Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brand Pruning

Laura Rie's Latest:

2009: The Year of Brand Darwinism

Happy new year

Welcome to a brand new year. It is 2009 and almost everybody is hoping 2009 will be better than 2008.

Sadly many brands didn't live to see 2009. Some the casualties of 2008 include: Bombay Co., Aloha Airlines, Skybus, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Linens N' Things, Sharper Image, KB Toys and Mervyns.

And this year many more are likely to be wiped out like Circuit City or perhaps even Sears/Kmart or Chrysler.

But is this bloodshed all bad? And how can you your brand avoid extinction? Read on.

First of all, brand busts are not a bad thing. It is brand Darwinism at its best, survival of the fittest. It is a good thing for everybody when only the strongest brands survive.

Currently we simply have too many of everything. Too many clothing stores, too many gas stations, too many malls, too many sandwich shops, too many coffee shops, too many furniture stores, too many car dealers, too many condos, too many real estate agents.

This excess was created by the previous economic boom. Anyone could start a business, open a franchise or buy a house and they did. And many of those brands, buildings and businesses needed to fail because they were bad ideas. Nobody can win unless somebody loses. That's life.

It is time to thin the herd. Of course, thinning the herd will not sound good if you are a sick buffalo trying to keep up (like anybody working at Kmart). But it is the best thing for the whole herd (Walmart/Target and you.)

Thinning the herd means more food and a greater chance of survival for the stronger animals and their young. The sick, old and weak animals drag down the whole herd down just like the sick, meaningless and over-populated brands drag the whole economy down.

If strong brands are allowed to succeed and weak brands are allowed to fail, the free market will allow prosperity to return. Propping up loser companies in the country or loser brands in your company is not a good idea. (The bailout, for example.)

Now is the time to cut the losers (Chrysler, for example.) Nobody wants to see people lose their jobs. But the only way to create jobs is with strong brands and companies. Companies with strong brands generate profits. GM has billions in sales but still loses money, because they don???t have strong brands.

Not only do we have too many brands, but we also have a lot of very weak brands. How do brands become weak? Expansion and unchecked growth.


As every gardener knows, the way to keep a plant vigorous is by pruning. Corporate and government gardeners seem to have trouble accepting and understanding this principle.

Unchecked growth in all directions weakens a plant which needs constant pruning to remain healthy. The same hold true for companies. Yet when times are good, nobody wants to cut brands, products or services. And remarkably even when times are bad, nobody still wants to cut brands, products or services.

So how can you avoid extinction this year? Hopefully you have been a good brand gardener and have been pruning and keeping your brand strong. If you haven't, you can only hope your competition is a worse gardener than you are.

Just being well-known does not spare you from extinction. Unless you can link your brand to a category or an idea in the mind, your name might be known but it would be worthless. Chevrolet, for example.

In general, leading brands or strongly differentiated No. 2 brands in categories with a future have the best chance for success.

If you are a me-too No. 2 brand like Linens N??? Things or Circuit City, you are in trouble. If you are a No.3 brand especially behind two strongly differentiated competitors you are really in dire straits like DHL or Kmart.

If your category is a thing of the past, even though your name is well-known you are going to find survival difficult like Kodak, Sharper Image or Mervyns.

What the world needs, what the U.S. needs, what your company needs, (perhaps even what your waistline needs after too much Christmas pudding) is a lesson in gardening.

A healthy pruning now will be rewarded with a lovely growth spurt later on. Sounds illogical but it works.

Nobody ever said marketing was logical.

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Coffee Survey

Usually I post surveys about Starbucks, McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts coffee but today, I have this from

Top US Cities for Caffeine Consumption

The most caffeinated US city in the is Tampa, Fla., followed by Seattle, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, while the least caffeinated cities are Riverside/San Bernardino, Calif., Atlanta, San Diego, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Dallas, according to a survey commissioned by HealthSaver, and conducted by Prince Market Research.


The second annual HealthSaver 2008 Caffeinated Cities Survey was conducted to determine the caffeine consumption habits and attitudes of consumers across the US, and to learn more about cultural views and health benefits of this caffeine. The survey considered numerous caffeine sources, including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers and caffeine pills.

Nearly half (49% ) of all respondents nationwide said they drink caffeinated coffee every day, while cola and tea tied with a 20% daily consumption rate, the survey found. Sweets containing chocolate ranked fourth among caffeine products, with a 13% daily consumption, the survey found.

For the second year in a row, Seattle ranked #1 in coffee consumption, with 55% of residents saying coffee would be the most difficult caffeine product to give up.


Seattle also is the city most likely to have residents who say they are “addicted to caffeine.”


In terms of cola consumption, Houston drinks the most, while New York drinks the least.


Caffeine-related trends:

  • For the second straight year, 42% of respondents said coffee/specialty drinks would be the hardest of caffeinated products to give up.
  • Men are much more likely than women (47% vs. 39%) to say coffee would be the hardest to give up, similar to the first annual survey.
  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) of all respondents said they are not addicted to caffeine.
  • Among age groups, the older the consumer, the more likely they are to say coffee would be the most difficult caffeinated product to give up, a pattern similar to that found last year.

