or another.
I have a stack of business papers and magazines in my office. Will either of us ever read our magazine collections cover to cover? It's doubtful.

Recently I wrote about the future of the magazine business and other advertising mediums. You can click here to read it if you missed it.

The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Dana has a story about the evolution of news magazines:

What's Next for Newsmagazines?
The weekly newsmagazines have been declared dinosaurs as far back as the late 1980s. But now that 111 employees at Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek have taken buyouts, including many longtime editors, it's clear that their cultures are finally being blown up and reinvented. And some say that's not such a bad thing. more »

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One in a Million

First, read this to understand what two words should be used, when deciding how to brand yourself.

Then take a look at this:

How to Stand Out When Your Product Doesn't

When your product or service is loaded with proprietary extras, it isn't difficult to differentiate yourself from the company down the street. But how do you stand out if your product shares many features and benefits with competing products? Jonathan Krantz has a three-step solution:

Personalize: Says Krantz, "Direct quotes, testimonials, day-in-the-life narratives, and even brief biographies can introduce the sympathetic element that allows prospects to project themselves into the experience you provide." Blending various elements can also be highly effective. Consider customer profiles, for instance, that mix laudatory third-person biographies with direct quotes.

Illustrate: Bullet points won't do the job if they're the same bullet points your competitor uses. Instead, use evocative terms. As an example, Krantz cites Harry & David pears that are "so big and juicy, you need to eat them with a spoon."

Demonstrate: Rather than focusing on the specifics of your product or service, show how your company delivers on its promises. This is where your Web site becomes a critical tool: Offer anything from white papers and streaming videos to employee profiles and helpful tips. In other words, sell clients on the solidity of your company.

The Po!nt: "When ordinary features-and-benefits-based communications fail to distinguish your business from the pack," says Krantz, "it may be time to take your messages somewhere else—into the heart of the customer experience."

Source: MarketingProfs. Premium members can access the article here. Not a Premium member? Maybe this is a good day to become one.

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Gotta Eat

Casual Food Franchises are aimed at that middle of the road, middle class crowd. These are the folks that are most likely to be hit by the economic downtown. Read more:

Why Many Casual Dining Chains Are Hurting

A recent study by foodservice consultants Technomic sheds new light on the difficulties facing many casual dining chain restaurants and how they can improve results.

The research found that these restaurants face subtle and complex challenges that extend beyond the current economic climate, which has cut into consumers' discretionary spending. In fact, it could be argued that casual dining chains have become victims of their own success.

"For one, many chains have overbuilt units, with expansion rates averaging 5 percent over the past four years even as sales growth was slowing," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "Restaurant supply now exceeds consumer demand. On top of that, many consumers tell us that traditional casual dining chains lack differentiation, that 'they all look alike'."

Consumers may be cutting back on spending -- and visits to casual dining restaurants -- but where are they eating instead? At dinner time, the most important daypart for casual dining chains, 85 percent of surveyed consumers agreed that they are eating at home more often, either cooking, or more likely, sourcing prepared meal solutions from various food retailers. But other options are also popular -- independent and fast-food restaurants are being used as substitutes for casual dining by over one-third of respondents.

In spite of the challenges facing the casual dining segment, some chains remain successful and outperform their competitors, largely through differentiation and better understanding of their core customers.

The Technomic survey found, for example, that the core market for casual dining consists of heavy patrons (who visit casual dining restaurants at least weekly) and moderate customers (who visit two or three times a month). Together, these core groups represent half of all visits. But these customers differ demographically from the general population: They are disproportionately male (55 percent), young (average age 43) and higher-income (averaging close to $63,000/year). They also tend to live in the suburbs.

"They're not hard to find," says Paul. "But now more than ever, in order for a casual dining chain to succeed, they must know themselves, know their customers, and know how to convey what sets them apart in a crowded field."

(Source: Technomic, Inc., 03/26/08)

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Retail Pricing that Works

There is so much we can learn by just being observant of what's around us. By watching my wife interact with her friends, I noticed that they would brag about how little something cost that they bought, or the opposite, high priced items, especially gifts they received, also were topics of conversation.

These are the two catagories that should do well during questionable economic times. High Priced Items and Low Priced Goodies. If your business is stuck in-between, and sales are slow, you may consider moving to either end.

Here's a story about why the High Priced Strategy works:

"Dressier" Categories Pace Apparel Sales

Despite reports of an economic slowdown and a "Hesitation Holiday," the U.S. apparel market posted growth this past year. According The NPD Group, Inc., a leading provider of consumer and retail information, 2007 dollar volume sales were $195.6 billion, up 3 percent over the prior year.

Sales of women's apparel rose 1 percent in 2007 to $103.1 billion, while men's clothing sales increased 4 percent to $57.2 billion. Revenues for children's apparel gained 6 percent in 2007 to $35.3 billion.

