Saturday, September 20, 2008

Email Success Stories

I have been involved with a couple of very successful marketing campaigns that have included direct mail, e-mail, and website promotion for events and thus my interest in the email side of internet marketing.

Both events had 50 people attend and we sent emails to 300 people each time. Click here for more details of my success.

This advice comes from

When Less is More

You've crossed all your marketing t's and dotted all your best practices i's with a relevant, enticing offer sent only to subscribers who opted in to your campaigns. You're anxious to see how well the offer performs, but then you learn a major ISP has blocked your IP address because of spam complaints. An entry at the Email Experience Council blog details just such a scenario, as experienced by a client of Pivotal Veracity.

"We got Comcast to remove the block," says the post, "but when the client mailed their entire house file again, they triggered Comcast's filters again. Pivotal Veracity again had the block lifted, but, as you can imagine, something had to be done."

The first step involved trimming the client's list to subscribers who demonstrated any post-signup activity, such as making a purchase or clicking on a link. You can guess what happened next: another block.

Finally, the client decided to focus only on subscribers who had made a purchase. "This strategy has consistently yielded 100% inbox delivery," says the EEC.

"Emailing 'less' was the difference between $0 and generating a return on investment from their Comcast subscribers, which are a significant portion of their file," the EEC concludes.

The Po!nt: Trim that list. In today's world of email marketing, be prepared to routinely face the pragmatic choice between reaching some customers—and reaching no customers at all.

Source: Email Experience Council. Read the full post here.

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Down but not Out

Just like any other business category, the casual dining restaurant industry has gone through some tough times as consumers made cut backs this year.

What made a difference though was how healthy the individual business was in the first place. A weak or mediocre business may fail when times are tough. But those that have a strong brand and a strong marketing plan and healthy business plan will remain strong.

This is from Brandweek:

Fast Casual Chains Not An Economic Casualty

-By Elaine Wong

Fast casual chains are bucking the trading down trend. Buoyed by healthier offerings and a narrowing price gap compared to quick-service restaurants, chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle are seeing a continued sales surge.

Two research reports show sales in the segment shot up more than 13% last year, and experts predict the growth to continue.

Mintel, Chicago, cites a 13.2% increase in the sector to $11.5 billion last year. Technomic, Chicago, pegs growth at 13.3% and estimates the category to be around $17 billion.

Why is the sector thriving in a so-so economy? Partially, it's because of demographics. Fast casual benefits from having a younger consumer base that has more discretionary income. At the same time, it attracts a more affluent audience. "There is at least equal or greater likelihood of use among higher income household adults," said David Morris, senior research analyst at Mintel.

The category is stealing baby boomers from their fast food rivals, said Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman & Associates, Villa Park, Calif. "As baby boomers age, they still like that fast food occasion, but they also want a slightly better experience, and so, marketers are exploiting that niche."

Another reason for the segment's success is the fact that its price points aren't that much of a turnoff for consumers who are shying away from sit-down casual dining restaurants, which tend to be more expensive once you factor in tips for the wait staff. Plus, some fast feeders' fare, like Angus burgers, are close in price to their fast casual rivals. Nonpremium offerings have also gotten more expensive because of rising commodity and fuel costs.

Burger King raised prices by 2.4% in May. The home of the Whopper's shares then fell 7% in New York Stock Exchange trading through the quarter ending June 30.

"Prices are on the rise, so it's not particularly more expensive to go to a Panera than it is to go to McDonald's. They're pretty close in price," said Darren Tristano, evp at Technomic.

Nevertheless, both BK and rival McDonald's still continue to push value-driven TV advertising, such as BK's "reverse pickpocket campaign." It shows the King putting money back in consumers' wallets.

In response, fast casual chains like Boston Market are running ads saying their fare also is value-driven.
Last month, for instance, Boston Market launched a TV push touting "Meal Size Deals." The spots, via CCT, Denver, promote Boston Market's rotisserie chicken, which come in nine of the 11 meals, all of which sell for $5. Tagline: "Boston Favorites. A better meal for $5."

Boston Market research shows that consumers experienced a 6% higher recall rate when the company marketed its staple product with a value-oriented TV message.

"What we've found is that $5 is a price point consumers really respond to," said Boston Market rep Angela Procter. Sun Capital Partners acquired Boston Market from McDonald's last year.

This is not to say that fast casual is immune to the economic pinch.

David Craven, marketing director at Qdoba, said the burrito chain estimates prices have spiked anywhere from 2-4% across the board for all menu items.

"Like everyone else, we have felt the impact of the economy. People across the board are cutting out dining occasions," he said.

Despite the reports, Wendy's rep Bob Bertini said quick-serve restaurants still have the edge in the "fast" part of the fast casual/fast food equation. Bertini said about 70% of Wendy's business is via the pick-up window.

