Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Internet is still a Baby

Despite all the attention the internet and all it's components have been getting, it is still in it's infancy. This story from AdAge has more.

Most Manufacturing Brands are Missing the Mark Online

Here are Three that Aren't -- and What They're Doing Right

Competition among manufacturing brands is fierce. Televisions, kitchen appliances, flooring, electronics, automotive -- each category is a crowded market. And in a climate where it's unclear whether there's enough to go around, most manufacturers are missing out on a prime opportunity to get ahead in the game: the digital channel.

Digital marketing is the most powerful connector in the business-to-consumer toolkit. The sentiment is there. The conditions are right. In many cases, the money is being allocated. And yet, the branded manufacturing industry continues to lag behind retail and consumer packaged goods in connecting with the all-important web-empowered consumer.

In 2007 Resource Interactive published its findings in a year-long study of branded manufacturers online. Focused on those brands marketing high-ticket items to consumers (greater than $100), more than half of the sites audited made no attempt to establish their brand online. With 81% of web-goers using the internet to research a product before purchase, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project, and 71% of online shoppers reading reviews, according to Forrester, it's more critical than ever a brand use the web to empower purchase decisions in its favor.

There are a few leading examples in the category.

Weber Grills ( continues to be one of the standouts. With a robust online community created exclusively for Weber owners, a recipe section and online operating manuals for each model, the site offers support in the act of grilling itself -- inspiring grill masters and aspiring grillers alike.

Electrolux Appliances ( is staging a comeback. It has seamlessly integrated its online experience to television and print campaigns starring Kelly Ripa. The site uses rich media to showcase its products within landing pages, provides demos and guided navigation, and incorporates some degree of "help me choose" information within the product browsing experience.

Shaw Floors ( makes the decision of selecting flooring simple by offering an upload-your-own visualization tool, allowing customers to try on a floor in their own room before saving it to their profiles and taking it to a dealer. Finding flooring is easy through clear navigation, consistency from offline campaigns to online and design and care recommendations. The rich site experience makes choosing flooring an inspired act, rather than overwhelming and utilitarian.

Each of these are shining examples that manufacturing brands can be sexy, inspiring and informative -- both online and off.

The web is both a direct response vehicle and a brand builder. It is a medium that can create value with a smaller budget and establish a connection with the consumer, regardless of brand category. In this web-made world, customers expect 24-7, open access to brands and information. They no longer differentiate between channels and often head to the web first to research a product pre-purchase. Manufacturers can no longer leave them standing in an empty store with no one there to help them. Otherwise, those shoppers will quickly turn to the brand that can.

(Source: Advertising Age, 1/5/09)

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Print News

Mediapost sent me these clickable stories about the print business:

by Erik Sass
The Boston Globe will start selling front-page ads during the first quarter of this year. The Chicago Tribune is reversing course, pulling many of the most prominent features of the redesign ordered last year by the Tribune Co.'s new management ... Read the whole story
by Erik Sass
The real estate downturn and general recession have claimed another victim in the beleaguered shelter category: Country Home, which Meredith Corp. is shuttering after its March 2009 issue. ... Read the whole story

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Department Store Sales Hurting

Thursday, Macy's announced another round of store closings.

Click here for the story.

Here's the big picture from

Changing Shopping Habits Cause Department Stores’ Decline

Consumers last year continued a six-year trend of steering away from department stores during the holiday season, in part because these stores are not meeting their needs, according to a shopping study sponsored by Cavallino Capital, writes Retailer Daily.

Overall, only 51% of consumers visited a department store this holiday season, compared with 73% who visited Wal-Mart, the study found.


The Ninth Annual National Shopping Behavior Study measures consumers’ purchases rather than their intent to shop, and finds that department stores’ share of consumer spending continues to deteriorate. For example, nearly 25% of consumers reported that they visited Macy’s less in 2008 than 2007, while only 7% visited Macy’s more.

When considering where they plan to spend more money, 23% of consumers surveyed say they are likely to spend more money at mass merchants, while only 1% say they plan to spend more money at department stores:


While the conventional wisdom is that consumers had less to spend this holiday season, the actual story is that department stores’ way of doing business also has less appeal to consumers, according to John Rittenhouse, chairman of Cavallino Capital.

“It appears that it is not the department store business model that’s broken, it’s the current execution,” said Rittenhouse. “The issues are directly related to management[’s] not following customers’ ‘rules.’”

“Shopping at stores that carry overpriced branded merchandise, use hi-lo pricing, coupons, and loyalty programs have limited appeal according to consumers interviewed in the study.”

In contrast, consumers say that ensuring desired items are in stock, offering fair everyday pricing, having easy return policies and hiring helpful employees are the top ways retailers can generate customer loyalty:


Analyzing where consumers’ spent the most money during the past six holiday shopping seasons, the study found that department stores’ share declined from 11% to 6%. Moreover, department stores’ appeal to core affluent customers is on the decline, and they are moving their shopping to catalogs and the internet to find the selection they want.
Other findings from the study:

  • Nearly 20% of consumers spent more than a year ago, while 54% reported spending less.


  • For the first time in the nine-year history of the study, the primary driver was price over selection as the reason for why customers changed the store where they purchased.
  • For the first time in many years, Wal-Mart was more effective in attracting new customers than Target.
  • 54% of consumers gave more practical gifts.
  • 30% of consumers relied more on cash as gifts.
  • 54% shopped closer to home. Economic conditions and retailer advertising had little effect on when during the holiday season consumers shopped.

