Saturday, August 16, 2008

Midnight Snack

From Seth's Blog this week:

Thoughts on popcorn

I don't like popcorn.

But today, walking by a bowl of it, I took some.

Most people do. The thing about popcorn is that it is a low investment, low risk snack. You can eat it if you're not hungry. You can successfully have a tiny portion. You are virtually certain that it will taste very much like your last popcorn snack.

There are products that are as easy to sample as popcorn. And making your product more popcorn-like is a great idea.

At the same time, it's interesting to note that very few people make a lot of money from popcorn. For a product this ubiquitous, it's surprisingly unsuccessful. Coke and Nike and Marlboro are a lot more powerful than Jiffy Pop.

So, the second lesson is that you want to make the sampling popcorn-like, but the commitment to be far bigger than it is for popcorn. Easy trial and consistent quality can lead to low commitment, not a great combination.

How do we make this more like popcorn? How do we make it less like popcorn?

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Fresh Ideas

It's been awhile since I have featured Springwise. I subscribe to their weekly email to stimulate the creative juices. Click here to go to their website or just read their latest:

It's time for your weekly fix of entrepreneurial ideas! Our latest issue is now online. Here's
a quick run-down of the promising new businesses featured on Springwise this week:

People dancing at a Paris airportFree dance lessons at Paris airports
Travel & tourism / Education

To keep tempers cool and spirits high this year, the Aeroports de
Paris implemented an unconventional plan: free dance lessons for

Logo for Elements restaurantCrowdsourced restaurant in D.C. taps local community
Food & beverage

Crafted by a "beta community" of some 400 participants, Elements
will serve raw and organic locally grown vegetarian food in an
environmentally sustainable way.

Dark blue "square shirt"Shirt sold out? Make it yourself
Fashion & beauty

Indie fashion label SANS took one of its iconic pieces and instead of
retiring it after the season was through, recycled it as a DIY project.
Now, customers can make their own.

Bottles of wine and a board gameDutch game combines wine tasting and tryvertising
Food & beverage / Marketing & advertising

Encouraging people to organize their own wine tasting parties,
4xProeven (Tastingx4) combines a board game with a four-pack of
red wine.

Girl wearing a Yakkay helmet From Copenhagen: stylish helmets for urban cyclists
Transportation / Style & design

Catering to design-conscious urban cyclists who'd rather not sacrifice
style for safety, a group of Danish designers created a bicycle
helmet with interchangeable covers.

Heat map by 3voor12Using phones, crowds create heat maps of hot gigs
Telecom & mobile

3VOOR12 is piloting a new heat-mapping system at this year's
Lowlands music festival. Festival-goers can rate concerts as they
happen, giving others a real-time map of the hottest gigs.

Vegetable gardenMore homegrown vegetables, without the sweat
Food & beverage / Eco & sustainability

All that Your Backyard Farmer requires is a plot of land -- 10 x 10
square feet is the minimum for an individual or a family of two -- plus
six hours of direct sunlight a day and an outdoor water source.

Orange phone connected to a mouseOnline service cuts through phone menus
Telecom & mobile / Life hacks

Recognizing that nobody likes wading through lengthy phone menus
when calling their airline or gas company, a Canadian startup is
introducing a "Deep Dialing" service that cuts to the chase.

Drawing of a free bookOpen source approach to textbook publishing
Media & publishing / Education

Not only will students have free online access to expert-written, peer-
reviewed texts, but thanks to an open license, faculty members will
be able to customize books for their classes.

Menu on Lifebooker's websiteService finds & books discount spa treatments in NYC
Fashion & beauty / Marketing & advertising

Lifebooker is like a personal concierge that lets users search, browse
and book discounted appointments at the top health and beauty spots
in New York City.

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Connecting to your Customers

This past week I had the chance to help a local financial planner with her marketing plan and I stressed the need to make sure all of her efforts were designed to build relationships. This came from Marketing

So Many Paths to My Heart

More than 50 years of consumer research suggests that when dealing with product types that consumers really care about, there are at least 5 ways marketers can encourage customers to develop favorable attitudes toward their specific products. Whether you appeal to their imaginations, their values, their feelings, their analytical minds, or their need to belong, these tried-and-true tactics should serve you well. They've made the difference for a range of marketers over the years. Post this list next to your computer:

Five Sure-Fire Paths to Your Customer's Heart

  1. Offering a direct or imagined experience with the brand. Think product samples, or ads for "experiential" products like fantastic vacations.
  2. Using an analogy to something familiar. For example, you might talk about a new digital camera by saying it has the precision of a surgeon and the functionality of a Swiss watch.
  3. Relating the product to values consumers hold dear. The right phrase goes straight to the ol' ticker. ("Nothing comes closer to home." "A diamond is forever.")
  4. Using an analytical process, where you discuss the great features and benefits of your brand. (Think descriptions of how antacids work, with "anatomical" charts.)
  5. Linking your brand with a social identity. Play up a group of people consumers want to be like, or feel they are like already. ("Smart shoppers choose…").

The Po!nt: There are so many ways to connect. Try each of these tried-and-true approaches to see which one works best for you.

Source: " A Multiple Pathway Anchoring and Adjustment (MPAA) Model of Attitude Generation and Recruitment, Joel B. Cohen, Americus Reed II. Journal of Consumer Research, 2006.

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11 Business Card Tips

Starting our Saturday with wisdom from Small Fuel:

SmallFuel Marketing Blog

Marketing Essentials Part 5: Behold the Business Card

exchanging business card

So far in our Marketing Essentials series, we’ve explored how to discover your brand, creating a marketing message, and the importance of web presence, no matter what your business.

Now it’s time to focus our attention on the humble business card – one of the cheapest, most effective marketing essentials every business needs.