What are some of the trends driving growth? In women's apparel, most notable are sales of dresses. The annual 2007 dollar volume growth reached an unprecedented 44 percent for the dress category. "Dresses had a phenomenal year and certainly have captured the women's market in a big way," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. "Dresses have the advantage of having a mass appeal; there are styles available that will flatter any woman, regardless of her age or figure."

Additionally, big growth was seen in women's tights this past year. For 2007, tights saw a 48 percent growth rate. "Certainly hosiery has benefited from the sales of dresses," said Cohen, "but it is only a select category of hosiery that seems to have capitalized on this new love of dresses. We still need to see greater retailer acceptance of sheer hosiery plus new colors and textures which will allow the consumer to more fully embrace this part of the trend."

Taking a look at the men's apparel market, the growth area once again is in the "dressier" categories. The men's tailored categories (suits, suit separates, sport coats) grew overall by 7 percent in 2007. The sub-category that performed best was suit separates with 35 percent growth.

"Once again the ability to create a personalized fit experience by being able to buy the right size jacket and pants have made suit separates the way to shop for tailored clothing," noted Cohen. "Between the dressing up trend and the ability to buy suits 'off the rack,' no alterations necessary, this huge growth category has gotten even bigger among the younger crowd, who are now reaching for style as a great image maker."

The children's market also benefited from the dressing-up trend. Girls' dresses were up 31 percent in both dollar and unit volume. For the boys, sales of suits, suit separates and sport coats were up at 31 percent in unit volume growth over the prior year.

"The children's market continues to be more recession proof than the men's and women's market," said Cohen. "Parents are willing to sacrifice their own wardrobe needs so they can keep their little ones well-attired."

With 2007 behind us, what's in store for 2008? Cohen says, "With all the distractions the economy is throwing at the consumer, we need to go beyond the numbers to see what is really going on here. When you take a look at the current data, men's and children's are outpacing women's in apparel sales. For me that sends up a flare. The warning is if we don't find a way to engage women to shop for apparel again, then we will set off a chain reaction.

"When other industries are capturing a greater share of discretionary spending, designers and brands along with the retailers need to see the same warning flare and put some excitement back into the fashion equation," Cohen concluded.

(Source: The NPD Group, 03/18/08)

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Optimistic about Optimism

Guess who's feeling good (Besides James Brown)? Take a look:

Teens Have Their Stuff Together

An advance release of the Teen Topix study by OTX and the Intelligence Group finds that 81% of teens (13-17) say they are at least somewhat happy, and over a third say they are very happy. Teens report to be happiest with their relationships with friends, their talents, their abilities, and their school performance. And more than three quarters are happy about how they "look" Online.

Degree of Happiness With Selected Areas of Life and Relationships (% of respondents selecting top two out of five degrees of "happiness")



% "Happiest"


Your relationship with friends



Your talents or abilities



How you look online (e.g.: MySpace profile)



Where you live (e.g.: the town or city)



Your relationship with boyfriend / girlfriend



Your body


Source: OTXresearch & the Intelligence Group, March 2008

In recognizing the importance of their physical appearance, 61% of teens said they worry about their looks, and 48% said they compare the way they look with friends and peers. 50% of teens said looks and physical appearance were very important when it comes to being respected by others, says the report, but appearance is considerably less important in being liked by others, getting ahead in the workplace, and making lots of money.

Importance Of Looks/Physical Appearance (Very Important)



Very Important


The way you feel about yourself



Being respected by others



Getting a date / boyfriend / girlfriend



Getting a good job



Being liked by others



Getting ahead in the workplace



Making lots of money



How many friends you have


Source: OTXresearch & the Intelligence Group, March 2008

The survey found that teens spend an average of $27 per month on health and beauty products. Deodorants were the most commonly used products on a daily basis, with whitening toothpastes, lip balms, perfumes, and facial scrubs, also making the top of the list.

Daily Usage of Health and Beauty Products


Products Used Daily

% of Respondents


Deodorant or antiperspirant



Whitening toothpastes



Lip balm / moisturizer



Hair styling products








Source: OTXresearch & the Intelligence Group, March 2008

Bruce Friend, President, Media and Entertainment Insights, OTX, says "Teens are an important consumer group... we have to look not just at what they buy... (but) what motivates them... their aspirations... (and) what makes them tick."

Teens cited a number of positive influences on self image. Asked "when it comes to those things that influence how you feel about yourself would you say these usually make you feel better about yourself, worse about yourself or make no difference how you feel about yourself."

Positive Influences on Self Image



Positive Influence


Your girlfriend/boyfriend



Your religion



Your friends



Magazines you read



Advertising you see (on TV or elsewhere)



Other kids in school


Source: OTXresearch & the Intelligence Group, March 2008

When teens were asked to choose from a pair of related, yet conflicting statements, Jane Buckingham, President of the Intelligence Group, reviewing the responses, notes that "The answers to our questions have surprised many in the marketing community and have caused them to rethink how they need to appeal to this demographic."

