Saturday, November 08, 2008

Obama Marketing Wrap Up

As I was watching the 1st term Senator from Illinois run for CEO of the USA, I noticed what a lot of others did, The Marketing of Obama.

Earlier this week I featured a few select articles on this subject.

First, there's Al Rie's article on "Positioning Change".

There was this from USA Today on the effect of"Obama on Brand Names".

And there are a few stories here on the "Obama Brand".

Tonight I have a story from the Harvard Business Review:

How Better Marketing Elected Barack Obama

When the book is written on this election, it should not be titled "The Making of a President," but "The Marketing of a President." Barack Obama's campaign is a case study in marketing excellence.

True, it was always going to be a Democratic year. An unpopular war, an incumbent Republican president with rock bottom approval ratings, and many Republican incumbents retiring from Congress as a result all meant that change was in the air. Add to that the economic meltdown that decimated millions of 401K retirement plans and undercut any Republican claim to be the better steward of the economy.

But, even so, for an inexperienced single term African-American senator tagged with the most liberal voting record to defeat the heir apparent in his own party and then go on to hold off the much-vaunted Republican machine is a truly remarkable achievement. Much of it has to do with Obama's instinct for marketing.

First, Obama's personal charisma, his listening and public speaking skills, his consistently positive and unruffled demeanor and his compelling biography attracted the attention and empathy of voters.

Second, Obama converted this empathy into tangible support. More citizens volunteered time and money to help the Obama campaign than any previous presidential candidate. Indeed, he attracted more donors than the entire Democratic or Republican party nationwide. Almost half of Obama's unprecedented $639 million in funds raised from individuals came from small donors giving $300 or less.

Third, his fundraising prowess was aided by his appreciation and use of all communications media , notably the Internet, to engage voters. Obama picked up where Howard Dean left off. He leveraged his website, the blogosphere, and even user-generated content (remember Obama Girl) and video games to engage not just donors and volunteers but all citizens. From the imaginative campaign logo to the thirty minute infomercial, Obama's communications were professional without being slick, attention-getting without being in-your-face.

Fourth, Obama reached out to all citizens. He targeted his message beyond previous or likely voters. He built a coalition that energized young, first-time voters and registered thousands of previous non-voters. His organization encouraged early voting by Democrats to build well-publicized poll leads and to reduce the chances of supporters being discouraged from voting by long lines at polling places on election day. This policy of inclusion meant that voting records were set in the general election and the primaries.

Fifth, his advertising messages and his tone and demeanor throughout the campaign consistently communicated his upbeat themes of hope and "change you can believe in." The emotional appeal was buttressed with solid and specific policy details. The ability to combine emotional with functional benefits and the discipline to be consistent in positioning and message delivery are core to all successful branding campaigns. Ads that dealt with specific policy issues, even ads criticizing McCain, all continued to communicate the core themes.

Sixth, he anticipated and outsmarted the competition. Throughout, he showed respect for Clinton and then McCain, even as he successfully tagged a McCain administration as Bush's third term. But he and his advisers managed the political chess board brilliantly. Early on, he anticipated and defused negative criticisms by admitting to past indiscretions his autobiography. His campaign rebutted the criticisms in a hostile biography point-by-point before they gained traction. Negative advertising by his opponents was countered quickly, not only in ads but on the internet as well.

Seventh, he fought the ground war as brilliantly as the air war. Building on Howard Dean's 50 state strategy, he built his primary delegate count by investing time in Democratic caucuses in red states; the organizations he built for the primaries in these states set him up to win several of them in the general. In the closing weeks, he put McCain on defense in multiple red states, making it tough for the Republican to focus his efforts. Having relied on public funding, McCain ended up having to make some tough trade-offs regarding where to go and where to spend his money. Obama did not.

Finally, Obama chose an excellent marketing and campaign team, and managed them well. From start to finish, there was no public dissension. He chose a non-controversial, experienced Senator as his running mate who complemented his lack of foreign policy skills. McCain only assembled a smooth-running campaign team late in the day. And the maverick made a surprise choice of an unknown running mate that, in the final analysis, undercut his ability to tag Obama as inexperienced and called his judgment into question.

Like any great brand, Obama has built up a bond of trust with the American people. His election has also given the US the opportunity to reestablish its moral leadership around the world. But like any brand, he has to deliver now on his promises, both actual and perceived. In the current economy, that will not be easy.

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Added Value?

Think you can bribe your customers? Read this first:

Gimme That!

Sales promotions that offer either price discounts or free goods (premiums) are often used to entice customers to buy products. But which is better?

Every family has one or two bargain shoppers—always looking for discounted products, and priding themselves on never paying full price. So, logically, marketers would assume that discounting prices in periodic sales gives their customers what they want. Right? Well, as often happens here, we must disagree.

Research is actually showing that, while sale prices do draw customers in, from the standpoint of long-term brand equity, companies are better off offering a premium rather than a price discount -- at least once in a while, anyway.

The reason? Apparently, consumers "incorporate" a price discount into the product's regular price, making it look less expensive overall. (Once they see it marked down, they remember that lower price, and keep watching for it to return.) Because customers often make price-quality inferences like this, they may actually start to discount the quality of the product over time in their minds as well.

Free premiums, on the other hand, apparently enhance the overall value of the product. (For instance, that bottle of free conditioner packaged with the shampoo adds value to the regular price.)