Have you ever stood in the checkout line of a store and noticed the rack of business cards waiting for your attention? Did any of them catch your eye?

Probably not. Stuck in a rack that holds sometimes up to 20 competitor cards, those little cardboard pieces didn’t engage you at all. You probably didn’t even notice the business name printed on even one of them. You very likely left them all there, paid for your items and walked out the store.

Your business card has a very important job. A business card is a low-cost multisensory marketing tools that convey your brand, your message and the personality of your company in one powerful shot.

Think about it – you can touch a business card and feel the quality the company stands for. You visually take in the colors and design to feel the emotional impact of the brand and message. And you read the information on the card.

Your business card is often the first impression and contact people have with your business. It tells people about your business, gives them a way to contact you, creates a memorable effect and allows people to pass on your card to others – that’s free marketing for you.

Read on to learn how to get the most from your business cards.

The Dos and Don’ts of Business Cards

“There’s a problem with your card, sir.” You may have heard that when a clerk tells the person in front of you at the checkout line that card payment didn’t go through as expected.

The same line can be said for many a business card out there. Here are some important business card mistakes to avoid – and some tips on what to do:

Be true to your brand
Having a unique card is a great idea, because you do want to influence people with it and be memorable. But if your business car is too unique, too funky, or too interesting, people don’t remember your business – they just remember the cool card they have.

Make sure your business card reflects your brand and image. The colors and design should match that of the main feature of your logo or website banner. Stay consistent with your image for a sure hit.

Don’t Cheap Out on Quality
Money is an issue for most small business owners, and scrimping where you can to invest in other areas is important. Your business card is not the place to do that, though. Low-quality paper stock, amateur design or home-office printing reflects poorly on your business.
That costs you sales instead of saving you money.

Avoid homemade cards at all costs, even if you only want 50 or 100 cards. The expense of professional design and printing has come down considerably and it’s within reach of all small business budgets. There’s no excuse to neglect better quality that enhances your image.

Don’t Get Too Complex
There are some beautiful design concepts out there. Graphic art is truly a technological wonder these days. It’s tempting to let loose and create the most stunning card ever.

Rein in that enthusiasm. Business cards that are clear, uncluttered and simple are often far more effective than wall-to-wall colored images with meticulous attention to the tiniest detail. Use your logo and minimize the use of colors. Avoid too much splash or an overly difficult font to read.

Be Bold without Screaming
Color impact does play a big part in the effectiveness of your business card. Pay attention to the emotional impact that color can have on a person’s state of mind. The proper use of color can enhance the positive image of your business.

Garish, loud colors scream for attention. They leap up, leap off the card and shake people by the shoulders. That’s not the effect you want your business card to have. Do a little research. Select colors that convey the image you want for impact, not implosion.

Think About Your Sizes
Two sizing issues come with business cards: the size of what’s on the card and the size of the card itself.

If no one can read your small font, you’ve lost opportunities to reach consumers. If the logo is so big that it overwhelms the contact information, toss more customer leads out the window. Keep logos visible but balance the size with the space of your card, and make sure fonts are easily readable at a glance.

Also, if no one can tuck your card away easily for safekeeping to retrieve it later, they’re not going to keep it. Your card gets thrown in a drawer or worse, thrown away. Avoid odd or oversized cards and pay attention to shape.

How to Use Your Business Cards

Here are some tips on how to use your business cards effectively to tap into all the marketing potential:

Always have business cards handy. Your business card should be traveling with you each time you leave home, no matter how casual the occasion.

Give a small supply of cards to network contacts. Let people market for you and make sure they have your business card handy to pass around.

Exchange cards with people. At events, meetings and gatherings, ask people for their business card. It puts them in a positive, receptive mood, and they’re happy to take yours in exchange.

Leave some cards in smart locations. Find related businesses that aren’t your direct competition and ask if you can leave cards for them to offer their client. This also opens for networking opportunities.

Attach your card to your product. Staple your business card to bags, tie it to gift baskets, attach it to documentation… Each time a customer receives something from you, he or she should also receive your card.

Write on it. Never underestimate the power of writing a secondary email, your cell phone number or a relevant note on your business card. People feel special to have custom info and take greater care not to lose it.

Business cards have too much power to be slapped together without a care. They can help seal a deal, land a sale or promote your business properly. With a little thought and foresight, you can create – and use – a beautiful business card that provides strong positive influence.

Want to learn how to maximize your marketing opportunities? Stay tuned. In our last post of the series, we’ll tell you how to tie your marketing essentials together into one great system that works.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Finals

A little early, just 'cause: (more posts Saturday Morning)

by Karlene Lukovitz
[Beverages] The company is running a co-branded online Madden NFL 09 sweepstakes. Prizes include a trip to Super Bowl XLIII and tickets to EA's Madden Bowl XV in Tampa, Fla., as well as the chance to tour the EA Tiburon game studio where Madden NFL football games are created. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] The effort has three goals: to get people ages 18 to 25 registered, to educate them about a politician's environmental record and to get people in the voting booths with the environment top of mind, says a spokesperson. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
[Automotive] "The bottom line is that anyone making a raw commodity is vulnerable," he said in an address. "You're no different than a generic car that has no brand loyalty. The companies that will survive are those who make products that help create a distinct brand image for the vehicle." ... Read the whole story > >
by Laurie Sullivan
[Electronics] Tom Hoehn, who from Beijing spearheads Kodak's brand communications and new media efforts, says other sites concentrate on countries and medal tallies, but Kodak turns the lens on the human experience to provide an in-depth look into life at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
[Automotive] "It is absolutely the premiere concours event in the world," says the company's Nancy Hubbell. "It draws people internationally. When people say they are going to Pebble Beach, they may not be going to the actual Concours, because there are so many affiliated events. It has really evolved into a destination." ... Read the whole story > >
Wal-Mart Posts Strong Sales, Earnings Gains

Couric Goes Live Online For CBS
The Hollywood Reporter
Katie Couric will anchor a live, daily Webcast for CBS News during both the Democratic and Republican national conventions that will begin after the network's prime-time coverage goes off the air.

