Saturday, June 14, 2008

Battling the Competition

Another Great One from Chuck McKay:

Military Positioning as Marketing Strategy

Your company is the newcomer. You're the young upstart that has innovated, and is generating significant buzz. How can you expect the leader in your business category to react?

The expression “level playing field” implies a fair contest. In battle, as in marketing, a level field is the last thing we want. Military strategists from Genghis Kahn to Douglas MacArthur have all understood the advantages of taking the high ground. We're not referring to any moral superiority, but rather to the literal highest point in the physical terrain of the battlefield.

The first army on the field claims the high ground. And field position makes up the bulk of military strategy.

Look at the high ground advantage geometrically. There is only a narrow angle at which shots fired uphill can hit their intended target. But shooting downhill opens the enemy to exposure from three or four times as big an area. The easier target will suffer greater casualties.

In the 80s marketers studied the writings of Carl von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu and tried to apply battlefield strategies to marketing “warfare.” The parallels work on a superficial level, and the illustrations can make key marketing concepts come to life.

I offer one such illustration.

Imagine two military sections (small squads of 12 soldiers), each under the command of a sergeant. One firmly entrenched at the top of the hill. The other trying to take that hill.

They each take aim and fire. The attacking section, shooting through the narrow aperture provided by the terrain, hit about 20 percent of the targets they shoot at. The defenders, without such limitation, manage to hit 60 percent of the time.

After the first volley, seven of the twelve attackers are shot (60 percent of twelve bullets), leaving five standing. Only four of the defenders were wounded (20 percent of twelve, rounded), leaving eight.

The second volley takes out three more attackers, leaving only two standing. One additional defender is wounded, leaving seven.

The third volley wipes out the attackers with no additional injury to the defenders.

It works this way nearly every time.

Like the military parallel, marketing field position is largely determined by the first army in the field.

Uh, lemme rephrase that.

Marketing position is created by the first product in the consumer's mind. This is why it's critical that your company be first in the minds of your prospective customers. Its the reason the incumbent nearly always gets re-elected. Its the reason Coke still outsells Pepsi. Its the reason nobody sells more prepared chicken than the Colonel.

How is marketing dominance achieved?

The easiest way is to actually be first.

That's a rough requirement when your company is second, or third, or even farther down the list of competitors. Someone else already owns the high ground.

The second way to claim a winning position is to create a whole new mental battlefield and be first to occupy it.

If you can't be the first lawn and garden equipment store in your community, be the first which doubles the manufacturer's warranty. If you can't be the first pawn shop, be the first that only deals in jewelry.

Astute readers will recognize this strategy as specialization.

One more point. The market leader also gets the benefit of the halo effect. Because the leader is so well known, it's usually assumed that the leading company is “better.” Which means when people hear good news about your industry, they figure it's news about the better known company.

If you think about the ramifications of this for just a minute, you'll have the answer to the original question.

Copying for fun and profit.

How does the established competitor defend his hill against you, the innovative new upstart company?

By doing exactly what you're doing.

As long as the innovation is peripheral to the core business, the market leader can squash the upstart by simply offering the same innovation.

Sadly, (for you) by duplicating, they're also likely to get credit for the innovation, and you're likely to be seen as a small copycat.

But when your innovation IS the core business?

Then you own the high ground on a brand new marketing battlefield, which places you first in the minds of customers who see value in your innovation.

The best thing that can happen to you in this case is your competitor, the market leader, changes the way he does business to remain competitive. If his customers perceive that he's abandoning his core business, he'll lose a significant number of those customers.
  • If the established radio station with strong personalities shuts them up to take on the new “more music” radio station, the established competitor loses listeners who tuned in to hear those personalities talk.

  • When the established Chinese restaurant replaces moo goo gai pan or sweet and sour pork with spaghetti, tater tots, and cheeseburgers on the buffet, the established competitor's image is diluted and less appealing to those customers prefer Chinese cooking.

  • As soon as the established overnight courier service, in an attempt to combat the new inexpensive courier, limits the cities to which the “overnight, or else” guarantee no longer applies, this established competitor will start losing market share among customers who's jobs depend on guaranteed delivery.
  • Defending against innovation.

    If the new competitor's innovation is only tangential to the core business, he should copy the upstart. If it's critical to the core business, a savvy market leader shouldn't overreact to the new competitor's innovation. He won't be able to stop it, either.

    Which kind of innovation will your company offer your market?

    Where's the new high ground?

    Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover you, and choose your business. Questions about strategically claiming your marketing position may be directed to

    Read more!

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    Weekend fun with a smile

    Click on the links to see some creative ads that will make you smile. This is from an Adrants email:

    Crest Makes Even Playground Destruction Seem Pleasant


    Hmm. Nothing like a good tube of Crest to gloss over the travesty of modernization at the cost of childhood play. Yes, Crest can, in fact, make even the destruction of a playground in favor of a power plant seem, well, pleasant.

    Here's another. This one makes even lice seem like a good thing.

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    Sales Training Building Blocks 1

    New to Sales? Or are you looking to improve?

    Occasionally I'll feature an article on Sales Basics. We'll call them Sales Training Building Blocks.

    This is a basic tip that you need to pound into your head and follow:

    Customers Buy Benefits

    Sometimes, one of the most difficult things to teach beginning sales professionals (or sometimes even more senior sales professionals) is the difference between features and benefits.