The Po!nt: Give 'em something to remember. Sales are fun, but occasional premiums are better for maintaining brand equity over time, because consumers see them as an added value.

Source: The Price of "Free"-dom: Consumer Sensitivity to Promotions with Negative Contextual Influences. Sucharita Chandran and Vicki G. Morwitz. Journal of Consumer Research, 2006.

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Creative Email Tips

This list came in an email from Andy Sernovitz and the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That blog at

The "Word of Mouth for Email Marketers" Issue

10 ways for email marketers to do awesome word of mouth marketing

1. Ask for a forward: More people pass along their email when you remind them to. Put a big "Tell a Friend" link in every message. Even if they don't use your form, they'll see the request and do it.

2. Design unbreakable emails: Test test test to make sure your email can be passed along infinitely without breaking. You can't go viral if you don't pass this test.

3. Make the forwarders feel special: Include some offer that makes recipients look good when they pass along your message. Give them an insider deal, advance news, or a secret discount code.

4. Add a benefit for the friend: Give people a reason to send something to their friends. You'll get more forwards from people who feel like they are genuinely helping their buddies. "Hi, I wanted to give you this discount code/helpful tip ...."

5. Add a multiplier: Add a reason why someone would share your message with 10 people instead of one. A "whole family" discount, 3-for-one coupon, or a deal good for anyone with the same company domain in their email.

6. Put a Tell-a-Friend form everywhere: Add a form to every page of your web site. When someone is about to refer a friend (giving you a free, high-quality lead) make it easy and immediate.

7. Design Tell-a-Friend emails well: When someone refers a friend, what does the friend get? Probably some generic text email. That message should be exciting--and it should convert almost 100% of recipients to click. (It was a personal recommendation from a friend ... if that doesn't get clicked, nothing will.) If not, keep working on it until it's perfect.

8. Track revenue from forwarders/talkers: You probably have thousands of names in your database that you treat like low-quality prospects because they never buy. But you'll be surprised when you give them credit for orders placed from emails that they forwarded. You have a lot of high-value evangelists on your list generating a ton of business from their friends.

9. Create campaigns for forwarders: Once you've identified these forwarders, start creating campaigns just for them. Target people who like to forward offers with great offers specifically designed for them to share with friends.

10. Study viral success to create another: Here's the truth about viral email: You never know what works. Examine any message that gets unusually high forwards, and try to learn what caused the referrals. Start building likely-to-get-forwarded content into all your messages.

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5 Reasons to Network

One of the keys to my success was to get out and meet people. You can do it one at a time, or in group settings. I actually combine the two. I wrote about it here. Click here to see how I did it, and read this for more advice:

Five tips on why you should network in a recession

image Everybody knows that networking is growing in popularity. There are social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook and Business Networking sites such as LinkedIn. Here is why networking is even more important in these recessionary times.

First, learn what is happening in your market from the streets and not the newspapers. Although the news can be all bad about jobs all the time, what you hear on the street by meeting with people often is more current on the employment situation and business opportunities in your area. If you are connecting with a lot of people regularly you can get a better sense of what is out there than reading the newspaper. Networking in these time forms a better long term bond with people. Anxious times can creates greater honesty and affinity as people can be more forthcoming and direct.

Remember the 75/75 rule. Seventy five percent of jobs are found through relationships and 75 of all business engagements are found through networking and from referrals you know rather than going on the internet and e mailing strangers.

To get those referrals you have to know people and you won’t get to know people by just sitting at your computer. It is all about contact and touch and being a resource for people. That is why my approach to networking is “How to Get More by Asking for Less and Doing More for others.”

Although we all network primarily for financial currency which includes and new clients, remember networking in these times builds your social currency. Social currency is your relationship with people and in the long run social currency is as valuable as your financial currency. Remember to help people in transition because when they land they will remember your efforts and you will have a powerful connection.

When you attend a lot of networking events you increase your industry relevance in these changing times because you learn a lot about current topics and trends in your industry. Networking simply makes you smarter and current on in the exponential information age.

--Hank Blank, President, and Blank and Associates. or

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Night Marketing News

A combination of bad news, good news, and neither. Just like the rest of the world.

Don't forget there are at least 4 new articles Saturday and 4 more on Sunday. Check back over the weekend!

by Sarah Mahoney
Once again, Wal-Mart Stores came out a winner, reporting that same-store sales in its U.S. Walmart division gained 2.2%, without gasoline sales, and that sales at its Sam's Clubs unit gained 3.6%. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer says it is seeing increases in store traffic as well, which it attributes to its "highly competitive pricing strategies." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
CEO Rick Wagoner's email tells employees to expect more white-collar job losses as well as some benefits. Chrysler has already announced a corporate-wide 25% reduction in workforce, and the firm's agency of record, BBDO, Thursday announced it is cutting its Detroit office by 145 people. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
"The costs of producing beer are high," notes Christopher Shanahan, research analyst, chemicals, materials and food, Frost & Sullivan, a marketing research firm. "Beer companies are still seeing the impact of high hops prices. The costs of aluminum are way up because prices have been driven up by many investors moving from stocks into metals." ... Read the whole story > >
by Les Luchter
Without alluding to it directly, the spot's ending -- and the final tag line "Don't Just Give a Gift, Grant a Wish" -- fits in nicely with Sears' new "Heroes at Home Wish Registry," which will award gift cards worth up to $550 to 20,000 to active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"When people get into vehicles like G6, they see the thoughtfulness that went into the interior, the luxury cues and the feel that there wasn't skimping on the less expensive vehicles," says Strategic Vision's Alexander Edwards. "Consumers are saying they are absolutely delighted with the overall experience, and that has allowed Pontiac to move up." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Ads are running on ESPN, Comedy Central and local network affiliates in key markets. Supporting print ads are running in men's magazines and feature real-life hero Jeff Kosoff, "and the first half of the true story of his potential attack by a pack of wild dogs." Ads direct readers to a microsite to find out happens. ... Read the whole story > >