When asked if they would rather get a college degree' or win American Idol, 90% selected college degree. And three quarters of the respondents would rather have friends than lots of money.

Selected "either/or" Responses

Would you rather...

% Selecting


% Selecting

Get a new car for your HS graduation


Get plastic surgery for your HS graduation


Exercise to lose weight


Take diet pills to lose weight


Get your College degree


Win American Idol


Have a lot of friends


Have a lot of money


Feel good


Look good


Be told you have a great personality


Be told you are hot


Be Comfortable


Be Fashionable


Be the smartest kid in school


Be the best looking kid in school


Source: OTXresearch & the Intelligence Group, March 2008

For more information about the study, please visit OTXresearch here.

And here's James:

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Marketing on the "Cheap"

When I meet with potential clients, I often try and give them tips on something they can do to improve their marketing. The following list that came in my email today I am going to use as a handout:

Link to SmallFuel Marketing Blog

10 Nearly Free Ways to Advertise Your Business

Posted: 03 Apr 2008 04:13 PM CDT

free business
Finding ways to advertise your business without breaking your budget is at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. We all like free, and if free helps us make more sales, then so much the better!

Advertising and marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Plenty of marketing ideas cost nothing (or nearly nothing). All you need is a little bit of time and some creativity.

Join In

Joining associations and organizations offer a double-whammy of benefits to small business owners. By joining various groups, you tap into resources and knowledge, and you benefit from exposure when the organizations publish lists of their members. An added bonus of joining groups is increased credibility through affiliation.

Donate Prizes

There is always someone looking for donations to raise funds or to hold mega-contests. Donating an item from your inventory or a selected service can mean exposure when the recipients do promotion for their event. They always mention sponsors as a thank you and make sure that people know you chipped in.

Hold a Contest

You could hold a contest, too. You could gather donations from other businesses and let people get to know you more personally while doing so. Potential contestants will talk about you, too, as they hope for a prize. Tell the local newspapers about your event, and they’ll write it up. Make sure the day of the awards gets lots of attention!

Put up a Sign

Many home shops and freelancers operating from home forget that it’s okay to put a sign out to advertise their location. A memorable sign catches attention and does help passersby and visitors to know that your business exists.

Speaking Opportunities

Never underestimate the power of a good speech. Make sure everyone knows that you’re in business and talk about your business often, no matter where you are. At parties, get togethers, in the checkout line… Some of the best opportunities are those when people mention a need that relates to what you offer. Speak up! Tell people that you can help.

Monthly Discounts

It’s common for people to be stuck in the pricing rut. They set their price and forget about it. Remember that pricing offers opportunity. You can offer monthly discounts on items or services, and rotate the offerings. There’ll always be something coming up, and the small price cut may land you new, loyal clients.

Add On Where You Can

The opposite of a monthly discount is a monthly add on. For example, you can promote a product or service along with a second product or service as a package, and discount the package pricing slightly. Consumers know they’re getting more for less, and that’s attractive.

Start a Blog

Almost any business in the world, from mechanic to landscaper to weekend clown to photographer, can benefit from blogging. You can set up a free blog and all you have to invest is the time to write some fun, interesting or insightful posts. Blogs also help create anticipation about upcoming product releases or new services you might offer.


There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer your services, whether it’s for business-related events or simply helping a community clean up. While you’re there, talk to people and introduce yourself. Be sociable and pass the time chatting about your business or asking people what they’d like to see in a business like yours.

Host a seminar

Some groups and associations are very interested in guest speakers or seminars for their members. You have a business, so share your experience with others. Motivate them to start their own. Inform them of pitfalls or how-tos. You increase your reputation as an expert and the event is a great time to pass out business cards, too.

What do you think of these advertising ideas? Have you tried any of them? Do you have other creative ideas that helped your business get some attention on a shoestring budget? What methods of marketing have you found to be most effective?

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Phone Book Battle

From MediaPost:

ANA Wants Better Yellow Pages Data, Publishers Say They Have It
by Erik Sass
The Association of National Advertisers and Yellow Pages publishers have been butting heads in recent weeks over the quality of research made available to advertisers by Yellow Pages publishers. The ANA's Telephone Directory Committee published an open letter on Tuesday criticizing the narrow focus of the syndicated and proprietary research currently offered by publishers; the Yellow Pages Association is trying to head off the criticism with new research based on call-tracking. Some $2.3 billion was spent by national advertisers in the medium. - Read the whole story...

Want to know more about Yellow Pages? Click here and follow the links...

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Presidential Marketing

Whatever you feel about the candidates that are running for office, there are some excellent marketing lessons to learn as we watch the battle for the White House.

Politics has always been about connections and this year the social media is playing a big part.

