Saturday, October 18, 2008

Warren Buffett and Marketing

A friend of mine, Dr. Ted Bolton recently started a blog. Here's a recent article:

The “Buy Low-Sell High” Theory of Marketing

Warren Buffett pumped $5 billion into Goldman Sachs, and then followed that up with a $3 billion investment in General Electric.
In troubled times, Warren drives
a hard bargain and ends up with extraordinary value. In other words, Warren buys low and then sells high. He is a contrarian. While others go into the panic mode, Warren Buffett goes into the shopping mode.

This same kind of thinking can be applied to marketing. While others
are into a cut and run mode, the smart money looks for marketing opportunities. Right now consumers are spending more time than ever before evaluating their daily product purchases and their long term
brand loyalties. Now is not the time to cut and run out on your marketing budget…now is the time to seek out opportunities.

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Henry Ford

Here are some reasons why our current economic environment can spell opportunities for marketers:

Your competition is hiding. The landscape is not as crowded. That means your own marketing has a higher probability of getting noticed. In fact, in your product category, you may be the only guy out there who is in the face of the consumer! Normally we have to sit around and say “how the hell can we be different?” Now all we have to do is show up.

You can bargain for lower media rates.
Local newspapers, television, and radio outlets are missing their budgets. Now is the time to drive a hard bargain and ask for extras. Cut deals at lower rates and lock those rates in long term. You will get way more bang for your buck right now than you have in a very long time.

Now is the time you need the business! When the economy is weak, your business will only get weaker without marketing. It is a vicious cycle. Out of sight…out of mind, and out of mind can mean out of business. If your competition is hiding, right now you can have a larger share of mind. Familiarity breed preference, and preference leads to long term customer loyalty.

Customers are hunting. When the economy dips and consumers move into a state of fear, product purchases are scrutinized, and loyalties are challenged. That means you can position your product as a need….not just a want. People are looking for value and meaning. Now is the time to be very pragmatic and honest with your marketing. People are looking for products and services they can trust. That means while they are hunting and evaluating, you need to be out there marketing and not hiding behind your desk.

Attitudes are shifting. What was important yesterday may not be so important in today’s environment. That can spell new opportunities for your product or service. Take a survey…do some focus groups…find out what is driving the emotional needs of your core customer. How has it changed? Where are the new opportunities? How must your message change? How can you reposition the competition and make your brand more relevant for the next 12 months of economic hardship?

Marketing Never Stops. If you stop your marketing, you are wasting the brand equity you have built so far. This is not a start and then stop process. Your customers need evidence of product performance, and a reason why your product is absolutely positively the best in the category. When a consumer makes a budget cut…you don’t want to end up on the cutting room floor. That’s why marketing doesn’t stop because the economy is bad. It is exactly the time you need to turn up the volume.

These are tough times, and they may be some of the most creative and opportunistic times in years. Put on your Warren Buffett hat and look for the bargains. Create new demands. Stay close to your core customer. Dig deeper and look for the essential ties to your customers. And never ever stop fishing for new customers.

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The Old Elephant & Peanut Trick

Saw this ad the other day. What do you think?

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Movie Product Placement

Reality TV Shows have brought back product placement BIG TIME. However, movies have been doing it for quite a while. From the Spout Blog:

Product placement in movies is now so overdone that we may not even notice it unless a particular film or TV show really hits us over the head with a blatant in-your-face product shot. Otherwise, seeing commercial goods everywhere merely seems like everyday life in capitalist America. Just look at any of the websites that tally up products spotlighted in mainstream movies and you’ll probably be surprised (though not shocked) at how many brands appear in each new release. Did you notice that Blades of Glory contains 38 separate products? Probably not. Many of those products couldn’t have gotten their money’s worth, because the movie doesn’t allow the audience to walk away recalling any one particular item.

At a time when TV’s Top Chef and 30 Rock show us how lame blatantly whorish and ironic product placement can get, and while moviegoers are being subjected to more subliminal, suggestive and unintentional advertisements (Speed Racer, Wall-E and Beverly Hills Chihuahua respectively have us thinking about McDonalds, Apple products and Taco Bell, though some of these associations are not necessarily the movie’s fault), it’s good to remember that not all product placement is superfluous or despicable. Some of it is actually funny, smart and beneficial to mankind.

Movie: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Product: Reese’s Pieces

In case you don’t believe the part about product placement being beneficial to mankind, just imagine what could have happened if E.T. had featured either of Steven Spielberg’s first choices in candy placement, M&Ms or Hershey’s Kisses, rather than Reese’s Pieces. Would the delicious peanut butter candies still exist today? Okay, they might, but they certainly wouldn’t have become so popular so fast. Don’t forget that advertising is not simply about a greedy corporation marketing a product for profitable gain; it’s also about alerting us to wonderful new products that we otherwise might not have noticed. And isn’t your choice of sundae mix-ins better thanks to millions of moviegoers noticing the existence of Reese’s Pieces?