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Silent Marketing Tools

Marketing is so much more than advertising. Drew shares this example from the Marketing Minute Blog:

Build your brand: Cultural clues

Posted: 02 Nov 2008 05:41 AM CST

Partymintslge I walked into a client's boardroom to make a presentation. The room looked like many other boardrooms, but there was one thing that immediately caught my eye.

They had party mints on the table.

I'm not telling you the industry, location, brand or any other detail about this client. But...close your eyes and imagine what kind of a business would consciously choose to put out party mints.

Party mints are not good or bad. But they are a cultural clue.

We leave cultural clues everywhere we go. Think about your office décor. Your office location. Or a typical meeting. Or your voicemail/e-mail signature. All places that cultural clues hide. Or can be purposefully hidden.

At MMG on our conference room table, you'll find freshly baked M&M cookies, with MMG logo colored M&Ms. No accident.

What clues would I see if I came to do business with you? Are they accidental or is it part of your brand plan?

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What's a customer worth?

I wrote about this in the past, (Click here to read my words), Here's someone else's words, from my email:

Know the Value of the Customer
Everyone in an organization should know the value of a customer.
How much are they really worth?

Here is an example from a grocery store.

If the average family
visits a store twice a week and spends $50/visit, at the end of 52 weeks the family will have spent over $5,000.00. Multiply that times seven years (the average family moves every seven years) and you find your customer (the family) is worth over $35,000.00.

Add to that the customers they might refer to you.
Let's say that over time this happy family refers two more families to you. (This is conservative. Your happy customer has tremendous influence over new neighbors and friends.) That is another $70,000.00!

Lose a customer and you potentially lose
over $90,000.00. So, if you worked at a grocery store and someone complained about spoiled milk, would you make a big deal out of it or give them a new carton of milk that costs less than a dollar?

Remember, this
customer may be worth over $90,000.00! Once you know the value of a customer, you are likely to treat him/her differently during tough situations.

Copyright © 2004– Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations

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Store Brands vs. Brand Names

Some brands I'm loyal to.

Like Life Cereal vs. the generic store brand, (yuck).

But other items......

At the Supermarket Checkout, Frugality Trumps Brand Loyalty

When Summer Mills visited her local CVS drugstore recently, to save a few dollars she bought the store-brand facial scrub rather than the Olay version she normally uses.

"I thought I'd be able to tell the difference, but I couldn't -- I looked at the ingredients and they seemed almost the same," says 30-year-old Ms. Mills, a stay-at-home mother of two in Ardmore, Okla. On her next shopping trip, "I'm going to buy the store-brand moisturizer and cleanser -- it's less money."

common household goods

Many shoppers are opting for cheaper alternatives to common household goods and salon services.

Many Americans are changing their everyday purchases and abandoning brand loyalty, prompted by the persistent financial pressure of rising food, gasoline and electricity prices. Over the past 24 months, consumer prices have risen 7.8% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From coloring hair at home instead of at the salon to trying cheaper laundry detergents, new evidence indicates that Americans are modifying even minor household habits to save money.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. CEO Thomas Falk noted that sales of the company's potty-training pants, once one of the biggest sales-growth products in the baby aisle, have fallen off in recent months. "You're seeing consumers leaving children in diapers longer...the diaper is less expensive per piece than a training pant," he said in a recent conference call in which he announced a 9% decline in third-quarter earnings.

Shoppers are even buying toilet paper differently. "When they get to the end of the month, and they're out of paycheck, they may buy a smaller-count pack," Mr. Falk said. "You're seeing that shift in consumer behavior during a pay-period cycle more than we maybe have in the past."

Retailers are also sensing more shopper experimentation. This fall, supermarkets Safeway Inc. and Kroger Co. noted that sales of their store brands are on the rise. "In this economy, customers are much more willing to try a private-label item, and we're seeing signs that this is happening more and more as the year progresses," Kroger CEO David Dillon said on a conference call.

[Household Spending Habits]

To be sure, overall sales of name-brand goods are still higher than those of store brands. Still, about 40% of primary household shoppers said they started buying store-brand paper products because "they are cheaper than national brands," according to a September report by market-research company Mintel International, which interviewed 3,000 consumers. Nearly 25% of respondents reported that it is "really hard to tell the difference" between national brands and store brands of paper products. Store brands on average cost 46% less than name-brand versions, Mintel found.

"This is one category where people can definitely trade down strictly for budgetary reasons and not have to think twice about it," says David Lockwood, Mintel's director of research. "And upper-income people are changing their patterns the same way that lower-income people are."

Paper napkins suffered the steepest declines over the past year, followed by facial tissue and paper towels. "Not surprisingly, toilet tissue is holding up the best," Mr. Lockwood says.

Laundry habits are changing, too. Early signs indicate shoppers are switching to cheaper detergents and softeners, a rare shift in one of the most brand-loyal product categories.