The findings of the National Shopping Behavior Study do not apply just to the holiday shopping season and the current economic conditions, according to Rittenhouse.

“Over the nine-year history of the study, consumers’ rules for shopping at one store over another have been constant,” he said. “These findings are consistent with data from the Back-to-School Study conducted in 2004 and The Gordman Group 2008 Retail Trend Tracker studies. Selection of merchandise the consumer wants is the main driver of purchasing.

“When the economy turns around, those retailers that offer products consumers want to buy at fair, everyday prices will have sustained, profitable growth. However, those retailers that rely on gimmicks such as contests, meaningless loyalty programs and hi-lo pricing will see their market share continue to erode.”

About the study: The survey was underwritten by Cavallino Capital, LLC a private equity and consulting firm; it was designed and managed by The Gordman Group. The study was conducted nationwide through random telephone interviews with 815 consumers between December 6 and December 15, 2008. Consumers answered questions that showed how the current economic environment has affected what motivated them to shop, where they shopped, and what mattered to them most when making a purchase. All store data was collected by specific store name, catalog, or website.

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Creativity in Action for a Worth Cause

I stumbled across this website last week.

Click here and check it out.

Perhaps it will inspire you to take action in your community.

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It's not you, it's them

and unless you understand "them", you lose. presents this wisdom:

Getting Inside Your Prospect's Head
by Craig James

Find out how to get inside your prospect's head to determine why they're hesitating to buy, and what you can do about it.

Do you ever shake your head and wonder why so many prospects fail to pull the trigger when you've clearly made a compelling case?

To those of us in sales, it makes no sense - it's clear as day that they should buy. However, for some reason we cannot fathom, it is not so clear to our prospects. Why is this? And, what can we do about it?

When it comes to making a major purchase, buyers' decisions are influenced by numerous factors, many of which are not obvious. Key among these factors are the prospect's:

  • Personal agenda. This is most clearly defined as the prospect's answer to, "What's in it for me?" These factors are more often driven by emotion than logic.

  • Dominant buying value. Is your prospect the kind of person who is always looking for an opportunity to gain something, or the kind of person who is driven by fear of losing something, and always looking for ways to play it safe?

  • Motivational trigger. What's your prospect's hot button? Money? Convenience? Comfort? Security? To what personal desire do you have to appeal in order to get the prospect in your corner?

  • Buying style. Does your prospect need to feel in control, or does he want and need guidance? Does he need to see all the details, or do details bore and irritate him? Does he view the transaction as a confrontation, or as a collaboration? Is your prospect a maverick who likes to strike out on his own, or does he prefer consensus and the comfort of the crowd?

  • Concerns and worries. These factors are sometimes expressed, but more often are not. They are what are keeping your prospect from making a decision, even though you've clearly shown it's the right decision.
Awareness of these factors, together with your skill at determining which are in play, and how, will increase your odds of connecting with each person on the prospect's buying team. Your awareness will help you to win them over and close the business.

These factors explain why your prospect is hesitating, now for what you can do about it.

As with most everything else in sales, it all begins with effective questioning. For example, to determine an individual's personal agenda, ask open-ended questions such as, "How will a successful purchase or implementation affect you?"

Or, conversely, "How will you be affected if nothing is done?" In complex business-to-business sales, where there are multiple buying influences, your customer is really multiple customers. You need to get inside the head of each and every team member. What is the CFO's chief interest in all this? What's the CIO's biggest concern? What is your sponsor trying to accomplish with this project? To look good to his boss? To his peers? To earn a raise? Or a promotion?

The answers to these questions may also reveal the prospect's dominant buying value, motivational trigger, and buying style. To the extent that they don't, you'll need to ask additional open-ended questions.

The last factor, concerns and worries, is frequently the most difficult to uncover, and the one most likely to stall deals.

To most people, making a decision on a major purchase is daunting. Think about what goes on in your own mind when you're faced with making a major purchase for yourself, or your company. When you arrive at the dreaded time to make a decision, all sorts of typically illogical reasons for not deciding can pop up. "I'll think about it and get back to you," is an easy way of retreating from the decision.

Likewise, prospects let their imaginations run wild, and begin worrying about all the things that could go wrong if they make the wrong decision. They become paralyzed by fear, unable to make a decision. At this point, your task is to draw out their concerns with skillful questioning. Then listen to, observe, and sense what the prospect is conveying. Ask probing questions to surface these concerns and worries. Realize that prospects rarely offer up their concerns without your asking. When they do, it's typically done indirectly, by an off-the cuff remark or comment. When your questioning is done right, your prospect will end up convincing himself that his worries and concerns are unwarranted. He'll then be able to move on and conclude the transaction with you.

Your action item
If prospects are not committing to buy after you've made what you feel is a compelling case, it's likely you either didn't ask enough questions or didn't ask the right questions. You may have asked the right questions but didn't really listen closely to their responses. Perhaps you didn't pick up the non-verbal signals the prospect was giving off. It's likely you didn't help the prospect overcome his lingering concerns or worries. So invest a few moments to dissect the last few deals you've been working on that did not close.