Movie: Back to the Future

Product: DeLorean DMC-12

On the opposite side of the spectrum from Reese’s Pieces, the DeLorean DMC-12 (popularly referred to as simply the DeLorean), is possibly the least necessary product ever to be placed prominently in a film. Maybe if it were actually a time machine it would be a must-have and the DeLorean Motor Company could have been back in business despite having gone bust a few years prior to the release of Back to the Future. Instead, the DeLorean is just a cool car, yet one that highly appeals to huge BTTF fans. And of the 6,500 DMC-12s still in existence, it’s likely that a large percentage are possessed by people who’ve installed a mock Flux Capacitor and own a vanity license plate that says something like “MCFLY” or “88 MPH” or “OUTATIME”. Get ready to see more tributes to the movie, too, since a car manufacturer in Houston has begun making new DMC-12s in limited production.

Movie: The Wizard

Product: Nintendo

A year after Mac and Me seemed to indicate that really, really prominent and shameless product placement was possibly a bad idea, The Wizard came out and provided the opposing argument. Then and now people have looked at the film’s promotion of Nintendo’s latest and much-anticipated blockbuster video game (and the the system’s “so bad” Power Glove controller) as one of the low moments in product placement, but for anyone who cared about video games in 1989, the chance to even get a glimpse of Super Mario Bros. 3 was worth the price of admission for an otherwise lame kiddie version of Rain Man.

Movie: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Product: White Castle

Like The Wizard’s promotion of Nintendo products, the employment of the White Castle fast food brand in Harold and Kumar is about reminding an audience about something it already likes and desires. But unlike The Wizard, Harold and Kumar doesn’t make the sponsorship seem like such a cheap grab for cash. Sure, the stoner comedy could have used any fast food place, real or made up, but for anyone who has devoured a whole Crave Case with one other friend at four in the morning, the specifically branded joke is all the more appreciated.

Movie: Wayne’s World

Products: Pizza Hut; Doritos; Reebok; Nuprin; Pepsi

Tina Fey may seem like the smartest SNL vet ever, but each time 30 Rock does the ironic product placement shtick, a number of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey loyalists likely shout at their screen, “Sheah, right! As if that’s not a 15-year-old gag.” And Fey isn’t the only one guilty of recycling the joke, although occasionally movies like Talladega Nights and Josie and the Pussycats can get away with it, because it’s kind of a necessary gag when satirizing things like NASCAR and pop music. Even the reflexive use of product placement in Fight Club somewhat descends from the Wayne’s World scene.

Movie: Best in Show

Products: Starbucks; Apple; J. Crew; L.L. Bean

Product placement doesn’t always have to be about favorably advertising a brand. It can also be about making fun of a brand, or making fun of a certain kind of person that brand is geared toward. In the mockumentary Best in Show, Starbucks is made fun of for having so many locations, while Apple is merely employed in the joke. Catalog clothing companies J. Crew and L.L. Bean are also simultaneously the butt of a joke and the means with which Christopher Guest makes fun of two of his film’s characters.

Movie: Good Bye Lenin!

Product: Coca-Cola

Product placement can also be about employing a product that serves as an idea. Coca-Cola is a brand that has been featured in tons of films as more a symbol of capitalism and the West than of soda pop (see my old post on Coca-Cola in cinema here), and in this German comedy, a giant Coca-Cola billboard serves to represent the westernization going on outside the window of the room of an oblivious woman being duped to believe the Berlin Wall never fell.

Movie: One, Two, Three

Product: Pepsi

The Coca-Cola placement in Good Bye Lenin! recalls Billy Wilder’s film One, Two, Three, which also deals with the division of East and West Berlin and also employs the iconic brand for the same kind of symbolic representation of capitalism. In Wilder’s film, though, the product is much more prominent, as the plot revolves around a Coca-Cola executive (played by James Cagney). Yet after so much mention of Coke, especially with the association of overbearing consumerism and cultural imperialism, you’re more likely to come away from the film wanting a bottle of Pepsi, instead. Of course, it also helps that the final shot in the film is of Cagney holding a bottle of Coca-Cola’s main competitor.

Movie: Breathless (À bout de souffle)

Product: The New York Herald Tribune

If you’re surprised that there was product placement as long ago as 1961, when One, Two, Three was released, let’s go back even further to 1960, and to another country, France. Jean-Luc Godard’s breakthrough and groundbreaking film probably wasn’t meant to increase sales of the New York Herald Tribune, but what male viewer could resist purchasing a subscription after watching and hearing Jean Seberg peddle the newspaper at the beginning of the film? Perhaps now the film even still inspires young men to subscribe to New York magazine, as a substitute for its now unavailable ancestor.

Oh, and just so you know, product placement can be found many, many decades earlier than the 1960s.

Movie: Minority Report

Products: Lexus; Guiness; American Express; and others

The product placement in Minority Report is considered an example of overkill, but that’s also the point. The film is set in a not-so-far-off future in which ads are everywhere, and most of them are personalized to address the consumer directly by name. It’s one of many futurist ideas in the film meant to exaggerate the present while predicting the direction technology is going. Already people receive personalized spam and internet ads, and advances in personalized marketing are growing closer and closer to what exists as a joke/prophesy in Spielberg’s film.