Additional demographic findings:

  • Women are more likely than men to say they are addicted to caffeine (29% of women vs. 24% of men).
  • A majority (64% ) say they consume about the same amount of caffeine as they did a year ago.
  • More than one-fourth (28%) consume less caffeine now than they did a year ago. The younger the age group, the more likely they are to say they consume more caffeine than a year ago.
  • Among respondents consuming less caffeine, 53% say it is because they are seeking to improve their health; nearly one-fourth (24%) of those consuming less caffeine are doing so because of a change of diet/currently on a diet plan.
  • More than one-fourth said they consume more caffeine than a year ago because their everyday routine is more demanding. Another six percent said it was because they have more access to caffeine, and two percent said they consume more because of fatigue because of sleep problems.
  • More than one-half of respondents said they are “way over” their ideal weight (12%) or over their ideal weight (54%). Only four percent said they were under their ideal weight.

“With the advent of rich, high-end coffees, soaring popularity of energy drinks and national fascination with green tea, our HealthSaver Caffeinated Cities Survey has brewed up some very interesting trends, findings and results,” said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver. “This groundbreaking research is an important tool to help educate about the health benefits of moderate caffeine consumption in the United States.”

The health benefits of caffeine are plentiful and well-documented in numerous studies in recent years, Healthsaver said. Coffee and tea, in particular, have emerged as good health food sources that can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, as well as lift your mood, treat headaches and even lower risk of cavities. Caffeine also enhances athleticism, endurance and performance, according to health care experts.

“Even though at one time coffee was considered harmful to your health, at this point there is no compelling research to indicate that, in fact, is true,” said Dr. Peter R. Martin, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and the director of the Institute of Coffee Studies, Vanderbilt School of Medicine. “Newer studies actually prove coffee in moderation is good for one’s health.”

About the survey: Prince Research conducted a nationally representative telephone study with consumers in 20 major metropolitan areas in the US to learn more about their use of caffeine in everyday beverages and food. All interviews were conducted between July 1 - Aug. 21, 2008, during which period, a total of 2,005 interviews, lasting between of five and seven minutes, were completed. No incentive was offered and the sponsor of the research was not revealed.

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The Right Price

I call this a cautious economy. People are still spending money on the things they want, but there is a sense of caution with every dollar we give up.

Some businesses that are selling stuff, think that the only way to stay in business is to lower their prices. They are wrong.

Price is only part of the equation that you and I compute when we are deciding what to buy and how much to spend.

Do you know the other factor?

It is Value.

And the problem with discounting your prices is that you have lowered your profit margin which increases the cost of running your business. For example, once customers get used to buying toothpaste for 2 bucks at the dollar store, why would they ever buy the same product for $3.50 at the supermarket?

Before you lower prices, look for ways to add value. Because Walmart will always have more buying power than you, and they can afford to always have the lowest prices.

Take a look at this:

After Sales, Will Shoppers Pay Full Price Again? Shoppers are getting used to those 75 percent off sale signs, and that's bad news for merchants who worry they will also have to quickly slash prices on spring goods to attract customers.

Anxieties about how rampant discounts have affected shoppers' psyches and stores' profits are running high ahead of expected dismal December sales figures. The holiday season is anticipated to be the worst in decades.

Already, retailers including Bebe Stores Inc. and J.Crew Group Inc. are cutting prices on selected spring styles to lure sale-savvy shoppers.

"It is a vicious cycle that no one wants to continue," said Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo Inc., an investment banking firm specializing in retailing. The discounts will be a key topic at Financo's annual dinner on Monday for retail chief executives.

In addition, retailers expect competition from a rise in liquidation sales -- the fallout from the horrible holiday period.

Merchants struggling to clear out mounds of deeply discounted coats and sweaters are wondering how they are going to get nervous shoppers to splurge on new spring products.

The deep price cuts are making shoppers question the true value of items. If they can get $200 jeans at 60 percent off, will they be willing to pay the original price next fall?

"Our sense of what is fair and what is a good deal has changed," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, professor of marketing at the Golden Gate University's Ageno School of Business. She said that a sale has to be at least 70 percent off to be considered a bargain now.

Marcia Layton Turner, a mother of two from Rochester, N.Y., recently walked away from an outfit that she spotted at a local Kohl's store that was 50 percent off.

"Forty to 50 percent used to excite me," the 43-year-old writer said. "Now, I want at least 70 percent." Turner says she has taken advantage of 75 percent discounts on children's clothes in recent weeks and is willing to wait to get the same type of deals in the coming months.

Consumers across the spectrum have been holding back.

Overall sales of apparel fell 17.3 percent from Nov. 30 through Jan. 3, while footwear sales dropped 12 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to figures released Wednesday by SpendingPulse, a data service provided by MasterCard Advisors that estimates U.S. retail sales across all payment forms including cash and checks.