"People are on the go and they enjoy the convenience factor that our restaurants provide," he said. "This gives us a competitive edge over others in the food industry."

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A "Soft" Grand Opening

I've noticed a trend recently that I believe is good for new businesses.

Don't have a Grand Opening when you start your business.

Instead, spend the first few weeks, working out the bugs, fixing the problems that need to be corrected before your business gets busy.

It's also about making a good first impression.

Seth Godin shares his thoughts from his blog:

The myth of launch PR

New startups can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars racing after a dream: a giant splash on launch.

Just imagine... a big spread in Time Magazine, a feature on all the relevant blogs, a glowing review in the Book Review. Get this part right and everything else takes care of itself.

And yet.

Here are some brands that had no launch at all: Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Harry Potter, Google, William Morris, The DaVinci Code, Wikipedia, Snapple, Geico, Linux, Firefox and yes, Microsoft. (All got plenty of PR, but after the launch, sometimes a lot later).

I'm as guilty as the next entrepreneur. Great publicity is a treasured gift. But it's hardly necessary, and the search for it is often a significant distraction.

It works for movies, in fact, it's essentially required for movies. But for just about every product, service or company, the relentless quest for media validation doesn't really pay. If you get it, congratulations. If you don't, that's just fine. But don't break the bank or your timetable in the quest.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Night Marketing News

Click away:

by Karl Greenberg
Jez Frampton, global chief executive of Interbrand, says that four of the five companies spotlighted for big shifts upward in the rankings this year versus last are tech companies: Google (from 20 in 2007 No. 10 this year), Apple (from 33 to 24), Nintendo (from 44 to 40), and (62 to 58). ... Read the whole story > >
by Laurie Sullivan
Bags to Riches has set out to prove that accessories found in a woman's handbag are as important in making a fashion statement as the bag she carries. In this case, the fashion-forward statement comes from packing a Nintendo DS. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
Auto sales adhere more or less to GDP. Bottom line: this will be the worst year since the early 1990s, with sales around 14.2 million units. The industry high-water mark was 2000, when over 17 million new cars and trucks were sold in the U.S. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
In addition to print ads in Walking, the company is counting on social media to get the word out, using forums on its own Web sites, a YouTube channel, and soon, a Facebook page. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
"There are a lot of myths out there about McDonald's products, and we wanted to dispel these," says Tara Hayes, program manager. "We will continue to give the moms open, honest access to how the products are made and build on their knowledge going forward." ... Read the whole story > >

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The Bill & Jerry Show going away

From the L.A. Times:

No more yada yada: Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates ads are ending

5:46 PM, September 17, 2008
Seinfeld Gates ad

Microsoft is preparing to pull its TV ads featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Microsoft's co-founder and chairman Bill Gates.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw said the end of the Seinfeld ads was planned well in advance, and wasn't coming in response to any criticism of the spots. "All along we said we were having a teaser campaign," he said. "We're getting ready to start the second phase. This was the plan all along."

The news, broken this afternoon by Valleywag, comes just days after Microsoft aired the latest in the series of commercials, produced by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, featuring the two men in comic situations. The ads have been largely panned as a strained effort on the software giant's part to not only promote Windows but also portray Microsoft as cool and in touch with regular consumers -- basically, to counter the stodgy image painted in Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads.

Seinfeld, who reportedly received $10 million for his efforts, was a superstar in the 1990s with his hit show. Using him now, in 2008, only added to Microsoft's image as being behind the times, critics said. Some viewers, such as the writers on Ars Technica, said the ads just left them scratching their heads. (If you can't easily find the ads on YouTube, Microsoft provides them on its site).

In the first ad, the two meet each other in a mall and pick out new shoes. In the next ad, which is in two parts, Gates and Seinfeld stay with a so-called normal family so they can work on a shared problem: To break out of their elite bubbles and connect with real people.

But the stay with the family doesn't go well, culminating with Bill Gates telling a little girl, "You're not so real." (I actually howled.)

Just unleash Gates, without the cardigan and avuncular image, sticking it to the smug "I'm a Mac" guy.

-- Michelle Quinn

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Fresh Ideas

From a weekly email I receive from, some ideas to stimulate your own creativity:

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:

Tiny cakes topped with blueberries and raspberriesBakery focuses on bite-size treats
Food & beverage / Retail

When we wrote last year about Minnies and its bite-size burgers, we
noted the concurrent rise of dessert-only eateries. A new bakery
combines the two trends.

Girl sitting on a bed, drawingBedding designed by (and for) kids
Homes & housing / Style & design

Australian Kideko sells a variety of children's bedding featuring bright,
bold colours and innovative designs. Now, the company is holding a
contest to find a kid-created design to add to its collection.