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Despite the economy, you need to stick to certain basics as explained in this from

Don't Let 'em Grind You Down
by Paul Johnson

Here's a simple negotiation technique to help you give up less and get more of what you want.

When I look around my basement, I realize maybe I'm hanging on to too much stuff. On the positive side, when I trade for goods and services, I'm also pretty good at hanging on to my stuff, namely my profit when I'm the seller, and my money when I'm the buyer. So, how good are you at hanging on to what you have? Here's a simple technique that can make you much better at this aspect of negotiating.

Bad negotiating exemplified

Let's imagine for a moment you're a seller engaged in a dialog with a potential buyer:

Buyer: "You're higher than your competition. What can you do when you sharpen your pencil?"

Seller: "I am authorized to match our competition's price."

Buyer: "Great! Unfortunately, I see your standard shipping is two weeks, and I need it on Tuesday. Can you do that?"

Seller: "I can expedite shipping for you. You can have it by Tuesday if you order now."

Buyer: "Nice! But I won't be able to use it without the accessories kit. Will you include it at no charge if I buy?"

Seller: "Sure, I'll do that just for you, because you're special."

Let's stop our example there, although the dialog, and the concessions, probably didn't stop there. Notice that at no time did the buyer commit to the purchase, despite the fact that the seller discounted away profit and increased costs by expediting shipping and giving away accessories. The buyer is on a roll; why wouldn't he keep asking for more concessions?

He will because he is grinding, a negotiating technique that enables buyers to continue to sweeten the deal until they take pity on the seller and stop, or the seller makes them stop.

A fair turn
Stopping a grinder is easy: simply replace concessions with trades. Whenever you are asked to give something up, prepare to trade for something of perceived value.

This method works even when no money is trading hands. Perhaps just your time is involved. For instance, maybe your boss wants you to take on "just one more thing." Instead of automatically saying yes, ask what can come off your current projects list to make room for the new one. Or, say you've been scheduled for one more meeting. Ask which deadline can be pushed back to accommodate the new unplanned need for your time. Similarly, when your buyer asks for a price concession, ask for... well, what can you trade?

Bring in your trade-offs
When negotiating, it pays to be prepared. So, anticipate the potential concession requests you may hear from your buyers. Prepare a list of possible trade-offs, which might include:

  • Reduced feature set
  • Slower (less expensive) shipping
  • Accepting delivery (and making payment) sooner
  • Faster payment terms
  • Cash instead of credit
  • Adding a bonus
  • Increasing the order size
  • Testimonial letter
  • Referral to a new prospect
  • Booking the order now

Preparation is key. When your buyer asks for a discount, you had better have something ready to trade. When your boss asks for "just one more thing," it will help to have that list of current projects ready so you can agree on which one to cross off or postpone. When you're prepared, your dialog can sound like this:

Buyer: "You're higher than your competition. What can you do when you sharpen your pencil?"

Seller: "I'd be happy to discuss reducing the price. Which features of my offer would you like me to delete so that I can deliver only what my competition is quoting?"

Buyer: "Well, we need everything you're quoting but, unfortunately, I see your standard shipping is two weeks, and I need it on Tuesday. Can you do that?"

Seller: "I can give you expedited shipping to hit your Tuesday deadline for free, if we can increase your order quantities by 10% to hit our free shipping minimum."

Buyer: "Well, OK, but I won't be able to use any of it without the accessories kit. Will you include it at no charge if I buy?"

Seller: "I'd love to do that to get a great new customer like you. Tell you what: if you buy now and agree to give me a glowing testimonial letter when you decide you're thrilled with us, I'll get the accessories kit included for you. Have we got a deal?"

Negotiating the give and take

When you make trades instead of concessions, you can walk away from both formal and impromptu negotiations with more of what you want. Notice that you never have to say "no"; you simply have to be prepared to say, "I'll give you what you want if I can have what I want." Prepare, and become a trader that stops the grinding in day-to-day negotiations. You'll find you'll have more of what you want, including more deals that are more profitable.

Paul Johnson the Trouble Breaker works with organizations to convert trouble into double and triple digit performance breakthroughs. Discover breakthrough concepts at Visit for more insights about Consultative Selling.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Night Marketing News

Wrapping up the weekday with these clickable headlines from Mediapost.