The Webcast that will be distributed live on,, YouTube and Google and be produced by Rick Kaplan of the "CBS Evening News." It will last at least 30 minutes, depending on the news of the day, and begin at 11 p.m. ET.

CBS News correspondents and outside bloggers will share their analysis during the program. "Hopefully, these Webcasts will offer users valuable information in a fun and easily accessible way, " says Couric. - Read the whole story...

Leaked TV Shows Offer a 'Pre-Air' Season
With just a month before fall television programs hit the air, more than 10 highly anticipated shows have leaked online, offering users sneak peaks at "Life on Mars," "Leverage," "Do Not Disturb" and others. The number of leaked shows is steadily increasing and the leaks start as early as May, says Eric Garland, a digital tracking executive.

Welcome to the dawning age of the "pre-air" season, where shows bubble up online several months before their debut on network television. For example, the first episode of J.J. Abrams' highly anticipated supernatural show "Fringe" surfaced on file-sharing networks in June -- three months before its scheduled premiere. - Read the whole story...

Gannett To Cut 1,000 Newspaper Jobs

BET Kicks Off Weekly News Program
Associated Press
BET, the TV network aimed at blacks, unveils a weekly news show August 15 that's a cross between Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher -- with an African-American perspective. Its debut is in preparation for the Democratic National Convention.

Called "The Truth with Jeff Johnson" and airing at 11 p.m. on Fridays, the program stars a BET personality who has also been an activist for the NAACP and People for the American Way.

Besides election coverage and commentary on the week's news, Johnson says he wants the show to address topics like the use of vouchers for private schools and health issues relevant to blacks. - Read the whole story...

WPP'S Enfatico Draws Industry Fire
New York Post
Last year, when WPP Group landed an unprecedented deal to create one giant agency to handle Dell's massive account (which had been handled by 800 shops worldwide), it upended the ad business. Lately the ad business has been firing back.

In blogs and private conversations, detractors are counting the days until the deal falls apart. They repeatedly point out that Enfatico is running behind schedule and has yet to produce any advertising for Dell since it won the $4.5 billion contract. Other ad chiefs question if Enfatico will be able to keep top creative talent happy working on one piece of business.

There's a lot riding on Enfatico. If it succeeds, other big clients may want to follow suit. If it fails, it would prove embarrassing and costly for WPP. Enfatico's startup process involves 800 employees and 15 offices; it is about 90% complete with the first ads due by December, say WPP reps. - Read the whole story...

Time Warner's $9.25 Billion Dilemma
How Time Warner's chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes decides to spend a $9.25 billion cash windfall arriving later this year will be a crucial test in the eyes of investors.

Some shareholders, wary of Time Warner's track record on acquisitions, see repurchasing shares as the only way to go. But the right deal, such as Scripps Networks Interactive, could help TW bulk up its programming and boost ad and licensing revenues, ultimately lifting the stock.

In the end, Bewkes may split the difference--using some of the cash to buy back shares while scouting overseas for smaller TV, Web, movie and videogame deals. - Read the whole story...

OMD Set To Win Callaway's $50 Mil. Account

AT&T Considers ISP Monitoring
The New York Times
In a letter in response to an inquiry made by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, telecom giant AT&T said it was considering ISP-level targeting. According to The New York Times' Saul Hansell, AT&T expressed in its letter more interest in the controversial approach than other big Internet service providers. ISP-level targeting involves deploying a monitoring technology to capture where users go on the Internet in order to serve targeted ads.

AT&T claims that it would deploy ISP targeting "the right way," meaning the advertising system would require customers to agree to being monitored. The opt-in approach is certainly the preferred method of privacy watchdogs, if ISP-monitoring has to be tolerated at all. Currently, most companies that deploy ad targeting offer some kind of opt-out, recording the behaviors of users without asking them first.

The Congressional committee requested information about the ad targeting practices of 33 companies after reports emerged claiming that ISPs like Charter Communications were preparing to track users' surfing behavior through the ISP monitoring service NebuAd. Charter has since suspended its plans to use the service. - Read the whole story...

Obama Rules The Web
Barack Obama is crushing John McCain when it comes to raising funds on the Web, the Economist reports. In June, the Illinois Senator raised $52 million for his campaign--$31 million of which came from donations of $200 or less. Most of these came from the Web. On Facebook, Obama has 1.3 million supporters to McCain's 200,000. He is also using Twitter, the microblogging service, to spread the word about his every campaign move. Former Howard Dean adviser Andrew Rasiej claims that Obama "understands the DNA of the internet" in a way that John McCain simply does not (McCain has admitted as much).

Peter Daou, Hillary Clinton's Internet director, says that YouTube, more than any other Web site, has had the biggest impact on the race for the White House. For example, artist's pro-Obama "Yes We Can" video has been watched nearly 8 million times since it was unveiled six months ago. Meanwhile, "Raining McCain", the most-watched ode to the Arizona Senator, has been viewed less than 2 million times.

Both candidates also have their own YouTube channels. In all, Obama's videos have been viewed 52 million times, compared to McCain's 9.5 million. Obama's most popular video is his 37-minute speech on race in America; it has been viewed 4.7 million times. Next up: The Google video site is moderating a contest asking users to submit short two-minute videos about why they are supporting either Obama or McCain. - Read the whole story...