I've heard about their websites but tonight I decided to see their MySpace and Facebook pages and here's what I found.

John McCain's MySpace page.
John's Facebook page.

Hillary's MySpace pages here and here.
Hillary's Facebook page.

Barack's MySpace page.
Barack's Facebook page.

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Another Reality Check...Your Brand

Today must be "get real" day.

Small Fuel marketing has a great post on Branding. Click here to read it!

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Public Relations Nightmare

Wal-mart is in the news over a lawsuit. It is being talked about on the radio talk shows, the cable news channels, and on the internet.

Let this be a lesson regarding how to handle public relations. Bad news travels faster than a press release, it's measured these days in bit rate speeds.

Take a look at this for info on this whole nightmare and how you can avoid it.

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Reality Check

Can you sell stuff to people that they don't want?

Talbot's is learning the answer is no, no matter what the price.

Can you sell the sizzle if there is no steak? Take a look at this for more on "Keeping it Real"

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Customer Incentives

In today's economy, consumers are on the lookout for ways to save. This morning, I took a different route to work to buy gas at a station that offered me a savings of 20 cents a gallon when I bought a car wash which I needed too.

Here's some links to other incentives that are out there. Hopefully, these companies will do a better job than Walgreens did today, because not everyone gets these bits of info in their email:

Office Depot


And then there' this news to that customers should know about:



Remember it takes more muscle than a Press Release to the news media to reach your customers, it takes advertising, buzz, and in-house marketing too.

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More than Drugs

Hmmm, considering I watched Television last night, listened to the radio today, drove by 3 or 4 Walgreens in the past 24 hours, (actually, I do that nearly every day), I'm a bit surprised that I did not know that Walgreens was offering free ink today until the following came in my email from Mediapost:

Walgreens Offers Free Ink Cartridge Refills
Wednesday, Apr 2, 2008 5:00 AM ET
TODAY, CONSUMERS OF INKJET PRINTER cartridges can get a free refill at Walgreens, which is promoting its service. The offer excludes Canon and Epson ink tanks.

Walgreens charges $10 for black ink and $15 for color, and backs each refill 100%. Hundreds of thousands took advantage of a similar offer last September, Walgreens said.

--Nina M. Lentini

It took about 6 or 7 clicks and searches to get the coupon, starting with Google and ending when I finally got the coupon.

Somewhere there is a big whole in Walgreens C.R.M. and marketing. See, I spend between $50 and $100 monthly (or more when you add in the rest of my household) and they are the ones that refill our prescriptions. I also buy ink. But somehow, they have not reached me with an offer that could have persuaded me to spend even more money with them.

What are you doing to serve your customers by letting them know what you can do for them?

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Candy is Dandy

Wrapping up April Fools Day with some Fun:

Don't try this at home, unless you are an m&m,

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One of my predictions is coming true

First, I suggest you take a look at the Predictions for Future Advertising Options by clicking here.

Then, you can click here to see which prediction is happening NOW.

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A Labov & Beyond Umbrella Series Prediction

Prediction: Around 8:30 am on April 10th, the audience at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce will be giving the Taylor University students an enthusiastic round of applause at the conclusion of another fine performance as they present the 4th installment of the Umbrella Series based on a series of books authored and illustrated by Barry Labov and his team at Labov & Beyond.

After the applause dies down, some of the attendees will be talking to the students, some will talk to Barry, some will talk among themselves, and everyone will have their eyes opened as to how they can be better at communicating.

You can be a part of this event by making your reservation by calling Rita at 260-424-1435. It starts at 7:30 am in downtown Fort Wayne.

Click on the image below to see the official invitation that includes a special money saving offer to further entice you to sign up.

I'll see you there!

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The 2008 American Consumer Preview part 7

It really doesn't matter if it is officially a recession or whatever labels the economists want to place on our current situation, the facts remain that there have been many shifts in consumer spending in the first 3 months of 2008.

Here are Links to the first 6 2008 American Consumer Previews:

  1. Part 1 Consumers are Sucking it in
  2. Part 2 Impact of Higher Gas Prices
  3. Part 3 Gloom, Not Doom
  4. Part 4 How America Shops
  5. Part 5 The Working Rich
  6. Part 6 Consumers Speak Out

As we enter the 2nd Quarter, we have this report from my email today:

Coupons, Discounts Drive Consumer Spending During Recession

In an economic recession consumers tend to cut budgets but, if provided discounts, they will buy - 54% of adults say they would reduce discretionary spending, and 63% say they would not make a purchase if a deal isn’t available - according to a Harris Interactive survey.

Fully 86% of adults surveyed say they have used coupons or discount codes while shopping. But as economic slowdown pushes consumers to re-evaluate spending behaviors and tighten budgets, deal-seeking may become even more common:

  • More than one in three adults (37%) say they would increase the use of coupons and discount codes during a recession.
  • Among women, the figure is higher: 43% of them say they would do so, vs. 31% of men.