    All too frequently, salespeople list their product or service features, without articulating how those features will ultimately benefit that prospect or customer. Unfortunately, your prospects or customers are not always able to make that leap for themselves. And when they do not see the benefit, they do not buy. So, what is the difference between features and benefits? How do you articulate that difference?

    Product or service features are facts -- they are just there. There is no real value or judgement attached to them. They simply exist. For example, the product is blue, it's a certain size or shape. Another example: The store is open 24 hours.

    The most important thing you want to remember about features is: Nobody cares!

    Your customers are buying benefits. They are saying to themselves, "What's in it for me?" "What will this do for me?" "What will this do for my company?" "How will this affect my bottom line?" "How will this affect my employees?" "How will this affect customer relations?"

    People buy for their own reasons, not for yours. And people buy because they believe that the product or service will get them what they want. And what they really want is a Big Benefit.

    Customers and clients want what they want; not what you think they may want or should want. They have their own reasons for buying. You may have to help them identify those reasons, but they will be theirs, not yours.

    Here is an easy way to identify benefits:

    Make a list of all of the facts/features of your product or service. Don't think about it, evaluate it or judge it. Just list them.

    Once you have that list, go through the list item by item, putting yourself in your prospect's shoes. Say to yourself (as your prospect), "What's in it for me?"

    Then, write down the answer. Once you have done that, you should have a compelling list of customer-centered benefits. Once you have that list of benefits, it will be easy to make your prospects and customers understand what's in it for them.

    Source: Sales trainer/author Wendy Weiss (, 2008)

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    Seth's What Every Good Marketer Knows-14

    Each day I’m adding another tip from this list from Seth…

    What Every Good Marketer Knows:

    By Seth Godin

    1. Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.

    2. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.

    3. Your best customers are worth far more than your average customers.

    4. Share of wallet is easier, more profitable and ultimately more effective a measure than share of market.

    5. Marketing begins before the product is created.

    6. Advertising is just a symptom, a tactic. Marketing is about far more than that.

    7. Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency.

    8. Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.

    9. Products that are remarkable get talked about.

    10. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns policy.

    11. You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.

    12. If you are marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize that it is an investment.

    13. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.

    14. You’re not in charge. And your prospects don’t care about you.

    Obviously, knowing what to do is very, very different than actually doing it.

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    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Mobile Marketing Thought's

    Something to give thought to that arrived in my email Friday:

    Every time an ad guy uses the absurd example of your mobile phone displaying a coupon when you walk by a Starbucks, an angel loses its wings.

    This is one of those incredibly stupid ideas that only sound good when you ignore all the details. The mobile advertising industry needs to grow up, get realistic about how to drive revenue, and damn it, pick a better example.

    Every time I hear someone use this example, I can see a new bubble forming around them.

    Let me count the ways this Starbucks coupon example is inane:

    First, consumers are not going to tolerate advertising on a phone service they are paying nearly $100 a month for. Neither are business users. The demographics of users that will deal with ads skew much lower on the value scale for advertisers. Even the users that will accept some advertising are not going to want to be bombarded, so there are further limitations on type and frequency of advertising, reducing the potential of mobile advertising.

    Second, the technology is not there yet. The penetration of phones that have a sufficiently sized screen, 2.5G or higher Internet access, and GPS is south of 10%. Plus, the buyers of these phones are either business users or high-end consumers, so they are the least likely to tolerate advertising. It is going to take several years for penetration of smartphones to reach the segments that will accept ads.

    Third, if your phone pushes ads at Starbucks, what happens when you walk by the plastic surgery center? I can only assume that having your telephone recommend "enhancement surgery" would make an awkward first date even more awkward. The reality is that America, for the most part, is a driving nation. Nobody wants ads delivered at 60 miles per hour. Furthermore, in the few walking cities this country has (i.e. New York, Boston, San Francisco), there is an extremely high density of stores. If your phone rings when you walk past each store that wants to advertise to you, it will drive you crazy. This means the user needs to be able to choose which ads they would like delivered.

    If the user chooses which ads they want, they are no longer ads.

    Fourth, advertisers are not going to spend money for customers they are going to get anyway. When I'm standing outside a Starbucks, you don't have to convince me to go inside. Long ago, we as Americans somehow managed to convince ourselves that spending $5 on coffee with syrup and an Italian name was a practical decision. A 50-cent coupon is not going to sway the average purchaser.

    More importantly, because even enhanced GPS technology is not precise enough to detect whether you are near a Starbucks or in a Starbucks, Starbucks will be offering coupons to customers already standing in line.

    Why on earth would Starbucks want to pay absurdly high mobile advertising CPMs to offer a discount to a customer that was ready to pay full price?

    The future of mobile advertising is not about ads or coupons when you walk by, it's about micro services.

    Micro services are simple, fast workflows that let users accomplish things quickly. Ideally, these services leverage stored data or knowledge about you to make them even faster and simpler. For example, your mobile phone could detect your location, show you five restaurants for lunch nearest where you are standing, and let you make reservations. It already knows your name and credit card, so you would not even have to enter any data.

    Here are some other examples of micro services:

    · Instantly view movie show times and buy tickets at the theaters closest to you.

    · Upgrade to business class, or change flights. If there are open business class seats four hours before the flight, why not offer them to travelers at a reduced cost to maximize revenue?

    · Automatically upload all my photos to an online photo service where they can be backed up, printed, or enhanced.

    Asking advertisers to pay $20 CPMs for a tiny ad on a 2" screen is a huge stretch. Instead, micro services enable advertisers to pay on a CPA model and eliminate risk. Well executed, they would not be perceived as advertising, so you could reach premium consumers and business users.