Email signatureE-mail signatures for Election '08
Marketing & advertising / Non-profit & social cause

As the US presidential election winds up to a fever pitch, there's no
doubt passionate supporters are looking for ways to give their side an
edge. One such tool is a custom e-mail signature.

A park-based business loungePop-up hotel lobbies lure office workers to the park
Marketing & advertising / Travel & tourism

Launching its new tech-savvy lobbies in a big way, Sheraton invited
New Yorkers to abandon their desks to work from Central Park,
where it temporarily installed several Link (at) Sheraton lounges.

Fresh veggiesUpscale takeaway meets on-site cooking school
Food & beverage / Retail

Over the years we've written about several companies that specialize
in the preparation and delivery of high-end meals that are ready to be
cooked in the consumer's home. A London startup offers a new twist.

Wedding invitations, super-sized
Lifestyle & leisure / Style & design

Seattle-based Poster Bride makes invitations to celebrate weddings
in grand style. Each serigraph is custom-designed and hand-printed
on poster-sized paper.

Orange bag made from airplane seat upholsteryVirgin Atlantic's seat covers, reborn as bags
Eco & sustainability / Fashion & beauty

Worn Again -- an eco-fashion initiative -- has teamed up with Virgin
Atlantic to turn old aircraft seat covers and other materials into stylish
new bags and toiletry cases.

Woman using a Heklucht bike pumpBike stand doubles as tire pump
Transportation / Style & design

A bike innovation out of the Netherlands recently caught the attention
of one of our spotters: a combination bike stand and tire pump,
designed for use in public spaces.

Happy Napkin (an unused brand)Marketplace for unused brands
Marketing & advertising

Launched last month, Texas-based IncSpring is a virtual marketplace
linking graphic designers with businesses interested in pre-designed
but unused corporate logos, brands and corporate identities.

Drawing of a carrot on a bike transporting other vegetables Local produce, delivered by bicycle
Eco & sustainability / Food & beverage / Transportation

It's hard to imagine a business for which emissions-free travel makes
more sense than the delivery of fresh organic produce. Which is why
a Florida company delivers by bicycle-towed trailer.

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Yup, they still Listen

Arbitron is to the radio business what Nielsen is to the TV business, They are the primary rating service.

Originally, the data was supposed to help radio programmers determine who listened, however it then became a tool for the sales departments to sell advertising. Either way, it shows some interesting info:

US Radio Reaches 93% of Adults

Radio stations in the US reach more than 235 million diverse listeners over the course of a week, with 93% of all adults age 18-34 tuning in to radio, according to preliminary findings from Arbitron’s RADAR 98 (September 2008) radio listening estimates.

Key findings:

  • Over the course of a week, radio reaches 95% of adults age 18-49 with a college degree, and 96% of adults age 25-54 with a college degree and an annual income of $50,000 or more.
  • Radio reaches 95% of Black Non-Hispanics and 96% of Hispanics age 25-54 over the course of a week.
  • 94% of Black Non-Hispanic persons and 95% of Hispanic persons, age 12 and older tune into radio over the course of a week.
  • RADAR Network Affiliates - which account for more than 50% of all radio stations - reach nearly 85% of adults 18-34 and 85% of those 25-54 in households with a college degree and annual household income of $75,000 or above.
  • The number of radio listeners is up from last year’s RADAR 94 estimates of 232 million.

About the research: RADAR, the a measure of national network radio ratings, tracks 58 affiliated individual radio networks. These networks are operated by ABC Radio Networks, American Urban Radio Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Dial Global Inc., Premiere Radio Networks, United Stations Radio Networks and Westwood One Radio Networks. The sample size for RADAR 98 now comprises 275,088 respondents.

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Starbucks, Apple, Google, Amazon: The Common Thread

What do Starbucks, Apple, Google & Amazon have in common? Check out this recent story from the Washington Post:

SAGA: Four Companies That Have Changed The Landscape
The Washington Post
Four corporations represent a distinctive and distinctively American contribution to 21st-century capitalism: Starbucks, Apple, Google and Amazon. Collectively, call them SAGA. At the most basic level, each has transformed not only a specific commercial marketplace but also some important aspect of contemporary life.

Each has a ubiquitous presence, although being everywhere doesn't mean that they are necessarily market leaders. The proportion of computer users who own Apples will probably never catch up to the formidable PC, for example. But in many countries, iPod usage is surging, and all the world wants an iPhone.

SAGA companies follow their founders and engage consumers on an almost spiritual level. They reflect the comparative advantage of today's America - the dramatic shift away from domestic manufacturing and toward an idea-driven, consumer-focused, value-added economy. At the same time, they are genuinely global. They also are restless innovators. None of these companies made its business by being the first to add any new physical thing to peoples' lives. - Read the whole story...