Sales of private-label detergent rose 12% over the 52-weeks ended Sept. 6, to $189 million, according to market-data company Information Resources Inc., or IRI. Lower-priced brand-names are posting gains, too. Last week, Procter & Gamble Co. reported that volume sales of its bargain-priced Gain detergent rose 10% in the quarter ended Sept. 30, offsetting weaker results for the market-leading and pricier Tide.

Meanwhile, estimated retail sales of value-oriented Purex fabric softener, owned by Henkel AG, rose more than 60% over the past six months, the company says. "We view the economic slowdown as an opportunity for our brand," says Greg Tipsord, senior vice president of Henkel's U.S. laundry care. "It's causing the consumer to rethink what had become a habit."

To win over shoppers, Purex has tried to keep the price of its detergent and fabric softener roughly 50% or more below the price of competing premium brands, says Mr. Tipsord. Large sizes are in higher demand as consumers try to cut down on shopping trips and get a better price per ounce, he says.

Though low-income consumers have been cutting back for the past several months, now upper-income shoppers -- those with household incomes of $100,000 or more -- also are making significant changes, according to a new survey by IRI.

The report, titled "Shopper in Crisis," found that 41% of upper-income consumers reduced spending on nonessential groceries, and a fourth of these consumers said they gave up favorite brands over six months in 2008. Nearly one-third of high-income shoppers said they bought more private-label products during the second quarter, up from about 20% in the first quarter of this year.

"This isn't belt-tightening, it's belt-notching," says Thom Blischok, president of consulting and innovation for IRI. "These ritual changes are much deeper and happening much faster than we expected."

Meanwhile, 52% of consumers at all income levels said they tried to make personal-care products last longer, and a quarter of respondents said they now share more personal-care items, such as shampoo, with other household members, the IRI survey of 1,000 respondents found. Nearly half of all consumers said they went to spas and salons less often, while one-third of consumers reported doing more beauty treatments at home.

Indeed, unit sales of at-home hair-color treatments are on the rise, up 2.21% in the three months ended June 29 compared with a year ago. Though that figure has flattened in the three months ended Sept. 29, an IRI spokeswoman attributes that to women stocking up on the product in the previous period.

Meanwhile, private-label versions of soap and other bath products are up 23% in the 52-weeks ended Sept. 6, to $168 million, according to Nielsen Co. Private-label versions of skin-care items are up 16% to $182 million during the same period.

Shoppers' changing behavior prompted Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest advertiser, to alter its marketing approach and focus on in-store promotions. "More decisions are made in the store, and we have to be competitive," CEO A.G. Lafley said on a conference call with investors last week.

Write to Ellen Byron at

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Wizard Wisdom

Craig Arthur includes a video for us to learn from this week:


Dear Scott,

This week I would like you to watch a short video.

In this video Wizard of Ads founding partner Roy H. Williams talks about The Property Guys.

339 seconds of sound advice for all business owners.

Topics covered include...

  • How to Gain Attention
  • The Advantage of Intuition
  • The Need for Courage
  • Strong Consistent Leadership
  • Fast Decision Making
  • Adapting Quickly
  • The Danger of NOT Offending

Please invest 339 seconds and watch the video...

Stay Ahead of Your Competitors... a 339 Second Lesson

Previous stories, just in case you missed them:

The Most Powerful Word in Sales... ASK

Patience With Branding Brings Rewards

Curse of the Cold Feet… Booking Long-Term Media

A Closing Thought
"About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all." – Rita Mae Brown

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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Influencing Your Co-Workers


Reaching Consumers at Work Could Be Next Great Frontier

New Study Says 93% of Americans Consult Colleagues Before Buying

NEW YORK ( -- Before they make a purchase, 93% of Americans consult their co-workers for advice, according to a new study from Big Research on socializing in the workplace.

The study from the independent consumer-research firm was conducted via WorkPlace Media's "proprietary permission-based network" of over 920,000 U.S. companies across a variety of industries. WorkPlace is a media company that helps brands reach consumers at work.

The survey offered some interesting insight into how much people socialize at work. Of the 3,389 U.S. employees surveyed in the study, 68% admitted socializing with co-workers during work breaks, and another 42% said they phoned, texted or e-mailed friends and family from the office during the work day.

Not absolute
"It's a traditionally advertising-free and uncluttered environment," said Stephanie Molnar, CEO of WorkPlace Media, who quite naturally considers marketing to at-work consumers an effective way to build brand awareness.

But "the fact that you talk to people does not necessarily mean that it's effective in terms of brand engagement or ability to shift beliefs or to shift attitudes," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys. "It doesn't work as an absolute, and it doesn't work as an absolute for all categories."

In an August Brand Keys Brand-to-Media Engagement Assessment, a study that measures what percent various media contribute to a particular product's or product category's engagement, Mr. Passikoff said that of about 30 different media, word of mouth -- whether at work, home or elsewhere -- had the highest contribution for automobiles. But for financial services, broadcast TV played the biggest role, and for computers, online was most important.

Still in beginning stages
Ms. Molnar recognizes that marketing to at-work consumers is in its infancy stages. She estimates that less than 10% of U.S. companies partake in it, but she thinks it's a growing field. Ms. Molnar said the WorkPlace network reaches seven out of every 10 working Americans, which is more than the combined circulation of daily newspapers in the U. S.

"We're finding that marketers we talk to are extremely intrigued by this opportunity," she said.