However, continue to stop by over the weekend when there will be at least 4 new stories Saturday and 4 more Sunday.

by Karl Greenberg
"It's not business as usual, and most of these folks need to have a better fix on consumer values," says Brand Keys' Robert Passikoff. "They have magnificent fixes on brand perspective but as long as things were running smoothly they manage most of them, they muddle along doing what they always do, but in this environment a brand becomes a commodity." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
To find out how marketers can best benefit from this massive trading-down-a-thon, we asked Leslie Moeller, head of Booz & Co.'s consumer, media, and retail industries, a few questions about the art of inferior branding. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
CPG marketers "don't want to get it wrong in the fleeting nano-second of purchase decision," said David Parma, global head of Nielsen Consumer Research. "Marketers need to know what buttons to press to influence their shoppers and win on the ultimate marketing battleground--the store aisle." ... Read the whole story > >
by Laurie Sullivan
Any suspected slowdown in ad spending hasn't affected Google. Third-quarter ad sales came in ahead of consensus. Google shook off the slowing economy to boost third-quarter profit by about 26% to $1.35 billion, or $4.24 a share. The Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant reported Thursday that revenue grew 31% to $5.5 billion, compared with the same quarter last year. ... Read the whole story > >

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Where do the Big Boys Advertise?

This is just a confirmation of what we've been noticing:

Digital Ad Spend Up At The Expense of Traditional
According to a new Epsilon CMO Survey, Chief Marketing Officers at many of the biggest brands in the nation are seeing a major shift in the marketing landscape. 63% of the 175 marketing executives surveyed see an increase in their spending on interactive/digital marketing while 59% report a decrease in traditional marketing spend.

65% of CMOs say that the money spent on advertising as a whole will decrease due to the current economy. In contrast, 94% of CMOs and marketing executives agreed with the statement, 'A tough economic period is precisely the time when marketing plays a key role.'

When asked how their firm determines their target market for each channel:

  • 50% stated that they use data driven marketing techniques
  • 31% of respondents agreed that they use sophisticated modeling tools to analyze existing customer behavioral, preference and demographic data
  • 19% said that they analyze past purchase behavior
  • 28% said they made rough estimates based on past experience

Mike Iaccarino, CEO of Epsilon, says "... marketing executives are seeking accountability and measurable results. Data driven marketing is an increasingly important component of corporate marketing campaigns... "

CMOs of the biggest brands have been early adopters of new media with social computing and blogs receiving the most interest whereas instant messaging and interactive TV ads were the least popular.

  • Social computing (including word of mouth, social networking sites, viral advertising, etc.) was the most popular emerging channel with 42% of marketing executives expressing interest in adding it to their marketing mix
  • Blogs were the second most popular emerging channel: 35% of marketing executives want to pursue blogs and 19% already use blogs
  • Almost one-third of CMOs mentioned Podcasting as an area of interest: 31% are interested in adding Podcasting to their marketing mix and 18% already have.
  • Mobile devices also elicited interest: 29% are interested in Mobile Devices (Phones/PDAs) and 22% have added them to their marketing mix

Senior marketing executives anticipate further cuts, says the study, but are confident that they will be able to manage their budgets by focusing spending where it will have the greatest impact. As the overall marketing pool diminishes, the budget for interactive and digital marketing is dramatically increasing, while that for traditional marketing continues to shrink toward interactive, digital marketing:

Interactive/Digital Marketing:

  • Decreased... 14%
  • Increased... 63%
  • Stayed the same... 23%

While Traditional Marketing

  • Decreased... 59%
  • Increased... 13%
  • Stayed the same... 29%

Source: Epsilon, September 2008

The survey included 175 U.S. Chief Marketing Officers and marketing executives of some of the largest brands in the nation. 27% of respondents work at companies with $10 billion or more in annual revenues last year.

For additional information and a PDF file, please visit here.

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Friday Free Advice

This is from the Marketing Minute:

5 marketing musts during a recession (with tactics included!)

Posted: 15 Oct 2008 11:28 PM CDT

36594280 I understand the lure of just hunkering down and waiting out the economic lull. And I know you're probably tired of hearing this....but if you are smart -- this is a huge opportunity for you to capture market share and solidify your position in the marketplace.

Please do not sit this one out. And I'm not even going to tell you not to cut prices or cut your budget, because we've beat that horse to death!

110% consistency: The buyers are already jumpy. Don't give them any reason to mistrust or doubt you. Live and breathe your brand integrity. Don't do or say anything that contradicts your brand.


  • Review your brand values with each and every employee
  • Refresh your website to put your brand promise front and center
  • Ask your employees for ideas on how to bring your brand to life. Pay $50 for every idea used. Make that very public knowledge.

Love on your current customers: They're the most likely to buy again and they are also most likely the audience you've ignored. Now is the time to appreciate them, remind them why they trusted you in the first place and over service them.


  • Do a customer only mailing, spotlighting some of your best offerings at their best prices
  • Hold a customer appreciation party and say "thank you" repeatedly
  • Offer a pre-payment discount (you get cash up front and their commitment to follow through)

Give it away: Demonstrate to the world that you believe in abundance by giving away some of your product or services to a worthy non-profit. But don't do a drive by. Partner with them for the long haul and work your PR magic.


  • Give your employees a voice in which charity you partner with
  • Be smart - choose a charity that has an influential board of directors and make a point of being at those meetings to share your expertise
  • Trade your products or services for an event sponsorship so you get publicity for your efforts

Listen, respond, repeat: Now is not the time to be ignoring the marketplace. You need to be listening to your customers, your competitor's customers and anyone else who is out there talking about your industry.