To find deals on discretionary purchases, adults are equally likely to look online as in stores (56% each). But they are less likely to look for deals elsewhere…

  • Catalogs, brochures or flyers (46%)
  • Coupon books (38%)
  • Outlet malls (24%)
  • Television (18%)

A copy of the full report, including a breakdown of regional and demographic data, can be found at

About the study: Harris Interactive (on behalf of conducted the study online among 2,471 US adults age 18+, Feb. 13-15, 2008. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income.

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Local Radio News

A few people have alerted me to the following news of radio station ownership change. From a purely personal viewpoint, the guy who is pictured to the left, is Andy St. John. (Okay, that's his on air name, and I'm sworn to near secrecy concerning Andy's real last name).

In the early 1980's when I was on the air in Fort Wayne at WMEE 97.3fm playing Top 40, Andy was on the air on WLYV 1450am playing oldies and we became friends.

Here's the story straight from the WLKI Website where Andy has been working... forever:

WLKI NEWS Tuesday, April 1, 2008

(ANGOLA) - This is no April Fools Joke, Lake Cities Broadcasting has been sold. Pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission, the company will become known as Swick Broadcasting Corporation on or about June 1st. Businessman Steve Swick of Coldwater will take over ownership of WLKI in Angola, WTHD in LaGrange, WLZZ in Montpelier, Ohio and our two Sturgis, Michigan stations; ESPN-AM1230 and Oldies 99.3. Swick says he has been interested in buying the stations for several years. In this era of corporate and satellite radio, Swick intends to keep a local presence on all of the stations. Swick is taking over ownership of the five stations from Tom Andrews who helped sign WLKI on the air in July of 1974. Andrews says it's time to be semi-retired but he will be available to Swick in whatever capacity he is needed.

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Google this!

Google announces that they are offering free At Home High Speed Internet. Click here for Details!

Seems like every year around this time they offer something really cool!

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Monday, March 31, 2008

The Radio & Social Media Connection

From my email:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Almost Two Thirds of Online Radio Listeners also Profiled on Social Sites

The annual "Infinite Dial 2008: Radio's Digital Platforms" by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, estimates that 33 million Americans age 12 or older listen to a radio station over the Internet during an average week, up from 29 million listeners one year ago. There is also a strong connection between online radio listening and social networking sites according to the study.

The complete study also reports that:

  • Thirteen percent of Americans age 12 or older (an estimated 33 million people) listened to online radio in the previous week, an increase of two percentage points from January 2007
  • Twenty four percent of all Americans age 12 or older have a profile on a social networking Web site such as MySpace, Facebook or Linked-In
  • 63 percent of Online radio listeners have a profile on sites such as those mentioned above
  • One-third of online radio listeners with a social network profile visit their social networking site nearly every day or several times per day
  • The top social networking Web sites among online radio listeners are MySpace and the business professional networking service Linked-In
  • Twenty-eight percent of online radio listeners have a MySpace page, while 24 percent have a profile on Linked-In

Diane Williams, senior analyst, custom research for Arbitron, says. "... We found that Online radio listeners are more than one and half times more likely to have a profile on a social networking site as compared to average Americans and that they tend to be power-users, with one-third of online radio listeners logging on to their social networking site nearly every day or even multiple times per day."

The final report, to be released in April 2008, will detail the latest data on the general online radio listening universe and will explore how consumers interact and explore radio and all of its digital platforms, says Arbitron.

For more information, please visit Arbitron here.

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"The Experience"

Over the weekend, I heard CarTalk on NPR, and one of the callers, called herself a "soccer mom complete with the mini-van". She and her son's went to a car show and she fell in love with a Jeep and you could hear the excitement in her voice!

No matter what form of advertising and marketing you do, remember that your customers want more than your product, they want, "The Experience"!

MarketingProfs has more on this:

Help Your Customer Live the Fantasy

Maki, the blogger behind Dosh Dosh, begins a post on selling dreams to your target audience with this quote from William Feather: "The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men—the man he is and the man he wants to be."

The duality can be observed in the cars we drive. Take the Prius, which isn't simply an economy car; it's also an eco-friendly symbol of social consciousness. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a Hummer is more than a utilitarian SUV; it's for those who dream of weekends spent on rugged off-road trails. Each vehicle not only addresses a customer need—transportation—but reinforces that need by selling an ideal.

"Your aim is to associate your brand with a vision, one that integrates with and enhances each customer's individual life goals," says Maki. "Buyer desires are transient and they can change but ideals do not shift as easily." And he lists five action points for appealing to a customer's aspirations:

  • Emphasize your ideals and promises.
  • Fulfill them in your actual site, service or product.
  • Brand yourself through the right networks and connections.
  • Tie your brand to the right images, personalities and events.
  • Learn what your audience thinks about you.