Sales of electronics and appliances dropped 21.4 percent, while luxury goods suffered a 27.6 percent drop. Online sales rose 4.6 percent.

Fourth-quarter profits are likely to decline more than 19 percent, said Ken Perkins, president of research company RetailMetrics LLC. Excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc., one of the few bright spots, he said the drop is expected to reach almost 28 percent.

Perkins predicts that profits will keep falling into the first quarter, projecting an 11 percent drop; excluding Wal-Mart, that figure is likely to fall more than 17 percent.

The financial meltdown in September that led to an abrupt halt in spending came too late for merchants to dramatically adjust spring inventories. Many stores order goods four to seven months in advance.

And while spring inventories are estimated to be down as much as 30 percent from year-ago levels, many analysts say that inventories should be down even more. Barclays Capital analyst Jeff Black believes it will take at least until the back-to-school season to get inventories in line with consumer demand, and even then stores will still face the challenge of weaning shoppers away from deals.

For those shoppers who could still load up on deeply discounted merchandise, the last few weeks have been paradise. Even before the Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, Saks Fifth Avenue marked down shoes by 70 percent.

But earlier deals look measly compared with some current offers as merchants try to get rid of their holiday products by the end of the month. The upscale DKNY store on New York's Madison Avenue is plastered with a sign proclaiming "Up to 90 percent off."

As retailers work to clear out old merchandise, analysts say many are trying to hold back on discounting new winter and spring items. Dan de Grandpre, editor-in-chief of, said he is seeing more bundling deals -- a flat-panel TV that comes with a free Blu-ray system, for example.

But many doubt that such strategies will work and predict early discounts on spring goods. The signs are already there. Bebe has cut certain spring sweaters by 25 percent, while J.Crew has marked some spring items anywhere from 25 to 40 percent off, according to Amy Wilcox Noblin, an analyst at PaliCapital Inc.

It will be years before shoppers are going to be enticed by discounts of less than 50 percent, said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group.

Traditional stores have also had to dump more excess goods at off-price retailers like TJ Maxx, which reduce prices more, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group Inc.

But a bigger problem is liquidation sales at stores that are either closing specific locations or shutting down the entire business.

Going-out-of-business sales at KB Toys and Linens 'N Things put pressure on other retailers even before Christmas, and analysts expect competition to get fiercer amid a likely spike in bankruptcy filings.

James Schaye, president and CEO of Hudson Capital Partners LLC., which has overseen liquidations of Mervyns LLC, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group Inc. and Steve & Barry's, estimated that his company liquidated about $3 billion in merchandise in the October through December period, compared with about $400 million a year ago.

(Source: Associated Press, 1/7/09)

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Alone, but Not Alone

When I work with small and medium sized businesses, I discover this all the time, they are too close to the problems to see the solutions because they can't step back and see the big picture.

Drew wrote this:

The Marketing Minute

Want good business advice? Don't look in the mirror

Posted: 12 Jan 2009 07:33 AM CST

80120533 Everyone is looking for insight. How do we generate more traffic into our store (or website)? How can we upsell clients? Should we raise our prices?

If you're a small business owner, you're probably facing these kinds of questions every day. And in most cases, you're sorting through it all on your own. That's a problem.

No one is less objective about your business than you are. No one has more of an emotional investment that you do. No one has more on the line than you. So -- no one is less objective than you. Which leads to some pretty dangerous decision-making.

So how can you balance your lack of objectivity?

  • Create an advisory board (often made up of your professional, accountant, etc.) that will meet with you monthly/quarterly to provide some balance
  • Join an accountability/mastermind group to not only give you a place to vet your ideas but also a safe place to do some brainstorming
  • Put together a customer-based advisory group to give you some balance
  • Join a professional organization that will put you together with other business owners in different parts of the world. You can learn best practices from each other...and not worry about competing

The message here -- don't go it alone. I know what you're thinking. You are the one in a million business owner who can in fact, be objective. Don't fool yourself. That's like asking someone who's had 10 shots if they're okay to drive. They may think they're okay....but you'd better get a designated driver.

Be sure you've got some smart and loyal designated drivers at your side as you begin to make decisions for '09 and beyond.

Okay....I'll share if you will. Have you ever tried any of the suggestions above? Which worked best for you?

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What do you know about your customers?

Make It Personal

When it comes to impressing your customers, it's the personal touch that really makes the difference.

Stay in contact and keep good records. Take the time to jot down notes from meetings and phone calls, making certain to record all relevant information. Maintain a written record of service, which is especially helpful when clients are reassigned.

It's also a good idea to set up a system to track important contact dates, such as client review calls and birthdays. And consider sending a personal note or an article of interest every six months.