  • Do a customer survey (while you are at it, do a past customer survey)
  • Set up Google alerts
  • Jump into conversations about your industry and offer value

Use content marketing: You're good at what you do. You want your prospects and customers to be successful. Why not position yourself as the expert by sharing your expertise?


  • Create an e-newsletter (don't start it if you aren't going to consistently create/deliver it)
  • Build a robust How To series for your website
  • Launch a business blog (again...don't start it if you aren't serious about keeping at it)

What do you think? Most of these tactics will not cost you an arm or even a leg. And I'll let you in on a little secret -- they're pretty effective, even when we're not facing snug times.

What can you add to the list? What's working for you that you can share with the rest of us?

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More Info on Holiday Shopping

As we are in the final quarter of the year, this is the time when some business either sink or swim, due to the percentage of sales that occur at the end of the year. Here's the latest research and predictions:

Holiday Spending Down Some; 1/3 Start Shopping Before Thanksgiving; Halloween For Revelers
Though holiday sales this year have been reported to be the weakest in 17 years, TNS Retail Forward forecasts 1.5% growth, compared with 1.2% in 1991, for the holiday fourth quarter in the key holiday retail segments combined.

Online sales across retail channels are forecast to grow 9% this holiday season compared with 19% in 2007. TNS forecasts online sales to reach $42.5 billion in the fourth quarter up $3.5 billion from the prior year.

According to the TNS study, key retail sector holiday sales performance looks like this:

  • TNS forecasts a 5.6% combined growth for mass retailers, with a shopper shift toward value formats and the impact of higher food prices. Supercenters and warehouse clubs will remain among the best retail performers while discount department stores will be the laggard.
  • Apparel and accessory retailers will take a toll on the softgoods sector this holiday season, expected to decline 1.3% in the aggregate in the holiday period compared with flat growth in 2007.
  • Homegoods channels expected to decline this holiday by 1.0%. Furniture and home furnishings stores will experience the biggest deterioration, while Home improvement store sales are forecast to decline 1.0%.
  • Consumer electronics stores are the exception in the channel with holiday sales growth forecast at 4.0%, partly because of sustained buying to prepare for the conversion to digital TV signals

A new Mediamark (MRI) Omnibus study finds that 62.3 million adult consumers will begin holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, while thirty-six percent of holiday shoppers say they begin shopping between Thanksgiving and December 15th, and 26% start their shopping between December 16th and 23rd. Approximately 2% of holiday shoppers don't begin their holiday shopping until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Start Of Holiday Shopping

% of Total Holiday Shoppers

# of Adults

Before Thanksgiving


62.183 Million

After Thanksgiving to December 15th


63.303 Million

December 16th to December 23rd


45.288 Million

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day


4.002 Million

After Christmas


2.225 Million

Source: Mediamark, September 2008

Early shoppers combing retail shelves and online shopping sites before Black Friday:

  • 62% of shoppers are women, and are 18% more likely than holiday shoppers in general to begin shopping before Thanksgiving
  • 38% of early shoppers are Boomers, and they are 11% more like than holiday shoppers in general to be out there early
  • 13% of early shoppers are more likely than holiday shoppers in general to have bought at least one toy in the last 12 months, and they are 18% more likely to have bought 10 or more toys in the last 12 months
  • 9% are more likely to have given a personal wish list of gifts that they hope to receive to their family and their friends.

Early Shopper Profile (Base: All Holiday Shoppers)

Composition of 35.1% of Holiday Shoppers who Begin Shopping prior to Thanksgiving

% More (Less) Likely than All Holiday Shoppers



















HHI< $50k



HHI between $50-$100k



HHI >$100k



Purchased Any Toy



Purchased 10+ Toys



Gave personal gift "wish list" to Family/Friends



Gave "gift card" as a gift



Source: MRI's 2008 Omnibus Study, September 2008

Anne Marie Kelly, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Planning at MRI, concludes that "Black Friday may be the traditional start of the holiday shopping season but... its strength has diminished as millions of Americans begin their shopping before Thanksgiving... "

And, not to be forgotten, more consumers plan to celebrate Halloween this year (64.5% vs. 58.7%), with the average person spending $66.54 on the holiday, up from $64.82 one year ago. Total Halloween spending for 2008 is estimated to reach $5.77 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIG Research

This year, says the study:

  • Consumers will spend an average of $24.17 on Halloween costumes
  • People will spend, on average, $20.39 on candy
  • $18.25 on decorations
  • $3.73 on greetting cards
  • And, 18-24 year-olds plan to spend $86.59 on the holiday, the most of any group??

People will celebrate Halloween in a variety of ways,

  • Handing out candy (73.7%)
  • Carving a pumpkin (44.6%)
  • Decorating (50.3%)
  • Dress in costume (35.3%)
  • Throw or attend a party (31.1%)
  • Take children trick-or-treating (33.6%)?

Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch, says "After months of bleak economic news, consumers are looking for a reason to let loose... and with Halloween falling on a Friday this year, consumers may plan to celebrate all weekend long."

For more on the NRF/BIGresearch Halloween study, please visit here.

For more information about the MRI Holiday Shopping Study, and a PDF file, please visit MediaMark here.

For more information from TNS about the forecast, please visit here.

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Your Image is You


You're the Top, You're the Louvre Museum

No doubt about it: corporate images are important, and many companies work very hard to cultivate them. But how do specific corporate images (eg, an image of being innovative, trustworthy, socially conscious) affect customers' impressions of the products a company makes? In some instances, quite a lot.

Research shows that when a company comes out with a new product, customers use the associations they have made to the company in evaluating the product. Furthermore, the type of image that the firm has affects whether and how much they like the new product. For instance, when a new product has a higher price tag:

Companies with images of being innovative and/or trustworthy get better results. People tend to "like" the new pricey brands better, and see them in a more positive light. (Think: BMW's latest model.)

Companies with images of being socially responsible see virtually no impact of their image on customers' evaluations of an expensive new brand. (Think: any pricey hybrid vehicle? Just speculating here.)

In short, this research indicates that customers tend to be more willing to trust a pricey product's quality when they already trust the company, and see it as being on the cutting-edge in terms of product development.

The Po!nt: Image affects spending. If you offer pricey products, make sure your image is ironclad: trustworthy, and ahead-of-the-crowd.

Source: When Corporate Image Affects Product Evaluations: The Moderating Role of Perceived Risk. Gürhan-Canli, Zeynep; Batra, Rajeev. Journal of Marketing Research, 2004.

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Wizard Wisdom

From my Email this morning:


Dear Scott,

When it comes to websites...

"Content is the key to conversion. Design only enhances the communication to the waters that lie beneath our mind." - Paul Boomer, Wizard of Ads Partner

Regardless your choice of media... TV, radio, newspaper, yellow pages, magazines, flyers, blogs or websites, Paul's quote applies equally to all. Content is the key to conversion.

In this issue:

Undressing a Makeup Success

The Great Secret of Success

Deliver What You Say

Undressing a Makeup Success

Or... deconstructing the marketing of a successful brand.

By Sonya Winterbotham, Wizard of Ads Associate (Australia)

"Here’s an exercise - Ask your staff what words they associated with your business… If you get mixed answers your internal branding needs work."

I hadn’t seen women so crazed to throw money at something since Manpower toured… Hundreds of dollars leapt over the counter in an effort to snatch one brand… one very cleverly marketed makeup brand… Napoleon Pedis.

And it wasn’t even on sale.

A success story like this always makes me curious… how’d he do it? The two hours I spent at the launch of their latest point of sale outlet gave me my answer. A quality product being very intelligently marketed.

Ok… not exactly the mind blowing answer you were hoping for… But his marketing strategy got me spending $170 on my first encounter with the product. So let’s break it down.

Packaging:- The first big difference I noticed with NP was when I started reading the product packaging. Ever done it? You should. I compared NP with two other leading brands – the competitors packaging contained lines like “looks and feels fresh all day”, “moisture balanced, oil free formula”. NP’s packaging said snore bore to that let’s have fun and put you up in lights with lines coming to life like:- “not to prime is a crime” “get (even more) gorgeous” “your skin appears beautifully bright… up, up, up and away”. It actually sounded like someone enjoyed writing it.

But what if you own a business not a product? Well aren’t your staff part of your product, think for a minute – how are they packaged?

Language:- Napoleon Perdis is makeup… so it’s a very visual product… but through a brand vocabulary created for presentations they could have sold it to me with my eyes closed. Our presenter spoke metaphorically with a list of words that melted every woman in the room. She made NP a fashion brand and an artistic craft… Referring to products as “accessories” for your clothes… or layers of colour used in a painting. And they name their products the same way – so you end up with “camera finish” powder, “china doll” foundation, “mosaics” and “primers”. Getting the picture? It’s hard not to. And the beauty of it is every brand ambassador is selling in the same language – sounds likes repetition to me.

Here’s an exercise - Ask your staff what words they associated with your business… If you get mixed answers your internal branding needs work.

Brand protection:- If you want to stock and sell the NP brand… you’ve got to pass the test. Napoleon Perdis has a minimum “buy in” to stock the product. There needs to be certain floor space, certain aesthetics, a Napoleon Perdis counter in Napoleon Perdis colours and Napoleon Perdis trained staff. It’s basically protection so that this brand is represented in a similar fashion in every store. Sounds like consistency.

Brand association:- Napoleon Perdis doesn’t sit on the sidelines waiting for publicity to show up on the doorstep. He’s appeared on Australia’s Next Top Model, he’s created his own reality tv show, he’s on youtube, myspace… and within less than 10 years since it’s inception, Napoleon Perdis makeup is THE makeup brand now associated with events like The Emmy’s.