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New Ad Campaigns for the week

Mediapost highlights these:

Airborne wants you to spread it. Erik Estrada found in "Monday Night Football" ad. Extended Stay Hotels are a gas. Let's launch!

Universal Orlando launched a TV spot in Florida to promote its 18th annual Halloween Horror Nights, which is held on both Coasts. The new "scharacter" making her debut this year is none other than Bloody Mary. You know the urban legend: Say her name three times while looking in a mirror, and she makes an appearance. The ad begins with a frightening Bloody Mary sitting at her vanity table and beautifying herself. She cleans off her mirror, sees the reflection of a young man who's chanting her name, and breaks on through to the other side of the mirror. I have to admit, the ad scared me, until it concluded with a shill for Coke Zero. See it here. David&Goliath created the campaign and media buying was handled in-house.

The Magazine Publishers of America launched a trade print and online campaign that screams, not only is print alive, but print ads drive consumers to search online. It doesn't mean purchases are being made, however. The print component of "Under the Influence of Magazines" shows three brand loyalists surrounded by their favorite products: Adidas, Häagen-Dazs and MINI Cooper. See the ads here, here and here, running in Advertising Age, Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek, and online at and When I first saw the ads, I thought they were the latest "Life Takes Visa" ads. See a Visa ad here and let me know what you think. Toy New York created the campaign. The print media buy was handled in-house and Crossmedia handled the online media buy.

British Airways launched three print ads using the artwork from three New York illustrators to comically promote its latest Club World campaign. "A more civilized way to bring someone along," read the ads that offer a complimentary companion ticket when consumers fly Club World. My favorite of the three ads, seen here, here and here, has a husband attempting to pack his wife into a suitcase and yelling, "Suck in, Marge! Suck in!" Ads are running in the New York Times, USA Today, WSJ Marketplace, Business Week, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune and Travel & Leisure. BBH New York created the campaign and Optimedia handled the media buy.

Does adding Italian opera music to the background of an ad for a hotel chain make the spot, which is one big fart joke, any more highbrow? Not really, but that didn't stop me from loving the 60-second ad for Extended Stay Hotels. That's also the amount of time it took for me to figure out what was being advertised. Residents of the hotel will feel so relaxed, that farting will be effortless, like it is when you're home. The people in the ad are so strong-winded that doors close, candles are extinguished, and flowers and bed sheets sway. "No place makes you feel more comfortable," concludes the ad, seen here. Toy New York created the campaign and Crossmedia handled the media buy.

Blue Shield of California launched an outdoor display of life-sized statues stripped of both clothing and health insurance, to draw attention to the 6.7 million California residents who are uninsured. Forty statues, seen here and here, were placed at the Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, with numbers etched on their backs, symbolizing their place in an uninsured world. "Uncovered" aims to show that everyday people, even your neighbors, might go through life without health insurance. A Web site houses a video and activities that further puts the plight of the uninsured into perspective. TAXI New York created the campaign.

Fabio who? Airborne, the immune-system-boosting tablets, launched an amusing TV ad that introduces viewers to Sebastian, a hunky hero plucked from a romance novel, whose mission is to spread Airborne to those in need of a kick. Sebastian rides a horse, does squats, has unusually shiny hair, nice abs and is a do-gooder! He roams the present-day streets for run-down parents in need of energy. The ad closes with Sebastian slipping an Airborne into an unsuspecting woman's drink. Watch the ad here. BBH New York created the campaign and RJ Palmer handled the media buy.

The latest ESPN ad promoting "Monday Night Football" features an ever-so-brief cameo from Erik Estrada. Make that a cameo of a framed picture of Erik Estrada. Good to see he's keeping busy. "Cubicles" follows a man returning to his office cubicle on Monday, dreading the week ahead of him, until he envisions a Monday night full of football, pizza and friends. See the ad here, created by Wieden+Kennedy New York.

Apple launched a contextual ad on the New York Times Web site called "Editorial," where PC gets emotional. The latest ad from the "Get a Mac" campaign features PC moving an editorial column onto the site that discourages consumers from buying Macs. PC further stresses his point by making a series of angry faces, which only humor Mac. See the ad here, created by TBWA/Media Arts Lab.

Dodge Journey launched a 60-second cinema spot this summer to promote its 2009 model. A group of friends drive to the top of a hilly, city street (San Francisco, maybe), unload the contents of their lone vehicle and erect a large waterslide. A crowd gathers to enjoy the festivities and businessmen in suits leave their offices to take a ride down the waterslide. Nothing like this ever happens outside my office. Watch the ad here. BBDO Detroit created the campaign and PHD handled the media buy.

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

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You have to open your mind more.

Jim Meisenheimer sent this in a recent email:

When You Prejudge, You Misjudge

How many times have you ever prejudged someone before you
actually got to know him?

I've done it quite a few times and I did it again just
last week.

As I asked questions and got to know the person I realized
I was dead wrong.