Source: Sales trainer/speaker John Boe (, 2009)

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Night Marketing News

A freakin' frigid Friday report from Mediapost and yours truly:

by Karl Greenberg
In the ad, Brian Berg completes a cityscape on the hood made of playing cards, then gets into the Lexus ES and fires it up with the push-button start. Voiceover: "What happens when you take one of the smoothest engines anywhere and add 88 separate measures to avoid vibrations? Absolutely nothing." ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
"The trend has already shown declines in [over-the-air] homes, and the [digital TV] transition is only going to speed up that trend," says Centris' David Klein. "And with the price declines in high-definition televisions, and more consumers buying them they're going to want more content, not less." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
"The notion that you can take a penny's worth of vitamins and mix them with a sugary drink and convert that to something healthful is bogus," said David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But Coke counters that "many people ... have turned to products like Glaceau Vitaminwater in order to help supplement what they are not receiving from the foods they eat. This is not about protecting the public interest. This is about increasing the readership of CSPI's increasingly irrelevant newsletter." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
The carnage was at its worst in furniture and home furnishings stores, followed by clothing and accessories sales, and electronics and appliances. The only true bright spot, the NRF notes, was in health and personal care stores. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores managed a very slight year-to-year gain. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
An earlier promotion, which was limited to one discounted-price sandwich each Wednesday, increased traffic and produced positive consumer feedback, but Togo's found that it could not sustain that pricing level. Says Togo's Tony Gioia, "What we learned is consumers want value, so this is our way to do it," adding that it's "hard to say" how many consumers stayed on as regular customers after that promotion. ... Read the whole story > >

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Using Tools to Keep Tabs on your Reputation

From an email this week from

Free Firefighting Tools

When it comes to your company's reputation, what the Internet giveth, it can also taketh away. The benefits of good online buzz can diminish in the space of hours or days if a harsh critic or unhappy customer decides to make their complaints public. Since you can't formulate a plan of action if you don't know something happened, Dan Schawbel recommends free tools that help you monitor conversations in a number of arenas:

  • Stay current with new online content by setting up Google Alerts based on specific search terms. Says Schawbel, "You can monitor a news story, keep current with your industry and competitors, and see who is writing about you, all at the same time."
  • By establishing RSS alerts with, you'll learn when anyone blogs about your company. "Keep track of these blogs, and when you write your next post link to them," he advises. "Doing so will give recognition to those who have recognized yours."
  • If you track blog posts—but not comments—you'll miss out on the full picture. "Use to remind yourself where you commented, discover influencers who are commenting on blogs that you should be reading, and continue conversations that you started previously," he recommends.

In the article at MarketingProfs, Schawbel also explains how to keep tabs on discussion boards, Twitter and social-networking sites.

The Po!nt: "Part of your brand is in the hands of others," says Schawbel, "so it's critical that you monitor it before a flame becomes a forest fire."

Source: MarketingProfs. Click here for the full article.

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Social Network Conflicts

What happens when you join a social network (MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc) and they display ads that are against what you do?

A friend of mine dropped out of LinkedIn and sent an email to his contacts to explain why.

I personally have not had any problems with LinkedIn or any others. But what do you think about Andrew's complaint? Should he stay or go?

Read his own words:

Andrew Zelt has sent you a message.

Date: 1/15/2009

Subject: Andrew Zelt leaving LinkedIn?

Hello Everyone; Some of you I have not seen for awhile and some of you I see often however I wanted to send an email to everybody to let them know that I am canceling my LinkedIn account. Some of you I told to join LinkedIn so I wanted to explain. My complaint is simple, on the right hand side of the webpage of my public profile there is either derogatory information or ads for competitors (no matter which business I listed) that are not even in our area. Ok, Ok the competitor’s ads thing may be a little over sensitive but recently I saw a link right on my page that alluded to Pre –Paid Legal being some sort of lie, and there was more than one that talked about it being a scam or that people are not being told the truth. I am a member and an agent and I know several people that have been members for years and are very happy with them. At the very least it is unnecessary for LinkedIn to do this in my opinion so as the old saying goes if you don’t like it leave it. So I guess for now I will retreat to Facebook with whom I have no complaints at this time.(lol) Happy Networking Andrew Zelt

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Creating a New Niche

Skip at Marketing Genius wrote this recently:

Creating a Niche - Toothpaste

With few, if any exceptions, every human in the developed, civilized world has his or her brand of toothpaste. What's yours?

I've been a Mentadent man for about the past 15 years. It's a happy marriage. I am not looking. And I'll bet you are not giving much, if any, thought to switching your brand of toothpaste.

Given such market conditions, how does a consumer products company sell more toothpaste?

They have to create a niche. And, out of the nothingness comes "Night Time Toothpaste."

I didn't think I needed a night time toothpaste. But Crest thought I did.

Crest didn't set out to convince me to drop my regular (i.e., daytime) brand of toothpaste. They did not attempt to out-mint or out-whiten the competition. No, they totally avoided the notion of competing along the same tired, old "battle" lines.

And indeed, that was a wise marketing decision, because I would not have switched ... and would not have done anything new. Instead, they created this new category of night time toothpaste. It's a whole new space, really.