Facebook, ConnectU Finally Settle
BBC News
Facebook won final approval to acquire ConnectU, a social networking rival whose founders had accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea, despite an appeal against their agreed out-of-court settlement earlier this year. ConnectU claimed that Facebook misrepresented its value during the settlement talks.

The controversy was all about Microsoft's stake in the social networking giant, as ConnectU's owners were to be given an undisclosed amount of money and Facebook stock as part of the settlement. Following Microsoft's purchase of a one percent stake in October 2007, Facebook was given a valuation of $15 billion, but the company claims that that value shouldn't be used to rate its worth because the deal was specific to Microsoft. Instead, Facebook said its real value was $3-4bn. In exchange for the money and Facebook stock, ConnectU's owners, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (who happen to be Olympic rowers), agreed to hand over to Facebook all the stock they held in ConnectU. - Read the whole story...

Android To Hit Stores in October
The New York Times
The New York Times is reporting that the first Android-powered phones will go on sale in the U.S. as early as October. According to the report, the phones will be created by HTC and run on T-Mobile's nationwide network. Android will be the phone's operating system software.

Many tech blogs are calling the new HTC device the "dream," claiming that it will be able to match many of the capabilities offered by Apple's iPhone and other smartphones, including touchscreen technology. Video of the phone has popped up on YouTube; a Times source who's seen the HTC device claims it matches the one in the video.

Still, the phone's release date is not certain, because the FTC first needs to certify that the Google software and the HTC phone meet network standards. Executives from the three companies hope to announce the phone in September so they can benefit from holiday sales, the Times said. Like the iPhone, users will be able to personalize their phones by downloading third-party software. As Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in an interview yesterday, "We can make more money on mobile than we do on the desktop, eventually." - Read the whole story...

Yahoo Chooses Chapple, Biondi For Board
The Wall Street Journal

Web Spending Overtakes TV In Britain

Apple Passes Google In Market Cap
Bloomberg News

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Productivity Helpers

Wednesday night as I was cleaning out my email, I found this to share with you today:

Fighting the Urge to Do Useless Tasks

Posted: 04 Aug 2008 11:18 PM CDT

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I am a total wastrel when it comes to using my time wisely. There are days when I've been in my office all day - without a break - and it seems I've accomplished nothing.

MessydeskI'm even appalled at my own lack of discipline. But some tasks are distasteful; others are overwhelming. It's hard to get started. So I check my email again only to discover 19 new messages demanding my immediate attention.

But before I know it the day is gone forever, filled with the successful completion of useless tasks that I feel compelled to do - and not one step close to getting the main things done.

That's why I fell in love with Leo Babauta's article on ZenHabits today called "20 Strategies to Defeat the Urge to Do Useless Tasks."

I think he wrote it just for me - but you can have a peek.

Check out his multi-pronged strategies to beat the urge to do the useless - and get on to the more important things - like LIFE!

Related Articles

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Walmart & Macy's Choose Option 3

When business slows, you have three choices on what to do with your advertising. You can do the same as you have and try and hang on. You can cut back which is the equivalent of "curl up and die and disappear from your customers".

Or do option three. Grow. And depending on competition, you may luck out if you do the first option. But, option 2 is suicide.

Here's what a couple of the big boys are doing (from Advertising Age):

Macy's, Wal-Mart Hold Their Ground

Earnings Reports Bring Mixed News, but Retailers Not Cutting Marketing Budgets

NEW YORK ( -- There may be plenty of doom and gloom swirling around the retail industry, but for now two major retailers --Macy's and Wal-Mart -- are still spending on advertising.
Macy's on Wednesday cut its full-year earnings outlook as profits slipped, but said it will continue to make investments in marketing.
Macy's on Wednesday cut its full-year earnings outlook as profits slipped, but said it will continue to make investments in marketing.
Photo Credit: AP

Macy's yesterday cut its full-year earnings outlook as profits slipped, but said it will continue to make investments in marketing. The budget looks to be expanding, as the retailer supports a new relationship with Dunnhumby and prepares for major programs around its 150th anniversary and the holiday season. A Macy's spokeswoman said that marketing plans will not be affected, and will be "very visible" in the second half of the year.

Segmenting with precision
Dunnhumby, a consumer-insights firm, has earned a reputation as an expert at accelerating sales trends through its work with Kroger and Home Depot on the retail side. The firm will be charged with developing customer-segmentation models to be applied across the retailer's business, an effort to support its localized My Macy's initiative.

"For Macy's to continue to build a sustainable competitive advantage, we need to fully understand our customers and mold our offering to satisfy each customer's specific needs," Terry Lundgren, Macy's chairman-CEO, said in a statement. "Our intention is to leverage knowledge of customer segments to drive same-store sales, profitability, customer loyalty and, ultimately, shareholder value."

The department store chain said that second-quarter earnings dropped to $73 million from $74 million, while sales fell to $5.7 million from $5.9 million.

Wal-Mart stays focused
Wal-Mart is also investing in advertising -- and is weathering the consumer slowdown better than most. To combat shopper malaise and boost sales, the discount giant is focusing ads on food, consumables and seasonal shopping occasions like Mother's Day and July 4. Spending on TV and circular advertising during the second quarter was up "significantly" over last year, Wal-Mart said.
Wal-Mart is focusing ads on food, consumables and seasonal shopping occasions like Mother's Day and July 4.
Wal-Mart is focusing ads on food, consumables and seasonal shopping occasions like Mother's Day and July 4.

"You probably have seen that we have made significant improvements in our marketing and in-store communications," Eduardo Castro-Wright, president-CEO Wal-Mart Stores Division, said during a conference call. "Customers have responded well, and they will continue to see it even more integrated into our stores during the second half of the year."