    If you are in the mobile advertising business and insist on using a Starbucks example, here is a much better one: an app that stores your favorite Starbucks drinks, and enables you to order them with one click when you are five minutes away so you don't have to wait in line. This would help make Starbucks even more of an impulse buy, while avoiding discounting.

    When is the mobile advertising industry going to realize the devil is in the details?

    David Koretz is President & CEO of BlueTie, Inc.

    Online Publishing Insider for Friday, June 13, 2008:

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    Friday Catsup on the News

    Just a hodge-podge of news to pass along before the 5 o'clock whistle on Friday afternoon:

    What A Character! Licensing Revenues Holding Their Own
    by Sarah Mahoney
    [Retail] Licensing continues to be a significant sales driver in both toys and video games, reports NPD Group. In dollar sales, almost half -44%--of all video game software sales come from licensed video games. In the last 12 months, that means licensed video games generated $4.2 billion in sales. - Read the whole story...

    M&M's Goes Tongue-In-Cheek For Ice Cream Treats Introduction
    by Karlene Lukovitz
    [Food] "M&M's has a personal relationship with consumers," agrees Lynn Doll, president of PR firm Rogers Group. "Everyone has his or her favorite color-I bought personalized ones for my husband in his favorite color, in fact. That kind of relationship is what every brand covets, and it's the reason that M&M is so successful with product extensions." - Read the whole story...

    Despite Controversy Over Rules, DTC Ads Seen As Effective
    by Aaron Baar
    [Pharma] Putting a doctor in an ad doesn't convey effectiveness or safety. According to the Rodale survey, three-quarters of American consumers said having a doctor appear in an ad makes no difference in efficacy claims, and nearly as many said an appearance didn't enhance its perceived safety. But they did talk to their doctors about them, as suggested in the ads. - Read the whole story...

    Organic/Natural Products Enjoy 35% Market Growth, Per Study
    by Karl Greenberg
    [Research] "The recent drive toward healthy and green living has consumers placing a high degree of trust in the 'all natural' claim for personal care products," says Christopher Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing market for natural and organic personal care: 74% of their total personal care product purchases were classified as being natural and organic. - Read the whole story...

    RadioShack Aims To Boost Father's Day Sales With Lessons
    by Tameka Kee
    [Retail] Driving immediate sales is not the retailer's primary goal. According to Buck Krawczyk, VP/marketing at Powered, real value stems from two main areas--giving RadioShack the ability to leverage the "gratitude effect," and the consumer insights that Powered's social education platform can provide. - Read the whole story...

    North American Prepared Salads Growth Outpacing Europe
    by Karlene Lukovitz
    [Food] Euromonitor International describes the medium-to-long-term outlook for the category in both North America and elsewhere as "vibrant": Sales in developed markets should rebound strongly as the obesity epidemic worsens, and new opportunities will emerge in developing economies as they adopt Westernized diets and experience concomitant health problems. - Read the whole story...

    Gen Y Fears Wrinkles: Cosmeceutical Sales To Hit $21 Billion
    by Sarah Mahoney
    [Packaged Goods] "The assortment of cosmeceutical products is constantly broadening," says Timothy Dowd, senior analyst and author of the report. "I even expect to see products begin to claim to have aphrodisiac properties-if cosmeceuticals can help with so many other problems, why not that? It's the next logical evolution." - Read the whole story...

    Driven By Trends, Nestle Purina Moves Into Pet Health Insurance
    by Aaron Baar
    [Financial Services] The company will lean upon its well-known brand portfolio and iconography, which includes Puppy, Dog, Kitten and Cat Chow, and treats such as Beggin' Strips and T-Bonz, for marketing. Much of the initial messaging will be tied to the Internet, from Purina brand Web sites to search marketing and banners. - Read the whole story...

    Verizon Offers Workshops For The PDA-Challenged
    by Laurie Sullivan
    [Telecom] Sending the message that anyone can do it, Verizon is promoting the service through press and word-of-mouth marketing. Consumers who walk into retail stores will see in-store displays, posters in storefront windows or fliers on countertops with information on the class focus, days and times. - Read the whole story...

    Jiffy Lube Offers 'Fuel Efficiency Review,' Gas Card

    More Airlines Charging For Bags

    Burger King, Pokemon Team For Global Promo

    American Greetings Gets Access To Film Library

    Anti-Smoking Campaign Hits The Road

    Country Stars Team With Reactor Watches, Dillard's

    Hershey Ties In With New Batman Sequel

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    Starbucks WiFi

    Just some internal stuff going on at Starbucks, the coffee shop that refuses to give us FREE WIFI:

    Starbucks, T-Mobile Reach Settlement
    Thursday, Jun 12, 2008 5:00 AM ET
    Starbucks said Wednesday it had resolved a dispute with T-Mobile stemming from the coffee chain's recent launch of free Wi-Fi through AT&T. Details of the settlement were not made public, but a Starbucks spokesperson said the coffee chain will continue to offer customers up to two hours of free Wi-Fi each day via AT&T.

    Last week, T-Mobile sued to block the deal. Starbucks had announced in February that AT&T would replace T-Mobile as Wi-Fi provider for the coffee chain, but the process was supposed to be gradual, according to T-Mobile's lawsuit.

    T-Mobile alleged that it was supposed to remain the sole Wi-Fi provider at all Starbucks in particular markets until every coffee house in that locale had replaced T-Mobile's access lines and equipment with those of AT&T.