Crest caught me off guard. I thought, Maybe I do, in fact, need a night time option. So the other day at the supermarket, I purchased a tube of Crest Night Time Toothpaste. I'm giving it a trial on the pearly white for a couple of weeks. We'll see how it goes. If just one half of one-percent of Americans do what I've done, Crest will sell a million-plus tubes of its new product. And that's a start. Those are incremental sales for Crest, in an otherwise stalemate market.

Kudos to the toothpaste marketing geniuses for creatively finding a niche and filling it!

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Sales Heaven

A touch of reality arrived in my email last week:

Hey Scott,

Ever go to sales heaven in a dream?

You know the place -- everyone you speak to, or everyone on
your e-mail list buys from you... they all buy the first
time they meet you... all the orders stick, and they all
move up your sales funnel, almost instantly.

Nice place to be, isn't it?

Only two problems with sales heaven: One, you have to die
to get there... and two, there's no merchant account.

Look, the reality is you are never going to be able to sell
everyone. You can't even make everyone that's in your life
happy all the time, so how can you possibly sell to them

So put away your optimism and let's talk about reality. The
truth is, there's one thing that is in your control and
that is your choice of customers. Deliberately choosing
the right customers in the first place, is half the battle
for most people.

The more you just "take anyone who comes along" into your
prospecting funnel, the more you waste your time.

Which is one of the problems with the internet, by the way.
It offers you the least amount of prospecting control of
almost any media. Not that I don't like it, or profit from
it as a media, but that's just the way it is.

So how do you choose the right customer? What makes someone
pre-qualified and what makes them unqualified to buy from

The answer is simple. There are three things, actually:

1. They have to have money. Broke people or people too
broke to buy from you won't pay your bills or feed your
children. So stay away from them.

Repel them like skunk odor, and do everything in your power
to avoid contact with them -- at least, if you're trying to
run a profitable business, anyway.

2. You have to be able to reach them through your
marketing. So for example, if you've developed something
for undercover FBI agents or NFL football players, I don't
care how valuable your widget is, it's gonna be tough to
sell, simply because these two marketplaces aren't very

3. And lastly, the people you're selling to have to be
comfortable buying through whatever media you're using.
For instance, there are some people who just won't buy
anything online, so unless you give them an alternative way
of ordering, it's going to be difficult to make them your

Make sense?

This is an important subject that gets very little
attention. Most people just think in terms of volume. You
know, "Throw enough shit up against the wall and
something's bound to stick," sort of mentality.

And that's all well and good if you've got infinite dollars
to spend on marketing and you don't care how much time you
waste, but since most successful people value their time
more than anything else in the world, this really isn't a
good option.

(You can always make more money, but you can't make more
time, right?)

See where I'm going with all this?

There are a few more characteristics you should look for to
find the best quality prospects, and over the next few days
we'll talk about some of them.

Hopefully... you'll listen.

Now go sell something , Craig Garber

P.S. In this month's Seductive Selling Newsletter, I answer
these three critical lead-generation questions, sent in by

* How long (or short) can these "free reports" or sales
letters be?

* What proportion of content should be included? And...

* How can you give away good content without giving away
all the good stuff in what you're selling?

Find out the answers to these questions, and a hell of a lot
more, and take your free test-drive at


Questions? Just ask me, baby!

Check out ALL the King's products at

Friend me on Facebook at:

If this message was forwarded to you and you'd like to start
getting this in your Inbox, just sign up on my home page at

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Night Marketing News

Clickable's from Mediapost:

by Sarah Mahoney
"Going forward, retailers should encourage smartphone users to adopt retailer-generated mobile apps," says a study from ForeSee, "not only to ask about a product or send a picture of a product to a friend, but to compare online prices, remember specs of something they were researching online, and identify the proper model or version of a wish list item." ... Read the whole story > >
by Les Luchter
Five and ten years from now, customers will be in control, measurable and accountable marketing will increase, traditional direct marketing (mail, catalogs) will decrease while digital marketing rises, and marketers will increase the use of multiple channels -- but with a single message, says the "Future of Direct Marketing" report. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
In Washington, D.C. and other selected markets, customers who buy a medium hot coffee or hot chocolate at participating Dunkin' Donuts stores can purchase the special donut for 44 cents, in honor of the 44th president. Meanwhile, over at Krispy Kreme, the first one's on the house. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karl Greenberg
He said that the company will not sell any of Chrysler's brands, is not in negotiations to sell domestic plants making current models (but that it would be open to selling production facilities for older models) and might consider licensing arrangements in which other companies produced models bearing Chrysler nameplates. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
Microsoft also has launched a search for parents and teens to become Get Game Smart ambassadors, charged with educating their peers about responsible gaming choices. Interested parents and teens submit a video highlighting their family's approach to digital gaming, such as their rules and rewards. The videos will be reviewed by a panel of celebrities and experts for finalists, who will be chosen by popular vote. ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
A new campaign, which will air nationally for several weeks, drives home the point that the same quality sandwiches for which the chain is known can now be purchased at lower prices. The ads feature three chefs interviewing customers in a live "man on the street" format and show real reactions from consumers when told that the sandwiches they're eating can be purchased at Quiznos for under $5. ... Read the whole story > >

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How to Twitter

Recently I joined the millions who Twitter. For me I'm still deciding how to use it and why. Here's some of those answers:

Twitter: a step-by-step guide to getting started

Posted By: Shane Richmond

If the recent buzz around Twitter, the micro-blogging platform, has aroused your curiosity you may be wondering how to get started. Twitter is not a publishing platform, as I said yesterday, so you can’t simply go to the site and read it. Well, you can but that’s not really the point. To get the most out of Twitter you need to build a network and then start using a few tools.