Wal-Mart reported a 10% jump in second-quarter sales to $101.6 billion, and profits followed suit, rising 17%. The retailer cautioned, however, that it is experiencing sales volatility from week to week and sales at stores open at least a year would likely only improve between 1% and 2% during the third quarter. Wal-Mart has said that it is seeing different sales trends around paycheck cycles.

Catering to penny-pinchers
"Wal-Mart's customer is reflective of society in general," President-CEO Lee Scott said during a conference call with investors. "While some of them live paycheck to paycheck, our customers represent a broad income segment, and they are all challenged today. When energy and oil prices go up on top of inflation in healthcare and core food items, there's a great deal of pressure on the customer."

Kohl's, JC Penney and Nordstrom also report second-quarter results this week. Analysts expect each retailer to report a decline in earnings.

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Trends vs. Cycles

Chuck McKay shares with us some excellent advice:

Trends and Cycles and Advertising In Them

Some trends are cyclical. Some are obvious. Sometimes both. Most are also predictable. Are all trends cyclical? Hardly. In the 90s, as growing demand and sophisticated technology converged to create the Internet, providing service to local subscribers was a great growth business. Look at the incredible growth of AOL, Compuserve, and hundreds of local ISPs throughout the country. Today, however, Internet service is a commodity. There's no hope of a repeat of the dramatic growth curve of the last two decades. Trend, yes. No cycle.

But the housing boom of the last few years? That was an obvious trend, with an equally obvious cyclical behavior. Equity growth can't continue at double digit rates indefinitely. By the time cab drivers and school teachers are buying second homes as investment properties, the boom is about over.

Trend? Definitely. Cycle? Equally definite.

We've seen this cycle before, haven't we?

We've seen what happens after a real estate crash. We all remember 1992.

In each phase of each cycle, some businesses will benefit, and others will be damaged. Real estate brokers and mortgage lenders did very well during the real estate boom. They won't be doing well in the immediate future. Bankruptcy attorneys and payday loan companies will, however.

While the housing bubble was rising, anyone hanging out a shingle got business. Advertising? That was a totally unnecessary expense.

Now that the bubble has burst, how many brokers have left the industry? How many have laid off their staff, and are again operating out of their homes?

Suppose you had been the one.

The one real estate broker in town who had realized that markets don't go up forever. Suppose that you'd started building your image as a problem solver, as the company who can get it done, back when times were good. Who would stressed sellers turn to today to help them get their overpriced homes off the market?

The time to build image, to create Top-Of-Mind-Awareness, is before someone needs your services.

When times are good, people may choose you because of your reputation. They may choose you as a result of your advertising. But, sometimes, you may simply be the beneficiary of so many people in the market that you're tripping over them.

That was a fair description of the recent real estate market in this country. It's about to be the description of the state of personal finance, too.

Trend? Yup. Cyclical? Obviously. Predictable? You tell me.

And, much like real estate brokering, and mortgage lending in the early years of this decade, do you suspect a dramatic increase in the number of bankruptcy attorneys and payday loan companies?

Yes. It's a safe bet (but probably a poor metaphor, huh?)

So, what's ahead for bankruptcy attorneys and payday loan companies? A year or so of so much business they'll trip over it. Followed by lean times when the “market correction” has played out.

What's my advice?

Don't depend on your Yellow Pages ads.

Oh, they're working well right now. By the time someone is in trouble and needs your services, they'll open the directory and search for any headline that promises them relief from their particular pain. When people open the Yellow Pages they've already decided to buy. But since they have no familiarity with you, and no preference for anyone, it's a crap shoot whom they'll buy from.

When the onslaught of people in financial trouble diminishes (as all trends do), you're going to have to start competing with other bankruptcy attorneys or payday loan companies for the small amount of business that's left. You're going to need an image in people's minds if you expect them to pick you. You can't build image in a directory listing.

Start now in other media.

Give compelling reasons that people who need your services should choose you. Start now when cash is flowing and investments in your future are less painful. Start now, because it takes time to influence the way people think.

Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover you, and choose your business. Questions about economic trends and advertising may be directed to

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Starbucks & the Local Coffee Shop

I've written about what I like and dislike about Starbucks and today a hat-tip goes to the THINKing Blog for pointing out another perspective posted at the MarketingTechBlog, which I'll share with you in a second.

First a brief history of Coffee Houses in Market # 103 (more or less), Fort Wayne, Indiana. We are the 2nd largest city in Fort Wayne and 8 years ago when my bride-to-be introduced me to coffee shops, all we had were local shops.

Higher Grounds, had a few locations, The Mill, had a combo coffee/bakery shop with a few locations in town, and there where a few others that struggled and as long as they had their niche, like live music perhaps a Victorian-style home, they hung around.

You had to drive 150 miles to find a Starbucks.The keys to the success for a coffee shop were good brew, pleasant place to hang out, and wireless internet.

These days there are three Coffee Shops I'll visit regularly. The recently renamed "Hill of Beans" which is about a mile from my office, that offers all of the above along with a tasty lunch menu. On the north side of town, where I live there is the Firefly, another one location shop that does well with the right mix of people, customers, food, and all of the above. Depending on where I am in my travels, I may also visit a Higher Grounds, based on convenience.

When Starbucks came to this part of Indiana, the local coffee shops were nervous, but the only ones that lost were the ones that were inferior anyway. When Starbucks announced they were cutting 600 stores, we lost two outside of town, in neighboring communities. I will visit Starbucks, briefly, or do their drive-thru on occasion, as the following article explains is what they want me to do. But Starbucks is still a minor player in my life, and I visit a coffee shop an average of 8 times weekly.