    --Wendy Davis

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    Father's Day Shopping List

    Uh, Dad's Day is SUNDAY! Here's what we want:

    What Dads Want For Father's Day: Tools, TVs And ... Cheese
    by Sarah Mahoney, Thursday, Jun 12, 2008 5:00 AM ET
    Craftmen Fathers day commercialWhile Father's Day is never quite the blessing to retailers that Mother's Day is--with consumers spending about $9.6 billion on dad versus $15.8 billion on mom---stores are being extra clever this year in their attempts to woo gift buyers.

    It goes without saying that both Home Depot and Lowe's--already positioned as Dad's dream emporiums--are offering plenty of promotions, both online and in stores. And in the hardware department, Sears' Craftsman has also outdone itself.

    Special spots, set to the theme song of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," show a Dad and son built entirely out of Craftsmen wrenches, with "the power to tighten any bond." With a $35 Craftsman purchase, shoppers can purchase a $9.99 "Doodle Box," a classic red Craftsman toolbox that comes with stickers, so kids can customize it for dad. The promotion also includes posters, t-shirts and online give-aways, including wallpaper and avatars.

    Sears is covering its bases, offering an alternative for the unhandy, too: A Men's Dockers Father's Day event, wherein customers will receive a $75 gas gift card when they spend $100 on Men's Dockers merchandise. A drawing for a Toyota Prius is also part of the promotion.

    Some gift promotions are less expected. Amazon, for example, is appealing to egg-headed Dads, offering free one-day shipping for those who buy its Kindle electronic reader. And Whole Foods Markets is recommending that shoppers buy Dad cheese--specifically, fine Norwegian Jarlsberg. (The variety isn't quite as random as it seems--Whole Foods recently welcomed Jarlsberg, now minus a questionable preservative, back on its shelves.)

    But what most Dads want, at least according to Circuit City, is electronics. The company recently released a survey of more than 4,100 fathers, which finds that 52% of dads prefer electronics for their big day--way more than those who want clothing (16%), sports gear (13%), or a vacation (9%). And it turns out that "You shouldn't have!" is pretty phony: Only 8% of dads surveyed didn't want a gift.

    The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are 64.3 million fathers in the U.S.; 30.2 million have children younger than 18.

    Sarah Mahoney can be reached at

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    Couponing Trends

    One of the strengths of newspapers used to be the Sunday ads and coupons. That is changing:

    Visits to Coupon Websites Up 56% from 2007, Classifieds Site Visits Up 113%

    The weekly share of US visits to a custom category of coupon websites increased 56% for the week ended June 6, 2008 compared with the equivalent week last year as consumers turned to the web to cope with increases in the cost of living, according to Hitwise. received the largest market share of visits within the category at 29%, with its market share increasing 190% from the same week last year; Coupon Mountain and Eversave followed with 14% and 6% share, respectively, Hitwise said.

    Below, additional findings issued by Hitwise.

    Search engines accounted for 20% of the traffic referred to coupon sites. Among the top 250 search terms driving traffic to the coupon websites, 60% of the search queries include a specific retailer brand or branded product:


    The remaining queries were split between generic searches for terms such as “grocery coupons” and “promo codes” and navigation by the names of coupon websites.

    “Retailers can entice purchases by making discounts available to price-conscious consumers as the cost of living continues to increase,” said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. “While discretionary income is shrinking for some households, consumers are still shopping online, but making sure that they find the best deals.”

    Additional Cost-Cutting Trends in Retail

    US visits to comparison shopping websites increased 51% for the week ended June 6, 2008 compared with the equivalent period last year.

    US visits to discount retailers increased 25% in the week ended June 6 compared with last year, while traditional department stores increased 15%.

    US searches on the term “coupons” sending visits to Shopping & Classifieds websites doubled for the week ended June 6 compared with the previous year.

    Shopping & Classifieds Category Visits Up

    The market share of US visits to the Shopping & Classifieds category increased 26% in May 2008 compared with May 2007.

    Moreover, consumers are selling and buying goods through classifieds websites.


    The Classifieds sub-category experienced the largest year-over-year growth in monthly market share of visits among the all of the Shopping & Classifieds categories.

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    36 email tips from Seth

    E-mail is one of those methods of communicating that has become standard practice.
    And it's one of those Love/Hate relationships depending usually on how you manage your spam.

    First, I have a tip for you. You can use G-Mail as a spam filter and Email back up system, and keep your regular email address. And it's free.

    Seth Godin wrote these 36 tips on his blog which were automatically emailed to me recently:

    Email checklist

    Before you hit send on that next email, perhaps you should run down this list, just to be sure:

    1. Is it going to just one person? (If yes, jump to #10)
    2. Since it's going to a group, have I thought about who is on my list?
    3. Are they blind copied?
    4. Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? Not like sort of, but really ask for it?
    5. So that means that if I didn't send it to them, they'd complain about not getting it?
    6. See #5. If they wouldn't complain, take them off!
    7. That means, for example, that sending bulk email to a list of bloggers just cause they have blogs is not okay.
    8. Aside: the definition of permission marketing: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them. Nowhere does it say anything about you and your needs as a sender. Probably none of my business, but I'm just letting you know how I feel. (And how your prospects feel).
    9. Is the email from a real person? If it is, will hitting reply get a note back to that person? (if not, change it please).
    10. Have I corresponded with this person before?
    11. Really? They've written back? (if no, reconsider email).
    12. If it is a cold-call email, and I'm sure it's welcome, and I'm sure it's not spam, then don't apologize. If I need to apologize, then yes, it's spam, and I'll get the brand-hurt I deserve.
    13. Am I angry? (If so, save as draft and come back to the note in one hour).
    14. Could I do this note better with a phone call?
    15. Am I blind-ccing my boss? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
    16. Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
    17. Is any portion of the email in all caps? (If so, consider changing it.)
    18. Is it in black type at a normal size?
    19. Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
    20. Have I included the line, "Please save the planet. Don't print this email"? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
    21. Could this email be shorter?
    22. Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
    23. Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like 'send big files' and consider your options.)
    24. Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
    25. Are there any :-) or other emoticons involved? (If so, reconsider).
    26. Am I forwarding someone else's mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
    27. Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else's)? (If so, delete).
    28. Am I forwarding something about a virus or worldwide charity effort or other potential hoax? (If so, visit snopes and check to see if it's 'actually true).
    29. Did I hit 'reply all'? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
    30. Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, "yes," is not helpful).
    31. If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it's? Just wondering.
    32. If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email--free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
    33. Are there any little animated creatures in the footer of this email? Adorable kittens? Endangered species of any kind?
    34. Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
    35. Bonus: Does the subject line make it easy to understand what's to come and likely it will get filed properly?
    36. If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?

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    Be Prepared to Leave a Message

    As an Eagle Scout and current member of the marketing committee of our local Boy Scouts, I have had the term "Be Prepared" drilled into my noggin since I was a teenager.

    It fits almost any area of our lives:

    Voice Mail Secrets

    Voice mail messages can be a useful selling tool or a major setback to your sales efforts, depending on how you leave or receive them.

    Here are a few tips that may help your effectiveness when leaving a message.

    Prepare what you plan to say before you leave a message. Rambling or pause-filled messages make the wrong impression to prospects.

    Leave all the critical information, but don't make the message too long. It's usually a good idea to leave the prospect with a day and time when you will call back.

    Be prepared to talk to the prospect or customer when you call. Some salespeople are so used to going into voice mail that they stammer and stutter when a live prospect answers. Every time you call a prospect, think of it as a possible face-to-face interview, and plan accordingly.

    Source: William Keefe, sales manager of Interactive Data (from The Selling Advantage, 05/28/08)

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    Working Smart Tips for Salespeople

    Attention Sales People,

    Here are some tips on how to work smarter as the price of gas hits new record highs:

    This week the cost of fuel hit an all time high. There are few people who are not feeling the pinch. Because of record fuel costs, people every where are changing their habits to use this precious resource more efficiently.

    Many, if not all, Sales Professionals are also feeling the pain of high gas prices. Does your heart sink each time you fuel your car for trips to appointments with customers and prospects? Have you begun calculating how much it costs you to drive to that small customer on the outskirts of town? Has the cost of fuel left you feeling depressed? Even if you are being reimbursed for some or all of this expense, the cost of fuel surely has your attention.

    There is good news though. The pain you are feeling is causing you to take a closer look at how and where you are spending your time. Many of you are getting back to the basics of time and territory management and qualifying. Driving around for a weekend showing houses to a client only to find out that they can't qualify for a loan is too expensive. Driving two hours to meet with a customer who is a no-show is no longer acceptable. Making a call on one side of your territory and then driving to the other side of your territory to close a "sure thing" isn't worth filling up for twice in a day. Setting appointments with prospects who are not in the buying window costs too much. And jumping though hoops for low margin customers has become intolerable.
    The silver lining to the fuel crisis is the high cost of fuel is teaching us to use our resources wisely, to plan better, and to become more efficient and effective with our most precious resource, our time.

    Four PowerPrinciples for Using Precious Resources Wisely

    Qualify the Ability to Buy: One of my mentors taught me to only spend my time with prospects and customers who have "the ability to buy." He said you must be willing to ask the right questions up front to make sure that you are spending your time with the right people, the right companies at the right time. Ask the hard questions first, then spend your gas money.

    Territory Planning: Few things are more inefficient and expensive than driving (or flying) from one side of your territory to another. One of the sure fire ways to maximize your income is to develop a territory plan and stick to it. First grid your territory by geography and day of the week. Next, only set appointments in each geographic grid on the days you will be there. Finally, schedule all other activities around those appointments in that area of your territory.
    Technology: Use technology to reduce drive time. There are dozens of new services on the market that allow you to spend time with your customers without being face to face. From video conferencing to webinars you can complete many of your sales process tasks without ever leaving your office. Read: Using Web Conferencing to Build a Better Business (and Get Your Life Back) by Sales Gravy contributor, Rich Baker, CEO of

    Prioritize: You can only do so many things in a day. You can choose to spend your time (and gas money) on high value tasks that make you money or low value tasks that waste your resources. The most successful people and top Sales Professionals take 10-15 minutes every evening to make a list of the top three to five tasks that must be accomplished the next day. This process ensures that when they wake up the next morning they are focused, energized, and using all of their resources wisely.

    Last Week's Article

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    TV Viewing Habits

    Here's the inside scoop on Viewership, Telvision-style:

    It’s a 118+ channel world out there in the average television household, according to a new study from The Nielsen Company. And the numbers suggest that the more channels people have, the more they watch.

    The number of television channels that the average U.S. home receives has now reached a record high of 118.6 TV channels. This and other television trends were released in a report from The Nielsen Company that highlights population, television ownership and advertising trends in the United States.

    Highlights from this Nielsen study include:

    * In 2007, the average U.S. home received 118.6 channels.