How many times do you have to be dead wrong to get it

I have written about this pre-judgment predicament several
years ago and thought I'd share it again, especially since
I have so many new subscribers.

You know there's a direct correlation between experience
and prejudging. The more experience you have the greater
the tendency to prejudge your customers and sales prospects.

Do not put labels on people. For example, "All purchasing
agents expect . . ."

Don't assume you know anything if you haven't asked any
questions. I can't begin to recall how many times I've made
this mistake and regretted it later.

Don't assume your sales prospects and customers all have
identical needs i.e. to save money and time.

If you have a dictionary - grab it now. First, look up
the word impossible and cross it out. Obliterate it from
your dictionary. Nothing is impossible without your
consent - and never forget this.

Next, look up the word prejudge.

To prejudge means to judge before hand, prematurely,
and without all the facts.

From a customer's perspective, imagine how he feels when
you jump to conclusions about his company, challenges,
and concerns.

What else can your customers be thinking when you don't
ask enough questions?

Instead of assuming all customers and prospects are similar,
find out what makes them different. You can start by
assuming they are different.

Asking questions uncovers more than basic needs, it reveals
what is unique about the different people you call on.

Once you know what's unique you can zero in on what's best
for them based on what they said, not what you assumed.
Get the picture?

Avoid prejudging the following:

=> Goals
=> Desires
=> Budgets
=> Problems
=> Attitudes
=> Mind-sets
=> Priorities
=> Challenges
=> Decision process
=> Decision criteria
=> Likes and dislikes

Making assumptions can make you look and sound pathetic.

Asking provocative open-ended questions makes you look
and sound professional. It shows your interest and
curiosity and the bonus is you end up learning more about
your sales prospect which positions you more favorably.

If you're asking really good questions - you should hear
your customers say "That's a good question." If you're not
hearing that compliment often, it means you're not asking
really good questions. HELLO!

Use your sales experience to help you navigate through
the sales process with all new sales prospects. But don't
allow your experience to put a damper on learning as much
as you can about your new prospect.

When you avoid rushing to judgment you'll appear more
mature and definitely more professional.

When you prejudge, you misjudge!

It's a plain and simple truth!

Brain Snacks . . .

eBook - The 10 Biggest Mistakes New Sales Reps Make

eBook - No-Brainer Ways To Beat Your Competition At The
Pricing Game

eBook - 57 Sales Tips To Reinvent And Distinguish Yourself
From Your Competition

CD - How To Establish Goals That Stick

CD - The 12 Dumbest Things Salespeople Do

CD - How To Adapt Your Selling Style To Your Buyer's
Buying Style

CD - 5 Secrets To Preparing Winning Sales Proposals
That Will Suck The Wind Out Of Your Competitors Sail

Testimonial Quote . . .

Your newsletters are a joy to read and they motivate
me to go that extra mile. Keep up the good work
with your newsletters because they truly do make
me feel better every time I read them.

By the way, in one of your previous newsletters
you spoke about a book called "The Magic of
Thinking Big."

I purchased this book and it really is an awesome book.



Links To Previous Newsletters

Selling And Going For The Gold

Personal Selling - It's Time For A Tune-up

A Big Sales Tip

If They Can Do It, You Can Do It

Jim Meisenheimer | 13506 Blythefield Terrace | Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202 | 941-907-0415

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday Night Marketing News


by Sarah Mahoney
"While the recession in 2001 hurt investors, it didn't affect consumers the way this economy is--there's still of lot of pain from the credit crisis, more people are unable to sell their homes or delinquent on mortgages," says TNS Retail Forward's Frank Badillo. "They're worried about job loss." ... Read the whole story > >
by Laurie Sullivan
The latest spots, "Rainbow" and "Yeti," were created by BBDO. Whether finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow on a grassy countryside or discovering Yeti in the Arctic, the two ads continue the theme from earlier this year when Bill Kurtis discovered "Amelia" Earhart and the "Fountain of Youth." ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Aaron Baar
According to J.D. Power and Associates, auto insurance companies on average are successfully signing only 2% of all shoppers. For the most part, the companies lose prospective customers before even offering them a quote, says Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice. "It's a good thing the industry has a phenomenal policy retention rate," he says. ... Read the whole story > >
by Nina M. Lentini
In its first online effort to reach dads, the brand is posting ads on fantasy football sites on Yahoo that are designed to tap into the nostalgia nerve by resurrecting former professional football players. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The "BorregoExperience" includes both an exhibition in Los Angeles, Dallas and Phoenix, and a test-drive program in which the company will deliver a Borrego to selected homes in those markets, giving consumers full use of the vehicle for 48 hours. Market research on the test-drivers will be used to expand reach to people unfamiliar with the brand. ... Read the whole story > >
by Wayne Friedman
Pressing onward into its fall marketing season, CBS will feature a promotion on dry cleaners' "green" hangers for some of its shows. Starting this month, CBS will promote seven shows with specific clever messages displayed on the hangers. ... Read the whole story > >

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6 Email Marketing Tips

This weeks Email Marketing newsletter from Mediapost:

September's Tips For Email Marketing
by David Baker

WITH ALL THAT IS BEING written about email marketing, I tend to struggle with finding ideas and content to write about without restating the obvious or appearing too simple in approach. Yet, there are times when returning to the basics is important. This is the time for checklists to counter all your great ideas.