"Product or service value is a relative perception," writes Maki. "It can be manipulated and infinitely enhanced by emphasizing the right ideals and promises." And that reminder is a swell bit of Marketing Inspiration.

More Inspiration:
Paul Williams: Why Does Big Mean Bad?
Spike Jones: Good Artists Copy. Great Artists Steal.
Jennifer Jones: Great Learnings from Obama and Clinton

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Increase your business by increasing your value

Generally speaking, it costs more to replace a customer than to retain and increase the spending of your current customers.

So how do you get your current customers to spend more or more often?

Jill Konrath has an excellent article to share with you on this subject:

Creating Sales: The Secret to Finding Hidden, but Ripe Opportunities

By Jill Konrath

Quick. Qualify your prospects. Make sure they have the budget for your product or service. And, if not, move on. Your time is precious and you can't waste it with prospects who aren't ready for change.

Heard those words before? Traditional sales wisdom says that focusing on the low-hanging fruit is the fastest way to get business. Look for the "ready now" buyers and ignore the rest - that's the key to success.

I beg to disagree. If that's your thinking, you're missing out on a bunch of sales.

Why? Because then you're continually in the midst of competitive battles, where pricing becomes the prime differentiator and nothing else seems to matter. You have minimal ability to influence their decision - even if your offering is a better value or could make a bigger impact on their company.

To be really successful, it's imperative to find opportunities ripe with potential, but not yet in existence. In short, you need to create these opportunities by your own business & sales savvy.

Here's how I first discovered that sales secret.

Shortly after starting my own company, I won a contract to design & deliver a customized sales training program at a major law firm. Since I was unfamiliar with how attorneys "sold", part of my project involved in-depth interviews with their top "rainmakers." (Note: This term is used in lieu of "sales" which many deem a 4-letter word.)

As in most professional services firms, nearly all the top sellers were senior members of the firm. In interview after interview, I kept hearing that the key to sales success was:

  • Returning phone calls promptly.
  • Giving good customer service.
  • Building strong relationships.
  • Entertaining & golfing with clients.
  • Having law school friends finally in positions of power.

While all those things may have been true, I wasn't satisfied that doing them was enough to be a top seller. Nor was I willing to accept that you had to wait till you had gray hair before you could be good in sales.

I kept searching, looking for skills that could be taught to the younger lawyers. There had to be something more.

Finally, I talked to Paul. While he uttered the same platitudes, when I asked him about landing his newest client, I got a different answer. Then I found out he used the same strategy to expand his business with existing clients.

AHA! At last, I'd found a way that any reasonably intelligent person could use to create sales opportunities when none existed.

Better yet, this strategy actually prevented competition. By using it, decision makers had minimal desire to look for alternatives. They wanted to work with you - and get started now!
How was Paul creating business from thin air?

First of all, he kept up-to-date on what was happening to his existing clients, targeted firms and any legal cases that might be relevant to them.

When he read about a recent judgment on an intellectual property issue, he started thinking about how it might impact his clients or prospects.

When he learned that a product liability case had been settled, he assessed its potential ramifications for his current and desired clients.

Then, he'd call his primary contact and say something like this:

"Bob. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the BIG DEAL case that was just settled out in California. It was an intellectual property issue related to part-time workers.

"That got me thinking about your own policies in this area. Based on the court's decision, you may be at risk. We should get together and look at this. After all, better safe than sorry."

BINGO! It worked. Yup. Nearly all the time. Paul had discovered the key to creating sales where none existed - triggering events.

Virtually overnight, these sales catalysts transform the status quo from acceptable to unacceptable. Funding suddenly becomes available as it's reallocated from elsewhere in the budget to this new priority. Plus, you don't have to constantly fight competitors.

Now I'm not a rocket scientist, but I am smart enough to recognize a great business-growth strategy when I see it. By using these sales-generating triggers, I could stop my never-ending search companies currently evaluating sales training and focus on demand creation.

After a thorough review of my customer base, I discovered these triggering events were fertile ground for generating more sales:

  • Sales were stagnant or down slightly, but not horrible.
  • Important new products were being introduced.
  • Companies were going through mergers or acquisitions.

Once I knew my triggering events, my business took off. Once you know your trigger events, the same thing can happen to you.

POOF! You've got a new customer. It can go that fast. It can be that easy. And you can create sales versus waiting till someone is finally ready to change.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. For more article like this, visit . Get a free Sales Call Planning Guide ($19.95 value) when you sign up for the Selling to Big Companies e-newsletter.

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Free OnLine Advertising E-Book

Click here to get this primer on what works and what doesn't according to nearly 600 respondents to a survey done by MarketingSherpa.

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End of the Month Fun Facts

From my email:

Volume 3 Issue 13 - March 31, 2008


17% of moms say their daughters are more self-conscious about their bodies and their looks after coming home from a sleepover, according to Ipsos.