So here’s a step-by-step guide.

Getting started
1. Twitter allows you to send short messages to tell the world what you're doing, thinking, reading or whatever else you feel like saying. If you use Facebook, think of it as being like the status updates. The service allows you to follow people and be followed by people. The people you follow will form your network and their updates will appear on your Twitter homepage. The people who follow you have chosen to have you in their network and see your updates. However, Twitter is asynchronous. You don’t need to follow everyone who follows you. So you may be in my network but I don’t have to be in yours.

2. Go to Twitter and create an account. You can give yourself any username you like but it’s best to choose something that people who know you will recognise: that will make it easier for them to find and follow you.

3. Fill in your biography. Say something about yourself. It helps people to decide whether they should follow you.

4. Post your first tweet. It should go in the box underneath the question “What are you doing?” and it must be 140 characters or fewer. Soon you’ll start building your network and you’ll want to have something on your page when your first visitors arrive. Try to post something that, in conjunction with your biography, will give people a reason to follow you. “Trying to understand Twitter” is fine as a first post but you need to follow it up very quickly with something more individual. Try posting a link to the most interesting article you’ve read recently, for example.

Start building your network
5. Start building your network. Look for friends and colleagues who are already using the site by clicking ‘find people’ at the top of the page. When you find someone who you want to add to your network, click on their name to see their page and then click ‘follow’.

6. Following people is the easiest way to let them know you are there and some of them will soon start following you in return. Your page will display a count of the number of people following you and the numbers you are following. You can stop following people in your network at any time by going to their page, clicking ‘following’ and then clicking ‘remove’.

7. Each time you find someone you want to follow take a look at who they are following. Add anyone who looks interesting and even a few people you aren’t sure about. The more, the merrier. Try to add around 100 people so that you have a busy network. Remember - you can prune your network as you get a feel for who’s who.
Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while for your number of followers to grow.

Talking to people
8. Most of the time you’ll be posting updates on what you’re doing. And if that’s all you do, that’s fine. Don’t feel obliged to keep your followers entertained.

9. Sometimes you’ll want to join a conversation. You can send a public reply to people by putting @ before their username and then typing your message. So putting @shanerichmond would direct your reply to me. The person you are replying to doesn’t need to be someone you are following and doesn’t need to be following you for the @ system to work. On, a reply button will be visible when you hold your cursor over a message. Clicking this will add the @ automatically.
Click Settings on and then Notices to decide how @ replies are displayed within your network. If you choose “all @ replies” you’ll see conversations people in your network are having with others. This is a good way to find new people to follow.
If you want to send a message to someone but don’t want all your followers to see it, you can send a direct message. Put d and then the person’s username to send a private message. Remember to leave a space, like this: d shanerichmond. You can also click Direct Messages on the right-hand side of to get a box specifically for sending direct messages.

10. If one of your followers says something so brilliant that you want to share it with your followers, you can “retweet” it. The etiquette for doing this is to put “retweet”, “retweeting” or just “RT” at the start of your message then add the @ symbol and the person’s username and then their message. For example, type “RT @shanerichmond” to retweet one of my messages. It’s acceptable to edit their message to make it fit the 140 character limit.

11. Their may be lots of people talking about a particular topic but unless they are in your network or send you a reply you won’t even know they’re there. This is where hashtags come in. By adding a # and then a keyword, lots of unconnected people can join a conversation. These tweets are sometimes collated at specific sites but can easily be found using the Twitter search engine. For example, Norwich City supporters often add #NCFC to their tweets, which are then collated by Norwich City writer Rick Waghorn at his site.

12. You can save a message to read later or just for posterity by clicking the star that appears when you hover your cursor over it.

13. Twitter’s great but isn’t. First of all, you need to visit it or keep it open all the time to follow activity in your network. Secondly, it doesn’t update automatically so you need to keep refreshing to see new messages. A Twitter client is the answer. This is a small program that sits on your desktop and makes it easy to keep track of incoming messages. Many Twitter clients make it easier to reply, retweet and follow different groups of people. I use Twhirl but you could also try Tweetdeck, Twitterific or Twitterfox.

14. If you want to post a link you’ll need a link-shortening site. Some Twitter clients have this tool built in but you can go to a site such as TinyURL, paste in your link and get a shorter URL to help you stay within that 140-character limit.

15. If you like playing with stats, try Tweetstats. It will tell you how often you tweet, when you tweet and what you talk about.