Top tips for September, given it's back-to-school season:

1. Mine your list. You've heard this a hundred times, but you would be surprised at how many companies really don't analyze their database accurately. A couple of thoughts before you take this on: If they haven't responded or had some interaction with your business in 12 months, spend your time elsewhere; size doesn't matter in this instance. And seek wisdom from interaction, not non-channel traits. Segmentation is so valuable, yet you need another dimension of data for decisions, and behavioral data will tell you so much more about timing and cadence. Put this at the top of your decision pyramid, we are creatures of habit.

2. Own the point of intermediation. Simply put, you should maximize and build messaging around all events important to you. If it's that important and you don't have the resources to set up an API or some event trigger, do it manually. This will pay off more than any other effort you take this year.

3. Have fun. Creative should be an exercise in interrupting the inbox experience, and you should have fun developing it. It can become so mundane over time with templates and production -- yet you really should test the limits of what you can/can't do and have fun with subject lines, have fun with creative messaging and know that testing is an exercise in making you better. Have a contest with your team or departments for the funniest subject line or funniest metaphor to sell your widgets or services.

4. Don't be lazy. We often get so artful in production we forget about the value or doing creative briefs. These are so important in forcing us to lay out what we know and intend to do -- and the only form of archiving. They make you think about whom you're talking to, the justification you have to communicate, making you write campaign and program goals and think about the experience you are intending to drive. All great exercises for young teams.

5. What you see is what you get. With all the monitoring tools today, we can see the rendering of email in all the various ISPs --but I've found that this has become a so-what exercise. Are you doing anything about it? With images blocked in AOL, Yahoo and MSN, what impact does that have on your retails goals? We can't optimize to all the environments, but you should consider picking a few ISP worlds and understanding really well what experience you are driving, potentially testing newer, simpler designs or creative metaphors that get the consumer to "click to enable links and images."

6. Report as if your job depended on it. I talk a lot about measurement, which is really important, but if your job depended on performance improvement in the channel, what variables really show the value your efforts bring to the business? Site traffic? Revenue? Reach? Or do you need to craft this story into a couple of customer segments, to show the value you drive to identifiable customer sets that your management team can easily grasp? Sometimes these measurement stories are more easily communicated in vignettes rather than a general view of a large database.

While I'm a big believer in checklists for many things, strategically they are really hard to take on. If you really think about this list and what you do day in and day out, putting on a few filters, you might pull out a few nuggets you didn't think about last year - and didn't think you had time for this year.

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Branding distractions

Stay the course, or take an alternative route?

What does your brand stand for?

Drew at the Marketing Minute has some ideas for you:

Are you being lured off track?

Posted: 14 Sep 2008 08:11 PM CDT

10003797 Have you ever had the experience of driving along, paying attention to something off in the horizon and next thing you know, you’ve driven to that spot? And it wasn’t where you meant to go?

The same phenomenon can happen in your business.

My most recent post over at Small Business Branding talks about how you can keep your competition from luring you away from your own business plan/path.

it's a dangerous and all too common problem. Much like my driving example -- letting your competition lure you from doing what you need to do can cost you some serious time, money and other resources.

You don't want to get caught up in the "me too" game of following your competition's lead. Come on over and jump into the discussion.

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Creating customer loyalty thru screw-ups

No, I don't recommend you screw something up, just read this from Skip Hyken:

Service Recovery - Love Means Never Having to Say You're

That may have been true in the 1970 movie "Love Story," but
it is definitely not true in the world of customer service
- even if your customers love you.

Just recently I've had several clients call to discuss
problems they were having with service recovery. While
their issues were somewhat complicated, the strategies we
discussed were simple and direct. Here are the seven
strategies that can help turn a touchy situation with a
customer into a confidence building Moment of Magic®.

When a customer comes to you with a problem (assume it is
on the phone, but this applies to any situation), take the
following steps:

1. Apologize for the problem. (See - you do have to say
you're sorry!) It may not be your fault, but at this time,
you represent your company. It is now your opportunity to
show how good you are.

2. Acknowledge the problem. Ask the customer to repeat the
problem, allowing them to vent. Actively listen. Ask open
ended questions to get more information.