Business women aged 26-35 (49%) are more likely than women aged 46 and older (41%) to think they're prepared to be successful in business three years in the future, says Accenture.


In 2007, workers from India claimed nearly 80% of H1-b work visas, which allow companies to bring workers in specialty occupations (such as engineers, artists, and educators) to the U.S., according to the U.S. State Department.


41% of men think it's difficult to find jeans that fit properly, and 40% have kept a too-small pair of jeans in the hopes they'll fit into them again, finds Synovate.


54% of parents hired someone to help them choose their baby's name, according to

EPM Datafile Info:
Publisher: Ira Mayer

The EPM Datafile is an EPM Communications, Inc. service.
(c)Copyright 2008 EPM Communications, Inc.

160 Mercer Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10012 | P: (212) 941-0099 | F: (212) 941-1622

Okay, where do you go to hire someone to name your baby?

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Over the top TV Commercial

Warning, the following is only a dramatization and should not be attempted in real life unless you have a good lawyer and plenty of insurance:

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Radio and Newspaper News

These are from my email from Mediaweek:

Network Radio Turns Up Ads
Network radio is undergoing a renaissance. At a time when the economy is squeezing local advertisers and local media, the medium—with its attractive efficiencies, targeted reach and greater accountability—is thriving. Katy Bachman has the report on more »

Newspapers Suffer Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in 50-Plus Years
According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4 percent to $42 billion compared to 2006--the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950. Jennifer Saba of Editor and Publisher has the story. more »

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More Phone Book News

Click here for Predictions for future advertising options.

Click here for a peek inside the Yellow Pages battle.

Click here for insight from Anthony Juliano's SoundBite Back Blog.

Click here to see a picture of what to do with your phone book.

And Click here to see what's replacing it.

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Selling Chickens

I used to tell my family that I eat chicken about 10 times a week, which was true. In the last few years, since becoming a married man again, I've cut down to about 6 or 7 times a week. However I'm not the reason places like KFC are stagnant, read this from Brandweek:

Big Chicken Chains Expand Their Range

March 30, 2008 By Eric Newman

It's getting hot in the chicken coop. Feeling the pressure from McDonald's and Burger King, which have successfully added poultry options to their menus, many of the leading fast food chicken chains have responded with new ads and products.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is leading the charge. Last week, it announced it is testing Kentucky Grilled Chicken in six cities with a national debut expected next year. Late last month, it scrapped a four-year-old ad campaign in favor of a new one, themed, "Life Tastes Better with KFC." The chain also launched a chicken wrap to compete with McD's successful Snack Wrap.

KFC's sales were down 1.2% last year, per Technomic, Chicago. KFC's share, $5.14 billion, represents about a third of the chicken category, which has been stagnant for the past three years.

"KFC's menu is evolving to meet the changing needs of customers who are looking for a wide variety of great tasting foods," said KFC rep Rick Maynard. "We're confident offering grilled chicken will help bring in new customers who are looking for nonfried options."

A TV campaign running in two of the test markets, via DraftFCB, Chicago, shows construction workers adding "& Grilled" to the KFC logo. KFC is owned by Yum! Brands, Louisville, Ky. KFC and others are suffering because of their limited menus and fried nature of the foods, said Ron Paul, Technomic's president. "If you look back over the past five years, you see so much more growth in other sectors, like breakfast, and they're stuck with a narrow product offering."

No. 2 Chick-fil-A has been battling back by pushing its breakfast menu. The company just wrapped a campaign, in which its spelling-challenged cow characters donned pajamas and carried placards with messages including: "Chikin 4 Brekfust Ever Dawn On U" and "Add Chikin 2 Yer Morning Rooteen." It's morning menu offers a chicken biscuit and a sausage biscuit, plus other items. "It's a great way to expand the business," said Mark Baldwin, a rep for the Atlanta-based chain. "We see a huge opportunity to gain even more additional customers." It appears to be helping, as sales grew 16% in 2007 to $2.64 billion, per Technomic.

This week, No. 3 Popeye's will roll out its "Bonafide" campaign, a reference to their hand-battered bone-in chicken. Ads from Blum Enterprises, New York, also stress its use of fresh products and seasonings. Tag: "Change your chicken. Get bonafide."

New CMO Dick Lynch wants its bone-in chicken to be viewed as the Popeye's equivalent of the Big Mac. "There's such sameness in the [chicken] chains and this was something different," he said. "Popeye's, while feeling overall pressures from other quick-service restaurants and burger chains, is emphasizing and building on its culinary distinctiveness." Lynch became CMO in March after serving as a consultant since November. Popeye's spent $37 million on media last year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. It saw a 3.8% lift in sales last year to $1.6 billion.