16. There are lots more tools. Mashable has a good selection.

If that sounds like a lot to take in, don’t worry. You’ll quickly get the hang of it and you’ll soon decide whether Twitter’s for you. Enjoy!

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Hiring a Social Media Guru

Drew does a summary of what Beth wrote, and I'm presenting it to you right now. (This is one of the key aspects of Social Media).

How do you tell if your social media consultant is the real deal?

Posted: 09 Jan 2009 12:47 AM CST

Guinea 1.Image via Wikipedia

Awhile I ago I suggested that it might not be a brilliant plan to hire a consultant or agency to help you with your social media strategy if they can't document that they've done more than learn the buzz words.

Would you want to be a surgeon's first patient? On a pilot's first flight? So why should you be someone's social media guinea pig?

But if you're new to social media, how do you determine who's blowing smoke up your skirt and who's the real deal? Beth Harte put together a remarkable checklist of what you should be looking for and you're going to want to read her whole list.

But here are some basics, in my own words:

  1. Does not believe that every company should (or can) blog. Nor do they believe that the blog is the be all and end all.
  2. Constantly reminds you (if you need reminding) that social media is a tool, a medium. Marketing basics like understanding your brand and having something of value to share/say still apply.
  3. Have a proven, successful social media strategy for themselves/their agency. If they can't or haven't done it for themselves, why in the world would you think they can do it for you?
  4. Helps you weave your social media strategies into the rest of your marketing plan. Social media should be a part of the whole, not a whole new thing.
  5. Doesn't promise that social media efforts are so incredible they're going to protect you from the recession, a mediocre product or male pattern baldness.

Bottom want an agency or consultant who is bullish on social media but doesn't believe it's the holy grail. They can integrate these tools with the rest of your marketing efforts and you know they can do it for you....because they did it/are doing it for themselves.

I just scraped the surface. Check out Beth's post for the drill down.

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New Ad Campaigns

From Amy at Mediapost:

Eight tons of sprinkles. A walk-in fridge. Herding office chairs. Intrigued? Let's launch!

If I were in Orlando right now, and not braving frigid temps, I'd be smiling, too. The Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau launched "Orlando Makes Me Smile," a print, outdoor and online campaign consisting of smiling faces and warm weather. Print ads feature smiling people and the reasons why they're so happy. One girl rode a bevy of roller coasters and had a spa day with her Mom. Another ad shows a couple kissing each cheek of their happy baby, with copy touting Orlando as an ideal destination for families. My favorite outdoor ad showed a group of frowning faces one day, and smiles the next, because Orlando bring smiles. See the ads here, here, here and here. Push created the campaign and 22squared handled the media buy.

Mammoth Mountain, a ski resort in Southern California, placed a billboard on interstate 405 that resembles a half-pipe, complete with a faux airborne snowboarder, clad in donated snow gear. See it here. The ad debuts a new tagline, "Play Big," which took on a whole new meaning for season passholders who received a 7-foot-wide trail map as part of their VIP kit. Now find me a pocket for that trail map. David&Goliath created the campaign and Initiative Media San Diego handled the media buy.

This is the perfect ad. It describes technology in a language I can understand: the language of food. Wireless broadband network Clear 4G uses cupcakes and sprinkles to illustrate the difference between Wi-Fi hotspots, phone company laptop cards and Clear 4G. The network launched in Portland, Oregon, making it the second city with 4G wireless Internet. The ad takes place in a bakery kitchen, where trays of frosted cupcakes, symbolizing Wi-Fi hotspots, are lightly sprinkled to represent minimal Wi-Fi coverage. Additional sprinkles are added to signify laptop cards offered by phone companies. There's more coverage, but surfing is still slow. And Clear comes along in the form of eight tons of sprinkles that rain down upon the kitchen, dousing everyone and everything with sprinkles. The ad, shot in Australia, caused a sprinkle shortage that required additional sprinkles to be flown in. See the ad here. Secret Weapon Marketing created the ad and Applegate Media Group handled the media buy.

A woman dreams of having a walk-in closet like the one Big built for Carrie in the "Sex and the City" movie. Men, on the other hand, would kill for a walk-in fridge stocked with Heineken. This spot-on ad launched on Dutch TV this month, and given its popularity, is making its way stateside. A woman gives her three best friends a tour of her new home, saving the best for last: a sizable walk-in closet. The four women yell, scream and jump around, until they're interrupted by the sound of men screaming. The men are standing in a walk-in refrigerator, filled with nothing but Heineken, screaming louder and jumping higher than their four female counterparts. Watch the ad here, created by TBWA/Amsterdam.