Starbucks: Inflation and Devaluation of a Brand

The United States really didn’t understand what coffee could taste like. Coffee grinds were flavored with chips for a long time that helped maximize the profits of coffee companies. I had a friend of mine that worked in a packaging plant who worked on the equipment that filled and sealed coffee containers. He told me they changed brands all night, but never changed the beans. We were all getting fed the same crap, disguised in different coffee cans.

Then Came Great Coffee

About the time I started to pay attention to how my coffee tasted was about the time I found the Norfolk Coffee & Tea Company. To this day I’ll tell you that there’s nothing quite like getting fresh roasted beans directly from the oven.

If you’re imagining it as some new wave, modern place for coffee snobs to meet and hobnob, you couldn’t be further from the truth. The inside looked like an abused factory… there was a coating of coffee and peanut dust on everything you looked at. You simply walked in, ordered your bag of grounds, and walked out. I have no idea where the beans came from, but they were terrific. The owners taught me about the new coffee makers that were out with no burners and insulated carafes. No burnt coffee. Mmmm.

Then Came Starbucks

About this time, I moved to Denver and left my new found discovery behind. In Denver, I searched for some coffee roasters but it just wasn’t the same. Starbucks had come to town, though, and I got a flavor for the burnt beans of the ‘bucks. I don’t think I ever got used to the cost or taste of those beans, though! I was spending 10 times the money on coffee than I used to!

I did enjoy the stores. I loved sitting down, logging onto the wireless (before they were charging for it), and getting some work done. They played cool music there (before they were selling it).

Then Came Hard Seats

Hanging out at Starbucks when they first opened was pretty sweet. Comfy chairs throughout, making it a great place to hold the impromptu meeting. The comfy chairs invited people to spend more time at Starbucks, though. I’ve read that many retail establishments put in hard seats so people won’t stay as long. Starbucks switched to larger stores and hard chairs with a comfy seat nary around.

Then Came the Auto-Shots

I remember the great signs greeting you at the ‘bucks:

Your Barista is Jane

Jane may have a splash of green hair and a couple piercings in odd places, but as she pulled a shot, you watched as she practiced her craft. She’d discuss your likes and dislikes off the drink options and make a couple recommendations to you based on her wealth of experience. You felt cool just being there and being paid attention to. You felt special.

But the lines grew bigger and the assembly line had to grow more efficient. New machines were brought in that automatically ground, packed and poured the shot. The magic was gone… no imperfection, no shots that took too long, too short or had too many grounds. Worse yet, baristas lost their knowledge of the craft. Barista’s were no less artists than someone flipping a burger at the local Burger King.

Then Came the Retail

As you stood in line, you were now surrounded by bags of beans, cups, mugs, insulated containers, chocolates, coffee makers, espresso machines, music CDs, newspapers… The store was starting to look more like a store than a third place, the place away from home and work where I wanted to spend time.

Then Came the Drive-Throughs

The lines were too long to carry on a conversation. The baristas were too busy to get to know you. Shifts of new baristas came and went, the “Your Barista is” was left blank. To fight the lines, the drive-through was installed. It’s more convenient. It’s faster. Bigger profits. More customers.

There was no option of a taste of the out of ordinary tailored to your fancy. Just the typical recommended drink of the day or an upsell to a coffee cake.

No thanks. Non-fat, no-whip, grande mocha please.

Eight dollars, drive around.

I’d listen to the radio as I’d pull around and hand them my cash and head for work. No greetings, no discussion of the weather. Just me and my car. The magic was gone. Starbucks, the experience as I had known it, had died.

The truth was that I don’t know that I was ever really in Starbucks for the coffee. Oh - I needed my fix just like everyone else, but I was in love with the brand, the style, the personality of the coffee house. I loved going there because I felt important. And when I paid $5 for a specialty drink, I felt even more important.

Somewhere along the way, Starbucks began shaving off the special in turn for profits and efficiency. They stopped making me feel important. They stopped making me feel special. They stopped being special. Starbucks is an amazing story - they inflated the price of a common drink and got us all hooked. But they couldn’t keep us. Growth, profit and efficiency took over and eventually squashed everything out of the stores that was unique.

The irony is that Starbucks devalued itself, no one else did it. No competitor came in and challenged them. When Schultz came back in January, I had big hopes. Oh well.

Then Came the Discounts

Today, Starbucks began offering a $2 afternoon drink if you bring in a receipt from the morning. I stopped for lunch at Starbucks today and got my stamped receipt to come in later. I never did.

I think we’ve kind of hit the nail on the head, says Brad Stevens, vice president of customer relationship management. It’s easy for baristas to implement and it’s easy for customers to understand.

Easy. Yes, that’s the answer. I want to pay for easy.

IMHO, I think Starbucks has hit the final nail in the coffin. They’re no longer special enough to charge you $5 for a drink, they’re now resorting to discounting the single greatest product they touted. It’s a sad day for Starbucks.

Then Came the Private Coffee House

I’m writing this from my favorite coffee house in the world, The Bean Cup. Tonight, my barista Cassie put together a fantastic raspberry Italian soda for me based on a discussion of my likes and dislikes (that she knows pretty well). And Alayna made me a wonderful heated roast beef sandwich on a toasted bagel (not on the menu).

I wrote this entire post on the free wireless and sat part of the time in a big ol’ comfy swivel chair. Cassy and Alayna are chatting, by name, with the customers and pouring shots (and repouring them if they’re too long or too short), packing them carefully based on the humidity.

There’s such an important story in here for other companies. You simply can’t continue charging for “special” and then whittling away at everything that was special. Starbucks didn’t discount an afternoon coffee this afternoon, they devalued their brand even further.

It’s a sad day for Starbucks, but a great day for The Bean Cup. I never did go back and get that $2 drink this afternoon.

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This Weeks Ad Campaigns

The first week of the Olympics leads off this weeks report from Mediapost:

Out to Launch
Olympic ads. Fake boobs sell real fries. Let's launch!