The Big Research data was released in mid-October, although the results are from a larger At-Work Consumer Media & Shopping Behavior survey conducted in December 2007.

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3 Choices

A wise old friend of mine, Ron, believes that there are only three options for most businesses. You can grow, you can hold steady and coast, or you can decline. Two out of three are a losing battle, because you can only coast down hill.

At the group of radio stations I work, we pruned our staff in order to balance our income and outgo, but we did that nearly two years ago. And it worked. Now that we are in the midst of an economic upheaval that we have not seen in years, you may be faced with three choices too.

Barry Labov, of Labov & Beyond wrote the following last week for his companies blog:

From Order-Taking to Order-Making: Choosing Survival, Denial or Revival in this (and any) Recession

[Ed. Note: Enjoy this enlightening and thought-provoking guest post from our president and CEO, Barry LaBov.]

Oh no, you’re saying to yourself. Another thinly veiled attempt to put a positive spin on our current financial crisis.

But keep reading; this post is anything but. What it is, instead, is a way to encourage you to see times of financial turmoil as an opportunity. A way of proactively bringing ideas and solutions to your clients and customers. A way of moving from order-taking to order-making.

As a business, our niche is that we create strategic marketing, training and sales opportunities for corporations that sell through those channels. From our research with those dealers, distributors and sales reps, there are three approaches we’re seeing in this recession:

1) Lay low. Concede that this is a bad time, reduce your efforts, openly discuss that things will be bad and lower the expectations of your corporation/dealership/sales staff/self.
2) Business as usual. Continue (for as long as possible) to maintain the same expectations and efforts as you did a year ago. Hope that the same effort and output you gave during good times will get you through these tough times.
3) Order-Making. Be more aggressive; expect more of yourself and your people. Reach out to customers (instead of waiting for them to appear) and actually bring unsolicited ideas and solutions to your prospect and customer base.

Right now, if your industry is down 40 percent in sales, for example, that means 60 percent of the customers are still buying. If you take approach No. 1 (Lay low), your market share will decrease dramatically. Companies that adopt approach No. 2 (Business as usual) will, at best, lose business as they keep pace with their market share—but, they will suffer because they will have to discount pricing aggressively because their salespeople will be waiting for sales to come to them (just like they did a year ago).

If you want to thrive instead of merely survive, the only viable answer is approach No. 3 (Order-Making), because you will be taking a larger share of market from the competition. And, if order-making is done correctly, you will be creating new markets, new prospects and new opportunities. This will also help engage your staff, which is critical in a recession.

Go to a store during boom times, and you’ll likely see a number of customers and few salespeople scurrying about to serve those customers, in most cases to take those customers’ orders. Now, go back to that same store today (I just did). You’ll probably see fewer customers and maybe fewer salespeople. Common sense says that the salespeople will be more attentive, more enthusiastic, more hungry. The sad truth, however, is that’s probably not what you’ll see. The salespeople will be less attentive; the few customers that come in will wander around alone, and many will leave without buying or even having the chance to talk to a salesperson. The salespeople will go home that night and tell their families that “no one came in the store today.”

You could say it’s a training issue. And it is. But it’s also a matter of understanding there are different needs in a recession, which means there are different types of training and different incentives that are needed to help meet those needs. Same old, same old will not work.

Is there hope? Yes. Consider this: There were more millionaires created during the Great Depression than at any other time in history. There were also many, many people who went hungry. My father told me many times how his family went hungry in the 1930s. My mother, on the other hand, told me many times how her father created a business that was recession-proof and thrived during the same period. That also explains why my two grandfathers, while respecting each other, never really connected. Two completely different mindsets.

During tough times like these, it’s common for companies to be told that they need to advertise even more than ever. But it’s more than just that. It’s about being more aggressive overall. It’s about showing more initiative, demanding more engagement, making tougher decisions and being willing to show vulnerability. Simply spending more on advertising won’t be your silver bullet. An overall approach that is more aggressive can certainly make a difference.

There will be much change in this recession. Many businesses may fail, citing the historically tough times we face. But there is the opportunity for many businesses to thrive, too. There will be new ideas and breakthroughs that will take place because people will be willing to be vulnerable, to be hungry and to do the very things that were in the back of their minds for the last year or so.

This is not the time to give up, put your head down or prepare your speech as to why your business is failing.

This is the time to face reality; to be lean but hungry. To be better-trained than ever, to ask and reward more than previously and to be grateful for the good people, good customers and good opportunities that we’ve been given.

Somewhere, 60-80 percent of all the sales and business that was going on prior to our current economic hard times are still going to happen. Are you going to make this the most exciting time ever—or are you going to endure it, simply hoping to survive?