Ask yourself if you definitively know the answers to the first four factors we covered. Did you use that knowledge to customize your approach? Did you resolve any lingering concerns of your prospect? If you've missed any of these factors, find some prospect-focused reason to go back to your prospect (if it's still a live deal) and work in questions that get you the answers you need. Then use that information to better connect with, and sell, that individual. If your manager accompanies you on sales calls, ask him or her to observe how well you're uncovering and addressing these factors. Take the feedback you get and make a conscious effort on your subsequent calls to ask the questions you need to get the information you want. You'll soon have more prospects saying, "When can we get started?"

Sales Solutions Founder and President Craig James has over 12 years experience in sales and sales management, primarily in technology and software. He may be reached at 877-862-8631, by email at or on the web at

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News

While this is our last update for the day, remember there are new articles on the weekend at 6a, 9a, 12noon, 3p, and 6p both Saturday and Sunday.

Here's the goods from Mediapost:

by Karl Greenberg
The company, which signed a multi-year deal with Golden Boy two years ago, says 62% of viewers of pro bouts are Hispanic. Since Monday, Tecate has been promoting the fight via point-of-purchase displays replete with fight details. The effort includes a radio campaign featuring Mexican fight doctor and commentator Alfonso Morales, as well as a tailored national television campaign. ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
Consumers have spent a few months realizing that the sky may not exactly be falling on them, says TNS Retail Forward's Frank Badillo, and "they've also been tempted by the deep discounts stores are dangling in front of them. The fact that spending and traffic did pick up the few days before Christmas and just after the holiday shows that people are willing to spend, but they're willing to wait, too." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
A campaign, which will encompass print, broadcast and online, is being developed. Pure Life bottles will bear the Best Life Seal of Approval "to help consumers identify the water brand as a healthy and convenient beverage choice." "Bob's simple, one-step-at-a-time approach to living healthfully fully captures the spirit of Nestlé Pure Life brand bottled water," notes group marketing manager Larry Cooper. ... Read the whole story > >
by Les Luchter
The company's previous site was "difficult for customers to navigate," says Cellular South's Greg Latour, so the new site had to "make it easy to find what they were looking for, and easy to make it to the shopping cart." The new site also includes such user-generated content as customer ratings and reviews of handsets and a video contest,"Your Network, Your Stories," which launched in December. ... Read the whole story > >
by Nina M. Lentini
The effort, developed by New York-based Grey Group, features men and women pursuing their passions without pain: a mother spending time playing with her child, a wife doing the tango with her husband and a couple enjoying their time together, hiking in the woods. The ads reinforce that nothing works better or on more types of pain than Advil--"The Every Pain Reliever." ... Read the whole story > >

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Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne Meeting

Our annual Non-Profit Marketing Lunch & Learn is Thursday from 11:30am until 1:15pm at the Summit Club, high above the city. Click here for details and to reserve your seat.

Oh, and when I say Non-Profit, I'm not talking about the economy, I'm talking about the wonderful non-profit, or not-for-profit organizations that we support as they support our community, silly!

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Top 10 Small Business Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Got this in an email from

The Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

By Susan Burnash

Marketing is critical to the success of every business. Unfortunately, many businesses discount the effect it can have, and they forgo marketing because they believe they can't afford it or simply don't have the time or energy to create a plan. Perhaps this is why a high percentage of small businesses fail. But you don't have to be a statistic when you approach marketing with the importance it deserves. Below you will find some of the most common marketing mistakes businesses make.

Mistake #1: Not Developing a Marketing Plan

Most entrepreneurs or small companies are understandably eager to see a return on the investment of time and money they have made in their business. Ready to start cashing in, they either hit the pavement running or hire a salesperson to do it for them. But a business trying to sell a service or product, without first creating a marketing plan, is much like a marathon runner with no finish line. At first, you may feel like you are moving forward and passing some of your competitors by, but sooner or later you'll find yourself running in circles; frustrated, exhausted and sadly disillusioned by an idea that not too long ago created the exact opposite effect. What is a marketing plan and why create one? Because it's the foundation of your business and it helps you design your product and service, identify your target audience, and provide a roadmap to head you towards your final destination: Success. But equally important, a marketing plan provides the specific details needed to increase visibility, expand your customer base, and provide quantifiable methods to measure your return on investment (ROI).

Mistake #2: Not Planning a Marketing Budget

Most businesses without a marketing plan also lack a marketing budget. And companies without both have the highest rate of failure. After all, would you run your personal life without a budget? If you said yes, you may be one of the unfortunate souls overextended with credit or on the verge of bankruptcy. If you own a small business, this can be avoided by simply creating and living with a well-conceived marketing budget. From the very beginning, and while you are writing your Marketing Plan, it is important to focus on the financial costs of implementation. A general rule of thumb says that at least 10% of your revenue should be designated for your marketing efforts. That means dollars specifically pinpointed for Web site design and maintenance, logo design and brand development, marketing collateral, both print and electronic, and paying someone, if you don't have the time, skills, or desire to do so, to handle all of your Public Relations needs. But make sure when allocating money for marketing that you also have a means for tracking your ROI. If your ROI is low after several months of trying a particular strategy, go back to your marketing plan and look at trying something different. If your ROI is high, stay with what is working, but go back to your plan and budget and accelerate to the next phase.

Mistake #3: Not Targeting a Specific Target Audience

How does the saying go? "You can't be everything to everyone?" When it comes to sales and marketing nothing could be truer. That's why identifying your target market is critical to your success. It is also critical to choosing the appropriate marketing techniques to reach potential customers. If you are selling a woman's product, be women-centric with your marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns. If you offer a service or product for small businesses, stick to small business publications and mailing lists. Targeting Fortune 500 companies is a waste of time and money. They already have established vendors in place. So, don't try to be everything to everyone.