It appears that while the giants in their white lab coats and secret ingredients were sleeping, along came a colourful little Aussie… who’s proved through clever marketing he’s worth the big bucks… and women of the world agree.

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The Great Secret of Success

"Concentrate your energy, thought, and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it; adapt every improvement, and know most about it.

The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or there, here, there and everywhere. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is all wrong. I tell you "put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket." One fault of the American businessman is lack of concentration."

- Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919) from a speech given to the students of Curry Commercial College in Pittsburgh in 1885. From 'The Book of Business Wisdom: Classic Writings by the Legends of Commerce and Industry.' Edited by Peter Krass

Solid principles remain relevant regardless the passing of time.

Deliver What You Say

“It has always seemed to me that your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does." - Jeff Bezos, CEO,

Smart advertising is not about being creative or making stuff up. It’s about telling the truth. Telling people what they can really expect when they do business with you.

As Jeff Bezos says in the above quote. Your company is judged by what it does, how it delivers, not by what your ads say.

People are shocked when what you say in your advertising is delivered in your store, on your website, over the phone, by your employees. Why? Because most advertising is a lie, fictional, make believe, a fantasy.

So quit writing fairy tale ads. Pull up your sleaves and get to work delivering the experience your customers and employees crave. Plug the leaks in your conversion funnel. Look after your customers like no competitor can.

Then, advertising is simple... you stand up and tell the truth.

Previous stories, just in case you missed them:

Wizard Words... The Sword in the Stone

One Way to Build a Successful Business

Why the Rule of Resemblance Fails

A Closing Thought
"We create Failure when we pretend that Creativity can magically overcome the fact that an advertiser has nothing to say." - Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads

See you next week.

Craig Arthur
Wizard of Ads

PS. Need help to attract more customers and grow your business?

Australia Call (07) 4728 4866 or email

North America

Call 308-254-2732 or email

Call 440-610-9746 or email

We will never try and sell you. You may punch us in the arm really, really hard if we do.

Call or email to book a FREE alignment meeting. No obligation. No pressure. It is at this meeting we both decide if there is a fit between our 2 companies. It is only then can we explore your options. We will never try to sell you. Call (07) 4728 4866.

Wizard Partners Australia. Call Us: (07) 4728 4866

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Who Do You Need To Thank Today?

Sales is more than facts and figures, it also is about relationships:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Gratitude should be a continuous attitude

It's very disheartening to see a decline in the use of "thank you" by so many. When I hold doors open for people, I almost never hear a thank you. I go out for lunch or dinner quite frequently, and I tip well, but thank you seems to have found a place on the endangered species list. When I go shopping and buy something, I rarely hear a thank you any more.

For a while, I thought it was just me, being overly sensitive. But then I was watching The Late Show with David Letterman and heard about a man who went into a store looking for an item. He found no one to help. The clerks were disinterested at best, rude at worst. After much searching, he finally found the item himself. At the checkout counter he found a long line of people and a clerk who definitely worked only at her own speed. Finally he paid for his item, and the clerk threw it into a plastic bag and shoved his change at him.

The man had to say something, so he asked the cashier, "Can't you even say thank you?"

And the cashier said, "It's printed on your receipt."

One of my faithful readers recently emailed me that he has saved a column I wrote on the topic 10 years ago, and uses it at his company's monthly training meetings. He writes: "We are a society that no longer embraces these simple, yet powerful words and what they stand for. What astonishes me is that this is not generation specific. I grew up with please and thank you driven hard into me, and I am grateful for that today. Thank you Mom and Dad! I used to hear these valued words a lot. Today, little." Thank you, Wayne Shimer, for your insight.

It takes only two words to say, "Thank you." It takes only one word to say, "Please." It's so easy to say thank you, and it can have such a powerful impact.

As many of you may know, I am a big fan of creativity. Here are a couple ways I've used to say thank you creatively.

A great time to be imaginative is when you've landed a new customer and want to show your appreciation. Forget the standard letter from the CEO. Why not try what we sometimes do at MackayMitchell Envelope Company? Within 24 hours of receiving a first time order, we will arrange delivery of a 30-foot-long banner saying "Thank You" in 15 different languages. Believe me, that makes it to the bulletin board, opposed to a boilerplate letter that ends up in the trash.

Do you know who else has mastered the Art of the Thank You? The Girl Scouts. First off, these gals are one smart troop of marketers. As of 2007, all types of Girl Scout Cookies are proudly trans-fat free. All of them are also certified kosher. Who can resist Girl Scout cookies?

When a precious set of twins, Anna and Grace, came to me to sell cookies, they were especially excited about a new variety, Thanks-A-Lot shortbread cookies sinfully dipped in fudge. Embossed on them are the words "Thank You"—and not just in English, mind you. But in five different languages: English, French, Chinese, Swahili and Spanish.

Anna and Grace were thrilled when I bought a case of these cookies as a way to say thank you to people who do nice things for me. They thanked me several times. Then I got a follow-up thank you email from these enterprising first graders. And another big thank you when the cookies were delivered a few weeks later.