You have the answer.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Night Marketing News

Must be the endless salad bowl.... (see the first story):

by Karlene Lukovitz
Cracker Barrel, which showed the highest value-index gain among all casuals for the month, seems to be benefiting from its first advertising campaign in about a decade. "Its message of being a 'home away from home' seems to be striking a chord in this poor economy," BrandIndex SVP and general manager Ted Marzilli observes. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Aaron Baar
"With Philadelphia as a battleground, we knew there were going to be a lot of eyes looking at this," says LevLane's Bruce Lev. "Everything that's out there is speaking to the fact that it's all about starting now. With the election results, it really paid off beautifully." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Same-store sales at the retailer gained just 0.4% in Q4, compared with an 8.2% increase in the prior year. Marketing experts in many categories are closely watching Whole Foods is a bellwether of organic performance, to see if the widespread acceptance that organic products have earned with consumers holds up in tough economic times. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
As gas prices sink, will drivers go back to big vehicles? NPD Group says consumers plan to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, but Experian points to the fact that the number of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles on American roads has not changed a lot this year even with gasoline prices hitting $4. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The company attributed some of bread's gains to a high-visibility marketing campaign for Sara Lee Soft & Smooth breads, built around the "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" movie and launched at the end of last year's first quarter. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"We know there is still a demand for the luxury and performance of Infiniti automobiles, but with the negative consumer news of late, consumer perception is that there's no financing available," said Ben Poore, vice president of marketing for Infiniti. ... Read the whole story > >

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Leading, or Following?

Seth Godin:

Reacting, Responding & Initiating

Most knowledge workers spend their day doing one of three things:

  • React (badly) to external situations
  • Respond (well) to external inputs
  • Initiate new events or ideas

Zig taught me the difference between the first two. When you react to a medication, that's a bad thing. When you respond to treatment, that's a plus.

So, think about your team or your front line staff or your CEO. Something happens in the outside world. An angry comment on Twitter or a disappointed passenger on your airline or a change in the stock price...

Do you react to it? How much of your time is spent reacting to what people say in meetings or emails?

The rest of your day may be spent responding. Responding to a request for proposal. Responding to a form in your inbox. Responding to emails or responding to status updates on Facebook. Responding is gratifying, because you go from having something to do ---> to having something done. There's a pile in a different spot on your desk at the end of the day. You responded to the needs of the tribe you lead, or you responded to password-change requests or you responded to the boss's punch list.

And that's it. You go home having done virtually nothing in the third bucket.

We tend to reserve the third bucket, initiate, for quiet times, good times, down times or desperate times. We wait until the inbox is empty or the new product lines are due (at which point the initiative is more of a response). It's possible to spend an entire day blogging and twittering and facebooking and never initiate a thing, just respond to what's coming in. It's possible to spend an entire day at P&G (actually it's possible to spend an entire career) doing nothing but responding...

Take a look at your Sent folder. Is it filled with subject lines that start with RE: ? Consider your job at the University--do you actively recruit people who don't even apply for professorships? What about your blog--does it start conversations or just continue them?

What did your brand or organization initiate today?

What did you initiate?

Think about the changes you'd have to make (uh oh, initiate) in your work day in order to dramatically change the quantity and scale of the initiatives you create.

Some marketing jobs are about responding. None are about reacting. The best ones are about initiating.

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Obama Brands

From USA Today:

Every president has his favorite stuff. And it doesn't take long for the nation to become enamored with a president's pet things and habits, particularly a celebrity president such as Barack Obama.

With Ronald Reagan, it was jelly beans. Jimmy Carter munched peanuts. And George W. Bush is a pretzel lover. The election of Obama will bring a new cadre of often-upscale brand names to the White House.

For marketers, it's the chance of a lifetime. Among the brands Obama has worn, sipped, eaten or driven in public: Hart Schaffner Marx suits, Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, Fran's Chocolates, Planters Trail Mix and the Ford Escape hybrid SUV.

He also drinks lots of bottled water and is into basketball. He loves music by Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen and has said his favorite novel is Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Every one of those could see a boost in interest with his election.

"You can participate in this history-changing moment by buying the stuff he buys," says Carl Moog, an advertising and consumer psychologist. "It's almost like unpaid product placement. Barack Obama is (a) huge celebrity."

While most marketers won't publicly tout the Obama connection, many will try to create online chatter so that it appears consumer interest is spontaneous, predicts Renee White Fraser, a marketing psychologist.

Key Obama family brands:

•Attire. He's a big fan of Hart Schaffner Marx suits — the Gold Trumpeter line, which is 97% worsted wool and 3% cashmere. The suits, union-made in the USA, sell for about $1,300 custom-made (his are) or less than $1,000 off-the-rack. Obama owns three gray and three navy blue. "He's certainly generated a lot of interest," says Hartmarx CEO Homi Patel. "If you had to pick out a model, he fits the bill."

Wife Michelle often wears J. Crew clothes. During a Tonight Show with Jay Leno appearance, she wore — and talked about — a $330 outfit she had bought online. Shoppers snapped the look up. "All the items were gone the next day," says Jenna Lyons, creative chief at J. Crew.

•Snacks. Obama tries to snack healthy. He likes Planters Trail Mix: Nuts, Seeds and Raisins. Planters has White House links dating to former president (and peanut farmer) Carter, as a sponsor of the Plains, Ga., Peanut Festival, says Laurie Guzzinati, a Kraft Foods spokeswoman.

For sweets, the Obamas eat Fran's Chocolates, an artisan chocolate brand from Seattle. The president-elect prefers Fran's Smoked Sea Salt Caramel in Milk Chocolate ($24 for a 16-piece box); wife Michelle prefers dark chocolate, says Sean Seedlock, Fran's marketing chief.

•Drinks. Obama is a fan of Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. "It raises the profile of our brand and all organic products," says Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea. "We'd love for it to be the official drink of the new administration."

•Habits. To quit smoking, Obama chews Nicorette. When such a public figure uses your product, "it brings attention to the brand," says Jennifer May, Glaxo SmithKline spokeswoman.