Mistake #4: Not Developing a Clear and Consistent Marketing Message

Messaging is the careful development of the precise and concise language that quickly conveys the key message(s) you want known about your product or organization. In today's competitive landscape if you can't convey these messages quickly and have them resonate, you'll lose your potential customer to someone else. Make sure your message and images recognize your product, so be consistent. The last thing you want is to confuse a potential customer by losing focus on what is really important.

Mistake #5: Believing Your Product or Service Will Sell Itself

Many companies make the mistake of thinking that their product or service is so great and so different that they don't need to market it at all. This may make sense to you, but think of all the products and services you use today. Did any of them just find their way to your door simply because they were perfect for you? The reality is people need to be told why they should buy your product or service. They need to be convinced that they can't live without it. And once they have it, you need to provide them with customer service and personalized attention to ensure they will continue to use it. All of these things require marketing. If you have limited funds, start with business cards, a Web site, informational collateral (print or multimedia), an introduction/sales letter, and a customer service/thank you letter. Once things are moving along you can add direct mail postcards, electronic newsletters, video emails or product/service CD brochures to your marketing toolkit. No matter how great your product, don't forget you still need to market it to get it sold.

Mistake #6: Not Clearly Defining Your Product or Services' Benefits

Today's highly competitive marketplace is constantly changing and often consumers are confused about the products and services they purchase. Educating your customer is critical. Defining your product or service benefits is imperative. If you can't put into writing what makes you different from the competition (i.e. local vs. out of state) or, what makes your product or service different from the competition (i.e. organic vs. processed) how can a potential customer make an informed decision to buy. By defining the unique selling proposition for your product/or service you will help your target audience differentiate you from the competition. Isn't that what you need to do to increase your sales?

Mistake #7: Underestimating the Value of Your Existing Customers

Most businesses think that the way to increase sales is to focus primarily on new customer acquisition. Unfortunately, this often means poor customer service to existing customers who, if serviced well, could provide a strong revenue stream to keep your business healthy and strong. And sadly, the lack of good service and communication with an existing customer often means that customer will go elsewhere to find what they need or want. After all, who wants to be taken for granted? If you want to stay in business and grow, you must be sure to turn existing customers into lifetime customers. Call to say thank you. Check in to see if their needs are being met. You might feel like you're wasting your time, or being a pest, but ask any customer who stays loyal to a particular company and you'll always get the same answer: "Good customer service!, it's why I stay and when I don't have it, it's why I leave." Listen and learn!

Mistake #8: Thinking that Advertising is Marketing

Often small businesses confuse advertising with marketing. Asked how they market their product or service they'll explain how they've spent lots of money on advertising but often the results have been poor. From experience, I can almost bet that these same people have also committed Mistake 1 & 2. Advertising is not marketing! It is a piece of marketing, but only a small piece, and with so many ways to get your product or service out in front of potential customers, advertising should only be considered if 1) You have plenty of disposable money to spend on big ads that can run at least five times to increase your odds of being seen. 2) You are pooling your money together with other companies with limited funds to provide a variety of services or products that work together or draw from the same customer base. This is called cooperative advertising and done well; it is the most effective way to get the biggest bang for your buck. Before you spend a dollar on advertising, spend the time needed on a marketing plan and a marketing budget. Both will provide the roadmap and tools for measurement to ensure that advertising is right for you.

Mistake #9: Ignoring the Benefits of Public Relations

Myth, myth, myth!!! Public relations is the most inexpensive and effective way to get the word out to your target market that you have a product or service they need and want. Open any newspaper or magazine, listen to any TV or radio show and you'll find that without small business stories, the press would have a limited amount of content to cover. So how do you become newsworthy? Develop a good story about your business, yourself, your product or service, a customer or your community involvement, and send it out as a press release to the appropriate editors, writers, or newscasters. You might not get a hit every time, but the more press releases you send (once a month is a good start) the better chance you have for peaking interest and eventually a story will be written. You'll be amazed at how much recognition and business will result from getting your business and face in the press.

Mistake #10: Expecting Too Much, Too Soon

Often, someone just starting a new business will get terribly disappointed because they developed a brochure, ran an ad, attended a networking event, or sent out postcards with little response. They get discouraged and lose sight that marketing is really about developing relationships and, like any new relationship; it takes time to build interest and trust. To turn a potential customer into a new customer, you must reach out to them with consistent marketing messages (at least six times...more if you're selling a high-ticket item) before they feel like they "know" and "trust" your company enough to take the risk of purchasing a product or service from you. Remember to stay the course, follow your marketing plan and talk to other businesses that have been down the same path you are on. You'll find there is no such thing as instant success. And if you are really unsure of what you are doing, find a business mentor or hire a marketing professional. You may find that by avoiding the ten biggest mistakes small businesses make, you are on your way to success!

About the Author: Susan Burnash is the owner of Purple Duck Marketing in Kirkland, WA. Her company focuses on marketing, public relations, and video production for businesses and nonprofits. For more information, please visit

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Questions to Ask & Answer

1 week down, 51 left in 2009.

Another good one from Drew:

The Marketing Minute

Grow or die?

Posted: 04 Jan 2009 01:30 PM CST

86589963 January is the goal-setting month. But, the truth is, most companies don't do it very well.

They look at their numbers (gross sales, # of employees, profit margins, etc) and with a mix of industry knowledge and wild assed guess - they project a percentage increase.