    * As the number of channels available to a household increases, so does the number of channels tuned. In 2007, the average household tuned to 16 or13% of the 118.6 channels available for at least 10 minutes per week.

    * General dramas dominate the English language broadcast networks program lineups, comprising 40% (67 of 168) of the primetime programs, an increase of seven programs from last year. Variety programs make up 23% of English language network prime time programs.

    * When Spanish language networks are included general dramas still dominate with 38% (92 of 243) of the total. Variety programs make up 23% (56 of 243) of the total Spanish and English network programs. But, there are more “Other” type programs (34) than situation comedies (33).

    * African Americans continue to watch more television than the total U.S. composite while Hispanics watch less. Total viewing among all households was 31 hours and 55 minutes per week while that figure was 45 hours and 22 minutes in African American households and 27 hours and 13 minutes in Hispanic households.

    * Viewing in African American households is more likely to be to ad-supported cable television (62%) than broadcast network (40%) while Hispanic households watch more broadcast network (51%) than ad-supported cable (46%). The total composite U.S. household tips toward ad-supported cable (58%) compared to broadcast network (40%)

    * The 30-second commercial is still the television advertising standard in primetime, accounting for 60% of all commercial units on English and Spanish language broadcast networks.

    Number of Channels Available

    In 2007, the average home received 118.6 channels. The percentage of homes receiving 100+ channels stands at 58% with 26% receiving between 60 and 99 channels. Nielsen found that the average television household in the U.S. receives 17 broadcast TV stations. On average, 44% receive up to 19 broadcast stations an additional 21% of homes receive up to 19 or more broadcast stations. An additional 28% receive between 20-29 broadcast stations.

    As the number of channels available to a household increased, so did the number of channels tuned, although the percentage of available channels actually viewed decreased. In 2007, the average household tuned to 16 (or 13%) of the 118.6 channels for at least 10 minutes during the week.

    Broadcast Network Programming Trends

    This year, Nielsen included programs from 11 broadcast networks, including English and Spanish language broadcast networks’ (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, ION, MNT, Univision, Telemundo, Telefutura, and TV Azteca ) schedules to profile the number of programs, types of programs (situation comedies, dramas, etc.) and hours in each schedule.

    General dramas dominate the prime time lineups, comprising 38% (92 of 243) of the programs. The number of Variety programs has reached 56. Situation Comedies make up 14% with 33 of the 243 total programs.

    Types of Primetime Programs on English and Spanish Language Broadcast Networks


    Trends in Broadcast Network Commercials

    The 30-second commercial is still the television advertising standard in primetime, accounting for 55% of all units. The 15-second commercial continues to be an important component in advertising. In English language network daytime television the 15-second commercial outpaces 30-second commercials. Fifteen-second units still account for the largest percentage of daytime commercials at 53% of English language and 42% of total English and Spanish language combined. The number of commercial minutes aired increased in both daytime and primetime for both English only and English and Spanish language combined. In primetime, 30-second and 15-second units make up 93% of all commercials. Together, 15s and 30s account for 94% of the total daytime commercials.

    Other Relevant TV Facts from the Nielsen Study:

    * The average U.S. TV home has 2.5 people and 2.8 television sets.
    * 31% of U.S. TV homes have Digital Cable.
    * 61% of homes have wired cable hook-ups (down from a high of 68% in 2000) and 27% have satellite or specialized antenna systems to receive television signals, up from 19% in 2005.
    * 82% of U.S homes have more than one television sets at home.
    * 87% of U.S. homes have a DVD player, with that technology overtaking VCRs which are in 79% of households.

    (source: The Nielsen Company )

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    Seth's What Every Good Marketer Knows-13

    Each day I’m adding another tip from this list from Seth…

    What Every Good Marketer Knows:

    By Seth Godin

    1. Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.

    2. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.

    3. Your best customers are worth far more than your average customers.

    4. Share of wallet is easier, more profitable and ultimately more effective a measure than share of market.

    5. Marketing begins before the product is created.

    6. Advertising is just a symptom, a tactic. Marketing is about far more than that.

    7. Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency.

    8. Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.

    9. Products that are remarkable get talked about.

    10. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns policy.

    11. You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.

    12. If you are marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize that it is an investment.

    13. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.

    Obviously, knowing what to do is very, very different than actually doing it.

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    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Thursday Nite Late Night Snack

    From My Email:

    by Amy Corr

    Let's talk about pet sex. What's in your head? If you had a fruit mirror, what fruit would look back at you? Let's launch!

    I pass one of these ads every night on my way home from work. I love it, and am curious: given the heat wave we've been having, how bad will that dress smell once it's exposed to air? WE TV promoted its fifth season of "Bridezillas" with 3-D bus shelter ads that are 4 ft. wide, 5 ft. tall and 7 inches deep. Inside the cases are potential scenes that you may or may not see while watching "Bridezillas": a wedding gown torn and covered in red wine and coffee stains, a smashed wedding cake, and a bridal shoe that cracked the display case glass. "Bridezillas: This Season The Family Fights Back!" reads the ads, found in New York and Chicago. Click here and here to see creative. Yard created the ads and Media Storm handled the media buy.

    On June 5, prior to the UEFA EURO 2008, adidas unveiled supersized versions of the tournament's stars. A 17-meter-high huddle of eleven players resides at the Zurich train station. This thing is massive -- it weighs more than seven tons, and is self-supporting. The players cheer for each other in their own language twice a day during rush hour. I think I should check this out up-close and personal. See the huddle here, here, here and here. In addition, a likeness of Czech national team goalkeeper Petr Cech with eight arms was mounted onto the Giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna, creating a cool effect when the Ferris wheel is in motion. See it here and here. TBWA Berlin created the campaign.