•Wheels. The Obama family owns a $34,000 Ford Escape hybrid. Ford is "delighted" the family chose the SUV, "but we won't be out there actively promoting that," says Ford spokesman Jay Ward.

•Sports. Then there's Obama's love of basketball. Adam Silver, deputy commissioner of the National Basketball Association, says he expects the baseball field on the White House south lawn will be replaced with a hoops court. "Maybe they will pass a law that makes basketball the nation's official pastime."

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The Next BIG Thing

May very well be a little thing. Look at this from Drew's Marketing Minute:

Remove the irritant - Amazon attacks Wrap Rage

Posted: 04 Nov 2008 06:43 PM CST

Picture_3 We hear a lot of buzz about innovation. Everyone is trying to create the next iPod.

But sometimes, the most powerful way to reward current customers and gain new one is not by inventing something new...but instead, by removing an irritant.

Amazon announced on their home page yesterday (I think) that they're waging war on Wrap Rage. This is the frustration people experience when they try to open something they've bought that has been sealed as though it contained the key to Fort Knox.

In a letter from Jeff Bezos, the company announces it's multi-year initiative to create Frustration Free Packaging from Amazon. (Read the announcement here. Click on it once to enlarge enough to actually read.)

They go on to announce that they've partnered with Fisher-Price to unveil this initiative with the first results of their efforts.

Bloody brilliant.

In addition to waging war on Wrap Rage (who knew it had a name?), they've also created a place where customers can upload videos or photos of their own wrap frustrations.

Two big takeaways for all of us:

  1. Sometimes the most innovative thing you can do is eliminate something that's a barrier or problem.
  2. When you create an easier, better, faster way -- shout it to the world.

What is the biggest frustration your customers experience? If you don't know -- ask them. If you do know, why not remove it?

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Fresh Ideas

This weeks update from

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:

Baby in a high chair
Baby-food bar serves up tryvertising for tykes
Food & beverage / Marketing & advertising

Fresh and frozen gourmet baby foods are taking off across the world.
A California company is taking the idea one step further with a
tasting bar that lets babies try before their parents buy.

A wedding taking place on a suspended platform
Suspended from a crane, weddings with a view
Lifestyle & leisure

Wedding planners can add a new venue to their lists: a platform
suspended from a crane, seating up to 20 guests. If they're feeling
brave, the bride and groom can even bungee jump after saying "I do".

Three bottles of Volute wine
Single-serve wine touts portability (and eco-cred)
Food & beverage

Volute is pitching its product as the wine that can be drunk anywhere,
like a bottle of beer. Thanks to its aluminium packaging, that includes
no-glass zones like concerts, camping grounds and beaches.

Green and blue bath ball by Lush
Lush sells discontinued products on demand
Fashion & beauty / Retail

Responding to customer demand, the cosmetics retailer has just
launched Retro Lush: an online and mail order-only service that gives
ardent fans their fix of long lost products.

Woman using her teeth to tear open packaging
Frustration-free packaging
Retail / Eco & sustainability

Amazon is working with manufacturers to eliminate the causes of
Wrap Rage while also minimizing the impact of packaging on the
environment. Just in time for the holidays.

T-shirt printed with the text: "I like my president like I like my coffee"
No more voting on DIY T-shirt site
Fashion & beauty / Retail

Threadless and many other T-shirt sellers operate as competitions,
relying on the crowds to determine which shirts get produced. New-
comer Yerzies was asked by its early users to adopt a different model.

A uWink display at a restaurant
Where food and tech meet for dinner | Update
Entertainment / Telecom & mobile

We first wrote about interactive restaurant uWink Bistro early last year.
Furthering the spread of its concept, uWink has now begun offering its
technologies to other restaurants.

Two women using a web cam
Online speed dates as real reality television
Entertainment / Media & publishing

WooMe offers instant speed dates conducted via webcam. Recently,
the San Francisco-based company upped its game by inviting the
world to watch.

More mixed-to-order muesli
Food & beverage

German venture MyMuesli, which sells mixed-to-order muesli online,
has been joined by [Me] & Goji in the US. Have-it-your-way is here to
stay! ;-)

Black bowls
A sustainable model for fair-trade goods
Retail / Non-profit & social cause

Fair-trade exporter CraftNetwork is focusing on long-term
sustainability with an approach that aims to make fair-trade goods
more competitive with other alternatives.

Young boy holding a tennis raquet
Miniature tennis for pint-sized players
Lifestyle & leisure

Since tennis courts can be large and intimidating from a kid's
perspective, Drop Shots provides a miniaturized indoor tennis facility
with smaller courts on a carpeted surface.

Woman using touch table at Inamo
At Inamo, fine dining with a touch of tech
Food & beverage

The impatient and hungry tech-heads of London have been given a
new treat with the launch of Inamo, a pan-Asian restaurant that
canned the traditional printed menu in favour of interactive ordering.

Illustration of a surprised-looking man using a laptop
Greener driving with Fiat & Microsoft
Automotive / Eco & sustainability

Like Nike's partnership with Apple, Fiat and Microsoft's ecoDrive lets
users collect performance data while they're out, and analyse it when
they're back behind their computers.

Pink onesie on a clothesline
One-stop-shop for used children's goods
Retail / Life hacks

While thrift stores tend to be hit-or-miss and online offerings are often
buried within the likes of Craigslist, a new classifieds site for moms
aggregates listings of children's items from across the web.