We will increase our gross billings by 7% and our profits (through additional efficiencies) by 10%.

And then they scramble to figure out how to get that done.

Sound familiar?

How are we defining growth?

We've all heard the phrase "grow or die." But maybe grow doesn't mean grow bigger. Maybe it means grow better. Move from good to great. Refine and define your brand. And then figure out how you are actually going to live and honor it.

Jay Ehret wrote a very smart post about this topic at his excellent blog, The Marketing Spot. Please make time to read it.

So if you're still with me -- answer these questions.

How do you grow better in 2009?

Define (if you haven't) or revisit (if you already have defined) your brand. How are you actually bringing it to life?

How are you going to invest in your employees this year? How will you get the brand from your brain to their hearts?

How can you involve your customers in your pursuit of better?

What do you think? Could this be the year you get better? If did you answer some of the questions above?

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Focus Your Sales Efforts

Recently in one of our sales meetings, I told our staff that one of the keys to success in 2009 is to sharpen our focus.

Face it, there will be a pruning of businesses in 2009.

Not everyone will survive. Your clients and potential clients are looking for the best value for their individual needs.

If not, then they may go out of business in the new year, and you'll be left with worthless accounts receivables.

I found this article Sunday at the

Finding Clients that Fit Like a Glove

Clients are a lot like pants.

  • Some seem fine in the store but then constantly rub you the wrong way until you can’t wait to rip them off.
  • Some require a lot of fussing and tugging—and they never stay comfortable for long.
  • Many fit fine, there’s just nothing particularly special about them.
  • And then there are your favorites…a few that seem to be tailor-made just for you. You’re always happy to put them on because you know both of you will end up looking good.

Getting dressed would certainly be easier if you had a closet full of the made-for-you pants…And so would your business.

The trick is finding out who those perfect-fit clients are. Here’s one way to do it:

1. Print out your client list—the ones who have actually hired you to work with them. (Skip any who have just bought products from you.) Include past clients too.

2. Rate your clients. Jot down a few positives and negatives that immediately come to mind by the client’s name. Consider things like:

  • Were they easy to work with?
  • Did they know what they want from the start, or change their mind a lot?
  • Were they knowledgeable or need a lot of educating?
  • Did you look forward to doing the actual work? Why or why not?
  • Were they enthusiastic about your work?
  • Did they follow-through (if relevant)?
  • Did they get good results?
  • Did you work with one person? A team?
  • Did they balk at your estimate? Pay promptly?
  • Did they volunteer a testimonial or refer others to you?
  • Are there ongoing opportunities to work with them? Or just a one-off project?
  • How would you feel if they called today and had more work for you?

3. Pick your ideal client. Maybe none of your clients really get you jazzed. Then who would you LOVE to work with? Pick a specific person you know of and jot down all the reasons why.

4. Now analyze your notes. What consistently came up in the negative or positive columns? Overall, which projects and clients did you like the best? Why?

Which of those traits could be easily found in others? Do people in their industry or profession need (and want) your services? Or people with similar life experiences (e.g. working moms, people nearing retirement or who practice yoga)?

Finally, once you’ve identified some concrete traits to look for then get busy finding more clients just like them…and soon you’ll be looking at a closet full of clients that fit like a glove!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News

Clickable headlines from Mediapost:

by Karl Greenberg
Two initial spots, which focus on variety, with puzzle-like creative set to electronica, show modified versions of the vehicles sliced and diced to show how owners personalized them. "We are still focusing on the core target; overall, we are not trying to broaden our target audience," says Attik's Simon Needham. "We don't want to water down the brand." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
The National Restaurant Association is not adjusting its official 2009 outlook as a result of the November data, although it will make adjustments during the year if conditions warrant. The outlook, released in mid December, calls for total U.S. restaurant sales to grow 2.5% to $566 billion next year, which in inflation-adjusted terms translates to a decline of 1%. Inflation-adjusted sales also declined 1% last year. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Further, at a time when other types of restaurant formats are increasingly moving to smaller footprints to improve economics, LSS chains are already there. Building, franchise and overhead costs for LSS units are a fraction of those required for bigger formats, notes Technomic's Darren Tristano. "One person can run one of these restaurants and make a pretty decent living." ... Read the whole story > >
by Les Luchter
In its study, The NPD Group pointed out that 71% of all handsets purchased in the U.S. can play video, 60% have expandable memory, and 55% have GPS technology. "Operators and other handset retailers have an opportunity to educate consumers as to the capabilities of their handsets in the wake of slower overall handset sales," said NPD's Ross Rubin. ... Read the whole story > >
Brand Marketing
by Nina M. Lentini
Pepsi will present the Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball, a benefit gala for the nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) advocacy arm of the arts and entertainment communities, Ft. Lauderdale hauling a beach around the capital, and the Silver Diner is offering Red, White & Blueplate specials until Jan. 21. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
One recent study is showing that consumers are holding off buying cars and trucks because they don't really need new ones, they can't afford new ones or they are worried about the economy. But another study finds that those who are buying new vehicles are edging away from small cars as gas prices have fallen through the floor. ... Read the whole story > >

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Can Baby Boomers save the Housing Market?

A client of mine has seen this trend coming and is focusing his new construction efforts on this demographic. This is from (Click on the charts to make them BIGGER).