    If I bought the first iPhone -- but I didn't because I'm not targeted -- I would be mad that the latest version is not only faster, but also cheaper. The latest spot for the new iPhone launched online Monday, coinciding with the unveiling of iPhone 3G. It even comes in white. A steel box is carried through a maximum security building in "Hallway." The voiceover, Robert Downey, Jr., describes how this new phone will beat the iPhone because it's cheaper and surfs the Web faster. The twist is, the rival is just the latest version of Apple's iPhone. See the ad here. TBWA/Media Arts Lab created the campaign and handled the media buy.

    The Greenville Humane Society in South Carolina launched a TV and print campaign tackling the overpopulation of pets issue. The TV spot begins with an anxious dad giving his child "the talk." "You're probably having a lot new feelings and urges and that's normal... If you're going to act on those urges, I want you to be safe," says the father. The camera pans out to reveal that Dad is not talking to his child, but his dog that's humping his leg. "Spay and neuter your pets. It's the only form of birth control they understand," closes the ad, seen here. A print ad is equally funny, intended to look like a series of naughty personal ads for pets, with listings of a "Lady Looking for a Tramp," "Make this kitty purrr" and "Barely Beagle." There's a phone number (864-672-5590) included in the ad and I urge you to call it. It must have been fun to take on all these animalistic characteristics. See the ad here, created pro bono by Erwin-Penland.

    Sun-Rype juice launched phase two of an already colorful ad campaign promoting its fruity beverages. Colorful transit shelter ads, mall posters, and video boards are sprouting up throughout Toronto. The best part of the campaign is a traveling "fruit mirror." What is that, you ask? It's an interactive screen that transforms whoever stands in front of it into pixilated fruit, much like the TV campaign. I would like to be represented as a pomegranate. The mirror features a camera graphics program that instantly animates people onto a 62-inch LCD screen. It won't have the answer to your deepest, darkest questions, but you'll look like pixilated fruit. That's enough for me. See the mirror here, here, here and here. "Shoes," seen here and shot in stop-motion style animation, also depicts a world of people and things made from fruit. DDB Canada created the campaign, Tribal DDB helped with the fruit mirror and OMD Vancouver handled the media buy.

    Christy USA launched a national consumer advertising campaign in the United States that compares the luscious taste of fruit to the luscious feel of its towels. Points for trying, but it's too much of a stretch for me. "Luscious" features a close-up of a colorful towel that's paired with delicious fruits in matching colors. Blueberries sit atop a deep blue towel and a sliced, juicy pear rests on a towel of similar hue. See the ads here and here. The campaign was created in-house with creative consultation from the Juice Group.

    MyRichUncle launched a print campaign encouraging parents to research college loans for their children rather than take the loan offered by the school's preferred lender. The campaign compares taking the first vendor loan offered to you with checking your brain at the door. The "Thinking Saves Thousands" campaign consists of four print ads running in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Washington, among other cities, that show people empty-brained and scalpless, for that matter. "I didn't use my brain. I went straight to the financial aid office," says one ad. See the ads here, here, here and here. SS+K created the campaign and media buying was handled in-house.

    New Belgium Brewing Co. launched its second annual "Follow Your Folly" pro-recycling advertising campaign using recycled materials. Why didn't they think of this last year? That campaign layered photo-collages, while this year boxes were created, filled with recyclable objects such as bicycle seats and erector set windmills, and photographed for print purposes. The campaign targets outdoor enthusiasts and progressive thinkers, and can be found in issues of Rolling Stone, Bike, Climbing, Men's Journal, Outside, Mother Jones, Sunset, Readymade, Canoe & Kayak, Cooking Light, Paste and Good. See the ads here, here, here and here. Cultivator Advertising & Design created the campaign and Explore Communications handled the media buy.

    Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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    TV Related News Briefs

    While cleaning out emails tonight I found these stories from Mediapost:

    PBS Goes Commercial on Hulu
    The New York Times
    While PBS has the luxury of shunning commercials in its TV broadcasts, in the online world PBS is welcoming ads. The publicly supported, not-for-profit television network announced it will be streaming several programs on the Hulu Web site, including "Nova," "Wired Science," "Carrier" and "Scientific American Frontiers."

    This isn't the first ad deal that PBS has struck, although it is the first that will get widespread distribution. Hulu will place a 30-second spot before each program, splitting the revenue with PBS. Commercials will only be allowed at the beginning of its shows and ads for tobacco companies and politicians are off limits.

    The arrangement is an effort to balance revenue needs with PBS' noncommercial heritage, says Andrew Russell, head of PBS Ventures. "It is very important to carry the principles of public television into these environments," he says. - Read the whole story...

    Revamped TV Guide Covers Buzz About Ads
    Newly sold and heading for yet another sale, TV Guide has been revamped to be more topical and serve as a filter for its readers. Among the changes: a department devoted to buzz about commercials and online video, as well as TV programs.

    The latest redesign is from Debra Birnbaum, promoted to editor last month after Macrovision completed its $2.8 billion purchase of TV Guide parent Gemstar-TV Guide and ousted her predecessor Ian Birch. The redone issue hits newsstands Thursday, and includes more celebrities with Behind the Scenes, showing shots of stars off the set; and Cameo, a first-person celeb column kicked off by Vanessa Williams.