3. Apologize again! If at this time you realize the
customer needs to be talking to someone else, do not simply
transfer him/her. The proper hand-off is to bring this
other person into the conversation so you can explain the
problem. Let the customer become part of a three-way
conversation. If you do hand off the problem, jump to
Strategy Seven.

4. At this point it is time to move into fixing the
problem. Explain how that is going to happen, and go to
work to fix it.

5. Make sure you do all of this with the right attitude.

6. Create a sense of urgency. Act as quickly as possible.

7. Stay in touch and/or circle back. Stay in touch with
the customer to let him/her know the progress that is being
made. When the problem has been resolved, follow up (even
if you handed this off to someone else) to ensure the
customer is happy and to give closure to the problem.

The strategies are simple, but the execution may not be.
Some problems may take a long time to resolve, while others
can be fixed immediately. Regardless of what the problem
is, the above strategies are the basics. The end has to
result in more than just a fixed problem. You want the
customer to say this:

"I love doing business with them. Even when there is a
problem, I can count on them."

Always remember that service recovery isn't just about
fixing a problem. It is also about the renewal of customer

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday night Marketing News

Clickables from Mediapost:

by Laurie Sullivan
Nearly two weeks since Microsoft launched the $300 million advertising campaign featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, it appears that consumers can't make up their minds whether it will give Vista, and the Windows franchise, a brand makeover. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The company expects to soon start rerunning a centennial ad for Chevrolet that features the Chevy Volt. The new commercial is expected to feature the production version of the car, which GM unveiled on Tuesday. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The expansion of DHA-fortified and organic varieties within Gerber's premium line "are great examples of how Gerber uses nutrition and innovation to help parents establish healthy eating habits for their children from the very beginning," says Gerber Organic's Valerie Shukovsky. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
"In a challenging environment that finds many of our competitors retrenching," company execs say, "we are growing and opening more new stores. We believe it's prudent for strong companies to distance themselves from their competitors during tough times." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"In particular, John Deere mowers have a notably low rate of reported problems," says J.D. Power and Associates' Michael Drago. In fact, owners of other brands are at least twice as likely to experience problems than are owners of John Deere mowers." ... Read the whole story > >
by Wayne Friedman
TV product placements showed double-digit declines on broadcast and cable networks for the first half of this year, according to The Nielsen Company, driven mostly by a drop in cable program activity. ... Read the whole story > >

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GPS tracking your Pizza

I've heard about this but we only have one Dominos in town.

Going from commodity to being the only option

Posted: 09 Sep 2008 01:03 PM CDT

There are certain things that I think of as a complete commodity. I don't care about the "brand." I don't really care where I buy it.

Milk. Gas. And pizza.

I'm not talking about pizza that you go out to get (in that case...Ray's in NYC is the must)...I'm talking the "bring it to our door, we have a house full of teenagers" pizza that I seem to be buying on a very regular basis.

Dominos, Pizza Hut, Godfather's, Papa John's -- whatever. Basically the same. A complete commodity at the McLellan house.

But not any more. Now, I have a very strong preference. I would go out of my way to order from one over the other. You're probably wondering what in the world a pizza place could do to go from commodity to only option.

A new crust? Some wild new ingredient combination? Free food?

No, no and no. Dominos knows that their pizza is pretty much like all the others. So to differentiate themselves, they didn't focus on the pizza. They focused on my experience.

Most pizza places let you order online now. But Dominos has taken it to a whole new level. They have this new pizza tracker. I can literally watch as my pizza is prepped, baked and boxed for delivery.

Here, you can see (feed to see the visuals) that my order has been placed and Charles is beginning to prep my pizza. Right next to the the YOU GOT IT MADE outlines who is doing what when.


Then, Charles puts the pizza in the oven.


I'm skipping a couple steps here...but after the pizza was boxed, Matt, their delivery expert, left the store with the food at 7:39 pm.


Now, you may be thinking..."wow...Drew needs to get a little more excitement in his life" and that may be true. But...every time the McLellan household (and many hungry teen-aged guests) need pizza -- instead of poking around for a coupon or just randomly picking one -- I now always call Dominos. That did not happen before the tracker.

Figure the average bill is around $50 when I am feeding a gang. Figure that it's dinner at chez McLellan, on average, twice or three times a month. $150/month. That's almost $2,000 a year.

Dominos figured out that their category (pizza delivery) had been so commoditized that they could compete on price (the "I don't have a brand or anything that makes me different" choice) or they could somehow make themselves stand out from the crowd. They knew consumers wouldn't buy/believe the "we taste better." So they thought about how they could alter the buying experience. How could they make that different for me?

Smart. Very smart.

So how about you? Are you in a business where what you sell (the pizza of your industry) is pretty much the same? Or...different but not in a way that the consumer could discern it?