By the way, everyone who has received a box from me has said thank you too!

Speaking of saying thanks, there is a movement making efforts to thank our military veterans that is so simple. Go to and take advantage of the opportunities to thank these heroes.

I recently returned from Beijing, China, and the Summer Olympic Games. You can surely tell that the Chinese government wanted its people—from cab drivers to waiters to everyone in service businesses—to display terrific manners to the world. In fact, "thank you" was one of the five English phrases all Beijing residents were encouraged to learn before the Olympics. Their image to the world was extremely important. And it doesn't hurt tourism either.

Mackay's Moral: Thank U is a college from which we should never graduate.

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

More information and learning tools can be found online at

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Night Marketing News

From Mediapost:

by Karlene Lukovitz
CPGs should consider strategies such as branded merchandise sections within supermarkets/grocery retailers that link products with a chef, adding restaurant-inspired sides and desserts to entrée lines and emphasizing frozen and fresh-prepared meals that offer ingredient "purity" and "global inspiration." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"One goal was to provide clients with a marketing platform umbrella campaign," says Ann Wells Crandall. That effort, the four- to-six-week "What Does It Take" campaign, is running in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. The creative for the campaign features world record holder and defending champion Paula Radcliffe. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
"With consumers already saying they plan to spend less, stores with lean inventories, those inventories on sale as soon as they hit the floor, and tightening credit both for businesses and consumers, where can growth come from?" asks its chief industry analyst. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Aaron Baar
Some of the disparity between regional and national banks can be attributed to the positioning of these top three national banks as economic saviors that won't be permitted to fail, per YouGovPolimetrix. "There's certainly a sense that the government has facilitated some of these purchases and that they're too large to fail," says Ted Marzilli. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
The brands are promoting via a television spot that marks the first time Orville Redenbacher's has created television advertising to support a consumer promotion, according to ConAgra. The spots show a family using Indiana Jones-like whips to turn off the lights, grab a bowl of popcorn and turn on the DVD player. ... Read the whole story > >

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Obama Xbox?

Have you heard about this?

October 16, 2008

Obama Buys First Video Game Campaign Ads

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Barack Obama, flush with cash and ramping up his advertising in the final weeks before the November 4 election, is making U.S. political history by placing the first presidential campaign ads in online video games.

The Democratic Illinois senator is using the Internet ads, featured in 18 games through Microsoft Corp's Xbox Live service, to promote his online voter registration and early balloting drive in 10 battleground states, a campaign spokesman said on Wednesday.

Unprecedented in U.S. presidential politics, the video game buy is targeted mainly at young adult males who are difficult to reach through more traditional campaign advertising.

"The 18-to-34-year-old male is the mainstream demographic for the hard-core video gamer," said Van Baker, an analyst for Gartner Inc., a technology market research firm in San Jose, California. "They're hard to get to because they don't watch much TV and they don't read a lot, so it's a good venue to get that segment."

The ads appear in games as banners or billboards with an image of Obama, the slogan "Early voting has begun," and a reference to his website. The site allows users to register online to vote, obtain absentee voter information and find a polling location.

Polls consistently have given Obama, 47, an edge over Republican rival John McCain, 72, among younger voters.

Far from turning his back on more conventional media, however, Obama's campaign last week said he planned to make a prime-time pitch to voters October 29 in a 30-minute ad slated to run on two broadcast networks, CBS and NBC.

A throwback to a campaign ad strategy fairly common in the 1950s and '60s, Obama's long-form ad will mark the first such paid political national telecast since Ross Perot ran a series of them during his independent bid for president in 1992.

Perot's ads drew an average audience of 11.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.


Obama's video game ads are targeted at a more finely targeted group of potential voters.

The in-game ads are delivered to players through 18 games, ranging from "Guitar Hero 3" and "The Incredible Hulk" to sports titles like "NASCAR 09," "NBA Live 08" and "NFL Tour."

Such ads can be directed to particular geographical areas through the Internet Protocol addresses registered with Internet service providers when players' Xbox 360 consoles go online, Baker said.

Obama's campaign said the game ads are targeted at 10 key states where early voting is available and relatively simple -- Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Colorado.

"These ads will help us expand the reach of, so that more people can use this easy tool to find their early vote location and make sure their voice is heard," campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

Nearly 5 million people have visited the site since its launch August 25, and more than 774,000 have downloaded a voter registration form using the site to date, his campaign said.

Earlier this month, the Obama campaign placed nationwide VoteForChange ads on users' home pages of the social networking site

The novel use of interactive media by Obama is further evidence of his substantial funding advantage over McCain, whose own campaign is limited to the $84 million in public money he agreed to accept.

Obama raised a record $67 million in August and is expected to perhaps approach $100 million for September, according to the Washington Post, which reported that Obama has been running seven or eight times as many commercials as McCain in some states.

His 30-minute ads on CBS and NBC are believed to have cost his campaign roughly $1 million each.

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