One In Four Boomers Plans Move to New Home

One in four Baby Boom generation households (26%) expects a future move from their current home, with most reporting they will seek a single-level home that is more comfortable or convenient, according to a new survey conducted for AARP by Opinion Research Corporation

Echoing past surveys, the research found that most Boomers (79%) say they would like to stay in their current home for as long as possible, AARP said. Less than 10% would like to stay in their current home but don’t think they will be able to do so.

Many of those who expect to move said they will be looking for a better house, a better climate or a home that is closer to family and friends. More than half of those Boomers (age 45-64) planning to move expect to look for a home that is all on one level (59%). About half said they will look for a newer home (50%) or a smaller home (49%).

One third of Boomers do not foresee any challenges with their current home that would cause them to consider moving. However, one-fourth say that stairs may be a concern. Others cite landscaping and yard challenges, bathroom issues, narrow doors and hallways and lighting problems.


Older boomers are significantly more likely than younger boomers to think that they will move into a single level home (68% vs. 54% of those planning to move), but age is not the only factor that affects expectations, the survey found. Boomer men are more likely than women to believe they will move into a newer home (61% vs. 42%) or move into a home in a warmer or better climate (41% vs. 25%).
Boomer women are more likely than men to think they will move into a smaller home (54% v. 41%).

“While boomers will reflect the patterns of earlier generations and mostly age in place, the sheer number of Boomers will increase demand for a whole variety of home and community options,” said said Elinor Ginzler, SVP of AARP.

According to AARP, the number of people age 65+ is expected grow to 70 million by 2030.

About the survey: The poll was conducted August 29 - Sept. 8, 2008 by Opinion Research Corporation. Interviews were conducted with 1,273 respondents age 45 to 64 using a stratified, random-digit dialing sample of US telephone households. All responses were subsequently weighted by age, gender, ethnicity, and region to be nationally representative of the US population 18+. The poll was released last year to coincide with the announcement of the 2008 Livable Communities Awards from AARP and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

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The Real Value of a Brand

One of the first books I reading on marketing was Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout. Al now writes a regular column for

The Difference Between Building a Business and Building a Brand

Don't Confuse the Latter With Celebrity Index

Published: January 05, 2009

Are you building a business? Or are you building a brand? Silly questions, you might be thinking. Naturally, you are trying to do both.

But that might be a mistake.

What's good for the business is not necessarily good for the brand. And vice versa.

What's a brand anyway? It's a word that stands for something in the mind of prospects. That definition, by the way, is at odds with conventional thinking.

Most managers equate a brand with its celebrity index. The more famous the brand, the more powerful it is. "Making our brand name well-known" seems to be the conventional approach to brand building.

Chevrolet is one of the world's best-known automobile brands, but how valuable is the Chevrolet brand? Not very.

Chevrolet doesn't make Interbrand's list of the 100 most-valuable global brands. Chevrolet, like many other exceptionally well-known names, isn't worth much because it doesn't stand for anything.

It's not just Chevrolet. The U.S. automobile industry markets 14 vehicle brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Hummer, Jeep, Lincoln, Mercury, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn.

I would guess that every one of these brands (with the exception of GMC) is exceptionally well-known with a recognition score in excess of 90%.

Except for a house or an apartment, an automobile is the most expensive product a person might buy in his or her lifetime. In addition, an automobile has enormous street visibility. These factors combine to give automotive brands a huge advantage in the battle for the consumer's mind.

It's not surprising that 11 automobile brands made Interbrand's most valuable list. But just one of those 11 brands was an American brand. (Ford at No. 49.) The other 10 were European and Asian brands. Why? The European and Asian brands stood for something.

  • Toyota (No. 6): Reliable
  • Mercedes-Benz (No. 11): Prestige
  • BMW (No. 13): Driving
  • Honda (No. 20): Reliable (second to Toyota)
  • Volkswagen (No. 53): Practical
  • Audi (No. 67): Advanced technologies
  • Hyundai (No. 72): Cheap
  • Porsche (No. 75): Sports cars
  • Lexus (No. 90): Luxury
  • Ferrari (No. 93): Expensive sports cars
Keep in mind, these are global brands. Volkswagen is not doing particularly well in the U.S. market, but it's No. 1 in Germany. Also, Audi suffers in the U.S. market because of its unfortunate name, but that's not a disadvantage in many countries where English is not the spoken language.

How do you build a brand? Almost every successful brand in the world started as a narrowly focused brand that stood for a single idea. Then the business builders took over. First objective: Expand the business.

Dell Computer started as a narrowly focused business-to-business company selling personal computers direct. Dell got off the ground by owning the word "direct."

Michael Dell wrote a book that outlined his company's rise from obscurity to fame. The title? "Direct From Dell."

In the first quarter of 2001, Dell became the world leader in personal computers. (And not just in sales, but in profits, too. In the 1990s, for example, Dell had the best stock market performance in Standard & Poor's index of 500 leading American companies.)

What did Dell do next? It forgot about building the brand and started building the business. First Dell moved into consumer personal computers, undermining its position as the "business" PC specialist. ("Dude, you're getting a Dell.")

Then Dell moved into consumer electronics, undermining its position as the "personal-computer" specialist.

Then Dell moved into retail distribution, undermining its "direct" distribution position.

In 2003, Dell Computer Corp. dropped "computer" from its name and became Dell Inc. (That's always a bad sign.)