The United States Olympic Committee and the Ad Council launched a multi-year PSA campaign focusing on teen steroid use that's funded by Johnson & Johnson. "Asterisk" features the star player of a high school team being congratulated by students, teachers and coaches. Jake has a pimple on his forehead that gets bigger and bigger throughout the ad, as people begin to look at him differently. By the end of the ad, the zit has morphed into an asterisk, branding Jake as a fraud. See the long and short versions of the ad here and here. A print ad, seen here, features a female swimmer who cannot hide the bulging asterisk underneath her swim cap. The campaign was created pro bono by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York.

adidas launched "Countdown," a TV spot running predominantly in Hong Kong with a touch of China included. The ad shows both athletes and the country as a whole, waiting with bated breath for the games to begin. No pressure on the athletes or anything. Watch the ad here. "Gametime," running in China, shows residents propelling soccer, volleyball and basketball players to the top position on the medal podium. See the ad here. Print ads follow suit, with countrymen and women standing behind their athletes and supporting them atop a cluster of fans. See the ads here and here. TBWA/China created the TV ads and TBWA/China (TBWA/180) created the print ads.

adidas also launched a global print campaign called "Gold is not a Given," featuring sprinters Tyson Gay, Allyson Felix, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Jeremy Wariner, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and marathoner Haile Gebrselassie. These athletes flew to Beijing in February to familiarize themselves with the city and train in sub-zero temperatures. I won't run outdoors if it's below 40 degrees. Hence my day job and gym membership! Copy is different in each of the ads yet equally motivational. "Gold can be lost in a flash. Lost in the blink of an eye. Lost before the start of a race. Lost months before you step onto the track. Gold is never a given," reads the copy in Tyson Gay's ad, ironic for the sprinter, who's recovering from a hamstring injury. See the ads here, here, here, here, here and here. 180 Amsterdam created the campaign.

Isn't Morgan Freeman in the hospital? The actor has been the voiceover for Visa's "Go World" TV campaign, and vocally appears in the latest ad that congratulates swimmer Michael Phelps for becoming the Olympian with the most gold medals (10 and counting), a feat just recently achieved. Good thing companies prepare for potential -- OK, probable -- milestones. "Congratulations, Phelps" aired following his win in the 200-meter butterfly and treats Phelps fans to still shots of his toned body in and out of the pool and closes with the image of Phelps celebrating the U.S. team's comeback from behind victory in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay. I had to go online and watch it again. See the ad here. TBWA/Chiat/Day created the spot and OMD handled the media buy.

GE has three great TV spots running during the Olympics. "Crane" promotes GE's fuel-efficient and low-emission aircraft engines using a series of cranes awaiting takeoff on a beach. Takeoffs are halted due to runway traffic -- baby turtles. See the ad here. "Discus" shows how the Greek ruins came to be: a talented discus thrower battling a strong, sudden gust of wind. Watch the ad here. Crouching children, hungry, fire-breathing dragon? Village men, women and children trek grass to a mountaintop to feed a hungry dragon that in turn breathes fire and turns organic waste into energy for a heated pool. Legend=reality. Click here to watch the ad. BBDO New York created the campaign.

Kinetic launched a month-long mobile and outdoor campaign for the USA Water Polo Association. Ads are running on jumbotrons throughout New York and Los Angeles, with headlines such as "The most intense sport in Beijing and you only see half of it" and "The benefit of getting wounded in a pool is that chlorine is a disinfectant." See the ads here, here and here, which include a number for users to text and receive more info on water polo.

AT&T launched two Olympic-themed ads supporting its AT&T Mobile TV live Olympic coverage. Butterflies flutter about in one ad, as do fast-moving gymnasts. Watch the ad here. "We will shatter records. We will pull off miracles. We will make history," says the voiceover in another ad, which positions the fans as part of Team USA. See the ad here. BBDO New York and Atlanta created the ads.

The old lady hitting an offender with her purse bit doesn't get old for me. Nationwide uses it in "Parking Lot," a TV spot promoting its accident-forgiveness offering. In it, a young guy pulls into a parking spot and hits the back of an elderly couple's long, green car. As the man attempts to apologize, the old woman exits her car and whoops him with her purse while her husband shouts directions: "Hit him in the head, Rose." Watch the ad here. TM Advertising created the campaign and handled the media buy.

New York Fries, a Canadian fast food restaurant, launched a series of print ads that, for the first time, feature fries that are juxtaposed with fake products: boobs and a toupee, to illustrate that the fries are preservative-free. Ads for "Real Fries in a Fake World" are running throughout Canada in Chatelaine, Hello, Flare, Canadian Living, People, Style at Home and Canadian House & Home through May 2009. See the ads here, here and here. Zig created the campaign and Media Experts handled the media buy.

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

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Night Marketing News


PepsiCo's Mountain Dew Seeks A Few New Men
by Sarah Mahoney
[Beverages] While everyone knows that young men aren't watching just mainstream media, "interactive isn't as straightforward as many marketers think," says Seed Gives Life's Michael Ventura. So a campaign like this doesn't just involve microsites, online design widgets, social networking, and user-generated entries, "it involves all kinds of word-of-mouth, from blogs to things that exist outside the browser, like Twitter." - Read the whole story...

Is Campbell Looking Mmm, Mmm Good To Heinz?
by Karlene Lukovitz
[Food] Would Campbell warm up to considering such a match? No way to tell at this point. Campbell isn't responding to queries about Johnson's intriguing, ostensibly off-the-cuff remarks. Heinz may be hoping that that Q&A exchange didn't steal too much thunder from the company's announcement that sales increased 12% in fiscal '08, to surpass the $10-billion mark for the first time. - Read the whole story...