Illustration of a meeting room
Meeting space doubles as product testing ground
Marketing & advertising

Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase is gearing up to launch a new
meeting space in Chicago that will not only host meetings but also
serve as a testing ground for future products

check out our daily posts.

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Rethinking Magazines & Newspapers

Do you subscribe to any magazines? What are they? What is their focus, their purpose? As I look at the various printed products that we can advertise in, I'm willing to bet that the current event style magazines, that are published weekly are going to suffer, just as the newspaper business has suffered.

Declining interest in "old news" is the major reason. The instigator? The Internet and the websites of the printed products. is the most visited website in my town, Fort Wayne, Indiana. And it is operated by the local newspaper.

Nationally, there are cuts going on too:

U.S. News & World Report to Go Monthly, Source Says

A U.S. News rep would not confirm the change, which was reported earlier Nov. 4 by Folio and

Nov 4, 2008

-By Lucia Moses

Just months after announcing it would publish every other week instead of weekly while shifting emphasis to service journalism on the Web, the ad-challenged U.S. News & World Report is slashing its frequency yet again and going monthly, a source close to the news magazine confirmed.

A U.S. News rep would not confirm the change, which was reported earlier Nov. 4 by Folio and

Another source close to the magazine said U.S. News announced to employees Nov. 4 that the magazine would be putting greater focus on the Web, with emphasis on such topics as education, health and news.

“I know they’re looking at everything,” the source said.

Newsweeklies have been hard hit, along with many magazines, by the current ad downturn; but separately, the category has long suffered from readers’ ongoing migration to the Web for news. So far this year, ad pages at U.S. News tumbled 30.5 percent, to 960, per the Mediaweek Monitor. (The title published 11 fewer issues so far this year versus the comparable year-ago period.)

U.S. News already scaled back dramatically once this year, whacking its rate base to 1.5 million from 2 million while chopping its frequency to 36 issues from 46 issues. At the same time, it has sought to carve out a niche by increasing its focus on service journalism, building on its “Best Colleges” rankings franchise.

U.S. News isn’t alone in rethinking its business model; Newsweek also cut its guaranteed circ this year, by 16 percent to 2.6 million, and under CEO Tom Ascheim is said to be mulling alternative formats for the 75-year-old title, including scrapping its print edition and publishing online only. A year earlier, Time magazine cut its rate base cut 19 percent, to 3.25 million.

Here's a story about our local newspapers from FWDAILYNEWS.COM:

Fort Wayne’s two daily newspapers both saw declines in circulation in the last year, according to preliminary figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

The Journal Gazette, the city’s morning newspaper, saw a 3-percent decline in its weekday circulation, which was 61,709 at the end of September, compared with 63,727 a year earlier. Sunday circulation declined nearly 5 percent from September 2007, dropping from 114,798 to 109,359.

Julie Inskeep, the Journal Gazette’s publisher, said she had expected another circulation drop at the newspaper, but also believes the numbers will pick up.

Inskeep said about 80 percent of the decline was related to the company’s Friday-through-Sunday subscription package. Rates increased, and that likely forced some customers to drop subscriptions, she said.

“I really do think that we’ll bounce back up a little bit,” Inskeep said. “We’re hopeful we’ll get some of that back.”

The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne’s afternoon daily newspaper, lost 10 percent of its weekday circulation, dropping to 22,618 as of Sept. 30, compared with 25,078 a year earlier.

News-Sentinel Publisher Mike Christman, who also is president and CEO of Fort Wayne Newspapers, which produces both newspapers under a joint operating agreement, could not be reached for comment.

Most of the newspaper industry took a hit as circulation continued to decline at some of the nation’s largest papers, including the New York Times, which saw about a 4-percent drop in weekday circulation over last year, and the Chicago Tribune, which saw nearly an 8-percent decrease.

The Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s largest daily newspaper, saw its weekday circulation decrease more than 3 percent and Sunday circulation drop about 5 percent from September 2007.

The News-Sentinel’s decline has been particularly dramatic during the last few years. Since September 2003, weekday circulation has decreased 43 percent. In September 1999, the paper boasted a weekday circulation of more than 46,300, more than twice its circulation now.

The News-Sentinel does not publish a print edition on Sundays.

The Fort Wayne dailies exist under a joint operating agreement that ensures they maintain separate editorial staffs. They share advertising and other business functions through Fort Wayne Newspapers.

Inskeep said she wished her competitor was stronger, but said the News-Sentinel is following the trend of most other afternoon dailies. She said circulation declines should be expected among afternoon publications.

“They’re just totally following the trend line that afternoon newspapers are following,” she said.

ABC did not list figures in its FAS-FAX report for several smaller papers in the region, including those owned by Business Weekly parent KPC Media Group Inc. KPC President Terry Housholder said the company submitted the figures, but they did not make it into the report released Oct. 27. Business Weekly was not audited by the ABC.

The Herald-Republican in Angola saw its Sunday circulation drop by just one copy from its September 2007 figure, and Monday-through-Saturday circulation decreased by 1 percent. Circulation of the News-Sun in Kendallville decreased 3 percent throughout the week, according to numbers Housholder provided.

The Evening Star in Auburn decreased nearly 5 percent on Sunday and 3 percent Monday through Saturday.

Housholder said in an e-mail he was pleased the papers have some of the most stable print circulations in the state.

“That’s despite the economic decline in northeast Indiana in recent months,” he said. “Prior to this year, we have seen consistent circulation growth in our three dailies.”

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