Did all these business-building moves work? Sure. Sales steadily increased from $31.9 billion in 2000 to $61.1 billion in 2007.

While Dell sales went up, the Dell brand went down. Dell, formerly the world leader in personal computers, is now second to Hewlett-Packard. (In 2007, HP had 18.2% of the market and Dell had 14.3%.)

Dell's net profit margin, a good indicator of a brand's value, also went down. From 6.8% in 2000 to 4.8% in 2007.

Where Dell went wrong, in my opinion, was that it forgot what built the brand and instead focused its efforts on building its business. Yet that's not the conventional wisdom.

"Where Dell Went Wrong" was the title of a Feb. 19, 2007, article in BusinessWeek. "In a too-common mistake, it clung narrowly to its founding strategy instead of developing future sources of growth."

Scott Thurm, writing in The Wall Street Journal, said essentially the same thing: "Dell couldn't diversify its business, making it vulnerable once Hewlett-Packard matched its expertise."

That's the way it is in corporate America today. Everybody is looking for ways to build their businesses by expanding into other categories. Their real strategies should be to build their brands by dominating their categories. And often the best way to do that is by contracting their brands so they stand for something.

What's the most reliable measure of the power of a brand? It's not making the Interbrand list. The most reliable measure is market share. Powerful brands dominate their markets.

In the U.S., Tabasco has 90% of the hot-pepper-sauce market. Campbell's has 82% of the canned-soup market. TurboTax has 79% of the income-tax software market. Starbucks has 73% of the high-end coffeehouse market. The iPod has 70% of the MP3-player market. Taco Bell has 70% of the Mexican fast-food market. Google has 68% of the search market.

When your brand dominates a market, it is in an exceptionally strong position. In a mature market, a dominant brand is highly unlikely to ever lose its position. (Think Kleenex, Gatorade, McDonald's, Budweiser and many other dominant brands.)

Even more important, dominant brands usually generate exceptionally high profit margins. Compare Intel, the dominant microprocessor brand, with Advanced Micro Devices, the No. 2 brand.

In the last 10 years, Intel has had sales of $319.6 billion and net profits of $62.2 billion. Intel's net profit margin was an astounding 19.5%.

In the last 10 years, Advanced Micro Devices had sales of $42.7 billion and net profits of ... well, they didn't make any money. They lost $4.1 billion.

You see the same relationships on Interbrand's list of the 100 most-valuable global brands. No.1 brands are worth far more than No.2 brands.

  • Coca-Cola is worth $66.7 billion. Pepsi-Cola, $13.2 billion.
  • Nokia is worth $35.9 billion. Motorola, $3.7 billion.
  • Nike is worth $12.7 billion. Adidas, $5.1 billion.
The personal computer was the most important new product of the 20th century and it's likely to remain that way for decades to come. Someday some brand will be the Coca-Cola or Nokia or Nike of personal computers with a market share of 40% or so. That company is unlikely to be either Hewlett-Packard or Dell.

You can't dominate a category if you expand your brand into many other categories. (That's why IBM is no longer the dominant PC brand.)

You can only dominate a category by keeping your brand focused.

Building a business or building a brand? That's the most important question in marketing.

~ ~ ~
In addition to his monthly column, Al and his daughter and partner Laura Ries host a weekly video report at

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Another Round of Macy's Store Closings

Last year after Christmas, Macy's closed 9 stores. Today they announced 11 more will become vacant. Our local store in Fort Wayne has been spared again.

Click here for last year's story.

Read the following from WISH-TV for the latest details:

Macy's closing Lafayette Square store

Store opened in 1974 and employs 84

Last Edited: Thursday, 08 Jan 2009, 8:54 AM EST Created On: Thursday, 08 Jan 2009, 8:52 AM EST

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) - Macy's has announced the closing of their Lafayette Square mall location in Indianapolis.

The Lafayette Square store opened in 1974 and employs 84 people.

The local store closing is one of 11 closures announced Thursday by the Cincinnati-based retail chain.

The news comes as Macy's says its December sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, fell 4 percent. That's better than the 5.3 percent drop analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting. However, Macy's is lowering its forecast for the fourth quarter and full year due to heavy markdowns.

Other stores slated for closure include locations in Los Angeles, West Palm Beach, Nashville and St. Louis, among others. Macy's Inc. says the closures will cost about $65 million, most of which will be booked in the 2008 fourth quarter.

According to a press release issued by Macy's, the stores to be closed are located in:

-- Ernst & Young Plaza (Citicorp Plaza), Los Angeles, CA (135,000 square feet; 136 employees; opened in 1986)

-- The Citadel, Colorado Springs, CO (195,000 square feet; 105 employees; opened in 1984)

-- Westminster Mall, Westminster, CO (156,000 square feet; 110 employees; opened in 1986)

-- Palm Beach Mall, West Palm Beach, FL (190,000 square feet; 71 employees; opened in 1979)

-- Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Island of Hawaii, HI (3,000 square feet; 3 employees; opened in 1983)

-- Lafayette Square, Indianapolis, IN (160,000 square feet; 84 employees; opened in 1974)

-- Brookdale Center, Brooklyn Center, MN (195,000 square feet; 72 employees; opened in 1966)

-- Crestwood Mall, St. Louis, MO (166,000 square feet; 176 employees; opened in 1969)

-- Natrona Heights Plaza, Natrona Heights, PA (73,000 square feet; 124 employees; opened in 1956)

-- Century III Furniture and Clearance, West Mifflin, PA (83,000 square feet; 3 employees; opened in 2000)

-- Bellevue Center, Nashville, TN (211,000 square feet; 76 employees; opened in 1990).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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New Ad Campaigns for the Week

From Amy at Mediapost:

Out to Launch is back. Weight Watchers gives hunger a face, Dunkin' Donuts thinks "You Kin' Do It" -- and, jellybeans or soybeans: which would win in a fight? Let's launch!