    TV Guide execs said the title turned a profit in the first quarter after years of losses. Nonetheless, Macrovision is on the prowl for a buyer willing to take the print magazine without its Web site. - Read the whole story...

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    Google Helping Your Newspaper

    Recent news report that newspapers are the ones generating the most revenue among local media outlets. Now Google wants to help them even more...

    Google Hopes New Ad Service Helps Papers
    Google Inc. chief executive Eric Schmidt said June 12 that the Internet search leader hoped its recently acquired advertising service DoubleClick would aid newspapers as they struggled to corral more online revenue. The AP reports, via more »

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    Price Perception

    We may kick and scream when prices go up, but here's what really happens and some words of wisdom:

    How Low Should You Go?

    "Two years ago," writes Drew McLellan at his Marketing Minute blog, "we were in a tizzy over gas prices. We couldn't believe [it was] going to be $2 [a] gallon. We were outraged." Then he imagines a current scenario—with prices topping $4 a gallon—in which he asks people on the street what they would think about paying $2 a gallon for their gasoline. "They would weep for joy," he concludes. "In fact, it would sound too good to be true and they'd ask me 'what's the catch?'"

    It's a prime example of just how elastic consumer price perception can be. And if you're wondering how to address pricing in a recessionary atmosphere, McLellan has these thoughts:

    Elasticity is a one-way street. Customers never like paying more when the marketplace has reduced costs.

    But it's also fast-acting. It doesn't take long for everyone accept the reality of higher prices.

    This, however, is more true for necessities. We have to get around, so people will endure steep price hikes for gasoline; they might compensate, however, by cutting back on "unnecessary" expenditures like eating out or buying luxury items.

    The Po!nt: Consider the ramifications of price changes before you act. "If everyone in your industry is lowering prices because of the recession," asks McLellan, "how will this hold them back when they're ready to re-raise their prices? [Conversely], how will it affect you if you resist the urge to lower prices now?"

    Source: Drew's Marketing Minute. Click here for the post.

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    The Value of a Brand

    The Brand is more than a name, it is a reputation. Check this out:

    In Pricing, Brand Really Does Make a Difference

    Brand leaders among marketing, advertising and PR firms are more likely to price their services at a higher level than their competitors (41% of brand leaders were premium-priced vs. 24% of lesser-known firms) - and more likely to actually get higher fees, according to a survey.

    Brand and value are paramount in pricing and discounting is hurting firms’ bottom lines, finds the 2008 “Fees and Pricing Benchmark Report: Marketing, Advertising, and PR Industry” report, which provides insight from 343 marketing, advertising and PR executives.

    It also finds that prices are on the increase despite the economic downturn, and communicating value is still the biggest pricing challenge facing firms. Below, findings from the study.

    Brand Names Drive Profits

    Firms that are well-known in their target markets receive premium fees, and are more likely to grow their business and realize higher profits, than lesser-known counterparts:


    • Professionals at leading branded firms command up to 33% higher actual/realized fees.
    • 79% of brand leaders experienced revenue growth in the last two years vs. 65% of lesser-known firms.
    • 69% of brand leaders are profitable vs. 56% of lesser-known firms.

    Discounting Hurts Bottom Line

    Discounting is widely used in the industry, though it can dramatically affect profitability:

    • 59% of firms report that they discount their fees.
    • The most common level of discount offered is 6-10% off originally published or mentioned rates, with an average discount of 12.8%.

    The report asserts that discounting shifts the focus away from the value the firm provides and reduces negotiations to discussions about price. “If price is an objection (and it often is) don’t jump straight to cutting price - cut the deliverables and promised outcomes first and the decrease in price will follow without forfeiting project profitability,” write authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr.

    They add that if firms strengthen their value proposition clients would be willing to accept higher fees, the firm would be less concerned about leaving money on the table and clients would put less pricing pressure on firms because they would have more confidence that the firm delivers value.

    Prices Rising, Despite Economic Downturn

    Though the economy has slowed, the data suggests that most firms have either not felt a pinch or are not adversely affected by downturns:


    • Two-thirds of firms have increased fees for services at least somewhat in the past two years.
    • 76% expect to increase their fees at least somewhat in the next one to two years.
    • The top three factors influencing fee increases were company improvement/experience/reputation/brand, the competitive landscape or market conditions, and clients’ perceived value of firms.

    Communicating Value Is Biggest Pricing Challenge

    The top 3 pricing challenges for firms:


    Premium-price firms reduce uncertainty by focusing on profit and value and are more likely to use value-based pricing to price their services (43% versus 21% of the bargain price firms). These firms first consider the value they can provide, then back that up with the confidence and in their ability to provide that value.

    The factors that matter most to premium-priced firms:


    Additional Observations

    • Firms must break out of the “going rates” spiral by offering distinct, differentiated services.
    • There is no clear winner in the “billable hour” vs. “value-based” pricing debate, though premium-priced firms and price-increasers tend to use value-based pricing, while hourly and daily fees are used more often by profit and brand leaders.
    • In its ability to deliver value on the next engagement, a firm’s relationship with a prospective client mattered more than twice as much (59% “very” or “extremely” important) as whether a client has worked with the firm in the past (27% “very” or “extremely” important).
    • The most profitable firms have the least price pressure from clients. Price pressure from clients often comes during times of economic distress, when a client does not see value in a particular solution or firm, and when clients are open to or are entertaining discussions from other providers.

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