Is there some other aspect of your service, delivery, packaging, pricing etc. that you could make notably different? If they won't/don't choose you because of your product -- why else might they make you an "only option?"

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The State of Radio

Mediapost offers this update:

Radio Audience Strong, Revs Shrink
by Erik Sass
radio Radio ad revenues may be shrinking, but the audience isn't, according to the latest figures from America Media Services. The AMS Radio Index survey found that 64% of American adults listen to the radio once a day--essentially unchanged from 63% in last year's survey.

Moreover, 80% listen to the radio when they are driving--up from 74% last year--and 73% say they are listening at least as much as they were five years ago, if not more. About half (51%) say they don't change stations during commercial breaks.

These figures seem to be in accord with Arbitron's measurement of the national radio audience, which has consistently found that radio reaches about 94% of American adults every week.

The number of people who listen to Internet radio is also increasing: 33% of respondents said they had already listened to Internet radio, and within this group, 39% (12.9% of the total) said they had done so in the last week--up from 23% six months ago. Again, this seems to agree with separate surveys from Arbitron and Edison Research, which found that the percentage of American adults who listened to radio in the last week rose from 11% in 2007 to 13% in 2008.

According to AMS, interest in Internet radio is also growing: six months ago, 38% of the adults surveyed said they expected to listen to radio on the Internet at some point in the future; in the most recent survey, that figure rose to 48%.

While this is undoubtedly good news for radio, the findings from AMS and Arbitron contrast starkly with the medium's current financial woes. Radio revenues declined 6% in the second quarter to $5.36 billion, making it the fifth straight quarter to see a year-over-year decline in revenue.

Internet radio revenue is growing at a rapid pace, but still contributes only a small part of total radio revenues.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, "off-air" revenues--which include Internet radio--grew 10% to $501 million in the second quarter of 2008. However, that's just 9% of the total $5.36 billion. And the amount of revenue added by Internet radio in the second quarter ($45 million) is dwarfed by the amount lost overall ($343 million).

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Where did the money go?

So what did you and other consumers do with the stimulus checks that we received earlier this year?

I know a few businesses, tried to lure customers in to spend at their stores but take a look at this from Harris and

Most Consumers: Rebate Checks No Economic Stimulus

This spring, US consumers were excited about tax rebate checks - a Harris Poll found that 45% said the checks would help stimulate the economy - but now that summer is over and most stimulus rebate checks are cashed, attitudes have changed, a new Harris Poll finds (via Retailer Daily).

More than half of Americans (52%) say spending the checks did not stimulate the economy and 37% say it did, according to a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,710 US adults surveyed online August 11-17.

Among the findings:

  • More than half of Republicans (52%) say rebate checks did stimulate the economy while three in five Democrats (61%) and over half of Independents (56%) say they did not:


  • In April, just under three-quarters (73%) of Americans predicted they would receive payment; 71% now say they did receive a rebate check.


  • Some seven in ten Americans with incomes of $34,999 or less and incomes of $75,000 or more (70% each) say they received a check.
  • More than four in five adults with incomes of between $35,000 and $49,999 (86%) and between $50,000 and $74,999 (87%) say they received rebate checks.

How the Checks Were Spent

Though the government expressed a hope that the checks would be spent to spur the economy, what actually took place was slightly different.

What was predicted in April:


  • Americans said they would use some of the rebate to reduce their non-mortgage debt, paying off bills or credit cards (38%) or adding to their cash savings (35%).
  • One in five (21%) said they would spend the money on other things they wanted to buy.
  • 20% said they would use the rebate to take a leisure trip.
  • 17% said they would spend their money on home improvements.
  • 16% said they would use the money in restaurants and for dining out.
  • One in ten said they would use the money for technology devices or entertainment events.

What happened in August:


  • People primarily used their rebate checks to reduce non-mortgage debt, such as paying off bills or credit cards (36%) and to add to their cash savings (29%).
  • One in five (21%) did actually spend the money on other things they wanted to buy.
  • Just one in ten (11%) actually used the rebate to take a trip for leisure purposes.
  • Americans spent their money on home improvements (14%) and in restaurants and dining out (12%).
  • Only 5% said they used the money for technology devices or entertainment events.

Harris Analysis/Commentary

As predicted, much of the rebate money ended up deposited in savings or being mailed to credit card issuers. Retailers did try to get some of the rebate money, but that did not end up occurring as much as they, and probably the White House, wanted.

The economy is still one of the most important issues facing the country. With the economic uncertainty, Americans thought they would want to put away some cash and help reduce debt and that is exactly what they did.

What seemed like a great economic fix in the earlier part of the year has not panned out, and Americans are still looking for Congress and the White House to provide some relief - but with the November elections just two months away, it is unlikely that either will be able to actually do something that will help voters before the election.

How voters react to that inaction will definitely affect their behavior in November.

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