T-Mobile USA launched a TV spot over the holidays supporting its myFaves service and partnership with the NBA. Magic Johnson and Julius Erving star alongside regulars Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley in "Old School Legends." Wade calls his friend Barkley, who's in the midst of shooting a video game alongside Magic and Dr. J. The videogame's theme -- pitting younger players against old and graying NBA legends -- was something Barkley was apparently unaware of. That, and you cannot hide any flaws when wearing tight black Lycra suits. See the ad here. I wonder if the ad remains in rotation, given Barkley's recent arrest? Publicis in the West created the campaign and Optimedia handled the media buy.

This concept reminds me of the Emerald Nuts campaign that starred the late Robert Goulet as a midday office saboteur to those with low energy. This time around, it's the "Battle of the Beans," jelly or soy, in a TV ad for SOYJOY. Soybeans battle sugary jellybeans atop an office desk in a war for sustainable energy. The jellybeans run amok while the soybeans rally in troop formation to fend off launched paperclips and build a wall from Post-its, until the jellybeans lose their spunk and give up. Watch the ad here. RPA created the campaign and handled the media buy.

Speechless hockey team mascots can garner audible laughs in two TV ads for ESPN SportsCenter. A woman turns up the heat in the ESPN offices, only to have Iceburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguin mascot, lower the thermostat. The spot ends with NJ Devil, the mascot for the New Jersey Devils, turning up the heat. See the ad here. SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris waits for the elevator in "Going Up." Harris asks the lone elevator passenger, NJ Devil, if he's going up. NJ Devils shakes his head no, causing Harris to get off the elevator. Watch the ad here. Wieden + Kennedy New York created the ads.

Honda is launching three TV ads this month supporting its partnership with the NHL. One ad is hockey-themed, the other two conclude with a five-second NHL tagline. "Reliability" shows the combination of owning a Honda and snowy weather means hockey parents can get their kids to practice on time, day or night. Watch it here. "Monster Chess" is "World's Strongest Man" meshed with the intellect needed for chess. Athletes move heavy game pieces across a large game board to promote the Honda Ridgeline. See it here. A family is left stranded when their Monster Truck runs out of gas. A Honda Pilot owner picks them up and regales them with his car's MPG. "But can it crush cars?" responds the Monster Truck owner. Watch the ad here. RPA created the campaign and handled the media buy.

Weight Watchers broke its latest campaign Dec. 28 touting its new Momentum Program and introducing a physical picture of hunger in the form of a furry orange monster, with a hidden mouth, or no mouth at all. I'm up in the air about Weight Watchers using a puppet to illustrate hunger. The puppet is cute -- but when I'm hungry, it's not a pretty sight. The first TV spot, "Hungry At Home," shows the orange puppet named Hungry attempting to sabotage a women's self-control by dancing in front of the TV with a cake and opening a pizza box as she opens her laptop. See the ad here. The second TV spot takes place in the office, a prime food temptation zone, where Hungry hides in a vending machine, desk drawers, and lingers around the photocopier. Watch the ad here. McCann Erickson New York created the ads and Mediaedge:cia New York handled the media buy.

Dunkin' Donuts bowed a $100 million ad campaign complete with a new slogan: "You Kin' Do It." Be honest: did anyone else immediately think of exercise machine hawker Tony Little, the pony-tailed, hat-wearing guy who motivates people by yelling, "You can do it?" The campaign cheers on ordinary people tackling everyday tasks, from starting an exercise regimen to shoveling out of a blizzard and assembling a jungle gym. All with the aid of DD coffee, natch. Remaining ads promote the company's longevity and low-calorie flat bread sandwiches. "You Kin' Do It" is not replacing "America Runs on Dunkin"' a tag line still prominently featured in some of the new ads. See the ads here, here, here, here and here. Hill Holliday created the campaign and handled the media buy.

The Collegiate Church of New York launched its first integrated advertising campaign, positioning its congregations as places of welcome and hope, regardless of people's lifestyle or beliefs. Handbags, shopping bags and musical instruments roam New York City without visible owners, to demonstrate how easy it is to roam the city unnoticed and sans identity. Once parishioners file into a Collegiate Church, however, they become visible and complete. Watch the ad here. A new symbol and Web site was created for the Church; the symbol {+}, means "positive and inclusive." See the brand identity here and here. Gotham Inc. created the TV and outdoor ads and Gravitate created the Web site.

Xbox launched "Lips," a TV spot promoting a video game with the same name, where players sing into a wireless microphone to any tune in their music library. The spot begins with a singing mouth with legs (stay with me, people!) walking across busy streets, through a construction site and riding the subway. All the while, the mouth is singing the awesome '80s hit "Take on Me" by a-ha. The mouth eventually makes his way to a man sitting on a couch who's about to belt out the song's chorus. I loved that the singing mouth sang out of tune, much like I do when playing Rock Band. I'm tone deaf, but I have fun. See the ad here. Cut + Run edited the ad, created by T.A.G.
Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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