This is some wake-up call. Talk about a group effort. Nike Latin America launched a great 60-second spot promoting Nike football -- and by football, I mean soccer. The ad begins at 5 a.m.; an athlete opens an emergency flare and places it beneath a sprinkler system, sounding an alarm. The athletes rush out of their dorm, into town, and into a chain reaction of wake-up calls that are going off. The streets are alive with athletes and bystanders; a soccer player kicks a ball into a bystander, knocking them to the ground. Good times. At practice, players are slapped in the face; there's cross-training and vomiting. Again, good times. "Leave everything -- or leave soccer," concludes the ad, seen here. Wieden+Kennedy Portland created the ad., a job site for $100K+ jobs, launched two TV spots to differentiate itself from other online job sites. "Little Creatures" pays homage to Japanese monster movies with miniature Guilalas attempting to wreak havoc on a city, but failing miserably due to their short stature. The mini Guilalas are ignored, but people pay attention when the large Guilala,, breathes fire and destroys buildings. Watch the ad here. A herding group of office chairs attempt to outrun hunters in the next ad. The herd consists of ordinary office chairs and a lone leather chair. The hunters will not stop until they catch what stands out: the big chair that goes with the big job. See the ad here. If you enjoyed the mini Guilalas, you can see more of them online, in the form of six behind-the-scenes interviews in which a mini-creature complains to his agent, compares the size of his fireballs to those of a larger monster and describes being a Method actor. See the virals here, here, here, here, here and here. Fallon Minneapolis created the campaign.

StareWays placed an adStep graphics in Grand Central Terminal on the stairway leading to the S train that promotes the new season of "American Idol." Anyone besides me watch the train wrecks last night? The ad, seen here, is part of AI's station domination campaign and runs through January. Here's hoping that ads like this offset the NY MTA's plan to raise subway fares due to budget shortcomings. CBS Outdoor brokered the media buy.

EmblemHealth launched a massive advertising campaign last year to introduce New Yorkers to its new logo. The company even handed out mini hand sanitizers on high-trafficked streets; I snagged a bottle on my way to lunch. Main elements of the campaign were four 30-second TV spots, print, online, billboard, and wild postings. TV spots prominently feature EmblemHealth's new logo, displayed as something found in a New Yorker's life. In "Dunk," for example, an older man plays basketball and the hoop is the company logo. A cyclist en route to work uses a messenger bag in the shape of the logo. See the ads here and here. The final two ads follow a father grocery shopping with an EmblemHealth-shaped shopping cart and a young woman reading a chevron-shaped magazine. See them here and here. The animated ads are devoid of color except for the purple and gold EmblemHealth symbol and emphasize the plan's benefits for singles, seniors and families. Hill Holliday created the campaign.
Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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What to say when they say, NO

If you stop when they say no, you lose an opportunity for them to say yes:

Never accept "no" as a final answer. Probe by stating, "You probably have a very good reason for saying that ... may I ask what it is?". Let them do the talking! You will discover the real reason for not taking advantage of your offer and you will then be able to re-group and make the deal!

Source: Sylvia Allen, Allen Consulting Inc.,, (732) 946-2711

If you liked this tip, you will love Sylvia's training tools. Click here for information on her book, or click here for information on her video.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Night Marketing News

When I lived and worked in Metro Detroit, the Auto Show was one of the highlights of winter...

by Karl Greenberg
The array of electric concept cars notwithstanding, the pure-electric vehicle is still largely a work in progress. "The issues are limited range, long charge times and durability," says David Champion, Consumer Reports' director of automotive testing. "People don't make a $30,000 investment in something that will only last a couple of years like you do for a cell phone and laptop. Really, the viable tech is still hybrid." ... Read the whole story > >
by Sarah Mahoney
To survive, retailers need to step up the value message they send to women shoppers, both in stores and in mass marketing efforts, especially those aimed at women and higher-end shoppers. And they should take a much more proactive role in education, making it easier for shoppers to learn about their products, and investing in training to make sales staff more knowledgeable. ... Read the whole story > >
Financial Services
by Les Luchter
"Online shopping, rewards programs [and] improved customer service stimulating usage by under-targeted consumer groups can all contribute to growth," says Packaged Facts. "Issuers willing to take on more accounts can also expand their businesses by courting smaller retailers that don't currently offer store cards." ... Read the whole story > >
by Karlene Lukovitz
Meanwhile, while alternative energy and green marketing are still hot, senior marketers seem less preoccupied with global warming and health awareness as key issues--and rather disillusioned with off-shoring and the practical realities of Web 2.0, according to results of the newly released "Top Marketing Trends for 2009" survey from the Marketing Executives Networking Group. ... Read the whole story > >
by Nina M. Lentini
In its first print advertising in five years, breaking this month, Wellcraft Marine Corp., Cadillac, Mich., celebrates the hardy men of the sea, and those who envision themselves as such--a target market that Wellcraft describes as "old-school boaters." Most Wellcraft buyers are not first-time boat owners. ... Read the whole story > >
by Aaron Baar
"The first two spots are primarily brand-building," says Dean Harris, KGB's chief marketing officer. "But the spots you'll start seeing will have a much more direct call to action." The television advertising, which will run on network, cable and satellite systems, carries the tagline, "We answer to you." The company is also planning online banner and video ads and a mobile component. ... Read the whole story > >

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