Meanwhile, No. 6 El Pollo Loco, a West Coast regional chain that primarily features grilled chicken options and Mexican food, has revamped its campaign. Departing from its "Grill Master" effort of the past four years, it launched its "May I Fool You?" initiative, per Krueger Communications, Venice, Calif., earlier this year. It features a generic fast food chain cashier attempting to trick consumers into thinking its products are healthy. Tag: "You can't fake taste."

"Chicken is clearly the protein of choice and it's where a lot of the growth for our burger competitors is coming from," said Karen Eadon, CMO of El Pollo Loco, Costa Mesa, Calif. "Our competitors were making claims [about their products] that were patently untrue. It made us feel the need to unmask the truth and highlight how our product is truly a healthy product without any tricks of language." El Pollo Loco sales grew 17% in 2007 to $618 million, per Technomic.

Despite these efforts, the chains may still face uphill battles from competitors that wield not only a larger number of locations, but also much larger advertising, said Jeff Davis, president of restaurant marketing consultancy Sandleman & Associates, San Clemente, Calif. "McDonald's improved their perception," he said. "They spend a ton of money, but they're also saying the right things." McD's, by the way, will soon debut a chicken sandwich on its breakfast menu.

Davis added that many of the "chicken chains are getting better at addressing the consumer." For example, KFC's current nationwide campaign for its toasted wraps is "really on target and hitting a younger consumer."

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Painless Proposals

I used to have a sales assistant that would put together all our proposals, then, well she got replaced with my laptop. Here's an article from that can help us that have to do it ourselves:

Take the Pain Out of Proposal Writing

by Kelley Robertson
author of Stop, Ask, and Listen

Many companies and their decision-makers require written proposals, and if you are like many sales people, you probably shudder at the thought of this request. However, writing a good proposal doesn't have to be painful providing you keep a few points in mind.

First, recognize that closing the sale in a business proposal is a process, not an event. It doesn't occur just because you have asked for a commitment or because you have presented all the features and benefits of your product or service. When a customer or prospects agrees to do business with you after reviewing your proposal, it means that you have addressed their key issues and demonstrated exactly how your solution will benefit their company. This requires a bit of strategic planning.

Unfortunately, too many sales people spend too much time talking about their company, product or service at the beginning of the proposal. The drawback with this approach is that decision-makers are extremely busy which means they don't want to waste their time reading something that has little or no relevance to their situation. Salespeople will argue that this information is critical and that they need to present it in order to show how their solution is appropriate to the customer's situation. While this is true, it is essential to direct your initial focus on the customer and demonstrate that you have a good understanding of your prospect's issues and concerns.

Great proposals often start with an executive summary which highlights the prospect's current situation or problem and how this issue is affecting the company. This means you need to ask your prospect key questions during your conversations. In the hundreds of sales training workshops I have conducted over the years, I have discovered that the vast majority of sales people fail to ask their prospects sufficient insightful, thought-provoking questions. As a result, they fail to understand the negative impact of a particular problem on the company's business. However, stating the impact of the problem in your proposal can reinforce to the decision-maker, the importance of implementing a solution.

Closing the sale in a proposal means positioning your solution and demonstrating exactly how your prospect will benefit by using your product or service. Far too many sales people forget this critical element. They discuss many of the features and benefits of their solution but they fail to outline the impact of their solution on the prospect's business. The challenge is that the majority of sales people do not discuss this with their prospect. Therefore, they cannot address it in their proposal.

Reduce the prospect's risk. Many people would rather tolerate working with a vendor who is not performing well rather than make a change because of their fear of the unknown or the pain that is often associated with making a significant change. I once retained the services of a particular individual even though I was not completely satisfied with his work simply because I dreaded the hassle of finding a new vendor. If this is a potential concern of your prospects, then offer some type of reassurance or guarantee to reduce or eliminate this fear.

Closing the sale in a proposal also requires some form of action or commitment. Ending your proposal with a feeble statement such as, "If you have any questions please let us know" is not effective. It is essential that you clearly outline the next step(s) you expect from your prospect along with a time frame.

Lastly, keep your proposal as brief as possible. Unless your solution is extremely complex, you need to keep it short, clear and concise because executives simply don't have time to read a fifty page document. Besides, short proposals are usually much easier to read and understand. I recall the very first proposal I was required to present. Because I didn't know any better, I only included information that I felt was relevant to my prospect and was able to outline a thirty thousand dollar project in just three pages. After we reached an agreement I asked what influenced their decision and was told, "Your proposal was easy to understand."

The bottom line? If you have asked your prospect enough of the right questions and positioned your solution in a manner that demonstrates exactly how your solution is the best one for your prospect, and removed the risk, you increase your ability to close the sale.

Copyright 2008 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Kelley Robertson, President of the Robertson Training Group, works with businesses to help them increase their sales and motivate their employees. He is also the author of Stop, Ask, and Listen: Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers Into Buyers. For information on his programs, visit his website at

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