Macy's Readies New Marketing Strategy, Hires Dunnhumby
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] The company says it is launching an exclusive Tommy Hilfiger product next month, will be adding 275 FAO Schwarz toy shops in its stores, and is planning plenty of hoopla for the brand's sesquicentennial in the third quarter. "The fourth quarter will follow with a fresh approach to holiday marketing that we believe will be compelling to our customers," it says. - Read the whole story...

Ford Consolidates Small-Car Platforms To Just Two
by Karl Greenberg
[Automotive] "The timing has been perfect for Ford to do this," says a spokesperson for the company. "The markets are converging. The vehicle sizes have gotten similar, and buyers have become similar [in North America and Europe]." - Read the whole story...

Tween Brands Ditches Limited Too For The More Affordable Justice
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] The company also acknowledges that while Limited Too, which helped pioneer the tween category with its launch back in 1987, is a brand that's ready to be put out to pasture. "Our customers are looking for the next great thing and their parents want more value for their dollar," it says. - Read the whole story...

AT&T Uses Grassroots To Sell Seniors On Cell Phones
by Laurie Sullivan
[Telecom] Don't bother looking for television or print ads. Nor will consumers hear radio advertisements promoting the classes. Rather, AT&T took a back-to-basics or grassroots marketing approach. Local employees hit the streets, stopping into nearby senior centers to gauge interest. - Read the whole story...

Samsung Taps David Steel To Head Marketing Unit

Arby's Offering Mobile Coupons

Mortgage, Equity Lenders Back Off Mailings

Diamond Foods To Buy Pop Secret

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Olympic Visa

This is from Adrants:

Visa Gives Michael Phelps its Brandtastic Congrats


On Visa's behalf, Morgan Freeman congratulates US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps "on having won more gold medals than anybody EVAR." The ad started airing hours after Phelps exceeded his own expectations of winning eight gold medals -- seizing his 10th on Tuesday. (He is now up to 11.)

Don't tell me they didn't have this bad-boy lying in wait, because I seriously doubt Freeman looked up from his gardening or whatever to go, "Oh! Phelps delivered the goods, I think I'll put together another sepia montage and say 'Good job' all over the world."

A recent Nielsen Online buzz tracking study found Phelps is the most-discussed Olympian athlete online. And on TV last night, I found out Phelps' wingspan is 6'7" -- THREE INCHES WIDER than he is tall. Also, his feet bend 15 degrees more than the average swimmer, making them more flippery or something.

Written by Angela Natividad

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Links to News Sources

On occasion I will feature research that I received from, a service of Mediapost.

Here's a few that I got this week. (Click on the Headlines):

Social Networking Explodes Worldwide, Facebook User Base Up 153%

Though the growth in social-networking users in North America is beginning to level off, their numbers are burgeoning in other regions around the world - with Facebook leading the way - according to a comScore study of worldwide usage of social networking sites. During the past...

Mobile Olympics Coverage Interests Americans, Brits

A substantial number of mobile users across the globe will be following the Olympics on their cell phones this summer, with nearly 45% of US and 31% of UK mobile video users a part of the mobile audience for the 2008 Olympic Games, according to Nielsen...

Supermarkets’ Reputation Shines, Tobacco & Oil at Bottom of Barrel

Supermarkets get top honors for providing the best service to consumers, while tobacco, oil and managed-care companies fare the worst, and previously well-regarded industries such as banks and brokerage firms take a hit, according to a Harris Poll . The decline in banks’ and brokerage firms’...

Moms Predict Increase in Back-to-School Spending

Back-to-school spending in 2008 will be modestly higher than last year, with an 8% increase over 2007 spending levels - $484, compared with $449 in 2007 - according to (PDF) a national study of US mothers by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. The spending increases will...

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Focus on your Strengths

Got this in my email recently.

If you've never thought about this concept, think back on Michael Jordon the Basketball Superstar.

Also remember Michael Jordon the Baseball Failure.

There are two schools of thought about strengths and weaknesses.

One says, if you work on your weaknesses, you'll be so
complete, you'll be unstoppable. The other says, work on your strengths and have someone else do the things you either don't particularly enjoy or the things you're simply not that good at.

I will tell you without a doubt, working on your weaknesses is one of the most foolish things you can do. It is not only unproductive, but it costs you money and time. Here, let's take a closer look:

One, when you focus on your weaknesses, you're always going
to be in a state of conflict and dissatisfaction with yourself.

And nothing is more of a crushing blow to your
self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment, than feeling dissatisfied with yourself and your performance. I'm not saying to stick your head in the sand and ignore your weaknesses, I'm just saying that focusing on them isn't going to get you anywhere.

Two, the amount of time you will spend trying to get better
at something you're simply not good at, is time you have wasted working on something else you're extremely good at.

Would you rather spend 3 hours doing your landscaping, for
example, when you're not particularly good at it, or would you rather spend 3 hours writing sales copy or doing something else you thrive on? Which of those two activities makes you feel better and allows you to accomplish more?

And lastly, the by-product of what we just talked about
basically comes down to opportunity cost. How much would it cost you to hire someone to do that landscaping, or pressure-washing, or whatever -- versus how much you can make applying yourself to the things you're good at?

This just comes down to pure common sense and a willingness
and open-mindedness to do things differently. And doing things differently is the ONLY way to shift your earnings, and your mindset, upwards. Plus, life's too short to do the things you don't like. And since you're in control of your own life, why would you make yourself do things any other way?

Now go sell something, Craig Garber

P.S. Here's how I got started:

If you enjoyed this, pass it on to a few of your friends and
business associates, and if you have any comments about this message, leave them on my blog -- it's important you let me know what you're thinking!:

Here are ALL the King's products:

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